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I'm a native of Middle Tennessee and became passionate about childbirth during my second pregnancy, a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). I joined a cesarean awareness and VBAC support group to encourage other mothers about their options and became the co-leader of ICAN of Nashville shortly after. My volunteer work with ICAN inspired me to get certified as a childbirth instructor. I began giving speeches at events and have been invited to talk with community and women's groups. I've been honored to contribute to the training of doulas concerning issues of cesarean prevention and recovery and VBAC as an option in our area. In 2014, I was named to the Board of Directors of ICAN as Vice President and became President in 2016. I thoroughly enjoy spending an evening every week with pregnant couples discussing and preparing for birth! Read an interview with me here.
With the advancement of technology this perfectly normal physiological process is treated as a medical emergnecy. Since most people have only been exposed to childbirth through its dramatization in movies and tv shows, they perceive it as a dangerous life-threatening medical event. These fear-based cultural messages are deeply ingrained in a generation of women and men who are taught not to trust their intuition, much less their own bodies. Childbirth classes are a near prerequisite to getting past our cultural preconceptions about birth.
Absolutely not. Circumstances can shift. The couple planning a totally natural birth may discover that a medical intervention is prudent. The couple expecting to use pain medication may realize that a medical condition precludes them from that option. Even mothers who opt for the pain medication need emotional support. While the classes are unapologetically pro-natural, the information helps all couples stay low-risk, have a healthier baby, mother, and family and an easier recovery. All couples will be faced with decision after decision as they go through the labor process. Information is power, whatever your desired goal.
Independent childbirth courses have the advantage of being smaller and longer. My class usually has four to six couples. These smaller class sizes are less intimidating - encouraging discussion and questions - and allow for some flexibility and tailoring of the content to fit your needs. Whereas hospital classes last about four weeks, my class series is twelve weeks long. The longer length allows for a much more comprehensive examination of the topics and coaching and labor rehearsals that hospital classes just do not have time for. The closeness of my class and the amount of time spent together means that my couples often bond and form their own little support group. There's nothing like having a friend going through the same stages of parenting that you are.
Not necessarily. Though experience has shown that a husband can make an ideal birth coach, it is not required to bring a husband to class. Sometimes a couple is unmarried. Occasionally a husband is unavailable to come to classes. Many women bring a sister, mother, or supportive friend to be their coach. I do highly recommended that whoever is chosen be available to support the mother throughout the pregnancy as well as at the labor and delivery. My only limitation is that the coach not be a pregnant woman herself. In that case, she'd have to register for the classes independently.
I encourage taking the course as early as possible because this provides you with the most time to develop a healthy birth philosophy and make any necessary changes to create a positive perinatal experience. Plan to register sooner rather than later; one of the consequences of a smaller class size is that they fill up quickly! If you haven't gone into labor by the time the series is over, you are more than welcome to continue coming and take the series again as a review, free of charge. Of course, the class Facebook page is also available to anyone who wants to keep brushing up on topics related to pregnancy, childbirth and early newborn care.
While typically the $300 fee is due the first night, if necessary it can be broken up in payments so that it's paid in full by the sixth class. One scholarship per series is available for military families/students/teen parents. Please contact me if you're interested in applying. Couples should not hesitate to discuss their particular needs with me. I want everyone to have the information we cover at their disposal!
Insurance doesn't usually cover childbirth classes, independent or hospital-based, though it doesn't hurt to call and ask them. If you happen to have a medical flexible spending plan, those usually will cover the cost of the class in full. In any case, I will provide you with a receipt suitable for submitting to insurance; doesn't hurt to try!
I do! Couples who have been through my class before can pick a night in the current series to drop in on for $20/class. Maybe you want to go through class 5 and 6 that covers the basics of labor again? Maybe you just want to review the nutrition and exercise info in class 1 and 2? Maybe you want to redo class 7 on your rights and birth plan options? Maybe you want to relive the big labor rehearsals toward the end of the series? It's an a la carte way to refresh your Bradley training before the big day.
"So the question remains. Is childbirth painful? Yes, it can be - along with a thousand amazing sensations for which we have yet to find adequate language. Every birth is different, and every woman's experience and telling of her story will be unique." - Marce Macari