By Shiri Schildkraut & Tanya Strusberg, LCCE, FACCE
This month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators is a fun activity using lots of little manipulatives that will increase learning for families while enjoying themselves in class. When discussing coping and comfort during labor or facilitating birth planning in your classes, there are many ways to conduct the class activities. Lamaze Program Director Tanya Strusberg had a wonderful new educator Shiri Schildkraut in her Melbourne, Australia Lamaze training. Shiri created this fun activity as a teachback demonstration during her Lamaze workshop. It was a great hit and easily replicated. We wanted to share the activity here so you can consider offering this activity as a fun new option in your own classes. To see all the previous Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators click here. - Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.
This activity is focused on exploring options for comfort measures and relaxation techniques, or also helpful in getting your class to think about informed decision-making and birth preferences. It is flexible enough an activity to really go either way. The materials needed are all obtainable at local novelty stores, dollar stores, or something similar to Walmart, Kmart or Target, or even your local toy store.
- Small plastic containers to store the items
- Novelty erasers in different shapes
- Minature toy objects
- Small plastic food objects
- Any tiny item that represents emotions or objects and tools that could be used in labor (bathtub, shower, ball, bed, etc.)
- Small bouncy balls = birth balls
- Small pieces of fabric = rebozos
- Tiny pillows made with felt and a cotton ball sewn into it = heat packs
- Mini bottles of bubbles = essential oils / aromatherapy
- Foam card dolls = support people (partners, doulas, and care providers)
- Baby dolls = skin-to-skin with baby
- There are lots of other things you could make, for example; TENS machines, peanut balls and a variety of massage tools.
- Label maker (optional)
When to do this activity
This is a great activity to do when you are discussing comfort measures, relaxation techniques, and birth preferences/birth plans. You can combine it with a birth plan card activity or if you were using the Road Map of Labor by Penny Simkin, that reinforces many of the potential activities families may choose to do during labor and birth.
How to do this activity
Lay out the containers that each contain objects that represent a different comfort measure, relaxation technique, emotion or birth preference. For example, there might have a box filled with little erasers that look like food and drinks, so that would represent being able to eat and drink freely during labor.
Another example would be a little toy bath, which represents either a bath or shower for comfort in labor.
Firstly, invite the pregnant person to come up and select as many objects as they want that represent all the various comfort measures that they feel will benefit them during labor. They should be careful not to show their partner what they selected.
Then invite the partner or birth support person to come up and do the same thing. They should select objects they think that the birthing person would want to use during labor.
Then both the birthing person and their partner can reveal to each other what they selected. It is great fun seeing the reaction on people’s faces when they discover that either they selected totally different objects, but equally when they picked almost identical objects.
As the facilitator, you can then lead a discussion where the pregnant people and their partners can share what they chose, and why. Additional discussion can happen about what might occur if plans need to change, or something that the family thought might work really doesn't.
This activity can provide a safe and light-hearted space for couples to understand on a deeper level what kind of comfort measures the pregnant person instinctively feels will benefit them during labor. It can assist partners to understand the needs of their pregnant partner better and can form the basis of a more formal birth plan or birth preferences document that can be shared with their care provider. This activity also helps the birthing family decide what they might want to have on hand to help them during labor and birth.
About Shiri Schildkraut & Tanya Strusberg
Shiri Schildkraut is a married mother of four from Melbourne, Australia. She has been a nurse for more than eight years and works for a General Practitioner. In 2017, she decided to take her career further and follow her passion and dream to become a birth doula. Shiri is currently working towards doula certification with DONA International and recently completed a Lamaze Educator seminar with Program Director, Tanya Strusberg. Shiri plans to sit for the Lamaze Certification Exam in November 2018. Shiri also enjoys cooking, baking and spending time with her family. You can follow Shiri on Facebook
Tanya Strusberg, LCCE, FACCE
Tanya is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Program Director of the birthwell birthright Lamaze Childbirth Educator training program in Australia. She is also a member of the Lamaze International Board of Directors. Tanya is also currently working towards certification as a birth doula with DONA International. When Tanya is not teaching classes, running Lamaze seminars or attending births, she likes nothing better than hanging out with her husband Doron and their two children, Liev & Amalia. She is also partial to binge-watching just about anything on Netflix. To learn more about Tanya visit birthwell birthright.