Balanced Families provides courses for parents-to-be and new parents, and they don’t forget about dads.
The birth of a baby is one of the most momentous occasions in any man’s life, and yet many of us greet the onset of labour with a mix of terror and confusion.
The fact is, many dads feel wholly unprepared for the experience of birth. Many mums do too, and that can even be true when couples have completed the basic information courses offered by hospitals and birth centres.
It was a sense of unpreparedness that led Ben and Jessica Lagrone to set up Balanced Families, an online hub of courses and information about birth, caring for newborns and breastfeeding. There were complications with the birth of their first daughter (they now have three) that the couple were not expecting and felt entirely unprepared for. That experience convinced them of the need for a truly comprehensive online birth course for both mums and dads.
“There were three big needs in birth education that stood out to us,” says Ben. “First, there needed to be more balanced info out there. To us, that means unbiased, evidence-based perspectives that cover a variety of situations and don’t pigeonhole couples into one birth type or setting.
“Secondly, we noticed there were hardly any men in birth education, yet so many dads want to be active partners during birth. Weird!
“Thirdly, we discussed how little prepared we felt for the emotional, psychological, and relational dynamics that occur with birth and parenthood.”
Prior to Balanced Families, both Ben and Jessica worked in education, so they knew how to present courses in a way that engaged and resonated with students. Jessica also acquired certified instructor qualifications. They have used that experience to create what they believe is the best birth class for both mums and dads on the internet.
Competition for courses
Balanced Families isn’t the only online birth class around, of course, and many dads-to-be will take birth courses organised by a local hospital or a group like the UK-based National Childbirth Trust (NCT). Ben says that many of these courses are useful, but often limited in scope.
“Our course gives students a wider breadth of information than they might receive at a typical hospital birth course,” he adds. “Many hospital courses serve as more of an orientation to the hospital rather than a comprehensive birth class. Many of our students chose ours because hospital courses left them wanting more.”
Ben says that the Balanced Families course is careful to strike the right balance between preparing couples for an unmedicated birth, and making them aware of the interventions that might be offered during labour. It is designed to prepare couples for all eventualities, and births that may be straightforward or not.
A range of courses
The Birth Class for Couples is the original Balanced Families course, but since then two further courses have been added.
“We knew the real work for parents begins after birth,” says Ben. “So early on we had a vision for hosting courses on baby care, parenting, and marriage too. We added an instructor in early 2021 and launched our breastfeeding and newborn care classes. We hope to continue building a team of creators with a passion for teaching couples practical tools for building a thriving family.”
Currently, the site offers the following courses:
The Birth Class for Couples - everything couples need to know about birth. Ben: “It covers all birth types and common interventions while fully equipping couples for unmedicated birth. It’s hands-on and interactive so couples learn alongside one another. It’s all on-demand and we host a private support group and periodic live Q&As.”
The Newborn Class for Couples - Ben : “We teamed up with a friend of ours, Jessica Newcomb (APRN, CPNP-PC, IBCLC), to provide a couples-focused course about newborn care 0-4 months. It’s full of real demonstrations such as changing a nappy, soothing a newborn, and what to do if your infant is choking.”
Breastfeeding Made Simple - Ben : “Not only is Jessica Newcomb a pediatric nurse practitioner, but she’s also a lactation consultant. The two Jessicas teamed up for a special course designed to take the stress out of breastfeeding. It also includes demonstrations with models as well as real breastfeeding footage.”
Making information accessible
Courses can be bought as a bundle, which grants access to a range of further resources, such as interviews and birth footage designed to give couples a feel for a variety of birth settings: epidural at a hospital, hypnobirth at a hospital, unmedicated home birth, unmedicated at a birth center, and even a C-section.
But the site has free resources too, in the form of a range of blogs. Ben says they have plans to create more free and low-cost material over the next year or so. “For example, we’re designing a mini-course called “Becoming a Birth Team: How Couples Work Together During Labor” that will introduce couples to some key ideas important to our message in the main birth class.”
Ben and Jessica also recognise that new parents crave information as they transition to a whole new way of life, and have plans to meet that need.
“We’re both brainstorming a lot about postpartum and how we can prepare couples for that intense phase,” says Ben. “Postpartum can be a shocking transition for both moms and dads.”
Ben and Jess are kindly offering DaddiLife readers 20% off ALL their courses too. Just quote 'DaddiLife' at checkout to receive your discount.