Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Observed my first real-life birth

On Monday, I attended my first birth that was not my own. It was exhilarating, emotional and exhausting, a physical and mental roller coaster. It was heartbreakingly beautiful to see a woman in real honest-to-goodness unmedicated labor: the glow of her face as she worked through tough contractions; the connection she had with her husband, who gave 100 percent of himself during her birth; this woman’s strength and joy as she confidently labored to near full cervical dilation; the tears of disappointment and vulnerability as her labor took a turn she didn’t anticipate.

This birth was as I expected it to be in many ways, yet it was like nothing I’d experienced before. Up until now, the only births I’d witnessed were those in the videos we see in childbirth class. My favorite birth video is Penny Simkin’s Relaxation, Rhythm and Ritual. I love the way it unflinchingly illuminates the hard work of labor, as well as the pure joy of birth. I could watch it again and again. Observing a birth in real life is a whole ‘nother ballgame. It provides a perspective you simply can’t get from videos alone. What became especially clear to me is how difficult it is for a woman to have a normal birth in America’s mainstream medical system. Possible, yes, but difficult. I knew this already, as we all know this, on an intellectual level. But actually seeing everything play out in front of me gave me an insight I didn’t have before, and it will absolutely guide how I deliver the Lamaze message to my childbirth classes.


Teaching tool idea

I volunteer as conference chair for Lamaze International. When we gather to choose sessions we fill the walls with index cards and juggle them from time slot to time slot. The strength of the Lamaze conference is that not only do we have 5 keynote topics - we also offer 42 (!) smaller concurrent sessions. No other organization offers that much - there is something for everyone in every sense!

Posting things on the wall is a common teaching strategy. I use Post-it (tm) notes and have people write what will make this seminar or childbirth class or breastfeeding course a success for them. People generate other ideas that get posted throughout the course. Sometimes the life of the Post-it note is shorter than I need! So I was tickled pink when friend Crystal Young send me this blog that shows a great, easy to make tool. I am stopping by the material store soon to make one!
Index card idea Scroll down to January 30 "Sticky Idea"

Be creative,

Cookbook education vs. Discovery Education

Barb Hotelling forwarded this blog link Cookbook education and I loved the thoughts that were shared. Even though it shares a study about the results of science lab teaching, it's implications for childbirth education are clear.

When we teach step-by-step, "this is what you need to know" (in our case about birth), when it comes to actual implementation in labor, there is less transfer. If we changed how we teach to more problem solving, their confidence would be up and they would better utilize their skills and knowledge. In a simplified example, instead of teaching these are the six positions for birth, change it to: "you have this feeling your baby needs more room to fit through the pelvis, figure out 4 different positions that would increase your pelvis size or ability to expand."

Barb - thank your son for sending the blog link to you! He gets it!

Teri (still unpacking)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BOLD - the play

Alright, I have talked about the book, the radio program, the new movie and now it's time to talk about: Birth the Play It is also known as BOLD - Birth on Labor Day. There have been readings and productions around the country and now it is a Labor Day tradition and they are looking for sites for 2007. Many of the Passion for Birth trainers have been directors, actresses and behind the scenes support for the play. Now they are adding A Red Tent option - read about it on the website.

I think I have covered just about every medium possible....

Movie trailer to watch

Birth is in the media these days! There is a movie coming out and the trailer looks like it may cause people to stop and think about the state of birth. Watch the short trailer at Pregnant in America

BIRTH - an audio tour

I am so excited about a project that is unique and visionary! Two women have created a one hour documentary about practices and perceptions about birth in America. This program is already scheduled to air on many public radio stations and more advocates are needed to convince more stations to air it in March, Women's History Month. Consider contacting your station! Their website is BIRTH
I can't wait for it to air and ordered the cd today! You can listen to a 7-8 minute to clip by clicking on demo. If the whole 60 minutes is as insightful as the clip it should be great! When I wrote them ordering the CD of the program - they also sent an 18 page attachment describing how to organize an event in my own community around the broadcast. I will be happy to send the attachment if you send me an email. It includes tips for organizing additional community resources: playgroups, family food trees and family time banks. It was exciting to recognize a name of Passion for Birth "grad" describing her experience of organizing a family time bank in Portland. It's a small world of interconnectedness!

So I will report back once I listen to the whole program. In the meantime, contact your Public Radio station and convince them to air the program soon and get the conversations started!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Birth Book Club Discussion Board

I love to read and collect books about birth, pregnancy, breastfeeding and all things remotely related. I am reminded how much I love books everytime we move - and it looks like our material goods weighs more than our allotted poundage! My usually understnading husband stares at all my bookcases and pleads - "Can't you get rid of any of them?"

I know there are many people like me in the childbirth education field who have a similar love for birth books. I also love discussing books - I love book clubs where you meet in homes, share food and discuss the common book. However, I have never lived in a community large enough where the book club could be dedicated to birth books!

So I have decided to launch a monthly book club discussion board. It will be at Passion for Birth and click on the Discussion Boards on the left. It won't be quite the same as sitting in comfie chairs and drinking wine or flavored coffees, but I know when a book was selected, I would find the time to get it read!!

Let the discussion begin!

For March I have chosen The Birth House by Ami McKay. It has gotten great reviews and she has a great website: The Birth House

Move over, Oprah!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

PowerPoint vs. Powerful Presentations

There is a push for PowerPoint in all sorts of educational arenas including childbirth education. Sometimes the motive is good (we want to have people in our classes think we are modern) and sometimes it's alarming (the hospital wants all educators to limit what they say to what is in the presentation that has been approved by ....)

Some of you have heard my rant that it's a technology that has been introduced with out research (similar to continous electronic fetal monitoring). Preliminary studies of classical PowerPoint presentations have shown that it does reduce retention.

Some of you have heard that the next generation of people in our classes will view PowerPoint as old fashioned. (my daughter, now 15, confirmed this when I checked in with her. "Mom, we've been making PowerPoint presentations since the 4th grade!")

Some of you have heard Passion for Birth trainer Pat Predmore demonstrate how she "points powerfully" at her material!

But I do think there are powerful ways to use the medium....and there are ineffective habits that we need to get rid of....

As I watch effective users of PowerPoint it seems that they all do the following:

1. Engage the heart. Health behaviorists know that change doesn't happen without the involvement of emotion. This can be done with images or stories.

2. Get rid of titles and bullet points. The most universal template automatically puts you in this mode but PowerPoint should not be your projected outline!

3. Follow the 10 - 20- 30 rule. No more than 10 slides for a 20 minute presentation with font size at least 30.

I really enjoyed this article in Businessweek on Al Gore's Convenient Presentation. Put politics aside and look at how he created a powerful presentation. The author has captured the tools and techniques that we should utilize if we are using PowerPoint presentations in our childbirth classes. Convenient Presentation

with a passion for birth,
(personal note - I finally feel I am on the mend from removal of my gall bladder! The timing couldn't have been worse as our new home is stacked with boxes and I am not suppose to lift more 10 pounds for awhile. Thanks to those who knew about the surgery and were so supportive as I dealt with my fear! Now I have to unpack my office, answer a backlog of 327 emails and review a large stack of course designs...but I thought it would be better to be off the pain meds before I posted to the blog, answered emails or provided feedback on course designs!)

Monday, February 05, 2007

PfB Seminar Roundup

When the Louisville seminar ended yesterday, and I felt like I always do on Christmas night: happy and melancholy at the same time. I’d been so excited waiting for this weekend to finally be here, then had a blast each and every moment, and I was sad to see it end.

Women from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and as far as Maryland all came together for three full days in a small meeting room at Starbucks (Mmm… latte…). A sense of community and energy filled the space. We were all disappointed that Teri was unable to make it, but Robin stepped in and did an absolutely beautiful job leading our group. She helped us find our “sparkle.”

The best of the best:

  • Everyday visual aids. We learned how pennies, play-doh, cheerios, and broccoli bands all make great visual aids.
  • Maggie, the post-partum queen. At the end of day 2, in walked Maggie. She was dressed in her robe, bleary-eyed and wild-haired, with her toddler velcro'd around her leg, her swaddled baby Ralphie, and post-baby belly in tow. What a hilarous way to illustrate the post-partum stressed out momma!
  • Peer teaching. Wow! Great teaching moments, spanning pregnancy exercise, the intervention cascade, the importance of breastmilk, spontaneous pushing, creating an environment for birth, and rhythm in labor.
  • Marketing our business. Robin had excellent advice for how to find clients for our classes.
  • Bonding. Sommer, Margaret, Julie, Kiana, Chris, Kara and Robin… you ladies ROCK! You are true inspirations.

I wanted to blog at the end of each seminar day, but I was so blissfully exhausted that all I could do was feed my kids before I collapsed into bed.

This was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to put my sparkle to work.