5 reasons why every dad-to-be should attend prenatal classes


Attend prenatal classes with your wife (Thinkstock)
Attend prenatal classes with your wife (Thinkstock)
Your wife is pregnant and you are proving to be the ideal husband by being her support system. You’ve already chalked out the doctor visits, are ensuring she eats right and giving her all the assistance she needs. You’ve even bought books on pregnancy and have started skimming through the pages. But if the idea of becoming a dad has not sunk in yet, worry not, for you are not alone. Many men take a long time to prepare for fatherhood. That’s exactly why you should take childbirth classes. If you thought your wife should be the only one attending them, you are wrong. From learning about your wife’s needs to anticipating the demands of being a parent, it’s a wonderful way to kick-start your journey. Here are five reasons why you should attend prenatal classes with your spouse…

1.You will understand your pregnant wife’s needs
While your parents might stay over to help the two of you during the crucial months, it’s important that you also know what your wife is going through, both physically and emotionally. Sharmila Bhangur, a wellness instructor at an institute that offers birthing classes, says, “These help men get a fair idea about the stress that women go through when they are carrying. Eating healthy and on time, exercising and stretching must be a part of their everyday routine. Even if a gynaecologist tells you the same, men can learn about them in depth at these classes.”

2. This gives you a chance to spend more time with your wife
They are the perfect excuse to bond with your spouse. Marketing executive Srimath Bhargav, who has joined a birthing class with his wife, says, “Due to my frenetic schedule, I only spend Sundays at home with my wife. But ever since we started attending the classes together, I’ve made it a point to leave from office every day by 6 pm so that we can spend an hour with each other there. We do bonding exercises, like talking about birthing plans. She shares her deepest pregnancy fears with me and I help her in stretching and relaxing. I have fallen in love with her all over again now.”

3. You can ask questions and clear your doubts
How do you find out if your wife is in labour? What can you do to ease her pain? What if the baby chokes on milk? Are you changing the nappy the right way? Your mind will be flooded with questions and searching the answer online may not be the best idea. Dr Raghu Dixit, a gynaecologist, explains, “These classes will give you first-hand training on what to do when her water breaks, how to ease her pain using alternative techniques and even help identify different signs of discomfort.” He chuckles, “More importantly, you can learn what not to do and say when she’s writhing in pain!”

4. You can bond with other equally nervous dads-to-be
You must be happy to know that at most of these prenatal classes, you are not the only one who is attending it for the first time. Sharmila adds, “Many first-time dads take up birthing lessons to be a hands-on parent. They are open to asking questions and are in fact, quite proud that they are acting as their wife’s support system. There are others who might be forced to attend, but eventually develop a keen interest because they genuinely want to know everything about childbirth. These classes are a great way to get talking to other would-be dads.”

5. Join one because she needs you by her side
Today, childbirth is no longer only about women. Men are now involved in every aspect and even stand by their partners in the labour room. So, it’s only natural your wife will expect you to be there with her, right from the minute she discovers she is carrying.

How to choose the right class
If you are up for the prenatal lessons, don’t wait till the last trimester. Doctors say the best time to start them is when you are in your fifth month.
Dr Raghu says, “You should finish these classes by your eighth month so that you have ample time to consult your gynaecologist and ask him/her your concerns.”
There are many aspects you must consider before signing up for a class. He adds, “There are diverse styles. For instance, in the Lamaze technique, the coach teaches the women natural ways to approach childbirth without using drugs. There’s also another method, where the husband is required to participate equally. Find out about the teaching style before you opt for a class.”
The duration of the course is important because most of these labour techniques take time to be mastered. So, ensure the coaching class is flexible.
The number of couples attending a session is inversely proportional to the personal attention you get.
Find out beforehand what will be taught. Also check if the classes will only involve discussions and practical session or also include audio-visual aid.

What do you learn in these classes?
A-Z about her health.
Pain relief and alternative therapies, including basic exercises and postures.
Different kinds of birthing options and what could be the best for the two of you.
The importance of breastfeeding and how you can be of help to her.
Behaviour of babies and things you must be aware of, like what to do when the child burps, how to change nappies, how to lift them up etc.
Dealing with postnatal depression.

Survival tips
Birthing classes may not necessarily be scary or make you uncomfortable. Of course, you might see videos of childbirth and just want to faint, but a major part of the activity involves discussions and fun exercises.
Be friendly and strike up conversation with other couples. You never know, you might find new friends during the course.
Ask a lot of questions. That’s why you are here in the first place.