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Is a Prenatal Class about Childbirth or about Babies?

Prenatal Childbirth Preparation for Doctors' Patients

This term we use – Prenatal Class – is confusing, isn’t it?

Some parents-to-be are fascinated by, or worried about labour and birth and are wanting to spend a lot of time talking about it. They come to our 12-hour, six-week Childbirth Preparation classes and are happy to spend most of the time on labour and birth, and practicing comfort measures and coping skills, and find that it’s great that we also spend two entire hours talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Other parents, who are more worried about how they are going to cope with the baby once it is out, feel they would like to spend more time talking about babies and breastfeeding.

It’s for this second group of parents that we have designed the Parenting the Newborn series. It’s a three-week, six-hour series in which a postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator takes you though two hours on baby care and two hours on breastfeeding, and then a First Aid Instructor comes and teaches two hours of Infant First Aid and CPR.

Many of our parents take both sets of classes. And we encourage this by giving parents a $15 discount if they sign up for both classes at the same time. (We also acknowledge that there will be a little overlap between the classes.) Some parents take only one, or only the other.

I would say, that if you take only one, the Childbirth Preparation Class is the one to take. Experiencing childbirth in a healthy and satisfying way takes knowledge and preparation. Labour and Birth happen all at once, in a big storm. There is little time to consider, or problem solve during labour. The learning and considering and deciding needs to happen before labour starts – even though you may change your mind during labour itself – in fact you probably will.

You can learn baby care and breastfeeding over several week and months. Babies are very patient with fumbly parents, and every parent figures out their own way through the challenges of of the first weeks. In fact, the hormones you make (yes, parents of all genders make hormones when they are around babies) will help you be more attentive and respond more sensitively to your baby.

At Mothering Touch, we believe in people’s basic ability to give birth and care for their babies. We want parents to feel well-prepared and well-supported, to feel satisfied with their birth experience and to be able to enjoy the first weeks with their baby. That is the goal of all our classes and groups.

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When should I take Prenatal Classes?

 

I’ve been teaching Childbirth preparation Classes since 1992 and my feeling is that it is best to take classes in the third trimester of pregnancy.  That means AFTER 28 weeks.

Before 28 weeks, women tend to be focused on other tasks of pregnancy (See The Second Trimester for more info about this).  Women tend to become MUCH more interested in the process of labour and birth once their bellies get bigger and they get closer to their due date.  Also, you want to have the information fresh in your mind when you go into labour.  It doesn’t make much sense to learn it months before you need it.

You also want to choose a class that will end by the time you get to 38 or 39 weeks.  This is not really because you are likely to have the baby early, first-time moms are more likely to have their babies late than early.  But by 38 or 39 weeks, women tend to be quite uncomfortable and tired and coming to class in the evening or for a whole day on the weekend is not so much fun.

When you choose to do your class depends also on which format you take.  If you are doing a two-Saturday class, the best time might be in your 35th and 36th weeks.  If you are going to take a 4-week series of Sunday afternoons, you probably want to start by week 33 or 34.  And if you are going to take a 6-week series of weekday evenings, you should probably start in week 31 or 32.

Is it okay to take the classes starting as early as 28 weeks or ending as late as 39 weeks??  Well, of course if scheduling is difficult, it’s better to do them early or late than never at all.  But remember that the other mothers in your class will all be due around the same time and if you are due much before or much after them, you miss out on the mutual support and the companionship through those last weeks of pregnancy and first weeks of being new parents together.  We had one mom who started her classes when she was only 26 weeks phone and ask us to move her into a later series because she felt “not really pregnant” when she compared herself to the others in her class.

Please feel free to call us and have a chat if you are finding it difficult to choose the rights dates.  We are here to help!

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Thirty-Two to Thirty-Six Weeks Pregnant

Thirty-two to Thirty-six weeks pregnant

Thirty Two to Thirty-Six weeks Pregnant

As baby gets bigger, the issue of how you are going to get the baby out may start to feel more relevant. Many mothers find that they become quite preoccupied with planning and daydreaming and thinking about their impending labour. Talk to your partner or birth helper, meet with your doula. This is a good time to be taking childbirth classes.

How you might feel between thirty-two and thirty-six weeks of pregnancy:

  • Your growing belly and growing baby are putting more strain on your body. You may start to feel quite weary, especially towards the end of the day. Napping is a useful skill to start cultivating now!
  • Back pain, caused by the increasing weight of the baby and softening joints, may get worse. Consider seeing a massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor.
  • Baby is moving a lot. The baby’s movements may keep you up at night, or wake you up even. Baby’s hiccups – a little, slow, pulse-like feeling, deep inside you.
  • As baby moves, and your back hurts, and you get less exercise during the day, you may start to find it difficult to sleep at night. Try having a high-protein snack before you go to bed. Practice your breathing exercises and isten to soothing music. Think of it as free time to rehearse for labour.
  • Constipation may become a problem. Remember to eat lots of high-fiber vegetables and whole grains. Make sure you drink enough water too.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions, also called pregnancy contractions, may start to become more intense. Remember your uterus contracts more if you are dehydated or over-active. Take it easy and have a glass of water if the tightenings start to bother you.

Things you may do between thirty-two and thirty-six weeks weeks of pregnancy:

  • Planning for your baby’s birth. What is really important to you about the experience of giving birth? Where will you give birth?
  • Consider your preferences and values with regards to your baby’s birth. How would you like things to go? How would you like to cope with labour pain? What interventions would you like to avoid, if possible?
  • Discuss your birth preferences and values with your partner or birth-helper.
  • Gather home birth supplies and/or start to pack your hospital birth bag.
  • Are you having the support of a doula? You will probably meet with her in this month, if you have not already done so.She will want to know about your plans and preferences for your baby’s birth so that she can help you carry out those plans.
  • Plan for the postpartum period. Who will help with household tasks after you have the baby? Who will visit? How much time will your partner take off?

 Between thirty-two and thirty-six weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • Be seeing you every two-three weeks at this stage.
  • Weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain.
  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Check your urine for protein and infection.
  • Palpate and measure your abdomen.
  • Listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
  • Review test results.
  • Check the position of your baby to screen for breech presentation (bum first) or other variations in presentation.
  • Offer screening for Group B Strep.
  • Provide you with information about how to reach your care provider when you do go into labour.
  • Provide information about when yo go to the hospital – if that is where you are having your baby.
  • Discuss the possibility of a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) if you had a Caesarean at the end of your last pregnancy.

Your care provider is one of your best sources of information.  Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:

  • Pay attention to self-care. Take time for a massage or acupuncture session.
  • A very large amount of calcium is transferred to the baby in the third trimester. Focus on good sources of calcium: dairy, tofu, leafy greens, dried fruit and nuts.
  • You may want to start doing some perineal massage to increase health of perineal tissues and give you practice relaxing as perineum stretches.
  • Aquafit classes or swimming really help with swollen feet and legs, and backache.

Resources:

Finding a Doula in Victoria, BC: Greater Victoria Doula Directory

Deciding where to have your baby – Hospital or Home? Hospital or Home?

Deciding where to have your baby – Hospital or Home? Place of Birth Handbook

What to pack in your hospital bag: Packing for the Hospital.

Home Birth Supplies – an example: Access Midwifery, Victoria

Group B Strep: HealthLink BC

Group B Strep: BC women’s Hospital

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Elle TENS Machine Rentals

Have you considered using a TENS machine in labour? Or maybe you’ve heard of it but do not know what it is?

Elle TENS Machine Rentals

The Elle TENS machine is a small handheld device that uses mild electrical impulses through the skin to stimulate nerve fibers.  In labour, a woman can use a TENS machine to help reduce back pain while having full control over the machine and the impulses.

We are excited to now offer our clients Elle TENS machine rentals!

Click here to learn more about the Elle TENS and how it might help you during your labour.

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Parenting the Newborn

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In the good old days (she reminisces, her voice cracking with age,) I used to teach a prenatal class series that went on for nine weeks! Sometime towards the turn of the millennium, folks just got too too busy to spend nine weeks coming to childbirth classes when they were expecting a baby. So we moved to a six-week series, which has become the standard all over North America.

But we had so much less time, so we had to drop some content, and one of the things we had to do was spend less time on The Newborn and Baby Care. And we always felt sad about that. Parents felt they needed more information and we felt that they could use the boost of confidence that comes from having taken a course and having had time to ask questions before they have to jump in to taking care of their very own baby.

So we designed a course specifically for parents-to-be to prepare for caring for their newborn baby. We called it Parenting the Newborn and we included in it the standard things: How to Bathe and Diaper and Swaddle and Soothe your baby. We also included a two-hour in-depth Breastfeeding Workshop and a two-hour Infant First Aid course. But we wanted the course to be about more than just the mechanics of baby care. We have also included opportunities for parents to examine their values where parenting their baby is concerned. We spend a lot of time discussing what babies’ needs are in the three months after birth. And we talk a lot about the importance of physical contact, cuddling and holding for babies. It’s a great course, designed and taught by childbirth and breastfeeding educators who are also trained postpartum doulas.

Parenting The Newborn is an excellent complement to our Childbirth Preparation Class. We encourage new parents to take it at any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

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Knowing What’s Important

"I really want to thank you for teaching us about having a birth plan and being open and ready for change.  Our plan went from a natural water birth at home to finding out baby had flipped into a frank breach position at 38 weeks then going into labour on Christmas Eve and having to have an emergency C-section.  I guess we got all of our cards flipped except the most important one, Healthy Baby!" Having that plan and knowing what was most important really helped us get though all of the surprise twists and turns."

~ Rachael