Childbirth Education for Rural Mothers

In the area where I teach “in-person” Lamaze Childbirth Preparation classes (along with other classes), I am the first person in around 10 years to offer a complete series of childbirth education classes.  Despite having a recent and rich tradition of homebirth in rural southeastern, Kentucky where I live, most mothers give birth in hospitals these days.  The state’s non-licensure of homebirth midwives has made it difficult for midwives to practice in rural areas.  According the the UK Center for Rural Health, we have 7 obstetricians per 100,000 residents compared to 11 in more urban areas.  Certified nurse midwives also work in the hospital’s of our region.  At one local hospital where two CNMs and one OB with his physician’s assistant practice, 453 babies were delivered in 2008.  Meaning if each care provider attended the same number of births, each would have attended 13 births monthly alongside their regular clinic duties.  Many of our rural counties have no hospital, and the mothers drive some distance to receive prenatal care and to give birth.

It isn’t much different in other rural American towns.  The limited options, a general lack of informational resources, and the large patient load of our care providers, makes childbirth education something that rural mothers should not neglect to receive.

Increased rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes in rural areas, such as preterm birth and low birth weight, have been observed, as well as higher rates of infant mortality. Access to prenatal care is critical for reducing maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, though rural women tend to receive less adequate prenatal care than their urban counterparts. Although the risk factors for these conditions tend to disproportionately affect women in rural areas, the health status of rural mothers and infants can be largely improved by eliminating existing barriers to quality and comprehensive prenatal care. Ultimately, improving the health of rural mothers and infants, from preconception to pregnancy to birth and beyond, advances the health of the next generation. – Jennifer Peck and Kristie Alexander (Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Rural Areas)

It is my hope that increased access to the services expecting mothers deserve can happen in rural America.  Because I have a concern for rural mothers such as myself and those I serve locally, I have developed online e-courses for mothers who don’t have access to classes locally or whose schedules make it impossible to attend an “in-person” class.  I believe that “in-person” classes taught by a dedicated educator are the first choice in preparation for childbirth.  To read more about choosing a childbirth class, read this .pdf from Mother’s Advocate. However, that can only be a first choice if it is an option at all.

We are fortunate now, to have many resources at our fingertips because of the internet.  Because of the internet, online childbirth preparation and other pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding classes, can be obtained in a way that is fun, personalized, and informative.  Sure we can Google search and find tons of links on any topic surrounding pregnancy and birth, but which links are reliable?  How do you apply what you learn to your situation?  Do you have the time it takes to search through all the links you’ll find?  Who will answer the questions that come up for you?  These questions are why childbirth education is so beneficial for mothers anywhere in the world, and no less so for our rural women.

The classes that I have developed can be personalized for any woman’s particular interests and situation while offering complete information.  The course is emailed in a series of topics (the number of topics in a course will depend upon which class is being taken) along with online video and website links for further information.  I also mail to those taking the Lamaze Childbirth Education class Prepared Childbirth – The Family Way to use throughout the e-course.  If a mother has questions or would like a particular topic or technique explained further, this will be accomplished through email, Skype, or phone call.

At the top of this blog, I have added a page with more details on the online e-courses I offer, along with workshops for other birth professionals.

I know personally the difference quality childbirth education can make in how a mother approaches and experiences her birth.  I hope that I can reach rural women with these classes, and provide informational and emotional support.  Birth is a life-changing transition for women and their families.  Childbirth education can make it one a woman can approach in confidence – true to herself… true to her baby.  An informed birth is a more peaceful birth.

Many happy days to you and yours,


About Kelli

I am Kelli B. Haywood, LCCE, a childbirth educator certified through Lamaze, a birth doula, and prenatal yoga instructor. My two little girls light my life. I am the wife of artist, musician, and teacher - John Haywood.
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