Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Too cool for school (part 1)

The world can seem an intimidating place for those expecting a baby. A big part of this is due to two things; baby books and antenatal classes.

First, let's deal with baby books. They occupy a cavernous niche in the publishing sector, so much so that Amazon lists over 6500 titles in English language paperbacks alone. They exist not to inform parents, but to provide the financial underpinnings to countless publishing houses worldwide. As a dad, or dad to be, you don't really need to read baby books. Whilst studies have shown that such books can be useful in helping at-risk families plan for and mitigate risks, the evidence also suggests that if you're thick enough to need a baby book, you probably wont understand it anyway. The intended target of baby books, both in terms of marketing and written style is overly-emotional women-folk whose very endocrine system has turned on them; this induces more panic and shopping, yet they rarely break things down by giving a realistic summary of odds and statistics.

Next there's antenatal classes. These are of far more use, especially if you're lucky enough to live in the UK and can go to classes run by the NHS. As they are not operating for profit they tend to break things down far more and give a realistic view of the statistics and worries. They usually have little models to play with that involve challenges like getting Stretch Armstrong out of a plastic pelvis. In the UK there are usually two classes, the first dealing with birth and the second dealing with caring for a child. The first of these classes is really useful, and serves to demystify things: the helpful midwife at mine actually suggested that I take snacks and drinks for myself along to the delivery as it can be a long and tedious process. As for the second class, I'm assuming that it doesn't teach too much useful stuff as the baby decided to enter the world the day before we were due to attend...