Caption: Emily Wills, her husband Rami and their newborn daughter Ruby. The couple welcomed their first child on Sept. 1, and the transition to parenthood was made much easier thanks to prenatal classes offered by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).
It's been all about snuggles, sleeping and the occasional bodily function for Emily Wills, her husband Rami and their newborn daughter Ruby.
The Sechelt couple welcomed their first child on Sept. 1, and the transition to parenthood was made much easier thanks to prenatal classes offered by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).
Like everything in the year of COVID-19, the classes couldn't be in-person, so instead they went virtual.
In late spring, Emily and Rami were part of a group of 10 couples who met virtually for four, two-hour sessions.
Emily admits she was skeptical at first and disappointed to learn the classes would be virtual.
“When I heard it was going to Zoom, I honestly thought I wasn't going to do it," she said, noting as a school teacher she spent a lot of her day already on Zoom and was looking to meet other families in the community. “But once it got started, I was really pleased with the outcome. It surpassed what I was anticipating"
Though Emily felt she was well read and prepared for her pregnancy and labour, she said the classes still offered plenty new information and helpful resources.
Since the virtual classes meant the couple didn't have to leave their home, she noted they could take part in their pajamas and eat dinner.
“It was really relaxed and that was an unintended advantage," she said.
Sandra Grant, a public health nurse in Sechelt and the program lead for prenatal classes, wasn't sure what kind of response she would get for the virtual classes.
When the pandemic hit, her team quickly pivoted to offer the classes through Zoom.
“We still wanted to provide the content," she said. “We find women who go through the prenatal course do better postpartum because they have a lot of information."
It became apparent there was plenty of interest. Grant noted the 10 families taking part all stayed for the four sessions, offering positive feedback.
“I think the fact people returned for each of the four classes, which was the biggest testament that the classes were going well for them," she said, adding the virtual setup still allowed her and her team to provide the important information and answer questions they would have in-person.
With COVID-19 showing no sign of going away anytime soon, Grant plans to offer the Zoom classes for the foreseeable future.
“I'm passionate about supporting women, so it's really exciting to offer them that same support somehow when people are feeling so isolated and so anxious," she said.
As Emily and her husband get settled into parenthood, she's happy to recommend other families take the class, even if it is virtually.
“Each week rolls into one when you get closer [to your due date], it helps remind you the child is coming soon and you better be ready."