Congratulations on this special and extraordinary time in your life! As your heart swells with more and more love, and you slowly approach the day you will finally get to meet the little bundle of love you are carrying, you're probably starting to think about the kind of birth you want to have.
A positive state-of-mind and informed decision-making are the most effective predictors of a truly positive birth, as remembered by a mama.
So let me ask you:
Do you have any fears around giving birth?
Did you know that you can have a positive, empowering, and comfortable birth experience no matter what happens on the day, as long as you have the right mindset and tools?
Have you been told by others, "Get an epidural as soon as you can!" Or "There is no reason not to get an epidural."? But you're somewhat apprehensive about it and curious about natural birth?
Or perhaps the idea of a positive birth for you does include an epidural, but you still want to feel empowered with information so that you and your partner can work as a team with your care providers to ensure the best outcome for you and your baby?
Do you want to build life skills that will stay with you forever and ease the journey of parenthood?
If these questions resonate with you, let me tell you more about GentleBirth.
My goal is to help parents-to-be understand the many choices available to them when it comes to having a positive birth experience so they can make informed decisions, for mama to feel excited, confident and empowered with information and the right mindset, and for the birth partner to know how to be the rock, supporting mom every step of the way.
The goals of GentleBirth are:
Healthy Mom & Baby
Fear free positive experience
A more comfortable birth
We achieve these goals through mental and emotional training, applying evidence-based practices and insights from mindfulness, hypnosis, and sports psychology designed specifically for labor and birth (this is unique to the GentleBirth program), knowing all the comfort strategies available to you and when to apply them (birth ball, aromatherapy, essential oils, acupressure, and so much more to choose from) and the ability to negotiate the best birth for you (you will learn how to make informed choices, what evidence-based care means, and how to know whether a certain practice is necessary or just routine care that may not fully apply to you, if mom and baby are okay.)
What exactly do you cover in the classes?
Here's a general run down of what's covered in my classes:
birth physiology - including understanding pain and hormone hacking
stages and phases of labor and when to know it’s time to head to the hospital (if that is your chosen place of birth)
non-pharmacological comfort measures - including mindfulness, hypnosis, aromatherapy, acupressure, sports psychology and birth preparation, and more
understanding pharmacological comfort measures - including epidural, nitrous oxide, etc.) - and when they may be helpful
explanation of the choices you have for labor and birth and the pros and cons of each
routine care vs evidence-based care and birth preferences
tools for the birth partner so he/she can remain calm and confident and to know how to support mom during labor
What benefit is a birth class?
You are empowered with information and tools that you and your partner can actually use on the day.
You find out about the latest best practices when it comes to labor and birth - i.e. optimal cord clamping, skin on skin, and when certain medical interventions like episiotomy are absolutely necessary.
Your partner will feel empowered to support you with a variety of tools so you can focus on staying connected to your baby and your body during labor.
Many women remark that a class offers them a better understanding of the body's natural ability to give birth, which enables them to flow with the labor and to let it unfold without fear, confusion, or stress
Over the years, media and Hollywood have programmed us to think of birth as a medical event, as scary, as painful and as something to get through. We may also have heard too many frightening stories from our loved ones. They are merely individual experiences that do not pertain to you, or dramatizations for the sake of creating sensationalism, when it comes to media or Hollywood. In class we break these misconceptions and beliefs down and help you develop a more realistic sense of the birth experience, one you will look forward to having.
You will feel that this is your event, not something that is happening to you and which needs to be completely managed by your medical team.
You will have my support and I will be here for you if you have any questions as your due date approaches.
I will share the latest evidence-based information about birth and tools to help with labor so you don't have to sift through all the information online and wonder what works, what doesn't, what's out-dated, etc.
You will feel more confident about your ability and your body's ability to birth your baby, and your partner will feel more confident in their ability to support you.
With GentleBirth training and use of the app you and your partner will be able to navigate the first weeks, months, and even years postpartum with greater ease and resilience in the face of inevitable challenges.
What’s so awesome about the GentleBirth app?
You can download the app at any time onto your phone. The first week is free (or this first month is free if you take a GentleBirth class). Here’s what’s so great about the app, but don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself!
It includes not just mindfulness meditations, which many apps focus on, but also hypnosis, affirmations, breathing exercises for birth, pregnancy, fertility, breastfeeding, parenting, and thinking positively about your body!
It provides daily recommendations for training based on where you are in your pregnancy, but has the flexibility for a self-paced training
You can use it postpartum - it has mindfulness recording for a calm and gentle postpartum period.
It also offers a guidebook about GentleBirth, birth stories, and information about workshops across the country
It is one of the best monthly investments you can make for yourself and your family during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
I’m pretty sure I want an epidural, will the class still be worth my time?
The GentleBirth approach to labor and birth is mother-led. This means that you define the kind of positive birth experience you want. Many moms go into the class thinking they will likely need the epidural at some point during labor. The class gives them a better understanding of the physiology around birth, dissects pain perception, and empowers mamas with information that let's them question that belief. By the end of the class, GentleBirth moms and their partners are equipped with all the information and tools they need to make a decision whether they would like an epidural or not at the time of birth. They also learn to be compassionate toward themselves if they end up choosing an epidural at the time of birth and feel equipped if the do want one, but it is too late. Our goal is for mom to have a positive birth experience however she defines it. And the mindfulness training and practice will help her have compassion for herself no matter what happens on the day.
Is this a big time commitment?
The workshop is a fun, engaging and interactive day. It's an opportunity to be with your partner, create a greater connection, and together prepare for your family's special day. And to meet fellow parents-to-be! If your partner is apprehensive and reticent about coming, know that 90% of the time they enjoy and appreciate the class just as much as you will. To reap the most benefits from the GentleBirth program I strongly recommend using the GentleBirth app, and practicing some of the tools you learn in class with your partner. You can listen to the short sessions on your commute to work, and you can fall asleep with the hypnosis sessions - it's a wonderful way to relax the body and mind, and train the mind for the big day. Aside from the in-person class, we can discuss ways you can hack your schedule to create room for "practice" so you feel prepared when the baby decides it's time.
What was your experience with a birth class?
I decided to teach birth classes largely because of how empowered I felt after the class my husband and I took before my son's birth. We took a Bradley course with Susanna Noon - I didn’t know about GentleBirth back then. Aside from having a greater appreciation of birth physiology and having the right tools for labor, there are two main reasons I'm grateful for my class. The first is that Susanna was an incredible advocate and resource when it came to my induction (my body never went into labor). I couldn't have navigated my choices and felt as empowered as I did to make the smart decisions my husband and I made without her support, knowledge, and suggestions. I do the same for you. And secondly, my husband was empowered to support me and be my advocate because as any woman who has ever labored knows, my focus during labor was completely inward and I was able to trust that he knew what I wanted and would work with the medical team to respect my wishes as long as I and baby were okay. He knew what to say and do with minimal guidance from me and his words and presence gave me strength every step of the way. The class also allowed me to trust my body's ability to give birth with limited medical intervention, something I personally wanted.
Since I’m planning to have a doula, would a GentleBirth workshop be unnecessary or redundant?
When I was pregnant I decided that both I and my partner were well enough equipped with what we learned in the birth class and “practiced” enough that I didn’t need to the support of a doula. But once I had my son, I realized the benefit of both. While it’s amazing to have the extra support, the birth experience is yours after all. Your labor and birth support team can coach you and advocate for you and your baby, but if you are relying on external forces to get you through the surges and the labor (especially should you choose to have a non-medicated birth) you’re limiting your potential and your experience. Labor and birth are very much an inner experience - your mindset matters and how you approach your labor and the surges matters too. Your thoughts and beliefs, for example, have a physiological response in the body and can either support the birth process or slow it down. With GentleBirth you are able to prepare your mind and body not only through learning, but practice, and this can make all the difference for you and your baby. A GentleBirth class and your own practice thereafter can teach you to work with your baby for his/her birth, and if you have a wonderful support team to keep you focused and advocate on your behalf, you’re all the more empowered. And mama, I cannot tell you how powerful you can feel once you’re finally holding him or her in your arms! The feeling is unlike any other.
How do I know this workshop will be truly worth the investment?
You will absolutely benefit simply by showing up and being attentive in class. But as with any anticipated event - a presentation, a wedding, a surgery, a marathon - preparation and applying the tools you learn in class ahead of the birth will ensure a more positive experience for you and your baby.
why i teach gentlebirth classes
When I told my mom, who gave birth to three children in a hospital in Poland in the 1980’s, that I am taking a birth class, she said “Honey, the birth is the easy part. I thought you were taking parenting classes!” This is coming from a woman, who by today’s standards did not have the nurturing, gentle, and positive birth experiences possible. That said, having become a mother to a sweet and rambunctious little boy, I now know what she meant. The birth is only the beginning. I prepared for birth, but I was completely unprepared for motherhood. Of course, I’m figuring it out, but I wished I had the opportunity to practice a certain mindset before motherhood was a reality that fortunately now is helping me not only be a better parent, but a better person to myself.
My labor and birth were simply a gateway to my approach to parenting. And if I hadn’t been flexible, determined, informed, and supported, I may have begun my motherhood journey differently. Instead, I felt I was able to make the best decisions with my supportive, and equally informed, partner for myself and my son and still have the full experience of labor and birth without fear, negativity, or stress.
When we prepare and lean into the real possibility of having a truly positive, beautiful and empowering birth experience, we can actually make it possible for ourselves, or at least come way closer than we would have had we not prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. My birth experience inspired such a profound shift in my own power and strength that I felt compelled to better understand it and be a part in helping other women have just as positive an experience.