I have to say, I was completely confident that attending NCT classes was the best approach we could take (as prospective parents), I was pretty adamant that the NHS one-day class couldn't possibly offer us anything that we wouldn't already have covered (and covered in more depth)...but I was wrong...and I was very glad I did (in the end) decide to attend (despite resenting the lost weekend time)...
Those four hours on Saturday last (considering we have already spent over 6 hours in NCT classes) actually answered more of my nagging, half-formed questions than all of the NCT sessions put together - although in fairness, we do still have a number of NCT sessions left (during which they may well fully redeem themselves)...I think my point here is that this class (in a nutshell) fully covers the *essentials*...
I'll sum up here the very important things they went through, just as a personal aide-mémoire (if nothing else), but you never know, someone out there might find this useful too... ;)
Facts and figures first of all - East Surrey hospital is a teaching hospital with 100 midwives on their books, in the ordinary labour ward (they told us not to use the term "high risk", as it simply isn't the case) there are 9 beds, each in it's own room with en-suite facilities (bath, toilet etc.) plus a further 6 beds for those needing to be induced (which are just normal rooms)...this area is a normal hospital environment (i.e. 100% clinical, perhaps a bit scary for a first time mum and dad)...next there is the birthing centre where things are rather different - only three rooms this time, but each has a mattress on the floor, birthing mats, large bouncy balls (for sitting on), sofas and even a flat panel TV, lighting is subdued - the whole environment is about as far as you can remove yourself from "ER" or "Casualty"...they also have a birthing pool, calm music is encouraged and lights tend to have dimmer switches...if there are no complications at all (and the rooms are available) then anyone can use this area...the nice thing being, if anything does start to concern the midwives, within 2 minutes you are in a clinical environment with all the tools and staff at hand to deal with any emergencies...it really does have the best of both worlds...
The next thing they took us through was all the (critical) things to pack...
So here, the definitive list of "What to take to hospital" (from a senior Midwife's point of view) -
2 large towels
3 baby vests
3 baby grows
A pot of barrier cream (Sudacrem)
An infinite supply of muslin cloths (you can never have too many)
A selection of cool clothes for mum (suitable for long, refreshing constitionals around the golf course)
A large selection of high energy snacks (up to 6,500 calories (that's 1,500 more than NCT estimates!) can be burnt up during childbirth)
Glucose tablets (same reason, plus quick and easy to imbibe)
Lip balm (the gas, if taken, tends to dry out the mouth)
A baby blanket (not white, or the orderlies might take it down to the dungeons to be washed, never to be seen again)
A full pack of nappies
2 pillows (the hospital is low at the moment - again though , not white pillow cases!)
1 (must be brand new and boxed, or you won't be allowed to plug it in for health and safety reasons) electric desk fan (it is deliberately kept warm on the wards to reduce shock to the newborns, and it's going to be hot anyway)!
...and in a *separate* carrier bag (ready to hand to the midwife when requested) -
1 disposable nappy
1 basic vest
1 basic baby grow (don't bother with a posh one at this stage, by all accounts it will be covered in sick by visiting time, switch to the posh one 2 minutes before the door opens to admit relatives)
1 basic hat
1 basic cardigan
Next up, I'll cover the signs they told us to keep an eye on as the due date approaches, getting to hospital, and what happens during the first stage of pregnancy...but that is for another post (as this one is already quite long enough... ;)