The Electronic Age

We’ve been having problems with our daily newspaper delivery, so in frustration, I quit our home delivery. Instead, we now subscribe to an e-version of our local paper. It is amazing to see the entire paper there on my computer screen, color comics and all. It took a few minutes to figure out the navigation and how to print a recipe, but I did it. Computers and especially the Internet are changing our lives in unexpected ways.

As a childbirth educator, it is important to think about how we need to change in order to meet the needs of today’s young parents. You will never convince me that they don’t need or want in-person childbirth education classes in addition to what they can find on the Web. You can develop community online. But browsing the Web tends to be a solitary activity. In order to get the pregnant woman and her partner focusing on the pregnancy and birth at the same time, nothing beats having them attend an in-person class together. Early in pregnancy, many couples are feeling overwhelmed. In addition to traditional topics such as nutrition, exercise, and fetal development, an early pregnancy class that includes recommendations on how to find accurate information and resources on the Web may be appealing to many. Once you get them to class, focus on thoughtful discussions and sharing that take place more easily in a group setting. Most men are relieved to learn that the their partners’ emotional swings are normal. Participating in a group discussion about how their partners have changed during the pregnancy provides both men (especially) and women with support and reassurance that many will not find on the Web.

For pregnant women, in-person prenatal yoga, exercise, and movement classes are popular. Movement classes? One educator teaches in a “movement” class some yoga, some prenatal exercise, some belly dancing. These classes teach skills, but also provide support as pregnant women gather together on a regular basis. Women who get in touch with their bodies tend to gain confidence in their bodies – an important factor for preparing for birth. To learn more: Lamaze offers a new two-day yoga workshop for childbirth educators and ICEA certifies perinatal fitness educators.

Another class that quickly comes to mind is a comfort measures or labor skills class. Some people can learn a pelvic tilt online, but others need the teacher’s hand to guide the movement of the hips. Couples can learn about labor and birth online, but can be encouraged to attend an in-person class to practice skills that increase comfort and progress during labor.

As childbirth education evolves in response to the electronic age, we will find new ways and class formats to teach expectant parents. It is challenging to change, but also exciting and rewarding. With the explosion of information available on the Web, many women are questioning a high-tech approach to pregnancy and birth. Childbirth educators have an invaluable role to play in increasing women’s confidence in their ability to give birth and in providing them with the information, resources, and skills to give birth in the safest way possible – both on the Web and in group classes.

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