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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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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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DadsDadsDads

Lucas myers

At Mothering Touch we spend a lot of time talking about Fathers. Expectant fathers, new fathers, fathers’ roles, fathers’ pride, fathers’ responsibilities, fathers’ anxiety, fathers’ identity, fathers’ joys. What do fathers need? What support? What information? What books? What equipment? And it’s hard to find answers to those questions.

But this weekend, Theatre Skam and Lucas Myers are going to answer those questions for us in Hello baby! And maybe one answer is: Fathers need a good laugh!

Matthew Payne, the Artistic Director at Theatre Skam and one of our Mothering Touch Dads, approached me to make sure I knew about this great show. It’s framed as an Instructional Lecture for new fathers. It poses (and I hope, answers) burning questions like:

“Is your life as you know it really over?”

“Can you safely operate a fax machine/belt sander/breast pump on two hours sleep?”

“Is it really possible to become so obsessed with bowel movements and nipples that you a make up little nicknames for them? Like ‘Jerome’? Or ‘Kathy?’”

I gather there are songs too. The one I am most looking forward to hearing is Yes-Honey-I’d-Be-More-Than-Happy-To-Make-Dinner-And-Hand-Wash-All-These-Cloth-Diapers-As-Soon-As-I-Finish-Giving-You-A-Back-Rub-And-Vacuuming-The-Floor-Again-Because-You-Are-Hyper-Paranoid-About-Germs,-Really-I-Would,-No,-I’m-Not-Just-Saying-That-Because-I-Think-It’s-What-You-Want-to-Hear,-I-Want-to-Do-It,-Look,-I’m-Doing-It-Right-Now,-See?

I invite Dads and Moms and all those who love them and support them (like Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunties and doulas) to come on this field trip to the land of New Dads. I’m looking forward to a good laugh!

Hello baby! at the Metro Studio – February 22 and 23 – Single Tickets for Hello Baby! along with season tickets are available in advance at Ticket Rocket or 250.590.6291 – Advance Tickets: $18 for Adults, $15 for Students and seniors At the Door: $23 for Adults, $20 for Students and seniors

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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