June 25, 2019
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - A Flip of the Coin
By: Stacie Bingham, LCCE, CD(DONA), CBS | 0 Comments
This month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators idea is written by the creative Stacie Bingham, who often contributes such fun activities. Stacie is so effective at making information both fun and memorable! Today's idea is a riff on birth choice cards or a birth plan activity that covers variations and interventions in labor very well. Let us know in the comments section if you do try this or how you might adapt it to your own classroom needs. You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators ideas here. Reach out to me if you have an idea of your own that you would like to share. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Connecting the Dots
Presenting the interventions (or “choices” as I like to call them) of birth/babies/feeding is a core goal of childbirth educators. I wanted an activity that coupled with something fun (chocolate!) with something serious (learning about childbirth choices). This is my result!
- Chocolate coins
- Each family has a handout I created for the activity (see link below for a downloadable copy)
- Reference sheets from Lamaze and other websites and publications available
Author note: I get my chocolate coins from Cost Plus World Market, they seem to have them consistently year-round. Coins may be easier to find around certain holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas, Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and more. You might consider stockpiling them when you find them on sale. In the photos on this blog post, I have used a combination of regular foil-wrapped coins, some from Lunar New Year, and some from Mardi Gras.
Plastic coins could also be used so families return their “booty” when the activity is over. You can find these at party stores or educational supply stores. The chocolate aspect is removed, but you can easily make up for that by supplying a treat if you like. This is a good option for families who may know from the get-go they won’t eat/don’t want the chocolate.
When to conduct this activity
I use this during the class focused on birth interventions. Some educators separate interventions by when they may occur, such as newborn procedures in the “after the birth” class, etc. I cover prenatal, birth, and postpartum issues in the same class as a way to get families focused on not only making decisions, but also advocating for themselves.
How long should you allow for this activity
30 minutes feels like just the right amount of time, although you could extend it depending on what you add.
How to conduct this activity
I make up a set of chocolates for each family and enclose them in a little bag, like those used for wedding or shower favors. I have families pour their coins out and use their hands to move coins off other coins – the goal is to have a single layer of coins without making any choices yet. This demonstrates how random birth can be when we use no force to shape the experience.
The next step is to have them share their biggest surprise coin (sometimes these are an accidental homebirth or the opposite sex baby than what they are expecting), or a coin that makes them happy. Utilize the topics to discuss things like the safety of homebirth for low-risk families, babies of all genders are still babies and need the same basic love and care, or what other topics are brought up by the class.
Now ask families to address the biggest gut-feeling disappointment about how the coins landed. What one thing would they choose to change, and why? After some discussion, have them flip this disappointing coin over to the more desired (in their minds) option. Have them pull this coin out of the bunch and focus on what they can do, now and in the future, to try with all their might to work toward the desired side of this coin.
Knowing “undesirable” coins can’t always be avoided, the next part of the activity focuses on how we might deal with this option if the variation was faced and unchangeable. Discussing with families what makes up a positive birth experience – support and autonomy – is useful here. You don’t have to spend too long, and this is a reminder that we do all we can, and when our plans veer from what we imagined, we can move through choices with confidence when we are informed, well-cared for, and still seeking to explore our newly-available options.
In the end, I have families choose four coins they do not want to part with. I have them write those choices down, and then take those choices to their care provider. This helps families start conversations with their care providers about their most important preferences. Families can align their preferences with their care provider’s expertise -- and understand if this is a good match.
How the activity is received by families
Most people love chocolate! From the excitement of receiving the coin favors in pretty organza bags to the touching, smelling, eating while discussing having to make tough decisions, people are entertained during this activity and they forget they are learning. They often take pictures of all their coins laid out how they want, so they don’t forget. They take pictures of their final four to discuss with their provider. Then they eat!
I have had families come back after an appointment with their care provider to find they don’t feel well-aligned with their provider, and they look at the possibility of making a change to a new one. Some families feel more strongly about being more outspoken with their decisions (as long as they still fit their experience) and remain with their current provider.
Presenting labor and birth choices in a non-biased way through this tactile activity allows families to discover their options. Being able to talk-through their wishes and fears shows them they are not alone. Helping families understand about advocating and decision-making gives them more tools to shape their individual experiences. Dispelling myths and creating the framework for positivity, even when things don’t go as planned, wraps families in security, prepared to face their exciting, but unknown future.
About Stacie Bingham
Stacie Bingham, LCCE, CD(DONA), resides in California's fertile Central Valley. Her experience in the world of birth and babies began in 2002 when she accredited as a La Leche League Leader. After some time, she realized how women birth affects breastfeeding, and she certified as a DONA International Birth Doula. It didn't take long to see the impact childbirth education has on birth, and that began her journey to LCCE. Stacie enjoys all aspects of teaching and compares being a childbirth educator to the role of stand-up comedian -- engaging her audience with humor and evidence so learning happens in a relaxed atmosphere. Her writings have been published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, International Doula, Leaven, New Beginnings, and Clinical Lactation. Stacie served on the Board of Directors for La Leche League of Southern California/Nevada, is actively involved in the Bakersfield Birth Network, and is the Kern County coordinator for Postpartum Support International. Always expanding her family through rescue kittens, she resides with her husband and four sons. For more teaching tips, visit her at staciebingham.com
TagsBirth plans Childbirth education Interventions Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Stacie Bingham Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators