The 2019 LamazeLive! conference is a little less than two months away and planning is in full swing to make this event both very enjoyable and educational. April 11th through 13th, perinatal professionals will be gathering in Pittsburgh, PA to connect, learn and re-energize with our colleagues. Plenty of contact hour opportunities for certification renewal are available and an exhibit hall full of vendors with new and interesting products. The LamazeLIVE! format means that presentations are fast-paced, dynamic and jam-packed with information that is important to you and the families you work with. Early-bird registration ends March 8th, so don't delay in signing up so you can save on costs. Register today!
If traveling to Pittsburgh is not an option for you, please consider signing up for the virtual portion of the event. LamazeLIVE! can come directly to you wherever you are. More info on attending virtually here.
Throughout the next weeks, Science & Sensibility will highlight some of the scheduled presenters and provide a sneak peek into their chosen topic. Today we talk with Mary Jo Podgurski, RN, EDD, LCCE, FACCE who is an amazing expert on human sexuality, and the author of The Nonnie Series of books for children. This series beautifully speaks to children in appropriate and caring ways about often difficult topics. Dr. Podgurski's presentation is Reclaiming the Sexuality of Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum.
Sharon Muza: Why is it important to talk about sexuality and couple intimacy in a childbirth class?
Mary Jo Podgorski: Sexuality is a vital part of our humanity, yet cultural myths and learned misinformation often cloud our sexual health needs. We sometimes look at pregnancy as a small stand-alone phenomenon, as if sexual contact had nothing to do with it.
Becoming parents is a major change in a relationship; denying the role sexuality and intimacy play in connecting new parents and establishing loving, engaged family scripts can lead to disconnect and relationship challenges.
SM: “What gets the baby in, gets the baby out” and other phrases assume heterosexual, normal fertility and cisnormative relationships amongst class members. Why should educators be sensitive to the fact that one size does not fit all?
MJP: First, serving young parents informs my work with trauma-informed care. Second, if we believe, as I do, that each person is a person of worth, then all people are accepted and honored. With both these thoughts foremost in my mind, I approach each participant in my class as someone deserving of respect, and as a human being whose past life experiences will permeate labor/birth.
First, do no harm. Since we may never know a person’s sexual or gender identity, fertility history or mental health status, the only way to teach is with dignity for all. Never assume. Teaching in a non-heteronormative way isn’t as much about changing nomenclature as in creating a safe, courageous environment where all are honored.
SM: Is the discussion of sexuality during the childbearing year one that should be woven throughout the curriculum or addresses specifically in the postpartum period when many educators throw in a short bit about when it is “safe” to resume intercourse?
MJP: I introduce sexuality during the first 20 minutes of class when I discuss guidelines and set norms and agreements.
Normalizing sexual health as part of the childbearing year and beyond validates new parents. Waiting until postpartum relegates the topic to an “add-on” rather than making the conversation inspiring, engaging, and fun.
My students know they matter. My role is to help them find power.