By Mark Rigby
As a midwife and childbirth educator Annette Loadsman does not sugar-coat reality.
Parents-to-be attending her antenatal classes are not just met with lessons in rhythmic breathing, they are given a realistic enactment of just how powerful contractions can be.
To some it might seem over the top, but for Ms Loadsman it is a necessary part of preparing parents.
"It brings home for mums the reality of childbirth," Ms Loadsman said.
"It's fine for us to sit up there and say 'Your body knows what it's got to do', but in a lot of ways when you're pregnant you hold back on thinking about things too deeply, so the reality really hits for women.
"And for the partners, it's the emotional side of 'Oh my gosh, I've got to see that happen to my beautiful partner and I don't know how I'm going to handle that'.
"You will see people in that situation, who are unaware of how powerful labour gets, and they can think their partner's almost dying when her body's working the most — I think it's good to be forewarned."
'Class can get a little boring'
Ms Loadsman admitted acting out contractions was not a standard approach to childbirth education, but she said it certainly served its purpose.
"It's not for everybody. Some midwives might be a little too self-conscious," she laughed.
"I try and encourage our team to start off small when they need to do a little bit of demonstration [because] it's kind of for the humour side too.
"You can get very serious in classes, and class after class can get a little boring for some people, so it probably livens things up and makes people wake up and take notice."
Partners have a role to play
When it comes time to deliver the baby, long gone are the days of partners anxiously pacing the hospital waiting room.
Antenatal classes, too, have changed.
"I think 1996 I did my first childbirth education class," Ms Loadsman said.
"It was all very rigid. It was rows of people, huge classes and very much tailored towards the pregnant woman."
Now, Ms Loadsman uses demonstrations to tailor information to both partners, and both sexes.
"Men, particularly, love seeing the mechanics of labour, seeing the baby go through the pelvis," she said.
"And talking about the mechanics of labour makes them really tune in and then they're in a better place to support their partner in labour and understand what's happening to her through the different stages."
Hard cord to cut
More than 20 years after running her first childbirth education class, Ms Loadsman's passion for it is as strong as ever.
"If we can help people build confidence in their body and help them prepare for the birth of the baby it not only helps them but it helps the midwives looking after them," she said.
"[It helps] the partners who are looking after them and, hopefully, it just makes for a better experience."
Just how strongly Ms Loadsman feels about her job becomes apparent when she discusses the inevitability of one day having to stop.
"I don't know how long I can keep up these contractions without people thinking 'There's an old girl doing a contraction, how ridiculous'," she laughed.
"I guess the time will come, but it's a really hard umbilical cord to cut."