We are lucky to be surrounded by close friends who are also pregnant around the same time. Thomson Medical Centre’s Childbirth Education Course (CEC) was highly recommended by a close friend of mine who had attended the course and raved about how useful it was. 2 of my colleagues whose wives also delivered at TMC had also attended the course and said it was useful. So, we decided to sign up for it and since we’re TMC First Born Incentive (FBI) members, the course is slightly cheaper at around $280 per couple.
Note: We would encourage parents who are planning to deliver at TMC to sign up as FBI or Subsequent Born Incentive (SBI) members as you get a lot of freebies and signing up for Cordlife also comes at a highly discounted rate (which we did).
Anw, the CEC is a 5-day course (once per week, on a day of your choosing) with one complimentary doctor lecture at the end of the course. We opted to attend the Thursday night sessions at AMK Hub (the weekend sessions are more expensive, and understandably, more packed). Our Nurse Educator (NE) is Ms Wong Boh Boi, who is also the author of 3 books which parents will receive when they sign up as FBI/SBI members. I shall attempt to provide a brief overview of each class.
1st lesson – Physical & Mental Preparation
We found this lesson particularly useful. Some of the stuff I picked up was how you should not succumb to traditional beliefs during the confinement period just because your mother/grandmother/great-grandmother tells you so. The NE explained why, in the olden days, mothers were told not to shower. It was because they had to let their wounds below heal naturally, unlike today, where doctors are more trained to sew your perineum tears.
Heard this before, “If you shower, wind will get into your body.” Please ah. Last time, there was no such thing as a water heater so mothers had to bathe the cold water and in turn, their bodies are not heated enough. Now, there’s the damn water heater and hair dryer to dry your hair right after showering. And in Singapore, where the weather is humid, it’s simply ridiculous not to bathe, especially for mothers who are planning to breastfeed. Imagine feeding your poor little baby with sweat trickling down your boobs and nipples. Ewww.
We also learnt how to correctly “stroke” the baby while in the belly and not simply rub the belly round and round. Imagine being in a pool and suddenly someone made the pool into a whirlpool. Would you like it? No, right? Same goes for babies. You’re supposed to stroke your hand bottom up or for some “action”, you can just tap left-right-centre-down. You’re encouraged to get some “action” from your baby during the day. Ever wonder why your baby is more active at night? It’s because you have “neglected” him during the day and only giving him attention at night! Daddies are also encouraged to talk to the baby when he’s home and if daddy is coming home late that day, mummy should then let baby know not to “wait up” for daddy. This constant communication will also allow baby to adopt similar practice when he’s out of the womb.
2nd lesson – Pain Relief
We learnt the different types of pain relief during labour. I’m sure ‘laughing gas’ and epidural are widely used words when you’re pregnant. Impt takeaway is that some mothers complained that the laughing gas is smelly. Actually, the laughing gas does not have any smell. It’s the mask that smells.
The daddies were also thought on how to give the mummies massages during labour to alleviate some of the pain. It’s useful because my baby daddy uses the technique (some what) to massage me now. 🙂
Anw, for info, we have decided to opt for epidural for our pain relief. Hopefully, we reach the hospital early enough, to have it administered.
3rd lesson – Labour & Delivery
During this lesson, we learnt how to manage our breaths during labour. There are so many different types of breathing techniques but if all else fails, just do deep breathing when contraction hits.
In a nutshell, when the pain heightens (usually during the later dilations…not at the 1-2cm ones), you need to do this technique – Breathe a deep breath, blow, blow, blow, blow. Once the contraction subsides, sigh deeply.
We were also taught that when one is in pain, you will only be able to hear the voice of your loved ones. So your delivery partner (may be baby daddy or someone else) plays a very crucial part during delivery. Because when the midwife tells you to push, you are likely not to do anything until your partner tells you to push. So, it’s very impt for your partner to pay extra attention during this class. Because, in order for your perineum not to tear mercilessly, you have to do the quick breaths technique
4th lesson – Breastfeeding
This lesson was held at SCGS auditorium. Pls note that the seats in the auditorium is not especially comfortable for mummies and for those like me, who perspire even in aircon rooms, be prepared to bring a fan along.
This lesson teaches you how to stimulate your breasts and prepare it for breastfeeding, how to prevent engorgement, what to do when there’s engorgement. My friend who is able to produce milk like a fountain, told me that she has engorged breasts the moment she sleeps a little longer and not pump the milk out at the 4-hour mark. And that the pain of engorgement hurts more than her C-section. Poor dear.
5th lesson – Practical Hands-on Baby Care
This particular lesson was painful for us. The NE had a lot of stories up her sleeve and after each practical lesson, she shared with us a couple of stories. The class was supposed to end by 9pm and at 9.45pm, she said, “I don’t care, the class will finish late.” By then, my back was aching (we had to sit on uncomfortable chairs this time, unlike the other lessons where we were given a mat and pillows to lean against/lie down on) and I started to have water retention at my legs and hands. And I’m like…hey, not everyone here is comfortably in their second trimester. There are mothers like me who are in their 3rd, and frankly, quite uncomfortable, trimester! So, since she didn’t care, I also didn’t care about her and decided to just leave the class there and then. Poor husby was also very tired by then because he was from another course in the day and was mentally fried.
Anw, during this lesson, we learnt how to bathe, wear clothes and diapers for the baby (more for the daddies’ benefits as such things do not usually come naturally to them). Also, different ways on how to carry the baby, burp the baby and perform CPR when an emergency occurs. The practical lesson took about 2 hours, when it could have been shrunk to an hour (if you remove like 5 stories).
The part where we left was when she went into the 5 S’s on how to soothe your crying baby. I figured that I could probably google this info and so, we left when she launched into yet another story, during the 3rd S. Here’s what I had googled:
Swaddling – Snug wrapping is the cornerstone of calming, the essential first step in baby soothing. Swaddling is like the soft caresses babies feel during pregnancy. Babies often struggle during the wrapping, but it helps keep them from flailing. And, as soon as you add the other S’s the calming will begin. (Avoid loose blankets around the face and overheating. They are associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)
Side or Stomach Position – The back is the only safe sleeping position. But, it makes crying babies cry even more because they feel a bit like they’re falling. The side or stomach position cancels that feeling and switches on the calming.
Shushing – Shushing is “music to your baby’s ears.” Remember, the sound in the womb is louder than a vacuum, so when your baby is crying you’ll need to shush as loudly as she’s wailing, then gradually lessen your intensity as she settles.
Swinging – Infants love rocking, but crying babies need fast, tiny, jiggly movements back and forth like a shiver when they’re really upset. Swings, slings and rocking chairs help to keep them calm once they settle. Always support your baby’s head and never jiggle her when you’re angry.
Sucking – This wonderful S is the “icing on the cake.” It lulls babies into profound tranquility. Nursing moms offer the breast for soothing and avoid using pacifiers until the baby is nursing well for a couple of weeks.
Info from here.
Anw, overall, apart from the long-windedness of the NE during the last lesson, we enjoy the course tremendously as we learnt a lot of useful information that we would not have if we didn’t attend the course. We would highly encourage soon-to-be parents to sign up for this course and hope you find the course as informative as we did.