It's only 9 months... but it feels like Maternity...

Now Known As Postnatal Oppression

Friday, January 05, 2007

First Antenatal Class yesterday.

Or Parentcraft or something - I can't remember what I'm meant to call it now. Anyway - there are 4 of these, lasting for a couple of hours each. They're held at my local clinic, set in the middle of the Rough estate which my old comprehensive school is also set in. The husband remarked as we walked up to it, "Always nice to go to a clinic which has graffiti on the signs outside."

We were the first to arrive and were chatting away to the midwife, who remembered me this time (she'd only seen me two days before for more wee-looking (I peed in the pot, gross) and blood-pressure taking - she also wanted to listen to Spawn's heartbeat and he wasn't having that at all so she spent a couple of minutes chasing him around my belly, and she measured me with the tape measure again and I'm 29cm now, erm ok). Gradually everyone started to drift in - we had a couple of young single mums, one of whom looked like she was licking piss off a nettle (30 weeks?), one was wide-eyed and earnest (36 weeks? Can't remember); a slightly older (than us) bloke with a large younger girl with a Scandinavian accent who, from a few things she said later on looked like she'd totally signed up to the Earth Mother cult (34 weeks); another single mum who'd brought along 'a friend not the dad' (37 weeks); another couple younger than us who seemed harmless enough (24 weeks - she looked terrified at the size of some of the bumps), and arriving late one further couple (diamond-geezer bloke, cats-bum mouthed woman, both probably racist (30-ish weeks I think)), and us, who were probably the oldest ones there but looked by far the most together and relaxed and sophisticated. Ahem. Didn't spot what I would call potential lifelong friends amongst this lot, but you never know. (Except sometimes you do).

I think we were all First Time Parents, so when the midwife asked us stupid things like "Have any of you had any Braxton Hicks contractions yet?" every single one of us looked blank - how are we meant to know? (Braxton Hicks - practice contractions felt as your uterus 'tightening', apparently). There was a lot of information about what the onset of labour might be like e.g. signs to look out for (main one - human being coming out of your body), how to get into the labour ward if you turn up at 3 in the morning because it'll be locked - actually I have forgotten how, I hope the husband was listening; I was class swot because I'd brought along my notes (the ones I mentioned before that they like looking at) and no-one else had, the midwife used them to show us the phone numbers for everyone we're supposed to ring for different things (again, wasn't really paying attention). Something about Kick Charts if we don't feel spawns moving around for any length of time (I have mental images of karate dojos with pictures on the walls showing them how to kick, but it's not these they mean). Descriptions of what is going on during labour with accompanying skeleton pelvis, baby doll being wedged rather fiercely into said pelvis, large knitted uterus with a small sleeve for the cervix and balloon in it representing amniotic sac, and cutaway anatomy pictures of uteruses (uteri?) like you get in biology textbooks. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, I was very good at Biology at school, although the husband didn't help when he kept murmuring "Ooooh! That's really gonna hurt!" to me.

After a short break - one of the single mums (37 weeks) said to the midwife "Is it alright if we go outside for a cigarette?" (at which point Cats-bum-Mouth next to us pursed her mouth up even more and my husband snorted with laughter and had to go and get a drink of lemon) then everyone except us, them and the midwife disappeared out for a fag - we got to play with gas & air masks and pipes, and to see an epidural needle, and all different sorts of pain relief were discussed. The midwife told us that they know when mothers are ready to push out the sprog as it's normally the point at which they demand the strongest drugs known to man, refuse to do any more and want to go home.

It was all very interesting, in a nice theoretical learning sort of way. I can't see me actually doing any of it though, in the same way that it's fascinating to learn about how the heart works but you would never actually want to see one open in front of you there on the operating table. I'm perfectly happy with the colour drawings and the models thank you very much, I don't need to do the practical.

Next week we are doing Normal Labour, then the one after that we're doing Abnormal Labour, and I don't know what is planned for the last one. Some of the girls who were there will probably already have their babies by then.

There were no biscuits.


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