This month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators involves a teaching prop that can serve many purposes. If you are a childbirth educator like me you thrive on having exciting, effective teaching aids that reinforce your learning objectives and make things fun for the families in your classes. Your desire to use exciting props has to be balanced with the cost of said props with an often tight budget and the ability to store the items in an often limited storage area. Today, I share one such prop and ask you to share similar ideas for materials that can serve multiple purposes in our comments section. You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators ideas that Science & Sensibility has collated here.
My teaching tool requirements
When I make a teaching tool purchase for my Lamaze classes, I am interested in several things:
- Is it expensive?
- Can I store it easily
- How sturdy is it? Will it last?
- Can it serve multiple purposes or functions?
What is the prop?
Basket of Babies (six piece plush set) has proven to be a great new addition to my teaching supplies and I want to thank Stacie Bingham, LCCE, CD(DONA), CBS(LER) for sharing the idea of the dolls with me and giving me a push to figure out how to use them in my childbirth classes. Stacie frequently shares her creative ideas here in this series and I think she is so very smart and clever.
The Basket of Babies is a collection of six plush little dolls each wearing a different soft sleep sack that attaches by velcro at the shoulders. All the babies snuggly fit into a plush basket that comes with the dolls. The little babies are about 4 1/2 inches tall and very light. I especially like that each baby has a different skin tone to represent the diversity in my classes.
How I use the babies in class?
I use the babies to hold little pieces of paper inside their sleep sack. On the paper slips are the discussion points, scenarios or categories that I want to cover. I divide up the class into six groups. You, of course, can use fewer babies, or buy two sets and have more. I suspect that you can even get a few more babies into one basket. Each group picks their choice of a baby from the basket and peeks inside to find the paper and reads it with their small group. We then move on from there with the class activity.
Five ideas for your Babies in a Basket activity
1. When things don't go as planned
Have six unexpected outcomes for the families to discuss when things deviate from what they had hoped. For example, need to be induced, baby to NICU, breastfeeding challenges, going well past due date, disliked health care provider on call and more. Each group shares how they might handle that, what they might need for these changed plans, what partner can do and more.
2. Labor variations
Labor can play out in many different ways. Consider offering up some potential trouble spots that a family may need to strategize through. I am thinking of back labor, precipitous birth, throwing up with every contraction, premature urge to push, water breaking and no contractions, labor that goes on for 24 hours or more and other tough spots. Help the families prepare for dealing with these common labor variations.
3. Living with a newborn
Have families brainstorm the challenges that might come up as they transition to life with a newborn. Consider using examples such as baby doesn't want to be put down, baby wants to feed all the time, newborn won't stop crying or the baby is hard to wake for breastfeeding. Get the families thinking about how they might handle some of the more challenging newborn behaviors when they themselves are recovering and sleep deprived.
4. Pregnancy discomforts
An opportunity to discuss and share common pregnancy discomforts, how to help relieve them and how to learn to live with them if necessary. Could be things such as swollen feet and ankles, heartburn, carpal tunnel, back pain, insomnia and more. People will find comfort in knowing they may not be the only one with this complaint and it will be helpful for them to hear how other people deal with the same issue.
5. Decisions to make before baby comes
There are many choices to make before the baby even arrives. Discussion points around this topic might include choosing a pediatrician, circumcision, vaccinations, cloth or disposable diapers, childcare if returning to work, who will be at the birth and more. Despite baby being still in the future, getting some of the details ironed out before the baby comes can help reduce stress at the very last minute or after birth.
More fun than laminated cards
While the babies are certainly nothing special, choosing a baby from the basket is a lot more fun than being handed a card or piece of paper, and there is just a bit of mystery in discovering what it says inside. Seeing many skin colors reinforces the welcoming environment I work hard to create. Choosing a baby gets some chuckles and smiles and the families are more likely to remember what they discussed after using this fun prop. Really, the sky is the limit on what you can do with your Babies in a Basket prop. Need more than six topics - purchase two sets and use up to 12. Can you think of situations and activities that you already do in your childbirth classes that would transition nicely to using this teaching tool? I would love to collect more ideas from you in our comments section so all of us can create more learning opportunities for the families we work with. Drop your ideas below.