On April 1, 2014 by Kunle Barker

As we leave the house for the second (and final) day of our NCT classes, I’m feeling rather perky – even upbeat you might say. Mummy Bean cynically puts this down to the fact that I’m not suffering from a hangover this week, and although she has a point, this is not the whole story. Kidney Bean is arriving and I’m excited, last week’s class somehow made the whole thing seem very real; this could have made me nervous or even anxious but it had the opposite effect. Perhaps this is because NCT classes  allow you to share your experience with people who are going through the same thing?  I had the distinct feeling of camaraderie, that we were in this together and somehow that made Mummy Bean and me feel much more relaxed about the birth.

This week’s session started with Beatty opening her suitcase to reveal she was carrying eight little babies of varying ages and, strangely, ethnicity. Obviously they were dolls but for a second I did wonder as my sharp intake of breath betrayed me to the group, much to the amusement of Mummy Bean. Each couple was issued with their own baby and after we had been taught how to swaddle we began to discuss the signs of early labour.  By the end of this conversation yet another pregnancy myth had been shattered. It’s apparent that labour can take some time, in fact it can take a lot of time and unlike depictions in Hollywood movies, labour does not come on instantaneously leading to a mad dash to the hospital in the back of a taxi. I’m puzzled as I assumed that the biggest issue I had to face in terms of the labour was to make sure I wasn’t on the golf course or somewhere with no phone reception when the time was upon us. Hollywood sure had done a number on me, the extent of which I only realise when I’m told that sometimes women are sent back home from hospital when they are in labour.  That can’t be true, I thought, but it is and is actually relatively common.



Just before lunch we are instructed on how to tell what stage of labour you are at, to my delight I find out there is an ‘app’ for that. I love apps and immediately download it to begin tests. Like any good app it’s quite simple and I convince Mummy Bean we should do a dry run. Reluctantly, she agrees and I ask her to tell me when she is having a contraction and I record the info on my iPhone. When one of the group suggests that we all have lunch together, I can’t resist and announce that we can’t have lunch as according to my iPhone Mummy Bean is 7cm dilated and we have to go to the hospital, immediately. Mummy Bean and I laugh but there is a part of us that is a little nervous as quite soon I will not be joking and we will be to rushing to the hospital.

Lunch is fun and we sit with the other couples chatting and getting to know each other; this is one of the real benefits of doing the condensed course, you actually get to mix with the other members of the group. I’m not sure we would have spent quite so much time together if we had taken the evening courses. After lunch the first order of the afternoon is relaxation techniques including massage, which historically I’m bad at but I give it my best and follow the instructions on our handout. I notice overleaf that there is reference to massaging an area called the perineum, which partners can help do and is of great benefit as it can reduce the need for post-natal stitching. I have no idea what area of the body this is and when Mummy Bean tells me I simply laugh and say, ‘You must be kidding, I don’t even touch my own perineum.’





By the end of the day I feel well prepared for the coming event. I’ve become an expert at soothing Mummy Bean with visualisations delivered in my new relaxing and soft voice tone. I think I sound stupid, like I’m doing the voice over for one of those old Marks & Spencer food adverts, but it seems to work, so I roll with it. I feel knowledgeable on an array of  labour related topics,  I know exactly when the deadline passes for being able to receive an epidural, I also know that if I’m going to have a ‘blast’ on the gas and air I should probably take a seat first.

I’m ready; we are both ready and with our birth plan in place we are excited about this wonderful and ‘natural’ childbirth we are going to experience. We know it is going to be challenging but ultimately it’s going to be the most amazing experience. That night as I lay in bed I did have one concern. When asking people about birth it struck me that we had heard stories about every single possible outcome you could expect from birth, but importantly no one could tell us which one we would experience. We are ready and have finished our birth plan, I just worry that maybe Kidney Bean hasn’t read it.


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