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Young Moms: Making Childbirth Education Relevant toThem

Author: Sarah Hilbert-West

Okay – so you know young people, right? You’ve raised kids. You’re hip and up-to-date. Then why is it so hard to reach that 17-year-old student in prenatal class?

1) She is tired. She is not used to having classes or meetings at nighttime. She has school tomorrow. She had school all day. Don’t waste any of her time.

2) She is not thrilled about being a pregnant goddess. She feels fat, ungainly and ugly, not luminous and beaming with glorious motherhood. Even IF she is wearing hip, tight maternity clothing and looks fabulous to you.

3) She was not trying to get pregnant. She may not have a supportive partner. She may be living at home with her parents. She may not have money for trendy baby gear. She probably feels isolated at school from her peers and definitely from her pregnant, suburban peers at prenatal class.

4) She does not talk about “gross” intimate stuff with her boyfriend or anyone. Pooping while pushing, mucous plugs, breasts, vaginal exams, “discharge” will either make her giggle with embarrassment or wish she were dead.

5) She thinks your carefully chosen, expensive videos and resources are hopelessly out of date and full of old, funny looking people. Sorry!

So what can you do?

Acknowledge the above points, in your approach, your language and your interaction with these moms. It is a fine line to navigate, but try to avoid the pitfalls of being either patronizing, preachy, or worse, painfully “hip” and with-it in your approach. You know what I mean.

She doesn’t need to think you are cool. She probably won’t. You probably aren’t. It definitely doesn’t matter. You want to be the one who gave her non-judgmental support and information: about her body, her abilities and her power. That is what she’ll treasure you for.

Acknowledge that the videos might be boring. Try to avoid the parts with long interviews with moms wearing those big 80’s eyeglasses. Stick with the birth scenes themselves as much as you can. Try to have a few births with young looking moms. Women giving birth are timeless.

Don’t expect her to participate in class or throw out questions or comments. She is used to a different kind of education. If you are friendly, non-threatening and willing to spend extra time, you just might find that she is one who lingers after class to chat. She might be the one who calls with her birth story. She might be the one who borrows the “Active Birth” book. And she’ll probably be the one that gives you the glowing evaluation. Maybe.

Sarah Hilbert-West is a Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor and Post-Partum Depression Support Group Facilitator. She owns and operates, offering birth stools, unique teaching aids and useful resources for childbirth educators, doulas, parents, and midwives. - the site for YOU!