CH-CH-CH Changes . . .

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Hello Friends!

Today I updated my website to reflect that I will no longer be teaching private childbirth preparation classes. However, you can still catch me for limited group childbirth classes or a virtual consultation!

I am making this change to focus on some other business pursuits as well as to free up some time to spend with family. I couldn’t totally let go of teaching in a private format though, because I truly LOVE it so much! So, I have made virtual consultations available. These consultations will be ultra-customized to my clients needs. We won’t need to spend any of our consultation time catching up on basic info like due date, prior birth experiences, etc. because you and your partner will fill out a pre-call questionnaire that I will review in advance of our consultation and then plan out our call based on your answers.

NEW Virtual Consultations

My virtual consultations will be right up your alley if you are:

  • Pre-pregnant and want to know some great tips for planning your ultimate birth experience (which involves healthful choices during early pregnancy)
  • Newly pregnant and exploring your birth options (OB or midwife? Hospital or Home?)
  • Pregnant again and want a better experience than last time (VBAC, unnecessary interventions, etc.)
  • Coming up quickly on your due date and don’t have time for a full childbirth class (you had every intention but time just got away from you!)
  • Need a thorough discussion about your options as you are working on your birth plan (What is necessary to include, what’s not. How to get staff to take it seriously, Which things can be decided on later, etc.)
  • Want to have a solid toolbox of comfort measures/coping techniques as you are heading into your birth experience (tried and true techniques used by birth pros)
  • Have a partner who needs instruction on how to advocate for you (building bridges with hospital staff)
  • Would like a better understanding of any aspect of labor, birth and postpartum (from basic birth fundamentals to “things they don’t tell you”)

On the other hand, my virtual consultations are NOT for you if you and/or your partner:

  • Need in-person instruction of comfort measures
  • Need to touch/feel educational tools for optimal learning
  • Do not have a reliable internet or cellular connection
  • do not plan to utilize the information provided in the call
  • are not willing to make changes to your current plan (if needed) in order to increase chances of a better birth experience

How do I make an appointment?

Good question! You will need to purchase the consultation through my store (linked below – choose the 90+30 virtual consultation) and then I will follow up with you via email to have you complete the pre-call questionnaire. Within the questionnaire I will ask you for your ideal days/times for our call and then we will firm up our appointment via email.

That’s it! Please do not hesitate to message me if you have any questions about my consultations. I’m happy to answer them!

When to Take a Birth Class

Short answer: The earlier, the better; but keep reading and I’ll explain why (even though you may not like what I have to tell you.)

Plan on starting to look for a childbirth class around your 16th week of pregnancy.

The best way to figure out when to FINISH your class is to count backwards from your guess date (which you may call your due date) about 8-10 weeks. That will put you around your 30th-32nd week of pregnancy. Yes, that’s when you want to have your class completed, not when to start it. So if you are looking at a 6 week class, you should aim to start it around your 24th week. Longer classes you will want to start even sooner. Many classes are announced 4-8 weeks before they start. This means you will want to start searching for classes in the beginning of your second trimester, around your 16th week. There are a few reasons for this.

  • Your baby may come earlier than expected. You definitely want to know what preterm labor looks and feels like (this is something you will learn in class). Your care provider can certainly tell you about this but most of my students have never been provided this information as part of their routine prenatal care. You will want those labor coping and advocacy skills to help you through labor whenever it happens.
  • You may need extra time to find the right class. Once you have done your homework and decided on a class format or style that is a good fit for you, there is a chance that the class may fill up quickly or be offered at a time that conflicts with your schedule. Your instructor will be more able to accommodate you if you contact them early. I have had clients contact me in their first trimester which allowed me to plan my group class around their schedule.
  • You need time to alter your plans based on information you learn.Many pregnant people choose their initial care provider based on previous history, who is geographically closest to them and/or who takes their insurance. But not all care providers or birth settings are going to give you evidence based care or the model of care that best suits your birth intentions. Nobody wants to think they hired the wrong doctor or midwife, but during your class there is a good chance you may conclude that your chosen care provider is not a good fit. Some people will tell you that you can switch providers any time you want – even while you are in labor – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And, it’s better to get the type of care you want as early in pregnancy as possible.

All of this begs the question, “What should I look for in a childbirth class?” Well . . . that’s entirely up to you. Birthing classes come in a variety of flavors. You will find private and group formats, as well as in-person or virtual classes, and now even a hybrid class (meets in-person AND virtually) is available through Evidence Based Birth®. You will find everything from one-day workshops to 12-week classes. There are also a number of methods offered so be sure to research the options in your area (and a little beyond) to see what works best for you!

The hospital childbirth class near you may not be the only or best option, but it’s probably the least expensive. However, you may find yourself compromising on quality. If you want an out-of-hospital class but cost is an issue, be sure to reach out to the instructor you want and let them know you are interested in the class but cost is a sticking point. There may be payment plans available or a work/study option.

Childbirth Classes classes in Brighton, MI
Childbirth Classes in Ferndale, MI
Evidence Based Birth® Instructor Directory




The Inside Scoop on the Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class

This past December I took the training to learn how to teach a new childbirth class developed by Rebecca Dekker PhD, RN, APRN, founder of EvidenceBasedBirth.com. As you may know, I have been an Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructor for several years now and have incorporated EBB learning modules into my classes in some form or another. This new class is different from what I have been teaching in that it is completely designed by Evidence Based Birth®️.

There are many things I love about this curriculum as an instructor but the most important aspect to me is that it is appealing to the newer generations of parents-to-be who desire a different structure to learning.  Rebecca thoroughly researched Millennials and Generation Z to discover how they learn best and what they like and don’t like about childbirth classes or the idea of them. The end result is a class that features:

An Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructor demonstrates comfort measures for the birth partner.

Two In-person classes for rehearsal of comfort measures and birthing time. This is something that is lacking from online-only courses. There is nothing that can replace having hands-on instruction from an experienced birth professional.

Four zoom meetings. This hybrid format means that students are not coming to in-person classes for six weeks in a row and can enjoy four classes from the comfort of their living room in their fuzzy pajamas or from somewhere else like work or out of town (or work out-of-town!).

A flipped classroom style of learning. Students learn content online and then participate in guided discussions during class time while getting their questions answered.

PRIZES! Who doesn’t love getting prizes? Incentive is a driving factor for lots of people to accomplish their goals. Prizes make it fun for the birthing person and partner alike to get those practice sessions in.

Bonuses! There is so much bonus content in this course that I simply can’t compare it to any birth class I’ve ever seen, and more is still being added! With all of the information available on the Internet it sure is nice to have curated content from a trusted source at your fingertips.

The feedback from couples who have taken the Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class has been outstanding. They report feeling a sense of accomplishment from having invested the time and effort in preparing for the arrival of their child.  They also feel confident walking into the hospital for their birth. Couples who have taken this course benefited from an empowering birth experience and knew how to speak up to get the care that they wanted and deserved.

I’m very excited to offer the brand new Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class for the first time starting January 20th and am offering $25 off any level registration. Just use code INAUGURAL25 to get the discount. Follow this link to register by January 13th. https://ebbchildbirthclassbrighton.eventbrite.com.

To see classes available worldwide from other AMAZING Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructors, visit the calendar of events here.

What to Do if Your Care Provider Pushes Back

Pretty much the last thing we need during labor, right?

Say you are in labor and your care provider (obstetrician or midwife) says they are going to use an intervention.  You do not wish for this intervention to be performed, but they push back and tell you that it’s hospital policy, or *only* tell you the risks of not doing the intervention; or worse, they don’t say anything and start making threats.  What can you do?

First let me say, as a laboring person you should not have to worry about getting non-evidence based care.  Planning ahead and choosing a birth setting, care provider and model of care that aligns with your birth wishes can go a long way in preventing this situation from transpiring, but unfortunately it can *still* happen even with all the advance planning in the world.

That being said,  here are some steps you can take:

  1. Ask for the provider to walk you through the informed consent process.  Your provider has a legal and ethical obligation to provide you with this process for any/all interventions.  They must discuss with you the benefits, risks and alternatives to the intervention.  This must include the benefits/risks of the alternatives, as well.  They must also disclose what would happen if you did nothing.  They must answer any question you may have.
  2. Ask for some time to discuss the matter with your support person/people.  This may include your partner, your doula, or any other person whom you have invited into your birth space.  The person you talk with doesn’t have to be knowledgeable at all, really.  The goal is just to see if you can buy yourself some time.  If you are dealing with an emergency situation, you won’t have time to talk.  If they give you time to talk, you know it’s not a real emergency.
  3. Give your consent or refusal.  If you give your consent and change your mind later, you can tell them you’ve changed your mind.  it’s okay, it’s not a contract.  You can revoke your consent.

If your provider makes threats or is combative and difficult to speak with despite your best efforts, you can ask for a new provider.  You have the right to switch care providers (yes, even while you are in labor.)  You can ask for another OB or midwife in the hospital to attend your birth.  If you are in a birth setting where they do not have another provider available, you can ask for the patient advocate or chaplain.  These individuals can serve as a mediator of sorts, to help facilitate communication between you and the care provider.  This may seem extreme, but the alternative is checking out of the hospital against medical advice (AMA) and heading to a different hospital.  It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you’re in labor, but it has been done.

This, of course, begs the question . . . What kind of threats could they make?

I’ve heard of providers threatening to call CPS on families who refuse to cooperate with their plan.  This is mostly an empty threat because a.)  CPS understands that you have the right to informed consent and refusal and b.) even though CPS is obligated to respond to the call, it doesn’t mean that anything will come of it.

TIPS:

  • Don’t buy the line about “it’s hospital policy”.  Yea, it’s the care providers obligation to abide by hospital policy, but it’s not yours.  Hospital policies are not laws, therefore you are under no obligation to follow them.
  • Recognize their humanity.  Something that will make any situation a lot easier is to acknowledge that the people you are dealing with are just trying to do their job.  They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents . . . just like you and your family.  They have job stress, life stress and family stress just like you.  Acknowledge this to them.  Say, “I understand you are just doing your job [say their name] and I appreciate that you are being thorough, but I do not consent to this.”
  • Start off on the right foot!  Right when you get to triage and then again in L & D, introduce yourself, or have your partner/doula introduce themselves to the staff.  Read their name tag, say their name when you introduce yourself, shake their hand.  Thank them for supporting you/your partner.  Ask them about their life outside of work, their job, their kids, anything . . . make small talk and tell them things about you outside of your exciting journey to becoming parents.  Bring a little treat for the nurses station.  You don’t have to go over the top, it can be candies or cookies or whatever.  Gifts of food are a way to show them that you are thoughtful and kind.  It’s a way to humanize them and yourself.  Write your names on the gifts so they remember you/who they are from.  You are building a little relationship with the people who are supporting you and you want them to consider your feelings/wishes/preferences if push comes to shove.  This is more likely to happen if you’ve already made an impression that you are kind and thoughtful.

Do you have any other tips for handling a situation where your care provider disagrees with your choices during labor?  Please leave a comment.  Thanks!

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List of labor interventions

(not an exhaustive list)

Drugs or measures used to induce or augment labor such as:
Misoprostol (Cytotec)
Cervidil
Prepidil
Foley Balloon
Membrane Stripping
Pitocin

Practices used to gather information about the mother or baby’s condition:
Cervical checks
Electronic fetal monitoring (both internal and external)

Procedures/medication used to manage pain:
Epidural, Spinal, CSE (combined spinal-epidural)
Oral or IV Pain Medications

Measures used to mitigate side effects of interventions:
IV fluids

Actions used to move a poorly positioned baby:
ECV or Breech Version
manual rotation of the fetal occiput

Practices to expedite birth:
Episiotomy
forceps or vacuum assisted birth
Cesarean

 

Birth Preparation Methods and Why I don’t have a “method”.

Now that I am a Certified Childbirth Educator, I can look back on my childbirth preparation experiences with a more critical eye.  Let me first say, I don’t believe that there is one method that serves everyone, but rather, certain methods resonate with certain people.  You like vanilla, I like chocolate . . . you get the idea.  But how do you know what is a good fit for you?  Let me explain.

For my first baby, I took classes through the hospital, and I didn’t remember much of anything helpful by the time I was in labor.  Those hospital classes did not teach me any coping skills.  I was going to “try” to go natural (lol).  I ended up getting pitocin and thought I had to stay confined to bed.  None of the nurses there told me it would be easier for me to get up and move around.  (Maybe they didn’t know because they only ever saw medicated births?)  So, I didn’t.  Culture had me believing that I was supposed to stay in the hospital bed, even though no one ever actually said that to me.  Given that I was in tremendous pain, had no coping skills and my husband was equally at a loss to help me, I requested the epidural.   While the epidural was very effective in relieving my pain, I felt disconnected from my body and the birth experience.  I was an observer;  just another person in the room waiting for a baby to emerge.  I knew if I was going to do this again, I’d need to seek out a different kind of class to have a better birth experience.

Fast forward to my second birth:  we took a birth preparation class that was 12 weeks long.  It was a popular method that celebrates husbands.  We got a lot out of the class and I think it did a great job preparing us.  But there were weeks we *really* didn’t want to go.  I think if we were not already parents, we probably wouldn’t have taken that class.  The things that drove me to do it were a.) a “night out” without our oldest, b.) I really needed support from my instructor in navigating things with my care provider (another story for another time) and c.)  I was determined to have  a natural birth.  Long story short, I coped with all of my labor at home and in the car.  I don’t think my husband actually did any of the physical support he learned in that class.  Most of what I did to get through labor in those three very intense hours was primal and instinctive.  The main thing I got out of that class was that my body was made to do this.  The class convinced me that I could give birth without interventions.  (and I did!)  I appreciated that my husband learned how to identify the different stages of labor by observing my behavior.  He knew I was further along than I thought I was and thus, contacted our support people to come before I probably would have.  I believe the classes were a good investment of our time and money.

Third birth:  To prepare for our first homebirth, I read a book on self-hypnosis for labor which was accompanied by a CD.  (The book is also available in class format with instructor, which we did not take.)  I was confident in my laboring skills after my second birth but I felt like maybe I just got lucky to have a 3 hour labor last time, so thought it wise to add some more tools to my toolbox.  It was a little weird for me, to be honest.  I didn’t get into it, even though I love “new-age hippie” stuff.  Maybe self-hypnosis just didn’t resonate with me at the time, or maybe it was the scripts, or the voice on the CD.  I could not “connect” with them.  I also don’t believe calling contractions “surges” made them any less painful for me.  So, did it help me during labor?  What that book helped me do was understand that I had to be in a different part of my brain.  I suppose I inherently knew this already because I made the effort to plan a homebirth;  I couldn’t see myself laboring like I wanted in a hospital having had the previous experiences I had.  I think the birth hypnosis book most helped me engage in the idea of seeing contractions in different ways; waves, colors, etc. to help cope with them and brought me to understand the value of birth affirmations.

Fourth Birth:  By the time I was pregnant with my youngest child, I had already been a Childbirth Educator for several years.  I knew that all of my laboring instincts would kick in and that I could trust the process.  I had another homebirth and added a doula this time for good measure.  My doula was able step in and provide physical comfort/support while my husband took care of setting up the birth space and preparing supplies.  It was SO NICE to have someone 100% dedicated to my physical and emotional needs while Chris managed other equally important aspects of the birth setting.  The thing that stands out most to me, though, about coping with my fourth labor is that I had been able to turn inward and completely surrender to the will of my baby and my body.  I didn’t have to use my thinking brain to remember things to do . . . it was instinctive.  After reflecting on that birth, I came to the conclusion that the practice most closely associated with how I “turned inward” is known as meditation.

A pregnant mother practices meditation to prepare for birth.

 

I had never taken any classes in meditation until long after my fourth birth.  But when I started meditating, I knew instantly that this place in my brain seemed familiar.  It was just where I had been during the deepest, most divine part of my birth experiences.  After researching, I understand now why practicing meditation is so profoundly useful for pain relief during labor.

I believe that the efforts I made in preparing for birth during my pregnancies helped to get me where I needed to be for labor.  These classes and books gave me tools I may not have had otherwise.  Because I had experience with several approaches to childbirth preparation, I was able to make the informed decision to become certified by an organization (CAPPA) that doesn’t teach/promote/utilize a specific method, but rather draws from evidence based practices as well as the varied experiences and expertise of many mothers and birth professionals.  Coupled with my training, I am able to draw upon my own experiences and knowledge to teach expectant couples a wide variety of tools to help them through their birth journeys.  I firmly believe that a well prepared birth team has the best chances of having a beautiful and positive birth experience.   Now that I am also an Evidence Based Birth® instructor, I am able to offer even more support in the way of preparing families for navigating birth in a medical setting.

If you are deciding on a class that best suits you and your partner, there are many factors to consider including your schedules, your birth intentions and your birth philosophy.  The vast majority of out-of-hospital group classes are going to be great for most couples, but there are sometimes limitations with scheduling and availability, so be sure to explore your options around your community and even a little further out from home.  You might find a perfect fit just a little bit out of the way and it could make all the difference for you, your baby and your birth.

 

Birth Intentions not Birth Plans

Writing your Birth Plan?  Consider reframing it as your Birth Intentions.

We all know births don’t go according to plan, right?  I’d love to see a shift away from calling the birth plan a birth plan and more towards something that allows for sharing our ideas about how we want our birth to go without the “commitment” of a plan.

The Problem with Birth Plans

One of the problems with birth plans is that they can be perceived by hospital staff as a setup for failure or disappointment.  The joke is sometimes bandied about that the birth plan is a ‘ticket to the OR.’   I don’t think anyone who is planning a vaginal and/or unmedicated birth wants to invite that presumption to their birthing space.  A slight change in our language can help hospital staff see what we hope for our birth experience while also showing them that we understand the situation is fluid.

I’ve also heard people call the birth plan their “Birth Preferences”.  While this does acknowledge that birth is no place for a rigid plan, I think that the word ‘preferences’ is too non-committal for the hospital staff because preferences are perceived like this:  I would *prefer* to have black olives on my pizza, but it’s okay if I don’t get them.  Using preferences for your birth:  I would *prefer* that you don’t stick your hand in my vagina, but it’s okay if you do.  <—-  That doesn’t work for a lot of reasons.   But, the main reason I really don’t like the word “preferences” is because it gives the power to someone else.

Why We Should Call Them “Birth Intentions”

Showing up with your Birth Intentions conveys a few ideas.  First, that you the birthing person are, in fact, the person with the power.  You are asserting your autonomy.  Second, it creates a space where you can say what you want about your birth without feeling guilty or disappointed if things go differently.  Third, naming your birth intentions clarifies for your birth team what you expect to happen, unless you deem otherwise.  Intentions are hopeful versus dictatorial (plans) or submissive (preferences).

So let’s say a few birth intentions together, shall we?

My Birth Intentions
i intend To receive my child skin-to-skin immediately after birth and remain this way for as long as we desire.
i intend To keep the umbilical cord attached and intact until it appears white, allowing my baby’s blood to return to their body from the placenta.
i intend To remain undisturbed during active labor unless I specifically ask for support or interventions.
i intend To labor and birth in any position that my body tells me.

 

Now, create your own Birth Intentions.  You can do something as simple as changing the title of your document from “Birth Plan” to “Birth Intentions”.  But, because I’m a fan of the law of attraction, I highly recommend trying to phrase your intentions in such a way that you are inviting them to happen.  This has a way of shifting our mindset if we are in need of reclaiming our power.

I’d love to hear your birth intentions so please share in the comments if you’d like .  It feels empowering to put them out in the world and inspires others to create their own.

Power to the Birther,

Earth Mama Jenn