"It is not so much a matter of teaching exercises, instructing a coach in how to use a stopwatch, introducing new techniques of management into obstetrics, or getting flowered drapes hung in the delivery room, as it is helping each person and each couple realize their own potential for creative experience as they give birth to their babies."
-Sheila Kitzinger, in "Education and Counseling for Childbirth"
I am so excited to begin teaching my second group Childbirth Education class series for Barefoot Birth in Tampa next month! Our last class finished in November. I've been teaching private classes here and there, but there is nothing like the energy from a whole group of expecting parents. I love hearing what everyone's hopes and plans are for their birth experiences, I love seeing families connect and learn from each other, and I love love love sharing with families the possibility that birth can be positive and powerful.
When I was pregnant with my own first baby, I knew I would take childbirth education classes. I was planning a natural birth in a hospital setting, so it made sense to me to be as prepared as possible. I read as much as I could, immersing myself in the work my body was and would be doing during the transition, but there was something really special and important about being in a class setting and connecting (even if only in nervous eye contact and seat-squirming) with other couples about to go through the same thing. Our teacher was so sweet and warm and funny (Brad and I still do impressions of her suggestion to "crack open some beers for a placenta barbeque!"). Nearly seven years ago, as I sat uncomfortably all large-and-in-charge on a meditation chair in the beautiful Hollywood yoga center, if you'd told me that one day I might have my very own pelvis model and be talking to other people about options for their postpartum placentas, I'd roll my eyes and laugh. But here I am, ever so happily.
Teaching independent childbirth education classes here in Tampa is the same as teaching them everywhere else--families want the same things, they are up against the same challenges from daily life and the medical model of care, but somehow the hardest part remains convincing families to take them! Y'all want to just read books, or watch YouTube videos, talk to your friends, or take whatever afternoon anesthesia seminar the hospital is hosting.
So who would benefit from a childbirth education class? Are you one of these people?
1. Homebirth or birth center families
We love our homebirth & birth center families. You've put a lot of thought into where and how you want to experience your births. You've got your innate wisdom about how your body will birth your baby? AWESOME. Trust in that. You're reading Ina May Gaskin and Sheila Kitzinger? HIGH FIVES, MAMA. But do you know the nuts and bolts of how a normal labor will flow? What to do when labor doesn't follow that pattern you've read about? Know what you'll say if an intervention is recommended? Know what ALL your options are in case of a hospital transfer or suggested Cesarean? We know you know how to give birth, you know you know how to give birth, but we want you to know all the little details that go along with it. Childbirth Education is a requirement for our Homebirth Midwifery practice, but some families still don't prioritize it. Come to class y'all, rock your births!
2. Hospital Birthing Families
"But the class at the hospital is half what you're charging!" you say, and to that we say, "But it's only half of the information!" Hospital childbirth education classes are great for teaching you how to be a good patient at that hospital. You will find yourself well versed in their interesting policies and procedures, you will learn when you can get your epidural, when you are allowed out of bed, and what you're allowed to eat besides ice chips, if anything. Did you notice how I'm saying "allowed?" In our class, you'll learn that you are the consumer of your care, and that you have the right to make those decisions for yourself or your baby. You'll also learn that you have options for care providers, birth settings, and support people for your birth team that you might not have considered. There are a lot of ways to create your own amazing birth, and we want to help you do that.
3. Second (or third, or more!) time parents
We hope you have had fantastic births in the past! But each one is different, gets active to the beat of its own drum. Babies pick some funny positions, labors can feel differently, and our brains work differently the more we know. We offer a sweet little refresher class for those who want to simply review with another group of experienced parents or who have things may they want to try differently this time around.
Our classes are totally relaxed and fun. They are filled with REAL TALK and experience from doulas who've been attending many different kinds of births for years. They are a place to share your stories, to learn from others, and grow as a community. We do not subscribe to any one "way" or "method" of birth, but instead give you a variety of relaxation and comfort measures to find what is right for you. When we talk about a "range of normal," we can share specific examples that run the gamut. We will laugh about things that might make some formal classes cringe. But you will come away feeling confident in yourself and the choices in front of you, and there's a very good chance there will be chocolate involved at some point.
Our next group class series begins January 7th, and details can be found on its Event Page. Are you having a baby this Spring? We hope to see you there!