Sunday, September 12, 2010

Inexpensive props for breastfeeding classes

The use of visual aids in any class is essential to drive your point home. For visual learners, props help them remember the principles of your theme and may cement a connection between your topic and the object in question, for the rest of their lives potentially. 

I personally love using props because it engages everybody in the class instead of them being mere passive listeners. For my breastfeeding classes I use a few inexpensive but essential props. They are;

  • Medicine measuring cups
  • Newborn Diapers
  • Golf balls/ hazelnuts
  • A pitcher of formula 

Medicine Measuring Cups:

I start off by explaining them about colostrum and the ubiquitous fear of it never being enough to satisfy a newborn.  I give them each a plastic cup of water and ask them to fill it with 15 ml of the water. I ask them to hold it up, take a good look at it. I then go on to explain that the newborn stomach has a capacity to hold only 7-14 ml of liquid at a given feeding. They usually gasp and give me the 'deer-in-headlights' look. 

Newborn Diapers:

I then ask them to fill up the diaper with 3 tablespoons of the remaining water which is about 45 ml. I tell them that this what a wet diaper should feel like. I also ask them how many wet diapers a baby should have on the first, second, third and fourth day of life. 

Golf balls/ Hazelnuts:

Each couple gest a golf ball. I tell them to pick it up and look at it (the same goes for the hazelnut, but hazelnuts aren't easy to find in Aruba unless it's Christmas time). I tell them that on day 10, their baby's stomach is approximately the size of a golf ball. It was the size of a hazelnut at birth. They also gasp and many times I hear them murmur that the amount the hospital packs the baby in with is actually stretching its poor stomach. It's a true "AHA!" moment for all in the class.

A Pitcher of formula:

By far my most favorite part of the class is when I get to dish out formula for the expectant parents to drink. Each couple gets a cup with about 2 ounces and unless medically unable, all are urged to taste a substance that they are considering feeding their infants. This is also the time my husband gets the camera ready to take pictures of them gagging. I try to hold back my laughter but we all end up killing ourselves with the laugh at how bad formula really tastes. It's not just that it's bland and extremely sugary, but it actually tastes bad. I must give credit to the woman from whom I learned this. ICAN President, doula, CBE and friend Desiree Andrews told me once how she gives her couples formula to drink during childbirth education classes and that this usually impresses upon them to breastfeed and discourages unnecessary formula use. I must admit, it works with success. 

You don't always need expensive charts and materials to get yours clients thinking. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and imagination

Which props or visual aids do you use during your breastfeeding class?

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