If you know me at ALL, you know that I literally get goosebumps at the talk of birth, babies and all things labour. Trained as a Doula in North America, I love love LOVE end of pregnancy everything and get secretly gushy as woman start to talk about labour, birth and post birth (or even red raspberry leaf tea, herbal soaks for the perineum, stretch and sweeps and mucus plugs – weird right?). One of the things it’s not customary to discuss with potential clients is ones own birth (as everyone has a distinctly different birth experience), but it was the significance of my births that grew the desire to support and empower women in labour. You can read more about how much I looooove all this here.
And so I’m very passionate (especially after returning to South Africa from a very ‘informed consent about everything’ city such as Vancouver) that pregnant moms have AS MUCH information as possible when they make decisions towards the end of their pregnancy. I also desire moms to question, think, re-question, re-think and not just go with the flow or succumb to the fear of the unknown surrounding birth. There is grace and glory in the unknown! There is empowerment, indescribable joy and a mysterious disbelief in birth which deeply touches women, whichever way you birth.
If my days are anything like yours, it includes chaos, business, exhaustion, work, play, multiple cups of coffee, driving, meetings, groceries, events… and and and. And as a pregnant mom approaches due day, exhaustion can hit an all time high, but, you need to be in the know about what’s ahead.
So… I have the perfect way to inspire you into being labour-ready amidst all your goings-on… Online Antenatal Classes (!!), with our friends at Just Engage.
Hang on. Online? “Don’t I need to (drag my husband) to a weekly meeting for all this stuff”, you may ask? Well, you can, but you certainly don’t have to! Read on…
This is what Just Engage’s Antenatal Courses cover:
Course 1: Healthy pregnancies
Course 2: Stages of natural labour and birth
Course 3: Caring for mom and babe after birth and breastfeeding
Course 4: Cesarean births, inductions, VBACs and pain relief
Course 5: Early parenting
Course 6: Life after the birth.
Here is a sneak peak on the topic of water birth. I had a water birth with my second and I even learned something after watching this.
If you watched the link above, you would have met Sharon Kloppers, who began Just Engage in August 2012. She wanted to offer an antenatal class that was convenient and practical for busy working couples.
Her heart behind Just Engage is to offer expecting couples information and resources around all their birth and parenting choices, and to realistically connect them to networks of support depending on the choices they make.
She is most passionate about expecting moms feeling confident and supported in their decisions enabling them to have the best chance of a positive birth experience and beginning to motherhood (and fatherhood). Ah, I couldn’t agree more. Sharon also wants to expose this community of expecting families to the incredible professionals, organisations and resources that exist in South Africa which are maybe less visible or known.
For generations South African women have attended antenatal classes. Usually run by a midwife or physiotherapist, a group of pregnant ladies (and their reluctant significant others) gather in a hospital basement or someone’s home to learn about pregnancy, labour, childbirth and early parenting. While they have never been compulsory, it’s been a preferred method of meeting other expecting couples who will have babies and toddlers of a similar age as well as preparing yourself mentally for the changes ahead. Antenatal classes can help you and your partner focus on your pregnancy, and help you prepare for labour and birth as well as for the practicalities, and the realities of parenthood.
However, times are changing. Many women work for as long as possible before baby arrives and so committing to a class with many sessions over many weeks is off-putting or simply impossible. The modern woman might ask ‘So what is the point of antenatal courses anyway?‘ and has turned to resources online to prepare herself for the transition from woman to mother. If you google antenatal class (online) you will find multiple options but not all of these will genuinely be helpful. Some classes are free, others are paid-for and there are now so many different approaches and techniques being taught.
WHY JUST ENGAGE?
Divided into 6 online courses, Just Engage offers video lectures that you can watch on a desktop, laptop or mobile device. You can work through the content at your own pace and in your own time, just log in on the website and pick up exactly where you left off. Basically, you can do your entire antenatal course online! Once you’ve watched a video lecture (usually by Sharon, the main facilitator and mentor, or a specialist lecturing on their area of expertise) you can download the notes from that lecture which you can keep in a PDF format. You can invite other pregnant friends to sign up with you so you are working through similar content and you can post comments on any video at any stage in the class. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter or follow the Just Engage blog to get updates on new video content, blogposts, related products or services now available and personal stories of mothers and fathers from the trenches of parenthood. Perfect for the busy family, right?
WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
Here in South Africa antenatal classes cost roughtly R1000+ for 6-10 classes you have to attend. The Just Engage class costs R780 to join which gives you access to all the content as well as ongoing access to new content as it gets added. A refresher antenatal class is an available extra. You also gain access to the online community, the blogposts, the forum and the online shop (but these are available to the public too).
CONTACT THEM – they’re here to help!
Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to speed with what they’re doing. You can also read all their FAQs here. SIGN UP NOW and enter the code ‘Debbie‘ at checkout and receive 20% OFF your online class subscription! Do it, do it now!
Keen to know more? Sharon is currently working on a new blog series on Down’s Syndrome. Downs is often a bit of a mystery to those not directly affected by it and she’s digging in and cracking it open for the rest of us. You can read her first post on it here.
If you’d like to know any more about Sharon, the antenatal classes, how to sign up, or what she’s currently working on, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.