Here are lots of hands-on and interactive techniques I have used in childbirth classes. Feel free to use any of them that work for you!
All-Purpose Teaching Techniques:
- Icebreakers: Icebreaker Bingo for Week One – hand out one copy to each student, and encourage them to mill around the room, chatting with other people and try to find people who can say yes to each question. And here’s lots more icebreaker ideas.
- Grab Bags: You collect items that symbolize ideas or activities. Pass it around, each student takes one and describes how they think it relates to the topic. A fun and interactive way to cover topics where there’s lots of little details to talk about – like prenatal wellness, things to take to the hospital, postpartum adjustment. Learn more.
Activities for Labor & Birth Topics
- Signs of Labor: print these cards. Divide the white board into three sections, label them ‘maybe’, ‘probably’ and ‘definitely.’ Hand one card to each student, and place it on the board, depending on how likely they think this is real labor. Then discuss. (I sometimes have the partners do this activity while the moms-to-be watch. The moms often think partners know nothing – this is a chance to prove them wrong.)
- Labor Words: print copies for each student. Have them circle 4 or 5 words that they think describe labor. Then ask: what did you circle? If your labor felt that way for you, what support would you need?
- Where are you in labor? This activity can be used to review the stages of labor. Ask a student to read a card, and guess what stage of labor they’re in, and think about what would be useful to do at this time.
- Labor scenarios rehearsal: Print the document. Put the posters (page 3 – 6) up on the wall. Give each student one card describing a moment in labor. Have them read it out loud, then pick two comfort techniques that might help (from the breathing, comfort measures and positions posters) and then the whole class practices those techniques.
- Pop Quiz Review: Divide students up into small groups. Give each a set of cards. They read the question on one side, discuss amongst themselves what they think the answer is, then flip the card over to check their answer.
- Variations scenarios: Can be done in small groups or with whole class. A student reads a card out loud. They discuss what they would do in this circumstance. This activity covers some common labor variations, plus some awkward situations that might arise.
- Birth Plan Card Sort. This can be done in a childbirth class, or sent as homework, or used one on one with doula clients. Students choose their preferred options, then think about how to prioritize them, how to be flexible with the “next best thing” if their labor does not go as they had hoped.
Activities for Postpartum Topics
- Icebreaker: Stories and advice you’ve heard about life with a new baby. Students share in small groups what they’ve heard from friends and family about physical, emotional, and lifestyle adjustment. Then class re-gathers to discuss.
- Quotes about the Postpartum Period: this is a collection of quotes from new parents about the emotional challenges and lifestyle changes that come with the birth of a baby. By giving voice to the reality of postpartum, students connect emotionally and are then more engaged in a discussion of practical aspects.
- Breastfeeding myths and truths: Students read a card out loud, say whether they think it’s a myth or whether it’s true. You then add more details as needed.
For all my classes, I use the textbook Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide.