Monday, February 28, 2011

A dad describes the other dads

I think I have had all these guys in a class....this was posted on a blog written by a dad.  This is why it's challenging to orchestrate a childbirth class. 

I looked around the room and quickly figured out why all the books I have read talk to me like I’m an idiot.  There were 5 other Dads:
  • Dad 1 was too busy with work to attend any of the classes, his wife would have no partner for any of the exercises we will practice over the next 6 weeks
  • Dad 2 was incapable of vocally participating with the group and seemed to pretty much be a pack mule
  • Dad 3 was just realizing the reality of the fact that his wife was having a baby (you are too buddy) and looked in over his head
  • Dad 4 may have smoked a fat joint before the classh
  • Dad 5 was clearly dragged from the couch and would rather be watching NASCAR
So how do we incorporate these fathers and their unique perspectives into the class?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Packing the goodie bag

A common CB class task is to pack the infamous "Goody bag".  Some educators just hand out a list, some share what's in their own labor support bag (if they are a doula), others turn it into a problem-solving exercise and others have them bring their bags to the labor simulation exercise towards the end of class. 

My preference is to have a problem solving exercise and also use it in the simulation - the ol' spiral your info!  

In one of my blog searches for what people in cb class write about, I enjoyed this list:

For Jeff's homework, he had to pack a "Goody Bag" to take to the hospital with us. His job was to fill it with things to comfort and help me during labor. He packed:
* an empty Starbucks cup - he knows how much I love their water (and ice) and that I'll need to stay super hydrated during labor, so his plan is to bring water with us on the way
* How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days DVD - perhaps not this specific movie, but we plan to watch a video together during early labor (I'll take whatever endorphins I can get!), and he figured it would probably be a chick flick/romantic comedy
* a photo of my friend, and massage therapist, Amy - she taught Jeff some moves at my last massage, and how to be more relaxed, but she may even come to massage me during early labor
* a bottle of NuFinish - only the BEST smell, ever. Technically, it's car wax, and probably contains Xylene, but Sue said it would be OK to smell a little bit of it here and there during labor (sense of smell is incredibly important during labor; smelling well-liked things will help... we'll see if Jeff actually lets me have it, though)
* an ultrasound photo of Maura - sometimes women forget why they're doing what they're doing while in great pain/discomfort. A reminder of my sweet baby girl will be good motivation to JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hmm - what do you think?

Raise your Glass   

What do you think about this image in Pink's video for Raise Your Glass? (Women pumping milk for a baby calf) Kind of outrageous? Too outrageous? Not outrageous enough?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Storytelling 101

Ah the sky is the limit when it comes to using tools - check out this "sliderocket" presentation on storytelling - a vital skill we need as childbirth educators!  (especially if you are going to use Powerpoint type presentations.)  

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I have had this post in process for a long time. Like 160 million others, I have enjoyed watching the Evolution of Dance on YouTube.

Judson Laipply is a professional keynote speaker who engages his audiences while entertaining them. I went to his website and watched what felt a little like an "info-mercial" but also had little gems of wisdom in between the "hire-me" promotions.

These are my short-hand notes on his key points:
  • Kids laugh 200 - 300 times a day, while adults are down to 7 to 14.
  • Laughter transcends every race, culture, age division etc. when people laugh together, divisions are bridged.
  • Emotional memory is 6 times stronger than cognitive memory.  
  • Power of choice: deciding vs hoping. 
I challenge you - count the number of times people in your childbirth class laugh in a two hour period.   What should be our target? 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Apples to apples - comparing childbirth education

There are so many media avenues out there interpreting various childbirth education programs. Some get it right and some have outdated perceptions, especially when it comes to Lamaze.
And why is that? People don't look at Apple computer products of today and slam them for the earlier models that were first on the market. Critics about phones today, don't talk about the party lines and the actual dials used in my growing up years.

I will own my bias, but I do wonder about organizations that have this book: Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg) on their required reading list. Written in 1996, if what is written about Lamaze reflects how out of date the rest of the material is, doesn't it reflect poorly on those who require you to read it? Or do these groups have a vested interest in promoting the outdated image of Lamaze? And yes, Lamaze had changed from a method before 1996. Outdated is one issue. Another issue is spending a whole chapter slamming another organization. Wouldn't the pages be better spent on one's own strengths?

I don't want you to buy this book. However if you go to Amazon you, can use their "Look Inside" tool and read a couple pages of this whole chapter devoted to Bradley vs. Lamaze. And they also have the reference pages that the most recent reference for that chapter is 1982! With all the others coming from the 60's and 70's. Give me a break!

All right, time to get off my soapbox. I am glad consumers have options in regards to childbirth classes. But I wish we as professionals would help them compare apples to apples and not apples to something that has already been turned into mulch and created new seeds for today's apples.

Who benefits most by promoting outdated information about any childbirth organization? I would be embarrassed (and vocal) if Lamaze had a book slamming Bradley on their list.

For those of you who are looking at various organizations to become certified, look at their recommended or required reading list. What are the copyright dates for their books? Are they from this decade? This century? Or are they all from the last five years?

How important is it for new educators to be guided to read current, accurate and up-to-date books? Most of us get addicted to reading birth books and will eventually read the old classics, but that's after we have some experience under our belts. What was your favorite required/recommended book when you started teaching? (Share the year that you started)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Applause! Applause!

I have mentioned Kyndal May a couple times this week and wanted to assure you that I am not stalking her! However, I couldn't help but notice her post on Facebook celebrating that a hospital in Boise, ID (St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center), has lowered their primary cesarean section from 18% to 4% in the last 18 months! This was announced at the Idaho Perinatal Project conference. How did St. Al's do that? No elective inductions prior to 39 weeks and using the Bishop's score, according to Kyndal.

I am also proud because PfB has done a couple workshops at St. Al's hosted by their Family Center. I can't help but feel that the childbirth education program offered there, based on the 6 Healthy Birth practices, and the independent classes led by Kyndal, also impacted that decrease. St. Al's Family Center manager, Judith Hobbs is one of those "doers" that sees a need and does whatever is needed. As I looked around the web to confirm the Cesarean rate decrease, I noticed that she was honored as a Health Care Hero last fall for her work! She has worked hard on the CARE/Maternal Child Health Center

They describe their purpose as:
The CARE Maternal/Child Health Clinic delivers specialized healthcare and outreach to address the unique concerns — and traumatic histories — of expectant refugee mothers and their families. CARE assists newly arrived Americans to adapt to the challenges of pregnancy and parenting in a new home, while respecting and honoring their culture of origin.

Standing ovation! Bravo! Bravo!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do you include babywearing in your childbirth class?

I am an occasional reader of Lactnet, a list serve for many of those who work with breastfeeding babies. This blog link was shared with a statement about not needing to understand French. Scroll down and look at all those images of mothers wearing their babies.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From a blog post written to her baby

This week your daddy and I will take our first Lamaze class... I am still very pro epidural, but I figure it’s good to know what to expect. I think your daddy and I are in for a rude awakening. I hear we have to watch a video about childbirth, and to be honest I’m not very excited about it. I think it may scare me even more!

As an effective and dynamic childbirth educator, how do you meet her it's not a rude awakening, so she feels better prepared without increasing any fears or anxiety and what can be done with her preference not to watch a childbirth video? 

And of course there will be another person in the class who watches birth videos on YouTube daily and wants you NOT to talk about an epidural.   This is why being the "conductor" of the symphony called childbirth classes is so fun.  If you are mandated or have fallen into a slump of offering "cookie cutter" childbirth classes and not adapting to the leads of the people in your group, you are limited in being effective.

I often see this push for all educators to teach the same thing, use the same PowerPoint so that if people choose to drop in on a different night of the week class, they will have the exact same experience.   This unfortunately takes away a huge piece of the puzzle to effectiveness, learner assessment.  I want to throw out a discussion point, is this demand for uniformity a way to cloak centralized control or is it really more important to allow people to change classes than to meet an individual group's needs?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad

I don't usually post "personal" stuff on this blog but today is my dad's 80TH birthday! Yes, born 80 years ago today at home. That was the norm. When I think about the changes that have happened in his lifetime.

Love ya!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I have ordered my set!

I love the creativity and the originality of these! Newborn t-shirts: each with a Healthy Birth Practice. I can see these as a great wall visual... Read all about how she came up with this idea and how to order this unique visual aid for your childbirth class! Kyndal is amazing. Info on the shirts Scroll down to Dec. 10. Look around and you will find other inspiration!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Audience participation

You know when you find a YouTube video that you like or inspires you and you click and discover that almost 2 million people have watched's hard not to wonder if you are the only person that has missed it!

I found this video on Kyndal May's website Read her wise words about the importance of rhythm.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about another creative idea from Kyndal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Before I recommend things, I like to try them out. I encourage you to try this program out: text4baby. Send a text message to the number 511411 with the word BABY or BEBE (for Spanish messages). You will be prompted for your due date or your child’s birth date, and your zip code, and immediately, you will begin receiving three messages a week offering actionable, evidence-based information relevant to your stage in pregnancy or your child’s development.

After you feel comfortable, start recommending it to folks in your childbirth class! I am not "due" until the summer, so it will be interesting to see if I get a text or two about signing up for childbirth classes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BF presentations available

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you already know my frustration with powerpoint when I am sitting in a presentation. However, when presenters use the old-fashioned bullet points and make their presentations available to read on-line, they often serve as a large handout. So here is a link to some Breastfeeding sessions held in California.... read away. California Breastfeeding

And check to see if your community has a Breastfeeding Coalition and become involved! I have found my involvement with the Skagit County Breastfeeding Coalition to be so rewarding!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eavesdropping on a discussion forum....

How necessary is a birthing class if...
we plan to deliver at a hospital and I am very open to using an epidural? What I don't want is to go to a class and be forced to watch graphic videos (I'm sorry, I just don't see how that will benefit us, and feel like it will freak me out more than anything - I saw one in health class in high school and it traumatized me) If all we would learn is how to breathe. it seems like it might be a waste.

We had birthing class, all day long. It was kind of boring, and I was really hoping they'd focus more on breathing techniques, but mostly we just learned about the scary things. Epidurals, c-sections and episiotomies- OH MY! They passed around an epidural needle so we could see, and I thought I was going to pass out. That thing is as big around as my arm. I do NOT need to see that, thank you very much......

Neither of my sisters had birth classes and they were able to deliver without turning into panicked gelatinous balls of melt down in the hospital. The nursing staff and Dr.s talk you through everything as it's happening.

H and I have decided to skip birthing classes. We've both taken emergency child birth classes through work and I read enough books and watch TLC to know the stages of labor.

I would at least get a hospital tour - I thought that was the best part of the whole class. It was good for me to know where we were going and where the nursery was before the big day.
I ended up with a c-section though, so the class was really worthless for me.

I would, and here's why.
I didn't last time because I was getting an epi. All was fine and dandy...until the epi stopped working and the anesthesiologist didn't come back for almost 3 hours! I had no coping mechanisms because I hadn't learned any techniques.
I won't do that again.

If you feel well informed about the stages of labor and everything afterwards, I'd say skip the class. I sat through an hour of some crazy lady shoving a Cabbage Patch kid through a pelvis model and said, "Screw it! I'll figure it out on my own."

So what we can glean from this discussion?
- watch increasing fear about medical interventions. Involve them in decision making, yes. Make them afraid when they are medically necessary? Not beneficial.
- provide a tour. Very popular!
- cover cesareans and include hints on making them family friendly.
- make sure your visual aids are effective, not distracting.
- continue to encourage women to come to learn coping techniques when the epidural doesn't work or isn't immediately available.
- and how do we reach the person who knows "emergency childbirth" and thinks 30 minutes on TLC is like real birth?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do we need a NOT boring banner?

How can you tell if your childbirth classes are boring? Have you ever asked on your evaluations if they were ever bored?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Birth Trauma

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a two day training: When Survivors Give Birth led by Penny Simkin. We touched a bit on Traumatic Birth. What a treat to follow that discussion with finding this blog post, so well written on Birth Trauma. As many have said in the comments section, it should be read by all who are attending birth. Motherwitdoula

Thursday, February 10, 2011

setting the tone in your class for dads/partners

“I told my dads that they were their partner’s lover and that their most important role at the birth was one they did everyday without classes, books or practice: Loving the mom. You could literally see the dads relax as this thought sunk in and took root.”

~ Lois Wilson, CPM

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The magic feather

Every once and awhile, treasures arrive in my email box. I have permission to post this one! I presented a couple keynote and concurrent sessions last fall at National Association of Childbirth Educators in Australia. I handed out purple feathers in one session and told them that it represents, for me, what I see as our role as childbirth educators. I went on to tell a short version of Dumbo and how he didn't think he could fly until he had that magic feather. And that's our role to help women find their confidence that they can birth. I have used that story over and over and now all of our seminar books have a feather in it.

So imagine my delight when I got this birth story and spotted the purple feather in her photo!

I am an Australian midwife who attended Birth Bump and Beyond in
Brisbane in October 2010. In one of your sessions we each received a purple feather. I was pregnant at the time. I have attached a photo of myself with the

This is my birth story:

I started to niggle at 1230am - nothing much so I slept. My husband,
Damien, who is a farmer, had been planting all week. This was his
first day off but he again woke at 4am. I was awake by then and
explained that I thought I was in early labour. He had two hours of
work to do so we decided it would be a good time for him to go. He
left for work at 5am.
At 6.15 I called him: I felt the contractions were now regular but not
yet painful and I just wanted to hear his voice.
At 6.20 I called him again to come home as he was half an hour away
and I had had some uncomfortable contractions and was finding it hard
to get in & out of the shower. I also contacted my GP by text message
to let him know that labour had started.
At 7.20 I texted my GP again to say I was starting to get
uncomfortable. He asked if I wanted to come into town. I decided that
the half hour trip would only be worse if I left it much later so
Damien and I headed to the hospital. I remember being in the car
saying 'sorry Damien we're going to be there all day!'
We got there at 8am. I was assessed to be 9cm dilated to which I
stated 'there must be more cervix!'
Our assessment rooms are two corridors and a flight of stairs from the
birth suites. A midwife went to get me a wheel chair and I promptly
told her that I had made enough labouring women climb those stairs
(not at 9cm though!) so I had to! I visited my nurse unit manager on
the way (just to say hi) and got to the labour ward at 8.30am. My GP
asked if I would like to try the gas - I was so focused that I
remember telling him to 'bugger off!'. He is a lovely man and I did
have a lovely midwife who said all the right things at all the right
times! I feel that I could not have done what I did without Damien - I
do not have words for how supportive he was! Sean Thomas Andersen was
born at 9.31am weighing 9lb 8oz.
I was a primip, a midwife and a red head. I have broken all the wives
tail 'rules'. I had a 4 & 1/2 hour established labour, only massage
for pain relief, no complications, no bleed and peri intact!
I could not have asked for better!

Sean is now seven weeks old and we are discovering new things every
day! I love being a full time mum!

It was wonderful to meet you and I thoroughly enjoyed your sessions.
I do hope you find many more wonderful birth stories!
Warm regards,
Naomi Andersen

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Blog posts about reunions.

While lurking on various discussion boards and reading so many blogs, sometimes "going to the childbirth class reunion" is highlighted.

Here is one exchange:

Mom1: Reunion. It was so great to see everyone and their babies. Sooo much fun. Setting up play dates for munchkins yay! 
Mom2: Sounds fun!
Mom3: Wow! This sounds fun! My childbirth class didn't do this... I'm kind of bummed now! 
Mom1: Yup it was a blast we all decided to hang out and let the kids play together when they are bigger since they are all about the same age. We took so many pics with them together  

Do you do reunions?  I have always thought they were about you?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Fun new tool

I have just discovered a new on-line tool - a wall wisher! Well I want to convert it into an "idea share- er" Go the Passion for Birth Wall - post an idea and think how you could use it in your childbirth classes. You are welcome to post a link in the comments section if you create one (related to childbirth!)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Art of Pregnancy

I have always been fascinated with the artful expression of pregnancy and birth. Look at this book: The Art of Pregnancy Planner and see the powerful and very diverse portrayals.

Do you use art in your work as a childbirth educator? I know there are many activities involving the people in your class creating their own art but I am talking about art produced by others.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

brain works

This is a long clip but the points made are important for us as educators!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What a great reunion idea

While I was looking through blogs about childbirth classes, I was intrigued about this post about a reunion class. Tears of Joy Photography

....A little over a year ago my husband and I took a Lamaze class at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in preparation for the birth of our son. Little did we know the strangers in that room would become dear friends. We feel so fortunate to have developed friendships with almost all the families in that class thanks to our wonderful instructor Janet....How wonderful it’s been been to be able to share with and support each other in the many areas of the child rearing from sleeping to eating and of course pooping. How fun it’s been to watch them go from tummy time to crawling to walking. It has been so wonderful to get to watch our babies grow and begin friendships of their own.

The poster is a photographer and what a gift she gave to the group:

As a gift to the families I set up a home studio to take some family portraits. It was a great way to celebrate our friendships and our amazing Lamaze Babies.

How neat is that? Would that be an option to do for your reunion classes - bring in a professional photographer. Let me know if you do and how it goes. And if you are in the NYC/NJ, check out having this blogger/photographer come!