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What to Expect in a Childbirth Class

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Topic: What to Expect in a Childbirth Class

RC: Hello everyone. This is Liz Harvey coming to you from our studios in New York City where we are dedicated to bringing you cutting edge interviews from many of the leading industry professionals across the US. In today’s episode, we are speaking with Stephanie Heintzeler. Stephanie is a German educated midwife, a US educated doula and acupuncturist and she’s a certified lactation counselor. She is known as the New York Doula. Stephanie has delivered over 1,200 babies and has experience with twins, triplets, breech babies and water birth. She also works with newborn parents in their postpartum stage and holds classes and seminars for moms and dads to be. With a wealth of experience and knowledge in her field, Stephanie Heintzeler is widely considered to be one of the top doulas in the country. She is also a contributing member of our national network of industry professionals.

Today, we’re going to talk about a very important topic, what to expect in a childbirth class. Hello Stephanie. How are you today?

Stephanie Heintzeler: I’m well, thank you. How are you?

RC: I’m doing great. Thanks so much for being here.

Stephanie Heintzeler: Thanks for having me.

RC: Let’s start with at what stage of a pregnancy is it best to take a child birth class?

Stephanie Heintzeler: Depending on how long the childbirth class is – if it is a six week class or eight week class – you should start around twenty eight weeks of pregnancy. If it’s a weekend class, it would make sense to take that class a little bit closer to the due date, about four to six weeks before the due date.

RC: Do you encourage partners and spouses to attend the classes and are there private classes available or are they usually in a group setting?

Stephanie Heintzeler: I absolutely encourage partners, spouses to attend the class if they plan on being there in the delivery room for sure. Even when they’re not planning to come to the birth, labor will start at home so they need to know what to do and how to react when labor starts at home until other help is there until they separate from their partners. The good thing is, especially my own classes, we don’t do weird stuff with the partners. They don’t need to feel their pelvic floor. They don’t need to keep panting because that’s not what they need to do. They need to observe. They need to help. They need to support their partner so we really try to focus on this is what the mom is doing and this is what the partner is doing so that it can become this amazing team during their birth.


Private classes are very helpful. I teach a lot of private classes especially for people who are very busy. If they can’t find a class that makes sense for them. If they just feel like we want to get everything done in a three hour class and one-on-one because we’ll have specific questions or we really want to have it in our home, that’s no problem. It’s really up to the parents. It really feels so personal they don’t want to have it in a group setting. And others would like to mingle and meet other people who are pregnant too and maybe catch up after the birth. Group settings are amazing. There’s usually five, six couples in a group setting class and if private classes are better for you then absolutely, by all means, book a private class.

RC: Okay. What are some of the pregnancy topics covered?

Stephanie Heintzeler: We’ll focus on pregnancy a little bit because we need to see what is happening during pregnancy in order to see what changes during birth but it’s only a smaller part, the pregnancy part. Pregnancy is basically aches and pains. We will do stretches. In our classes it is important to see how because there are little things, a few things you can do to really get that pain taken care of – sciatica for example. We’ll go of course what will happen during pregnancy in general. We’ll certainly talk about Braxton Hicks contractions because we don’t want parents, mothers, to get afraid thinking that they’re having premature labor. Pregnancy really is the focus on the inner pregnancy like things that are changing the last two or three weeks before the due date to then see how to know what is labor and what’s not.

RC: If someone hasn’t made up their mind on how they want to labor and deliver their baby, can they learn about all the different methods and options or are only the most common methods usually discussed?

Stephanie Heintzeler: In the end, really they learn about everything. There are a lot of methods out there but of course every birth is very individual so what we’ll go over things like where you could feel contractions, how labor could start, that’s a very important thing so they really know this is labor, this is not. For the partners, what do I want to see in my pregnant partner, how can I really confirm this is labor. Doulas (of course) – we talk a lot about how they help in labor and how they can lower the C-section rate. How they can support the partner because of 24 hour labor which is what we usually have for first time moms, not active labor of course. For 24 hours you need help. You need someone to help. Who else can you call if you don’t have a doula – like your mother or your best friend – who can help you to cover for the partner.

Everything will be discussed. We do work a lot with evidence based information so we know that there are higher risks to a vaginal birth when you have an epidural. Maybe when you have an induction it’s not ideal. At the same time, we’ll go over why things are necessary and how you can communicate and still have a wonderful birth even if you have to have an induction. There are certainly options to have a good birth experience and all these things will be discussed in a positive way. It’s not about scaring people. It’s not about throwing information at parents. It’s more about knowing what will come up because it’s common, it’s a hospital, they do have to do their thing and their triage and paper procedures. Giving the parents tools on how to handle everything that will come up.

RC: Lastly, what are some of the newborn care topics that are covered?

Stephanie Heintzeler: Once the parents made up their mind, usually after a class where many say, “Hey this is really now where we feel comfortable with going ahead with choosing or planning this kind of birth; maybe we’re switching providers; maybe we really feel super secure where we are, we kind of set that in stone; yes let’s do set it in stone.” That would be amazing right? We’ll try to release you where you’re comfortable. Once we’re there then the newborn care is a very good tool to get your mind off the whole birth setting because it’s kind of scary at the same time.

For newborn care what’s important is of course the main thing, how does the baby get fed – breastfeeding, bottle feeding, formula fed feeding. What do the parents want? What’s doable? Are they going back to work very quickly? Newborn care is everything from what to expect, what changes babies have the days after birth. Girls for example have vaginal bleeding after birth. Many parents don’t know that and they freak out when they see blood in the diaper. Sometimes they have swellings in their breasts which is also hormonal change in boys and girls. We go over things like that. We go over the schedule. How often to breastfeed. What’s important in baby’s weight gain. How to help with jaundice.

A postpartum doula is very important because most parents are really overwhelmed and a postpartum doula can really lower the risks in anything. From postpartum depression, breastfeeding success, all these things are really so much better when you have postpartum help. The partner has a baby too so we don’t want the partner to end up in the kitchen and run errands. We want the partner to get to know the babies. That’s important. How the partner can be involved as much as possible in spite of the mother breastfeeding most of the time. A lot of baby wearing, how to calm down my baby.

The main thing is really preparation again. Everything is about preparation. You need to know how often to breastfeed, how to prepare your apartment, what kind of help to get. Who can I call? Who’s my pediatrician? When do I go back to work? Who do I know? What kind of circle of friends do I have who just had a baby where I can turn to for support? It’s a lot. Very comprehensive class with a lot of hands up and of course the opportunity to stay in touch.

RC: Great. Well thank you so much Stephanie. We know you’re extremely busy. I just want to thank you for your time and your help.

Stephanie Heintzeler: Thanks for having me.

RC: For our listeners across the country, if you are interested in speaking with Stephanie Heintzeler, you can either go online to www.thenewyorkdoula.com or call 917-399-2031 to schedule an appointment. On behalf of our entire team, we want to thank you for listening and we look forward to bringing you more top quality content from our country’s leading industry professionals.

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Willkommen, ich bin Stephanie!