All in Due Time: Perspectives on Childbirth from Deaf Parents

All in Due Time This resource features video from 6 sets of Deaf parents sharing their perspectives on childbirth.  It is an excellent resource for learning about the different situations that may come up related to childbirth – including medical conditions and procedure and how Deaf people might talk about them in ASL.  Additionally, this is a great opportunity to look at how gender affects communication styles.

This was originally created as 2 CD-ROMs containing almost two hours of video.  It is now completely available on the web.

Click here to check it out.

Introducing the Beldons

Meet Jimmy

Video coming soon.

Jimmy briefly introduces himself. (0:29)

English Summary:

Jimmy is from an all Deaf family, His children are 4th generation Deaf. He’s originally from Ohio. He’s worked in several states including Mississippi, Ohio, Minnesota and now South Dakota.

Meet Egina

Egina briefly introduces herself. (0:29)

English Summary:

Egina is from an all Deaf family. Her children are 3rd generation Deaf on her side of the family. She’s originally from California. She majored in child development at Gallaudet. She now lives in South Dakota. Like Jimmy, she’s moved around quite a bit, but has always had the same job: housewife.

Names of Children

Jimmy gives the name and ages of their five children. (0:39)

English Summary:

Estina, 8 – Deaf
Jimmy Paul (J.P.), 6 – Deaf
Emelia, 4
Ernelina, 2 (almost 3) – hearing
Jarod, 14 months

Preparing for the Video

Suggestions for Working with these Texts

Objective: To prepare for interpreting medical appointments related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The following series of activities are designed to support you in achieving the objective above.

1. Do some research on terminology and procedures related to childbirth.

There is an incredible quantity of information on the web about pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to explanations of procedures and conditions, there are all sorts of perspectives about the pros and cons of certain approaches. Click on any blue word to take you to an internet site with information on that topic. The concepts offered here are not comprehensive, but offer a start to what might be encountered in OB/GYN appointments.

* Understand physical anatomy related to childbirth.

Two options for Diagrams of Female Reproductive Anatomy from the AMA Atlas:
Non-Pregnant Anatomy | Anatomy during Pregnancy

* Understand procedures that might be used during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

A glossary of terms related to child birth.

The following websites offer resources and perspectives on some of the medicines and procedures which might be used during labor and delivery.
Amniocentesis | Midwifery | Analgesia and Anasthesia | Ultrasound
C-Section: Various Perspectives | Diagrams
Episiotomies: Various Perspectives | Diagrams

* Understand some of the potential complications in pregnancy and delivery.

A General Description of Possible Complications | Birth Defects | Pre-term Labor | Bicornuate Uterus | Breech Presentation | Ectopic Preganancy | Infertility | Placenta Abruptio | Placenta Previa | Preeclampsia/Toxemia | Miscarriage

2. Watch the video and analyze use of language to describe terms and processes related to childbirth.

The video from each couple is divided into segments to allow you to watch different portions. Some of the video describes more about the processes of life surrounding childbirth…dealing with accommodations at work or in other arenas of life. Other portions of the video is more focused on the technical processes of birth and dealing with the medical profession. Descriptions underneath the video links give suggestions of topics to look for in each of the video portions. Using these suggestions, watch the video to add to your own ideas about how to talk about childbirth in ASL.

3. Describe certain processes in ASL.

After watching the couples talk about childbirth in ASL, pick certain concepts or processes and describe these in ASL. For example, you may choose to describe a C-section as if you were explaining it to a Deaf friend who was unfamiliar with what happens in that procedure. You may want to videotape yourself so that you can watch your rendition and see how effectively you were able to incorporate the language features demonstrated in the video.

4. Interpret from ASL to English imagining the setting being a Doctor’s appointment asking for past history.

After all of this preparation and analysis, voice interpret the segments with the imagined target audience of a doctor looking for past history related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Earn CEUs:

A study packet, This One’s for You, Baby! , is available to allow interpreters to work with this CD and Birth Companions to earn RID CEUs.

All In Due Time

All in Due Time

All in Due Time

Perspectives on Childbirth from Deaf Parents

Heidi and Jeff Branch
Stacie & Scott Miller
Brandi & Tim Rarus
Melody & Russell Stein
Egina & Jimmy Beldon
Christine & Roger Kraft


Childbirth is a universal experience –one that is shared by millions of women around the world, regardless of their country of origin, ethnicity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, ability, disability or hearing status. And while this event is shared by so many, the birthing process and experience is as unique to the parents as the baby being born.

Health care appointments, including prenatal care, birth, and postnatal care, are some of the most challenging for interpreters. Not only do they demand that the interpreter be technically skilled, highly professional, and ethical but they also must be keenly sensitive to the personal nature of the interaction.

The RSA Region V Project at the College of St. Catherine in partnership with SLICES continues to develop innovative CD ROMs in an effort to help interpreters develop and hone the technical skills needed to interpret in these demanding, personal and potentially life-threatening situations. “To the Heart of the Matter” and “Stomach This!” were our first projects of this nature. We are in the process of releasing two more CDs which offer appointment settings and model interpretations in cardiology and gastroenterology so that interpreters may apply the information learned in the first two CDs to “real life” interactions.

When discussing the plans for this CD addressing the birth experience, we wanted to use the same format as the first two: to present the topic in spoken English by a native English speaker, and in American Sign Language by a native ASL user. The original plan to produce one CD has now become a project with several phases. The first phase is this two CD set featuring the birth experiences of six Deaf couples. The stories they share are rich and represent a variety of factors and complications that occurred before, during and after the births of their children.

We’d like to extend a special thanks to the parents who so generously shared their experiences with us: Heidi and Jeff Branch, Stacie and Scott Miller, Brandi and Tim Rarus, Melody and Russ Stein, Christine and Roger Kraft, and Egina and Jimmy Beldon. We were touched by their willingness to share details of such a personal experience so that interpreters could learn from their stories. Thank you so much! A special thanks also goes to Ann Marie Mickelson, who generously opened her home to us so we could film these parents in a comfortable environment.

Since the perspectives, goals and language use is often different for the medical personnel involved with a birth, the next phase of this project will include filming various health care providers, including deaf and non-deaf doulas, midwives, doctors and childbirth educators.

This CD has the potential to be used in a variety of ways to develop your knowledge and skills in the realm of interpreting in obstetrics. You will find some ideas on page 6 to start your work with these stories. On page 7 you will find a listing of various internet resources that will help you prepare for your work with this material (and with ob/gyn appointments you may be scheduled to interpret.) Many of these websites offer very clear pictures and explanations of concepts you will find useful.

We are thrilled to offer you these resources and hope you find them helpful as you develop your skills for working with health care providers and parents-to-be.

Staff of the RSA Region V Project