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to give the NHS antenatal classes a miss and aim to muddle on through somehow?

(45 Posts)
silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 15:34:33

Am 35 weeks pregnant with first child, been going to NCT classes which have been nice in terms of general info about labour, painkillers, that sort of thing, and have met some nice people who I hope to keep in contact with (which was the main reason for going, TBH).

Antenatal care in my area consists of seeing community midwives who don't seem to really know anything much concrete about what happens at the hospital I'm booked into when you go into labour. I have asked a few direct questions and the predominant answer is 'oooh, I don't really know, it depends...'

Hospital does antenatal classes but a combination of work, building work at home, and general slackness means that I have left it too late to get a place on these. There is a private option which is run by a midwife (as opposed to an NCT person), but this is frankly rather expensive and I'm not sure I'll learn much more than I already know, particularly in terms of what actually happens at my hospital (which is what I'd really want to know about).

I'm tempted to simply say 'sod it' and muddle through, as it doesn't seem likely I can get any particularly concrete information about what happens at my hospital now. I kind of think the private option is a bit unnecessary as I actually work with a load of doctors and midwives anyway (totally different geographical area, however) in a research capacity- so at least can get more 'clinical' information fairly easily.

One thing that perturbs me a bit is the knowledge that I have not the slightest idea how to start looking after a baby in anything other than the vaguest terms. My mum has volunteered to help, though, so hopefully I should be OK, right??

How much can you learn about looking after a baby on a Saturday, anyway?

Am I being totally unrealistic???

oranges Wed 04-Nov-09 15:37:49

hhmm, i thought ante natal classes were a bit of a waste of time but attended some anyway on the Lamaze technique. In the end, I was left alone during most of my very fast first labour by utterly indifferent midwives, and it was the Lamaze breathing and walking around that got me through it and kept me calm. Taking care of a bay is no issue, but it useful to have someone go through the basics of breastfeeding beforehand, as its hard to tkae things in with a newborn.

MrsVik Wed 04-Nov-09 15:40:25

I am 30 weeks - and tonight we're going on a tour of the hospital we have selected to have the baby in.

I don't know if this is offered in the UK, but it gives you a chance to ask question, find out what equipment they have onsite and what you would need to bring with you, where you would be sent in an emergency etc. If I were you, I'd phone the hospital and see if you could do something like this - at least it would answer some of your questions.

About newborn care - we took a course for it and found it informative. We felt a lot more confident afterwards. Having said that, my mother lives in a different country and wouldn't be around at help out with that kind of thing. If you are happy to rely on your mother then I don't think you need to bother with a course. Whatever happens, you'll be an expert within a week anyway!

MrsJohnDeere Wed 04-Nov-09 15:42:57

My local NHS classes were a complete waste of time. 2 weeks of role-playing (my pet hate) with topics like 'how do you think you'd feel if you went into labour in Sainsburys'.
Nothing about what it was like to give birth, feed a baby, or look after a baby, which would have been a lot more useful.

I was made to feel like a social outcast by the mw because I was the only one who didn't take a dh/dp with them (I do have a dh but he was at work at the time).

I did 2 weeks of 4 (coming home in floods of tears afterwards) then gave up.

meep Wed 04-Nov-09 15:45:44

I didn't go to my NHS classes - also due to time/work constraints.

I went to NCT classes and they gave me a reasonable idea of what to expect - and the later classes also dealt with looking after a baby (what to dress them in/ sleeping/ feeding / nappies etc.) So make sure you ask your NCT teacher to cover the sort of things you need to know.

TBH I wish I had found MN earlier as I have learnt most things from here grin.

All I knew about my hospital was where to check in when I was in labour - had no idea what would happen from there - and by teh time I was in labour I was focussed so much on that that I didn't really care.

It was a real eye-opener going back fro an elective c-section with dd2 as I was more aware of my surroundings and how things worked. With dd1 it was all a bit of a daze!

I saw the MW after I was home for the first few days - with dd2 she came for 10 days to help with bfeeding. Then the HV came and was happy to visit if I needed her.

If you are in good contact with your NCT friends then that is a good way to learn about looking after your baby. My group met up at least once a week and inbetween times we emailed constantly - a huge support!

silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 15:45:47

As a matter of fact I did the tour of the maternity department on Saturday- asked a couple of questions and got the standard answer of 'don't really know, it depends...' which wasn't terribly comforting TBH. I mean, OK, they can't tell me exactly what is going to happen to me but giving me some idea of what the usual procedure is would have been helpful...

But at least I have seen the rooms they use- not a particularly pleasant place (everyone looked really miserable) but I know roughly what to expect for that, anyway.

Don't seem to be any specific courses on newborn care in my area- probably too late for those now, anyway. But they give you a few pointers in hospital anyway, don't they?

bellissima Wed 04-Nov-09 15:46:02

At my NHS antenatal classes (Parsons Green as it happens) they said they weren't going to do breathing - the reason given was that in the past when they had, women had then tried to use it, found it wasn't working as they thought it would etc and panicked etc.

Didn't actually learn that much in terms of any 'techniques' whatever but remembered that it was all generally informative, they had 'post baby' women in to tell us how it had been etc - was all very honest about pain and pain relief (eg some like gas and air, some say it makes them feel sick etc, some of you might really want an epidural etc).

I do agree that there is precious little on looking after a baby, as opposed to being pregnant and giving birth - we all thought that afterwards. There was something about feeding but little else. And I suppose some would say that's for the HV but I agree with you that there ought to be more in these classes.

ruddynorah Wed 04-Nov-09 15:46:57

mine were ok. midwife who ran them was very good. lots about active birth positions. and we had a tour of the delivery suite and had a look at the different birthing rooms and the water pools. helped make things feel more familiar when the big day arrived.

oranges Wed 04-Nov-09 15:49:31

IT wasn't just breathing that helped me (I can understand why it would be ineffective,) more that someone had gone through basics like walking around to rock baby down into the pelvis, having dh press on my lower back for pain relief. The breathing was just to keep calm in the absence of midwives or pain relief.
I've never been to NCT classes though so can't comment on them.

silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 15:50:51

Sounds like further antenatal would not be all that useful, then- I've read loads, and feel like NCT and work colleagues have covered anything I wasn't clear on with regard to labour, on the whole.

As for baby care, I guess common sense, my mother and blind luck will probably have to do. I guess as long as you keep the baby reasonably clean and try to get into some kind of feeding routine, that's half the battle, right?

oranges Wed 04-Nov-09 15:53:40

It's only breastfeeding, silverten that can be tricky, but La Leche league and mumsnet should be able to help. Make sure they teach you to latch baby on before you leave the hospital. Good luck. smile

NowtonTelly Wed 04-Nov-09 15:54:01

Hospital antenatal classes didn't tell me anything I couldn't have learned from a book.

Get a copy of that 'What to Expect' book - think its called 'The First Year' or something like that - for practical advice on caring for your baby. Try to keep in touch with your NCT group (or go to baby groups when he/she comes along).
You'll all be in it together, learning as you go along. We've all been there smile.

If what you really want to know is stuff about the hospital you're due to give birth in, ring up the community midwife unit at the hospital, leave a message asking them to call you back (they'll inevitably be busy!) and when they do ring back (probably after you've rang several times!), fire away with the questions you have.

lulabellarama Wed 04-Nov-09 15:56:37

Don't bother. I hated mine with a passion. The information is so broad that it taught me almost nothing. Like someone else said I HATED the role play and to be honest, when it comes to labour you just do what you have to to get through.
If you've read some books you'll know enough about the various pain relief options and possible complications anyway.

Undercovamutha Wed 04-Nov-09 15:57:42

Wouldn't worry. Only useful info I got was a tour of the birthing unit and a bit of info about pain-management options. Rest of it was all crappy swedish birthing videos, practising labour massage shock, and overly keen people asking 100 random questions. No actual useful information like how to look after a baby once they're born grin! Spent the whole time sweating pints as it was July and the antenatal room was boiling! Still, it gave us a bit of a laugh!

silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 15:58:11

The problem, NowtonTelly (good name!) is that the community midwives are useless as a source of hard facts about the hospital.

But as you all seem to say, I'm probably not going to miss much in missing the NHS classes, so that's good.

Will make a mental note to be stroppy if necessary about latching on instruction while I'm in there- that seems to be a key point. Ta also for the book suggestion- will have a look at that.

Mumsnet has been a great source of information about practical stuff like what to pack in my bag, too!

lulabellarama Wed 04-Nov-09 16:00:41

Oh and babies are easy - go with your instinct and if you're unsure post here.

Bramshott Wed 04-Nov-09 16:00:59

I've had two babies and not so far made it to any sort of ante-natal class grin!

Lyndor Wed 04-Nov-09 16:01:11

Please don worry because the truth is that you can't really make any plans for the birth as it is different each time for everyone. Just be open minded and go with the flow. Having your Mum for support afterwards will be the best help you can get. Its true that mother know best here. Take care and just be yourself and you will be fine x Good luck !

MunchMummy Wed 04-Nov-09 16:03:25

I went to our NHS clsasses - and what a waste of time they weere. We were shown a dolly going through a knitted uterus and not alot else. Nothing on labour, breathing, looking after a newborn etc.

So as it was I didn't realise the different stages of labour and ended up only making it onto hospital in the middle of what I now know is called transition about an hour before DD1 was born.

But then looking back maybe it was kind of nice not knowing what was coming as I was really relaxed through it all and had no pain relief. All the questions I had about newborns (like how do I change a nappy) I asked the midwives in the hospital afterwards and they were happy to show me.
Then the midwives coming to your house and Health Visitors are always happy to answer all your silly questions.

So no, although I did go to them the classes were useless but we made it through well.

Vallhala Wed 04-Nov-09 16:03:30

If its any comfort I have had two children (a ventouse "natural" delivery and an elective section) and never attended so much as a single ante natal class. This was by choice as antenatal classes are/were just not my thing. I had never even held a baby prior to the birth of DD1 (again, my choice!).

I can honestly say that I didn't suffer as a result and neither did either of my children. I asked questions of my consultants, read up and researched as I saw fit so you have done considerably more than I... I'm sure you'll be just fine.

MrsBadger Wed 04-Nov-09 16:05:47

no no no do not get What To Expect
it is utter shit and will scare you silly, and some of its bf advice is frankly dubious

the purple and green NHS Pregnancy Book is pretty good wrt to care-for-a-newborn, but keeping one end clean and the other fed will cover most bases for a few weeks. 'Routine' shouldn't really enter into it though - if they're hungry feed them whatever the clock says...

sabire Wed 04-Nov-09 16:09:11

Agree no no no to 'what to expect'.

But 'yes, yes, yes' to mumsnet - particularly the 'breast and bottlefeeding board'!

Really, if you've done your bf class and you know where all the bf clinics are (and use them if you need them!) you should be fine. By the end of the first week you will have changed 50 nappies and dressed and undressed your baby a couple of dozen times. You'll be doing it like a pro!

Lucky you though. Enjoy your baby!

reikizen Wed 04-Nov-09 16:10:35

What 'hard facts' are you wanting to know about the hospital. Practice is fairly standard so ask away and I'll be happy to help as far as I can!

silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 16:12:10

Thanks all, feel quite a lot more confident now! I'll focus on looking at a couple of books about baby care next to try and get a few ideas of what might be good thing to aim for. Fortunately mr silverten's brother is eight years younger than him, so he has a clue, and, of course, there's my mother as well.

Am aware of the danger of reading/learning too much and getting into a mindset of 'this is how it will happen' so I think I can probably relax about labour preparation, even if I have no real idea what my hospital does as its routine. I think I've probably learned most of what is sensible to know, without getting obsessed with fine detail and sundry 'what ifs'.

Ta! smile

silverten Wed 04-Nov-09 16:19:53

Oh, OK, thanks reikizen!

My hospital has a MLU down the corridor from the CLU. I'm booked on the MLU and hope to get through with G&A and the birthing pool. You can get an epidural in the CLU but not the MLU. How long is it likely to take to transfer me from MLU to CLU if it is not an emergency- for example, if I request an epidural? Also, roughly how long does it take to get an epidural once you've asked for one (assuming, of course, that there is an anaesthetist available at the time)?

It would appear that my hospital does not offer mobile epidurals. (Have had conflicting information from anaesthetist registrar, NCT lady and various midwives on this point) If you don't get a mobile epidural, do you have any capacity to change position at all- eg, roll over in bed, sit up?...or are you flat on your back for the duration?

Would you suggest staying in hospital or getting the hell out asap to recover at home (assuming no particular medical problems evident?)

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