The work of a childbirth educator is a very unique career. There are not many careers where you know your inbox will be full of thanks, where you make a genuine difference to people’s lives and you finish your day relaxed and happy – oh and be well paid for it! Rewarding is just the start. Because of this uniqueness, it is complicated to answer exactly “What is a childbirth educator?” mainly because every teacher’s scope is very different, very expansive and personal to each educator’s interests.
The antenatal / childbirth educator supports new and expectant families, helping the parents navigate their growth and development as they transition through pregnancy to parenthood and often up to the child’s 2nd birthday, by helping them learn skills and strategies about the psychology and sociology of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and early parenthood. This is done through classes, support groups and one to one care, both online and in person. In person, classes can be held in a variety of settings such as community spaces, hospitals, homes and sometimes even luxury hotels for a spoiling “babymoon” experience!
Many Antenatal Educators don’t just concentrate on birth but the whole journey. This not only maximises their income but allows them to be fully present and supportive of each parent. By offering continuity of care to Parents’, evidence shows us that this provides much better outcomes for the whole family.
Although many people may know that antenatal / childbirth educators provide information, what they don’t know is that this information is all evidenced based – meaning information which has been thoroughly researched and proves the safest practice for the majority of parents and babies. This helps parents to understand their choices and make decisions regarding their care, their birth and the way they wish to bring their child up.
Childbirth Educators form an integral part of the parents care system, although they remain an independent advocate for pregnant people and their partners and families outside the hospital and medical profession. They also never give medical advice.
Being an antenatal educator does not mean you impart “dry” information, rather like a lecture, but instead create engaging interactive sessions. By using a wide variety of teaching styles, props and activities makes the classes engaging for parents’ and fun to lead.
Often an interesting technique is the “facilitated discussion”, getting parents to open up and chat about a particular topic, this often produces some interesting and funny debates!
Communication is important and antenatal / childbirth educators develop strong communication skills which include active listening, reflective practice, and tackling unexpected situations.
This scope of a childbirth educator’s role and thus the content of the classes on offer will depend on the training they have chosen to do. For example, one educator may concentrate on birth, another on hypnobirthing, someone else on breastfeeding. Others may also offer more specialist classes in water or caesarean birth. Hopefully, all educators will include perinatal mental health, (in both parents, as yes Fathers get postnatal depression as well). Staying on the subject of Fathers, another important element of a Childbirth Educator’s role is that of the Father. During the last few decades men have been more involved in childbirth. However, many Fathers report feeling very unprepared for this journey, despite going to birth classes, reporting that they frequently felt neglected in the transition to parenthood. This in turn is impacting their mental health. Therefore, it is imperative that we change this, yet little training includes this!
Confusingly, like many careers, the same role comes with different titles. You may also come across other tiles like the birth coach, parent educator, etc, however, the basic principle of what their career entails is the same – advocacy and support for parents through the first 1001 days (conception to 2years old). The variations we have previously explored, in how each educator teaches, what they teach and how they present their business, may influence how they present and name themselves.
You will probably find that most antenatal/childbirth educators are women who have had children. Women tend to be more prevalent in childbirth education, because of their own experiences but also because of the flexibility this career offers, especially if they want to work from home due to family commitments. However, there are educators that haven’t had children who are just passionate about the incredible process of birth and parenting. Less common, but just as welcome and most definitely needed, are male educators. So you can see that no experience is needed to start this incredible career,
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