Yesterday evening (Wednesday), Stella and I went to the first session of a birth preparation course.
As I understand it, the purpose is to prepare women for birth in several aspects: exercise such as breathing and pelvic exercises, answering any questions the woman may have, advice about things such as posture, and mentioning different positions and methods of giving birth.
Partners were invited along, and so I accompanied Stella. (I get to pay €72 for myself; public health insurance pays for women who participate in such a course.)
There were probably around 15 women there, all but six of whom had brought along their partners. (Incidentally, one of the people was an ex-cow-orker of mine with his wife; their first child is due eight days before ours.)
The room had padded mats around the outside and little cushions to sit on.
The lesson started by having everyone introduce themself. The person conducting the course, Astrid, is a midwife who works at Harburg General Hospital (where the course is taking place) and who is also a "Still- und Laktationsberaterin" (nursing and lactation consultant). (When she mentioned this, one person asked what "Laktation" is, since it's not a word used much in German. Yay for knowing it from English. She explained "Laktation" as being "Milchbildung" = "milk producing".)
There were a variety of women there, aged from 21 to 37, about three-quarters of whom were expecting their first child. Most were around 28 to 32, though, I think. Due dates also ranged from July to October. Apparently, the course is intended to fall towards the end of a woman's pregnancy, but due to the summer holidays, the next one won't start until August, so several people, including Stella, were there who are still fairly early in their pregnancies.
Astrid asked each woman how she felt, whether she had selected a hospital to give birth in yet, and when she was due.
She did some breathing exercises, some physical exercises, and had people massage each other. (For this it was good that there were an even number of women without a partner, so they could pair up with each other.)
So yeah. Not sure what else to say; the first evening was more of an introduction, I suppose, than the "real thing". Oh, and she also had pamphlets which we could take home if we wanted, and some books which we could borrow for a week. I borrowed one on breastfeeding which she recommended (especially the older hardback version she had, which has about 50% more material than the current paperback edition).