- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Laura Simpson knew she wanted to give birth without medication, and she wanted to be prepared.

But she wasn’t sure where to turn, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1UGSHvl).

Living in Cheyenne and working as an emergency room nurse limited her schedule and options.

She searched the Internet for online child birthing classes, and Birth Boot Camp showed up.

“My husband and I took it together, and we were just so amazed by all the material,” she said.

That was about two years ago.

Now, Simpson is a certified Birth Boot Camp instructor, teaching her own classes right here in the Capital City.

The 10-week program is available online or in person anywhere instructors are located, which is across the country and in Canada and Germany.

In 2014, nearly one in three women (32.2 percent) who gave birth in the U.S. had a cesarean section, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Students in Birth Boot Camp learn skills such as how to avoid pain naturally, the process of labor and birth, ways to avoid a C-section and more.

“We give them all these different tools - positions; relaxation; comfort techniques; different ways that they can go through their labor wherever they’re at, whether it’s in a hospital, or in a birth center or home,” Simpson said.

“No matter who their care provider is, (we) really encourage them to do the research for themselves and to make sure that they’re choosing somebody that they very much trust, and who will answer their questions, and who is supportive of them having a natural birth.”

Simpson’s longtime friend, Rachael Bruyere, became a certified instructor along with her, so there are two women here who teach the class.

Bruyere and Simpson were pregnant at the same time - their children were born about four months apart - but experienced different natural birth journeys.

Simpson gave birth to her son, Eli, at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, while Bruyere started at a birthing center in Fort Collins, Colorado, before being transferred to a hospital, where she had her daughter, Cameron.

Both women had natural, un-medicated vaginal births, though, which is a requirement for becoming a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

“Even though I didn’t get the birth I planned for, I still got a great birth,” Bruyere said, noting that birth is unpredictable.

“A lot of women just think, ‘I don’t need to know anything about birth . I’ve got a doctor who’s going to take care of me, and the nurses take care of me. I’m just going to go to the hospital and have the baby,’ and it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that,” she continued.

“When you’re faced with problems that you don’t know anything about or that you’ve never had time to think about, and you’re in the process of labor and you can’t think clearly, you can be really fearful about what’s going on, and you just don’t know what to do.

“That’s when women come out of their birth experience feeling inadequate and feeling upset about how things didn’t go the way they thought they might.”

Although Bruyere took her childbirth class through the birthing center, she jumped at the chance of being an instructor once Simpson suggested it.

“About the time that our kids were about a year old, I said, ‘You know, I really think we should teach this,’” Simpson said. “And next thing I know, she’s texting me, and she’s like, ‘I’ve already sent in my paperwork!’”

Bruyere explained the process.

“We’re both advertising together - just trying to get the word out that Birth Boot Camp is now available in Cheyenne to take live classes - but we teach separately,” she said. “We also stagger our dates so that we can offer a wider range of availability for pregnant couples.”

The class costs $350 for 10 consecutive weeks of two- to three-hour classes, plus instructor emails and special demonstrations, a workbook, a nearly four-hour video about breastfeeding and other items.

They also will offer a one-time “reboot and refresher” course for couples who already have experienced a natural birth, a sibling birth class and an early pregnancy class.

Simpson said she just finished a session that started in January and has another one starting up in May, while Bruyere has a class starting in June.

And the program isn’t only for women with low-risk pregnancies, “because they’re still learning general procedures that could increase their risk of C-section or how to avoid the epidural even though they are high risk,” Simpson said. “It’s a great class for any client.”

Women are strongly encouraged to take the class toward the end of their pregnancy and with a partner, whether that person is the baby’s other parent or someone who will be there to support her when she gives birth.

“Let’s say there’s no partner in the picture, we would have either a mother come, if the mother was planning on being at the birth, or a friend - someone who’s going to be there to be in that role of supporting the woman while she’s in labor,” Bruyere said.

Birth Boot Camp is pretty much just as it sounds, and the military theme carried throughout is sure to make moms and dads crack a grin.

Breastfeeding is called “the ultimate MRE,” referring to “Meals Ready to Eat” that troops carry and consume in the field. Exercise is referred to as PT, a common abbreviation in the military for physical training. The food log is called a “chow chart,” and class 10 is dubbed “Life with a New Recruit.”

“I really like the military spin on it because it’s a great reflection of what birth is really like - it is hard work, and you have to be prepared to do something that’s hard work,” Bruyere said. “If you’re not prepared, then inevitably you won’t do so well.”

Simpson chimed in.

“Boot camp’s a short but very intense training, but you’re ready when you’re done,” she said. “And (it’s) the same thing here: it’s short, it’s intense, but you’re ready.”

___

Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com


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