Mar 07 2018

Why would I take a Childbirth Education Class?

Why would I take Childbirth Education Classes?

Photography by Visual Hues Photography

Photography by Visual Hues Photography

By Randi van Wiltenburg ‘The Butterfly Baby Doula’ with my special guest Laurie McGowan ‘The YYC Unicorn’


I’ve noticed many people don’t think about doing childbirth education classes within Calgary lately and I wanted to address some of the misconceptions as well as delve into some of the other options available outside the tradition classes.

I reached out to a local doula and childbirth educator to get more information about her training and her classes.

I’d like to introduce you to Laurie McGowan, she is an incredibly talented human! Not only does she support local birthing people, she is also a mother to 4 children. Each of her pregnancies and births have taught her so much, her last pregnancy (TWINS!) stretched her and pushed her farther then she could fathom. Those experiences help her come at her classes and doula support from a very knowledgeable, empathetic and experienced side.

Laurie is honest, genuine and so real. She lets you see into her postpartum experience and what being a Mom can sometimes look like. She has an amazing sense of humour, quick wit, and has that tongue in cheek sarcasm that I adore. She adores good caffeine…I mean coffee and is truly a unicorn within the world of birth workers.

Her company is Adventures of Little, and she is trained and certified through Birth Boot Camp (don’t let the title scare you away, it’s not just for Cross Fit people!)


When looking into childbirth education (CBE) classes what should people be asking and looking for?

They need to be looking to see that it will fulfill their needs:

– What are they looking for?

– What are they needing?

– What fears do they have?

Then to make sure that information is covered in the course.

If they want to look beyond policy and standard practises, they need to look beyond what is common and see what else is offered.

Childbirth education classes are not one size fits all, and I as a doula highly recommend people see what all their options are. -Randi


What kind of training do you have compared to others?

When we (Birth Boot Camp instructors) do our training, we have requirements to fulfill before the in person training.

An in-depth and intensive certification package;

– Observe two types of births

– Complete the online classes prior

– 4 days in person training, in Texas.

– Exam at the end, took me 3 hours to write so it’s not a simple one.

I chose Birth Boot Camp because of the curriculum. It’s evaluated and updated yearly, kept current, evidenced based information. The board consults with a midwife, OB, IBCLC, CBE instructors, nutritionists, physiotherapist…and so many others. And it is packaged really nicely.

I also have requirements to meet annually to stay certified.

What topics do you cover?

I like to think of it as filling a birth toolbox! We talk about tests and procedures that are happening during pregnancy; it’s a ten week in depth class! There’s a lot of stuff, it’s comprehensive.

Stages of labour, what happens to your body during all those stages, specific comfort techniques in pregnancy, labour during the birth, different care providers, the topics that people may find scary, as well as support, there’s a class on nutrition, exercise and physical therapy,  every class after that has highlight on those topics. Relaxation scripts- different kinds as everyone is different and need different styles, images, visualizations.

Variations of normal, things that are not as normal (currently our Calgary stats for caesarean births are 1-3), what you want to talk to you care provider(s) about, and information to make informed judgement calls. Our classes provide a space for partners/support people to be aware and informed. The classes are 2.5-3 hours each week to fully focus on the pregnancy and what’s going to be happening in the postpartum. The classes give you an opportunity for  you both to be in a better relationship position after the baby arrives because you’re having those conversations. We are  all super busy people and the classes help people get focused  time and continued exposure while there are conversations happening in between the classes helping you and your team get on the same page.

What makes you better than the traditional birth classes?

I think I come at it from a different point of view; I’m not there to give medical advice. I’m there to encourage conversation between the pregnant person, their family, care provider(s) and support people. Your doctor won’t necessarily tell you that chiropractic care can be beneficial during pregnancy, they don’t always know nor do they have the time. Your doctor may talk about breastfeeding, answer general questions, but that knowledge is limited to whatever education they have…and they don’t always know the most current information. The doctors don’t have time to talk about self care, baby wearing, cloth diapering and or  different types of care providers (like midwives) or places to birth outside of a hospital.I don’t think they discuss how  your emotions about your birth can impact you for a lifetime. We talk about hospital births, the birth centre, home births and your freedoms of where and with whom you want to birth. I don’t teach a method as there is more than one way to birth.

I’m a private class, so I’m able to give plenty of evidence-based information and take the time to answer your questions, and chat about questions you can ask your care providers that you may not have previously considered.  

One of our class videos is a beautiful home birth; the mom is a nurse and the dad is an ER Doctor. It’s normalizing how awesome and empowering birth can and should be and some of the variations.

We do cover scary topics and  the importance of dialogue and knowledge around these events can be powerful.

We have small classes. The max I will ever have is 5 birthing people and their support persons. I find, personally, that groups larger than this can change the dynamic of learning.

We cover all births and how they can look. Our curriculum continues to adapt over time for the better, both for the people taking classes and the instructors sharing the information.

What are the benefits?

I feel like they are comfortable classes where people can take what information they need from it. They get an awesome work book, a breastfeeding video that they have access to watch in pregnancy  hand as well as in postpartum , they have access to my brain for resources, and I can specialize the information based on their needs.

Any risks?

You end up being pretty close to this small group of people and have a better relationship with your partner and your birthing team. You walk into your birth ready to rock it and own your choices.

I can’t guarantee your birth will go the way you want it to, but you will leave your birth knowing that you made your own decisions and be good with that; no one made the decisions for you.

If you miss a classyou can catch up online (up to two classes), but the responsibility to do watch them is on you.


For questions regarding this class, please contact Laurie McGowan at





Next class March 20, 2018 aimed for June/July/August due dates.

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