Jun 18, 2020

A New Frontier: Childbirth Education in the Era of COVID-19

For decades, it’s been “normal” for soon-to-be parents to attend childbirth education classes at hospitals or birthing centers. But for expecting parents in 2020, nothing has gone according to plan. By mid-March, due to concerns about COVID-19, hospitals across the country were canceling in-person childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn care, and grandparenting classes. These developments left already anxious expecting families feeling even more so.

The educators who teach these classes have also faced challenges. And they have risen to them. Over the past few months, we’ve heard from clients who provide this vital education. We’ve been impressed by their dedication to their patients and by their resourcefulness and initiative. Despite some serious obstacles, they’ve come up with creative alternatives to traditional onsite classes and they’ve done it all on the fly.

To help you traverse the “new normal,” we’ve put together some stories to inspire you and some strategies to guide you.

Inspired Solutions for Patient Education: Stories from CCI Clients

Meet Ann Clute, childbirth education coordinator at Franciscan Health Indianapolis. Ann posted about her efforts to continue providing patient education in our Facebook group, CCI Hub. To get resources in the hands and homes of her patients, Ann has been using both low and high-tech avenues. She started by mailing and, in some cases, delivering our books to patients.

Ann then turned to Zoom to host online childbirth classes. Now she’s the first to admit that she hadn’t heard of the video-conferencing platform prior to March 14th. But since then, she’s gone all in. Incorporating CCI’s PowerPoint presentations, Ann set about transforming her existing lesson plans. Next, she got her students onboarded and then gave online teaching her first shot. A few months later, Ann is successfully teaching virtual classes in advanced labor support, childbirth, newborn care, breastfeeding, and grandparenting.

Newborn service coordinator at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, Vicki Vertich, has also come up with creative solutions for onsite class cancellations. She’s using the Google Hangouts Meet platform to reach her patients. With an emphasis on patient safety, she’s created a virtual classroom that allows her to teach in real time. This month, Vicki resumed basic labor support, breastfeeding, newborn care, and postpartum classes. New parents can access these virtual classes from anywhere via their laptop, tablet, or smartphones. You can learn more about Vicky’s efforts here.

Digital Strategies to Bridge the Distance During COVID-19

During a time when all of us are practicing social distancing, the term “distance learning” has taken on added significance. But, for those without an eLearning platform in place, distance learning is easier said than done. The good news is that existing technologies can help. For our clients, you can take CCI birth videos and PowerPoints, along with YoMingo, and find the platform that works best for you.

Try one of these options to host classes online:

  • Virtual classrooms. Video-conferencing platforms, like Zoom, have been getting lots of media attention. The same technology you’ve been using to stay in touch with your family and friends during the shutdown can be used to host virtual classrooms for your patients. You could follow Ann’s lead and mail books to your patients once they’ve registered for a class and host the class online. Another option might be to purchase the eBooks directly from us, so patients can access digital copies. GoToMeeting also offers video-conferencing capabilities.
  • Social media. You just read how Vicki is using Google Hangouts Meet to reach her patients. Well, Facebook and Instagram have also gotten in on the act. Both platforms now support “Messenger Rooms,” which is essentially Facebook’s version of a video conference call. Run through FB messenger, Messenger Rooms can accommodate up to 50 attendees at once. You might even try hosting virtual classes using Facebook live video within a group.

    One benefit of these platforms is that most patients already use social media. This means they don’t have to download an app, install something new on their computers, or get up to speed with an unfamiliar video-conferencing tool. Social media also enables users to connect with other expecting parents who are in their same situation. Online communities help keep patients engaged and chat features can serve as virtual support groups. Connections like these can be invaluable during a time like pregnancy – especially during COVID-19.

  • YoMingo. This one’s a personal favorite. CCI’s digital platform, YoMingo, is available any time from any device. Your patients will find interactive tools that they can use throughout their pregnancy. Things like a kick counter, contraction timer, and a feeding log. Plus, they’ll be able to access our content after class is over. You could even video yourself teaching a class and upload it to YoMingo. For hospitals, the platform can be branded to include facility-specific information about things like class schedules, COVID-19 measures, and more.

Virtual strategies like these are helping to ensure that expecting and new parents are prepared for the journey ahead.

CCI’s Take on YoMingo Best Practices for Childbirth Educators

We’d like to offer a little guidance on how to best use YoMingo during this time. Those of you who are familiar with the platform know the content doesn’t take the form of a class. However, it makes a great supplement to the virtual courses you’re teaching. YoMingo guides patients through their entire parenting journey and is a fantastic tool for patients to access when a provider isn’t right there to answer questions. As always, at CCI, we pride ourselves on providing medically accurate information you can trust. YoMingo is no exception.

We feel Ann’s assessment of her experience using our resources says it best: “As much as COVID-19 has been a pain in the neck for all of us, I truly believe that the technological advances that it set in motion will be greatly valued for many years to come. That’s not to say that it was easy, because I faced many challenges, but it was made exponentially easier by having resources and a great relationship with CCI.”

Thank you Ann! You just made our day.

Where do we go from here? You tell us!

We only foresee the role of technology in patient education expanding as we adapt to the ever-changing landscape in the era of COVID-19. We’re not sure how this will all play out in the long term. However, one thing is clear. Patient education has entered uncharted territory – whether we were ready for it or not.

We’d love to hear what you’re doing to continue to provide education to new and expecting parents and families. Join us on Facebook at CCI HUB to share your stories and to keep this conversation going.

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