Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - Positions that Stick

By Mallory Emerson, LCCE
positions stick hero.jpgEarlier 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 March Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators series.  You can find the entire Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators series here.  Thank you, contributor Mallory Emerson, LCCE, for your creative idea that can be implemented with just a few dollars.  I think this will be a creative and effective learning tool for families to feel confident during the second stage. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.

Positions that Stick Introduction

Many families want to understand the importance of Healthy Birth Practice #5  and want to experience physiological pushing in an upright position.  To increase awareness of what that might look like in a variety of positions, and provide the families in my classes a quick cheat sheet, I created this fun activity - "Positions that Stick."  Each family walks away with a set of cards reminding them of effective pushing positions that they can pull out when pushing starts to happen. The learning objective for this activity: the participants will be able to demonstrate at least 5 positions for 2nd stage (or any stage...) and identify which they prefer and plan to try during birth.  The audience is expectant parents in a labor/birth class.  I like this class activity because it is fun, engaging, effective and increases confidence.

positions babe mall.jpgMaterials

  • a random assortment of $2 or $3 foam sticker sets from Michael's (I was inspired by the sale on Valentine's Day crafts and a 40% off coupon!). 
  • white cardstock (could use paper) 
  • some basic little envelopes I had on hand that the cardstock fit in.
  • access to Janelle Durham's sketches on her Transition to Parenthood website to copy onto the cardstock

When to conduct this activity

I used chose to use this activity specifically for the second stage. It should be done after learning about and practicing for the first stage of labor. After discussing the experience and progress of the pushing stage, this hands-on activity is a way to help families think about how a variety of positions can provide more options and benefits for birth.  The activity takes about 15 minutes to conduct, depending on how many positions you include.

How to facilitate this activity

The educator gives each family a five card set with five positions with images, and one extra blank card that encourages them to come up with another option that would work for them. Directs them to follow verbal prompts or music cues to rotate and try out each position. I had a playlist on Amazon Music where I used clips of five songs to give them a short time with each position. Based on several birth playlist songs I found online, I chose some fun songs to boost the energy and mood at the end of a 6-hour class.
  1. "Push It"
  2. "I've Got to Get You into My Life"
  3. "I Want to Break Free"
  4. "Let's Get It Started"
  5. "Happy"
crop.jpgYou can give each family a little baggy or cup of the assorted stickers you purchased for them to use during the activity.  They return the unused stickers after completing the exercise.  You have written the "key" for the stickers on a flip chart or whiteboard:
  • Stars - powerful and strong
  • Hearts - supported
  • Sports balls - baby can move and be active
  • Flowers - pelvis is open
one position card.jpgEach family starts to try one of the pushing positions from their card set.  Encourage the pregnant person and the support person to get into the position as if they were really pushing.  Ask them to think how that position feels?  Have them place all the appropriate stickers on the card, according to how they feel.  As each song clip ends, the educator prompts the class to choose a new position from their deck of cards to try.  If a position is extra special for any one category, they can add more stickers from the same category to remind them.  Participants can ask questions along the way, spend time discussing with their partners how the positions feel, and can then take their deck of cards home with their stickers on them as a reminder and visual guide of pushing positions for their toolbox for labor and birth. 

How you could modify this activity

You could use the same activity for labor instead of pushing, with a set of labor position cards.  You can include colored dots (green-early, yellow-active, red-transition) that they can use for when they might use each position. Alternately, this could be used for breastfeeding positions and a different key.

Parent feedback 

Parents have enjoyed this active practice opportunity for learning pushing positions and really appreciate leaving with a "cheat sheet" for good positions to push in.  They feel confident and ready to birth using effective positions that they have already tried in class.

Conclusion

Helping families to develop muscle memory of positions they could push in and reminding them of the 5th Healthy Birth Practice is a great opportunity to build confidence for the birth day with a fun and interactive activity.  I like this because it is low-cost, easy to facilitate and works with any number of class participants.  Please let me know if you give this activity a try and how it worked for you in the comments below.

About Mallory Emerson

mallory emerson headshot 2018.jpgMallory Emerson, LCCE is a childbirth educator in the Seattle area.  She currently teaches Great Starts classes with Parent Trust for Washington Children and is a Perinatal Educator at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, WA.  Mallory is passionate about providing evidence-based information to new families so that they can confidently navigate the decisions of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Mallory first trained with the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University in 2014.  She is a Great Starts certified educator and also completed the Passion for Birth training before becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in 2017

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