You’re pregnant! It might have taken years of trying or it might have happened quickly, but now there are exciting changes and a baby on the way.
Many people come to me wondering how they can best prepare themselves for pregnancy and labour — and the new life joining their family. It can be hard to sort through the confusing or opposing opinions of family, friends and the Internet (and even strangers on the street). You want to do what’s best: eat the best food for your baby; grow a healthy child; stay healthy and fit yourself; manage labour pains; and care for your baby after birth as best as possible.
In life, we prepare ourselves for most everything. We study before school tests, we get work-specific training, read recipes before baking. Why should becoming parents be any different? It is one of the most important roles we will take on in life.
Prenatal classes are a good way to help understand the many changes that will occur before and after birth. They are not only valuable to the women carrying the babies, but also and perhaps especially to the support partners. I felt so strongly about the usefulness of prenatal classes that I made sure that my husband and I took group classes together before the birth of our first child – even though I had taught them for years. He found it eye-opening, hearing and seeing from someone else all the changes that were to occur; how long or quick labour could be; how small or big babies could be; how often newborns feed and sleep; how he would have a role in supporting me through labour and how he could be helpful afterwards. For both partners, having an understanding that there can be many possible outcomes in a pregnancy and labour can help us all get prepared and be flexible.
Not all classes are the same and they need to fit the people that are taking them. Some, such as Connecting Pregnancy groups, even pair the doctor visit with your class. Classes may focus on changes during pregnancy, labour, coping with pain (not just medical interventions), breastfeeding and newborn nutrition, and what to expect from newborns when they’re out in the world. The first few weeks of newborn life are demanding and exhausting. Having some awareness and preparation for this is helpful to manage expectations and to be gentle on yourself when things don’t go as planned. Sometimes the best things that can come are not what you expect at all, such as meeting a long-lasting friend. Having parent friends is essential when navigating the seas of parenthood. It can be a lonely, frustrating, physically and emotionally draining time period. Having someone you can be with, even when you’re tired or haven’t found time for a shower, and still feel supported can help make all the difference.
Prenatal classes, although useful, can be costly. Please talk to your maternity care provider or prenatal class instructor, as many classes offer spaces at reduced rates when needed.
Link to some prenatal classes in Vancouver and surrounding areas: https://pregnancyvancouver.ca/resources/prenatal-classes/
Pregnancy Vancouver is a project of the Vancouver Division of Family Practice (VDoFP). The VDoFP is creating a network of Family Doctors to enhance and facilitate knowledge exchange about prenatal and postpartum care, connect Family Doctors, and improve the maternity care referral process.