Detours from the plan
“How do I help clients to take on board the information about interventions or their labor not going how they had planned. They seem to be thinking ‘I won’t need that’ or ‘that won’t happen to me’ – Karina, New Jersey
A tough one! It is natural for parents not to want to think about things going wrong or not to plan for the unexpected. However, it is one of the challenges of childbirth education to help them address this and identify ways that they could manage any problems that arise.
It really comes down to how you present the information about interventions and problems. There are two fundamental ways to present the information with each sending a very different message.
If you tend to be more of a traditional teacher you may find that you identify the possible problems, interventions or complications. For example, asking the group to list interventions, or describing interventions to them and then showing them how they are used. Parents will often switch off to this sort of information. Looking at an amnihook or a fetal scalp electrode can be very frightening when you are expecting a baby. it also becomes difficult with this teaching style to cover every possible intervention. the biggest problem that we see with this approach is that, while explaining what the intervention is, the client has not gained any real tools or skills in avoiding unnecessary intervention, or understanding how to determine whether something is necessary or not.
A more active approach to teaching looks at this from a different perspective. What is your objective in teaching complications and interventions? Have you identified the learning outcomes you are wanting for the group members? If you want them to be able to describe possible problems and identify ways they could approach those problems and resolve them then you are looking at a decision making process and therefore showing them an amnihook is probably not going to help them. You are looking to make the situation seem realistic and then helping them to identify techniques and strategies for resolving the problems.
Active teaching takes more time to plan, more thought to identify teaching activities and more courage in carrying out. The way the group responds to the activities and the questions they ask are beyond your control. That can be frightening for many teachers. Ultimately though it is infinitely more interesting to the teacher and more worthwhile to the clients.
In the example above, attempting to teach about possible problems and how they can tackle those, you may decide to create scenarios for the group to work through. Teaching them several decision making strategies – tools they can use easily and effectively to work through their options – will be beneficial. Emphasizing that the scenario is unimportant at this stage – it is simply being used to practice using the decision making tools. You cannot practice and discuss every possible scenario that could occur for each group member. However, you can teach them decision making tools that can be used, whatever the problem that arises.
There are many different tools that can be used for decision making. In our course Diploma of Childbirth Education course we cover many of these in greater detail. Doing a search on the internet will also find different techniques. The benefit of this approach is that you are teaching skills for life – not just running through a list of problems for labor. It also encourages a more proactive approach from the parents – this is beneficial to them regardless of the sort of birth experience they are looking for.
The other consideration is your teaching style. Each of us has a different learning/teaching style. In any given group you will have people with different learning styles. What appeals to one person and helps them to “get it” may not appeal to the others. You have probably seen situations, or been in them yourself, where a concept has not been understood and then suddenly, when it is presented in a different way, it is clearly understood. Perhaps you have members of your group who are kinesthetic learners – they need to do it themselves before they understand it. If you are predominantly teaching using a lecture style these people will be unlikely to grasp all the concepts, relate to the information, or even find it interesting enough to focus on. Getting them up and involved though in an activity such as a role play on the cascade of intervention will be of enormous benefit to this group. Having a deep understanding of learning styles and the techniques that work for each different style can truly enhance your teaching.
Finally, how are you evaluating understanding? There is no real way of knowing what is working in your classes and what is not unless you evaluate. That doesn’t simply mean providing a form at the end of the course for feedback on how much people enjoyed your classes. Every single activity that you do should be evaluated by you during the class. For example, if you have just taught a session on the stages of labor, you may get the group to watch a video and identify the stage of labor that the woman is at during different parts of the video. This tells you whether or not they have understood the concepts you have just taught. What activity do you use for evaluating the session on interventions? Once you are evaluating you can see what is and is not working.
How does Childbirth International training address this?
As part of Childbirth International’s childbirth educator training program, we explore a variety of tools that can be taught to parents, helping them to use effective decision making, and improve communication between them and their caregiver.
In order to help you along, Childbirth International provides you with a sample teaching plan for a variety of course structures. Each activity in this plan has been developed with consideration of active teaching skills and providing classes that are relaxed, fun and packed full of great information for expectant parents.
You can use the teaching plan exactly as it stands for your own classes, you can modify it in any way you wish, or you can choose to write your own teaching plan that specifically meets the needs of the client base you will be working with.
Childbirth International is a truly diverse international training organization. With students in 75 countries, from every corner of the globe, we celebrate the differences, similarities and uniqueness of each culture, religion and race. Providing the most comprehensive and flexible training available for birth professionals you can truly make a difference within your community.
Childbirth International offers training programs for Birth Doulas, Postpartum Doulas, Childbirth Educators and Breastfeeding Counselors. We also have an advanced training course available for birth professionals to help you build and grow your business.