The Serenity Difference: What Sets My Childirth Classes Apart?

Photos by Amanda Gipson Photography

Photos by Amanda Gipson Photography

Childbirth classes are not all alike, but much of the information is the same.  We all discuss stages of labor, most all will discuss some comfort measures, and provide the rest of the basic topics in various formats.  What goes into them beyond that varies widely.  I took the basics, combined it with some information that I learned from my doula training, sprinkled in information from all of my other training's,  and made the most direct,  informative - “I didn’t’ know I needed to know that” childbirth class series I could.  I have had many clients come to me for their 2nd or even 3rd births, who have tried various childbirth classes previously, tell me they learned more from me in one class then they ever did in the other classes combined.  My classes aren’t any longer than other classes, it’s just that I have the freedom to cut out cheesy games that introduce people to each other, and get things rolling.   

Let me tell you what sets my childbirth class series apart from the rest. 

It’s not Lamaze
See my post here

The STUFF
There is something for everyone.  I have tons of additional information to supplement your classes.  Tons of handouts, in the form of a 145+ page binder, colorful booklets if you just want the highlights, and video access for those who just can’t stand to read at all. 

The labor tool kit. 
As far as I know, I am the only person in this area that provides my clients with a labor tool kit to take home and use before, during, and after labor.  Clients will be shown how to use the tools in "class two" of the series, and practice again in the final review.

Time and Information:
Large classes means less information.  The more people in the room, the more time we have to allow for breaks, for questions and answers, and overall instructor content.  Because I keep my group classes to a maximum of 4 couples, I can provide more information in the same amount of time.  I still have time to answer the various questions, and because the class is more intimate, most everyone feels less shy about asking them as well.  

Learning comfort measures is paramount to childbirth education!   Even if a mother is planning on an epidural it helps to learn how to cope until she gets it.  She also needs a backup plan, in case she can’t have one come labor day.  I can’t tell you how many people I have taught my comfort measures class to that did not learn how to do certain things from other childbirth classes.  Some of them learned about the techniques but didn’t get to practice them, and everyone says they didn’t learn as many coping techniques over all.  I like to show a technique, then let the partner practice so that each mother has an idea of how it is supposed to feel.  You just can’t do that in a large class, because you don’t have enough time to do that one-on-one. 

OH, and if you are a single mom?  I have plenty of tricks to show you how you can do many comfort techniques by yourself!!! 

Photo credit:  Amanda Gipson Photography

Photo credit:  Amanda Gipson Photography

Scheduling:
I get calls every day asking when my next childbirth class series starts.  Most childbirth classes series have a structured time frame.  Most educators teach a group series one day a month, sometimes two days a month.  For example they teach every Tuesday on an ongoing basis.  
Not everyone can make a Tuesday night class.  They call around, classes are either full, have started already, or they simply can’t make the night of the week so they forgo classes all together and ‘wing it’.  

I teach a childbirth classes every day, excluding Sundays.  That's 6 days a week.  I teach group classes, and private classes.  If you can’t make the next series, or it doesn’t fit your crazy schedule, then take the classes alone, and you will learn a ton in a very relaxed setting!  The best part?  You pick the time of day we start.  I teach classes as early as 8am and starting as late as 8:30pm.  Want to know what else?  You don’t have to take your classes on the same day every week!  You don’t even have to take the class once a week for 5 or 6 weeks.  Schedule your classes bi-weekly, once a month, whatever you want, - whatever helps you learn the best.  I will always offer to teach your final review closer to your due date if you start early.  Speaking of ‘early’.  You can start whenever you want.  I don’t care if you are 10 weeks pregnant, you can start with my “Early Pregnancy class” and schedule the childbirth class series a couple of weeks after that.  Couples often opt to take the first four classes in my childbirth series, and then take the newborn and final review around their 35th and 36th week.  

More options!  
Sometimes people procrastinate.  Maybe you didn’t know if you could even give birth vaginally due to a low-lying placenta, or maybe you just had other things to tackle before you could think about giving birth.  Suddenly you realize you are 36 weeks and need something quick!  I can handle that.  I can’t guarantee you’ll get completely finished before you give birth, but I do my best and offer many options.  I can sometimes offer to do three classes in a week, or two 5 hour sessions, or one 8 hour session.  This especially works if you can accommodate a class during the day.  Whatever we can do that works with both of our schedules, and provides you with just the amount of information you need to be prepared.   

I keep it current and non-judgmental!
I stay up to date on the latest research and evidenced based birth practices.  Some childbirth instructors are not allowed to provide any information other than what is ‘in the script’, and even though they know it’s outdated information, they are stuck.  I stay current, so you can too!

Hospital based educators have struggles too. (I know I’ve been there).  Certain information is ‘not allowed’, and information can be presented in a very different light.  For example, some instructors may not tell you that you have more than one option for cervical ripening, because the majority of providers only use one or two methods.  You may not learn what a cervical ripening is or for!  Information can sometimes be one sided.  For example, your instructor might tell you - this is what an epidural is, and this is when to get one.  There may not be any discussions about the risks, or benefits to going without one.  I once heard of a nurse who told a class that there were no side effects to an epidural and that women were crazy if they considered going without one!   You will never hear me tell you that you are crazy - no matter which way you choose to birth.  This is your choice!  I would like my classes to be a judgement free zone.

Photo credits:  Amanda Gipson Photography and Valerie Lopez

Photo credits:  Amanda Gipson Photography and Valerie Lopez

My classes are relevant and personal:
I have the pleasure of getting to know each and every one of my students.  I want to know where they are birthing, who they are birthing with, and what their goals are.  I know what their fears are surrounding their upcoming birth .  Each person has a unique situation, and in a large group setting you can’t always keep the topics relevant for each person.  If I have a group class, I try to group those who are birthing in a hospital setting together, those who are birthing in a birth center together, those who are going for a VBAC together, etc.  This way the information is relevant to their situation.  There are times when I have a mixed group, but I still remember who is doing what, so that I can tell them when I am talking “this doesn’t apply to you” or “you will have this option, but not this one”.  Each person that comes through my door will get information relevant to them.  Not everyone wants to go natural, not everyone wants an epidural.  Births don’t always go as planned.  I provide all the information for both situations, and provide clients with the information to best achieve their birth goals.  What they do from there, is up to them!

I know many of the providers in the area.  I am familiar with most all the hospital policies.  I know if your hospital has a squat bar, or birthing balls, wireless monitoring etc.  Many times women who can’t take a childbirth class at the hospital they are birthing at, call around to other hospitals and take a class there.  Taking a class ata different hospital can be confusing.  It’s cheap, but not relevant.  Hospital policies are not the same - even if they are under the same system. It’s important that you understand what is available to you.  Since I have worked at most hospitals, I have the inside scoop. 

I will provide you with all the tools you need to make your birth the best you can under your specific circumstances.  Who doesn't want a well-rounded class relevant to you, non-judgemental, and packed full of the information that you need?!

Learn your options, go from there.  As Diane Korte says, “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any”.  I look forward to meeting you!

My Childbirth Classes. It's not Lamaze.

When people think of childbirth classes, they often think of people learning how to breathe in various patterns, and think that is what childbirth classes are based upon.  After all, when you watch TV or a movie, isn’t that what you see?  A bunch of people in a circle breathing?  These breathing techniques are synonymous with Lamaze childbirth classes (one particular method of teaching childbirth classes).   However, there are many types of childbirth classes out there, and Lamaze is only one type.  It has been very popular for many years.  Some people love it, some people hate it, and I think that one of the factors for this love-hate relationship is that it can be taught so differently from instructor to instructor.  Lamaze was very popular in the first 20 years of it’s birth, then lost some popularity in the 80's and 90's and is now making a stronger comeback updating it’s content and class structure.

Here’s the thing: Lamaze is only ONE of many types of childbirth classes out there. Not everyone, including myself teach the various breathing techniques.  I want my students to understand three basic principles of breathing: 1) Don’t hold your breath.  2) Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth to stay calm.  3)Things to try if you can’t push but the urge is strong.  If my clients want more breathing techniques, they will have access to those exercises for six months through video content. 

Let me say this: I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Lamaze.  This revolutionized the way women gave birth.  They paved the way for childbirth education everywhere.  I love the Lamaze six healthy birth practice, and you’ll find those handouts in your binder.  I have videos created by Lamaze, and I refer to them often for research articles and evidenced based birth practices.  I have a lot of respect for Lamaze, but I am not a Lamaze instructor.  I chose to go under an organization that allows me to adjust my content and structure as I need to and keep it my own.  I love the fact that I can learn the latest new evidenced based birth practice, and immediately start teaching it in my classes (that very same day if I have the opportunity)!  

There are MANY types of childbirth classes out there, for example the Bradley Method is another popular method of childbirth preparation.  The list goes on.  There are many non-specific childbirth classes that are simply called “Prepared Childbirth”.  This is basically a generic term that means we are not affiliated with any certain program. That’s me.

When a person becomes a childbirth educator, they can become an instructor under one of the popular methods, such as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE), or they can become a childbirth educator under a non-specific organization (such as Childbirth International).  A Lamaze instructor is bound to teach only Lamaze content, but instructors like me can include whatever content we would like (as long as we aren’t stealing other methods’ content of course)! Most educators cannot be certified to teach under one brand while also teaching their own structured classes. In fact you may not be able to teach your own stuff for years after leaving said organization.  I couldn’t be confined to one box, so I did my own thing and my students are thriving!  

The bottom line:
Every childbirth course should have some basic content that is the same.  

  • We all teach the stages of labor.  (We just might have a different way of talking about it).  
  • Most all of us will teach basic hospital interventions
  • Most of all us will discuss and show non-pharmacological coping techniques

The rest of the content will depend on the program that it is based on.  You might find one childbirth class series that focus more on nutrition and relaxation, while another focuses on breathing techniques.  Some focus on where to birth or how to birth.  There are classes that have a little of everything.   I fit very well into the “everything” category.  No matter where you birth or how you birth, I’ve got relevant information just for you.  Oh, and I promise.  We won’t be singing Kum Ba Ya.  Ever. 

Check out my next blog that explains what sets me apart from other childbirth classes!

I promise, I'm not like this educator!  ^^^^^^^^^^