A Childbirth Educator:
is a knowledgeable member of the community who teaches others about pregnancy, childbirth, the postpartum period, and early parenthood;
can help expectant parents gain knowledge and skills to feel empowered through pregnancy, labour and birth;
can offer a non-judgmental space for reflecting on desires and fears, learning about options, and preparing for labour, birth, and the transition into parenthood; and
may be seen as an “Auntie” who is trusted, knowledgeable, experienced, and someone who is safe to talk to.
I am currently completing certification as a childbirth educator, with the intention of developing a prenatal course specifically for Indigenous families in the urban setting of Vancouver, BC.
I believe it is important to frame current birth and postpartum practices within a historical context. Much of my work over the past ten years in public health has been to decolonize the health care system to improve health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. I bring this perspective to childbirth education. Decolonizing birth means asserting our rights over our own bodies, reclaiming traditional birth practices, and healing past traumas. To do this, we must understand the impacts that colonization, Western medicine, and modern birthing practices have had on Indigenous birthing and parenting. As a childbirth educator, I aim to support Indigenous parents and families to advocate for themselves within the health care system, share and re-build traditional birth and parenting knowledge and practices within community, and heal intergenerational trauma through reclaiming sovereignty over our bodies, births, and babies.
Why Take A Prenatal Class?
Your level of knowledge about pregnancy does not determine your degree of physical discomfort during labour and birth. Rather, it is your level of skills to prepare you for what to expect and how to cope, which will influence your experience of labour and birth. I am designing a prenatal education class that focuses on skill-building rather than teaching copious facts and downloading volumes of information. The skills you develop in critically assessing information, participating in decision-making, asserting yourself, and practicing coping techniques (meditation, breathing, visualization) can impact your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experience of labour and birth.
The benefit of learning to use assertive communication when speaking to health care providers is that it empowers you to be an informed decision-maker in your care, not only throughout pregnancy and labour, but beyond. Using assertive communication can improve your relationship with your health care provider and the support people around you. It can help to reduce anxieties or fears because you will feel confident in your own abilities to communicate your wishes and establish a trusting relationship with your health care provider.
The prenatal education class also provides a space and opportunity to celebrate and reclaim Indigenous birth teachings and practices. The wisdom of our ancestors has been passed down through generations to guide us through this sacred time. Together, we can celebrate childbirth as a natural and spiritual life event, and celebrate our Indigenous strength, resiliency, and community.
Above are images showing the artwork of "Spirit of the Realms" mural on Beatty St., Vancouver, BC, created by Indigenous Artists Haisla Collins, Jerry Whitehead, Sharifah Marsden, Mehren Razmpoosh, Richard Shorty and Vanessa Walterson. Photos by Miranda Kelly.