Get prepared, build community.

You know that birth is big, and you want to be prepared for a great experience — as natural as possible.  We've got you! Our natural birth class is fun, interactive and evidence-based.

natural birth class in kalamazoo

You know that birth is big and you want to be prepared for a great experience — as natural as possible.
We've got you! Our natural birth classes are fun, interactive and evidence-based.

What do we mean by 'natural birth'?

Throughout time, parents around the world have given birth naturally, without interventions. We believe that birth still works. Our childbirth class focuses on "natural birth," which some people like to call unmedicated birth or physiologic birth. We spend eight weeks exploring the ins and outs of what to expect in labor and how to stack your deck for a great experience.

Modern technology can be very helpful when it's truly needed, even lifesaving. But our system is out of balance. When interventions are used too often, they can actually make birth more difficult and complicated. Our cesarean rate in the United States is 32 percent (really? do a third of us truly need major surgery to give birth?). Many hospitals have epidural rates upward of 80 percent. Inductions are common. If you want a physiologic birth in our system, it takes some work. We'll teach you how birth works and how you can work within the system to meet your goals. Our students often include first-time parents, VBAC families, and even second- or third-time moms who just want learn more and a different experience this time.

Our greatest hope is that you have an informed, centered birth experience that leaves you feeling strong, happy and connected to your baby. Sometimes birth (and life) can throw us some curveballs. We'll prepare you with questions and decision making tools so that if you do need interventions, you will feel good about your choices. We celebrate every birth, even the ones with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

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Hear from some birthing parents who've taken our class.

What to expect from our natural birth class:

  • Evidence-based information.

    As a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator and a Lamaze trainer, your instructor Jessica English is up to date on all of the latest evidence-based information about birth. How far before or after your due date will you likely go into labor? What are the pros and cons of pain medication? Is having a big baby really an evidence-based reason to be induced? We've got the scoop.

  • Fun, interactive learning.

    This is not a boring, lecture-style class. You'll be moving, collaborating, interacting and engaging through our time together. That makes the learning a lot more fun, and it makes the information a lot more likely to stick with you when it counts.

  • The inside scoop on all of your options.

    Our class isn't affiliated with a hospital, or a particular doctor or midwife. We have positive relationships with those folks, but we work only for you. That means we can give you solid, evidence-based information, and not just "policy." You deserve to know all of the possibilities and your right to informed consent or refusal, so you can make the best choices for you and your baby. 

  • A big toolbox of comfort measures and coping.

    Some childbirth traditions just give you one major coping tool, like hypnosis or deep relaxation. Our class offers a wide variety of options so that you can choose what works best for you, in the moment. Relaxation, visualization, hypnosis, counterpressure, massage, water, movement… What really works, and exactly how are they used?

  • Prepping your birth partner.

    Who's on your support team going into this birth? Birth partners are just as important in this class as the parent who's giving birth. Your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, a friend or the baby's grandma — they can all be amazing birth partners. We'll help your support person know how to help you, understand how they might work on a team with a doula (if you have one), and feel confident going into this big unknown. 

  • Informed choice and mindfully changing plans.

    There are so many things you can do to stack the deck to have the birth you want. But even with the best laid plans, sometimes birth throws a curve ball. Along with teaching you the deck-stackers, we'll help you know what questions to ask if an intervention is suggested. And if you need to turn the corner and focus on plan B (like an induction, epidural or cesarean birth), we'll help you prepare for a positive experience, no matter what the circumstances.

  • A cozy environment.

    Our teaching space feels a lot more like a living room than a traditional classroom. We have cozy carpet, backjack chairs and regular chairs, tea and comfortable lighting. Just like we want you to be nurtured in labor, we like to nurture you through class. Come hang out, it's a nice place to spend some time. Learning online with us due to Covid? Great, you can be in your very own cozy, comfy place, but still connected with other families. Virtual classes are working out beautifully, with all the usual connection and engaged learning.

  • Breastfeeding + fourth trimester classes included.

    In 2019, we've rolled out a new structure for our eight-week series. You'll get six weeks of birth class, a week of breastfeeding, and our brand new class on preparing for (and thriving through) the fourth trimester — those first three months after your little one arrives. Including these classes inside our series honors your busy life, and also helps you prepare not just for a great birth, but for a beautiful time afterward with your baby. Families need so much in those tender months after a little one comes, and no other Southwest Michigan birth class honors that time the way we do.

  • Eight weeks, because that's what works.

    If you want a quick class that crams a ton of information into a short time, this is not the series for you. We're invested in running a class that helps you thoroughly understand birth and that gives you the tools you need. That takes time, especially if you're interested in natural birth. People can't process all of the important information in a weekend intensive — it just doesn't work. You need time to learn hands-on, think about it, talk about it together, come back, ask questions, and go the next level deeper. The length of our series is based on what we've seen helps parents most. We don't teach weekend marathon classes because in our experience, they just don't give families what they need to have informed, positive births.

  • Community.

    The group experience is such an important part of our classes. You'll spend time getting to know other great couples, who usually have a similar philosophy on birth and parenting. Some families are seeing doctors, others midwives. Some of our students are planning hospital births, others will have their babies at home. We believe in learning from each other, supporting each other, and building community. Many classes meet up for a reunion after all the babies are born, plus playdates and other get-togethers. We love seeing families build community — it's so helpful through those early parenting years.

This is what support people (birth partners) have to say.

There are two main types of parents who join our classes:

1

People having their first baby. We love helping you prepare for this new experience. It's a sweet and important time in your life. Your first birth sets the stage for all your future births.

2

Parents who didn't have a great birth experience last time. Maybe it was a cesarean, or medication you had hoped to avoid. We love sharing new tools to help you this time around.

Every family is welcomed and celebrated in our space, including LGBTQIA+ parents. Let us know how we can support you.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE ONE OF OUR CLASSES.

Fun. Interactive. Relevant to your birth. 

natural birth class in kalamazoo
birth class activity kalamazoo
1/31/17 - Kalamazoo, Michigan: Birth Kalamazoo Class. © Chris McGuire Photography.
sharing with partner birth class kalamazoo
massage for childbirth kalamazoo
11/22/16 - Kalamazoo, Michigan: Birth Kalamazoo Class. © Chris McGuire Photography.
11/22/16 - Kalamazoo, Michigan: Birth Kalamazoo Class. © Chris McGuire Photography.
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Taught by one of Southwest Michigan's most experienced childbirth educators.

Hey, I'm Jessica English. I've been teaching childbirth classes in Kalamazoo for almost 15 years. It's my passion and my life's work — I love sharing evidence-based information in creative ways to help families get ready for centered, empowered births.

I started off teaching Bradley Method classes in Kalamazoo, but a few years in, I found that Bradley wasn't quite the right match for me. I wanted to expand my classes outside the Bradley Method philosophy and soften some of the hard edges of their program. So back in 2008, I transferred my certification to Lamaze International and wrote my own curriculum in keeping with the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices (which are amazing, by the way, and no funny breathing patterns either).

Here's a little more about me:

  • Lamaze-certified childbirth educator
  • Lamaze program director and trainer, which means I train nurses and doulas to become childbirth educators too
  • Hired by hospitals around the state to train nurses in labor support skills
  • One of only 60 DONA International advanced certified birth doulas in the world
  • Birth doula trainer for DONA International
  • Certified postpartum doula with DONA International
  • Frequent speaker at conferences for doulas, childbirth educators and nurses.

There's nowhere else I'd rather be on a Tuesday night than teaching families about birth. I feel invested in every one of my students, and I'm always available to you if you have questions after class ends (more than once over the years, I've even had a student call or text in labor). My class is constantly changing as information evolves, as I attend births and as I learn creative new teaching techniques.

I'd love to help you get ready for your birth.

Jessica English Lamaze Trainer
covid molecule

Special Coronavirus update

Covid-19 has changed so many things, birth included. No matter what, your little one needs to be born, and they'll definitely have a great origin story.

We can offer you the great education you need to prep for for a positive birth experience. To help keep our community safe, we've taken all of our childbirth classes online. Each Tuesday, we meet on Zoom conferencing, live and interactive. If you are local, we can tell you exactly what to expect in our local hospitals. And if you're joining from another area, we'll prep you with the exact questions to ask to get the information you need. We'll talk through options and policies, so that you can envision what a healthy, positive birth looks like during the pandemic.

Here's what our student Jess shared about her Zoom class experience:

Jessica's birth class offered a wealth of information. Even on Zoom, everything was well structured with a nice balance of interactive activities, short lectures, discussions, and demonstrations with plenty of time for questions and check-ins. Jessica's warm and personable approach allowed the group to build camaraderie while meeting virtually, and our group is continuing to stay in touch after the class to support each other. It was so empowering to be part of a group that speaks positively about the natural birth process. I not only feel more educated about childbirth but I also have more trust in my own body. I couldn't imagine going through this journey without the tools and support offered through this class.

Zoom is not complicated at all to use, you'll just need to download the app on your computer or phone. We'll be able to see each other face-to-face, with live interaction. This isn't your average Zoom meeting, though, friends. Classes include group brainstorming on a virtual white board, small group breakout activities, card sorts that you and your support person can do together, hands-on comfort measures, practicing positions for labor, enjoying relaxation exercises, watching birth videos, and more. You questions are answered live in real time, and you get to benefit from the questions other families ask too. We're also building community by getting to know each other over our two months together. Community with other new families is even more important than usual right now!

Another recent student, Jenna, had this to say about the virtual classes:

"When my husband and I finished our last class with Jessica, the first thing we did was look at each other and agree that the class had been worth every penny and minute we spent on it. Even in a virtual format due to pandemic restrictions, this class was the best investment we made in preparing for our first child's birth. We found the virtual format to actually be a bonus for us — it saved us drive time, allowed us to have a little more flexibility in our evening, even with a longer class, and we still had plenty of opportunities to learn from Jessica and interact with other families. I found myself really missing the classes in the weeks after we finished. This class covers more than the basics and mechanics of birth — it gave my husband and I time to process and discuss and plan together in a way I had never considered possible or necessary. It is a direct result of this class that it feels like we are truly 'in this together' in a way I didn't even know was needed or possible.  He has strategies to support me, I have language to let him know what I need to feel supported, and our child is coming into a partnership that was strengthened because of this class.  It also helps that I don't have to explain every detail of pregnancy and birth to him anymore — he now has the knowledge and the language to understand, sympathize, and process what's happening, as well as to support me. Our culture tends to put pregnancy and birth squarely on the shoulders of the birthing parent, but Jessica has done a beautiful job of helping us find ways to share and participate in pregnancy and birth together, as a family. It is a lovely and meaningful way to transition to parenthood. I can't thank Jessica enough for the good work she's doing, and I can't recommend this class any more highly.”

In a time when lots of things are unusual and a little wonky, we'll make the class experience feel normal for you and your support person. Birth still works.

We're also offering a free, personalized 20-minute phone or Zoom call to every family who takes an online class. These interactions usually happen before or after an in-person class anyhow, and it's a lovely way to connect and get your personal situation addressed directly.

We'll be holding our live, interactive classes online until at least the spring of 2021. (What will spring and summer bring? We're really wishing for that crystal ball right now.) Research shows that pregnant people are four to five times more likely than their peers to be hospitalized and need a ventilator if they contract Covid-19, and we just can't take that risk with your health. Plus, current executive orders in Michigan call for masks and social distancing until we are post-pandemic, and we can't imagine not being able to see your faces. Your Zoom class will be an interesting sidelight of your baby's birth story, and hopefully your class can have a big in-person reunion in the summer of 2021.

We're excited to help you prepare for this little one! Check out the details and get registered below.

Ready to get signed up?

Our classes often fill early, so we encourage you to sign up as soon as you can.

2020-21 Classes

An 8-week series
Tuesday nights, 6 - 8:30 p.m.

Each series includes six classes of
childbirth ed, a breastfeeding class
and a final class on the 4th trimester

Oct. 27 - Dec. 15, 2020

January 5 - February 23, 2021

more 2021 classes will be scheduled soon

Can't make Tuesdays?
Check out our private classes

Combined series (birth, breastfeeding + 4th trimester)

Eight-week series

$325
  • Our eight-week series includes six weeks of birth class, a week of breastfeeding and one week of fourth trimester/postpartum education. Pay in full or make a $150 deposit when you register.

For low-income families who receive WIC, we can offer a partial scholarship for the eight-week series from our "Fund for All." Please email info@birthkalamazoo.com for all the details.

Register and reserve your space

Fill out the form below and make your deposit or full payment. Questions? Email jessica@birthkalamazoo.com.

I'm looking forward to having you in class!
-Jessica

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