Our pregnancy education

Just before the 30 week stage, our “formal education” began. OMG indeed.

The exciting part: antenatal classes

  • NHS antenatal class (flinty stare from midwife was the decider there) – 2 hours or so
  • NCT – 2 full days plus a half day on breastfeeding
  • Antenatal yoga for me – actually I’ve pretty much given up on those because I kept missing them with transport problems which ironically, made me very stressed out
  • Hypnobirthing classes – four three hour weekly sessions 

There are different rationales around each thing we’re doing. I’ve been a bit rubbish about reading about pregnancy apart from occasionally dipping into this and I read Ina May Gaskin too because it was recommended by sensible friends. The birth stories in the first part get really repetitive but it’s full of common sense. Some of it seems more applicable to the US healthcare system though.

That’s why I’m keen to do the NHS class – to get a midwife-led insight into protocols and procedures our hospital would prefer to use. Mainly so we can make informed choices when writing our birth plan (or ‘wish list’ as I heard it called the other day).

The NCT classes – well, a full two and a half day program feels like a definite commitment.  Mainly to getting the emails of local parents who are having kids when we are, but still.  

We’ve done one hypnobirthing class and so far I’m really enjoying the fact that the thinking behind it really involves the dad (or birthing partner, whoever it is) Next week is all about relaxation techniques and I’ll probably be asleep by the end.

The sobering part: the cost of having a baby

Everyone tells you that this time is expensive (especially for your first) and I’m not going to lie: the education budget so far is a gut-wrenching £650, give or take. We could have saved money by buying Marie Mongan’s book and CD on hypnobirthing rather than take a class.1 Similarly with the NCT there are options other than classes. Instead we’ve scaled back other things, elected to go down the ‘preloved’ route for many things, or been lucky enough to receive gifts and hand me downs.

What did you decide to prioritise when having a baby? Was it important to you to have everything new, or did you try to keep spending to a minimum? Let me know in the comments.

Blackboard photo from Patrick Haney’s Flickr stream, under a Creative Commons licence


  1. also that hoary old chestnut of certain things such as classes being more expensive in London than elsewhere in the UK does seem to apply – demand? venue hire? We’re mugs? Who knows. 

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What to pack in your hospital bag

For some reason we’d been assuming that this baby will arrive to the world as late as his parents did (imagine, they used to let you go three weeks over back in the seventies, ahem) but it’s time to pack hospital bags. Just so they are there, waiting. As somehow ten weeks might not be that long at all.

So many lists of necessities I’ve found online seem to be retailer driven so I asked friends and the marvellous ladies of Twitter what they’d recommend – what they found genuinely useful, for them or for the baby. The list combines both the most commonly cited items, and some idiosyncratic things that I’ll be adopting. 

My bag:

  • Antiseptic wipes for the loo and bidet – seems sensible enough (sorry, NHS)
  • Maternity pads – many, many of these
  • 4 pairs of pants – disposable ones were recommended
  • Arnica capsules – to help with bruising
  • Dressing gown, slippers – things that remind me of home and are comfy, and lightweight as apparently it will be very warm in the ward 
  • My own pillow
  • Flip flops
  • Nightie or pjs – with accessible neckline for breastfeeding
  • Hairbrush and make-up, toiletries, own towel – so when I get to have a shower I’ll smell like myself again!
  • Clean going home clothes – something comfy that was suitable when I was around the five month mark. Not pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, and also easily accessible tops for breastfeeding
  • Breastpads and nursing bra – seems like disposable pads are best for hospital even if you intend to swap to washable ones later as you don’t know how long you could be in
  • ear plugs – I normally need these to sleep anyway, and they cut out the highest pitch noises
  • lip balm
  • hair clips and bands
  • pashmina or scarf cover-up for breastfeeding afterwards
  • Lanisoh cream
  • paracetamol
  • iPhone and headphones
  • Maternity tankini for the pool as we’re hoping for a waterbirth in the birthing centre
Baby’s bag:
  • 10 Nappies and unscented wipes – and cotton wool even though you’ll end up using wipes because that’s what the hospital tells you to bring
  • Clothes – at least 3 each of vests and sleepsuits – ideally in a few sizes as some babies seem to swim in ‘newborn’ or you might need the length of 0-3 months. Pack different sizes in marked ziplock bags
  • Baby hat – seems hospitals here are very keen on them although SIL in Ireland wasn’t allowed to put one on my nephew?
  • Scratch mitts – people suggested ones built into sleepsuits but I’ve yet to track those down
  • Blankets – multiple as they’ll be sicked on. But a special blanket is nice for the photos.
  • Muslins – these seem to be the single most important thing ever anyway. I’ve ordered two HUGE packs. 
  • swaddle
Mr D’s bag
  • Camera
  • Phone chargers
  • iPad – for him as much as for me
  • Damn fine snacks – for me, for Mr D and for sharing on the ward afterwards
  • Drinks with straws – for Mr D to feed me, hah, when hands are occupied with babies and trying to feed and a million other things

I’m sure there will be more to be added, and I’m going to need a steamer trunk rather than a suitcase at this rate.
Is there anything else that I’ve missed out – something you relied on? Please tell me in the comments!

Suitcase image from Lasse C’s flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence

Wild ambitions about childraising I will cherish til I actually have a child

  1. That I will make sure to get up way before my husband to ensure I get a shower before he leaves for work
  2. That I will get back to a healthy weight after the baby is born (note: this is sadly distinctly different to ‘My pre-pregnancy weight’)
  3. That I will cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and evening (as I don’t manage that now, it seems a little ambitious)
  4. That I will eat a balanced and healthy diet and ensure the rest of my family do the same (see notes on last point)
  5. That I’ll be less chaotic and neurotic about many many things and focus on the baby (latter part stands a chance)

Yesterday morning we had a short but interesting lying-in-bed chat that probably revealed more about my state of mind than any other conversation in our comparatively short but happy happy happy relationship. I told him some of the things that bother me about myself, and some of my perceptions. His eyes widened slightly (in surprise, not fear. I think.)

“But why would you think that?” he asked, full of curiosity,

“You’re perfect.”

No, I’m not. But I’m certainly very lucky.