Top reasons for going to antenatal classes
Your dad probably didn't
Long gone are the days when dads took a step back from pregnancy and birth. Things have changed and dads normally take a much more active role in their children's day to day lives. Start as you mean to go on. be part of the whole process.
She wants you to
Most women want their partner involved from the very beginning. That means antenatal appointments, baby shopping and of course, being by her side at the birth.
The more you know, the better at it you are
Right, so playing football at professional level is a matter of instinct? And training is completely pointless? And so is reading the workshop manual before stripping down the gearbox? You try it.
6 out of 10 expectant dads do it
It's not strange behaviour, it's not bizarre, no-one's going to give you odd looks. On the contrary, you'll meet lots of men in the same boat who might become friends for life. After all, you're going to have kids of the same age and who else is going to help you run the knock-about game when they're all 7 years old?
Ok, ok. What goes on?
Think of it like a car maintenance class. It's a pregnant women maintenance class. That's it. It's not all sitting cross-legged on the floor playing breathing games and humming. There's lots of solid practical stuff as well. Here's what they cover.
She has to stay healthy, eat properly, exercise, give up fags and booze – all that. Carrying a baby and giving birth puts a huge strain on her body and the better shape it's in, the easier it will be for her. And it's easier for her if you're cutting out a few pies a week too. After all, baby is going to make demands on your stamina as much as on hers.
What's happening during the birth itself
If you're going to be there, it's best if you're not standing around like a spare part. If you understand what's actually happening, it will be so much better for both of you and you can be more of a support to her and you'll feel a lot better about it.
There's a whole chemist shop's worth of pain relief available. They teach you what the different types are good for, when to have them, when not to, what the effects are, and so on. When push comes to shove – literally – she's not going to be thinking particularly clearly. Really useful if you know what the options are and you've talked together about what she wants and what she doesn't want.
The birth and how you can help
There's lots of evidence that a woman in labour gets through it more easily if dad is there. You'll learn about what you can do, how you can help her relax and how to work with the hospital staff to her advantage.
Again, if you understand what breastfeeding is all about and how it works, you'll be in a much better position to help with any difficulties during the first weeks.
Some women get a bit down after the birth. It's a very emotional time plus their bodies are raging with all sorts of hormones they're not used to. It's a time when she's going to need you to understand. You'll get the chance to learn about this so you do.
Baby's home. What now?
The early weeks can be really exciting and really scary all at the same time. There's a completely helpless little person to be taken care of and if she has to cope with this on her own, it's going to be much harder for her than it needs to be.
Top tips for surviving antenatal classes
Make sure you ask lots of questions: You don't want people to think you're not listening.
Be friendly: look – all the other men there are going to be feeling a bit awkward too. You can sympathise with each other.
Save the jokes for the pub afterwards: Being friendly is one thing. Being Jack The Lad will just get you hostile glances from the mums and an ear bashing when you get home.