September 26, 2019
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - Keys to Confidence
By: Mallory Emerson, LCCE | 0 Comments
Today's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators post comes from regular contributor Mallory Emerson who offers up a simple but elegant way to remind families of the strengths and qualities they already possess that will be invaluable during labor, birth and early parenting. Best of all, the families get to take this "little souvenir" with them and bring it with them to their labor! Thanks, Mallory for your contribution. To find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators posts, click here. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Connecting the Dots.
Regardless of how a family ends up in my childbirth class, no matter who they are, one thing I want them to walk away with is a solid grasp on what their own strengths are that will help them as they navigate labor, birth, and parenting.
This activity aims to give families in your classes a concrete memento that they can keep with them to remind them of those strengths and give them confidence as they navigate their journey.
For this activity, the basics you’ll want to have are paper key tags like the ones pictured ) and a keyring. You’ll want one key ring and 3-5 key tags per family. I am using heart-shaped key rings to symbolize our great friend oxytocin, “the love” hormone, but any basic keyring will work. You’ll also want to make sure your families have pens or markers.
When to conduct this activity
You could do this any time in a childbirth class. Towards the beginning of class, it gets them thinking about the tools they already have in their toolboxes -- what they bring to the table outside of anything you can teach them in class. Later in the class, it can be used as a more reflective activity -- now that they know what their preferences are and what they might expect, what strengths will help them get through it? You could also use this in breast/chestfeeding or newborn care class to specifically focus on the strengths that will make them great parents.
How to conduct this activity
In my classes, after we discuss how labor starts, the signs of labor, and what early labor might be like at home, I have families brainstorm an “early labor toolbox” for themselves. On a sheet of paper, they brainstorm ways they relax, stay distracted, get rest, cope with discomfort or stress, and feel safe. I prompt them to add traits or ways of being that help them handle difficult situations. Laughter, flexibility, strength, etc. I usually have them do this as they come back from a break. Once they have gotten some ideas down, I have them look back at their brainstorming and circle things that they feel they use/do frequently or qualities that they feel will be especially helpful during labor and birth (or lactation or postpartum, etc). We discuss how the strengths you have before becoming a parent remain with you through your journey and I ask them to write down the things they want to carry with them into the birth room with them onto their key tags and add them to their key ring together. They can hook this right onto their birth bag and keep it with them each step of the way. When we get to the end of the class (or series) and we are discussing the postpartum period and newborn care, I ask them to reflect back on those keychains and how they may come in handy in their new roles.
Another way you can incorporate this activity is to intersperse it throughout class, asking them to add things to each tag at different points. What is one word to describe your connection to your baby that you want to remember when labor is just getting started? What is a two-to-three word mantra you want to remember to bring to mind during active labor? What kind of atmosphere or energy would you like in the birth room after baby is born? What kind of parents do you hope to be in the first few weeks? How will you remind yourself to give yourself grace during this transformational event?
You can take this in so many directions! Your families can always refer to books, handouts, websites, videos, etc. to get the information and facts that they learn in class. They can create a birth plan to remind them of the preferences they have for what happens during the birth and immediate postpartum adjustment. This activity gives you a way to help remind them throughout their journey of the less tangible elements we want them to take away from their childbirth class. It is an opportunity for them to focus on the strengths and the power they possess as new parents.
About Mallory Emerson
Mallory Emerson is a childbirth educator and doula in the Seattle area. She currently teaches Great Starts classes with Parent Trust for Washington Children and is passionate about providing evidence-based information to new families so that they can confidently navigate the decisions of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Mallory first trained with the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University in 2014. She is a Great Starts certified educator and also completed the Passion for Birth training before becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in 2017. Mallory is a DONA-trained Birth Doula serving the greater Seattle area and is currently working towards DONA certification. You can learn more about Mallory on her website, MalloryEmerson.com.
Note: Props to friends in the Hudson Valley who used a similar activity during a recent convention I attended with my partner. I’m always on the lookout for ways to make classes interactive and love bringing new ideas into my teaching from outside the childbirth sphere!
TagsChildbirth education Oxytocin Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Mallory Emerson