If Carlsberg did Antenatal Classes........
My three antenatal classes consisted of the midwife, let’s call her Chummy, panting her way through the first, second and third stages of labour, the joys of gas and air and the downsides of epidurals. Prepped and ready for class number four, how to care for your new born, my mini made his appearance. Needless to say, we missed the optional class on ‘how to breast feed successfully’.
Don’t get me wrong, I know services are more stretched than a fully dilated cervix but in hindsight I think mamas are short changed. What I needed was a frank account of not just what happens during labour but also the really painful bit… the postpartum parenting!
If Carlsburg did antenatal classes…
Step aside Carlsberg, Yorkshire Tea and Tunnock’s are on the refreshments….
For the potentially faint hearted we’ll serve you up a BrewDog Nanny State, your taxi services may be required any minute.
Swollen cankles propped up on a footstool, massive arse nestled comfortably on a large armchair nursing that hot cup of Yorkshire for all it is worth, they’ll be tepid from here on in. Reaching for the teacake and Chummy is in full swing, panting her way into the second stage, but this time she doesn’t labour the point. Once dolly is delivered we move briskly on, before people start contemplating their future contraception to avoid a repeat performance.
Knocked up neighbours to my left and brand spanking mamas with their minis to my right, settled in with my peers having a proper chin wag about what’s to come and how to overcome it. The foundations of the village that will help raise this mini growing in my belly. Hearing from the horse’s mouth, the toolbox for battling breastfeeding: breast pads, nipple cream, breast shells, nipple shields, silver cups, latch assist to name a few. How to correctly handle the heavy machinery that is boobs, baby and breast pumps; and who to call when it's all not working - the lactation consultant. The low down on formula and bottle feeding that doesn’t make you feel down or low but provides practical advice on formulas, sterilising, preparation, temperature, positioning, storage, teats and bottles. Learning the tricks of the trade. Seeing first hand, the tiger in a tree, working up some wind. Hearing that breast shells are the best armour in the war that may be waged on your nipples - because at the start, breastfeeding can hurt even when you’re getting it right! Learning that a hot shower can work magic to ease the body and the mind. Chummy overseeing the foray and putting her tuppence worth in, if that’s what you can call a lifetime of experience, perhaps that should read priceless.
The icing on the teacake would be the after party, the provision of mama support groups, specifically designed for all mamas who need a hot cuppa and a chinwag. There would be no awkward number swapping required, instead leaflets passed around would provide dates and venues of the next mama meet ups. A non-judgemental café to air the good, the bad and the ugly of the fourth trimester.
The café would house a reading corner, boasting our best sellers as such:
- The Unmumsy Mum; Sarah Turner
- Hurrah For Gin; Katie Kirby
- Letters To My Fanny; Cherry Healy
- Bottled Up: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come To Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn't; Suzanne Barston
- Healing Breastfeeding Grief; Hilary Jacobsen
- What To Expect When You're Breastfeeding....And What If You Can't; Clare Byam-Cook
- The Fourth Trimester Magazine; Amy Rose
and a pack of YESMUM affirmation cards by Hollie De Cruz on hand!
A place where we would learn to thrive not just survive as a mama, a wife, a lover, a matriarch, a friend… as me.