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Black Breastfeeding Week – “Lift Every Baby” Supports Breastfeeding Black Families

August 27th, 2015 by avatar

BBW-Logo-AugustDates-300x162August 1-7th was World Breastfeeding Week, and the entire month of August was National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  Science & Sensibility shared information and resources in two posts; Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make It Work! Join Science & Sensibility in Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week and Happy World Breastfeeding Week! The Celebration Continues with More Free Resources, along with a “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Nine Ideas for Using Knit Breasts in Breastfeeding Classes” post for those who teach expectant families.

This week we want to recognize and honor Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31, 2015) and share information about the “Lift Every Baby” awareness campaign that is the theme of this year’s program.  Black Breastfeeding Week is designed to raise awareness and provide support in black communities.  Both the initiation rate and the duration rate of breastfeeding in black families has been lower than the rates in white families for more than four decades. Low birth weight, preterm deliveries and maternal complications such as preeclampsia are all higher in black women and the black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white babies.  Breastfeeding and the important benefits it provides can help all babies, but for the most vulnerable and the sickest, breastmilk is a critical component that can mean the difference between life and death.

black breastfeeding mother babyBlack Breastfeeding Week was established three years ago by three women, Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anaya Sangodele-Ayoka, all leaders in the field of maternal child health, with a focus on families of color.  In the past three years, attention, discussion and events focused on supporting Black Breastfeeding Week have only grown as people of all colors recognize the health disparities that exist right here in the United States, between white families and black families that have lifelong impacts, simply due to the color of one’s skin.

Kimberly Seals Allers wrote an excellent commentary on why there is a need for Black Breastfeeding Week.

There are many activities around the country to support Black Breastfeeding Week.  A full event list can be found here.  On August 29 at 3 PM EST the first nationally coordinated “Lift Up” will be held in various cities across the United States.  Black families will join together at different meeting points across the country to “Lift Up” their babies, regardless of their size or age, to recognize the importance of community support for children.

There will also be the first ever Twitter chat (#LifeEveryBaby) in honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, scheduled for tonight, August 27th at 9 PM EST that you are invited to participate in.

Cara Terreri, from Lamaze International’s blog for parents, Giving Birth With Confidence, has compiled a list of  black breastfeeding resources that you should be aware of:

Black Breastfeeding Week website & Facebook page

It’s Only Natural,” – CDC & Office of Women’s Health breastfeeding guide for African American families

Normalize Breastfeeding

Black Women Do Breastfeed website & Facebook page

Mocha Manual

Your Guide to Breastfeeding for African American Women

You can also find more information and resources on the Black Breastfeeding Week Resources and Toolkit page.

Additionally, I would like to refer you to two previous posts in our “Welcoming All Families” series, written by Lamaze educator and lactation consultant Tamara Hawkins, discussing welcoming families of color to your classes.  Working with Women of Color and Working with Women of Color – Educator Information can help educators create and provide applicable classes and information to the families of color joining their classes.

Black Breastfeeding Week is an important event that can help create awareness for the importance of culturally relevant and accessible breastfeeding support and information for black families.  Childbirth educators and other birth professionals should be ready to provide resources that can help close the gap to the families they work with.  Are you participating in any Black Breastfeeding Week events?  Let us know in the comments section and please, let us all join together to “Lift Every Baby.”

 

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Infant Attachment, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Meet William Camann, MD – Lamaze/ICEA Conference Plenary Speaker

August 25th, 2015 by avatar
William Camann, MD

William Camann, MD

With the Lamaze/ICEA Joint Conference a little more than three weeks away, final details are well underway to make sure this joint conference offers something for everyone who attends.  And if for some reason, you are unable to join the conference in person, there is a Virtual Conference option for some of the sessions.  Today on Science & Sensibility, we meet Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesia, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, author and researcher.  Learn more about Dr. Camann and hear some of his thoughts today on the blog.  Then plan on attending Dr. Camann’s plenary session – “What Does the Informed Childbirth Educator Need to Know About Labor Pain Relief in 2015?” at the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 Joint Conference in Las Vegas, NV next month.

Sharon Muza: What is the role of the childbirth educator in helping families to understand their childbirth pain relief options as they prepare for labor?

William Camann, MD: One of the things I often say is that “the most predictable thing about labor is that it is unpredictable”. The childbirth educator plays a critical role in properly preparing women and their partners for labor and birth. But the educator is also up against the reality of our electronic age. Much information is available online, and many women utilize these electronic resources as an adjunct to, or even in place of, traditional classes. Openness to all options, realization that things may change as labor begins and progresses, and an understanding of why some common medical procedures and interventions are done, is critical.

The educator needs to be realistic and unbiased and not try to place their own thoughts/feelings/agendas onto the woman and her partner. Just as the woman and her partner need to go into labor with an open mind, likewise those who teach childbirth education must approach the task with all options open. It can indeed be a very tricky interaction. Some do it better than others. Another important thing is for the educator to be aware of particular practices at local hospitals. Not all hospitals do things exactly the same way. Being aware of local practice patterns and preferences can assist with proper preparation of the women for what they can expect. Hopefully conferences like this one will assist with sharing of valuable ideas for all of us to make ourselves better educators.

SM: What are some of the common misconceptions that parents and/or childbirth educators have about epidurals?

WC: Many parents have heard that epidurals:

  1. don’t work
  2. are dangerous, to both mother and baby
  3.  cause back pain
  4. cause headaches
  5. contribute to unnecessary cesarean deliveries
  6. make it impossible to push the baby out
  7. you have to be a certain number of centimeters dilated to get an epidural and if labor has progressed very far, it may be “too late” to get an epidural
  8. are not needed in most labors
  9. can result in paralysis

All of these concepts need to be discussed in proper context. There is very comprehensive research behind each of these concepts, but it is complex, and sometimes conflicting and confusing. This is where a good, insightful, informed and realistic childbirth educator can be so helpful.

A related misconception is that some, perhaps many, women feel that they do not need to attend childbirth classes if they are planning to have an epidural. Not true!

easy labor book cover camannSM: How have labor pain relief options changed in the past 10 years? What is new and exciting?

WC: The most significant changes have been with regard to the technology and medications used in epidurals. “Low-dose” epidurals with ability to maintain movement, and “patient-controlled” epidurals which give a large degree of control back to the patient, are now very commonly used in most labor units. Small changes in needle and catheter design, and drug delivery systems, have made these techniques more effective, with even lower doses of medications, resulting in fewer side effects. Likewise, technological advances allow for increased flexibility and comfort in how the actual epidural is inserted. Overall, these changes have made the use of epidural anesthesia a much more user-friendly technique, and a technique that can really facilitate a good, safe, satisfying birthing experience.

SM: As an obstetrical anesthesiologist, how has your role as a valuable member of the birth team changed over the years?

WC: There has been increasing awareness, among both anesthesiologists and others also (nurses, obstetricians, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators) that anesthesiologists are a critical part of the entire birth team. We can provide much more than just administering anesthesia. We are often sought after for advice on appropriate pain management choices, particularly in mothers with various comorbidities and other complex medical conditions. We are more often being asked to participate in prenatal education classes. We are very welcoming to learning about alternative methods of pain relief, and how this may fit into the overall paradigm of care during labor. As more and more mothers with complex medical conditions become pregnant, our role as anesthesiologists has expanded to include significant consultations with obstetricians and other medical colleagues to assist with ensuring a safe pregnancy and birth.

SM: You do a lot of work and research around offering a family centered cesarean? Do you consider it important for the mother to have a second support person (doula or other support) along with her partner, in the OR for the birth? How can families advocate for their desire to have two support people during a cesarean?

WC: For those who do want a second support person, if properly chosen and truly desired by the woman, then I believe there is value in this. In my personal practice, I am totally fine with a second support person in the operating room, if this is what the family wants. In the overall picture of women having cesareans, it just is not a common request.

SM: Do you see any challenges to presenting informed consent information to a woman in the throes of labor? How do you do this effectively?

Photo by Patti Ramos Photography

Photo by Patti Ramos Photography

WC: YES! This is an extraordinarily difficult and complex time to properly obtain informed consent. In these situations, we try our best. It is not easy. The involvement of a good obstetrician, labor nurse, midwife and doula can be very helpful. Pre-labor education is crucial, to avoid these difficult circumstances. However, pre-labor it is impossible to really know what the pain is like. We have all seen “best laid plans” rapidly change once the reality of labor pains commence. This is why having an open mind and flexibility is so important for women about to embark on labor and birth.

SM: What are you looking forward to most about being a plenary speaker and presenting to the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 conference attendees?

WC: I always enjoy these types of conferences. I feel I become a better anesthesiologist when I interact with and learn from interested colleagues who may share some different perspectives. I also hope that the attendees at the conference will become better educators, doulas, and midwives as a result of what I will share in my lecture and by attending the meeting.

SM: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Science & Sensibility and attendees at the upcoming conference?

WC: We are all working together to ensure a safe, satisfying birth for mom, partner and baby. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this conference.

 

 

2015 Conference, 2015 Lamaze & ICEA Joint Conference, Childbirth Education, Conference Schedule, Epidural Analgesia , , , , ,

Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Nine Ideas for Using Knit Breasts in Breastfeeding Classes

August 20th, 2015 by avatar

babe breastfeedingAugust is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month (and August 1-7 was World Breastfeeding Week) and Science & Sensibility covered the WBW theme “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” in a post earlier this month.  August’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators will continue to increase the awareness about breastfeeding and breastfeeding education.  I would like to talk about how I and the families in my class use a set of  wonderful knitted breasts when I cover breastfeeding topics in my childbirth class.  You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educator posts here.

I currently teach a seven week series and cover the majority of  the breastfeeding topics on the last week.  The entire series is rich in information about breastfeeding, skin to skin, safe and healthy birth options, and other choices that support getting breastfeeding off on the best path possible.  Week seven is the nuts and bolts of breastfeeding, covering topics like latch, how the breasts make milk, positions for breastfeeding, is your newborn getting enough milk and common problems that new families experience as well as other information.

For the breastfeeding class, I use these wonderful handknitted breasts that I purchased from a talented colleague here in Seattle.  You can find similar patterns to make your own in the links below.  Each breast is unique in skin tone, nipple and areola size, overall size and weight.  Every family receives one breast and one baby. (I use these Ikea dolls, for their affordability, size and softness.)  Using these knitted breasts and dolls allows the families to experience common breastfeeding situations in a comfortable and humorous way, while gaining experience positioning themselves and their babies for comfortable and supportive breastfeeding.

Nine Breastfeeding Teaching Ideas Using a Knitted Breast

1. Having different size breasts with different size nipples and areolas gives me an opportunity to share that breastfeeding can be successful no matter the size of a person’s breast tissue or breast anatomy.  Large and small breasts can both feed a baby quite satisfactorily.  My collection is quite varied.

2. When a person uses their finger to press in on the tissue around the baby’s nose in order to “make space for air”during breastfeeding, it can change the angle of the nipple in the baby’s mouth and create unnecessary discomfort.

3. Supporting the breast with the “c-hold” and placing the fingers well back from the areola will help the baby to have a deeper latch and pull more breast tissue into their mouth.

4. Shaping and supporting the breast “like a hamburger” so the baby can get a good latch can reduce nipple pain and help the baby to transfer milk.

5. The five most common positions to breastfeed – laidback breastfeeding, cross cradle, cradle, football and side lying can feel awkward, but with practice will become second nature.  Everyone gets to try them using their “breast” and “baby”.  They can practice holding and positioning the knitted breast in the best way for each position.

6. Placing lots of pillows for proper support for the dyad can help keep breastfeeding comfortable.

7. A baby can nurse “around the clock” on the breast, with sometimes subtle position changes that allows the baby to stimulate and remove milk from all parts of the breast.

8. There is a small bead sewn into each of these weighted knitted breasts.  I can ask the families to find the little pea sized lump and can discuss how this might be a sign of a clogged duct, and how to resolve it.

9. Hand expressing milk if parents are separated from their baby after birth, can help with overall supply and volume while supplying valuable colostrum for their baby.  They can also use this skill to increase supply, or if they are experiencing engorgement.  Learning this skill on the knitted breast in class is great.

Open Mouthed Ikea Doll

If you are extra creative, there is a great “hack” that can be done to the Ikea doll to make the mouth open and include a tongue, (which can even be “tongue-tied”) to make the knitted breast/doll demo even more realistic.  Find this clever idea created by Tova Ovits, CLC here on Galactablog.

Bonus Diaper

© Sharon Muza

© Sharon Muza

I also use a knitted diaper that shows how a newborn baby’s stool changes over time from dark meconium to mustardy breastfed baby stool. A great visual aid and always gets lots of comments from families.  Thanks Betsy Hoffmeister, IBCLC,  for making me such a great tool to use in my Lamaze classes.

Family Reactions

At first, families may feel a little awkward handling the knitted breast, and may laugh if it is particularly large or small, or as an unusually large nipple.  But over the course of the night, they become comfortable in handing the breast, confident in finger placement and are eager to try different positions and experiment with their own additional suggestions for comfortable and useful techniques.  We all have fun, they leave class excited and ready to get breastfeeding off to a good start and knowledgeable in some of the basics to help them do so.

Knitted Breast Patterns

LCGB Knitted Breast Pattern

Breastfeeding Network Pattern

What interesting techniques and tools do you use to help your families during your breastfeeding instruction?  Share your ideas and resources in our comments section below.

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators , , , , ,

Meet Joan Combellick – Lamaze/ICEA Conference Plenary Speaker

August 13th, 2015 by avatar

The Lamaze International-ICEA 2015 Joint Conference is a little more than a month away and I am excited about all of the learning opportunities and connections that will be happening in Las Vegas.  I remember attending the last Lamaze-ICEA joint conference five years ago and it was very memorable.  Over the next month, I would like to introduce you to the four plenary speakers at the conference. We are lucky to have these experts sharing their wisdom and expertise with us.  Today, we meet Joan Combellick, CM, MSN, MPH.  Joan is a midwife and researcher who is interested in the microbiome and the newborn.  She will be sharing relevant information about this new field of research and how it is related to birth in her plenary session: Watchful Waiting Revisited: Birth Experience and the Neonatal Microbiome.  Meet Joan in this brief interview as she shares some thoughts on her topic.  Join us in Las Vegas to hear the session and learn more about this important new field of research.  To register for the conference and find out more about the Lamaze International – ICEA 2015 Joint Conference visit the conference website.

Sharon Muza: The microbiome and the newborn have been getting lots of attention in the mainstream press in recent months. Parents are coming to class with lots of questions about this topic for their childbirth educator. What do you think are the most common questions expectant families might have on this topic as they prepare to birth?

joan combellick head shotJoan Combellick: I have found it is a topic that is variably known and understood among the women I care for. Many have never heard the term microbiome and think about bacteria primarily as “germs” that we need to rid ourselves of through the use of bactericidal wipes or soap, etc. With these women it is important to start with the concept that bacteria is not always dangerous, rather we actually need and depend on the trillions of bacteria living in all different parts of our bodies. Further, that initial bacterial colonization at birth and in the newborn period is an important developmental process.

 Other women have done extensive reading on the subject. With these women it is important to help ground their knowledge in the current state of the science. For example, the lasting effects of probiotic supplements are not well understood or documented. The relationship between alterations in the newborn microbiome and subsequent disorders, such as asthma and allergies, is an association only, not a causal relationship. The exact characteristics of a “healthy” microbiome for any given person have not yet been clearly defined. These are just a few examples of areas within microbiome research that need further illumination.

SM: How should the childbirth educator respond when parents ask these questions?

JC: I think it is important to reflect this is an emerging science with much more to come. There is a lot of media attention on this topic right now, much of which suggests that the microbiome is the key to all human health. But many answers are still out. Certainly it seems the microbiome may play a role in shaping human health or disease, yet health promotion and disease prevention must also be recognized as a multi-factorial processes.  

SM: What role do childbirth educators play in helping families to understand the role of the microbiome on their newborn?

JC: Childbirth educators are uniquely positioned to engage with women and their families in deep and meaningful ways on microbiome-related issues, as they are with many issues related to pregnancy and birth. This is a new topic for health care providers as well as women receiving care and I suspect it is not very thoroughly discussed during pregnancy, partly due to lack of knowledge on the part of health care providers, but also partly due to lack of time during typical prenatal appointments. Childbirth educators can very effectively open this discussion with women, respond to questions and clarify concerns and practices. They can also support women in a more active pursuit of information and a more robust discussion on this topic with their health care providers.

SM: What changes have you observed in families’ choices and birth preparation plans as their awareness of the importance of their newborn’s microbiome increases?

JC: In my clinical work I have had only one patient who underwent a scheduled cesarean delivery for breech presentation ask for help in exposing her infant to vaginal bacteria. She had already done research on this experimental intervention and carried it out largely on her own. I mostly just helped her navigate the hospital environment while she did so..

I have encountered many women taking pre-, pro-, or syn-biotics, though their goals in taking these supplements is not well defined.

SM: Do you think that hospitals are recognizing and addressing this issue with changes in procedures and protocols that support a healthy microbiome in all the babies born in their facilities?

JC: I believe there is very little discussion about this topic and I have not seen any changes in procedures and protocols at the institutions where I work. I think there is openness on the part of providers to learn more, but I think demand for information from women receiving care may actually lead the way on this.

SM: If families could do one thing prenatally and during labor to help ensure their newborn’s microbiome is the healthiest it could be, what would that one thing be?

JC: Follow a path of normal pregnancy, labor and childbirth to the fullest extent possible. When medications or interventions are suggested, understand why they are medically necessary. Avoid interventions done electively or without medical reason.

SM: How has what you know and have studied about the importance of the newborn’s microbiome changed the way you practice?

skin_to_skinJC: I try to scrutinize all of my own clinical practice more thoroughly in both big and small ways. For example, have I made sure that mother and baby have prolonged skin to skin contact immediately after delivery? Have I educated women to the fullest extent possible about the benefits of breastfeeding and then do I offer the practical support that is needed in the first weeks after delivery when breastfeeding is established? Do I need to prescribe that antibiotic prenatally, or is this a case when watchful waiting is more appropriate? Am I at all times following protocols that prioritize vaginal delivery whenever safe for mother and baby?

SM: It has often been suggested that it takes 17 years to go from “bench to bedside,” when the research can be applied to wide-spread clinical procedures. What do you think can be done by both professionals and consumers to speed this process along as it pertains to the microbiome and the newborn?

JC: As educators and clinicians it is our responsibility to stay up to date on the most current research. But this is often difficult. Professionals and consumers alike can speed this process by opening the discussion, just asking questions and pursuing answers. This can help everyone learn more about the topic and most importantly, insure the most up to date care is given and received. Women should always feel empowered to lead the discussion about this topic with their care providers.

SM: What are you looking forward to most about being a plenary speaker and presenting to the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 conference attendees?

JC: I am both a midwife and a researcher. In my clinical world, I know that it is very difficult to stay up to date on current research. And in my research world, I know that research is all too often not well informed by clinical practice. The two worlds often have a lot of distance between them. This is an exciting conference to me because it is an opportunity to bring research and care together. I hope to clearly present the research I am working on, but I also hope to be better informed about the issues childbirth educators encounter in their work. Childbirth educators often have the best opportunity to know the concerns, knowledge and practices of women and their families. I very much look forward to the sharing of information in all directions.

SM: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Science & Sensibility and attendees at the upcoming conference?

JC: We have observed alterations in newborn bacterial development that are associated with interventions used at or around the time of birth (such as cesarean delivery, antibiotic use, and formula feeding). Further, these alterations have been associated with subsequent health outcomes like obesity, allergy, eczema, asthma, and diabetes. While all of these interventions can be truly life saving when used appropriately, it is also clear that in the US and around the world the use of cesarean delivery, antibiotic treatment and formula feeding is occurring at rates that vastly exceed what is medically necessary. It is important for women to ask for and be told in a way they understand the true medical indication for any and all interventions. It is also important for women to understand that birth is not something that should be scheduled into a busy calendar merely as a matter of convenience. Microbiome research suggests that our normal human birth process, as variable and unpredictable as it may be, is important to promote and protect to the fullest extent possible.

 

 

 

2015 Conference, 2015 Lamaze & ICEA Joint Conference, Babies, Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, New Research, Newborns , , , ,

Series: Building Your Birth Business – Using Facebook Ads to Advertise Your Birth Business

August 11th, 2015 by avatar

By Janelle Durham, MSW, LCCE

Building Your Birth Business- Using FacebookToday we have another post in the Building Your Birth Business series.  You may be interested in growing your own independent childbirth education or birth related business.  Maybe you already have such a business already established but are looking to take it to the next level. Even if you work for a hospital or organization, this information is useful as well, if they are looking to expand their reach.  Today’s post by author and educator Janelle Durham, MSW, LCCE, helps you to understand Facebook Ads and how to customize them.  Targeted to your specific audience, Facebook Ads can increase traffic to your website or Facebook page where families can learn more about your services. You can find all the posts in this series here– Sharon Muza,  Science & Sensibility Community Manager

Facebook ads let you write an ad that appears on someone’s Facebook feed. So, as they’re scrolling through for news of their friend’s adventures, they see your ad. This is a good way to raise awareness of your services. For $10, you can put your ad in front of about 800 people, and about 15 of them will click through to learn more. But, the best part is that you can target these ads to very specific demographics, like expectant parents who live in Monroe, Washington. You don’t waste money showing it to anyone who doesn’t fit that description. (Unlike that newspaper ad, which is mostly read by retirees.)

Note, this type of ad raises awareness of your business. I can’t guarantee it will get you clients and students! When someone was reading Facebook, they weren’t necessarily looking for a doula or a childbirth class, so they may not immediately click through and call you up. But, you have increased the chance they’ll do that in the future. It’s worth $10.

Here’s How to Create a Facebook Ad

First, if you don’t already have a Facebook page, create one here. (Here are some tips on pages for businesses.)

Then, log on to your page

Click on Create ad (it probably displays on your left sidebar under the heading “pages” or it might appear on the top right corner of your page)

It will ask you what kinds of results you want to get: choose ‘clicks to website’. Paste in the website address. (Make sure you choose the specific page you’ll want them to land on on YOUR website.)

Defining Your Audience

durham fb audience-definition

There’s lots of variables you can adjust here. Each changes the potential total audience for the ad – the total number of Facebook users who fit the description you’ve chosen.

Keep an eye on the little “audience definition” meter on the right hand side, and also, at the bottom of that column, it will tell you “potential reach” of your ad. Make choices, and see what gets you to the number you want… it usually takes a little experimentation to get it just right. I have found that if I spend $10 on an ad, it’s typically going to be displayed to about 800 – 1200 people, so I’m looking to narrow my demographics down to a total potential audience in the range of 2000 – 4000 people who are the closest possible match I can get to who I’m looking for. I won’t reach them all, but I’ll reach a good percentage of them. This gives me the best bang for my buck. If you had a bigger budget, you would want higher numbers for potential audience.

  • Location. Where it says “Include”, type your city in. It will then offer to do a radius around that city (you’ll see that it says “Carnation+25 miles”). You can adjust that. Next to “+25 miles”, there’s an arrow for a drop-down menu. You can adjust the radius there. You can also exclude things. Like for Carnation, I want everyone in the Snoqualmie Valley to see it (the rural areas north, east, and south of Carnation). But, I know no one from Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland or Redmond (urban areas) is going to drive to Carnation for a class! Note, when excluding cities, choose “no radius”.

durham fb location

  • Age. You can limit by age group. I’m trying to reach expectant parents, and parents of very young children. While we welcome teen and young adult parents, we have found they don’t usually sign up, so, since my advertising dollar is limited, I target to age 24 and up. On the older side, I set it at 46 or so. (There is an irony in this, since I’m a 48 year old mom of a preschooler…) Note: Ad targeting is NOT about who is welcome or not welcome in our classes!! It’s about focusing our ads on the type of people most likely to be looking for a program like ours.
  • Gender: It’s a stereotype, but likely true, that moms make more decisions about classes than dads do. I do both genders if that gets my audience to the right size, but if I really want to target my ads for best value, I limit to women.
  • Language: I generally leave blank. It will go to anyone in my area, no matter their primary language.
  • More demographics: there’s a LOT of choices here. Some examples: Home >> Household Composition >> Children in Home or Parents >> All Parents >> (0 – 12 months): New Parents or Parents >> Moms >> Stay-at-home moms
    • Note: when you write your ad, think about who you’re going to target. For example, if you’re targeting to “stay at home moms” vs. “parents 0 – 3 years” your ad might be written differently. SAHM might not click on an ad for a preschool if they think of preschools as a 5 day a week thing… so your ad might say something about it being ‘2 mornings a week – great opportunity for a little social interaction for you and your child’.
    • For childbirth classes, I might choose married or partnered. Again, I’m not trying to be biased here… single parents are VERY welcome in the classes, but again, if I have limited ad dollars, I know that partnered moms are more likely to choose to enroll in a class…
  • Interests: You could choose people who are interested in Family and Relationships, and that gets you people who have “liked” pages about Family and Relationships
  • Behaviors. Again, there are lots of things to choose from here. I have tried targeting a preschool ad to Purchase Types >> Baby products and had similar results (click-through rates) to when I targeted at parents of kids 0 – 12 months. Note: use EITHER the “more demographics” section OR “Interests and Behaviors.” If you use both, the ad will only go to people who fit all the descriptions in both sections, and that usually limits your audience too much.

How Much Do You Want to Spend

Now you need to choose your budget. I do the lifetime budget. That refers to the lifetime/lifespan of the ad. I’ve been generally running $10-20 lifetime budget. Then set your start and end dates. I run ads for about 5 days.

durham fb ad budget

Bidding and Pricing

I “optimize for clicks to website” and “get the most website clicks at the best price” and “run ads all the time” and delivery type standard.

Create Your Ad

It asks “How do you want your ad to look.” Although the “multiple images in one ad” is interesting, let’s make it simple now, and choose “a single image”

Then it asks “What creative would you like to use”. Choose “select images”. It will automatically upload some pictures from your website, but if those aren’t the ones you want to use, you can delete them, and upload anything you want. You can choose multiple pictures, and it will randomly choose one whenever it runs an ad, so if you don’t have a single favorite picture, that’s a fine option. You can “crop” the images to make sure they’re displaying the part of the photo you want to display.

durham fb ad ad-design

In the Text and Links section:

  • On Connect Facebook page, make sure it lists the correct page
  • On headline and text, it may have auto-filled the title and description from your webpage. You’ll almost always want to change this for an ad to make them as appealing as possible.
  • Headline: usually this would be the name of your program (25 characters or less)
  • Text: Wants to be a clear, engaging overview of your program, with perhaps an invitation (join us, check us out, be a part, etc.). You’ve only got 90 characters, so make them count.
  • Note: On the mobile ads, all that appears is: name of your Facebook page / text / headline / web address. So, make sure that the text works well in this context as well as on desktop news feed. (Many more people will see your mobile ad than your desktop ad!! 48% of Facebook users access it ONLY on mobile devices; many more use a mixture of mobile and desktop) So, I make sure it includes location, age group – those sorts of key information that tell viewers whether the ad applies to them.
  • Call to Action: Choose one. I like “learn more” or “sign up”
  • Click “show advanced options”, and it will give you a box for news feed link description. You definitely want to use this, as it gives you an opportunity to provide lots more info for those viewing it on a desktop. It’s 200 characters. I use it for a longer summary of the program.
  • Once you’ve done this, make sure you look at the previews for desktop feed, mobile devices, right column display and mobile apps to make sure you’re happy with all versions of the ad.
  • Then place order.

What results will you get?

It’s really hard for me to predict that. It depends on what market you’re trying to reach, what your product is and so on. I also think that what results I’m getting in August of 2015 may be different in August 2016. I just don’t know how yet. Facebook ads are somewhat new, they’re REALLY easy, really cheap, and get good results. So, a lot of people are using them right now. If that use increases so much that Facebook users get sick of ads, we might see a backlash, and worse results, or Facebook may continue to evolve tools that get even better results. All I can tell you is what I’ve seen with my market, my product, in summer 2014 and 2015.

I’ve been running ads for our program: classes for parents and babies, parents and toddlers, and cooperative preschools. For each audience, I’ve targeted as described in the directions above, with some minor adjustments. For each type of class I spent $10, and had a potential audience from about 2000 – 7000 people. For each of the ads, they’ve been displayed to approximately 800 – 1100 people. The clicks to the website ranged from 8 – 35 per program. Click through rates ranged from 1%. Cost per click ranged from 27 cents to $1.25. So, as an approximation, I figure can get about 15 clicks for $10.

I advertised my blog, More Good Days to a national audience. Married women, age 24 – 44, parents of kids 0 – 3 years old. That’s a potential audience of over a million. I knew I was only going to reach a very small fraction of those. But that was OK… I wanted to reach people all over, under the hope that maybe if someone in Minnesota liked it, she’d tell her friends, and so would someone in New Mexico and so on. I spent $30. Ad displayed to 5200, 79 clicked through. That’s a click-through rate of 1.5%, at a cost-per-click of 38 cents.

I did an ad for our program where instead of setting the goal of what kind of results I wanted to “clicks to website” I chose “Promote your page.” (For some programs, this is a better option than clicks… a click just gets them to look at your website once and take action or not on that day. But if they like your Facebook page, then every time you post something, it appears on their Facebook feed, so you get repeated exposures.) I targeted that ad to expectant parents and parents of kids 0 – 3 in 4 nearby cities. Potential audience of 17,600. I spent $14. Ad displayed to 2443 people (14% of audience). 11 liked the page (my goal), 2 liked the post. That’s a click-through rate of 0.7% and a cost-per-like of $1.20.

I primarily choose ads that are optimized for clicks to website. I find that some of the people who see that ad choose to go to our Facebook page to check us out, and some choose to like the page based on that. In one week of running ads, where our ads were displayed to 11,000 people, we gained 22 likes on our Facebook page as a side effect of those ads.

Setting up your first ad will take you 30 – 45 minutes. It gets faster after that! I can do one in 5 – 10. Try experimenting with one today!

To learn more about online advertising, check out my website at www.janelledurham.com.

Have you had previous experience using Facebook Ads and would like to add some additional information?  Do you think you will give these simple and affordable ad options a try?  Share your experience now or after your first round of ads and let us know how it goes in the comments section below. – SM

About Janelle Durham

Janelle headshotJanelle Durham, MSW, LCCE, has taught childbirth preparation, breastfeeding, and newborn care for 16 years. She trains childbirth educators for the Great Starts program at Parent Trust for Washington Children, and teaches young families through Bellevue College’s Parent Education program. She is a co-author of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn and writes blogs/websites on: pregnancy & birth; breastfeeding and newborn care; and parenting toddlers & preschoolers. Contact Janelle at jdurham@parenttrust.org.

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