What are the benefits of using a pacifier?
What are the drawbacks of pacifier use?
I first heard about doulas when I was pregnant with my third child. My husband was in graduate school and I was working random side-jobs. A friend who had just had a baby enthusiastically shared about her birth experience and the invaluable support she received from her doula. It sounded incredible, but it simply wasn't in the budget for us at that time.
Fortunately, we were able to invest in a high-quality comprehensive birth class and felt thoroughly prepared for my birth. We lucked out with a smooth, uncomplicated labor, and I had the incredible birth experience that fueled my desire to become a birth worker.
But the conversation with my friend and our inability to hire a doula sparked something in me. I feel strongly that financial barriers shouldn't stand in between you and the education and support that you need to have a positive, empowering pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.
That's why I offer grants for families with financial constraints. Grants are available in a variety of sizes and can be applied towards birth classes, birth doula services, or postpartum doula services. Although grants are somewhat limited, I'm usually able to offer a grant of some size to those with a need! So if limited finances are stopping you from signing up for a birth class, hiring a birth doula, or moving forward with postpartum doula support, head on over to the grant application page to apply!
All of the pregnancy books recommend swimming as an excellent exercise during pregnancy. The water's buoyancy helps support your belly while minimizing swelling and supporting your joints. And it's a great workout! It always sounded so good in the pregnancy books, and I tried it out a few times... Only to remember why I've never loved lap swimming. Something about inhaling a face full of splashy water just erases the charm for me.
Enter prenatal water aerobics!
I first heard about this class when a doula client, who was taking the class, mentioned that she'd been attending it. It sounded like a great class and something I wanted to check out for myself and tell my clients about. I finally got around to attending class a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed myself.
The other class members were welcoming and friendly, even to me in my non-pregnant state. :) As we got into the water, we got to know each other a bit, and then we started with some gentle warm-up exercises in the water. I was surprised by how much difference water resistance made in doing simple exercises like kicks and steps. I could feel that my muscles were engaging, yet the workout was gentle on my joints. Later in the class, we used pool noodles for added resistance, and I was again surprised to find that a super-lightweight pool noodle acted like a light dumb bell in the water! They also made fun flotation devices for other exercises.
In pregnancy, water fitness classes have many benefits. It reduces swelling, is low-impact, carries little risk of falling, alleviates spinal and pelvic pressure, and helps to improve mobility and range of motion. It also encourages increased amniotic fluid production--so discuss this exercise option with your care provider if you have low fluid levels! This class is adaptable for people with all fitness levels and can be done throughout your entire pregnancy--from first trimester through the end of third trimester! Non-pregnant participants who are looking for a gentle workout are also welcome.
The class is taught by Aimee Sanders-Krause. She's a lovely, warm person and a clear, yet flexible, instructor. Aimee is a mom of three and has a bachelor's degree in exercise science. In addition to teaching this class, she teaches other fitness classes at Orem Family Fitness Center and is also a personal trainer.
Interested? Class is held on Fridays from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon. It's free with a membership to Orem Family Fitness Center, or non-members can pay a $5 day pass fee. Childcare is offered on-site! For more info, visit the Orem Family Fitness Center website.
Information is at your fingertips. You can Google anything from round ligament pain to pushing positions. Your favorite pregnancy/birth influencers post mind-blowing new information daily. Many childbirth classes are offered online, and you can watch them from the comfort of your home on your own time. Why take an in-person childbirth class?
In class, you'll build a community of support.
There's nothing like face-to-face connection with other people. Pregnancy is a unique time in life, and it feels good to connect with other expecting parents who get it. Yes, there are zillions of online pregnancy groups and forums you can join, but the familiarity and connection that happen in person exceed what a virtual group can offer.
Summit Birth Utah's Comprehensive Childbirth Class runs for 8 weeks, so there's ample time to form friendships. They say it takes a village to raise a child--maybe you'll meet your village in your birth class!
You can have a say in the class's agenda!
I've planned eight classes' worth of material about labor, birth, and postpartum, but it doesn't have to be set in stone! During the first class session, I will ask each class attendee what they're hoping to get out of the class, and will tailor the class series to meet the needs of the class participants. So start thinking about topics and tools that you want to learn, and come ready to share them. I can't wait to personalize the class to fit your needs!
When you're invested and accountable, you'll learn more.
I'm passionate about evidence-based care and I've thoroughly vetted everything I'll share in class. Rest easy knowing your sources are trustworthy.
You'll have a private space to ask your personal questions.
We'll practice labor and birth positions with props like those you'll have at home and in the hospital.
You will really practice labor comfort measures.
There are so many ways to cope and optimize your comfort during labor and birth. In class, you'll have hands-on practice with a wide range of them. Fill your toolbox with comfort measures so that you know what you can draw on during labor and birth! We'll practice guided meditation, using a TENS unit, counter pressure, aromatherapy, breathing techniques, sounding out your labor, and more!
By handling models of a pelvis (both bones and muscles), baby, amniotic sac, uterus and ligaments, you'll learn how Baby will move through your pelvis and how your body positions can help Baby on the journey!
At each class, feel free to check out books from my lending library.
I have an always-expanding lending library of books about fertility, sexuality, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and baby care. I'll bring books from my lending library to each class, and you'll have the chance to check out or exchange books each week. If you're interested in getting a taste for some of the books in my library, give this blog post series a read!
We'll discuss and practice hypothetical situations as a group.
You'll watch and participate in meaningful, memorable role plays.
Discussing hypothetical scenarios, though helpful, isn't quite as effective as participating in role plays. To really help prepare for birth and make concepts stick, we'll do some role playing. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for your birth! You'll feel more at ease during labor and birth if it doesn't feel like the first time you've encountered anything like this.
I've specifically chosen birth videos to coordinate with class content.
Watching birth videos can be a great way to prepare for your birth. They can help you visualize a variety of ways that birth can go. And watching an empowering birth helps your mind create that expectation for your own experience! I find that birth videos are most helpful if you watch them with a specific purpose in mind, so I'll be weaving them into the class curriculum with prompts to maximize your learning.
You can practice breastfeeding positions with doll models.
It can be tricky to get the hang of breastfeeding! We'll go over the basics of lactation and preparing to breastfeed, and we'll practice several different ways to hold Baby. I'll explain the benefits of each of the positions, and give you a doll to practice each position with. When you have a baby in your arms, you won't be experimenting with different holds and positions for the first time! This familiarity can ease some first-latch nerves.
I hope you'll join me!
Have I convinced you yet that in-person birth classes are the way to go? I hope you'll join me at an upcoming series of my Comprehensive Childbirth Class. The next series starts in just two days, on October 15! It runs through December 10, so this is a great class to take if your estimated due date is in early 2023. My next class series will begin in January 2023. I hope to see you in an upcoming class!
Last week, I polled my Instagram followers. Did you give birth without pain medication? Are you planning to? Tell me why!
The reasons came rolling in, and they were as different and varied as my followers themselves. So let's consider the question:
Why unmedicated birth?
Some choose unmedicated birth (sometimes called natural birth) because they feel it will best connect them with their bodies. They feel confident that their body is powerful and capable, and feel that birthing without pain medication will enable them to best tap into that power.
Others choose unmedicated birth because it helps them feel more in control of their body. Without pain medication, you're able to move around freely and choose the positions you labor and birth in. You aren't restricted to a bed and can walk, dance, sit, stand, kneel, squat, shower, bathe, use the bathroom... In short, you can move as you'd like!
Some want to give birth without pain medication as a way to connect with their ancestors and the generations of people for whom anesthesia wasn't an option.
Many believe that it is safest for them and their babies to avoid interventions in the birth process. Some are grateful for the option of medical intervention in birth when necessary, but want to avoid it--including pain medication--unless it becomes necessary.
Others trust that birth will unfold in the way it is meant to only if the body has the opportunity to orchestrate its own hormonal symphony, without interruption from medication.
For others, unmedicated birth isn't a choice. One follower shared her experience with me:
Went into labor really fast, baby was born 20 minutes after we pulled into the hospital... Spent most of that 20 minutes yelling at the nurse that this was not my birth plan.
This birth experience highlights the emotional strain of having an unmedicated birth without feeling prepared for it. For this mom, the right choice for her second and third births was to birth with pain medication, and those births were peaceful and empowering for her. Others who have had an unmedicated birth that caught them off guard choose to double down in their preparation for future unmedicated births.
Whatever your reason for unmedicated birth, it will go most smoothly if you prepare both your mind and your body for the experience. There are many different approaches to preparing for unmedicated birth, oftentimes adopting a method such as Hypnobirthing or the Bradley Method.
As a doula, I've found that most of my clients prefer a "toolbox" approach. Rather than learning a specific method, they learn about lots of different tools that they can use to be as comfortable as possible and manage pain during labor. These tools range from learning as much as possible about what happens during birth, to deep breathing and meditation, to using a TENS unit, to aromatherapy ... and much more!
After five years of working as a doula specializing in unmedicated birth, I'm adding a comprehensive birth class series to the services I offer. This class is the toolbox. We'll begin by building a deep understanding of labor and birth. (Knowledge is power! ... And it helps provide pain relief.) Then, we'll learn about alllllll of the tools that will help you be confident, calm, and open during your labor. We'll spend a while learning about communication and decision-making, giving you the skills and practice you need to make informed decisions you feel good about and to advocate for yourself in the birth space. We'll finish out the series by exploring the postpartum phase, newborn care, lactation, and building a community of support.
Are you preparing for to birth without pain medication? If you'd like to learn about all of the tools and skills I've honed as a doula over the last five years, come join my Comprehensive 8-Week Childbirth Class.
This class is interactive, engaging, memorable, and ... Dare I say it? ... Fun! Watch for next week's blog post that will give a sneak peek into some of the activities we'll be doing in class.
I hope to see you there!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!