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Published on October 31, 2011

New Online Childbirth Class a Saving Grace to Couple in Korea

American couple teaching in S. Korea thankful for LMH online childbirth class.

Read the complete Karrey Britt, LJWorld, story


First time mom-to-be Kelly Harri is preparing for childbirth by taking an online course through Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

“It has been my saving grace,” she said.

Harri, 25, and her boyfriend Stefan Labbe, 27, live in South Korea and are expecting their first child — a girl — in mid-January. Preparing to become parents is no small feat for any couple, but they also are dealing with language and cultural differences.

“Aiming for a natural birth, we wanted an English-speaking doctor to ensure our wishes were made clear,” Harri said via email.

Within a week they found a doctor who studied in the U.S., but Harri said his medical care was technical, impersonal and “very hands-off, machine-on.” When she asked him a question at the first appointment, he told her to research the answer online.

“So the Internet became my be-all, end-all solution to any problem or new symptom I had,” she said, adding that the number of web pages and blogs about pregnancy are overwhelming. “Though some can be very helpful, almost every day I misdiagnosed a symptom. I drove myself into some sort of Internet-addiction hypochondriac state,” she said.

Harri said the closest English prenatal classes were a two-hour commute away, which was not feasible. At four months pregnant, Harri said she became so concerned about the lack of care and available resources that she was considering quitting her job as an English teacher and moving back to the U.S.

Fortunately, she had met Lawrence native Katelyn Anderson in South Korea, and they became fast friends. Anderson just happens to be the daughter of Aynsley Anderson, community education coordinator at LMH. When Aynsley heard about the couple’s troubles, she mailed a stack of materials.

“They were so helpful and brought many answers to questions that we were unable to ask our doctor,” Harri said.

Then, the new online course became available at LMH in September, and the couple immediately signed up.

“It was like a breath of fresh air,” Harri said. “Taking the online course allows us to tend to our own busy schedules while chipping away at the online modules at home or on a break at work.”

The e-course covers pregnancy, the birthing process, newborn information, breast-feeding and recovery after childbirth. There are videos, web links, activities, quizzes and information that can be printed out and saved. For $65, couples have access to all of the materials for three months. There is a logical way to navigate through the materials, but couples can skip forward if they want or look back at information.

Harri said that, so far, “Chapter 4: Comfort Techniques” has been the most helpful section. She said it went over a variety of labor positions and techniques and didn’t push one over another. “It lets you decide what’s best for you,” she said.

Melissa Hoffman, who coordinates prenatal and parenting education programs for LMH, oversees the online course and so far, a handful of couples have signed up. For those who enroll, they can opt to take a one-time, in-person class to learn relaxation techniques, see the birthing area and ask questions.

Hoffman said there is a growing trend in offering education online, and childbirth classes are not an exception. It’s mainly the convenience factor. (View Better Health video with Melissa Hoffman http://bit.ly/vhgzMs )

But like any class, parents-to-be have to be disciplined and do their homework. She advises them to complete the course four to six weeks before the due date just in case the baby arrives early.

Despite the trend in e-classes, Hoffman still strongly encourages couples to take the traditional in-person childbirth classes.

“It is so nice to make those connections with people who are going through the same thing, and to see the area where you are going to give birth and kind of decrease that anxiety of the unknown prior to coming in,” she said. “There’s definitely benefit to the in-person component of the class.”

TO SIGN UP

Too busy to take traditional childbirth preparation classes, or do you prefer to learn at your own pace or in your own home? Then this is the class for you.

Once you enroll, you will have access to detailed pregnancy, birthing and postpartum information through activities, knowledge checks, web links and downloadable handouts. It is not necessary have your baby at Lawrence Memorial Hospital to take this class.

Class participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a one-time class at the hospital which includes a tour and a chance to have questions answered by a childbirth educator, as well as a review of relaxation and breathing techniques.

Class fee is $65.

For more information, contact LMH Connect Care at 749-5800 or visit lmh.org.

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