What Can You Find in a Lamaze Class? Measuring Cups!

When you sign up for any Lamaze childbirth class, you can expect to learn thoroughly about labor, birth, and postpartum through the use of evidence-based resources and instruction. But that's pretty much where the similarities end. A Lamaze class can be taught in a group or privately; a Lamaze class can be covered in one day or over the course of several weeks; and a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator will use a variety of activities, visual aids, and teaching tools to demonstrate different concepts, tips, and techniques. In this new series, we'll be showing off some of the fun and unique tools our educators use in their classes. If you thought you knew all about Lamaze classes before, you might be surprised! The following fun idea comes from your very own Giving Birth with Confidence curator (me!), Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, a birth doula and Lamaze childbirth class teacher in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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What: Measuring cups, from 1/4 teaspoon (2cm) to 1 cup (10cm)!


This set of measuring cups and spoons in my classes are a true-to-size representation of cervical dilation in labor. I bring them out when discussing the basics of anatomy and labor progress -- of which dilation is just one of six ways to show labor progress, by the way! 


What's in a Lamaze Class

Why: Dilation is a subject that often brings about intense curiosity and sometimes, concern and fear. "How does a baby fit through there?!" It's one thing to talk about how a woman's body knows just how to open and fit her baby perfectly. It's quite another thing to show the actual size of dilation! When presented with the 10cm cup (or, 1 cup measuring cup), most parents respond with a quiet but awestruck "Wowwww." When paired with my class doll, whose head fits beautifully in the 1 cup, parents feel an increased sense of confidence seeing just how much space the body alows for baby to be born. I also talk about how, different than my baby model, real babies' heads are constructed of movable bony plates with gaps (fontanels) that mold and adjust to further allow a perfect fit through the birth canal. 


As great as this visual tool is, it's also important for parents to know that labor progress isn't all about dilation! Like I mentioned above, there are six ways to show labor progress. So often, women, care providers, and even friends and family members hinge on the seemingly magical "how far dilated" number. Women also show progress with baby's rotation, effacement (thinning of the cervix, presented as a percentage), softening of the cervix, position of the cervix (anterior and posterior), and station of the baby within the pelvis (presented as -2, -1, 0, +1, etc.). It's important, especially during a particularly long or emotionally challenging labor, or when labor has stalled, to ask about all the elements of labor progress. You may not have dilated further in four hours, but perhaps baby has dropped lower in your pelvis and you're now at a +1 station instead of a -1 -- that's key progress! 






Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, is a doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, as well as the community manager for the Lamaze parents' blog,
Giving Birth with Confidence. She practices and teaches in Myrtle Beach, SC, at Simple Support Birth and is an active member of the Coastal Childbirth Collective, which brings resources and support to families in her community. Cara also keeps a busy but beautiful life at the beach with her supportive husband and three active kids. 


1 Comment

Measuring Cups

July 25, 2015 11:29 PM by Brigid T,

What a great and simple tool to use in demonstrating dilation! I liked how you also address the other ways through which labor progress is determined. It seems that dilation is the one that everyone knows, and so often most people have never heard of the other ways.

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