Giving birth can be pretty scary, especially for first-time moms. Luckily, these days, there are plenty of resources and classes available online to make preparing for the big day easier than ever before.
Kopa Birth is a company offering a range of birthing instruction classes for women hoping to achieve natural childbirth.
Happily, Kopa Birth provides their first online birthing class for free so you can get a feel for the service they offer. This first session is an hour-long video that focuses on teaching pregnant moms to establish a foundation of relaxation that can then be utilized when actually giving birth.
The class is hosted by Katie Griffin and takes pregnant moms on a journey; spanning the reasons to favor natural childbirth as well as presenting practical techniques that can be used to help with relaxation.
Read on for a full review of what this first class covers and whether it might be able to help you in achieving your own natural birth.
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Process and format for accessing Kopa Birth
This first free class – officially titled ‘Online Childbirth Class #1: A Foundation of Relaxation’ – is hosted by Kopa Birth founder Katie Griffin. Katie is a registered nurse, a Lamaze certified childbirth educator and has spent over a decade teaching birthing classes.
These credentials are important as they reassure all prospective moms they are in good hands, plus, Katie has been through five pregnancies just like me! So you know she’s talking from a place of experience.
To access this first free class, you have to sign up for Kopa Birth using this form. You will then be given the chance to create an account and sign up and access the first pre-recorded class (for free), there is no time limit in viewing the video so you can sit down and watch it at your convenience.
This first session covers the following key areas: the benefits of relaxation, the fear – tension – pain cycle, pain VS suffering, cooked VS uncooked noodle theory, positions for relaxation, and guided imagery.
The video is well-produced and visually interesting, it disperses clips of Katie talking with relevant visuals and even goes through a guided relaxation session with a pregnant couple and her partner.
These elements are important to the overall impact of the video as it means the class holds your attention throughout (an important thing to consider when so many pregnant moms experience brain fog!).
Katie begins by introducing the idea of a natural birth, its benefits, and does so without being judgmental about mothers who, for whatever reason, are unable to have an entirely natural birth.
Katie emphasizes that the point of striving for a natural birth is to achieve the ideal of ‘healthy mom and healthy baby’.
Kopa Birth class 1 – content review
This ‘first foundation of relaxation’ class is a comprehensive introduction to birthing relaxation techniques and Katie Griffin is an energetic and welcoming teacher.
She further indicates that research has shown that generally, non-medicated and low-intervention births are best in achieving this outcome, hence this class’s focus on natural childbirth.
However, Katie rightfully points out throughout this class that a natural birth is never guaranteed and ultimately comes down to your baby’s position in the womb and how labor unfolds on the day.
After a brief introduction setting out the reason a natural birth is desirable for many mothers, Katie launches into different segments about childbirth and its processes, all of which are clearly laid out and introduced with titles and subtitles.
Context is given to explain to watching mothers why medical intervention and epidurals have become the norm in modern-day birth scenarios. Katie helpfully sets out the historic context, going back to the Victorian period and the findings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read.
All in all, the information given throughout this class is research-rich and backed up with genuine scientific evidence and examples drawn from the real world.
One of the points Katie is keen to hammer home is that preparation and mindset can make a huge difference in how new moms experience going into labor.
This class clearly outlines, and indeed, celebrates the process of childbirth. It highlights that it is a natural and miraculous bodily function, one that a woman’s body is purpose-made to undertake.
This groundwork is an important element of the class as it reminds nervous moms that women have given birth throughout history, and there is no reason to view birth as a battle or challenge that should be approached with fear or dread.
All the ideas and information Katie discusses are paired with practical exercises that can be done by expectant mothers and their partners at home.
The most important takeaway of this class seems to be that the physical and the emotional elements of birth are inseparably intertwined; physical relaxation must be paired with mental relaxation.
This is a key point worth noting as many birthing classes focus primarily on the physical side of things without laying a solid foundation establishing the importance of mindset and emotional support going into the birthing process.
The class goes onto elaborate on well-known birthing ideas associated with successful un-medicated births, these include ‘the three Rs’ (1. being able to relax 2. establishing rhythm when in labor, and 3. the use of calming rituals), the cooked and uncooked noodle theory (a theory which relates to holding your body in a relaxed position – like cooked noodles! – while experiencing contractions to lessen suffering).
The overall aim of the class is to teach prospective mothers to distinguish between pain and suffering and to crucially eliminate tension from the body (as this is regularly responsible for turning pain into undue suffering during labor).
The class features practical advice for both moms and partners on positions conducive to relaxation which can be practiced regularly at home. It also features an unpretentious introduction to guided imagery and how it can be used to take a woman’s body through relaxed positions that are gravity-focused and conducive to labor.
Highlights of the class
There is certainly a lot to be admired in this free first class from Kopa Birth. Katie is a very engaging birthing teacher who does not patronize and is encouraging.
This is definitely a video that moms will want to watch with their partners as the class regularly makes reference to things partners can do to help when preparing for a natural birth.
The biggest strength of this particular class is the regular use of symbolism and metaphors to help explain difficult ideas (this is especially important for new moms who are not familiar with the feelings of labor).
For example, Katie draws on the metaphor of waves in the ocean to explain contractions. She helpfully reminds moms that contractions can be ridden out (like a surfer on a wave) or, you can get thrown around by them (like a swimmer caught in a wave).
This symbol powerfully communicates the difference that being prepared and practiced can make when it comes to actually giving birth.
Refreshingly, all of the guidelines outlined by Katie are flexible and adaptable. She is careful to emphasize that the most important thing is that moms stick with techniques that work for them.
This is actually a very big plus for a birthing class, as it liberates moms who may otherwise worry there is something wrong with them if a particular position or breathing technique doesn’t work for them.
Of course, there is no cookie-cutter approach to birth as every woman will experience pain differently. By teaching moms (and their partners) to learn what works for them, Katie gives moms the best chance of actually successfully relaxing during their labor and natural birth.
This hour-long class covers a lot of content and certainly doesn’t skimp on the information (even though it’s free, which is great!). Overall, there’s certainly a lot to be learned for expecting moms looking for research, information, and practical guidance on achieving a natural birth.
What could be improved
For a class that is completely free, there really is little fault to be found in Kopa Birth’s relaxation class. However, one area single pregnant mothers may want to be aware of is that this class makes continual references to partners.
Of course, this is generally typical of birthing classes – and you can find classes that more specifically focus on birth as a single mother. This is just something to keep in mind, as some of the practical instruction relating to body relaxation requires partner input.
Other than this one area, the class is on the whole inclusive, helpful, and packed full of knowledge.
Kopa Birth’s first free online class on foundational relaxation is informative and practical in equal measure. Of course, this is just an introduction to the entire natural birthing process covered by Kopa Birth in other classes. This means that if you want to continue with the instruction you have to pay to do so.
While there’s no doubt that you will learn a lot from this first class, many moms will not get the full confidence they need to proceed with a natural childbirth from this one session alone.
For this reason, this first lesson is perhaps not the best option for moms on a tight budget, or anyone looking to learn everything in just one class. However, if you are seeking a full and solid introduction to natural childbirth, with reference to its historic background and what you can do to begin to prepare your body for the process, then this class from Kopa Birth will certainly serve you well.