- I know which classes I want. When should I register?
If you know what classes you want, don’t wait…register now. Class sizes are limited, and while some classes take a while to fill up, others can be full four months before they begin!
Unsure about what dates you want? Contact me to ‘pencil you in’ for one. That will keep a spot reserved while you make up your mind.
- At what point in my pregnancy should I start my pre-natal classes?
Ideally, your classes should finish 3 to 5 weeks before your due-date. If you take them earlier, you may not be at the best point in your pregnancy to absorb the information you need to prepare for the birth. If you take your classes later and your baby decides to arrive before the due-date, you will miss the rest of the classes! In the end, of course, it is your choice.
- Can I bring an additional person to classes (such as a friend, relative or hired doula)?
If your partner is unable to attend some classes, or if an additional support person will be attending your birth (e.g. a friend, relative, or professional doula), they are welcome to attend classes with you. Please check with me first, though, as some classes are more useful for support people than others (plus I will need to put another chair out!)
- What happens if one or both of us have to miss a class?
If you can, please let me know ahead of time. Otherwise, please contact me soon afterwards (by email or phone), because rumours will already be starting amongst class members that you have given birth! If you are in a weekly classes (a series of six evenings), to make up a missed class we can arrange to meet a half-hour before or after the next class, to cover the material. I can also lend you the DVD we watched while you were away.
If you are in a Weekend Workshop, you may be able to make up the missed day at my next Workshop. It will be a different group of people, so please contact me beforehand, so I can confirm we have space for you.
- What if I give birth before the last class?
Let me know, please, so I can tell your classmates – you will be a celebrity to them! If you and your baby are both recovered and feeling strong, you are welcome to bring him/her to one of the remaining classes (just let me know ahead of time so I can alter my class plan). We would be delighted if you shared your birth story with us – we can learn a lot from your experiences. If you are wondering about refunds, please see our Policies page.
- Is my registration fee tax-deductible?
Unfortunately, no. You and I may consider pre-natal classes to be a necessity and therefore non-taxable, but Revenue Canada does not share that opinion.
- Under what circumstances can I get a refund?
Please see our Policies page.
- Why do you limit class sizes?
I keep class sizes to eight or nine couples or less for several reasons. First, I want to be accessible to all couples, for questions and to act as a sounding-board. In a large class this is unlikely to happen – there is just not enough time to meet everyone’s needs. I also like to give couples the opportunity to get to know each other. Many people form lifelong friendships at pre-natal classes, but again, this is less likely to happen in a large group. And finally, in smaller classes we are better able to create the informal, relaxed atmosphere that is most conducive to both learning and fun!
- Why don’t you offer prenatal-in-a-day classes? We have a tight schedule, and getting the class done all in one day would work really well for us.
I have taught prenatal-in-day classes in the past, but have never been satisfied with the results. I saw couples going home at the end of the day exhausted, confused and overwhelmed.Here are the major faults as I see them:
- Because there is only one chance to get all the information across, there is no time to field questions and explore issues.
- In six hours it is difficult to be comfortable enough with your teacher and classmates to voice questions that come up for you. So questions go unasked, and unanswered.
- Often teachers must ‘skim over’ topics in order to make up lost time.
- Most people can only focus on a subject for about three hours, so by the second half of a prenatal-in-a-day people are really struggling to concentrate. I have seen even the most motivated couples fighting to stay awake, with me practically dancing and singing trying to keep them stimulated and engaged.
In summary, the one-day format is not a productive learning environment, so I don’t offer it. If all you want is to be able to say ‘We took prenatal classes’, then this kind of class will do (and other organizations do offer them), but frankly, I don’t think couples get their money’s worth.
However, I can appreciate the challenges of scheduling a class into your busy lives, so I designed the Weekend Workshop, taught over 2 consecutive Sundays, as an alternative to the one-day class. I have found the pacing is much better – couples have time to really ‘take in’ the information and concepts, and they still benefit from the richness of a group setting. And because I limit class size, you receive individual attention not possible with the very large one-day classes offered by other prenatal organizations.
If you still cannot schedule a Weekend Workshop into your life, or you prefer a more individualized setting, then a private class is a good alternative. We can book it to suit your schedule, focus on your needs, and still complete it over two sessions so you can take the information in effectively.
I never share details about class members (even about occupations or addresses) unless I have expressly asked permission first. The class atmosphere is relaxed and casual enough that if you eventually feel comfortable sharing private information in-class, you will. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s up to you, definitely not me. See also our Policies page.
- I’ve heard pre-natal classes referred to as ‘Lamaze’ classes. Isn’t that about ‘breathing’?
The word ‘Lamaze’ refers to specific breathing patterns intended to reduce the pain of labour. The method was popularized by the French obstetrician Fernand Lamaze, who saw the technique used in the former Soviet Union in 1951. The ‘Lamaze system’ uses several different breathing patterns, depending on how dilated the woman’s cervix is.
As a doula I have attended women who have learned the Lamaze method and attempted to use it in labour. It does seem to help in the beginning of the labour, as it keeps your breathing calm and fairly relaxed. But in my experience, as labour progresses and you are working very hard just to cope with the pain it doesn’t seem to help anymore. I think it’s because trying to perform a complicated breathing pattern that feels unnatural and contrived only adds to an already stressful and challenging experience. I’m sure Lamaze works for some people (and it was a godsend in the 1950’s, because birthing women had very few options then), but I haven’t seen it work, so I don’t teach it. I do teach ‘breathing’ in my classes, but mostly breath awareness – when you are aware of your breathing you can then choose to change it. For instance, you might breathe more deeply and slowly to help you relax more during contractions. Or you might pant during the pushing phase to allow your baby to emerge more slowly and gently. Or your midwife or doctor may coach you to hold your breath while you are pushing. In any case, during your labour you will not forget to breath, so I don’t spend a lot of our class time focusing on it. I discuss breathing as one of many tools to help you through various points in your labour.
- I have had breast surgery in the past. Will I still be able to breastfeed?
That depends on whether and how the milk ducts (the ‘tubing’ system that carries the milk from the breast out to the nipple) were interrupted by the surgery. Often you won’t know until after your baby is born and your milk comes in. Some women can breastfeed without supplementing with formula, and many can at least partially feed their baby by breast. An excellent resource is the book ‘Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding after Breast Reduction Surgery’ (author Diana West). Also ‘The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk’ (authors Diana West and Lisa Marasco).Even if you don’t produce enough milk to feed your baby, you can still provide him/her the comfort and pleasure of being skin-to-skin at your breast. Your local La Leche League group can be a wonderful source of information and support while you define and establish your breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
- I may have to have a Cesarean section. Do you cover this kind of birth in your classes?
Yes. I always cover C-section, because statistically speaking, every woman in my classes has a 20% chance of having one. I discuss reasons this kind of birth may be suggested, decision-making, what the experience feels like for both mother and father, and recovery.
I also emphasize that although Cesarean section is highly invasive surgery, it is still a birth, and needs to be celebrated as such. Some mothers feel disappointment at having ‘missed out’ on a vaginal birth. Having a Cesarean section does not mean that you are a failure at birth, or as a mother. I encourage woman who experience such difficult feelings to acknowledge and share them with a sympathetic friend or counsellor, so that they can move on when they are ready, and continue to grow into their mothering role.To help couples avoid an unnecessary C-section, throughout all of my classes I include tips and suggestions to help labour progress ‘normally’ and avoid unnecessary medical interventions.
- I have special medical issues with this pregnancy. Will you be able to address them in your classes?
If you share these issues with me privately before classes begin, I will try to address them during class time if practical. Please keep in mind that the best source for medical information about your particular situation is your caregiver (obstetrician, midwife or GP).I am not a medical expert, but I have a lot of experience with consumer-based decision-making around medical care. This is your labour and your birth. It is an immensely important event in your life (and obviously in your baby’s). So the choices you make during your labour have a strong impact. In my experience, when a pregnant couple gets all the medical information they need (from their medical caregiver), the vast majority make wise choices that do not endanger baby or mother.So my focus is on:
Developing and refining your question-asking skills so you will be able to get the information you need, and…
Reviewing and strengthening your decision-making skills so you can then feel confident and comfortable with the informed choices you will make during your labour.
- This is my partner’s first child, but not my first child. Can your classes meet our different needs?
Yes, definitely. You will be bringing what you have learned from your past birth experience(s) to this coming birth. So you can use the classes as review and integration, and to ‘come together’ with your partner. For your partner, this birth is his/her first experience, so the classes can be an opportunity to become more familiar with the birth process, and to learn about support during labour.Class members bring a wide variety of life experiences with them. I really value these experiences, so at the first class I invite members to share them, as well as what they are expecting from the classes. I also encourage them to share anything else they want others to know about themselves (briefly!) I use this information to create an ‘inclusive’ atmosphere – one that acknowledges, values and respects each person’s unique needs and experiences. And this atmosphere works very well for couples where one already has a child, and the other has not.
- Are you affiliated with any other organization?No. I am fortunate to have had a broad range of experience in different birth settings:
- six hospitals including ones in New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, and Vancouver
- various home births throughout the Lower Mainland
- working with different practitioners (midwives, GP’s, obstetricians).
These varied experiences have given me an understanding and acceptance of each choice of birth setting and caregiver. I was also a La Leche League Leader for 14 years, but am retired now.
There are organizations that in my experience provide valuable services and/or information about childbirth and parenting. Many of them are listed on my Resources page, but I am not affiliated with any of them.
- I am not comfortable with the idea of watching DVD’s that show women giving birth or breastfeeding. Will you be showing DVD’s in the classes?I normally show at least one DVD at each class, whether it is a Workshop, evening series, or private class. If you prefer not to view childbirth footage you are free to step out of the classroom while it is being shown (or if it is a private class simply ask me not to show it). Before you decide to do this, however, please read on:I have found that watching other women’s labours and births can be a valuable learning tool. I normally show only 10 to 15 minutes of footage at each class, as a way of reinforcing the material we have covered. After viewing I always facilitate classroom discussion about your observations, perceptions, reactions, and emotions. This process can really bring things together for you, and help you feel even better prepared for giving birth yourself (or attending, if you’re the partner).
- What is the ‘post-partum reunion’? Doesn’t ‘post-partum’ mean depression?
The word ‘post-partum’ is Latin for ‘after the birth’. There is something called ‘post-partum depression’, which is depression that develops in some mothers after their babies are born. Often people shorten this term to ‘post-partum’
(see ‘Dads page’ for more info. on this subject).Birth Transitions’ ‘post-partum reunion’ is an informal get-together of class members and their babies, usually held several weeks after the last baby is born. It is primarily a social event, with snacks, conversation, laughs, sometimes tears, and always the taking of cute and amusing baby photos. I also facilitate the sharing of birth stories.
- Will there be homework from the classes? May I take notes?
I figure you have enough on your plate without also having homework assigned. Besides, then I’d have to mark it. I don’t hand out marks in this course – you pass when you have given birth. And you will give birth, one way or another.If taking notes is part of your learning style, please go ahead! I do also supply reading material for your review, in the form of a small booklet of handouts on various birth-related topics.
- Where are Birth Transitions’ classes held?Maple Ridge classes are held at Monkey Business Kid’s Boutique in downtown Maple Ridge (11947 – 224th Street).Port Moody classes are held at the Cafe of Life Chiropractic in downtown Port Moody (2607 St. John’s Street).Private classes are normally held in your own home.