Cooperative Childbirth Education: Class Descriptions

Cooperative Childbirth Education classes in Muskegon

Birth Quest’s fall 2017 and winter 2018 childbirth education classes can be taken a la carte.

Interested in attending childbirth education classes, but don’t have the time to research your options, travel outside of Muskegon or attend a full series?

Busy families like yours want to be able to make the best use of their valuable time when expecting a new addition. That’s why Birth Quest offers a la cart classes so that you can seek out knowledge according to your unique interests and circumstances. I have taught a wide variety of classes privately, in group settings, for non-profit organizations, and as a guest presenter in classrooms. Since 2014, I have taught classes in the following settings (places in italics were as a volunteer):

Please contact me if you would like to host a class!

Are you having trouble deciding which classes to attend? Check out the class descriptions below:

  • Choices in Childbirth: Providers and Settings — Did you know that the choice of where and with whom to give birth best predictor how it will turn out? The purpose of this class is to educate you about all of your choices are so that you can give birth where you feel safest and the most supported.
  • Self-Care for Your Changing Body — This class is for those who are motivated to optimize their health during pregnancy through diet, movement and tending to their emotional needs. Strategies for alleviating common pregnancy discomforts will also be shared.
  • Holistic Pregnancy Care Options — Many families are turning to less invasive and more natural solutions during pregnancy and birth. This class will look at several different complementary and alternative medicine options, along with where to find practitioners in the Muskegon area.
  • Birth Plans: What Parents Need to Know — There sure are a lot of choices to be made when having a baby! You will leave this class confident, knowing what the available research says about birth plans, staff responses and birth outcomes. Parents will be provided with multiple templates for creating a birth plan, as well as advice for forgoing a birth plan altogether. Whatever families decide, they will learn all the key decision-making points from early labor to common newborn procedures and everything in between.
  • Labor & Delivery: Prepared & Informed — Birth is unpredictable, full of unexpected twists and turns, making it something families anticipate with both excitement and apprehension. Highlights of this class include indications for, risks and benefits of and how to prevent common interventions, such as inductions, episiotomy and cesarean. Childbirth education does not guarantee an outcome, but it can lead to empowerment: knowledge is power!
  • Essentials of Labor Support: What Birthing People Need — This class is for the birthing person and whoever they choose to support them during labor and delivery, including spouses, partners, friends and family members. Topics include communication skills, practicing massage comfort techniques and so much more!
  • Pain-Coping Strategies: A Smorgasbord of Options — Pain relief during labor is a primary concern for many pregnant people. Some believe that they must choose between no pain relief or an epidural. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since the days of a one-size-fits-all approach. We will explore a full spectrum of both pharmaceutical and natural ways to lessen and cope with the pain of childbirth.
  • Postpartum Wellness: The Fourth Trimester — This class is focused on the physical and emotional health of parents after a birth. We will cover recovery from a vaginal or a cesarean birth, movement, nutrition and mental health with lots of resources for further exploration. This class is appropriate for any expectant or new parent.
  • Newborn Care — Babies aren’t born with an instruction manual, but the good news is that you are the expert on caring for your baby! We will cover what to expect from newborns in terms of appearance and behavior, as well as bonding, development, diapering, bathing, safe sleep and more!
  • Breastfeed Successfully with Knowledge & Support — This class is for anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of breastfeeding how it works, and how to avoid common pitfalls, as well as community resources to support breastfeeding families.
  • Childbirth After Cesarean: Making Informed Decisions — With about 1/3 of West Michigan moms delivering their babies via cesarean, many are faced with limited future childbearing options. This class seeks to inform and empower families before and during pregnancy to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
  • Introduction to Birth Work: Doulas & Childbirth Educators — This class explains possible career paths for doulas and childbirth educators, what they do and how they positively impact birth outcomes. The presentation concludes with a sample childbirth education class.

You can find out about upcoming classes on my calendar or under “events” on Birth Quest’s Facebook page.

Classes can be tailored to suit the needs of any setting or population, like youth, maternal and infant health professionals, homeless shelters, or places of worship. Presentations can also be developed to cover other specific topics, like pregnancy complications, anger management during pregnancy, substance abuse prevention or parenting. What topics would you like to see Birth Quest offer?

Muskegon: Not the Worst Place on the Planet to Have a Baby

HCC PMD support group perinatal mood disorders provider list

When I found out the Postpartum Support International (PSI) Conference was being held in MI this year, come heck or high water, I was going to find a way to get there.  And I did.  With my 10-mo.-old daughter in tow, I headed to Plymouth at 5 AM on Friday, June 26 for two days of learning, friendship and amazing food.  Everyone kept commenting on how well-behaved my baby was, but imagine being surrounded by hundreds of baby-loving therapists and other providers who have dedicated their careers to serving new parents.  Yes, it was baby and momma heaven!

Living in a small city like Muskegon, it’s easy feel a sense of hopelessness around our birthing options.  We have a hospital monopoly with religious restrictions that limit some women’s reproductive health choices.  Both Hackley and North Ottawa Community Hospital (NOCH) have bans on VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesareans.  Lack of resources and insurance reimbursement limit the options of many families.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Planting seeds of hope” and I have to say that I feel renewed gratitude for all West Michigan has to offer childbearing women.  I first had this feeling in a workshop on skin-to-skin after cesarean.  As workshop participants shared strategies to implement this at their local hospitals, I thought, “Really?  This is standard practice at my area hospitals.”  I’m sure there is room for improvement, but this is one battle I haven’t had to fight.

One of the keynotes and a break-out session I attended were presented by the Mother Baby partial hospitalization program at Pine Rest.  Thanks to pioneers like Nancy Roberts, who received a standing ovation when accepting the Ilyene Barsky Memorial Award for outstanding PSI coordinator, West Michigan stands out as leaders in collaboration for developing resources for postpartum depression and anxiety disorders! Our local Lakeshore Perinatal Mood Disorders Coalition (LPMDC) has helped to create support groups at Hackley Community Care, NOCH and in Zeeland, as well as a list of trained providers.

Thank you PSI and the hardworking LPMDC members for providing hope and healing to so many!

North Ottawa Community Hospital

Questions and Answers from NOCH Hospital Tour with Laura on 2-24-14 

Classes and Other Support Services

Does the hospital offer classes in childbirth education? Newborn care? Breastfeeding? Postpartum adjustment?

Laura teaches childbirth preparation. She is trained through Prepared Childbirth Educators.  She teaches a 3 class (2 ½ hours per class – 7 ½ hours total) series and an all day (9 AM – 4 PM) Saturday class.  They have a breastfeeding support group that meets 2x/mo.  They also have infant/child CPR, Postpartum adjustment group, a refresher class, and a sibling class.  They do not have any IBCLCs, but Laurie McCabe is their certified breastfeeding counselor who teaches their breastfeeding preparation and breastfeeding and beyond classes.

Care During labor and birth – Organization of Care

Is there a birth center in the hospital? How does care in the birth center differ from “regular” hospital labor and delivery care?

 There is a separate area within the hospital that is for labor and delivery. It was private and when I was there at least, very quiet.  The nurses do work 12-hr shifts, so you may have the same nurse for your entire stay (depending on how long you are there).  They also strive for one-on-one care, when possible, so moms get a lot of personalized attention.

Would I labor and give birth in one room, or would I be required to move just before the birth? Would I stay in the same room after I give birth?

Women deliver and recover in the same room. There is an operating room on the unit just for c-sections.

Care during labor and birth – companions

Do you have any policies that limit the number of people who may be with me during labor and birth? Can the baby’s siblings be present?  Is there an age restriction?

I didn’t ask and it didn’t come up.

Do you have experience with trained labor support (doulas) during labor and birth? Do you encourage use of doula care?

Laura said they see a doula at a birth about every four months or so.

Care During Labor and Birth – interventions

Do you monitor the well-being of the baby during labor? Do you use occasional or continuous electronic fetal monitoring?  Is a Doppler or fetoscope an option?

It’s up to the provider and really depends on how well the baby is doing. They do use the wireless, which can pick up the heartbeat at long distances (mom can walk the perimeter of the ward without a problem) and are waterproof.

What are your usual policies and practices about:

  •  IVs in labor

I didn’t ask and it didn’t come up.

  • Freedom to be active and move about in labor

This is very much supported. They have three sizes of birth balls that Laura described using in a variety of ways.  As mentioned before, moms are encouraged to walk, as well.

  • Eating and drinking in labor

Laura said that it’s up to the provider, but they have juice, jello and other “clear fluids” on hand.

  • Positions for birth

She described many different births using the stool, squat bar and hands and knees. Hands and knees and the stool seemed to be her favorite.  She said she sees more intact perineums with the stool, too.

What is the usual care if a labor is progressing slowly?

If a mom comes in, she is monitored for two hours. If, during that time, there is no cervical change, they will send her home.  Laura encouraged labor support people or moms themselves to call the hospital to inform staff of their progress.  She said to just call straight to labor and delivery.  She said that 4-1-1 is the rule: contractions four minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, continuing for at least an hour, but it’s usually OK to wait a little longer.

What percent of the time do women giving birth here get an episiotomy?

She had stats, but didn’t want to give them out without asking permission first.

Care during labor and birth – help with pain

How would you recommend that I prepare for managing pain during labor and birth?

I didn’t ask this question, but they do have a high percentage of parents that attend their childbirth preparation classes.

What drug-free measures for pain relief are available in this hospital?

They have birth balls, as mentioned above. For comfort, they are cool with aromatherapy and have a CD player families can use.  Their Jacuzzi can be used for pain relief, but there isn’t enough space to deliver in there.  Some of the providers are pushing for a portable birth tubs, but it is still uncertain.

What would happen if I decided that I wanted an epidural?

I didn’t ask this question.

Are other pain medications an option?

I didn’t ask this question.

Care during labor and birth – complications

What percentage of women who give birth here have cesarean sections?

She had stats, but had to ask permission before disseminating. She did say their overall c-section rate was lower than the national average and primary c-section rate was only 19%.

Are there any situations (such as cesareans or other procedures, tests, treatments) that would require me to be separated from my partner and/or doula during labor or birth?

Only 1 person is allowed to be in with the mom during a cesarean.

Postpartum and newborn care

What newborn care is routinely provided or offered if a baby is healthy?

Hep B shot, Vit K shot and Erythromycin eye drops. Baby is weighed and measured.

Would my baby be separated from me immediately or shortly after birth? For what purpose and how long?

Early skin-to-skin is encouraged. Most procedures take but a few minutes to complete.  The baby can stay with mom until she’s ready to hand him/her off and then he/she can go back to her quickly afterward.

Are there any policies regarding use of hospital nursery care by healthy newborns? Do you have a “rooming in” option, where my baby could stay in the room with me instead of being cared for in the nursery?

I didn’t ask this question.

Is there a newborn intensive care unit on site? Is there any situation in which my baby would need to be transferred to another facility?

There is no NICU on site.

What breastfeeding resources are available? Does the hospital have a lactation consultant on staff?  How would I ensure that my breastfed baby would not be given bottles of water or formula?  Do you pass out formula samples?

They have a certified breastfeeding counselor, Laurie McCabe, who serves all of their patients, but most staff nurses have some training. There are no IBCLCs on staff.

Could my partner stay with me throughout my stay after the baby is born? What accommodations are available?

The rooms have a pull out love seat that looks pretty comfortable.

Leaving the hospital

How long do women usually stay after a vaginal birth? Are shorter or longer stays acceptable to the staff?

I didn’t ask this question.

What follow-up care would you provide after I go home? Does the hospital have a nurse available for home visits?  Do you provide information or give breastfeeding or emotional support over the phone?

About 45% or more of the moms who deliver there have a positive perinatal risk assessment screen. Laura attributes this to the very personalized care she gives and the multiple contacts which build trust with moms to be honest about their experience.  They have a support group for postpartum adjustment and are dedicated to providing emotional support.