I've discovered that one nice side-effect of being pregnant is the chance to make new friends. The antenatal classes I've attended so far have been strangely bonding experiences. We've shared our worries, questions, and general sense of anxious naivety, and when a photocopied list of our email addresses was handed out last week, I don't think anyone had any objections.
It's a relief to know there are so many of us in the same boat. At one point we lined up in order of due date, and it was fun to be "allowed" to stare at each other's bumps.
We've been taught relaxation and breathing techniques for birth, been nagged again about pelvic floor exercise (with some quite persuasive reasons), and met a women who'd recently had an all-natural home birth. The stages of labour were demonstrated using a doll, a quite realistic model of the pelvic bones (possibly donated?!) and what looked like a knitted hot water bottle cover for the uterus. Apparently your body usually knows what to do. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.
I'm not sure what the other partners are making of it, but I think mine is glad to know more facts. He's not read any of my baby books and he's probably not the only one. Luckily they're being given plenty of advice on how to help the woman through labour, and what not to do or say!
The classes also cover "life with a newborn" - signs of illness to be alert to, and methods of comforting a distressed baby. Hope we remember them all.
I'd been considering going to the National Childbirth Trusts classes too, but these NHS ones seem really thorough. Most of the other parents (eeek!) live close by and I'm sure we'll continue to meet up over the months and perhaps years to come.