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Great Starts: Birth education for the whole family

Published on: April 01, 2006

Do you wonder why someone who has already had a baby would take another childbirth preparation class? If you attend the Great Starts Better Birth Refresher class, you will wonder no more! Janelle Durham, MSW, CD, and director of education at Great Starts, teaches this three-hour seminar geared toward what experienced parents need.

Planning a VBAC and want to learn how to increase your chances? Had a complicated first birth and want to find ways to move past the fears that some of those complications might arise again? Wonder if there is a way to improve your last birth experience? Had a lovely first birth and want to feel even better prepared for a subsequent birth? Just need a reminder about what to expect in birth? The Better Birth Refresher class covers these topics and whatever else the participants need to prepare for birth.

Recently, a student from this class said, "You did a wonderful job of presenting a lot of important information in an efficient and entertaining way. Although I've been reviewing all the books that I read during our first pregnancy, and talking to friends who have had a second child, taking your class has been the most helpful birth preparation yet." Because this class is specifically tailored to meet the needs of the students, sometimes it is more effective than a childbirth series. One student remarked, "I think I learned more during this short session than I did during our six-week-long class at a local hospital."

For those in the Better Birth class who seek an unmedicated birth, Janelle also recommends Working With Labor Pain, another three-hour seminar offered by Great Starts. This class is for anyone who would like more information on coping with labor pain, and more time practicing coping techniques. An experienced labor support doula helps participants learn to view pain as a positive sign of labor progress, and discusses ways to work with their bodies during labor to best achieve their desired birth outcomes.

If you are adding a new baby to your home, the Sibling Preparation classes offered by Great Starts can also help you to prepare older siblings for birth and to help smooth their entry into their new roles as big brothers and sisters.

New babies joining families are as exciting for grandparents as they are for the parents and siblings. Great Starts offers a Grandparents class, where grandparents will learn from an experienced grandmother about the current recommendations on baby care, as well as how grandparents can best support their children's parenting experience and connect to their new grandchildren. Grandparents who have attended the class found the most helpful information included "updates on safety, how to prevent choking and how to help my daughter with breastfeeding."

Great Starts offers other birth and parenting classes, including preconception classes, early pregnancy classes and parenting classes on topics such as vaccinations, breastfeeding, solid food introduction, baby soothing, adoptive family development and sign language. Great Starts is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing growing families. You can become a member of Great Starts and support education for growing families while earning a discount on your classes. For more information, visit or contact Great Starts at 206-789-0883.

About the Giving Together Campaign

Great Starts is one of four Puget Sound organizations featured in ParentMap's 2006 Giving Together campaign, which promotes and supports agencies that are striving to improve the lives of families in our community. Look for profiles of our other three Giving Together partners -- the Foundation for Early Learning, the Program for Early Parenthood Support (PEPS) and Hopelink -- in future issues.

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