NHS Part 7

Antenatal classes in the UK are like Every-Flavour Beans (Harry Potter reference FTW) – you can never be sure exactly what you’re going to get. This is, I believe, largely in part to the effectiveness of the ones teaching and the overall willingness for participation from those attending.

Sounds kind of damning, doesn’t it? It need not be; my personal experience with the NHS Antenatal classes in my area were – in my not-so-humble-opinion – superb. It was both entertaining and engaging; we were able to ask questions and get honest answers from the Midwife running it (they had to be honest, because they admitted when they didn’t know something).

So why do I say that willingness to participate is also a factor? It would be, perhaps, a bit more presumptuous on my part if I was solely relying on my own experiences to draw this conclusion. Thankfully, I have been able to draw on the opinions and experiences of others who have taken such classes. While my experience was great and all-round enjoyable, I was very surprised to hear from someone who took Antenatal classes from the same Midwife in the past who was less enthused.

The differences between their experience and mine were striking. According to the person I spoke with, they found it boring. Going so far as to say, “There was nothing that they talked about that we didn’t already know.”

Even asking others, who have attended classes in different areas and run by different people, the dialogue was largely the same: most people, while they didn’t hate the classes outright, found them dry and boring at the very least, if not uninformative at the worst. I was rather disheartened to hear it, to be frankly honest.

I really can appreciate how different the perceptions and experiences of two people can be. I have to wonder: was my experience more enjoyable because so many people I spoke to had said negative things about their Antenatal classes? Did I unconsciously prime myself to be disappointed from the start by listening to other’s opinions before attending one of my own? It’s possible, but if I was really expecting a let-down, would I have thought to ask questions and engage myself in the class anyway?

No one will every really know for sure, but to not participate in an information session of any sort isn’t really something I do. I’d like to think this has more to do with my personality on a whole, but perhaps there is a certain amount of sub-culture effect as well on account that my husband remarked during a break: “They can really tell there is an American in the room.”

The comment was odd to me, because I didn’t think I was falling into any kind of stereotype, so I asked him to clarify. He replied, “It’s just that you’re very assertive and knowledgeable and you aren’t afraid to show it.” That may also be interpreted as I am loud, dominating and not lacking in confidence.

I’m 80% sure that can be considered a compliment, so I’m taking it as such, but it is worth noting. It does strike me as odd, because it is not as though there is a lack of people who display the same characteristics among the British. Perhaps it only appears heightened due to subconscious appropriation on my husband’s part; I assume that may be the case, on account that the Midwife did thank me for being so active in the class. Irregardless, they were pleased and no one missed a beat in the flow of the day.

Perhaps it is because of the holidays approaching, but our original two antenatal class days were merged into one. Though the Midwife did admit that, to accommodate this, they ended up putting the cart before the horse – specifically, we covered after-birth topics in the morning and then went over labour and delivery in the afternoon.

With only a few more weeks left until our estimated due date, antenatal appointments with the Midwife are now every two weeks. So, two weeks after the Antenatal classes, I am back at my local surgery/clinic for the aforementioned checkup. It’s all pretty routine by now, barring something unexpected, I’ve come to expect to be in and out in 30 minutes or less.

That is one thing to be noted as being distinctly different about the UK versus the US when it comes to Pregnancy. While I can’t speak for all of the USA, the people I have spoken to over there, who have been pregnant at the same time as I have (give or take a week or two, but you get the idea), have disclosed that they’re being seen by their medical professionals weekly by this point.

But one thing that may also be different is, once someone is past their estimated due date in the UK on their first pregnancy, they are often offered to have a membrane sweep performed. So, barring actual birth between now and then, that will be the next appointment and, if things still do not get moving like one would hope (and I so hope…) at 41+ weeks induction or c-section may be offered, depending on the overall health of the one pregnant and, of course, the child.

Given where things are at, part 8 is likely to conclude to this series, and it will go over common birthing options (spare everyone the gory details of our own birth story) plus maybe some additional information about Health Visitors and the roles they play.


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