OK, maybe not, but you could easily be forgiven for thinking so given the uneasy experience you’re likely to have as a first time parent attending pre-natal classes.
It’s a curious thing. There you are, in a room full of other people in exactly the same boat as you, nobody really clear about what’s heading their way over the next few months and years, yet everybody seems very reluctant to start a conversation.
Perhaps it’s out of fear of asking a stupid question. Maybe it’s because you have genuine concerns about having a baby but don’t want admit it to a group of strangers for fear of them judging you.
Whatever the reason for the trepidation, as one of many people who have been through it – both NHS and NCT groups – I’m telling you to break the mould and be the first to say something, even if it’s intentionally dim!
We attended the NHS group first and it’s fair to say we didn’t click with the people in our particular session. However, fair play to the outspoken pest controller who broke the news to the group that cot death could kill a child up to the age of 14.
It may have put us all on edge at the time, but it also made us realise how much of the preparation for parenting is based on worst case scenarios. Sitting through the classes, it somehow felt that parenthood was a risk that we were exposing ourselves to as the bases and due diligence were being covered off*.
The NCT classes were an entirely different ball game and not for the reasons I’d expected. The message we got about the birthing process from our NCT teacher/guru was that drugs were bad (Mmmkay) and that breathing through it was the way to go. This fitted with my pre-conceptions of the organisation and had no bearing on how my wife and I decided to approach the birth.
However, the people attending the class were nothing like what I was expecting. Far from attending to be convinced about the birthing process, they were there to meet friends who could go through the process at the same time. As it happens, we were really lucky and found a group of people with whom we’ve remained in contact and will continue to do so.
For the Dads-to-be it took some larking about like a bunch of school kids in the first session to break the ice, but everyone soon settled in and started to get what they needed to from the class: the realisation that everyone shares very similar concerns and that there are no (genuinely) stupid questions. This meant we could stop the fretting and start to enjoy the experience.
You can’t understand how much it helps to have this support network in place, even now some 16 months later. Kids throw new stuff at you every day – sometimes literally – whether that’s first steps, bizarre sleeping patterns or teething troubles, and sharing that with others who are going through the same takes the weight off your mind.
So, my advice to any first time Dad is to attend these pre-natal sessions with your better half and to grab the bull by the horns and get the chatter going. Not only has fatherhood brought me a lovely daughter, I’ve gained beer buddies, running partners and friends for years to come. And some of them are already going through it again for the second time!
Dan Bowsher does webby things @VodafoneUK and is the concept-bod behind the @People_Run – a fundraising initiative for Naomi House children’s hospice. Check out http://PeopleRun.net/ for the who, why, what, where, when and how