What My Prenatal Class Forgot To Tell Me

Prenatal Classes - Newborn Care

Freaky-eyed fake baby (Photo credit: French Touch Mom)

A Facebook friend of mine just announced the joyous news of her first pregnancy. Soon afterwards she asked for advice on which prenatal class to sign up for. That got me thinking…about 95% of what I learned in prenatal class was useless.  Motherhood has a wild initiation period and no class fully prepares you for the upheaval your first child brings.

Here is a list of what you really need to know before bringing home baby:

  1. How to change a diaper on a wiggling, squirmy puppy. If you can do this, you may be able to change a one-year old. Yes, the freaky-eyed, fake babies the nurses bring are good practice for changing a newborn.  However, if your baby is like both of mine were, at around 9 months she will realize that it’s really not fun to have her legs in the air and someone swiping at her private parts.
  2. How to function on 3 hours of sleep per night. Prenatal classes should be held over a long weekend with no breaks for sleep. This might give new parents a tiny idea of how they will feel while caring for a new baby. Sleep deprivation is real and it sucks. Even if you get the very rare, almost-mythical “good-sleeper” off the bat, that is no guarantee that your baby will not turn into a non-sleeper at 3 months or 6 months.
  3. Never brag about your good sleeper on Facebook. That guarantees you a non-sleeper the next night.
  4. How to cope during the first few weeks with your baby. Our instructor could have covered the basics of pregnancy and labour in an hour and sent us home to watch What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Actual discussion of the huge psychological changes involved in becoming a parent would be far more helpful.
  5. Even if drugs are not in your plan, when the time comes, you will want them. Read up on them. The same goes for c-sections. Better to be prepared. My children are five and almost two. I had an epidural and morphine with one and practically no meds with the other. Now that the kids are older, no one asks me about it and nobody cares. You won’t get a badge of honour or special trophy for going drug-free or avoiding a c-section. Do what you need to do to remain somewhat calm and deliver a healthy baby.
  6. Breastfeeding is wonderful and natural and angels sing when some mothers do it. It also sucks sometimes, especially in the beginning. The nurse teaching our prenatal class actually said out loud to us “Don’t keep bottles or formula in your house. You may be tempted to use them.” We diligently followed her advice…until it was day 5 and my milk hadn’t come in and my son was screaming and starving. We ignored her advice and supplemented the poor child. He survived and he is perfect.
  7. If you want your baby to sleep in your room, put him there. If you can’t sleep with your baby in your room, put him in his own room if it’s nearby. It is your house, your baby and you need to do what helps everyone in the house get as much sleep as possible. I followed the “rules for creating an independent sleeper” with my son. He slept in his own room until his sister came along when he was three. Everything changed then and no book or  sleep expert in the world could compete with a screaming newborn on the other side of the bedroom wall. Now my son is five and he crawls into the big bed every night.*
  8. Never talk about your maternity leave as your “year off.” It is your “year on.” You’ll see.

*I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 🙂

What do you wish someone would have told you before you had your first child?

11 responses

  1. I wish someone had told me that my heart had just grown legs and could walk away from me and into a big, scary world. I want to keep my babes in a bubble.

    1. Yes. Part of me is thrilled when I see my children’s budding independence. The other part of me wants to wrap them up and keep them safe.

  2. Oh you have it so right! I remember being really cross with my mum for not telling me how hard it was gonna be! I just remember holding my Aimee and thinking what do I do now help!

    1. I remember walking out of the hospital with my son thinking, “What on earth do we do now?” lol My mom tried to warn me that breastfeeding wasn’t easy but I just assumed it would all be like in the movies. Ha!

  3. Oh Murphy, you hit the nail head. My youngest is one and you just reminded me how difficult having a newborn is, and how useless the antenatal classes were. We aren’t having anymore children…this reminds me why lol

  4. 1. Be prepared to go to PreNatal class alone when your partner is away on business or a military exercise. 😦 2. There might be a chance you have to be induced so that your partner can be with you for the delivery before leaving for a work related task.

  5. Wise woman as always!
    Thanks from my part , too!

  6. I love it….it’s all so true. We attended that stupid prenatal class and I don’t remember a thing about it except a picture of how much our bladder gets squished. I bet the teacher would love to hear that’s all I got out of her class. So, so true. Great post:)

  7. Ha ha. Like you need to see a picture to know your bladder gets squished!

  8. If we were told the “real” truth to raising babies into respectful, honest, and loving adults, we’d have a lot less people roaming this earth. Maybe it’s good we don’t know what’s in store for us. Lol. Thanks for your blogs. Love them!

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