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:
- 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.
- Mixers: here’s lots of mixer and icebreaker ideas – activities to get students up and moving, interacting with each other and engaging in class topics
- Teaching Techniques a brief overview of ways to teach information.
- 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 Pregnancy Topics
- Common complaints – a card game to guide a discussion on pregnancy, nutrition, safer sex, etc.
- Events of late pregnancy we have a great illustration in Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn which is packed with important ideas about the final weeks of pregnancy – but I find it’s so packed it can be overwhelming to present in class… This is my key to the major points that I hit on and the numbers indicate which order I discuss them in so the conversation flows well. It’s just a teaching tip for you, not something you’d share with students.
- wellness cards – this is a card game (print it double-sided) where they read one side, discuss it, then flip it over to learn more. It covers nutrition, substances, prenatal care and other prenatal wellness topics
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 scenario 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.
- Labor Rehearsal and Labor Rehearsal 2 – Two variations on the same idea. Includes posters showing a position for labor, a breathing technique, and a comfort technique to practice. Tape these up around the room, and students will rotate from station to station, trying each thing for one minute, then rotating to try another one for one minute. This is intended as a review after they’ve been taught all these techniques. One caution: remind them that in real labor, they’d never try something new on every contraction. They’d find something that worked (i.e. it helped the laboring person Relax and keep a Rhythm) then that would be their Ritual.
- Labor review and rehearse – this combines the pop quiz, labor scenarios rehearsal, and comfort techniques practice. Have one student draw a card, then the class does that activity together, then move on to the next.
- 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 the 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. (More detailed directions are in the PDF.)
- Dice Games – a ten minute small group game to review stages of labor, or a longer version to explore variations in the length of labor, and imagine what labor might be like depending on whether it started at 3 am or noon, whether it lasted 3 hours or 30. Can be used to structure a labor rehearsal and/or a presentation on variations and interventions.
- Posters second stage– an AV aid to use when teaching second stage
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. I pass these out and students read them, then we discuss them.
- 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.
- where will you breastfeed Describes a number of scenarios (in a restaurant? in front of your in-laws?) and asks parents to sort them into places they would and would not be comfortable, then work together to problem-solve how they’ll handle the tricky ones.
For all my classes, I use the textbook Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. If any of these activities reference a page number, such as PCN 67, that’s the page where you’ll find that content in the 5th edition of our book.