classes and support for birth and postpartum in RVA

Click for class schedule
In a Birthing From Within® class, you will learn coping techniques for the intensity of labor, use art to explore the unpredictability and surprising aspects of birth, and prepare for your baby with a fun, multi-sensory class that explores birth as a rite of passage. The creative and multi-sensory, discussion based approach combines compassionate, honest birth preparation with seeing birth from all four perspectives: mother, partner, baby, and culture. 

Here is the Birthing From Within mission, as articulated by Pam England and Virginia Bobro:
"Birthing From Within exists to inspire and teach expectant and new parents, and those who work with them, to:
* Prepare for birth as a Rite of Passage.
* Understand the power and life-long impact that "birthing from within" offers all participants in birth.
* Co-create holistic prenatal care that is informative, transformative, and builds a foundation for birthing in awareness in our birth culture, whatever the birth location or outcome or events of the birth.
* Prevent or minimize emotionally difficult births (for parents and professionals) through compassionate, honest preparation.
* Honor and use the power of Birth Story telling and listening."

So what does all that mean in class?

Part of the philosophy is being open and receptive to parents' individual needs. The curriculum will be altered based on what parents are needing in the moment, but below is a general outline for how a six week series might go.

Class one includes an introduction to pain coping, breath awareness, stages of labor, including the emotional map of labor and how labor works. The second class includes more pain coping methods, non-focused awareness and ovarian breathing, the body in birth, including posterior labor and optimal fetal positioning and eating in awareness. The third class includes comfort measures and doulas, more pain coping methods, unexpected events and labor tips, Cesarean in awareness and options for Cesarean birth, as well as the compassionate use of drugs and epidurals. The fourth class includes a special class for partners, focusing on his or her need for support, labor ettiquete, and his or her postpartum needs. Students have appreciated this focus on the partner as a new parent, and not just as a support person for the laboring woman. The fifth class includes more pain coping methods, pushing, positions for labor and birth, and a new family visit to share their birth story. Finally, the class wraps up with a class focused specifically on postpartum, including the immediate postpartum period, placenta rituals and options, healing, Mama needs and moods, including postpartum depression signs, baby basics, going back to work, and breastfeeding. At the postpartum reunion, we share birth stories, celebrate, check in on how feeding your baby is going, and discuss postpartum moods. 
This general outline is modified for the different formats (2 week intensive, 1 day intensive etc)

What about birth art?


Most childbirth preparation is thinking, reading, and talking about childbirth, looking things up on Google, TV, friends, books, or social media. This is an important way to prepare, but taking time to yourself to be in your right brain and prepare for childbirth in a creative, visual, non-verbal way can also be valuable. We take time in class to tap into the non-verbal mind. In a 6 week class, we might experience the birth art process 2 or 3 times, responding to assignments such as Womb With a View or Birth in Our Culture and learning how to be comfortable in our non-verbal minds, which is a very useful skill for labor. Pastels, art paper and any other art materials, are included in the class fee.

From Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits, by Michele Cassou: 
You must get acquainted with the unknown while your mind calls for familiarity and plans. You must let your intuition guide you into the unexpected and unimaginable. You just need to stand erect in the unknown, in the empty space...Projection and expectation can often hypnotize you with their false offers of petty fulfillment. On the other hand, creativity has the whole universe working behind it, rushing through as the indomitable force of life like a sprout of grass breaking through the cement pathway, or a volcano erupting from the earth, or a stream of water eroding a mountain. Your will surrenders and you move into the greater picture of your life. You are in a state of awakened surrender. 

There are a suprising number of parallels between the creative process and birth, which we explore in class.


Click here for a list of the Birthing From Within organization's guiding assumptions.
Click here for a list of commonly presented modules in BFW education

Click here or on the image for a 2 minute video introduction to Birthing From Within classes by BFW mentor Nikki Shaheed (San Antonio)
 (will open in new tab)

Click for 2017 class schedule
3 Formats

12 hour series: $175

Recommended for first time parents

Private Classes
$40/ class hour 
​in your home

One Day Intensives: $150
Includes home reading assignments and an online discussion forum to further your learning

$50 deposit due via Paypal, check or cash to hold your space in class; the remainder will be due at the first class meeting.

What's Included in a Class Registration?
 Class registration includes an in-home postpartum doula check in to talk about your birth and to help you gain access to any additional resources you may need. ($30 value)
a printed and bound copy of articles and local Richmond resources
access to lending library
art supplies (paper, chalk pastels)
email me with questions during your pregnancy or postpartum period
Birthing From Within Keepsake Journal (278 pgs)

Birthing From Within book

Click to register


905 N. Sheppard 
@ Three Sisters Midwifery Care, LLC 
Adrianna Ross , CPM, LM & Glenda Turner, CPM, LM

What are parents saying?

They [the classes] gave my wife confidence in knowing what to expect with the birthing process. My wife and I are more confident with our birth place decisions. We now have enough information to make informed decisions. Cat was very open to discussion and welcomed all questions. As a guy, she made me feel very comfortable asking questions about birth. 
​--Josh H.,  Feb. 2016

The coping techniques were extremely useful, as well as reframing how I think about pain in general. I loved the labyrinth drawing and the connections between partners in the class. Cat is an excellent public speaker and really does well engaging the audience and encouraging participation. 

-Nicole L., auditing postpartum doula,  Jan. 2016
I really liked how the class gave basic facts, stages of labor, positions, about birth as well as explored fears. [The classes] gave him [my partner] information about birth and procedures since he has never experienced a birth [and] opened up conversation about our thoughts and ideas and birth plan. 
-Jess H., Feb. 2016
It was wonderful! Knowing and having reminders that you CAN birth you way, being prepared in case you can't, and having a safe place to talk was great! 
-Leah M., Feb. 2016
The class made our relationship stronger. 
-Matt D., Feb. 2016
​About Cat Ennis Sears
Cat brings a unique perspective to childbirth education, as a ToLabor certified birth doula and CAPPA certified postpartum doula who has attended births of all kinds in Richmond area hospitals, birth center and home births. She has experience at St. Mary's, St. Francis, Chippenham, Henrico Doctor's, VCU, Memorial Regional, Embrace Birth Center and local home births with a qualified midwife present and brings her varied experience to her classes. She is a mom to two exuberant boys (born 2012 and 2014). She has completed training in childbirth trauma, optimal fetal positioning and acupressure, holds a Master's in Teaching from VCU and a Master's in Fine Arts from Emerson College and is the 2017 chair of Richmond Doulas. Click here for birth philosophy and testimonials.

Class Schedule
​​​​All group classes are held at @ Three Sisters Midwifery Care, LLC
905 N. Sheppard, Richmond, VA 23220
Adrianna Ross, CPM, LM &  Glenda Turner, CPM, LM

4 Week Series
Wednesday nights starting June 6
 from 6-9PM

1 Day Intensive, 1-5PM
Saturday, July 28

In-Home Birthing from Within Classes

$40/ class hour. Includes all materials. One Simple Price.

Parents are busy people. You've got work, childcare, and family responsibilities. It's hard for you to block out an evening once a week away from home. Or maybe you already took your hospital's childbirth education and would like to round it out with something more holistic, but don't feel like you need to take an entire series. Yet a one day intensive doesn't work with your schedule.

I get it! That's why I am offering "pay by the hour" childbirth education in your own home. I am happy to come over after your kids' bedtime!

Private classes will cover Birthing From Within pain-coping techniques, birth art processes and emotional preparation, selected modules on practical information relevant to you, a reading packet and an up-to-date list of local Richmond resources. 

There are certain modules that are recommended for all parents (Cesarean preparation, pain coping methods and postpartum mood disorders). However, others can be "ordered up" and tailored to meet your needs. Modules can include Spinning Babies optimal fetal positioning, acupressure points for your partner to learn for use during labor and 36+ weeks pregnancy,  a postpartum doula's guide to breastfeeding, stages and signs of labor, birth and postpartum options and more.

Enroll for a private class by filling out the online form below and specify how many hours you would like to sign up for. 

*please note that my travel radius for private classes is within 20 miles of downtown Richmond. Additional travel fees apply for further locations.
*Private classes of 2+ hours include the Postpartum Doula check in

*2 hour minimum if scheduling more than one class (I am happy to come over for a one-time 1 hour "add on" class, but can't do a series of 1 hour visits)

 Combine a Birthing From Within Class with a Fresh 48 newborn and postpartum photography session by Joyful Birth Services and save $100 off the photo session. Learn more about Joy's beautiful photography and what a Fresh 48 session is  here:  ​​

TO ENROLL or express interest for private, mini, intensive, or four week series classes, please visit this link to the new Birthing From Within Richmond website and fill out the form there. (This website has had some technical glitches, but is still being linked to, so I have not deactivated it.)

If you have any issues with the online form, please email cat.ennis@gmail.com, or call 804-399-1135  to enroll