July 27, 2022
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - Meet "Birtha" - Your Customizable Teaching Assistant
By: Crystal Sada, LCCE | 0 Comments
This month’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators idea comes from Cystal Sada, LCCE, a childbirth educator and doula trainer in New Jersey, USA. Using humor and a familiar but creative teaching aid, Crystal helps the families in her virtual classes practice labor positions and comfort techniques. You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators ideas for free at this link. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Community Manager.
The purpose of this fun and innovative activity is to help educators effectively demonstrate positioning and comfort measures during childbirth classes that are taught virtually. I developed “Birtha Ball” when I realized teaching hands-on comfort and positioning was going to be challenging when my childbirth classes moved virtual in March of 2022.
- Peanut shaped physical therapy ball of your choice.
- Permanent marker to draw a face. (Optional)
- Brain shaped Jello mold to use as a hat or any other hat available.
- A scarf or sheet to tie around midsection
- List of comfort measures to be demonstrated.
- Tools to accompany specific comfort measures (ice pack, hot pack, TENS unit)
When to conduct this activity
I use this activity when demonstrating hands-on comfort measures at various points during my class. I also use “Birtha Ball” during specialized comfort measures classes as well.
How much time to allow for this activity
In my one-day class, I devote a full hour for comfort and positioning demonstration. During my four-week series, the whole last class is devoted to comfort, and coping positions, rhythmical breathing and relaxation and mindful intent. You could also use this teaching aid in each class to demonstrate specific positions and comfort measures as you move through topics.
How to conduct this activity
You can introduce “Birtha Ball” at the beginning of a class, and let the families know that Birtha will be helping you during their sessions so they can learn and practice comfort measures and positioning for their upcoming labor and birth. “Birtha” can then remain in the background, quietly, until called upon to assist in any upcoming demonstrations
Have “Birtha” sit upright in a chair, or even get on all “fours” while you stand behind them and demo comforting touch up near the “shoulders,” the top of the “head” or the “lower back.” You can demonstrate what it would look like to apply pressure up and down on either side of the spine. Let families see that you can use the heel of your hands, your fists, tennis balls in a sock or even purchase a massage tool. Use a scarf or sheet to tie an ice pack, heated rice sock or hot water bottle to the lower back of “Birtha.” Alternatively, you can place the heated rice sock under the pretend baby bump, using a scarf to hold it in place.
You can demonstrate “shake the apples” or invite “Birtha” to hula their hips in circles. This cooperative model is even happy to model slow dancing with you. Sidelying, and even sitting backwards on a toilet is something that “Birtha'' would happily participate in. Consider practicing in advance, so you can see all that is possible with this silent and happy class “member.” Using “Birtha” lets families see what is possible and gives them a chance to try these labor positions themselves after you have demo’d with your “assistant."
What do families say about this activity
This activity generates a lot of laughter. Everyone’s mood lightens up, and smiles are visible from all the families. Many families have told me they feel having “Birtha” come to class makes our time together very creative and fun. Many participants say they now have a much better idea how to do these different comfort techniques and positions after seeing me demonstrate with my willing partner.
How could you modify this activity
I have seen some educators use dolls for this type of demo. Personally, I really like the feel of the peanut ball and the way it can be manipulated. As an added bonus, they get the reward of also seeing the peanut ball that I have been showing in our slide deck presentation in other portions of the class. I love the Jello mold shaped like the brain, as it is another way to reinforce the BRAIN acronym of decision making, though educators can use any hat they have handy and even put a wig on the ball as well. Alternatively, if you are creative, you could draw on the hair of your choice
When teaching virtually, it is hard for educators to model comfort positions for labor to the families watching from home. Using “Birtha Ball” as a willing model brings some levity into the situation and offers opportunities for families to see the positions in action and then try them at home as well. And giving some personality to the ever-pregnant “Birtha Ball” offers some light-hearted laughs and comic relief that creates community and makes the positions easy to remember down the road when their own labor has started.
About Crystal Sada
Crystal Sada has been a childbirth educator for 40 years and is currently certified with Lamaze International. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was in the middle of a class series when everything suddenly shut down. Like everyone else, she had to become creative in her delivery of good quality information for her childbirth class families and how to present that information. “Birtha Ball” was part of the creative thinking process to help families to feel confident for their upcoming labor and birth. Crystal is director of Active Birth Institute. In addition to teaching childbirth classes, she also teaches labor and postpartum doulas. You can reach Crystal through her website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
TagsLabor Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators childbirth educator Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Virtual Childbirth Classes Crystal Sada