By Lakisa Muhammad, LCCE, CD(DONA)
Science & Sensibility runs a monthly column, Brilliant Activities for BirthEducators, that offers a fun, exciting, creative and engaging activity for childbirth educators and birth professionals to use with expecting families. Today’s post by Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator Lakisa Muhammad is very timely, as it offers up a chance to use up all those extra homemade sugar cookies just waiting to be decorated. Or gives you an opportunity to make some more just for this purpose. This lighthearted and tasty activity offers your families a chance to learn how everything works together to grow and birth a baby. Consider giving it a try next time you teach anatomy. You can find the entire series of BrilliantActivities for Birth Educators here. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.
We all know it’s important for the parents we work with to understand the anatomy of birth. The visual of baby in the womb surrounded by amniotic fluid, dropping lower into the pelvis and wiggling their way down and out while applying pressure to the cervix all as a result of the pregnant person’s uterine muscles contracting and expanding is really the basis of our discussions of the stages of labor, comfort measures, positions for labor, and even medical interventions.
So how do we ensure that parents truly understand and retain the information? They’ll only retain a small amount of what we say, more may get it if we use a visual aid, but the chances of our students really walking away with a working knowledge of where babies come from and how they get out may be significantly increased if we make it an interesting hands-on activity. Making it edible only helps to increase the retention rate and makes it tasty too. Cue the cookie uteri!
When can educator can do this activity
This activity is intended to follow a discussion on anatomy using a handout, PowerPoint, poster, and/or props, and talking about each body part and its function in pregnancy and labor and delivery. You could use it as a “pop quiz” of sorts, but I find giving students the best chance of being successful makes it a lot more fun. You may choose to introduce this activity directly after the anatomy discussion or wait until a subsequent class to do it as a review. Another alternative might be to offer it as a break activity when they are having a snack anyway.
You will need one of these for each participant:
- Sugar cookies (homemade or store brought)
- Small individual tubes of decorating icing (These may be found at any grocery store in the baking section.)
- Small paper plates
How to do the activity
After you have passed out the materials to each student, explain to them that the cookie represents the uterus. Inside the uterus using the icing, they will draw the amniotic sac, placenta, baby, umbilical cord, and the cervix. And mention there’s extra credit for 2 more things–both layers of the sac and the mucus plug!
Like with any group, you’ll have those that dive right in and love it and you’ll have those that say they can’t draw and are not very artistic. I ensure them that stick babies count and as long as they know what’s what, it’s all good. While everyone is working, I’m usually floating around the room offering hints and encouraging interaction amongst the students. I usually allocate five minutes of independent fun work. When everyone is done, ask who would like to share their cookie art, and you could point out some of the exceptional ones or really funny ones. Is the baby head down, feet down, sideways? Is the placenta covering the cervix? Does the umbilical cord go from baby to the placenta? End the activity by referring back to the visual aid for review once more and taking any questions that may be lingering. Invite your students to partake of their cookie uteri while the class discussion moves along.
How it is received
Having done this activity over the last three years in both group classes and at private, in home settings, it’s always a crowd pleaser and sure to inspire those Ah Ha moments. Once they get started, they really enjoy the learning opportunity. The families also get a tasty treat at the end and it helps build community amongst the class members. Have fun!
About Lakisa Muhammad
Lakisa Muhammad, LCCE, CD(DONA) is a Lamaze International Certified Childbirth Instructor and DONA Certified birth doula. She resides in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and three children. She stays busy providing fun, high energy, evidenced-based childbirth classes and doula services to the community at large. You can contact Lakisa through her website – A Mother’s Worth Birth Services.