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Birthing Knowledge: The Power of Teaching and Coaching for Empowered Births

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

When I was first stepping out into this birth work many years ago, I was often solicited with questions from acquaintances, friends and family. The questions were about the pregnancy, birth, and newborn experience. If I had saved all those replies and tidbits, I probably would have written a book. I actually kept documents of my replies in files on my computer because I was asked the same questions over and over.

Looking back, a lot of my replies provided information, where to find answers, and suggested resources. I would assist with guidance, but allow the individual to seek out their own answers. I’ve always said when an individual puts in the work to find answers, they gain the knowledge and grow from that experience. I feel that the learned knowledge will then remain with them for the better. Does that make sense? For example, if you are given a task, with step by step directions, but then don’t perform the task, how long will it take for you to forget the instructions? If you demonstrate the task, you will most likely be able to repeat the task again if you tried it later on.

All this thinking led me to my current thoughts, how teaching is different from coaching? I came up with the phrase teaching for education and coaching for knowledge and growth. Both contribute to your birthing knowledge.

Now, let's dive a little deeper…

Teaching typically involves imparting knowledge or skills to someone through instruction, while coaching involves guiding and supporting someone to improve their performance or achieve their goals. While there is some overlap between the two, coaching tends to be more hands-on and focused on helping individuals develop their own problem-solving and decision-making skills.

So what's the difference? Teaching is giving the information to the learner. If I tell you 1+1=2, because we have one unit and add another unit, we then have two units. That is teaching, showing a concept, and then having the learner repeat what we taught so that we know they've acquired the information.

On the other hand, coaching is asking questions, what are the goals of the person, what might be barriers they have to achieving their goals? We then make a plan to work through the barriers, provide information/options on what we can do right now, and examine what can the person do or commit to? I call this diving deeper to gain the knowledge necessary to achieve your final goal. Coaching provides accountability to the individual and builds confidence.

Teaching and coaching are a nice compliment to one another and as a birth worker I provide both in my practice. I incorporate the two methods, teaching for birth education and prenatal coaching to help you become informed about your choices and options for birth and to guide you through your journey so that you can achieve your desired birth.

Have you practiced with a coach before? Please share your stories below.

Fort Collins , CO doula and coach
Prenatal Coaching in Fort Collins, Co


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