Why am I in these prenatal classes?

Throughout my years of teaching I’ve noticed that some fathers-to-be arrive at their first prenatal class looking a little conflicted.  During introductions, when asked what they want out of their prenatal classes, they candidly share that they don’t really know (how can you know what you don’t know?)  The woman is giving birth, not them…aren’t the classes going to be all about her?  How do dads fit in?  What role are they expected to play? Are they supposed to ‘coach’ their partner through a process they themselves do not understand and can’t relate to?

Some of these dads joke a lot, especially in the first class. I think it’s to ease their own discomfort at being in a class that may well end up being all about women’s cervixes, breasts and other unmentionable body parts.  The owners of these body parts generally take the first class far more seriously – during class break sometimes they confide to me that they have been putting pregnancy and parenting books in front of their partners for months, but “he just won’t read them!”

Sounds hopeless, right?  It’s not. I’ve seen it frequently…usually by about halfway through the classes these same men are on-board and learning as much as they can about childbirth!

I’ve thought a lot about this ‘lag’.  I’ve concluded that the way that men prepare for childbirth is very different than the way women do.