How to Upscale Childbirth Education with Coaching Strategies
Studies show a dramatic drop in attendance of childbirth education classes since 2000. What used to be a right of passage for baby boomers and generation X feels redundant to Millenials. The main reason for the decline is the overwhelming abundance of information on many different platforms. In events and talks, I often say that expectant Millennials rely on Doctor Google, Doctor Facebook, and Doctor YouTube. But can you see how hard it is for them to navigate the preparation process? To distinguish ‘expert’ knowledge from ‘folk knowledge, or myths from reality?’ So how can we serve Millenials and help them avoid informational overload? How can we help them find their truth? How can we empower them to overcome internal resistance and challenges and have healthy and satisfactory birth experiences? Read and learn why Transformational Birth Support Coaching is the pathway to regaining childbirth instructors’ impact and prestige.
Why aren’t they enrolled in a childbirth education class?
In an article titled “Contemporary Dilemmas in American Childbirth Education: Findings from a Comparative Ethnographic Study,” 2007, researchers Christine Morton Ph.D. and Clarissa Hsu try to explain this decline. In interviews they conducted with childbirth educators and expectant persons, they revealed the following causes: Information overload, idealization of natural childbirth, instructors’ preference for evidence-based information, and couples seeking empowerment rather than advocacy. I want to suggest that switching to prenatal coaching, or expanding childbirth instructors’ services to include private coaching sessions, is the pathway to regaining childbirth instructors’ impact and prestige.
With so much accessible information, if childbirth educators’ main goal is to inform pregnant people, they are not attractive to expectant people. In contrast, coaching individuals is not to inform them but to help individuals find their answers within. Coaches trust their clients to have all the answers and lead with powerful, result-oriented questions. The goals of transformational coaching are to increase clients’ clarity about what they want, help them overcome internal resistance and interference, gain confidence and perform well in the area they are coached. An additional goal is to elicit clients’ accountability for the process and their engagement in actions to achieve their goals. Facilitating clarity of one’s goals, leading individuals to overcome internal resistance and interference, gaining confidence, and eliciting one’s ability to perform throughout childbirth are the strategies to lead toward a satisfying birth experience. Therefore, shifting from informing to prenatal coaching resolves the informational overload, leading to decreased childbirth class enrollment.
Transformational Birth Support Coaching is the pathway to regaining childbirth instructors’ impact and prestige
Can you let go of the natural birth agenda?
The study explains that in the past, pregnant women enrolled in classes intending to give birth in an unmedicated or natural birth. But today, they are no longer coming into classes preferring unmedicated vaginal birth. For example, the Listening to Mothers survey found that, in 2005, only 37% of women indicated that they attended a class to learn more about natural birth. So if childbirth ed. instructors express their preference for natural birth throughout the course, they are not establishing rapport with their students or connecting well with them. The idealization of natural childbirth leads to evaluating maternal care based on practices supporting higher natural birth rates.
This problematic evaluation is beautifully resolved by switching to prenatal coaching. In contrast to the evidence-based approach and informing pregnant people about the superiority of natural childbirth, Transformational Birth Coaches focus on individuals’ beliefs, goals, and desires relating to their birth and the entire childbearing process. The most crucial evidence is the truth your clients hold during the coaching process. This means that Transformational Birth Coaches have no mission but to focus on their clients’ visions like all other coaches. The compass that coaches use to navigate the coaching process is our clients’ goals and visions.
Shifting from informing to prenatal coaching resolves informational overload
This generation seeks individualization more than idealization
Childbirth instructors that evaluate maternal care with a clear bias toward preferring evidence-based practice supporting higher natural birth rates instead of personal goals and pregnant individuals’ desires are no longer attracting this generation. The evidence-based approach is tied to the origins of childbirth education as the pathway to giving birth naturally. It’s an old paradigm that, as we just saw, doesn’t resonate with the current generation. This generation seeks to individualize maternal care with no attachment to giving birth naturally. In contrast to the evidence-based approach of childbirth instructors, Transformational Birth Coaches focus on individuals’ beliefs, goals, and desires relating to their birth and the entire childbearing process. The most crucial evidence is the truth your clients hold during the coaching process. This means that Transformational Birth Coaches have no mission but to focus on their clients’ visions like all other coaches. The compass that coaches use to navigate the coaching process is our clients’ goals and visions.
This generation seeks the individualization of care with no attachment to giving birth naturally
Empower expectant people prenatally with transformational coaching
The last reason pregnant individuals are reluctant to enroll in childbirth education classes is the most substantial one to encourage childbirth educators to transition into prenatal coaching. Many childbirth educators are already aware of the generational changes mentioned in the study; they were the ones to report the reasons for this decline. They now seek to gravitate away from informing pregnant individuals and advocating for natural birth toward empowering them to have a satisfying birth experience. If so, shouldn’t instructors spend time clarifying what a satisfying experience means to each pregnant individual? This inquiry, as we saw, is at the heart of the coaching process. Transformational Birth Support Coaches partner up with expectant people to help them achieve their satisfying birth experience. Therefore, we invest significant time inquiring about our clients’ mindsets, beliefs, values, and goals to clarify their desired birth experience.
This paradigm shift is manifested not only in the different strategies coaches employ but also in the coaching relationships. Educators are considered experts in the area they teach. It’s an authoritative position that is disempowering pregnant people. In contrast, Transformational Birth Support Coaches partner with their clients. There is no hierarchy in the coaching relationships, which helps change our clients’ attitudes as birth givers. Childbirth educators inform expectant individuals about evidence-based maternal care practices so that they can advocate for them during their birth. However, as long as expectant people continue to accept the authoritative position of caregivers, we will not accomplish this goal. For example, the Listening to Mothers survey in California found in 2018 that 74% of all birth givers agreed that childbirth should not be interfered with unless medically necessary. Still, only 5% of them gave birth without significant medical intervention. This data supports the need for empowerment and negate the practice of informing as the pathway to expectant individuals’ advocacy for evidence-based maternal practices. The best strategy to help these individuals trust their internal authority is to model the partnership they should expect from their medical caregivers.
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