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New childbirth class specifically designed for LGBTQ families

Mika Baugh and Haley Spencer.JPG
Posted at 12:15 AM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 00:15:37-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Not all families are built the same, but for many parents, they share the same need to learn as much as they can about the birth process and the beginning stages of starting a family.

The Riley Children's Health Labor and Delivery team at IU Health Methodist Hospital has launched the state's first birth class designed specifically for LGBTQ families.

Mika Baugh and Haley Spencer are parents to two boys.

"Our oldest is seven," Baugh said. "And I carried him and he is living his best life in third grade. He was close to 4 when we were thinking about having another one and so we pursued that and she carried the little guy and he is now two-and-a-half and is a wild child."

Finley, their youngest, was born at IU Health North Hospital. While they did partake in all the resources the hospital had to offer when Spencer was pregnant, being a same-sex couple, there were other conversations they say they would have liked to have had.

"It was something for me that going through the process, I had a great partner in crime here, but it, I am not a typical looking mom," Spencer said. "I don't feel really feminine. And having another person possibly to connect with in that way and talk about, like I don't really know what breastfeeding is going to be like, I don't know if I am going to connect with those, all those feelings, that probably traditionally come with a mom breastfeeding."

"Specifically with the childbirth class, I do think that is a great area for them to target because that was probably the most uncomfortable experience that we had, not that it was uncomfortable, but compared to other things, just because when you are sitting there talking about the mechanics of birthing a child, that is not something necessarily that you want to talk about, or we didn't want to talk about with some heterosexual couples," Baugh said. "And to be fair, they may have been uncomfortable too."

The new birth class at IU Health will feature much of the same educational content about labor and the birthing process, but will also have time dedicated exclusively to topics of importance shared by LGBTQ families.

LEARN MORE | Childbirth Education at IU Health

"The reason we developed this class is that we wanted people to feel comfortable asking questions without fear of judgment, we felt that some of our families may not feel comfortable asking gender-specific questions or using pronouns particularly or they just didn't want to be in a room where they maybe feel judged," Candis King, a registered nurse, said.

King is a labor and delivery nurse at IU Health Methodist Hospital and she teaches the new class for LGBTQ families.

"It is a safe place where they can maybe ask whatever they want and not have to worry about that and have someone that they can maybe relate too," King said. "Whether it is another couple that is quote on quote non-traditional, or myself, the instructor, just being a member of the LGBTQ community is a little more relatable to them."

Some topics covered in the class are breastfeeding, hormone therapy, and desired pronouns used by family members.

While this class did not yet exist when Baugh and Spencer were going through their pregnancies, both mothers are involved in how this class has been developed so other families can find value with this kind of an experience.

"There is some sort of trauma that happens in the LGBTQ community, in terms of health care and medical providers," Baugh said. "That is just the reality, so to know, that I can get on IU North, Riley, or Methodist or whatever and see LGBTQ just out there and just very public, is a big deal."

The parents hope that this class will bring validation to other couples in the LGBTQ community in their journeys to grow their own families.

"The time that you put in, the time that you spend together, the nuances that you pass on to your little ones that connect you and that really, that I mean the whole purpose to having kids was originally for being able to pass on things about you and that is not done only through blood," Spencer said.

The first class took place at the beginning of December and is taking place virtually due to the pandemic. The LGBTQ birth class will be held on a quarterly schedule.