RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic, many expectant moms have not been able to attend in-person birth-education classes.
While local health systems were suspending classes or pivoting to online-only sessions, one Raleigh mom and labor and delivery nurse was already reaching thousands of expectant mothers with her own virtual birthing courses.
Liesel Teen, BSN-RN, launched her online platform, Mommy Labor Nurse, in 2018.
As a new mom herself, she wanted to empower others to go into their birthing experience feeling knowledgeable and confident.
"It just sets you up for such an amazing journey into motherhood," said Teen.
From her home office, Teen has grown her online following to more than 450,000 on Instagram and has served more than 30,000 moms worldwide through her online classes tailored for natural birth, epidural birth, and C-Section.
"People who take birth education, it improves their birth outcomes substantially," she said.
At the onset of the pandemic, Teen said she had many moms seeking online courses from the safety and convenience of home.
"Everything was shut down, and I was having people message me and be like, what the heck, my birth classes got canceled, my newborn care classes got canceled, what do I do? I was like, OK, great, I have this online option that I already had set up so it really helped bridge that gap."
Local health systems such as Duke and UNC are still offering online-only birthing classes. After suspending classes for a brief period of time at the beginning of the pandemic, WakeMed now offers a combined virtual and in-person option for many of its education and support groups.
"The pandemic has been a challenge like we haven't seen before," said Estela DiFranco Field, BSN, MSN, CNM, Associate Medical Director for the Duke University Hospital Birthing Center. "At the beginning, certainly with a lot of fear of how the virus would affect pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum recovery, folks were very concerned about coming to the hospital at all."
DiFranco Field said vetted online resources help remove the barrier to provide education to more people than health providers would have been able to in-person, easing anxiety and fears around labor and delivery, leading to better birth outcomes for mom and baby.
"Education is power and many people coming with knowledge feel more comfortable, more confident about their experience, about choices that they have," she said.
She urges all expectant parents to bring their questions to their providers.
In the meantime, Teen has a vision of changing the expectations around prenatal care for all patients to go beyond the regular checkups.
"When you get pregnant, you're like ok, I know I kind of have to take a birth class, but it's still more of a choice," she said. "So we would like to change that narrative and make it more- this is standard; in prenatal care, you're going to take a birth course."