By Allie Baker
Earlier this year, I challenged readers to participate in a "How Low Can You Go" Educator Activity Challenge. I know that new educators are often concerned about the cost of getting started teaching childbirth classes and being a frugal person myself, I asked for teaching ideas that are economical and effective. I got some excellent submissions that won't break the bank and wanted to share one of them with you today as the February Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators series. You can find the entire Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators series here. Thank you, Allie Baker, for your creative idea that can be implemented with just a few (or no!!) dollars. I cannot wait to try it myself in an upcoming class. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.
I am a new educator, having just completed my workshop in November 2017. Since then, I have been gathering as much info as I can to become the best childbirth educator I can be. I think that childbirth education is extremely valuable for new parents, and I believe the best way to share this information is with fun and memorable activities.
My friend and mentor, (and frequent S&S contributor) Stacie Bingham, LCCE, brought these “houses” to my attention a few weeks ago. She found them at a Goodwill thrift store for only a few dollars but wasn't sure how to use them. After some brainstorming, I came up with the idea to make “House of __________” displays. I believe originally they were used to display real estate information and had a slot on the front that could hold business cards. I thought these little houses were the perfect opportunity for a matching game activity that got families thinking about what could/would make their birth experience more comfortable, painful or fearful. With some thought into identifying what might go into these categories, families could identify what they might need to reduce fear and pain, and what they could do to increase comfort.
- Three house shaped picture frames, or laminated house shapes that can stand up by themselves.
- Image and label of fear, pain, and comfort to label the houses.
- cards for sorting preprinted with items that increase fear, pain, and comfort.
- some blank cards for parents to add their own items
When to do this activity
This activity would be great to incorporate into a class after teaching pain theories, stages of labor, and discussing comfort techniques. Allowing the parents to sort out the cards will help them use the information they just learned. They may also come up with other scenarios and how they will use them. When you discuss the fear-tension-pain cycle is another opportunity to do this. It might even make a great intro activity for a refresher class.
How to do this activity
The "House of Pain" display has corresponding cards that show different things that often make the pain worse. For example, if the laboring person was stuck in bed, had distracting noises from down the hall, or was not getting along with the nurse and more. All of these situations could make them more stressed, or cause or increase pain. The "House of Comfort" is all about things that will make the pain go away. For example, wearing comfortable clothes instead of a hospital gown, listening to your favorite music, or even slow dancing to a favorite song. You could add more of your choice. The "House of Fear" has cards associated with it too that address the common fears that parents may have.
You can do one, two or three "houses" at the same time, or at different points in your curriculum. Using them separately, this activity could be easily used as an icebreaker.
You can group and shuffle all the cards together, pass out the cards amongst all the class and ask them to sort them into the correct category, placing them in each house. You can go over the cards, especially those in the pain and fear houses to make sure that families have solutions to these potential issues. Families can add to the preprinted cards by filling out blank cards with items that may not have already been covered. Doing this activity allows you to share evidenced-based information and debunk myths, especially around fears and pain. It also gets families thinking about what they will need to be comfortable and cope.
There are alternative ways to do this activity. For example, you can give them blank cards and have them create answers for each house. A small group of families could be assigned one house to create cards for. Three groups in all.
One of my favorite parts of this activity is that it shines a light on the difficulties of labor and gives the families confidence to conquer it. When a challenge arises during their birth, they will have the knowledge and tools to diffuse the situation. It also allows them to use what they know and presents an opportunity to answer questions that may not be brought up in a more standard lecture-based activity.
This activity was put together with little to no cost. You don't need fancy house displays to make this activity work, you could also cut some fun colored paper to look like a house. I laminated my material to make it last longer, but that is not necessary if you didn't already have a laminator. This activity generates discussion, keeps people engaged and can be a lot of fun for the instructor and the participants.
About Allie Baker
Allie joined the birth world in April 2017 when she transitioned from working as a CNA and EMT to taking a DONA workshop to become a birth doula. While pursuing certification through DONA International, she decided to take a childbirth education workshop through Passion for Birth and is currently studying for the spring exam to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. Allie is also taking classes locally to become an IBCLC. Allie lives in Bakersfield, CA with her husband Kyle. To learn more about Allie, visit alliebdoula.com