April 30, 2019
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - You Don't Say? Learning the Phases and Stages of Labor
By: Mallory Emerson, LCCE | 2 Comments
Today’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators activity comes from doula and LCCE Mallory Emerson. Mallory is a frequent contributor to Connecting the Dots with lots of fun and creative ideas. Today, Mallory talks about using quotes from families who have already birthed to help expectant families learn more about the phases and stages of labor. If you love these Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators series and want to read more of them, you can find all the posts here. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Blog Manager.
It can be difficult to help pregnant families understand the wide range of possibilities in labor. Many families want a very clear roadmap of how things will go, what they will experience, how they will feel. In classes, I often repeat the phrase “every labor and birth is unique.” One way that I like to bring this home is through an activity using quotes from the various stages of labor and postpartum. Hearing the experiences straight from other families can really help get the point across and help families open themselves to the reality that their birth will bring.
For this activity, I have a number of slips of paper that are divided into groups based on stages of labor (early, active, transition, 2nd stage, 3rd/4th stage/postpartum). Each slip of paper has a quote either from a birthing person or a partner. Some are directly taken from families I have worked with and some are based on common experiences that many families share after their birth. Some of the quotes are in the present tense, taken from something said during the birth. Others are in the past tense, reflecting on the experiences after the fact. I have 5-10 quotes for each stage.
When can you do this activity?
Most recently, I have used these in a one-day class. After reviewing the start and stages of labor and watching a video of normal birth, the class came back from a break and broke into groups.
In my six-week series, I might use this in the 2nd week when we dig into the progression of normal, physiological labor. You could also bring it in week three for an ice breaker or check-in to review the experiences of labor before diving into meds/interventions.
How to conduct the activity
In my one-day class, I gave each group a set of quotes and their job was to read through them and decide which stage of labor their set came from. The stages of labor overview was still up on the whiteboard during this time.
After several minutes doing this in their groups, we came back together and I asked “Who thinks they’ve got early labor?” and the group with that set of quotes would share. Questions would come up and we’d dive into concerns, misconceptions, or other points along the way. If multiple groups thought they were in the same stage of labor, we’d read through some of the quotes and figure it out together.
You could also use these during initial exploration of the stages of labor. Each quote would generate discussion and understanding of the qualities of each stage of labor. You would supplement with information about dilation, contraction timing, etc. as you move through the activity.
What parents say about this activity
Families in my classes have loved this! The groups that have early, active and transition almost always are confused about which phase they have because some of the quotes seem very different. It leads to a great discussion about how everyone’s labor experience can vary. When I use this activity before we do any labor practice, I notice more families really getting into their roles, practicing breathing more seriously, and focusing on how the pregnant person might feel or what they might want during intense contractions. They ask great questions about specific coping and comfort techniques. And I get fewer questions about “when is the best time in labor to use the hip squeeze?” or “when will I feel like getting in the bath?” This activity helps them grasp that things are not quite that predictable.
I often keep these quotes in my folder for a class even if I haven’t built it specifically into the lesson plan for that day -- it is a quick and easy activity to add in if there is extra time (how often does that actually happen??).
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.
TagsChildbirth education Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Stages Of Labor Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Mallory Emerson