Posts Tagged ‘Childbirth Education’

Choosing A Childbirth Education Class

October 18, 2013

Choosing a Childbirth Education Class

by Wendy Ledesma

Last night Choices in Childbirth hosted an evening of inspiring birth stories and dynamic presentations for this month’s Healthy Birth Choices Workshop: Choosing a Childbirth Education Class. 

Birth Stories

Mandy and Tim shared the story of their son’s birth, which took place at home with the support of a midwife, doula, and Mandy’s mother. Mandy worked hard with contractions coming about 3 minutes apart through more than 20 hours of labor, tackling the challenge of birthing a baby turned in a posterior position. She shared with the many workshop participants that the theme of her birth was “tub heaven,” since the birth tub brought her the most pain relief. Mandy and Tim shared that the Bradley Method childbirth education class they took to prepare for birth taught them helpful techniques for managing labor, including back massage and optimal positioning for labor and birth.

Heather was also present to share the story of her baby’s birth. She had read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and knew that she wanted a natural childbirth for her baby. With the support of her husband and a doula to serve as her advocate, Heather labored at home long enough that when she arrived at the hospital she was already fully dilated and ready to birth her baby. She shared that having a strong birth team, which also included a Hypnobirthing teacher, was crucial in providing her with the support she needed. The private Hypnobirthing classes she took at home provided her with tools for deep meditation as she turned inward during labor, which brought her amazing rest between contractions.



Following the telling of birth stories, three very smart, highly experienced childbirth educators offered a sample of their approach to childbirth education.

Bonu deCaires, DONA certified labor doula and childbirth educator, certified through the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York (CEA/MNY) was fabulous, offering a chock-full-o-info labor positions exercise that got participants on their feet and practicing movements for managing labor.

For more information about Bonu deCaires, visit:; for more information about CEA, visit

Allison Walsh, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant presented a Lamaze Collaborative Communications piece around a hypothetical induction, which addressed the first of six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, “Let labor begin on its own.” She suggested that participants remember the acronym BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, and Nothing) to drive conversations with care providers when medical interventions are suggested. Allison emphasized what a wealth of research-based info Lamaze makes available to us all.

For more information about Lamaze, visit

Finally, Chanti Joy Smith, Certified Professional Midwife, Hypnobirthing instructor, and all-around amazingly experienced holistic birth guru, offered a lovely rainbow relaxation exercise and talked about Hypnobirthing. She got a bit short-changed on time, but the feedback in the room was super positive about experiencing Hypnobirthing.

For more information about Chanti, visit:; for more about hypnobirthing, visit

THEN, no one wanted to leave, Choices in Childbirth staff included. Tim (storytelling home birth dad) lead an informal and highly animated men’s group in one corner while the rest of us chatted on and on. The people I spoke with sure seemed to get a lot out of the evening.

Thank you to the 14th St. Y for donating space for the workshop; thank you to Mary Esther Malloy, fabulous Bradley Method childbirth educator and doula for facilitating the meeting (to learn more, visit: and; and a huge thank you to our eager, enthusiastic workshop participants. What a great night!


Thank you to our guest blogger, Wendy Ledesma, a mother, a doula and CiC’s Healthy Birth Choices Workshops Coordinator. To learn more about Wendy, visit her profile on CiC’s Mother-Friendly Provider Network –





Riding the Waves for a Great Hospital Birth

December 10, 2012
Elizabeth and Anjali (photo credit Nicole Heidbreder)

Elizabeth and Anjali (photo credit Nicole Heidbreder)

CIC’s most recent Healthy Birth Choices Workshop was on a popular topic which resonates with almost all expectant parents. With the vast majority of births across the US taking place in hospitals, how can we set ourselves up to have the birth experience we want? We are grateful to have been joined by midwife Katherine Roeltgen CNM, as well as new moms Sonia, Casey and Emma, who shared their experience giving birth in three NYC hospitals.

Sonia had originally considered planning a cesarean section and been afraid of the birth process. Through reading, conversations with others and Bradley childbirth education classes, however, her approach changed. She gained confidence in her body and came to realize she wanted an active, natural birth. When conversations with her OB made it increasingly evident that they were not on the same page, she knew something had to change. 28 weeks pregnant, she switched to midwifery care at an in-hospital birth center.

As they lived an hour and a half’s drive from the hospital, they planned to check into a nearby hotel in order to labor in privacy as long as possible. Her baby, however, had other plans. Sonia felt contractions begin around 1am. Over the next few hours they grew closer and by 5am were feeling quite intense. She followed her midwife’s and doula’s advice to have a glass of wine, soak in the tub and try to sleep as much as possible, but suspected her labor was progressing faster than they realized. Laboring in bed, in the tub and on her birth ball, she found comfort in moaning as she worked through contractions.  The glass of wine “was like an aspirin”, she told us, raving about how effectively it numbed the intensity of the pain. Her doula’s back massage felt “like the most amazing thing in the world”. By 7am, her body was bearing down during contractions. She didn’t realize she was pushing, but was fairly certain she wouldn’t be going to the hotel. Later, she experienced a strong urge to push, and felt her waters bulge and then burst. With their doula’s help, they realized it was time to leave for the hospital. Sonia arrived fully dilated and pushing. With her midwife, doula and husband at her side and encouraging her to push her baby “through the door”, she gave birth to her son just 30 minutes later.


Lessons in Childbirth Education

July 6, 2012

Thank you again to Milon Nagi – writer, blogger, workshop facilitator and overall awesome volunteer for Choices in Childbirth!

At our latest Healthy Birth Choices workshop, three sets of new parents shared their experience of Childbirth Education and spoke of how their classes prepared them for labor and birth. Shara Frederick, doula and childbirth educator, gave us an introduction to some of the main schools of childbirth education – Lamaze, Bradley, CEAMNY and Birthing From Within. While the various schools have individual approaches, all are grounded in the idea that birth is a normal physiological process.  All aim to educate expectant parents about this process and help them prepare for their own experience of childbirth. We were also joined by Dr Charles Swencionis, psychologist and Hypnobirthing instructor, who led us through a sample self-hypnosis exercise. Hypnobirthing particularly emphasizes learning to relax and decondition from fear, he told us. Fear causes tension, which causes pain. If we can relax it can ease some of the physical sources of pain in childbirth.

Michelle was planning a home birth in Queens, but, on her midwife’s recommendation, she and her husband decided to take a Home Birth class based in Brooklyn. “It was good to be among others who were also preparing for home birth and who weren’t weirded out by it”, she said. They found their classmates had interesting perspectives and questions they themselves may not have thought of. The class gave her husband “the bullet points” of what to expect and helped him feel more comfortable with them. He felt the class brought him a kind of confidence about birth that he did not get from reading books.  Once the time arrived, he said, “I just felt like we kind of had this.”