How to Build a Childbirth Education Program: Classroom, Virtual, and Blended Perinatal Class Options and Curriculum Materials 

Adults pursue education for a variety of reasons.  Education in the childbearing year is very different from education in a college classroom where the subject may just be a requirement and the student’s main goal is to get a passing grade.  In childbirth and other perinatal classes, students are learning very relevant and just-in-time information–this is key to engagement and retention in adult learning [review our adult learning blog here].  Unlike most academic endeavors, these learners don’t have 4 years to complete this highly necessary curriculum!

Many of us dream of being able to hold a 6-week childbirth class series to fully help the students explore and retain information that positively impacts their upcoming birth experience. Or, for breastfeeding and newborn care classes, even offering a 2-week class series is no longer the norm!  Over time, there has been a change in the cultural expectation of parents attending any prenatal classes.  There may be a lack of encouragement both socially and by their medical team that would help parents see the value of prenatal classes.  Another factor is that our fast-paced world has changed the format of what is requested for classes.  A 12+ hour class taken in person is often not the norm anymore, but the information needed has not lessened.  So how do we help parents attain the amount of information they will need to navigate this extraordinary time in their life?

Your education program’s menu options (many facilities use a mix of these!):

  • Live instructor-led in-person classes: This is the traditional way of teaching for many educators. Parents enroll in classes and meet in your classroom.  A combination of demonstration, return demonstration, lecture, question and answer, videos, and hands-on teaching are often used to cover the class objectives. The number of hours available to teach these classes dictates the depth that can be explored during the classroom time.  Since we are often limited in the number of hours we can teach, making sure the learners have a trusted and reliable resource to use outside the classroom is very necessary.  If you are using any of InJoy’s childbirth education resources, including Understanding PowerPoint presentations or video programs (such as the Understanding Birth video or PowerPoint) in the class, sending home the corresponding book that includes a web app with videos expands your teaching from the classroom to home, and the learner has a better chance of remembering what you talked about in class, so the information really sticks. If you prefer a paperless resource, InJoy’s stand-alone web app is another great option that allows parents the opportunity to review video content and more between classes. (It’s also a great way for students who miss a class to catch up!)
  • Live instructor-led virtual classes: If you are teaching virtually, which is an option that is here to stay for many facilities, you can use any InJoy video or PowerPoint while you are leading the class. Your preferred virtual meeting platform will usually allow you to share your screen to show the slideshow or videos as desired (but be aware, video buffering can sometimes be an issue).  Discussion, demonstration, and creative ways to encourage interactions using polls and more are still quite possible virtually, so turn your camera on and have fun! Books and web apps (mentioned above) also make great virtual class companions, especially if you choose to have the parents watch the videos at home outside of class for “homework.”
  • Blended learning (flip your classroom!): Blended learning is becoming more common as physical time in the classroom declines. Using a combination of remote learning with InJoy’s eClasses and a shorter in-person or virtual classroom component is a great way to shorten classroom time and reinforce what the parents are learning independently.
    • Through text, graphics, videos, interactive exercises, and quizzes, the eClasses give solid foundational information about many topics, such as the length of normal pregnancy and why it is important for the baby to stay in utero for the full gestation. Parents can also learn about the stages of labor in our online birth class or different positions for nursing in the online breastfeeding class. Be sure to tell students what needs to be completed before they join the educator-led session.
    • During the in-person or virtual part of your class, you will have time to practice hands-on demonstrations and techniques. For example, you can help the group practice comfort measures and massage techniques, diaper a baby, use a doll to learn different breastfeeding holds, and more, depending on your class objectives. This shorter time together is also great for answering questions and having meaningful class discussion.  Additionally, you can share PowerPoint slides or clips during the virtual session (as mentioned above). The students get the best of both worlds: convenient home learning and your wisdom shared in the classroom.
    • It is important to make both the eClass and the in-person or virtual classroom components of the blended learning experience an expectation you lay out clearly in your registration process. Create an invitation link for the virtual class if you are teaching that way, or send out an email reminder to finish the eClass (or specific sections of the eClass) before your in-person meeting.
  • Self-directed learning by parents: Some parents prefer self-directed, asynchronous online learning. At the beginning of the pandemic, many educators turned to this method while they were getting their virtual connections up and running. This is still a great option that allows your organization to reach more parents and cover a wider breadth of topics and situations, such as InJoy’s multiples, planned cesarean, and fatherhood online classes.
    • The eClasses are comprehensive and cover essential learning objectives–they include videos, quizzes, extended activities, and other tools that help them apply the information and better retain it.
    • You can also use the Ask the Educator feature in the eClasses to allow the learners to reach out to you should they have any questions, or you can plan to connect with the parent after they finish the eClass via phone or video chat.

As you can see, there is not just one way to teach parents anymore! Offering a combination of class styles may help you reach more people and appeal to their individual learning preferences.

Want more information or helpful tips to get the most out of your educational offerings? InJoy is here to help! Give us a call at 1-800-326-2082 x2. We also welcome you to add your own “sticky” ideas for aiding retention in the classroom in the comments below.

About the Author