If we want to change the world, we need to educate our youth for the world we want to see. But what about adults? Do we have time to wait for the next generation to come, or do we want to see change sooner rather than later?
Adults can be part of the key to changing our societal norms, but we have to reach them where they are with appropriate methods and delivery. That was one of our goals in the Erasmus+ project Education for a Positive Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum (3P+). By teaching pregnant families about their options during maternity care, providing them with evidenced based information and encouraging them to make the choices that are best for them, we are creating an enormous change by taking the power in maternity care away from care providers and returning it where it belongs - in the hands of pregnant women.
An educator in every community – and a community for every educator
Part of our project included a training for childbirth educators from Croatia and Slovenia, where we made sure to have a wide geographic representation of people from all over these two countries. By having prenatal education courses available all over these countries, we bring them closer to pregnant families and make it easier for them to learn about their health and choices. Teaching parents has a multiplier effect, because by teaching one parent you actually teach all the other parents they will come into contact with.
In addition to serving their communities, to make this type of education sustainable we must also work to create a thriving, positive community of educators who will support each other in their work. For this reason, the training was held under the motto – Behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women holding her back.
Learning from experts
The training course was developed by experienced childbirth educators, maternity care experts, midwives, breastfeeding specialists, adult education experts and parents who came together to prepare the course principles and outline, and later collaboated in delivering the trainings.
Together with Aperio, our Czech partner which had experience developing a prenatal education course, Roda and Indo Anai (from Croatia and Slovenia) developed the first comprehensive parent-to-parent training program for prenatal education. Although these programs are new in this part of Europe, they have been the norm in other countries for decades. Our program was special because it was tailored for parents from this part of the world and the health systems they encounter, giving people the opportunity to learn from other parents. The simpler and friendlier communication between parents sharing experiences without the power dynamics and difficulties parents sometimes face when taking classes with healthcare providers can be an excellent environment for learning and growing, especially for parents from vulnerable groups.
The first online training began in June 2018 with an in-person module held in Slovenia in September that year. Participants completed their final projects at the end of March 2019 and officially graduated in May.
Starting small for large impact
By starting with a small program of twenty original childbirth educators, we plan to grow the program after the Erasmus+ project is over to includ other educators and to provide continuing professional development to the graduates. This will help to guarantee accessibility across Croatia and Slovenia but also quality because of the investment in program graduates. Time will tell what the impact of this program is on parents' education in these two countries - in either case, we have set down a good foundation.