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Teacher Turned Student: Childbirth Education Class…Here I Come!

Next week, I will begin a new endeavor:  childbirth education class.

Confused?  Well, if you’re thinking, “isn’t Kimmelin already a Lamaze Childbirth Educator?” you’re right.  I’ve worked in the childbirth education field for the past six years.  And no, I’m not taking the class as a pregnant student.  (Been there, done that.)

After reading this blog post last week on Babble in which childbirth education classes were generally panned as being a “colossal waste of time” I began thinking:  are we, as educators, spending so much time worrying about how we can prepare our students for what lies ahead in their future, that we forget about their experience of the present?  In other words, are we forgetting to cater our classes to our students as much as to the information we know we need to fit into a set number of hours?  While the blog post referenced above doesn’t exactly indicate this, I think it’s a fair question to ask anyway.

Thankfully, a lovely rebuttal post was published on Babble the next day (following the numerous comments attached to the original post—most of which were in favor of the importance of childbirth education) which provided a lovely reminder to Babble’s readership:  childbirth education classes are, indeed important, pertinent and valuable.

My experience teaching childbirth education classes has been entirely in the independent, community setting.  Whether confirmed or anecdotally, most of us working in this arena know the two are very different animals. In fact, I distinctly recall a discussion about this in my childbirth educator training program and the premise of the conversation went something like this:  think very carefully about where you want to teach your classes.  The depth and breadth of information you cover in class will depend on who is (or is not) looking over your should and approving (or disapproving) of your content.  And so, I will attend a hospital-based class over the next six weeks, allowing for a compare and contrast look at childbirth education.

As I chronicle this experience of Teacher Turned Student, you can also follow Giving Birth With Confidence’s Cara Terreri during her experience taking childbirth education classes while expecting her third child.  Says Terreri:

…don’t get me wrong–I know that attending childbirth education does not guarantee a pain-med free birth (if that’s what you’re looking for), but a good childbirth class provides a solid foundation of knowledge and practiced techniques for labor and birth. For me, and I’m guessing I’m not alone, knowledge equals comfort with the process, with knowing what to expect and with understanding how to cope.

Now several years past my own training, I look forward to observing another instructor’s program.  What will the classroom set-up look like?  What order will the curriculum be presented in?  Which videos will be shown?  How will class participants be prepared for those videos?  What exercises and role-play activities will or will not be included?  Will we tour the L&D unit?  Will a staff anesthesiologist give a presentation on epidural analgesia?  Will the other students seem as though their expectations have been fulfilled?  Their questions answered?  Their fears put at ease?  What level of confidence in the birth process will exude from the class at the end of the sixth and final meeting, compared to the opening night?

On these questions, and more, I will surely keep you posted.

Posted by:  Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE

Childbirth Education , , , , , , ,

  1. April 14th, 2011 at 09:23 | #1

    I look forward to sharing the journey of childbirth class alongside you Kimmelin! I also will be interested to read your take on the hospital-based class, as mine is private.

  2. April 14th, 2011 at 12:21 | #2

    Wow, that’s awesome! Good luck to your instructor! ;-) In the past I’ve invited the person who was my doula to sit in on my classes and give me feedback — I was intimidated but wanted her insights, which she shared after class, as well as helping with class discussions when she thought she would help. (and she’s a doula so she knew exactly what to say when!).

    The class I observed in my training — in a large city at a very large hospital — was very little like mine — in a small town with me being independent.

    Interestingly, after I already had a couple years under my belt as a teacher, the university fitness center where I was teaching was getting too restrictive in terms of minimum class size. I needed a new space to teach in, and approached the local hospital about a room. They let me have my classes there because I’m health related, and I control my content.

    So, for those of us who are independent, we don’t have to automatically assume we can’t teach at the local hospital. It’s probably due to a combo of factors, in part related to me being with Lamaze. And it’s probably not a usual situation, but it’s been working here for over a year, with my fingers crossed.

    Enjoy the class, and getting to know the other students in it, too! :-)

  3. April 14th, 2011 at 18:17 | #3

    What a fantastic idea…kudos to you thinking outside of the cervix!

  4. April 14th, 2011 at 20:12 | #4

    Kimmelin, I love that you are doing this. Please keep us posted with your insights.

    “What a fantastic idea…kudos to you thinking outside of the cervix!”

    and that just deserved to be repeated ;-)

  5. April 14th, 2011 at 21:12 | #5

    I can’t wait to get started (again)!

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