Obstetrics patient Kari Han discusses childbirth options at Moab Regional Hospital. [Photo courtesy of Moab Regional Hospital]

Whether you’re having a baby for the first time, or need a “refresher course,” childbirth educators seek to inform, prepare and make parents aware of their options when it comes to giving birth.

Moab Regional Hospital (MRH) is offering a free five-session course for parents covering topics such as coping with the discomfort of labor contractions, tips for breastfeeding success, and the pros and cons of various medical interventions and when it might be necessary.

MRH registered nurse Naomi Helquist works full time in obstetrics at the hospital, and is also a certified childbirth educator. She is joined by certified doula Emily Stock, certified lactation consultant Rosanne Lewis and Tiffany Butler, all of whom teach portions of the course. Both Lewis and Butler are registered nurses who work in obstetrics at the hospital.

The classes inform patients of the changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy and childbirth: nutrition, hydration, the stages of labor, breathing techniques, and warning signs of potential complications, plus obstetric emergencies — of which, although rare, parents should be aware and informed, Helquist said.

“We cover a wide spectrum of postpartum and newborn care,” she said.

As a professional doula — someone who supports and assists women in labor — Stock shares her knowledge and experience of natural pain control methods, such as changing positions, and slow, deep-breathing techniques for relaxation.

“I talk about ways to prepare for labor ahead of time — what to expect both physically and emotionally, and we go over comfort measures and positioning that can be applied throughout labor,” Stock said. “We provide handouts to take home.”

Pregnant women can attend the course alone or with a support person she wants with her. Although it’s typically the father, it can also be a friend, grandmother or sister.

“Everyone’s welcome,” Helquist said.

Class attendees learn about the risks and benefits of the medical procedures that are sometimes used and what questions to ask medical staff if an intervention is proposed.

Helquist also invites an anesthesiologist to the classes to talk about epidural anesthesia.

Those who prefer a natural childbirth will learn how to alleviate pain by employing progressive relaxation techniques and other methods, such as the use of water. While the hospital does not allow water births, it does have a hydrotherapy pool that women can labor in if they wish.

“We talk about the fear-tension-pain cycle,” and how to avoid that with conscious relaxation, Helquist said. “Emily talks about creating a comfortable atmosphere and how to get into a good mind frame.”

Stock said she’s “grateful that the hospital incorporates so many options for people. It’s great to see such a variety.”

The hospital’s marketing, communications and development specialist Laurie Peter said the childbirth classes also provide an opportunity for parents to learn from one another and form lasting friendships as they begin this new phase of life: parenthood.

At MRH, there are two designated labor-delivery-recovery rooms. On the rare occasion a third woman goes into labor at the same time, one of the new mothers is transferred to another hospital room for the postpartum period.

Parents interested in attending the classes should call Helquist to reserve a spot. She can also schedule a tour of the hospital because childbirth educators often recommend becoming familiar with the hospital beforehand to lessen anxiety. When parents meet with Helquist, they can share any questions or concerns that they prefer to talk about one-on-one, she said.

“I believe that with education, the more prepared you are for labor and delivery and your newborn, the better you’re able to relax and be more comfortable,” Helquist said.

New mothers and caregivers invited to register by Aug. 29

When: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Moab Regional Hospital, 450 Williams Way, Education Room 2

Cost: Free to patients birthing at Moab Regional Hospital; $50 for non-hospital births

Information: To register call nurse Naomi Helquist at (435) 210-0895