Knocked up? Worried that ante-natal classes are going to have you humming Kumbya as you openly talk about fannies? Well, it doesn’t have to be such a procreational horror show; cue The Doctor and Daughter’s school of learning run by father Roger Marwood and daughter Rebecca Maberly. No nonsense, fully genned-up (he’s a obstetrician, she’s a mother of two), this is where answers are straight and people are normal. Don’t believe us? Beth and Matt are checking out the sessions every week as they head towards splash down. Here’s how they got on in week one.
Tonight was our first antenatal class. We’d considered NCT but plumped for Doctor and Daughter as we thought medical knowledge coupled with first-hand experience of birth was more suited to our approach to impending parenthood.
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. Pregnancy is a time of firsts – the first time you don’t get your period, the first time you look down and realise you can’t see your feet… and antenatal classes are no different. At worst, I was imagining a hippy health nut encouraging us to lie on the floor simulating labour while shouting at me for not doing my pelvic floors or eating enough vegetables. Matt had worn chinos “in case they make us sit on the floor and move around”. Thankfully, we were both wrong.
We made our way in, following a similarly pregnant couple down the street and into a church hall, and were relieved to find a small group of chairs (chairs! No beanbags on the floor!) and a group of pregnant woman and nervous-looking dads – we were in the right place.
We went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing a bit about how we were finding pregnancy, as well as any particular fears or concerns we had. I was pleased to see we were all due around the same time – some at the same hospital as me (Chelsea and Westminster).
Our first session covered health in pregnancy – Rebecca had helpfully sent in advance some information on what the course would cover, as well as a fab list of what to buy (and more importantly what not to buy!) for your baby – and we started by talking about what to eat and drink. I was happy to hear that a lot of the ‘banned’ foods I’d been avoiding were fine to eat in pregnancy – I’m looking forward to eating some stilton when I get home, but I might still avoid the sushi just in case.
We moved on to discussing exercise, and I even felt brave enough to put up my hand and admit to having done no exercise since getting the positive pregnancy test. I was relieved to hear it wasn’t too late to start! Roger also explained some of the side effects and complications of pregnancy that we might encounter throughout our pregnancies – from the all-too-familiar (swollen ankles, constipation, nausea) to the more serious (pre-eclampsia, obstetric choleostasis and gestational diabetes) as well as the warning signs to watch out for.
I was a little alarmed by Roger’s assertion that “there are two types of pregnant women – those who get piles, and those who lie about it”, but I live in hope that I’ll remain haemorrhoid-free!
We also talked about travel in pregnancy, sleep, aches and pains and even sex! I think Matt was relieved I didn’t indulge my innate oversharer and start revealing all our bedroom secrets. We were encouraged to ask questions throughout the session as well as chat amongst ourselves about things – I have no doubt that the informal atmosphere and Roger and Rebecca’s open and welcoming nature helped the group to gel.
At the end of the session, we were joined by a guest speaker, who is a pilates teacher and physiotherapist, to teach us how to do pelvic floor exercises properly. I was pretty daunted by the prospect – I’ve never been sure I’m quite doing them right – but Jane was great. I’m sure I’ll be chanting the ‘stop a fart, stop a wee, pull up in between’ mantra for the remainder of my pregnancy and beyond.
The last thing I have ever wanted is to sit in a room full of complete strangers doing strange and cringe-worthy birthing positions with my partner. And so I was relieved to find the focus of Doctor and Daughter to be adult, useful and based on science.
My overriding sense on the first night was of the gratifying lack of agenda. This was a totally non-judgemental look at pregnancy, focused on being relaxed about the informed choices we might make along the way.
I can’t stress enough how useful it is to be able to ask questions of an experienced Obstetrician and a frank, honest sensible mother of two. There are, I have found, not a lot of sensible people in the world but Roger and Rebecca are two of them.
And no, Matt will not be keeping up with his pelvic floor exercises, no matter how important Roger thinks it is.
Want to sign up to The Doctor & Daughter’s Guide to Pregnancy classes? Click here.