Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ante-natal class #4: The Health Visitor

Last night's ante-natal class (our last one) was a talk with two of the local health visitors. They take over responsibility for the well-being of mother and child some time during the first month after the birth.

Their over-riding message was to have faith in your own parenting instincts and to make your care baby-driven for the first few weeks and months.

Interestingly a couple with a 5 week old child was brought in at the end to talk to us and they said they didn't always respond instantly to their child as it sometimes just made noises for no reason and he would be disturbed unnecessarily if they dived in to pick him up too quickly.

But generally the advice has been that you can't give your baby too much love and attention in the first few months and that to try to get him or her to be independent in that time was unwise as the most confident toddlers are those who have had the most love and attention and re-assurance as babies. To re-enforce the need to make the baby feel secure they split us into two groups to discuss and compare the way the baby must feel in the womb and then outside. For one girl it seemed to be a real revelation that the experience could be traumatic for the baby.

So that's the end of the classes and I still haven't bathed a baby or changed a nappy. But I guess feeling unprepared is all part of the experience. As I said to a fellow father-to-be at work today, I feel like I'm in the trench waiting to go over the top, sure in the knowledge that I can't imagine what awaits me.