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Being dynamic, energetic and fun requires ideas!

If you  have an idea to share and we publish it, you will get a complimentary copy of Staying Energized! Submit online below.


Epidural Roleplay

Janice Banther shares an excellent idea on using pieces of rope/string, a straw and tape to explain an epidual. 


Great visual for delayed cord clamping

Penny effectively demonstrates the benefits of delayed cord clamping!


Reinforcing a brainstorming session

Often, when you have a group brainstorm words/ideas, they get listed on a piece of flip chart paper and hung on the wall.  At the end of class, the paper gets wadded up and thrown out.  Here's a way to capture and keep that work.  
 During a break, go to tagxedo or another word cloud site and type in the words, create a word cloud and send it to their email addresses or embed it into to your post-class newsletter.  I took a recent brainstorm list of the qualities of a great childbirth educator and made the one in this table. 
Have fun!  


DIY Baby Blockhead Visual Aid
Submitted by Loree Scheyll
This tool can be used to show the cardinal movements - how the baby turns as he moves through the pelvis. Loree writes: I've been meaning to share my ultra cheap baby blockheads.  I bought a bunch of the oblong Kleenex boxes at Target on sale post Christmas.  Then, using a popsicle sticks, Easter eggs,  baby socks from the Dollar store and a couple of eyes, put them together using rubber bands. I think I spent maybe $2 each.  My hope is to find a diagram of the pelvis that I can print up and then attach to the box hopefully cutting out the bowl part of the pelvis to increase visibility inside.  One woman who I did a private 6 hour series for LOVED the model.  I met with her  over 2  Saturdays and she wanted to see it and play with it right away on the second Saturday - she needed to understand how the baby rotates!


Teri's note:  you can get custom printed Kleenex boxes.  Let me know if anyone prints one with a picture of the pelvis! 

My Kleenex tissue


After the Baby
Submitted by Stacie Bingham
I love The Official Lamaze Guide, I wish every couple would read it.  I take this activity right out of the book (page 215).  The 5th class in my series of 6 is the postpartum/breastfeeding/what-happens-after-baby class.  I pass around 6 pieces of paper at the end of class 5.  They are titled:  How will you...share your feelings, eat well, try to rest, do something for yourself, relax your expectations, and finally, release your emotions.  I ask each participant to list a way he or she can meet this personal need after the baby comes.  For example, under "try to rest," some past suggestions have been, "nap when baby does," "accept help with anything and have a rest," "try not to schedule too many activities right away," "read, drink tea, shower, ask for help from others to do so."  For "share your feelings," some suggestions have been, "write each other love notes," "get baby and partner and go for a walk and talk honestly about how you feel," "do yoga, dance, have dinner together."  We don't share these the night of class 5.  Instead, I take them home, type them all up together, and send everyone home with the ideas THEY came up with (and on the paper, I let them know all of these ideas were thought of BY THEM).  Because they did the brainstorming, they have more of an idea of what will work for them individually.  There is also a direct, "How does this apply to me?" factor. 


Homework - eye opening
Submitted by Jessica Koester!!

From an email she sent:

I am really enjoying teaching-the classes are actually fun! I wanted to share a very poignant moment in one of our classes. I had printed out many of the research summaries and put them in a binder, for homework the couples were taking the binder home and marking 3 studies that really surprised them-this was an opener for an evidence-based care discussion.  Well one of the dads-to-be asked: "Why are so many of these things still being done?"  This led to a great spontaneous discussion on how changes in childbirth have been consumer-driven and ended with the realization:that whatever we must demand today, may be granted to our daughters.


You Don't Say
Submitted by Sharon Muza

This could be used as a warm-up or a review or something to have on the break table!  Sharon and friends have created a set of cards similar to Taboo but due to copyright etc we will call this "You Don't Say"   In a colored section is a word that is the word you are going to try to get your partner to say.  Under this section are words that you are not allowed to say in your attempt to get your partner to say it.  

Need a few examples?

  • RELAXATION (don't use massage, tense, muscle)
  • OXYTOCIN (don't use uterus, contraction, hormone) 
  • CROWNING (don't use stretch, burn, head)  
  • RUPTURE OF MEMBRANES (don't use amniotic, water, bag)
Have fun!  I think I will make some sets for the Lamaze conference!


Submitted by Christi Jones
Here is one that is super fun for the partners/dads.  We have strips of paper with one sign of TRANSITION on each one that we pass out to all the moms.  Each mom gets one or two depending on the class size. Then the partners/dads are all up in front.   While each mom calls out a sign (shaking, vomiting, urge to push, hot and cold flashes, etc.),  all the partners/dads have to act them out.  But the trick is they have to add each sign to the ones they were previously doing.  So by the end all the partners/dads are up there acting out Transition.  It is hilarious and they never forget it when they see the signs of transition during labor.


Word Association
Submitted by Jessica Koester

What I do, is hand out index cards and pens and have them number them 1-10. I ask that they write the first word(s) that comes to mind. This is my list that I read off (any 10 neutral terms will do):

1. Birth stories
2. Contraction
3. Doctor
4. Estimated Due Date
5. Labor
6. 41wks 1 day
7. Hospital
8. Push
9. 8lbs
10. Postpartum

We then go around and everyone reads out their list. There's often a lot of laughter as people share similar answers and/or Mom and Dads lists differ. 

(Most common responses are: scary, ouch, lab coat, ultrasound, pain, too long, illness, hard, too big, depression)

This is the lead in to a discussion on why we're so afraid and have such little confidence and followed by tips on how to change their perception/attitude. (I've got a big ole' acronym for that but will spare you the details :) )


Summer Fun & Pregnancy
Submitted by Margaret Martin
Pass around a small picnic basket and have each mom and partner take one item. Each colorful, summer item will have a question typed out and taped on it. They will discuss it as a couple. Then have each couple share their solutions. Have the class add any ideas. Then the childbirth educator can add any information she would like covered.

ITEMS                    QUESTION
1. Frisbee -  "Why is exercise important? What exercises  can be done during hot weather?"
2. Squirt Gun - "What is the importance of drinking fluids and how much is needed?"
3. Pair of Flip Flops - "Do you feel attractive? Give 2 tips to improve belief about appearance during pregnancy?"
4. Paper Plate - "Why is it important to eat healthy? What are some fun summer foods?"
5. Cocktail glass - "Why is alcohol to be avoided during pregnancy? What are fun drinks to replace that margarita on your vacation?"
6. Child's Bug Catching Kit - "What really bugs you about pregnancy and how can you cope with it?"
7. BBQ Grill Spatula - "Why are pregnant women told to TURN on their sides when lying down? Are there other helpful positions during pregnancy?"
8. A Map - "What are some suggestions for keeping travel safe and fun when pregnant?"
9. Child's Colorful Pinwheel - "What is a negative thought about pregnancy or birth that you are dealing with? How can you TURN that into positive?"
10. Ice Cube Tray - "What are some tips to stay cool this summer?"


Belly up to the B.A.R.
I have adapted this from a couple course designs that have been submitted. 
With sheets of newsprint posted around the room, write a medical intervention on each one.  In large letters write B - A - R.  Also have resource books available at each sheet or an easy to reach spot in the room (recommended:  The Family Way Prepared Childbirth, The Official Lamaze Guide, Penny Simkin's Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn and more!)  In small teams of at least two, each with a distinct marker color, they move from newsprint to newsprint and at each stop they have to write something in the B or A or R column related to that intervention:  B = Benefit, A = Alternative, and R = Risk.  I bought the theme song to "Rawhide" as western "bar" music.  After they have filled in all the charts, review as a group and fill in any gaps and correct any wrong info.  One version is to give a gold bar candy to the team with the most entries.


 Rights of Childbearing Women Bingo

This idea has been used in a couple of the Course Designs too! I think it's a great idea.  The educators have made special BINGO cards and in each square is an aspect of The Rights of Childbearing Women!  It's played like regular Bingo and when one educator had a winner, what was the prize?  A copy of the brochure!  The can be ordered from or printed from a free pdf at: childbirthconnection.com



 Hormone Web

This  activity was submitted by Bonny Reid, a PfB alumni.  Thank you Bonny!  You can also send me ( teri ) an email and I will send you the pdf to make the cards and the reference chart!
Time: 10 minutes
•    Whiteboard/dry erase markers
•    Hormone Cards - separate card for each hormone and related role(s) in labor (see appendix)
•    Masking tape
•    Ball of yarn
•    Scissors
•    Hormones of labor
•    Emotions of labor
•    Care practice #1: Labor begins on its own
•    Care practice #4: No routine interventions

Process:  The instructor will…

(Following the discussion question about what initiates labor and brief discussion about the baby’s “readiness”)

•    Pass out hormone name/role cards to participants and have them tape the cards to their chest/stomach for all to see
•    Ask a participant to read aloud the name of a hormone card and toss a ball of yarn (while continuing to hold onto it) to someone with a “matching” role card and have them read the role card aloud.  Continue the toss through all roles and subsequent, related hormones.
•    Describe the interactions and roles of hormones of labor, including oxytocin, endorphins, catecholamines, etc.
•    Point out the complex interconnectedness of the hormone relationships in labor and how when one hormone is “cut off” or otherwise disrupted (instructor cuts yarn with scissors, pulls on yarn to demonstrate increased action) then the others are impacted

Payoff:  The class participants will…
•    Hear/read about the hormones governing labor and their individual and connected roles in childbirth
•    Match up hormones and their importance in labor through activity


 "On the way home - work"
Pat Predmore, a Passion for Birth Learning Facilitator, shared a great idea!  She has made a laminated chart with a question mark and a car.  She determines what would be a great topic to talk about on their way home, after class.  She writes this question on multiple Post-It notes and sticks them to the chart.  As they leave her class, she guides them to take one and answer the question on their drive home.  They are questions like: "what strength do I see in you dealing with labor" or "my strongest feeling after watching the 3 Rs was...." or "Something I see in you that will make you a good parent is.   
Pat shares: "I always ask them how long their ride home is.  For some it's only 5 minutes.  And i tell them they get off easy.  I've had couples say they took the long way home to finish their homework.  I try to use 'connection' questions"   
Thanks Pat for a great idea!  car.gif


 Epidural Roleplay
Ann Tumblin is displaying the Epidural Roleplay which is effective in showing that an epidural is more than a needle in your back and impacts a lot more.  The cards show the various interventions that go along with the epidural and then the yarn is taped near the appropriate area the intervention would occur (for example, IV to the wrist.)
This picture was taken at the PfB seminar at Topsail Beach. When we say it is ON the beach, it is ON the beach.  Everyone rents/shares local condos (off season - inexpensive!) and we adjust the schedule to allow for some afternoon time on the beach.  It is my FAVORITE place to have a seminar - that's why we go every year!




Storytelling and poetry can actually be two valuable tools to use in a childbirth class.  I wanted to share two that recently came to my attention.

Barbara Kingsolver  

Ordinary Miracle 

I have mourned lost days
When I accomplished nothing of importance.
But not lately.
Lately under the lunar tide
Of a woman’s ocean, I work
My own sea-change:
Turning grains of sand to human eyes.
I daydream after breakfast
While the spirit of egg and toast
Knits together a length of bone
As fine as a wheatstalk.
Later, as I postpone weeding the garden
I will make two hands
That may tend a hundred gardens.

I need ten full moons exactly
For keeping the animal promise.
I offer myself up: unsaintly, but
Transmuted anyway
By the most ordinary miracle.
I am nothing in this world beyond the things one woman does.
But here are eyes that once were pearls.
And here is a second chance where there was none. 

Carl Sandburg

Being Born Is Important

Being born is important.

You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.
You who have seen the new wet child dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready

You who have seen this love's payday of wild toil and sweet agonizing
You know being born is important.  
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with the circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood
It must be older than the moon, older than the salt.


Quickest Way Out

Part of the process of becoming Lamaze certified for new educators is to create a course design.  I was reading one today and Selena Shelley adapted a teaching aid I have used for a long time and I love it!  I am not sure if the adaptation is hers or "borrowed" from another educator.   But in the past I recommended taking a clear bottle with a marble inside and give it to someone in your class.  Instruct them to keep the bottle horizontal and get the marble out.  It's a challenge, just like in birth if you stay horizontal.  Then I take the bottle/marble and hand it to another member of the class and instruct them to put the bottle in the position to get the marble out as quickly as possibly.  Of course it's upright and you can easily make the parallels to birth.   
Selena wrote about using a Hershey Kiss instead of a marble and I think it's brilliant...as babies aren't round like marbles.  (I know they aren't shaped like Kisses either but do give a more realistic idea of how movement is required)



I recently led a Passion for Birth seminar in Lincoln, NE.  "Passioneer" Jan Madsen found a great tool to "spark" a talk about the role of the partner in supporting a woman if she should hit the panic button during her label.  Add a little humor with the hoops & yoyo Panic button.   
They are a little hard to find - check with your local Hallmark!   They scream "stay calm, stay calm"  www.hoopsandyoyo.com



 Hormonal influences in labor
This month's idea comes from an article in Interaction - the official publication of the National Association of Childbirth Educators, Inc (NACE) in Australia.  NACE's past president Sally Gregor reports on sessions she attended at a Birth International Conference.  One idea in particular caught my eye and I can't wait to try it out.  Mary Nolan led a session Putting the Wow Factor into Your Program.   According to Sally, she used four different colored balloons to highlight the factors that influence birth.  She did a labor simulation and had audience members  blow up or let down the balloons based on what was happening or impacting labor.  Oxytocin was green, endorphins were yellow, adrenalin was red and prolactin was purple.  She included the effects of coming into the hospital, using comfort measures, transition etc.  
I can't wait to try this!  Let me know how it goes in your class!   
PS: I substituted paper Chinese lanterns - avoid the latex allergy issue.



 Coffee Can Kegel

The picture below was submitted by Ann Tumblin from a Passion for Birth seminar.   She is demonstrating the "Coffee Can Kegel".  You need a coffee can with both ends removed, an exam glove, and a rubber band.  Stretch the glove over the can lip and secure.  Pull the glove through and tense/release it as you describe the kegel and what happens to the perineum.

Want to "jazz it up"?  Play "do the kegel" song

Want something fancier?  Get a vulva puppet .


Ideas shared with Lamaze.

More teaching tips by Teri

Giving Birth with Confidence

Induction Butterfly

Labor Stations

Latching on

More Induction ideas

Myths of Lamaze

Philosophy of birth

Unexpected outcomes

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