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Teaching Childbirth Education Classes While Pregnant – An LCCE Educator’s Experience

August 12th, 2014 by avatar

By Katherine Steen, BS, MAIS, LCCE

Childbirth educators may work in this field at many points in their life.  They may be childless, they may have young children or their children may be out on their own. I believe one of the most interesting times to be a childbirth educator is when you yourself are pregnant and expecting a baby.  To be teaching on the topic of labor and birth to pregnant families at the exact time that you are also preparing for your own labor and birth can create some interesting class dynamics.  I asked my friend and colleague Katherine Steen, LCCE, to share what her experience has been like teaching classes while she prepares to welcome her second little one  Here is her story! – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility

CC  (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by J. McPherskesen: http://flickr.com/photos/jmcphers/4276103110

CC (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by J. McPherskesen: http://flickr.com/photos/jmcphers/4276103110

As educators, we work hard to minimize bias in our teaching. However, there is no hiding the fact that teaching birth classes while pregnant changes one’s perspective. I began my career as a childbirth educator about a year after my first child was born. In January 2014, I learned I was pregnant with my second child. Here are a few of my experiences.

First Trimester

Physical Challenges

Unlike my first pregnancy, I experienced nausea this time around, which made teaching difficult at times. I did my best to nibble during teaching to ward off the queasies and wore long sleeves to hide my Sea Bands. My second biggest challenge was fatigue. I normally teach 3.5 hour classes on Saturdays in a facility where it takes me about an hour on each end to set up and clean up. By the time I got home, I was ready for a nap. Unfortunately, my 4 year old did not always share my enthusiasm for sleep. A third challenge was transportation to and from class. I was used to riding the bus or my bike 12 miles round trip since we are a one car family, but was physically unable to, thanks to the nausea and fatigue. This meant I relied on my partner to drop me off and pick me up for class each week.

Breaking the News

Because I experienced a miscarriage previously, I was hesitant to reveal my pregnancy to my students until after the first trimester. Once I revealed my pregnancy, I began to get questions from students about my choices of provider and birth place. I am hesitant to reveal things about my choices as I don’t want to impose my values on them, but if a student asks me one on one I am generally inclined to tell them the truth. At the time, I was able to say I had not decided (which was true). It was most interesting when I began having reunions for series I taught early in the year when I revealed to students that I was pregnant while teaching their series. They reassured me that they couldn’t tell how tired and nauseous I had been and were quite excited for me.

Following My Own Advice

When it came time to pick a provider, I had a different perspective than in my first pregnancy. Not only were my needs and interests different at this point in my life, but I had a wealth of knowledge about evidence based maternity care and a broader perspective on the variations of pregnancy and birth to consider. In interviewing providers, I brought a copy of the Groopman-Hartzband Medical Mindset Spectrums (a worksheet created by Kim James and Laurie Levy, adapted from Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You, by Groopman and ) to discuss and asked about experiences/protocols for long, slow labors, premature rupture of membranes, and pregnancies that proceed into the 41st week. When a concern arose during off hours, I found myself thinking about what I would say to my students if they were in my position. Would I tell them to page their provider or call in the morning?

Second Trimester

Increased Empathy and Concern

While I physically felt better in my second trimester, the reality of our parallel life experiences continued to factor into my teaching. The first change I noticed was that I had much more empathy for pregnancy discomforts and decision making challenges. Suddenly the reality of my students became more real for me and I found myself physically feeling their twinges. I had so many opportunities to access pregnant women, postpartum families, and their scary (and wonderful) stories and my attitude toward their experiences was split.

On the one hand, I felt increasing non-attachment to their birth choices. Whereas previously I had felt disappointed when a birth did not meet a student’s expectations or when families at a reunion struggled with breastfeeding or had highly interventive births, I began to hear beauty and joy in birth stories that did not go according to plan. As long as a family was satisfied with the experience, I considered it a success. I began to envision alternate realities for my own birth and come to terms with the idea that it could go any number of ways and still be a great experience.

On the other hand, my concern and empathy for those who had scary experiences was magnified. For example, when one of my students gave birth prematurely, the situation seemed so much more relevant to me as our due dates were only a few weeks apart. Or when a family shared the story of their baby’s lengthy NICU stay due to oxygen deprivation during the birth process, my heart was heavy.

I also began to lead a postpartum support group during this time and took to heart the pregnancy, breastfeeding, and birth challenges the women in the group faced. In all of these situations, I simply did my best to hide the tears that sometimes arose without warning and tried to focus on supporting their journeys. It was good practice for me to minimize sharing my personal experience and encourage the mothers to tap into their intuition and share ideas with each other.

Third Trimester

Don’t forget to eat, drink, pee, and sit down!

Once again, teaching was physically challenging. I began to place a chair or birth ball close to the front of the room in an effort to remind myself to sit down periodically. I filled my plate at the beginning of each class with the snacks the students brought and made sure my water bottle was close at hand. I often found myself joking with students as we met in the restroom during every break as well as before and after class.

CC  (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by mandaloo: http://flickr.com/photos/mandaloo/4762404381

http://flickr.com/photos/mandaloo/4762404381

Figuring out what to wear while teaching was also a challenge. Even before I was pregnant, I taught in short sleeves year round because I have no control over the temperature at my sites. Lately, keeping cool has been even more challenging because this summer has been quite warm by Seattle standards. I went through several sizes of maternity khakis and finally decided they were too hot. I switched to skirts, but discovered how difficult it is to demonstrate lunges without flashing the class. I started having my doula/cbe observers demo for me in addition to assisting students. I cannot quite bring myself to teach in shorts, though I did resort to sandals a few times. And then there was the day I discovered I had outgrown all my bras.

Brain Farts

Between teaching two series at once (something I rarely do) and being pregnant, I had any number of moments when I found myself asking my students if we talked about something in a previous class because I honestly couldn’t remember. And forgetting the words for things. Like what’s that pushing position when you are not quite sitting, not quite lying down? Well, at least I showed them what it looks like. And then there was the week I read the snack schedule wrong and reminded the families to bring snack a week early. Thank goodness my students are on top of things and e-mailed me to clarify.

Memories

One last thing that I didn’t anticipate was how I would start to remember more clearly my postpartum experience as my pregnancy progressed. One evening, I found myself describing some of the physical and emotional realities of that difficult time in far greater detail than I am usually capable. I paused to look at my students’ faces and saw pure shock. I want to adequately prepare them for the challenge that awaits as well as the range of experiences that are normal during postpartum, but I don’t want to scare the pants off them. I ended the class and nobody moved. Somehow I came up with a quick, confidence boosting statement and they began to gather their things. Did I go too far? My trusty observer seemed to think they would recover.

Here I sit with one more class to teach before taking some time off to welcome baby. I will not miss spending two hours every Saturday schlepping my materials up three floors and moving furniture. I will miss building rapport with students and am looking forward to three class reunions in a few months.

What has been your experience of teaching while pregnant? What are the joys and challenges for you? Please share your experiences and discuss with me in the comments section.

About Katherine Steen

© Katherine Steen

© Katherine Steen

Katherine Steen, BS, MAIS, LCCE, has been teaching childbirth classes since 2012. She currently teaches for the Great Starts program of the Parent Trust for Washington Children in Seattle, WA. Prior to the birth of her daughter, she spent 10 years working as an educator in zoological parks. In addition to teaching birth classes, she loves to cook, garden, read and spend time outdoors. Her current fitness endeavors are water aerobics and prenatal yoga. She is expecting her second child in September 2014.

Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International , , ,

It’s World Breastfeeding Week! Test Your Knowledge of Evidence Based Breastfeeding Information

August 7th, 2014 by avatar
© Annie Stoner

© Annie Stoner

In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week 2014, Science & Sensibility invites you to take this quick little quiz on breastfeeding information to check how up to date you are on current, evidence based breastfeeding practices.  As discussed in our earlier post this week, celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, childbirth educators play a key support role in providing families with accurate breastfeeding information as part of a thorough childbirth education curriculum.

Staying up to date with the newest information can be difficult to do.  But it is imperative.  There are many sources of misleading or inaccurate breastfeeding information available, and students and families should rely on childbirth educators to help with providing the proper resources.  Take our quick quiz to see if you can answer some questions on breastfeeding information that has changed in the past few years. Follow the links provided with each answer if you need more information! Then share in the comments section below what you do to stay current on breastfeeding topics. What are your favorite breastfeeding continuing education resources?  Let us know!

 

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Newborns , , , ,

World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life

August 5th, 2014 by avatar

wbw2014-logo3August 1-7, 2014 is World Breastfeeding Week and this year’s theme is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life.  This year’s theme builds upon the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) developed by the United Nations and global partners.  Breastfeeding plays a critical role in achieving all eight of the MDGs.  The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action created a dynamic and clear graphic demonstrating how increasing global breastfeeding rates has the ability to impact every single one of the MDGs.

With this in mind, the World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life” calls on celebrants to “Protect, Promote and Support Breastfeeding: It is a Vital Life-saving Goal.”  The theme recognizes the critical role that excellent support plays in achieving this goal and childbirth educators are right up there as one of the critical players, as childbirth educators are prepared and qualified to help new families learn about breastfeeding in their childbirth education classes.

Lamaze International supports getting breastfeeding off to a good start with the sixth Healthy Birth Practice: “Keep mother and baby together – It’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding.”  Your role as a childbirth educator in normalizing breastfeeding, providing prenatal instruction on breastfeeding basics and sharing additional breastfeeding resources for families to utilize after their baby arrives contributes to the Millenium Development Goals with each and every family  you reach.

wbw2014-goals

Childbirth educators, along with doctors, midwives, labor & delivery nurses, lactation consultants, doulas, and others help support families in reaching their breastfeeding goals, and celebrate breastfeeding with every mother and new family they reach. Breastfeeding is a team effort and everyone plays a critical role.

Have you shared World Breastfeeding Week information with your families that are in your childbirth education classes?  Can you recall the times when a family followed up with you and thanked you for the evidence based information that you provided in their childbirth class, helping them to be prepared to breastfeed their baby after birth. What you do matters every day to mothers and babies and that includes the efforts to share accurate information about breastfeeding and breastfeeding resources with your students.  Thank you, childbirth educators, for making a difference. For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 2014, check out the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action website.

 

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Lamaze International, Newborns, Uncategorized , , , , ,

Lamaze International Introduces Online Parent Learning Center!

July 24th, 2014 by avatar

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.37.54 PMLamaze International has been working hard for many decades to make childbirth education classes available and accessible to a wide variety of women and their families.  Our training programs provide opportunities for men and women all around the world to complete a workshop and become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in the hopes that these educators can go on to teach Lamaze classes in their communities.  Despite new educators being added to the ranks all the time, many families are unfortunately still not able to find a Lamaze class in their community.  Some families, for a variety of reasons, may be unable to logistically attend an in-person class.

“This new online parent education initiative supports a key strategic imperative in Lamaze International’s newly adopted strategic framework – Innovate Education and Expand to the Childbearing Years. Through optimizing digital technology, expanding content offerings and providing online delivery, we hope to reach more women earlier in pregnancy and throughout their childbearing years with Lamaze education.” – Michele Ondeck, Lamaze International President

Lamaze International is pleased to announce that families who cannot attend an in-person class now have another option for Lamaze childbirth education.  The Lamaze Online Parent Center launches their first class, “Safe and Healthy Birth: Six Simple Steps” this week.  This online class offers an opportunity for parents to learn about the practices that support safe, normal, healthy birth and is based on the the Six Healthy Birth Practices that we all know so well and teach about in our classes.

This first online class has been developed by Lamaze International subject matter experts using the innovative online learning platform created by Thought Industries. Great care has been taken to create an online class that is interactive, engaging, informative and offers evidence based information in an easy to learn, understandable way for parents desiring an online option for their childbirth class.  Discussion forums, downloadable documents that support the curriculum, videos, interactive activities, stories, quizzes and more all come together to create an enriching online learning environment.

Parents participating in this online class are encouraged at many points to seek out an in-person Lamaze class in their community to access the skills and expertise of local LCCEs to help them to have a safe and healthy birth.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.39.13 PM

The concept of online learning is more attractive than ever for today’s parents who view their smart phones, tablets and laptops as the perfect devices for accessing information when and where they want it. We are poised to meet the need of this new style of learner with our Lamaze Online Parent Center.  Birth professionals and families can explore the class in a quick preview and discover all the material that is covered.  Families can enroll right away and start and move through the class at their convenience. Families can also sign up to receive notification when the additional classes are launched.

After the launch of the “Safe and Healthy Birth: Six Simple Steps” online class, families will be able to participate in additional classes scheduled to be launched later this summer.  The new class topics will include “Prepared for Pregnancy: Start Off Right,” “VBAC: Informed and Ready” and “Breastfeeding Basics.”

 ”This initiative sets the stage for broader engagement with parents through online education, offering content in bite size pieces. It creates opportunities for educators to engage with parents in the online classes as moderators, to use as pre-work or an add-on to in person classes or private consultations, to serve as content experts for future class development, and as a referral source for in-person Lamaze classes where they are available.” - Lamaze International Education Council Chair Allison Walsh

Take a moment to look around the Lamaze Online Learning Center, peek at the pilot course and consider how these online classes can be an asset for parents to take advantage of, in addition to in-person participation. The “Prepared for Pregnancy: Start Off Right” course will hopefully generate primary interest in Lamaze offerings and motivate more families to seek out classes offered by Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators local to them. As always, you can count on Lamaze International to continue to be a leader in evidence based childbirth education.

 

Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Lamaze International, Push for Your Baby , , ,

Lamaze Releases Useful New Infographic: “No Food, No Drink During Labor? NO WAY!”

July 22nd, 2014 by avatar

piece Lamaze_RestrictedFoodDrinkInfographic_FINALToday, Lamaze International releases their newest infographic “No Food, No Drink During Labor? NO WAY!” This useful infographic is available on both the Lamaze International for Professionals website and the Lamaze Parents website. The most recent Listening to Mothers III survey indicated that 60% of women did not drink and 80% did not eat during labor! (DeClercq, 2013) The common practice of restricting food and drink for laboring women is outdated and not supported by evidence.  Unfortunately, most laboring women still face resistance from health care providers and facilities when they desire to eat or drink during their labor.

Lamaze International is hosting a Twitter Chat today, July 22nd, 2014 at 9 PM EST.  Professionals and parents are invited to participate in this live Twitter discussion moderated by Kathryn Konrad, MS, RNC-OB, LCCE, FACCE (@KkonradLCCE) and Robin Weiss, PhDc, MPH, CPH, CD(DONA), CLC, LCCE, Lamaze International’s President Elect. Tonight’s topic is “Restrictions in Labor” including this infographic on eating and drinking along with last month’s infographic on moving in labor (“We Like To Move It, Move It!”) Follow the hashtag #LamazeChat.  New to participating in a Twitter chat?  Check out this article for information on how to participate and get the most out of your experience.

Lamaze International’s Healthy Birth Practices, first released in 2009, discussed in great length the benefits to moving and changing position in labor in the 2nd Healthy Birth Practice: “Walk, Move Around and Change Positions Throughout Labor“ as well as the risks to restricting food and drink in the 4th Healthy Birth Practice: “Avoid Interventions That Are Not Medically Necessary.”

These useful infographics complement the Healthy Birth Practices, are easy to share on social media and can be used in the classroom as a poster to help parents to understand how to have the safest and healthiest birth possible.

Won’t you take a moment to check out this newest infographic and share with the expectant families that you work with!  Consider sharing it on your favorite social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) and making it available in your classrooms!

If you have an interesting way you are using these infographics, or would like to just share your thoughts on the infographic topics, please let us know in the comments section. I would love to hear how you use this info in your practice.

Click here to download the newest infographic “No Food, No Drink During Labor? NO WAY!”

You may access all the infographics available here!

References

Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., Applebaum, S., & Herrlich, A. (2013). Listening to mothers III: Pregnancy and birth. New York, NY: Childbirth Connection.

Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Healthy Birth Practices, informed Consent, Lamaze International, Maternity Care, Medical Interventions, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,