If you're pregnant and a planner maybe you're thinking of taking one (or a few) courses to help prepare you for the big change that comes when baby/babies arrive. We asked Erin from the Ottawa Childbirth Education Association (OCEA)
to help new parents navigate course options and provide some tips:
1) We love a good origin story - What is OCEA and how did it come about?
OCEA has been a part of the birthing community in Ottawa since 1974! Originally, started by a group of women under the umbrella of the International Childbirth Education Association
, we are a not for profit organization offering classes in the Ottawa and surrounding area. We are currently six instructors, who have been teaching between 2 - 20 years in the community and reflect a diverse back ground of Retired Midwife, Postpartum and Birth Doulas, Infant Massage Instructors, Breastfeeding Counsellors - and we are all parents ourselves.
2) Which childbirth classes do you absolutely recommend for expecting parents before baby arrives?
The OCEA classes have changed over time responding to the needs of the community. Currently, we teach a Prenatal Labour and Delivery class, a parenting class called Bringing Baby Home, Infant Massage and Infant Sleep classes, Comfort Measures for Birth, CPR and our newest class is a Grandparent & More class. We also teach private sessions when schedules do not align or when participants prefer to take a class tailored to their personal needs in the comfort of their own home.
Each family comes to us with their own unique experience and knowledge. Some families take one class, others take all of our pre-birth classes (Labour, Bringing Baby Home, Comfort Measures) and then return for the post birth classes. We recommend taking Prenatal, BBH or Comfort Measures before 35 weeks of pregnancy for both comfort and in the event baby decides to make an earlier arrival. We would have a difficult time recommending one over the other, as each family has their own support system and we feel that knowledge is power and offers choices.
3) The Grandparents-to-be class really perks our curiosity. What was the impetus for designing a class like this and what impact has it had?
The Grandparents-to-be class came about after expectant women in our classes were asking us to introduce a class to help address why and how recommendations have changed over the last 30+ years to extended family members. Expectant families feel increasing stress to educate grandparents and extended family members on new guidelines related to sleep, tummy time, infant feeding, carseats and more. With so much conflicting information that new parents and families are exposed to, this is a wonderful addition to having the new baby’s village all on the same page. Our class has been a mixture of Grandparents, expectant Aunts and Uncles, and close friends! We hope that it has impacted new families by increasing their supports systems, reducing stress, allowing each family to re-create their village of support.
4) It looks like a lot of the classes sell out. How far in advance should Ottawa parents-to be register in order to snag a spot? Are there plans to expand the number of classes in future?
We suggest families consider watching class schedules and plan to take their sessions anytime between 22-35 weeks of pregnancy. Classes are often planned around personal and statutory holidays, work commitments and coordinating schedules when two parents are involved.
5) Many aspects of birthing and postpartum care are a mystery for parents to-be. What would you say has been the biggest myth to bust with expecting families in your classes?
Preparing for birth and parenting is like preparing for a holiday and not knowing whether you are headed to Greenland or the Bahamas!
The goal of our classes is to give expectant families the tools to have the knowledge of what their options and choices are as well as area resources for new families, regardless of their destination location. Each family comes to class with their own ideas related to birth and parenting shaped by stories we have heard from those around us for many years. Our classes will address these myths and truths and expand each family’s sense of confidence.
Thanks Erin for taking the time to demystify some of the options around childbirth education and for the important work that OCEA and birth educators across Canada do to support expecting families!
Photo by Matthew Henry