Prenatal offerings help Eagle County moms-to-be

Kim Fuller
Daily Correspondent
Local yoga instructor Rachel Nelson is 7 months pregnant.
Jay Rush | Special to the Daily |

Vail Valley Medical Center prenatal class offerings

Childbirth/prenatal education: Four-week class series (2.5 hours per class) — $60.

Childbirth/prenatal education: Fast Track class (2 days, 3 hours each day) — $45.

Baby care class: (2 hours) — $20.

Natural birth class: (2 hours) — $25.

Breastfeeding class: (2 hours) — $15.

Baby and Me support group (usually 1 to 2 hours; depends on the group) — Free.

For more information and a class calendar with locations, visit .

there’s a lot to expect when you’re expecting, and prenatal classes can help to get over bumps of all sizes along the journey to baby.

“I think it has a lot of value for the couples who are expecting,” said Amy Lavigne, clinical coordinator for perinatal services at Vail Vally Medical Center. “Childbirth education really provides the couple or the mother and the support group with what to expect during the labor process, as well as those first few days in the hospital with the baby.”

Vail Valley Medical Center offers a variety of prenatal classes, including the standard childbirth education classes, and sessions with more specific topics, such as natural birth, caring for baby and a breastfeeding class. Most of the classes are held at the medical center, but some are downvalley, in Gypsum and Eagle.

“I think it can really decrease a lot of fear, because I believe that information is power, in this regard,” Lavigne said. “I think it just gives them a good knowledge base of what to expect from the birth process, and what to expect from the nursing staff when they’re here.”

“The biggest thing I tell each person is that this is the time to really start listening to your body — in a much bigger way.”
Rachel Nelson
Owner of Revolution Power Yoga

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Beyond the education, the classes are a good way to meet prenatal peers.

“You will hear people say that some of their best friends are the people who they met in their prenatal classes, because they are pregnant at the same time, and they sort of go through the same journey together,” she said. “And then they usually have their babies around the same time, and end up creating this really nice support system.”

The traditional childbirth education classes are held in two formats: a four-week series and a fast-track method. The month-long series meets once a week for two hours, and the two-week series is completed in two three-hour sessions.

Baby care, natural birth and breastfeeding classes are offered as single sessions, two hours each. A free “Baby and Me” support group is also available once a baby has been born.

“When I first got pregnant, I was wanting to jump at the chance to sign up for these classes, and I was told to wait until my third trimester, which seemed like a lifetime away,” said local Kelly Riddell. “Now that I am seven and a half months pregnant and in the home stretch, I can’t believe how fast time has gone by, and we are both getting super excited to meet our little man.”


To help relieve the aches and pains that can come with pregnancy, Riddell has been getting a prenatal massage every few months, she said.

Kordula Schmidt is a massage therapist and owner of Manor Vail Spa in Vail. She learned about prenatal massage during her training, and then worked with a pregnant client at the school clinic before taking specialized prenatal courses.

“Prenatal massage is the same basic concept, but you are becoming more in tune with the client and the little being that is growing inside, so you now have two people in your hands,” Schmidt said.

The prenatal bodywork addresses physical swelling and emotional stress, as well as relieving joint and nerve discomforts, so it uses a more soothing approach than a deep tissue massage.

“A mom-to-be is going through so many changes with her body physically, mentally and chemically,” she said. “The whole massage you are trying to address discomforts that are ever-evolving throughout the process of pregnancy.”

Schmidt said massage helps to reduce anxiety levels, which can help prevent complications at birth from stress. It is helpful to the cardiovascular system as well, which she explained is incredibly important to both mom and baby.

“It’s also a fun way to introduce massage to an infant,” Schmidt said. “They respond to massage so much faster if their mom was receiving massages and was massaging her belly a lot herself.”


Along with education and massage, staying physically active while pregnant can help a mom in a myriad of ways, too. Rachel Nelson is a local yoga instructor and owner of Revolution Power Yoga in Eagle-Vail. She is also seven months pregnant, and recently created a “Power Yoga for Pregnancy” class after people started asking her questions about whether or not she would continue with her yoga practice during her pregnancy.

“‘That’s a silly question,’ I thought, and that if people are asking me this, I wonder what they are asking other pregnant women who maybe don’t even practice yoga, or have been told they have to stop doing everything,” she said. “I kept feeling like I was getting weird questions, and I thought ‘I’m not sick. Nothing’s wrong with me.’”

She wanted to create a class focused on helping women feel strong and more connected to their bodies. The classes are held Mondays at 12:15 p.m. for an hour, in a non-heated room. Memberships, punch cards or a $20 drop-in rate can be used to take the class.

Nelson also recommended restorative yoga as a great prenatal option. She said the studio’s regular heated power classes can be good too, if a mom-to-be is already accustomed to a rigorous practice.

“The biggest thing I tell each person is that this is the time to really start listening to your body — in a much bigger way,” she said. “That’s why if anything feels off or hurts, you just don’t do it.”

Nelson has started taking childbirth education classes, and said they are a lot like what yoga emphasizes for the mind.

“It’s not the physical practice, it’s the mental practice of letting go of any fear, or things you’ve been told that create fear, and letting those go and really just creating a lot of positive affirmations and positive outlooks on pregnancy and on birth,” she said. “I really have been bringing all that into my classes too — about how you are strong, and your body knows what it’s doing, and having trust in that and relaxation around that is really, really cool.”

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