I was asked a while ago – since I’m a fatherly kind of guy – whether any antenatal classes exist for dads and dads-to-be in Singapore. And, as a fatherly kind of guy, I said no, who in the right mind would expect to get any attendance conducting that kind of class?
But it did provoke some thought, so I said I’d look into it.
Now, the concept might seem strange: the only antenatal classes dads generally imagine attending are the ones their pregnant wives would drag them to. There, you’d generally pre-natal yoga exercises, sleep positions, and the preferred method to huff and puff and blow her baby out.
I asked my wife how one might conduct antenatal classes for men, and she said it would have to be a classroom environment with a whiteboard, Powerpoint slides and printed notes (and if the class was big enough, it would be a Dads for Life Conference). Another male fatherly friend of mine advised against calling it an antenatal class: “Dudes will think they’ll have to lie down, spread legs, hold hands with other dudes and do deep breathing.”
I thought it would be useful if we actually knew exactly what women in labour go through. Then I remembered seeing a video of 2 dudes in Holland go through a labour simulation using electroshock equipment (click the link, then learn some Dutch or turn on the captions, but the real action starts at 4:30).
I decided to dig a little further, and asked the venerable purveyor of all the knowledge in the world: Google. A lot of what I got were how some dads felt antenatal classes (the ones that preggers women drag their male partners to) were [a] a waste of time, [b] useful only if you’re a guy who listens (and we all know how well guys listen), or [c] you face certain social stigma if you don’t.
But lo and behold, back in 2011, a British father of two, Dean Beaumont, decided to start what he calls DaddyNatal classes at Peterborough City Hospital after going through antenatal classes, doing plenty of research on dealing with the labour process as a dad, and getting completely thrown off-guard the moment it happened. “What I realised is that childbirth education is tailored to women, and actually, that there was very little information for men, tailored for men, as they prepare for their role in birth and beyond. The birth partner has a massive influence on labour, and can affect how long it lasts, how painful it is, and whether interventions are needed or used.”
Dean is now Britain’s first certified male antenatal educator. And his DaddyNatal programme is as male-oriented as it gets. Besides group discussions and illustrated pregnancy and infantcare guide books, the class also involves Monty Python clips and male humour to keep the boys focused on the subject (hence the strict policy against women attending the classes).
So it seems the usual antenatal classes that dads know and love to hate are, in fact, not structured for the hairier sex. If someone did come up with a way to communicate antenatal education to males (and males only), would the guys in Singapore go for it? You tell me (in the comments).