|Image courtesy of the film Full Metal Jacket, 1987|
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?