A Reflection of the Past Thirty Years
as a Childbirth Instructor
By Donna Berger
Thirty years ago, I embarked on The gymnasium added to the environ- hospital. The curriculum was very infor-
a journey that lead me to people and ment for exercises, but it was large and mal, beginning with what they knew.
places I never dreamed of reaching. To we were unable to observe everyone. I used models, videos and posters to
think it all just started with a sign on In time, classrooms were added to teach about the birth process. Even
the nurses’ lounge bulletin board that the facility. These classrooms housed though the situation was not ideal, my
read, “Anyone interested in teaching 10-12 couples, were carpeted, con- one goal was met. Labor room nurses
childbirth classes see Carol.” Within a tained a storage cabinet for supplies, would tell me that moms would come
month, I began my career as a child- and microphones were no longer to the hospital and tell the staff they
birth instructor. necessary. This was a wonderful change were in labor because they attended
But over the years many aspects that aided in classroom interaction and the class and knew the symptoms.
of childbirth education have changed. rapport. However, with this change My non-English speaking patients
Even though in some individuals eyes came the one classroom to one instruc- were shown videos. Five other instruc-
the word “change” has negative con- tor concept. This was very scary for tors and myself were filmed teaching
notations for me the changes I have me to be on my own, but immensely short segments of the classes. I was
encountered have lead to my growth added to my growth as an instructor. I filmed teaching the signs of labor and
not only as an instructor but also as a was totally responsible for the process when to come to the hospital. The
person. and progress of each class assigned to videos were then dubbed with their
me. This made me begin to develop my language by an interpreter. Handouts
Environment own style and curriculum. that were computer generated in their
When I first started teaching, I The classroom environment can language accompanied the video.
taught in a large gymnasium with an- add to the learning process. How- Again, my one goal was attained. Walk-
other instructor. Approximately 20 cou- ever, sometimes we need to reach the ing in the hall of the hospital one day,
ples attended. Team teaching allowed student in their environment. Ten years I met one of these expectant mothers.
us to learn from each other’s styles and later, I was asked to start classes for She pointed at me and said in broken
stories, and we supported each other. the clinic patients and a non-English English, “Contractions five minutes
We were still at a one instructor to speaking population seen at the clinic. apart, come to hospital.”
ten couple ratio, but because of the Both groups were lacking in transporta-
class size, it was difficult to establish a tion and could not attend the evening Childbirth Instructors
relationship with each couple. Though classes, but they were able to make Thirty years ago, most instructors
we allowed time for questions and