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Basic Training: If Dads Ran Their Own Pre-Natal Classes...

Image courtesy of the film Full Metal Jacket, 1987

For a man, sitting through six weeks of pre-natal classes is no better than sleeping your way through a grade nine health class. Both are about the birds and the bees (with the obvious exception that one is about avoiding pregnancy and the other is about celebrating it) but neither teaches you anything you can't learn from your older brother. If you ask me, six weeks of breathing exercises, soothing massage techniques, the art of the foot rub, and expert commentary from people who merely want to hand out business cards can be better spent watching the "Baby Story" marathon on the Slice Network. Sure, you're there to support your wife, the one carrying 50 extra pounds of fetus, placenta and water weight, but even she feels your pain and wishes you didn't have to be there (mostly because your snoring is embarrassing her).

Let's be honest, your presence at a traditonal-style pre-natal class is about as necessary as your presence at the birth of your child. You're just there for show. Between Doulas, and Doctors and a direct line to the on-call nurse, you're about as useful in a delivery room as a groom during the planning of a wedding.  Don't get me wrong, you want to be involved but as you're not the one carrying the precious cargo you might as well not be in the room. Except, you will be in the room and if no one includes you in the conversation the second your kid wiggles his way out of the birth canal you're going to be at a loss for what to do when your presence is required the most.
My suggestion: separate pre-natal classes for Moms and Dads. Moms can keep their technical, tedious, time-tested teaching techniques (pamphlets, pictures, professionals in the field) and us guys can finally get the hands on approach we so desperately need. So what would a pre-natal class designed by dad look like? Think of it as a kind of high school football practice meets shop class meets military style training course. We'd bring out the Madden-esque teleprompter, show game film (birth videos), go through all our plays for game day (labour and birth) and run contingency drill after drill until we get it right. We'd train on all the most expensive equipment (strollers, car seats, cribs) taking it apart and putting it back together until we can do it with our eyes closed. And we'd run each and every new dad through a comprehensive commando course on how to survive a challenging sequence of events (diaper changes, feedings, burping) while manoeuvring through the minefield of fatherhood (sleeplessness, crying, crankiness, postpartum depression)... And then we'd bring in a stripper (kidding).

It's a different approach, to be sure, but preparing a dad for the birth of his first child is no different than training a young recruit to go off to war. You wouldn't drop off a soldier in the jungle without a weapon, so why wouldn't you arm first-time fathers with the real, practical knowledge they need to survive the first crucial year of fatherhood? Pamphlets are what you use when you run out of toilet paper, not what you need when teaching a new dad about the most important role he will ever play.

So what do you say: separate pre-natal classes for Moms and Dads?
It just makes better sense. Doesn't it?


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Reader Comments (4)

Thanks to all our new Australian friends who stopped by today... you guys came out in force!

August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Dolgin

That's good stuff! I could imagine that type of class, and what would be even more awesome is a hidden camera so all the moms could look at the drills and assembly, and either get a good chuckle (cause goodness knows a pregnant woman always needs a laugh) or have a moment, and stifle a tear of joy.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I'm going to be honest here and say that pamphlets didn't do anything for me as a pregnant woman, either...maybe a total re-vamping of the traditional prenatal class is necessary...

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDayna

So much YES for this... but, I'll be honest- the wife and I didn't really do any of the classes. We had a few mandatory ones (I was in the military at the time), but for the most part, it was talks with the Doc at the prenatal checkups.

And, they were aimed at the wife. My job, as explained was to "provide support"... kind of like a jockstrap. Encourage her to push (and apparently my voice got loud, because the woman pushing a baby out told me to stop screaming), hold her hand (and get my hand crushed by a woman who normally has to put everything she has into a punch on my arm for it to hurt), and tell her she was doing great. Give her some ice chips (and get them spit at me as she decided she didn't want them), and smile.

But I wasn't given guidance for any of those tasks, I was simply told "do this" and "be supportive".

But, you forgot some of the courses that would be needed.
1) The first bath, and the Black Tar
2) Changing diapers, the REAL story (with fully loaded demonstrations)
3) How to be able to weep at the sight of your baby girl/boy, but not let others see you
4) How to survive on 30 minute catnaps

December 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous J

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