Why should you invest in childbirth classes &
a Birth and Postpartum Doula Services?
Sarah Ludwig is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA trained doula, SafeKids Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor, and an Infant CPR & babywearing educator. Sarah has offered support and education to the families of the lower Hudson Valley area for the last 7+ years. With her multifaceted training and experience, she is able to provide many different and needed servious to families. Sarah loves providing families with the tools to make a transition into parenthood easier.
Did you know in the US couples spend an average of $30,000 and 15 months planning their wedding? Also, the average family spends $2,000 preparing their nursery for a new baby. (Though I think that might be a little high, you can find what your new baby really needs here.) What about the time and investment in preparing for your new baby. I had the opportunity to chat with Sarah Ludwig, a local Rockland County Doula (among other things!), to discuss the benefits of birth preparation, postpartum preparations & a little car seat safety.
What do you feel is the benefit to take a birth preparation class? Simply put, you do not know what you don’t know. Regardless of whether your plan is to have a home birth in your bath tub, or a hospital birth with an epidural is more your speed, my goal is that you have the information available to make decisions that are right for your family. I want everyone to feel calm and confident and to have a voice in shaping the birth experience they want. Having a birth preparation class gives you the tools to formulate your own opinions and preferences and a background to have informed discussions with your midwife or OB. According to The Knot, "In the last three months leading up to their wedding, brides spend an average of 11 hours a week working on wedding details." Like your wedding, the day of your baby's birth is a momentous occasion that deserves time and attention so that you are ready!
What are some reasons a couple might want private childbirth class over a hospital class? First and foremost, private classes are tailored to YOU. I work with your schedule and customize my content to your specific needs. I am able to offer flexibility that hospital/group classes are not able to. Hospital-sponsored classes can be useful for learning more about a hospital's protocol and standard operating procedures, but in a stand-alone class, you can rest assured you are getting unbiased information about the full spectrum of options from an independent source. My class is about YOU, and your needs for birth, not just about the hospital’s policies and procedures.
Other than birth preparation classes, what are some other ways parents can prepare? This really depends on the individual family; there are so many great resources available out there! I would recommend going on a tour of your birthing place if that applies, and seeking out what groups may be available in your community to network with other new parents. La Leche League offers free meetings for breastfeeding assistance, for example, or there are several babywearing groups to help you learn about and use new carriers. If scheduling is challenging, or you’re not ready to go out and about, there are many localized Facebook groups where you can ask questions and connect with the community. I recommend seeking out resources before you have the baby so if you face any challenges in the postpartum weeks, you have places to get help! Finally, consider hiring a doula! Many people don’t realize that in addition to labor support, most doulas are happy to be a resource during pregnancy and beyond!
Many families are looking for a one day class, why do you feel a 5 week series is best?
I am happy to do a one-day class if that is what works best for a specific family, but it is not going to be as comprehensive as a class that is spaced out over time - there is just too much information! Not only can it become physically uncomfortable for a pregnant mom to sit for a length of time like that, it is also a lot to process all at once. If at all possible, I recommend at least making it a weekend intensive and separating into 2 days for those people on a time crunch, but spreading it out makes it more manageable and allows time for reflection and questions before moving on.
Becoming a father for the 1st time can be filled with uncertainty and doubts. How can you best help prepare partners for the challenges and duties ahead? I involve the birth partners as active participants in my childbirth preparation classes - I love watching parents see the strength and beauty of their partner in birth and learn together! I teach my families to work as a team and support each other. As a doula, I know birth, but your partner knows YOU.
Car seat safety is extremely important, and can become overwhelming. What advice do you have for shopping for an infant car seat? All seats pass the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards - properly used, they are ALL incredibly effective at reducing the risk of injury in a crash. The key there is using them properly, which can be a challenge. I encourage anyone transporting a child to read the manuals for both their seats and their vehicles, and to have their seat checked by a certified CPST. Many people check reviews when making a purchase, but I never trust retailer customer reviews for car seats. Think about how frequently car seats are used and installed incorrectly - over 80% of the time! Consider those are the same people reviewing the seats. Whenever I do read reviews, there is rampant misuse and misunderstandings. To narrow down the selection, here are some considerations - and then take a look at CSFTL, Car Seat Lady, or carseat.org for reviews you can trust.
How do you know an infant car seat is installed correctly? Can just anyone check it? Read the manual! There is SO much information. I know we live in a culture where no one reads the directions - the new iPhones don’t even come with manuals - but this is one instance where it is really, really important. Seats are only as effective as they can be if they are used properly. Not all police/fire stations have certified techs. I am a CPST-Instructor and I offer private consultations or you can also search for certified techs at the Safe Kids site. You will get the best results if you only put in county. (You can check my credentials if you search Rockland, but I also travel to Bergen and Westchester quite frequently.) http://cert.safekids.org/find-tech
Hiring a doula can be a huge asset for preparing for birth and a new baby. Why do you think families should consider hiring a doula for their birth? Birth is a milestone life event and a doula can help you have the best experience possible. Just like a wedding, one person’s dream birth experience would not be the same as someone else’s - and that’s okay! A doula will help you formulate preferences and give you a voice regardless of what your specific decisions are. Having a doula at your birth is like having an experienced guide on a mountain climb - you may be able to follow the trail on your own, but an expert can point out benefits and risks to certain paths, and offer recommendations for how to have the best hike.
Those first few days (and weeks) can be challenging for families. How can having a postpartum doula there help their transition? I love helping families in this incredible transition period and watching them grow together. A new baby is a new start and whether this is your first child or you’re Michelle Duggar, there is always something to learn! I try to ease communication and help you find your parenting groove - one former client described me as sort of like having a favorite aunt in the house; I can help you find your nursing rhythm, hone your babywearing skills, and provide a listening ear to any worry or anxiety you have.
What is your biggest piece of advice to families preparing for their birth and new baby? Don’t listen to everyone’s advice! Even the largest family has a very limited sample size - what worked for your friends may not be what works for you. It can be overwhelming and stressful to listen to all of the conflicting ideas out there. Use what feels right and ignore the rest. You’ve got this!
Birth is a huge life changing event. As birth workers and family caregivers, we just want to see families be as prepared as they can be. There is no reason you can’t ready yourself for all the things that might be thrown at you during childbirth and parenting. What things did you do to prepare for birth and postpartum? What do you wish you had done? Is there anything you are planning on doing differently for the next baby? Leave me a comment below! A big thanks to Sarah Ludwig with Baby To Go! I love collaborating with my fellow birth workers.
Being a new parent can be isolating - I love helping new parents find their confidence and their parenting style. I live in Nyack with my husband and two kids and two dogs. Find me at baby-to-go.com and connect at facebook.com/BabyToGo!
Hi I am Danielle. I am a doula, childbirth educator, placenta encapsulation specialist, mother, wife & passionate about birth in the Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland & Orange County, NY area.
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Danielle Bianco, (She/Her)
Certified Madriella Doula & Certified CPSC Sleep Consultant
845-499-8116 (text or call)
Serving the New Windsor & Hudson Valley area
Birth doula, postpartum doula & sleep consulting
Dutchess County, NY
Rockland County, NY
Orange County, NY
Ulster County, NY
& Westchester County, NY
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