Rethinking Childbirth Education

Rethinking Childbirth Education

Why is change so hard?

It is a question I often ask myself, but I guess if I were to answer my own question I would have to say it is because we like the familiar. The things we are used to, things that we have become comfortable with. To make a change requires use to enter into the uncomfortable ZONE. It requires us to step out and do something different then what we have done before.
I entered the birth arena as a Certified Childbirth Assistant, the year before DONA became an entity. After a year or two of working with laboring patients I decided to become a Certified Childbirth Educator. I embarked on teaching basic female anatomy, stages and phases of labor, showing the “birth” video that made some partners cringe, and much more over a 12 week period. I was the pregnant couple’s lighthouse into understanding and learning about birth. The internet didn’t even exist.
Most educators that have been teaching 10 or more years can say they have seen a decline in attendance to childbirth classes. Today’s pregnant mamas are years ahead in technology then where I was when I was pregnant (1989) and a good number spend a lot of time educating themselves during their ten month growing period .
Some professionals feel that the decline in traditional class attendance is due to the vast amount of information that can be found by other modes. I taught for 14 years at a major hospital and I can still hear my manager’s voice. “What can we teach them that they can’t read in a book or get off the internet?” My answer always was “We may not be able to teach anything new, but as the experts we can make sure they have accurate information and that their personal questions are answered.”
I believe we always will have some form of classes but feel we are moving into a time that demands a more personalized form of childbirth education. Ponder the thought of merging the profession of childbirth educator with the doula. Many of us have been doing this for some time. It really goes hand in hand. I call this “merge” the Childbirth Consultant. Our world is always changing, but the process of giving birth never changes. How we educated and impart information may change, but what they need to know never changes.

Kathy Bradley has been involved with perinatal education and health care since 1989. Her focus over the years has been providing education and support to women of all income levels. As the founder and executive director of the former Childbirth Enhancement Foundation, she developed partnerships and training programs for community based doula programs with 14 hospitals. She managed a $350,000 grant to provide low-income women childbirth education, doula and lactation support services in Santa Fe, NM. She is owner of Childbirth Concierge and holds a degree in Communication and Public Relations.

Breastfeeding…The Organic Way to Feed Baby

Breastfeeding…The Organic Way to Feed Baby

Breastfeeding-Feed Your Baby Organic

We all have heard that breastfeeding your baby is best! But did you know that breastmilk offers 100% of what your baby needs, and that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life?
The benefits for babies that get their mom’s milk include, higher IQs, reduction in childhood cancers, obesity, diabetes, ear infections, and access to the mother immunities to mention a few. The benefits don’t stop for the baby but are extended to their moms as well including reduction in weight loss gained during pregnancy, female cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis and many more.

Do you know what the number one reason women give up breast feeding?
A) Lack of support
B) Too painful
C) They don’t believe they have enough milk

Most people think that the answer is “B-Too much pain” but the actual answer is “C- They don’t believe they have enough milk for baby”.
One of the most beneficial things you can do is go to a class and learn HOW to tell baby is getting. For the new parents it is pretty easy and doesn’t require a medical degree. You simply need to count the number of wet and dirty (urine and stool) diapers in a 24 hour period, and make sure it is the minimum number accepted for the age of your new baby. For example a 7 day old baby should have 6-8 wet diapers and 3-6 poop/dirty diapers. The basic concept is if breast milk is going in then there will be output in the diapers. kellymom.com is an excellent evidence based website for breastfeeding information.
Just as your body is designed to grow your baby and give birth, your body is designed to make and provide for your baby. Breastfeeding is the natural and most healthy way to feed your baby. The more milk that is removed from the breast the more milk the breast will produce. Getting support for family members is shown to help the breastfeeding relationship last longer. Also consider who you get information from (is it trusted and evidence based) and surround yourself with friends who have successfully breastfed their babies.
Many women accept that breastfeeding will be painful, but this is a misconception. Breastfeeding should not be painful to the point where you are crying, or dreading the next feeding. It is not normal for your nipples to be cracked and bleeding. If you experience pain or have concerns, getting the correct help from a lactation professional is crucial in helping you turn the situation around. Your hospital will provide breastfeeding help while you are there, and most offer outpatient services once you’re discharged. Also check with your pediatric office to see who they recommend. Some Board Certified Lactation Consults offer home visits, which are nice as they can help you in the comfort of your home where you are nursing all the time.
In January 2013 our current governmental administration mandated that insurance companies provide for lactation consults and pumping supplies. You are encouraged to call your insurance provider while pregnant to see what they exactly provide. If you are planning to return to work and will be pumping it is important to invest in a good pump. Poorly performing equipment can result in poor milk removal. So this is one area where better equipment is worth it.
Price ranges to expect in the Orlando are:
Office Consults range from $75-$120
Home Visits $120-$175
Double Pump Equipment (recommended for those returning to work) $180-$395

Key points to know:
Breastfeeding is normal and the perfect food for baby, water supplementation is not needed
Breastfeeding should NOT be painful
Milk removal (either by baby or pump) equals milk production “DEMAND & SUPPLY”
Know your baby’s diaper output to make sure it is enough
Know where to call or go for help

Should I go to a Childbirth Class?

Should I go to a Childbirth Class?

Childbirth Classes

Often times I hear pregnant moms say “I don’t need to go to childbirth class I am going to use an epidural” and it is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about childbirth class that exist. Before the electronic era and wide spread use of pain medication for pain control, the common way expectant parents could learn about what was going to happen to them during birth was to attend a childbirth class. Over the years the childbirth education classes have seen a decline in attendance, yet a lot of people spend more time and resources researching how to remodel a bathroom or kitchen than learning about bringing a baby into the world.
Today offers a lot more options. With YouTube and the internet, one doesn’t even need to leave their home or put down their hand held device to get advice and information on giving birth. And it is true that babies will come into this world without their parents taking a class on “childbirth”, after all childbirth classes didn’t exist 100 plus years ago as we know them and babies still arrived. Fast forward to a very busy society where 80% to 90% of laboring patients use epidural and c-section rates are the highest they have ever been across the United States.
Learning from a childbirth expert what you can do to increase your chances of a positive birth experience is worth your time and money. Most hospitals offer some type of class, but it is also very popular to see other classes offered in the community. For those with busy schedules, private classes are the perfect option and are not as expensive as you might think. Most classes whether group or private should cover basic items like when to go to the hospital or birth center, stages and phases of labor, basic terminology, comfort measures, partner tips, interventions. Some classes include newborn care and breastfeeding. The hot topics usually are pain medications. In my 24 years of experience there are generally three types of thinking when approaching pain control;
1. I definitely want an epidural.
2. I will wait and see if I need one.
3. No thank you, I do not want one.
There is no right or wrong answer, only you can decide, but I also encourage you to stay open about options. For example if you are planning on an epidural learning about when the ideal time is  to get an epidural can help you to decrease your chances of a C-section. Most moms don’t realize that the number one way to decrease their chances of a C-section is to wait until active labor to come to the hospital. We call this the 511 rule – contractions at least 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long, for at least 1 hour. Also using a peanut ball decreases chances of surgery as well.
If you are planning on not having an epidural, have you thought about what it takes? Do you have good labor support? Have you thought about hiring a doula? Key to laboring without an epidural is movement, use of hydro therapy, access to many comfort measures, and understanding all the ins and outs of labor. Do you understand when an epidural can be beneficial? Yes, even for those “natural” mamas, sometimes interventions can be helpful in unique situations. Being prepared and not afraid makes a world of difference.
Birth planning and birth itself is not 100% black and white. The more you are educated and understand the value in good communication with your nurses, midwives and doctors the more satisfied you will be even if the need arises for a C-section.
Your childbirth educator is the expert that you can ask all kinds of questions to and bounce things off that you have read or heard.
It’s is your birth, and education is key!

Orlando classes clic here

Virtual Classes email kathy@childbirthconcierge.com

Kathy Bradley, CD, ICCE, IBCLC has been in the Maternal Health field for 29 years and has taught countess families.  She taught for 14 years as the 2nd largest volume hospital in the US, located in Orlando.

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Feel Like the Best!

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Feel Like the Best!


Not all women enjoy breastfeeding! There I said it and as much as I wish it were not true, it is! As an IBCLC I have had many women over the last 25 years confide in me that they were feeding their baby breastmilk because they knew it was the best nutrition for baby but deep inside they really didn’t enjoy it.

Our media has done a great job in creating the facade of the perfect wedding, the perfect pregnancy and the perfect baby. No doubt most Americans now understand that breastmilk is the perfect nutrition for baby, but some mom struggle with feeling like the perfect mom when they really are frustrated at times with breastfeeding. Whew that is a lot of “PERFECTS”! What does perfect really look like anyway?

If you happen to fit the above mentioned description, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. With that exhale and release all the guilt that has been eating you alive. There is no perfect breastfeeding “feeling”. True there are some moms that absolutely love breastfeeding, and that mom might be your best friend, but don’t compare yourself. Pat yourself on the back that you have made it this far…motherhood is not for the weary. Studies show that a baby that receives his mother’s milk just one time out performs, so to speak, a baby the never received his moms milk but got formula.

So for all you moms out there that at times feel like giving up, I say “welcome to the world of motherhood, where you will spend the next 18 years wondering what you were thinking when you had this baby and at the same time find it impossible to imagine life with out him.

Doulas- Why Such a Wide Ranges of Prices?

Doulas- Why Such a Wide Ranges of Prices?


I remember being so excited receiving my first check as a doula, known back then as a childbirth assistant. It was 1990 and in the previous years of “doing this work” the word doula wasn’t even in my vocabulary. During my training I was willing to pay someone to let me be by their side. Over the years and as I gained more experience my fees increased. To hear some say that doula services run $2,000.00-$3,000 in New York or California blows my mind. That’s along way from my mere $150.00 from my first official paid client in Florida.

For someone who has spent years training and developing people in this profession, the growth is exciting! And as with growth comes growing pains. Part of the pain is deciding what is a fare price in today’s market. Many factors go into setting a service fee; what one will provide, average time spent with a client in order to gauge an hourly wage, experience and skill level, as well as what the market will bare.

I consider myself old-fashion when it comes to some things, and I still believe in tenure. Not that long ago it was considered noble to spend many years with a company. Loyalty was rewarded with financial gain and title. It was expected that you put your hours in and did the time to earn experience and respect, it wasn’t given over night. Today it seems common for young professionals to jockey around from company to company, and there seems to be a lot of “I don’t really want to work hard but I want a pay check” mentality! I am always internally challenged when I see a new doula charging more than I do with 29 yrs under my belt. I hold the belief, whether right or not, that I would rather be busier and serve more women than price myself so high that I only work every now and then.

So what is the correct fee for a doula to charge? Since we still live in the land of the free and where free commerce is alive and well, the answer is; there is no correct answer. It boils down to this, in my opinion, it is what you are willing to pay is what you WILL pay. One thing to consider is that when you are hiring a doula you in essence are hiring her years experience and her ability to articulate that past experience appropriately during her work with you.

I have seen many new trainees that naturally have “it” and instinctively are supportive, they just simply lack the years experience of working in different settings, with different birth situations, and interacting with medical personal among many things. I always say if you can not afford a certified doula, a student with a good training is still supportive.

Here are some primary things to consider and words of wisdom before hiring a doula service:
1. First and foremost do your homework about this person or company.
2. Do they come highly recommended?
3. Always interview whether in person, phone or virtually.
4. Compare the fees of other doula and their experience.
5. Does this doula have a specialty?

Lastly, trust your gut intuition, it never fails you. If you feel comfortable and relieved to have this doula work with you then go for it after all it is your birth, and you know what you are willing to pay~