—Elizabeth & Paul Butterworth, parents to Sophie (7/10/2008) and Leah (5/31/2013)
Empowered Birth Course Outline
Class 1: It's Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth!
In our first class, we'll spend some time getting to know one another before diving into our first discussion topic for the night—wellness in pregnancy. Through an interactive game, we'll explore and discuss pain theories and find answers to the questions, "What helps to ease the pain of labor? What makes it more difficult?" We'll also talk about what it's like to give birth in the Louisville metro area, and we'll explore your options for caregivers and birthplaces. The night will come to a close with a small group discussion activity on the topic of relaxation, with a guided practice before going home.
Class 2: Getting Into Labor
In this class we'll talk about the basics of labor—timing contractions, dilation, effacement, station. Using a model pelvis and baby, we'll demonstrate the different kinds of fetal positions and discuss how they can impact labor and birth. A small group activity will help to illustrate what the onset of labor looks like, and how parents can determine if mom is in labor. The first birth video, Understanding Birth, will be shown with some time afterward to talk about impressions. Early labor is covered in this class as well as comfort measures. We will also differentiate early labor from Braxton Hicks contractions and "false labor. " Parents from a previous class will pay us a visit to share their birth story, and we will spend some time talking about doulas. To end our night, we'll practice a relaxation exercise.
Class 3: Your Labor Progresses
In class 3, we'll move through early labor and into active labor and finally, transition. Through a partner exercise, parents will explore the possibilities for their labor—how long it might be, what challenges they might face and what options they have. Because many parents worry about when they should go to the hospital, we'll be sure to spend time discussing the emotional map of labor—reading Mom's emotions can help parents determine how far the labor has progressed. We will talk about the importance of staying active during labor and how movement can help labor progress. Comfort measures will be practiced during this class as well as the different positions for labor with their benefits. Partners will actively support Mom through massage, counterpressure and relaxation practice. Class 3 also includes a discussion about hospital procedures upon check-in. We will also discuss pain relief options that are offered at the hospital and how to reduce the risks associated with them while still feeling "in control" of the birth experience.
Class 4: Happy Birthday Baby!
As you have moved through the stages of labor, it's time for birth! This class will present the evidence-based research with regards to second stage labor. We will practice pushing positions such as squatting, kneeling and side lying. Partners will practice second stage comfort measures to help mom stay relaxed and focused during pushing. We will discuss the importance of listening to your body and waiting for the urge to bear down (push!) with contractions. After viewing a video, Birth in the Squatting Position, we'll talk about what we noticed and share our thoughts. Last but not least, we'll talk about third-stage labor—the delivery of the placenta. The class will end with a discussion about newborn procedures and the importance of the first hour after birth for breastfeeding and bonding with baby.
Class 5: Medical Interventions
Birth is a mystery and no one knows how your birth will turn out, so it's best to be prepared for all eventualities. Class 5 covers medical interventions, from IV's to cesarean section. The latest evidence based research in maternity care will be referenced as we discuss options. Parents will learn how to ask questions about medical interventions—their benefits, risks and alternatives—before making decisions. While we are grateful for medical intervention when it is clearly necessary, its use can still leave parents feeling disappointed—so we'll talk about how to cope if your birth takes a path that you didn't plan or hope for. We will talk about "backup plans," and how parents can help to keep their birth as natural of an experience as possible even if intervention is necessary. The night will end with an exercise where you conquer your fears about birth in a safe and supportive environment.
Class 6: Postpartum and Breastfeeding
Now that baby has arrived, it's time to talk about postpartum recovery for mom and breastfeeding basics for baby. We'll use "the postpartum grab bag" to talk about postpartum body care and have some small group dialogue to discuss postpartum emotions. We'll plan for your postpartum period by helping you create a postpartum care plan, assessing your needs for help after baby arrives. We'll talk about what life is like with a newborn and what to expect in terms of sleeping and eating (for mom and baby!). We'll spend the last part of class talking about breastfeeding basics—how to get baby latched at the breast and how to know if baby is getting enough milk.
Class 7: Celebrating the Journey
In our last class together, we'll have a comprehensive review of the labor process where we will revisit all of the skills we have learned so far in class. Our last birth video, Rhythm, Relaxation & Ritual focuses on the unique coping mechanisms that women create during labor; we'll get a glimpse of 20 moms as they make their way through a contraction. As always, we'll take some time to discuss what we've seen and then move on to a unique simulated labor rehearsal where we'll put our comfort measures skills to use. Our night will end with birth art and a celebration!