Flip or Flop: Flipping the Classroom to Engage Pregnant Families

With the shift from parents taking in-person classes to using the internet for more of their prenatal education, childbirth and lactation educators have to step up their game.  With only 34% of pregnant families taking classes (Listening to Mothers III), we have to get creative to encourage new parents to find value in physically coming in to attend a class.

The majority of people giving birth today are millennials, with birthdays between 1982 and 2004. These parents are the tech generation and gather the majority of their information on the web. They make up 75% of all births today, and 85% of first-time births. As educators, it is our responsibility to understand the millennials and cater to their specific learning styles. They tend to be text messaging, multi-tasking, advertising-wary, trendsetting, sarcastic, blog-reading, information-addicted, social media-savvy, tech-embracing, fast-moving, highly ambitious, quick-talking, and well-educated. But hey, this is just a generalization, and millennials do NOT want to be generalized or put into a box (does anyone?).  The data also shows that they trust their peers (39%) almost twice as much as they trust professionals (20%) (Baby Center, 2015), so we have to work harder to gain their interest and trust.

Millennials also prefer text messaging, instant messaging, and cell phones to traditional face-to-face time and email. They are also more likely to have/use a smart phone than a laptop. The average millennial spends 17.4 hours per week on social media. What does this mean for you, the educator? It means you must embrace technology and get creative in how you approach classes and what you do in and out of the classroom.

It is time to introduce the concept of flipping the classroom. This means that didactic information is learned at home (or wherever they happen to be, as most people have their smart phones with them at all times), and hands-on learning and Q&A is completed in the classroom.

Why consider this?

  • It makes actual classes shorter, less time for you to be away from family and other activities
  • It allows you to utilize the creativity of the millions of people on the web
  • After the initial investment of setup, maintenance for your online portion of classes is shortened – less work overall
  • It allows parents to learn on their own schedule
  • It increases retention
  • It employs tools parents are comfortable using today
  • It allows you to tailor the education to your student’s needs

In traditional childbirth and breastfeeding classes, the teacher lectures while the students take notes.  Then, the teacher generally follows with some form of activity. What often happens is that a significant amount of content/lecture fills the classroom time because teachers want to make sure to cover as much as possible. This leaves time for practicing and hands on activities diminished. The students can leave class feeling overwhelmed. They rarely, if ever, review their notes, and retain very little of what they learned. With the blended or flipped classroom, students can watch videos you have created (or have linked to on YouTube or Vimeo), read and reread written assignments/articles you have sent, engage with you on a private social media site (like a Facebook group), and then show up in class ready to practice and participate.

What is most effective about this technique is that parents can learn whenever and wherever a class fits their needs. They can also take as much time as they need to fully comprehend, AND review the content as often as they need.  This format also allows you to customize the class. For example, you may have parents who are pregnant with twins, or someone who is planning on a VBAC.  With the flipped classroom, you can drive them to additional and specific content that will be helpful to them. Once parents have completed their mobile learning, you can spend the time in the classroom practicing comfort strategies, trying positions for labor, playing retention games, rehearsing breastfeeding positions with baby dolls, and having real conversations about what has come up for the parents during their time of exploration.

The Reality of Flipping

 Initially, it is quite a time investment.  You will need to find a platform for your online classes, or create a YouTube or Vimeo channel.  It can seem daunting to create all of the content that you will need, but realize, you already teach this content all of the time. Simply prepare your “classroom” in a well-lit room and record yourself teaching with a video camera or your smart phone.  You likely already have homework lists for students and favorite online resources. These become part of your online curriculum. You can create a private Facebook group where you can also livestream content, and share videos and article links. The world is wide open with the world wide web at your fingertips.  It is a great time to be an educator.

Are you getting excited?  Here are some resources to get you started:


Laurel Wilson

IBCLC, CLE, CCCE, CLD, Senior Advisor

Laurel is an author, international speaker and pregnancy and lactation expert. She served as the Executive Director of Lactation Programs for CAPPA, the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association for 16 years and now is on the Senior Advisor Board. She is on the Board of Directors for the United States Breastfeeding Committee and also on the Advisory Board for InJoy Birth and Parenting. She owns MotherJourney, focusing on training perinatal professionals on integrative and holistic information regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. She has her degree in Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting and is an internationally board certified lactation consultant. Wilson is the co-author of two books, The Attachment Pregnancy and The Greatest Pregnancy Ever and contributing author to Round the Circle: Doulas Talk About Themselves. She loves to blend today’s recent scientific findings with the mind/body/spirit wisdom. Laurel has been joyfully married to her husband for more than two decades and has two wonderful grown sons, whose difficult births led her on a path towards helping emerging families create positive experiences. Laurel spends her free time reading piles of research, running in the mountains with her dogs, and kayaking. She believes that the journey into parenthood is a life-changing rite of passage that should be deeply honored and celebrated.


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5 thoughts on “Flip or Flop: Flipping the Classroom to Engage Pregnant Families”

  1. Great article and I can see how this way of learning would be way better suited for the milenials. Thanks for the resources and good description of the concept.

  2. This is exactly what I plan to do with my classes. I’ve just moved across country so need to revamp anyway. Can’t think of a better way to reach this group. Thanks for sharing the resources!

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