This is the second of a three-part series drawing on an ethnographic study of midwife-father communications during labour and birth1. Fathers frequently report feeling unprepared for birth, even when they have attended antenatal classes. This article explores the ‘routine’ question that midwives posed to fathers, concerning attendance at antenatal classes. Midwives appeared to gauge fathers’ ‘preparedness’ via this question about antenatal classes as the ‘officially sanctioned’ route to childbirth preparation. In contrast, post-birth interviews captured the diverse ways in which fathers prepared for the unfamiliar world of childbirth. We suggest how midwives may use these findings to facilitate fathers’ orientation to childbirth.