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Expecting amid a pandemic: Webinar offers pregnancy, birth, postpartum education sessions

MARQUETTE — Pregnancy, birth and postpartum are often filled with feelings of exhilaration and uncertainty, but with the impacts and confusion brought by COVID-19, what used to be a normal process has many expectant parents concerned.

But a free, live webinar aims to guide expectant mothers and couples during this pandemic.

Presented by Doulas of Marquette LLC, “A Healthy Start: Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum in the Time of COVID-19” provides educational covering preparation for labor, birth and postpartum, information on COVID-19, current hospital policies and discusses community resources available to expectant couples.

The webinar kicked off May 13 and will continue to take place the second and fourth Wednesday of the month May through August for Marquette County residents, offering alternating afternoon and evening sessions. At the end of each session, a Q&A will follow.

Each session begins with information about COVID-19 as far as what’s happening in Marquette County, the Upper Peninsula; information related to pregnancy, birth, newborns and breastfeeding; information on current hospital policies; information on mindfulness, pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period that an individual would receive as part of a traditional birthing class, said Melinda Britton, owner and doula at Doulas of Marquette.

Britton noted that she checks in with local hospitals in the days prior to each webinar session to double-check the information is up to date. Though each webinar is only 1.5 hours long, participants will walk away with a load of information with opportunities to interact with other expectant families.

With isolation currently in place, this allows individuals to “regain a sense of community they’ve lost,” Britton added.

“This webinar will benefit expectant individuals by providing the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in Marquette County, the U.P. and current information about COVID-19 in relation to pregnancy, birth, newborns and breastfeeding,” Britton said. “It also provides valuable, interactive childbirth education while in-person group gatherings are limited. Research shows that childbirth education can help reduce anxiety for couples going into birth and help them feel more confident going into this experience. Those facts alone are huge.”

A grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund — a fund that supports nonprofits and charitable causes that are serving vulnerable populations during the pandemic — through the Community Foundation of Marquette County and United Way of Marquette County has made registration free.

After a series of phone calls where the grant was brought to Britton’s attention, she thought about how Doulas of Marquette could help out the community during this unprecedented time.

“The webinar is designed to reduce fears by outlining local hospital policies, current COVID-19 data, contact information for local experts as well as updated information in the months to come through our informational newsletter. Concerns are not only centered around exposure to COVID-19; but many are also grieving the pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences they were expecting prior to the pandemic,” Britton said. “There are no in-person baby showers, visits from friends and family. Through education, support, a platform to share, ask questions and talk with other individuals and families going through the same experiences, we can help them feel more confident and prepared for birth and early parenting.”

Hundreds of families in the Marquette community are expecting, and with so much going on in the health care world, Britton said she wanted to provide a resource for people to go to.

Whether an individual decides to include a doula in their birth or not, Britton said her organization is a resource for all.

“Whether someone is expecting their first child or has given birth before, information and community are important to creating positive pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences,” she said. “How women and their partners feel during this time can imprint on them for the rest of their lives. It is one of the most profound experiences many individuals will go through. By participating on the webinar, they will better understand what to expect, develop strategies for reducing stress, learn how to communicate effectively with their provider and how to support each other during this time.”

With already the first session in the books, Britton said she’s looking forward to the following Q&A portions and having more face-to-face conversations.

“In a time where misinformation is running rampant and many expecting and postpartum families are filled with fear, this webinar gives solid research, current information and tips for creating positive experiences. The opportunity for these individuals to also share and ask questions is also powerful. It helps reduce their anxiety by helping them to feel informed,” she said.

To register or learn more about upcoming sessions, visit eventbrite.com/e/a-healthy-start-pregnancy-birth-and-postpartum-in-the-time-of-covid-19-tickets-103831101620. Registration can also be made directly through Doulas of Marquette at doulasofmarquette.com or calling (906) 869-0000. Participation is open to the first 25 individuals/couples to register for each session. The next session airs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 27.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at jjahfetson@miningjournal.net

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