Tag Archive | birth classes

Becoming an Informed Birth Consumer

Though it may not often seem so, birth is a consumer issue. When speaking about their experiences with labor and birth, it is very common to hear women say, “they won’t let you do that here” (such as regarding active birth–moving during labor). They seem to have forgotten that they are customers receiving a service, hiring a service provider not a “boss.” If you went to a grocery store and were told at the entrance that you couldn’t bring your list in with you, that the expert shopping professional would choose your items for you, would you continue to shop in that store? No! If you hired a plumber to fix your toilet and he refused and said he was just going to work on your shower instead, would you pay him, or hire him to work for you again? No! In birth as in the rest of life, YOU are the expert on your own life. In this case, the expert on your body, your labor, your birth, and your baby. The rest are “paid consultants,” not experts whose opinions, ideas, and preferences override your own.

There are several helpful ways to become an informed birth consumer:

  • Read great books such as Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth or Pushed by Jennifer Block.
  • Hire an Independent Childbirth Educator (someone who works independently and is hired by you, not by a hospital). Some organizations that certify childbirth educators are Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association (CAPPA), BirthWorks, Bradley, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, and Childbirth International. Regardless of the certifying organization, it is important to take classes from an independent educator who does not teach in a hospital. (I’m sure there are lots of great educators who work in hospitals, but in order to make sure you are not getting a “co-opted” class that is based on “hospital obedience training” rather than informed choice, an independent educator is a good bet.)
  • Consider hiring a doula—a doula is an experienced non-medical labor support provider who offers her continuous emotional and physical presence during your labor and birth. Organizations that train doulas include CAPPA, DONA, and Birth Arts.
  • Join birth organizations specifically for consumers such as Citizens for Midwifery or Birth Network National.
  • Talk to other women in your community. Ask them what they liked about their births and about their care providers. Ask them what they wish had been different.
  • Ask your provider questions. Ask lots of questions. Make sure your philosophies align. If it isn’t a match, switch care providers. This is not the time for misplaced loyalty. Your baby will only be born once, don’t dismiss concerns your may have over the care you receive or decide that you can make different choices “next time.”
  • Find a care provider that supports Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices and is willing to speak with you seriously about them:
  1. Let labor begin on its own
  2. Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
  3. Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
  4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
  6. Keep mother and baby together – It’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding

Remember that birth is YOURS—it is not the exclusive territory of the doctor, the hospital, the nurse, the midwife, the doula, or the childbirth educator. These people are all paid consultants—hired by you to help you (and what helps you, helps your baby!).

New Post…

I spent quite some time writing a new post yesterday and then it disappeared without a trace! I like to make a post here at least once a week, so I’m going to have to just link to the other post I wrote yesterday as part of the Women’s History Month blog carnival from Birth Activist. Birth Activist was the very first birth blog I ever started reading and the blog that sparked my own interest in blogging (a couple of years later).

In addition to teaching the Young Parents classes, which is a new venture for me, I also start teaching my second college class next week. This one is at a college branch about an hour from me, so I’m going to be doing a lot of driving in addition to all the preparation work. I think blogging is going to have to slip down my list of priorities for a while and so I may not be making new posts for a little while—I hope my readers don’t abandon me! Have no fear, I’ve managed to work birth activism into my class in a very appropriate way—I’m going to show them the Reducing Infant Mortality film and possibily The Doula Story as well, during my section of the class on teen pregnancy.

Resource Rack

I was pleased as can be when my husband brought home a plastic brochure rack that was getting thrown away at work. As a semi-compulsive gatherer and sharer of information, I have boxes of pamphlets, magazines, brochures, etc. that I put together in packets for my birth class clients. How much more efficient and attractive to organize them this way! I took a picture of it because I’m so happy.

Young Parents Program Prenatal Classes

I am getting ready to teach a series of classes for a local Young Parents program. I have had to rework my class outlines a bit to meet some of the program’s requirements/needs. I decided to upload some of the activities here in case they may help someone else avoid reinventing the wheel by typing up their own similar activities.

Birth BINGO–this is a Bingo card with birth terminology. You can enter the terms into one of a variety of bingo card makers online in order to randomize the cards so that they are not all in the same order (which would then make everyone always win together).

Bingo Definitions–this is the list of definitions that goes with the card above. You can cut them apart and draw terms at random to read aloud. Participants yell out the answer and get to put a candy (Smarties, M & M’s, that sort of thing) onto the appropriate square on their card.

Labor Rehearsal–this is a labor walk-through. It is a little more conventional/conservative than I really like. In most of my classes I like to use the Labor Stations from the Transition to Parenthood site. I print them out as cards, not full pages, and hand them over to the parents to practice. The cards walk them through a whole labor early labor through pushing and it is a god opportunity to review and integrate everything they’ve learned and experimented with in class. I do not include the patterned breathing suggestions because I do not teach patterned breathing techniques. There are LOTS of good games and handouts for classes on this site. I really appreciate it!

Communicating with Baby Prenatally–I was specifically asked to include a component of this in this series of classes. This exercise is modified from one in the Nurturing Parents prenatal curriculum. It isn’t my favorite exercise, but I’m going to try it out. I also have another one from ICEA that I am going to use called Sensory Imaging: The Baby Inside You.

You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone…

I got the following article in an e-newsletter and though it isn’t birth business specific, I think it has a lot of valuable food for thought in it for childbirth educators/birth professionals. I am going to answer the questions in it and post again with my thoughts!

You Can’t Serve Everyone: Clarifying Your Niche for Better Marketing Results

Before you even start implementing any marketing strategies, it’s important to be crystal clear about whom it is you are trying to reach. Some of the questions you should be able to answer around this include: What is your niche?  Who is your target market and what is it that they want?  What is your message to them?

Often, small business owners are afraid to narrow down their target market for fear that this will limit them. Countless times I have heard people say “my target market is small business owners” or “my niche is really anyone who needs what I offer.”

The truth is, you can’t be everything to everyone, and it is actually easier to market and attract prospects when you focus on a particular group of people.  It is also easier for others to refer people to you when they see you as someone who works with a specific group.  To further illustrate, here is a simple example: Instead of “I’m a financial planner,” you could clarify it to say “I’m a financial planner who specializes in families with special needs children.”

Or, instead of “I’m a marketing consultant,” a more descriptive way to say it would be “I’m an online marketing consultant who specializes in social media strategies for coaches.”

Online, a good way to create the type of presence that draws people to you is to clearly communicate who you are, what you are about, and why people should take notice. In order to figure this out, some of the questions you could ask yourself might be:

*How would you describe the essence of who you are in a single word?
*What are your top three passions related to your work or three unrelated to your work?
*What would be three adjectives used to describe your business?
*Who your best clients or the people who are most likely to benefit from your work?

Those are just some of the questions you can ask to really get clear on who you are professionally, as well as who you are personally.

Clarifying your niche is a point of “stuckness” for many business owners and it does take a bit work to discover if you aren’t clear on it yet.  But once you have that specific niche narrowed down, reaching them with your marketing becomes a whole lot easier.

© 2010 Communicate Value. All Rights Reserved.

Want to use this article on your website or your own e-zine? You can, as long as you include the following:

Christine Gallagher, The Online Marketing and Social Media Success Coach, is founder of Communicate Value, where she is dedicated to teaching small business owners and professionals how to conquer the overwhelming aspects of online and social media marketing to increase business and maximize profits. To get your F.R.E.E. 5-Part E-Course and receive her weekly marketing & success articles on leveraging technology, building relationships and boosting your profits, visit http://communicatevalue.com.

Three Hours into 1.5 Minutes??

I most often write blog posts directed at pregnant women, not birth professionals (though I hope the pros find my posts useful as well!). Via the excellent Passion for Birth blog this morning, I read this article that is very relevant to childbirth educators.

The article addresses how educators/presenters can attempt to cram three hours worth of information into 1 and half minutes and how that is NOT effective or helpful. They do so out of fear that this is their “only chance” to reach those learners (but the cramming style actually does not reach learners either).

Ugh. I found myself cringing a bit when reading because I think I have this tendency for sure. It was also relevant to me in my non-birthwork life. I am faculty at Columbia College and am teaching my first college class this session (final exam tonight!). All of the principles in the article are things I strive to keep in mind when teaching college students as well (and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. The actual class is 5 hours a night—though now six, because I missed one week and made it up sequentially over the following 5 weeks of class—which makes it tricky to keep people engaged, though also gives me plenty of time not to be cramming information into people’s heads).

Anyway, so the summary of points from the article (OMG. I’m taking a metaphorical three hours to get to my point…;-) were as follows:

Learners want relevance
Learners don’t care about history
Learners want minimal detail
Learners want connections
Learners want focus
Learners want applications
Learners want practice

I remember reading somewhere else at some point (I think during my ICEA certification process), that most learners do NOT want the amount of information and level of detail that you can provide. The first three on my list above are things I find myself falling into in birth education—I tend to give lots of details and some end up being irrelvant (I don’t want anyone to miss anything!) and I do have a tendency to give lots of history, background, and overexplanation.

So, good things to keep in mind! I want to be effective, not inefficient or irrelevant. I have been thinking a lot lately about my classes and how I’d like to improve them and change them and “deepen” them. Reading this article made me think even further about my approach and what I hope to accomplish. I have this sense lately that something just isn’t “working” and I want to go beyond—stretch my boundaries and dig in further.

Birth as a Rite of Passage & ‘Digging Deeper’

July 2015 135Childbirth is a powerful rite of passage. One of my favorite resources, The Pink Kit, has some great reflections on this rite of passage and the words we use to describe the powerful, indescribable act of giving birth:

Whatever the culture, when a woman surrenders to the process, accepts the intense sensations, works through each contraction, and digs deep within herself to achieve the end goal–giving birth–she is touched by the Unknown and Unknowable. Many traditional cultures send their young men into initiation rites where they, too, can learn to understand humbleness and achieve the self-control that women learn in childbirth.

All cultures believe that women become better and more generous through the process of giving birth. That is why some cultures use words such as ‘sacrifice,’ ‘suffering’ and ‘labour.’ These terms can seem overwhelming and to be avoided’ however, seen from a different viewpoint, childbirth helps us to become strong, resourceful and determined.

In a modern world, ‘getting through’ labour without numbing or dumbing the process can be a very powerful experience for a woman, and very challenging.

I like the concept of “digging deeper.” This how The Pink Kit explains it:

You might avoid the pain in labour by moving into a position which is comfortable for you (i.e. reduces the sensations), but it slows labour down and then you stay there for hours. Doing that will increase the likelihood of medical intervention because you will become tired, bored, or frightened, and labour doesn’t progress. Instead, consider remaining in positions that keep you open and the labour progressing, while using your skills to manage the sensations. This is ‘digging deeper’.

I have noticed an emphasis in other natural birth preparation books and explanations about finding positions that are “comfortable.” I very much like the concept of finding positions that help you feel “open”—these positions may certainly also comfortable (and that is great!), but if you remain mindful of “staying open,” it may lead you “dig deeper” and find positions that really help move the baby. In my classes, I encourage women to welcome labor “getting bigger” (not more “painful” or “difficult,” but make it “bigger” and be excited by that change!). I think this idea goes hand in hand with digging deeper.