Why You Won't Find Handouts in Our Childbirth Classes

Orange County and Long Beach birth class why we don't use handouts

Today we're featured on the Birthing From Within blog talking about why our childbirth classes don't involve handouts. 

(#unpopularopinion alert!)

There are many childbirth classes that are based on a book, workbook, or packet of some kind. Some childbirth methods rely on printed materials as nearly the full content of the class. Other classes use printed packets simply a resource for parents to take home and peruse as they wish. Because handouts are so common, many parents when signing up for a childbirth class assume they'll be given a handbook, sort of like a condensed guide to everything they need to know about birth. 

We used to give handouts to our birth class clients because we thought that was what we were supposed to do as childbirth educators. But a couple years ago, things changed.

As our perception of ourselves transformed from "teachers" to "mentors," many things about our practice shifted, including the elimination of handouts from our birth preparation classes.

From the post:

We used to give a packet of childbirth education handouts to all of our birth doula clients at prenatal visits, and to all of our childbirth education students. Over time, we began to find that the parents were either a) losing the packet, or b) over-relying on what was written rather than on their own independent thinking. After our first Birthing From Within training, we started to rethink our approach.

Once we envisioned ourselves as BFW mentors, we realized that our goal was no longer to give parents all of the answers.

Instead (and much more importantly), we wanted to guide parents towards having thoughtful conversations, doing their own further research, and tapping into other ways of knowing in order to move forward in their own unique processes of learning and discovery. (We love Chapter 5 of Ancient Map for Modern Birth for Pam England’s perspective on assembling the pieces of the information-gathering puzzle.)

In class, we do use visual demonstrations for each information-heavy topic. But we don’t pass those out in the form of handouts. Instead, we draw them or make them or use props. We encourage parents to take notes for themselves if there are specific things they want to remember, such as the decision-making acronym BRAIN. (You may have heard of studies about taking notes by hand as opposed to typing them or reading someone else’s notes on a page. It’s a more active way of learning actually helps with retention!)

The big shift came when we figured out that we COULDN’T POSSIBLY provide our clients with everything THEY need to know to give birth, as we thought we could when we first started out.

Of course, we still offer resources to our clients! But now, we do that by sharing links to our favorite articles, studies, or other sources where our clients can learn more about certain topics that are of particular interest or importance to them.

Read the full post to learn more about our approach to childbirth education and why handouts may not be as important as they seem.


Interested in learning about birth, breastfeeding, and baby care with us? Check out our Orange County and Long Beach private birth and parenting class offerings here.


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