Valley West helps prepare new moms and dads for childbirth experience

Story Image

Preparation is key: Today childbirth is a team effort, and educating couples — not just moms — about what’s going to happen has become the focus of prepared childbirth. Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich offers expectant parents classes to help prepare them for what's to come. | FILE PHOTO

Today childbirth is a team effort, and educating couples — not just moms — about what’s going to happen has become the focus of prepared childbirth.

Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich, part of KishHealth System, offers expectant parents classes that address prenatal care for mothers, labor and delivery, C-sections and other unexpected events as well as the basics of the postpartum period.

“We like to start with what mom should be doing to prepare her body for labor and delivery, things like continuing good nutrition and limiting medications,” said Krissy Ross, RN, a certified childbirth educator who teaches the classes.

Breathing and relaxation methods that help moms through labor and delivery are a big focus.

“Even if a mom ends up choosing to get an epidural [pain blocker], she is still going to have a period of time in which managing her pain and anxiety will be important,” Ross said. “She might really need those breathing techniques if she is waiting for her husband to drive her to the hospital.”

In addition to slow-paced breathing techniques, Ross suggests ways moms in the early stages of labor can ease some of their pain by getting in a squatting position, for example.

But it’s not all about pain.

“Once the class gets going, the couples have a lot of fun. I tell stories from my experience,’’ Ross said. “They finish the classes knowing they can handle what’s ahead, even though it’s a new experience.”

Ross includes videos of labor and actual deliveries — both vaginal and Caesarean — while urging moms to think about how they will handle things on the big day.

“There are proven remedies that help…mediation, visualization and using a focal point,” she said.

Expectant parents also learn about what is normal right after birth.

“Crying is so totally OK. It’s nature’s way of helping the baby clear excess fluid from his lungs,’’ Ross said.

So then parents know that a newborn is not going to coo complacently upon arrival.

Ross also describes how a newborn looks, which is not always like the Gerber baby.

“Sometimes they are a little blue, or have a white coating on their skin, which is called vernix,’’ she said. “This is totally normal as the coating has been protecting the baby in the womb.”

The educator is a big proponent of breastfeeding, and that is part of the curriculum as well.

“I’m also a lactation counselor, so I’m one of the nurses who helps moms get breastfeeding off to a good start right in the hospital,’’ she said.

Valley West also offers a free breastfeeding class so expectant or new moms can get even more support after the childbirth course.

Ross said dads are eager to help with the whole process.

“They want to be the coach. They say, ‘Tell me what I can do.’”

She recommends they can help remind moms to change their position often while they are laboring at home, that they can track the time between contractions, they can rub their partner’s back and breathe with them.

“I think it’s really helpful when couples have worked out a game plan ahead of time — for both labor and the immediate postpartum period.”

She said some moms don’t want a back rub, some just want a hand to squeeze during labor.

Then there are the hundreds of everyday issues that weren’t issues until a couple has a baby.

“I tell them they need to be realistic about what each parent can do. Maybe mom won’t be able to drive for a little while,” she said. “Or maybe mom will need to let dad get a full night’s sleep when he has to go to work to provide for the family. Just thinking about these issues ahead can minimize a lot of conflict.’’

PREPARED CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION

6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays

July 9- 30

Sept. 10 – Oct. 1

Nov. 5 – 26

$20/Couple

Visit bit.ly/11Y7QJv

Valley West Community Hospital, 11 E. Pleasant Ave., Sandwich, IL 60548

(815) 786-3962

PREPARED CHILDBIRTH WEEKEND EXPRESS

A one-class format.

Saturdays 8:30 am – 4 p.m.

June 1

Aug. 3

Oct. 5

Dec. 7

$20/ couple

Visit bit.ly/11Y7QJv

Valley West Community Hospital, 11 E. Pleasant Ave., Sandwich, IL 60548

(815) 786-3962