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Pre-natal Camps – Help Or Hype?

Towards the end of my second trimester, a question found its place in most conversations I had with my friends, “Which pre-natal classes have you joined?” Not that I had not heard about them. I had read articles and testimonials, but somehow I had never felt the need, thinking things would fall in place on their own once I became a mom. Call it peer pressure or the excellent convincing skills of my friends, I soon found myself looking for a pre-natal class. However, my work schedule on weekdays meant I could only attend class on weekends. By the time I managed to sneak myself into the last available vacancy of a weekend pregnancy camp, I was already into my seventh month. I still remember my mom in law’s reaction when I told her about the concept of pre natal classes – “So motherhood has now become a subject taught in classes!” All I could manage was a smile in my defence.

On the first day of the camp, I was surprised to see ladies in their first trimester in the same room. For me, the first trimester had been all about battling morning sickness, weakness and mood swings. I heaved a sigh of relief when during the introduction round I met two ladies in their eighth month. So I was not the last one catch the bus!

The two day boot camp was like a crash course to pregnancy and motherhood. From diet and exercise during pregnancy, coping with labour, relaxation and breathing techniques, hospital bag checklist to taking care of the newborn – the curriculum covered it all. They even demonstrated how to bathe a newborn with the help of a doll, which had us all dreaming of the day when we would be holding our li’l ones in our arms. The labour session saw the most attendance and had hubbies listening with rapt attention. We made notes like we hadn’t even made during college. After all, we all wanted to master the art of parenting!

With a notebook full of scribbles, a handbook on parenting, WhatsApp contacts of fellow moms-to-be and lots of good wishes from our instructors, I felt like a mom already! My mom in law was glad to see my transformation from a nervous mom-to-be to a confident lady and appreciated my decision to join the classes.

There is a saying – Man proposes and God disposes.

While hubby and I were all prepared with the relaxation and breathing techniques, the C-Section caught us unawares. My classes had taught me to hold the baby to my chest soon after birth, but the after effects of anaesthesia had me painfully bedridden and unable to even hold my son for the first two days. I was very confident about breastfeeding, thanks to the demos in my pre-natal classes. However, I was shocked when the latch became a Herculean task! No matter how much I tried in whichever position, the baby just wouldn’t latch. All of a sudden, the wisdom and confidence gained from the classes seemed useless as my baby cried of hunger. Lesson learnt – NOTHING can prepare us for motherhood.

However, does that prevent me from suggesting moms-to-be to go for pre-natal classes? No. For, after the few initial days of teething troubles, the wisdom gained from the camp helped me in a big way. My mom in law was impressed when she saw me using the right strokes to massage my baby.

Here’s why I would recommend all parents-to-be to join pre-natal classes

1. The sessions help parents-to-be become mentally prepared for parenting and in fact even helps them bond during this new phase of their lives. Especially for the dad-to-be, the sessions are of great help, for they become aware of the physical and emotional changes a woman goes through in the process. From participating in breathing techniques to providing a relaxing massage during labour, the classes help hubbies become the pillar of support to their wives.
2. With majority of couples living in a nuclear family set up these days, the classes are of great help in acquiring the age old wisdom and tips that usually moms and mom in laws share. Our instructors shared with us recipes that help increase breastmilk and diet to be followed post delivery.
3. A healthy mom brings a healthy baby into the world. Thanks to my pre-natal camp, I learnt some amazing Yoga asanas that helped me remain relaxed and comfortable during pregnancy and even post delivery.
4. The sessions on taking care of the baby help a mom to become hands on, be it giving the baby a massage, or giving the perfect swaddle.
5. The classes help you meet fellow parents-to-be and share experiences and tips.

A few points to be considered while choosing pre natal classes

1. Select a class nearby, instead of blindly opting for the most expensive/popular option.
2. Go through the curriculum before enrolling. With a rise in the number of C-sections these days, I recommend choosing a class that gives enough insights about coping with a C-section. Also, since latching challenges are common, a detailed session on breastfeeding and expressing breast milk can help you be more confident with the feeding.
3. Take feedback from someone who has attended the classes, preferably someone who has already delivered.
4. Keep the batch size in mind. You wouldn’t want to be in the last row of the most popular class, struggling to peep and make some sense of the talk happening in the front.
5. Timing is very important. Discuss with your gynaecologist before enrolling for the classes, for s/he is the best person to comment on your preparedness for pre-natal yoga.

While nothing can prepare us for motherhood than motherhood itself, acquired wisdom can definitely make parenting a better experience.

Shaivi says – Banker by day, blogger by night – that’s me. After a decade of dabbling into hospitality, corporate communications, training, employee engagement and banking, motherhood is the new role that keeps me on my toes! Nothing gives me more happiness than bringing a smile on someone’s face and learning something new each day; and blogging provides me a platform to do that. I blog at Shaivi ka funda. So here I am, to share my experiences as a new mom and get insights from experienced parents.