Expecting Kindness is a curriculum built upon 18 years of experience teaching childbirth education as well as attending over 200 births as a doula in the greater Seattle area. The mission for this project is to provide a comprehensive childbirth education experience to families who do not have access to a comprehensive class that will educate and instill confidence, as well as a profound respect for the beautiful work of labor and birth. Families can also use this course in addition to a hospital class, to fill in gaps left wide open in an effort to remain politically correct. It can be used to add detail and depth to a weekend crash course. It can be used in combination with other classes, like hypnobirthing, to help you better understand where and when to apply the skills you will learn. It can be used as a refresher course for families who have perhaps taken a course to prepare for their first birth, but now have children and can not afford the time. Expecting Kindness will take nothing away from other sources, but will add context and some simplicity to the progression of labor to help both a laboring mother and anyone who may be present and providing support for her. When everyone in her circle has an understanding of the logic of the labor process, the patience to allow it to progress, the tools to help her cope with the contractions that can be overwhelming, the knowledge to help her remember what her powerful contractions are doing, that they are purposeful, when her circle has the ability to bear witness to any pain she does experience and remind her that she is not a victim of it, it is of her body, her strength, her feminine power, then she will feel stronger, more powerful, more in control (most of the time), and in her moments of weakness, she will know that she is being protected and held, when she feels out of control.
This curriculum also educates about the common interventions in childbirth today and how they all contribute to our obscene national rate of surgical birth, and how to avoid it whenever it is the healthiest option (which is almost all the time). ACOG has recently released it's new, revised, timeline for births and when it is observed, it mirrors what birth activists have been saying for years. It takes some education though, to be able to follow the new guidelines (arriving a the hospital or birth center in active labor, now considered to be approximately 6cm dilated) because labor can feel pretty challenging before we reach that milestone. Knowing how to evaluate the labor by simply knowing how put a puzzle of external signs and symptoms together will help you to arrive at your desired birth location when she actively needs what they have to offer, while avoiding the pitfalls of one intervention in early labor leading to another and another and ultimately, often, laying a breadcrumb trail to the operating room. Even those planning a home birth will need to evaluate the labor progress in order to communicate effectively with their midwives to make sure they arrive at the appropriate time.
It is a workbook style course, offering you short "lectures", STRONGLY suggested supplemental reading, video's to watch, relaxation techniques, breathing for relaxation, physical support tools etc. There are also assignments, such as journaling prompts, exercises to prepare for the work of labor, and writing a birth plan for example. I believe in birth plans, when they are reasonable, because any event of this magnitude requires at least a framework that your circle can refer to. It allows the family to focus on comfort and care without constant interruptions and incessant questions from staff. It provides a simple list of directives regarding any specific medical procedures or interventions, for mom or baby, that may be difficult to understand and/or make informed choice about while working though labor.
I hope you enjoy the course, I use it in my classroom and can attest to the fact that families who have used it, very often have fewer interventions than they otherwise would have, they have expressed that they have felt empowered by birth, they felt well armed to ask questions and command respect and dignity from care providers, they have reported feeling confident in the face of having to make choices to accept interventions that became necessary, allowing them to accept even a surgical birth more easily because they knew and fully understood that it was the healthiest choice for mom or baby. At it's core, Expecting Kindness is a call for a MUCH deeper reverence for the most creative force in nature, none of us would be here without birth; it is the first moment that a family meets one another and it can be honored far and away more than it often is. Women deserve to be empowered through birth, we deserve to be treated with kindness, patience, to be understood, have thorough explanations of any risks or complications, as well as all risks and benefits to proposed treatments, we deserve to be asked permission to be touched. We deserve to feel the power of our bodies, to know that we are capable of far more than we realized.