Childbirth education classes are a necessary evil.
If you’re going to push something the size of a watermelon out of an orifice that is usually the size of a blueberry, then you need some training. Very few first time parents are willing to go through the whole birth thing without at least a little bit of formal advice, and sadly that advice is rarely delivered privately.
Not since high school have you been packed like hairy little anchovies, side by side into a small space, and expected to bond over a single commonality. The environment is distinctly awkward, the subject matter confronting, the props just plain weird and your fellow participants? Well, they’re the most challenging part of the whole childbirth education experience.
Luckily, you don’t need to be unprepared for the friend-making element of the class. Who to avoid and who to buddy up with is something you can study for in advance. The couples you want to be furthest away from (and avoid any group activity with) will inevitably fall into one of seven deeply annoying categories.
Read the list and learn to identify them, like native birds, by their distinct markings, trademark noises and toiletry behaviours. And then? Pick your seat as carefully as you possibly can. (Whatever you do, don’t sit next to number 4).
1. The super prepared couple who have read EVERY baby book (and want the whole room to know it).
She is dressed in super-comfy, designer maternity wear and is wearing the most sensible of sensible shoes. He’s come prepared too, ready to get down on the floor and deliver the best supportive massage of anyone else in the room. They nod knowingly when medical terms like ‘pre-eclampsiya’ or ‘funds’ or ‘alpha fetoprotein’ are used. They exchange pitying smug glances with one another whenever someone has a question. Dad-to-be regularly interrupts, belittles and clarifies the midwife’s perfectly reasonable explanations.
2. The hippy couple where mum-to-be’s birth plan is Absolutely. Not. Negotiable.
These two haven’t read a single conventional parenting book but have done their own research, which they will use as cover to tell everybody else in the class that they’re going to give birth wrong. For these two, a natural vaginal birth is not a preferred option, it is a requirement. They talk in hushed, musical tones about the benefits of Himalayan salt lamps, flinch whenever the word ‘epidural’ is thrown into conversation and don’t need an iPod birth playlist because chimes and guitars are far more soooooooothing.
3. The trendy couple who are too cool for name tags, activities and everyone in the room.
This couple are easy to spot because they will inevitably be late. They will skip the whole ‘write a name tag’ business because they’re above that and dawdle on the way back from every class break. The pair will spend most of the class gazing at their mobile phones, reading articles on the New York Times website about Hillary Clinton’s chances in the Iowa caucuses. They smirk during the small group activities and watch the clock as intently as year 11 students waiting for the school bell.