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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not sure I am posting in the right place, but I figured I'd get the most traffic here...<br><br>
I am a fairly new childbirth educator and for the first time, I will have a same sex couple in my class. What would you say are the specific needs of a lesbian couple in a childbirth class? I already try to refer to my couples as woman and "partner" rather than use husband. I guess continuing that practice will be important for making this couple (and my unmarried couples) feel welcome. What else? Help me!
 

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I am not a birth professional, but I am a lesbian mother who complained to my hospital about the CB educator's discomfort in integrating us into the class. (We live in Virginia too...) the big thing for us was the use of the term father. my partner (who was not pregnant) didn't really like the term "partner" either since the educator used "mom" and "partner" which meant that C was denied her mom-status. We didn't come up with a great alternative, though even "pregnant women" and "birth partner" is better since it doesn't make one person a parent and the other a supporter.<br><br>
The other thing that was kind of weird was that the educator divided us up for one activity into "moms" and "dads" (meaning, I suppose pregnant women and other parents) to talk about fears and worries in the first month after baby was born. Everyone looked at her and asked, "Where should C go?" and it was clear she hadn't even thought about it until that very minute.<br><br>
Honestly, I think in our situation, if the educator had told us, "I've never had a same-sex couple in my class before, and I don't want to say or do anything offensive, so if i do make you uncomfortable, please help educate me" we would have been open to that.<br><br>
It is great that you are asking ahead of time. Are you teaching through a group or hospital? Do they have guidelines or suggestions for you? Our hospital was really apologetic for our mixed experience, and wanted more information from us in the end. Whitman-walker clinic in DC used to offer some same-sex parenting support groups for pregnant couples. If you are in NOVA, they might be able to help you...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow! Thanks for your quick reply! I am teaching independent classes (not hospital-affiliated). I plan to talk with this couple before the class actually begins and let them know that I am clueless, but I really want to meet their needs while not alienating them.<br><br>
I have a couple of class activities where I split up moms and dads. I will definitely have to re-work that. I am glad you mentioned it, because I can see myself going along with my status quo and forgetting until it was too late.<br><br>
I am not in NOVA, but I will see if I can find some other resources here locally!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>spedteacher30</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10294229"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am not a birth professional, but I am a lesbian mother who complained to my hospital about the CB educator's discomfort in integrating us into the class. (We live in Virginia too...) the big thing for us was the use of the term father. my partner (who was not pregnant) didn't really like the term "partner" either since the educator used "mom" and "partner" which meant that C was denied her mom-status. We didn't come up with a great alternative, though even "pregnant women" and "birth partner" is better since it doesn't make one person a parent and the other a supporter.</div>
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Hmmm. I do use "mom" and I use "partner." I'm thinking of other options, but I can't come up with any. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
What else could I say that would be more inclusive? I do say "and the other parent can be blah blah" sometimes...
 

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I don't have advice, other than please ask them if there is any specific questions or needs they would like to have addressed.<br><br>
I'm replying though because I was just commenting to my midwife today that I'm appalled at the frequency of the use of the term "husband" in Bradley materials. It's discriminatory to so many people and just outdated in specifying, primarily, a marital status rather than a role. Birth partner makes the most sense to me because it refers to the non-pregnant person who is supporting you through the labor. Many people's romantic partners are not their "husband" and many others choose a sister, mother, or other person for that role anyway.
 

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Yep, that was one of my big Bradley complaints, the use of the word husband. They don't really care though, from what I can tell.<br><br>
I can't imagine most couples would be offended by the words "mom" and "partner." While I understand the pp's point, it is impractical to have different descriptions for every couple in class. IMO it's reasonable to say mom & partner. I also think it would be a good idea to let the couple know that you haven't taught a same-sex couple before, and if they have any specific input/suggestions you'd be open to it.
 

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even "pregnant women" and "partners" is better than "moms" and "partners"<br><br>
I understand the terminology is unusual and uncomfortable for you as the instructor, but it is even *more* uncomfortable for the women who are *paying* you to help them move toward the birth they want.<br><br>
My wife already felt like her claim to our developing son was tenuous at best, and it was further reinforced by our CBE each week.
 

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I don't have any tips, but a childbirth education group that I'm familiar with does have lesbian specific childbirth classes. Perhaps if you contacted the teachers, they would have some tips for you.<br><br><a href="http://bigbellyservices.com/lesbian.htm" target="_blank">http://bigbellyservices.com/lesbian.htm</a>
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Astoria</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10294818"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'm replying though because I was just commenting to my midwife today that I'm appalled at the frequency of the use of the term "husband" in Bradley materials. It's discriminatory to so many people and just outdated in specifying, primarily, a marital status rather than a role. Birth partner makes the most sense to me because it refers to the non-pregnant person who is supporting you through the labor. Many people's romantic partners are not their "husband" and many others choose a sister, mother, or other person for that role anyway.</div>
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One of the big tenets of Bradley, though, is to build on the loving relationship between the pregnant woman and her partner, which is why they use that terminology.<br><br>
However, another appropriate term (for all these cases) might be "co-parent." That reinforces that the child, even though it happens to be *currently* residing in one person's body, is going to be a shared responsibility once s/he hits the air. I think this can capture the shared experience that all the dads and co-moms in the class have, of maybe not being pregnant, but being half of the child's support system.
 

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I like co-parent, although I still don't think it relates in all aspects. "When mom (or even 'she') is struggling and needing help focusing, co-parent can..." I can see, though it working well when talking about the newborn.<br><br>
I have taught lesbian couples before, and the first thing when coming to this topic was, they don't need anything different than anyone else, meaning, they need to be respected, they need to feel safe to open up about their cares and worries, they need to feel heard, they need to be built up, they need to be acknowledged.<br><br>
Having very close lesbian friends, we would really talk and delve into this, things like, what will baby call you? Call co-parent? The best answer I ever heard was, we will let him decide <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">. Or, will only birth mom nurse, or will co-parent attempt to nurse/induce lactation? Of course these are things we talked about as friends, not in a class setting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I find, though, in my class that the other person taking the class with the pregnant woman is not always the other parent. Many times it is the woman's mom, or a sister, or a friend. A girl I know just had a baby and her brother was her birth partner. I think that using "woman" and "partner" may have to work. Like a pp said, it isn't ideal, but more inclusive than "mom" and "dad" when you are meeting a variety of needs in a class setting.
 

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it's been years since I have taught childbirth classes but when I did there were lots of women coming to classes with women- and unless they told me what their relationship was I wouldn't know they were a couple - in general I would use the terms birth partner , partner , helper(s), birthing mom
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>spedteacher30</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10295182"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">even "pregnant women" and "partners" is better than "moms" and "partners"<br><br>
I understand the terminology is unusual and uncomfortable for you as the instructor, but it is even *more* uncomfortable for the women who are *paying* you to help them move toward the birth they want.<br>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">: I don't see any difficulties using this terminology. I haven't had any same sex couples (that I was aware of anyhow) but this would work with single parents and their support person as well.<br><br>
I don't split birthing pairs up for activities. That's weird. I don't see how it's going to benefit anyone when the goal is a cohesive birth team.
 

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I haven't read all the replies here so I may be repeating something but what about saying mom or pregnant woman/mom and "birth partner". All that would put a distintion with would be pregnant vs. non-pregnant people in the class. Of course not all birth partners are the other parent too so saying "birth partner" would take care of that situation.
 

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It seems like "birth partner" is the only really acceptable term...what else encompasses absolutely everything? "co-parent" doesn't work for a single mother bringing her doula/friend/mom/whatever.<br><br>
I guess I don't understand why partner is offensive. I often refer to people's husbands as their partner, and if someone referred to my husband, the father, as a partner in reference to birth, it wouldn't bother me. In birth, no matter who you are in the rest of life, to the pregnant woman, you are the partner, yes? So is the glitch here saying "moms" and "partners?" Is it better to say "pregnant women" and "partners?" I am not asking to be snippy, I really want to know what the preference is here. I always thought partner was an ok term since a fair amount of the couples I've met have "fathers" that aren't "husbands"...you know? And I can't imagine saying "boyfriend." <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue">
 

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Besides using 'birth mom' and 'birth partner' when speaking, which I think are really great ideas, make sure your paperwork is inclusive too. As a lesbian mom I have had well meaning people change thier language when speaking to me/my family, but then hand me a form or worksheet which requires me to cross out father in order to complete it. It makes it clear that the inclusive language is used ONLY when an 'other' is in the room and that is not ideal. As has been pointed out, single parents, non-parent support people, etc. can benefit from inclusive language so make it consistant on your materials too.<br><br>
We took a childbirth class at <a href="http://www.maiamidwifery.com" target="_blank">www.maiamidwifery.com</a> specifically for queer families and it was great! Maybe you could call them to talk about this issue?<br><br>
My only other recommendation is that you relax and be as lighthearted as possible about any issues that come up. Talk openly and calmly about any concerns in private as you get to know the couple.<br><br>
As a little personal story, it cracked us up when my partner and I did the hospital tour because the nurse giving the tour kept saying things like..."and here is where dad...OR PARTNER can rest." or "Dad...OR PARTNER can help the mom by..." and her inclusion of us was so excessive that everyone, even the other couples, was giggling about it. We had a chorus of "OR PARTNER" going after every mention of a dad and the poor nurse was probably sratching her head trying to figure out why what she was doing was so funny.
 

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When I taught classes, I had the occasional lesbian couple. I also had lots of single moms who had friends, relatives, and/or doulas as their buddy. Pretty much everything in between, too.<br><br>
Most of the time, I used the terms "mom" or "laboring mom" and "support person" or "support people" (because most of our moms had more than one person attending the birth and providing support afterward).<br><br>
I agree, check out your literature/handouts to make sure they are all inclusive.<br><br>
I think saying "coparent" is contrived and much like the ...OR PARTNER phrase from a previous post. Many of the people who attend childbirth classes are NOT the coparent. So then you are listing a who slew of terms--find something easy and least offensive. I personally like "support person". Partner does have a certain connotation that to me seems to imply a relationship that doesn't really cover friends, relatives, and doulas who might be at the birth. Support person(s) does, in my opinion.
 

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I have had pregnant women attend my classes along with their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, aunt, best friend, or sister. I find the appropriate term, in almost every case, is one which refers to the "other's" role in childbirth: labour coach, support person, etc. If I am talking about pre-labour things like meals, I talk about family, household, or something like that.<br><br>
Incidentally, I have twice had pregnant clients attend classes with another woman who was introduced only by name. I had no idea if they were partners, relatives, or friends, and I did not press them to explain. In a case like this, using a term like "partner" would be presumptuous. i like all-inclusive terms wherever possible.
 

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Honestly I have had lots of same sex people in the class, and I have no clue if they were a couple or not since I do not ask. When they introduce themselves I just ask them to let me know who they are, and I don't specify if the other woman is the partner, other mom, sister, friend, etc.<br><br>
I have always said mom and birth partner regardless of the sex of the second person. I hope I have never offended anyone!!!
 

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I'm replying though because I was just commenting to my midwife today that I'm appalled at the frequency of the use of the term "husband" in Bradley materials. It's discriminatory to so many people and just outdated in specifying, primarily, a marital status rather than a role.<br><br><br>
yeah that!<br>
I know it's a little off the topic, but that is the primary reason I didn't pursue bradley method for becoming a CBE. I am looking at birthing from within, it is a TOTALLY better fit for me and doesn't say "Father" and "Husband" to the exclusion of all else. It's a bummer, cause bradley can be a good method... but it has always seemed just a little too ridgid to me.<br>
- Jen
 
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