Childbirth E-Class Aims to Alleviate Anxieties

Eight-chapter online birth class helps moms and their support systems feel better prepared.

Published in Community Health - Community Health Stories

Nervous about her first pregnancy, Sara Forrest enrolled in the Johns Hopkins childbirth education e-class. She chose a private class so she, her husband and her mother could learn together from the comfort of their couch.

“I was very anxious about labor and delivery, and the class helped me calm down a lot,” says Forrest. “We talked about how it is a natural process, and I was able to ask all the questions that were on my mind. We ended the class with big smiles, lots of excitement and feeling much wiser about what to expect.”

The Johns Hopkins Understanding Birth e-class is a traditional childbirth 101 course gone virtual. The eight-chapter online birth class uses videos, animation and real-life stories to help expectant moms and their support systems understand pregnancy, labor, and various breathing, relaxation and pushing techniques. Moms are encouraged to sign up in their early third trimester.

The class is often the first relationship parents have with Johns Hopkins Medicine during the long journey of parenting. By supporting the birth of our newest community members, Johns Hopkins Medicine ensures they have a healthy and safe start.

Childbirth education coordinator Anna Rose Martin says the e-class has become very popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re getting enrollments from all over the country — Colorado, California, Arizona,” Martin says. “There’s also more opportunity for private lessons.”

Each class is limited to just a few couples, or moms can opt for a private course. The class covers the anatomy of childbirth, early labor signs, the equipment that will be used, how coaches can help as well as general postpartum care. Classes can be completed in two hours.

“A lot of the class is driven by the questions patients ask,” Martin says.

Instructor Jeni Rossberg says childbirth for new moms can be a scary thing shrouded in an air of mystery.

“We spend a lot of time on education,” she says. “We want to make the entire experience better for them, and help them feel a little more ready.”

One way the class helps is by teaching birth terms, such as amino hook, so moms and their support systems are not surprised by terminology used during labor and delivery. Instructors are also committed to keeping patients up to date on procedural or visitation practice changes in relation to COVID-19. Rossberg says she wants moms to feel comfortable making quick decisions in what can be an ever-changing process.

“When we expect things to go one way, they might not. You have to be open-minded and be able to advocate for yourself,” she says. “It’s great for peace of mind in a very stressful and exciting time.”

Instructor Kate Potter agrees. She says she wishes every parent could take this class to help reduce fear and anxiety.

“It’s great to make a plan, but at the end of the day, you have to stay flexible,” Potter says.

The class can also create a sense of community, adds instructor Liz Doro.

“It’s a good opportunity for couples to be together and bond with other couples,” she says. “The class is beneficial regardless of your experience. You’ll gain an overall understanding of the process from start to finish.”

Forrest, who gave birth to baby boy Oliver on Nov. 9, says she feels fortunate to have had her e-class instructor, Martin, by her side throughout the delivery.

“She put her face close to mine and assured me everything was OK and natural,” Forrest says. “Her soothing words helped me get more grounded and ready to meet my son.”

Forrest says she felt more confident because she had learned the birthing terms during the e-class. She says having that knowledge eased her anxiety.

“It made me feel more prepared,” says Forrest. “I knew I was safe, and I was confident that we were absolutely in the best hands.”