Archive for the ‘Lamaze Method’ Category

Happy 100th Birthday, Elisabeth Bing – Lamaze Co-Founder and Visionary Leader

July 8th, 2014 by avatar

By Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  Sir Isaac Newton, Letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1675

The co-founder of Lamaze International (known first as ASPO/Lamaze), Elisabeth Bing, turns 100 years old today.  Elisabeth was a leader and advocate for mothers, babies and families long before this type of advocacy had a name.  Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski, past president of Lamaze International and long time friend and colleague of Elisabeth’s, shares some thoughts on this forward thinking woman who cared enough to take action, become a leader and then create an organization that has helped millions of families over the years achieve a safe and healthy birth.  We salute you Ms. Bing and thank you deeply! – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

Ms. Bing and babyMs. Bing and babyMs. Bing and babyWhen Elisabeth Bing first encountered childbearing women in the London of her twenties, she was a physical therapist with an assignment that sounds alien in 2014. Postpartum women were confined to bed for 10 days, without the ability to even put their feet on the floor! Physical therapists provided exercise and massage. The creativity, drive and passion Elisabeth demonstrated in the 40s and 50s became the foundation for the Lamaze method of childbirth education that is internationally taught and respected today.

Elisabeth’s memoir, My Life In Birth, details her journey from Nazi Germany to America, and provides insight into her many years of service to pregnant women. Giving birth between the 1930s and 1960s meant a woman had few if any choices about the way her baby was born. Mentally disoriented by “twilight sleep” and strapped down for “delivery” lest the sterile field be disrupted, a childbearing woman then was more a vessel for the baby than an active participant. In time women demanded an active role in the birth of their babies. Elisabeth was on the cutting edge of change. With Marjorie Karmel, author of Thank You, Dr. Lamaze, she was a revolutionary with the vision to see a consumer movement poised to create a very real difference in the way women gave birth. Elisabeth was the catalyst for that movement.



When I first spent a weekend with Elisabeth in her New York apartment, she was entering her eighties but was still teaching childbirth education twice a week. Her studio was perfect. Baby pictures were prominently displayed, childbirth posters lined the walls, and the atmosphere was relaxed, comforting and empowering. When asked, Elisabeth explained that pregnant women’s concerns were unchanged. Yes, she told me, the climate in hospitals had changed. Now Lamaze classes were common but medical interventions like epidurals continued to disrupt normal, natural birth. The obstacles were altered but the need for informed choices was ongoing. Women, Elisabeth said, still needed the truth.

Teaching 1978

Teaching 1978

Elisabeth turns 100 today, July 8, 2014. Consider her amazing reach. I am one small piece of her heritage. I’ve been honored to personally learn from this amazing, dynamic mentor for nearly 25 years. Her book, Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth, was my bible as I approached my first birth in 1976. That baby, my daughter Amy Podgurski Gough, is also a certified Lamaze childbirth educator. Between the joy of my first birthing experience and the births of Amy’s three babies, I’ve been blessed to teach thousands of women and their partners. Like most childbirth educators, I am deeply in Elisabeth’s debt.

Much has been written about Elisabeth’s contribution to childbirth education. A facet of her personality seldom discussed, however, is her insight surrounding collaboration. Her initial work in co-founding ASPO/Lamaze (now Lamaze International) in 1960 created a not-for-profit organization composed of parents, childbirth educators, health care providers and other health professionals. From the start, she discovered the strength of working with a group of people as opposed to standing alone. During the last keynote presentation Elisabeth presented at a Lamaze International national conference, I listened, mesmerized, as she prophetically discussed the need to talk with “insurance companies” as a way to continue her dream of teaching as many women as possible. Her commitment to excellence, to advocacy, and to childbearing women and their partners remains fierce in spite of the passage of time.

1982 ASPO/Lamaze Conference

1982 ASPO/Lamaze Conference

Elisabeth has been called the “mother of childbirth education” and she deserves that title. Her legacy guides all childbirth educators. When I picture her, I envision a physically tiny women with a spirit so powerful one forgets her stature. I look into her clear, bright eyes and see her pure white hair, pulled back into a pony tail with a blue ribbon. I sit in her kitchen sipping tea and drinking in her intelligence. Her cat purrs at our feet. My daughter Lisa is across the table, equally transfixed. I lean in, anxious to remember every moment of this encounter. She smiles, and her eyes light with purpose. I share my personal plans for starting a teen outreach. Elisabeth listens deeply, then offers advice I still adhere to twenty years later.

Elisabeth is an icon, a woman of vision and our true mother. To me she is a dear, precious friend. On July 8th, I will travel to New York City and enter her kitchen again, cognizant of the immense gift Elisabeth’s life has been to all who care about women, birth, and the future. One cannot measure her full worth; I know her wisdom echoes in the mission of every childbirth educator who follows in her footsteps. Thank you, Elisabeth!

© ospreyobserver.com

© ospreyobserver.com

Science & Sensibility and Lamaze International would like to let Elisabeth Bing know what a great organization she created, and how it has impacted so many.  Please leave some wishes for a happy birthday in our comments section and if you wish, share what Lamaze means to you (as an educator, a birth professional, a mother, a father, or a health care provider).  Lamaze International will make sure that every wish is printed and sent on to Elisabeth for her to enjoy!  That will certainly touch her heart!  Please, leave your wishes, stories and memories below. – SM

About Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski

MARY JO PODGURSKIDr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the Director of The Washington Health System Teen Outreach and President and Founder of the Academy for Adolescent Health, Inc. Her undergraduate education is in nursing and education, her master’s work was in counseling, and her doctorate is in education. She began volunteering with pregnant teens in the 70s and has created numerous youth development and education programs using reality-based, interactive educational techniques that are evidence-based and empower youth.

Dr. Podgurski became interested in child abuse prevention as a way to lower teen pregnancy and authored the book Inside Out: Your Body is Amazing Inside and Out and Belongs Only to You, and runs a body-positive, child-centered, interactive, child abuse prevention program.

Dr. Podgurski has presented over 500 workshops locally, nationally and internationally.  She is proud to be an adjunct faculty member in the Education Department of Washington and Jefferson College where she created and teaches the course: Teaching and Dealing with Sexuality in Schools in 2010.

Dr. Podgurski’s certifications include LCCE and FACCE (Fellow in the College of Childbirth Educators) from Lamaze International as a certification as both a sexuality educator and a sexuality counselor from AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists), certification through Parents as Teachers, and certification as a trainer in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. She is a past president of the Lamaze International Board of Directors.

Dr. Podgurski has received numerous awards, including the UPMC Dignity and Respect Champion Award in 2011, the Three Rivers Community Foundation Social Justice Award and the Washington County Children and Youth Champion for Children Award in 2009. She was the 2008 Washington County NAACP Human Rights Award recipient and the 2004 Washington County recipient of the Athena Women of Wisdom Award. She was awarded the 2004 NOAPPP (National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting, now Healthy Teen Network) Outstanding Professional Award. In May of 2014 she was inducted into the Washington County Historical Society’s Washington County Hall of Fame for her contributions to the community through education of family planning and adolescent health.

Mary Jo and her partner Richard are the parents of three adult children and are blessed with three grandchildren.

Babies, Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Lamaze Method, Lamaze News , , , ,

Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators: A Valuable New Resource For Any Childbirth Educator

October 25th, 2012 by avatar

This is a big weekend for Lamaze International for many reasons.  The 2012 Innovative Learning Forum is happening starting tomorrow in Nashville, TN, and right now, childbirth professionals and those interested in improving maternity care for childbearing women are making their way to Nashville via plane, train and automobile to network, listen to a fantastic line up of keynote speakers, participate in interactive learning sessions taught by creative and dynamic presenters, shop and meet sponsors and exhibitors, enjoy good food, Nashville hospitality and socialize with men and women who share the belief that birth is normal.

If you are not able to join the party in Nashville, you do have the option of participating in the four general sessions presented by the keynote speakers through the virtual conference option.  Either way, there is an opportunity for expanding your knowledge and getting important new information about teaching pregnancy, birth, parenting and breastfeeding topics to expectant families.

New Resource for Educators

There is another exciting event happening at this weekend’s gathering.  Lamaze International unveils a brand new resource for childbirth educators; The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators. If you are at the conference this weekend, you can preview this toolkit at the Lamaze booth and participate in a contest to be entered in a drawing for the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos, a valuable part of the new toolkit.  (More info on the how to enter later in this post.)

The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators (Toolkit) is a brand new 317 page workbook created by Debby Amis, RN, BSN, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE and Jeanne Green, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE.  Debby and Jeanne have both held leadership roles in Lamaze International for many years, as well as contribute to other birth related organizations.  Together, Debby and Jeanne are the owners and directors of The Family Way Publications and Childbirth Educator Programs.

I wanted to review this Toolkit and let you know some of the highlights, so that you can be sure to allow time to check it out yourself at the Lamaze booth at the Forum or online, and consider adding the Toolkit to your own personal teaching resources.  After purchasing, I was easily able to download an electronic version of the Toolkit to my laptop.  For the purpose of this review, I chose to print out the Toolkit for easy access using my substantial Lamaze/FedEx discount that I receive as a benefit of being a Lamaze member.  An educator could easily chose to keep the electronic version handy and just choose to print out any handouts that will be utilized in class.

What’s Inside

The Toolkit is divided into 8 sections, starting off with “Dynamic Childbirth Education.”  Immediately, ideas are jumping off the pages on different methods of curriculum development, the components of a great class and preparations you might want to consider even before your class begins. There is something for everyone, no matter if you are a right brained creative thinker or a left brained in-depth organizer.  I found several new ideas for opening my childbirth classes and was excited to give some new things a try the next time I teach.

The Toolkit follows along with The Lamaze Fundamentals for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting with a section devoted to each one.  In each section, I found a list of selected materials and teaching aids that you might want to consider, along with information on where or how to acquire different items.  Teaching ideas, interactive learning methods, and active learning activities are so abundant throughout the book that it could be very easy to quickly choose a few favorites and immediately have a handful of ways to teach each topic you cover.  Another feature that I very much appreciated was the Lamaze web resources for each topic as well as other web links to useful pages, outstanding online videos and resources to share with class students.  In every section, the Lamaze principles that pregnancy and birth is normal, natural and healthy are apparent and the activities and teaching suggestions reinforce those principals while giving students confidence-building tools and ideas for pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Section V provides class outlines for all kinds of classes, including early pregnancy classes, series classes, and weekend classes, with a lesson plan for whatever your needs might be. Section VI: Resources provides suggestions for dozens of teaching aids and where to locate them for purchase if necessary. Sample presentation slides are outlined slide by slide, should you wish to supplement your class activities.  Lists of websites useful to childbirth educators are included, where no doubt you could get lost for days, mining the different sites for more useful and relevant information for you and your students.

Section VII: Handouts has an extensive collection of share-able handouts and worksheets loaded with fun activities, as well as examples of practical forms, such as sign in sheets, class evaluations, and review material for class participants.  Even items that you might email in advance of class or send as a follow-up to reinforce the material or facilitate discussions.  The 317 page Toolkit wraps up with Section VIII: References with the websites and research articles that support the preceding sections, should you wish to reference the original sources or seek more information.

There is an accompanying Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos included with the Toolkit.  This presentation is modifiable and includes over 80 colorful slides and embedded videos.  Or you may choose to purchase the PowerPoint Presentation alone for a reduced price.  The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators (including PowerPoint and Videos) is $175 for Lamaze members and $350 for non-members.  Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos alone is $65/$140. These items are one-time purchases, and you do not need to purchase additional license for continued use.

No matter if you are a new educator, or one who has been teaching for years, I think you will be amazed at the sheer number of practical ideas, creative teaching methods, effective activities and course outlines that will be new to you and create excitement for you to mix things up with some of the Toolkit ideas.  I have just about 10 years of teaching childbirth classes under my belt and I found myself taking notes of new things I can’t wait to try!  You can teach an old dog new tricks.  I can only imagine how valuable a tool like this would have been when I was just starting out!  The days and days of work it would have saved me in preparing to teach my classes. Even now, I feel like it is fun for both students and myself, to mix things up, it keeps me on my toes and enjoying my work, and lets me offer fun and effective learning opportunities to the families I work with.  This Toolkit is a wonderful and fresh way to share the all the new messages, such as “Push For Your Baby” and others that Lamaze worked so hard to make just right!

I Am Lamaze Photo Contest- Win a Healthy Birth Practice Power Point presentation with videos

Lamaze Forum Attendees: show your pride! Share a photo of yourself at the conference via social media and you’ll have a chance to win a Healthy Birth Practice Power Point presentation with videos, just one of the resources in the brand new Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators. The full toolkit is a comprehensive online toolkit (312 pages), which offers interactive teaching strategies, ready-to-use handouts, class outlines, and an 88 slide complete PowerPoint presentation on the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices with teaching notes, and a full range of teaching resources. The Lamaze Toolkit also includes access to the easy-to-use resources and an online community with a discussion forum for sharing tips with other educators. Be sure to stop by Lamaze booth #104/106 to take a “test drive!”! Retail value of the Power Point Presentation is $65 for members and $140 for non-members.

There are three ways you can be eligible to enter:
1. Twitter: tweet a photo of yourself at the Forum and tag @lamazeadvocates and #lamaze12 to be eligible
2. Facebook: Post a photo of yourself at the Forum and tag LamazeEducators or post your photo to our wall:
3. Email a photo of yourself at the Forum to info@lamaze.org and we’ll post it to our Facebook album.

A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday, October 28!


Added Bonus: Toolkit Forum
 There is an added bonus for anyone who purchases the Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators; Full access to a specialized forum on the Lamaze website, where you can interact with other community members who have also purchased this resource.  Have discussions, share ideas, successes and improvements you made, ask questions and learn how others are using this valuable tool.  Reach out and collaborate virtually with others who are also using the Toolkit in their classrooms.
If you are at the Innovative Learning Forum, stop by the Lamaze Booth and “test-drive” this new resource.  Remember to enter the drawing for the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos during your stay in Nashville, to be awarded on Sunday, October 28th.  Or you can purchase the Toolkit here on the Lamaze site.  Once you have had a chance to take a peek, either at the booth or once you return home, let us know what you think and how your classes have changed using the resources available to you.



Book Reviews, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Films about Childbirth, Films about Pregnancy, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Lamaze 2012 Annual Conference, Lamaze Method, Push for Your Baby, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

Series: Journey to LCCE Certification: Taking A Lamaze Childbirth Education Seminar

August 23rd, 2012 by avatar

By Cara Terreri, BA, Community Manager for Lamaze International’s Giving Birth With Confidence blog

Today, an occasional series starts on Science & Sensibility, “Journey to LCCE Certification.”   We will follow Cara Terreri as she progresses on the path to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  Her journey starts with her Childbirth Education Seminar and will continue as she develops her own curriculum, teaches her first classes and sits for the exam.  I invite you to cheer her on and offer your support, suggestions and encouragement based on your own experiences on a similar journey.- SM

After having worked for the Lamaze International headquarters office for seven years now (marketing, writing, managing the Giving Birth with Confidence blog), it’s safe to say that I’ve drank the Kool-Aid. Slowly but surely, the words I pored over while editing became part of my own beliefs – even before I began my own birth journey. And until my last birth, I was happy to remain in my role of reaching women through writing. But my most recent, and most amazing birth (first unmedicated and truly empowering experience), ignited my desire to be more directly involved either as a doula or educator. But how? I already have a part-time job in marketing and writing (for clients in addition to Lamaze) on top of three children, a husband, and a dog – when would I find more time to devote to a budding career in birth?

While I still haven’t answered that last question, in the meantime, I attended the Passion for Birth Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminar as the first step on the path to being a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  There was going to a workshop in my hometown, and the timing worked with my other obligations.  This workshop was going to be taught by Passion for Birth founder, Teri Shilling and  co-taught by Ann Tumblin.

At the end of day one, I was blown away. Walking into class, the first thing I noticed was how the tables and each seat were meticulously set up with loads of colorful, playful – and questionable (like, balloons and a ping pong ball?) – class materials. It was like walking into an art class! When class began, I was immediately engaged by the teaching techniques. Nearly every activity and exercise was meant to double as something that could be replicated in your own Lamaze class, including some techniques that should not be used. For example, class kicked off with the dreaded PowerPoint slide. Ann reviewed the slide, turned off the projector and asked everyone to write down the six bullet points reviewed. No one could. Why? Because PowerPoint is a horribly ineffective teaching tool! This was just one of countless “aha” moments for me over the next three days.

In spite of a nine-hour day, the instructors excelled at keeping me engaged and involved, and allowing me to learn – and successfully retain – the material. Beyond the teaching, I really enjoyed the community aspect of class. Participants (27 of them!) came from all walks of the maternal-child health arena, which allowed for interesting dialogue with differing but respectful perspectives.

The Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminar was, in a word, inspiring. I truly believe that if I could mirror my classes using the Passion for Birth techniques I observed and learned, I would be one fantastic educator! Because Teri still actively teaches childbirth classes in her community, I also felt confident knowing that the information in her workshop is not only effective, but relevant to today’s families.

I believe that my biggest hurdles in completing certification and developing a birth business are making the time, given my other professional commitments; and overcoming my dislike of networking. In class, we discussed the need for aspiring educators to develop face-to-face relationships with individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses in the community. While I don’t think of myself as a wallflower, I’m also not a social butterfly and I’ve never liked being in a “sales-y” role. I’d love to hear from other educators who feel the same way – what did you do to overcome your aversion to marketing and promoting yourself and be able to successfully network with peers and potential students?

So what next? As a new/inexperienced educator on the pathway to certification, the next official step is to be observed in teaching. But before I can do that, I need to create my curriculum and develop a plan for connecting with my local prenatal community. After a group curriculum-building exercise on day one, I gained new respect for the work that educators put into writing, preparing, and refining a class curriculum. That being said, my strongest skills are in writing, researching, and organizing. And with the multitude of tools I acquired through the workshop, I now have the resources create a comprehensive curriculum. Stay tuned for my next update, when I share how that is going.

If you are interested in becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and taking a seminar, please refer to Lamaze International for more information on seminars and the pathways to certification.


I would like to ask experienced LCCEs and Doulas;

  • How did you get started on this path?  
  • What led you to become a childbirth educator?  
  • What things did you find useful?  
  • How do you enjoy what you do?  
  • What are some of the challenges?  
  • Why did you choose Lamaze as the organization to certify with?
  • Can you share your tips from the trenches with Cara and other people who are interested in working as a childbirth educator or other birth professional?

In the next installment of the Journey to LCCE Certification Series, Cara will share how things are going as she works to develop her own curriculum.  Look for that post in the next few months. In the meantime, share your own experiences so that Cara and others on the same path can benefit – SM


In the interest of full disclosure, I want to share that I am a trainer for the PfB organization that presented the workshop Cara attended.  I want to take a moment to share that Lamaze International has many vibrant, creative and well established programs that offer workshops all around the country, and internationally as well,  for men and women interested in becoming childbirth educators.  I encourage each individual to reach out and explore the different programs, talk to the program representatives and select the program that meets their professional needs.  Links to all the programs can be found on the Lamaze International Childbirth Education Training page -SM

About Cara Terreri

Cara began working with Lamaze two years before she became a mother. Somewhere in the process of poring over marketing copy in a Lamaze brochure and birthing her first child, she became an advocate for childbirth education. Three kids later (and a whole lot more work for Lamaze), Cara is the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze blog for and by women and expectant families. Cara continues to have a strong passion for the awesome power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and for helping women to discover their own power and ability through birth. It is her hope that through the GBWC site, women will have a place to find and offer positive support to other women who are going through the amazing journey to motherhood.





Childbirth Education, Giving Birth with Confidence, Guest Posts, Lamaze Method, Series: Journey to LCCE Certification, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lamaze International Well-Represented at DONA Conference

July 25th, 2012 by avatar

Photo Credit Kyndal May

I just returned from Cancun, Mexico, where I was attending DONA International’s 18th Annual Conference and helping DONA to celebrate their 20th birthday.  I was lucky enough to be selected to present a concurrent session on “The Paperless Doula- Virtual Paperwork Tips and Tricks” and attend many fabulous sessions with international speakers during the four day conference.

During my time at the conference, I was struck by how many familiar Lamaze faces and names I was meeting.  I caught up with Ann Grauer, DONA International Director of Education, (and LCCE) and asked her exactly how many Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators were registered for the 2012 conference.  I was surprised to learn that 37 LCCEs were in attendance at this year’s DONA conference!  I was so proud to see that Lamaze International was a major sponsor of the 2012 DONA Conference and our presence was everywhere.  Lamaze International members and certified educators were Keynote Speakers, Concurrent Session Speakers, serving on the board of directors of DONA and peppered throughout the audience. LCCEs and trainers, Elena Carrillo and Guadalupe Trueba taught a Lamaze workshop before the conference and were the recipients of the Penny Simkin Award this year.

LCCEs attend the DONA Conference
Photo Credit HeatherGail Lovejoy

In talking to Ann Grauer, former DONA President, she informed me that when she served in the president’s position in 2005, she required the entire DONA board to take a Lamaze workshop, as she felt that the values and principles of the two organizations were so similar.  Being a member and certified by both DONA and Lamaze, I have long been aware of how like minded and compatible both organizations are, but was struck with how closely both these groups support each other, share membership, and have the core principles of supporting normal birth, evidenced based medicine and informed choice for birthing women and their families at their core.

In Cancun, I met up with Lamaze International’s President-Elect, Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, for a few minutes, during a break in the conference action, to talk to her about DONA and Lamaze International’s unique relationship.  Tara commented that there is a “natural pipeline between the doula and the childbirth educator” and that DONA and Lamaze have had a strong unity and association for a long time.  Tara shared how she believes that both organizations are leading the way in working for women and  share the common bond of being long time advocates for normal birth.

Tara noted how both DONA and Lamaze are expanding their reach internationally, with both organizations holding workshops and trainings around the globe and making a concerted effort to develop membership beyond North America.  Our groups face the same challenges.

Tara shared how this was her first DONA International conference and she was delighted to participate and glad that Lamaze International could have such a strong presence in sponsorship and in participation by members.  Tara said that she had a new vision on how strong and committed doulas are and was especially moved by the singing of DONA Nobis Pacem at the closing ceremony of the conference.  Tara was struck by how much DONA International had accomplished in the 20 years since it was formed by Penny Simkin, Annie Kennedy, Phyllis and Marshall Klaus and John Kennell.

l-r, Sharon Muza, Science & Sensiblity, DONA Int’l President Jennifer Rokeby-Mayeux, Lamaze Int’l President-Elect Tara Owens Shuler
Photo Credit Kyndal May

Tara stated how she hoped that both organizations can continue to collaborate and share resources, as they work to celebrate birth and support women during the childbearing year.  I was glad that Tara, a DONA certified doula herself, could come and join in the conference and represent Lamaze in such a professional and graceful manner.

I look forward to learning more about how Lamaze International and DONA International can work together to help promote normal birth, offer support for women during their pregnancies, labors, births and postpartum periods, while furthering the practices that are evidenced based and produce positive outcomes for mothers and babies.

If you are an LCCE and attended the DONA International Conference, please let us know your thoughts and experiences while in Cancun.  If you are not an LCCE, did attending the conference encourage you to pursue training with Lamaze?  I would love to hear your experiences.  Please comment here.




Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Doula Care, Evidence Based Medicine, Lamaze Method, Push for Your Baby, Science & Sensibility, Social Media , , , , , ,

Home Birth Data Trends 1990 – 2009 and a Midwife Who Lives the Trend

May 2nd, 2012 by avatar

In January of 2012, Marian MacDorman and her colleagues compiled a data brief for the United States Department of Health & Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. This brief, entitled Home Births in the United States, 1990- 2009, noted large changes in birthing patterns have occurred in the US over the past century. In 1900, most births occurred at home. By 1940, 44% of all births were at home, and by 1969, this dropped to 1%, and this rate held steady throughout the 1980′s.

The researchers state that homebirths have been increasing since the 1990′s through 2009. In 2004, homebirths accounted for .56% (23,150 births) and increased by 29% to .72% (29,650 births) in 2009. The composite demographic of a woman desiring a homebirth is non-Hispanic Caucasian, over 35 years old, with previous children. The homebirth demographic has a lower risk profile: fewer preterm, low birthweight, multiple births and fewer, teenaged and unmarried mothers. 1 in 90 births to non-Hispanic Caucasian women were homebirths.

Generally, there were more homebirths in rural areas than non-rural areas and more in northwestern states than the southeastern states. Montana, Oregon and Vermont had the highest percentage of homebirths followed by Idaho, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. Some of the states with lowest homebirth rates are Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, District of Columbia, New Jersey and West Virginia.

62% of these home births were attended by midwives: 19% by certified nurse-midwives (CNM) and 43% by other midwives (direct-entry or certified professional midwives).

An Interview with Homebirth Midwife, Angelita Nixon, CNM

Angelita Nixon, CNM, is one of those home birth midwives in West Virginia. I had the pleasure of speaking with Angy about her work last week. Her career parallels the changing trends in US birth care. She began her career in 1998 as a certified nurse-midwife in a hospital. In 2003, she began doing home births exclusively.

Angy says: “ I left the medical arena feeling burned out. My caseload was getting heavier and heavier. A full medical practice were my golden handcuffs. It was impossible to give the personal care I wanted to give to women, I was always rushing. Worse than rushing, I felt like I was witnessing crimes against women. And not only was I witnessing crimes against women, I felt I was a party to this. I saw many crimes against women: mistreatment, being disrespected, taking away personal power, denying a woman the ability to walk, not literally confining a woman, but discouraging her. I saw medical rape often, I did not perform this myself, but saw it happen. A woman would say, “I need to relax for a minute before you examine me” but she was ignored. I couldn’t do that work anymore, I knew there was a better way. You know, at first in my career, I distanced myself from homebirth, I thought those people were extremists. But, I began to have women ask me to attend home births and I liked the people and the work.”

Describing her practice: “I do about 3 births a month. I don’t like missing births and I won’t run the risk of being over-committed. I love it when people pop into my office, which is my home, as they need. I love being able to have long patient visits. Most importantly, I assess the person as a good fit for home birth. My patient population is low risk.”

She describes her work as modeled after the European midwifery: “In Europe, the system is completely different, it’s all midwife based. Doctors are the experts, the midwives are the generalists who deliver 80 – 90 % of births. The midwives listen to the women, to what’s going on in the family, assesses if she has had a traumatic experience in her life which might affect the birth. In this way, the midwives filter out the 10 -15% of the women who will need doctors. That is how I run my practice.”

“We have lost the generation where homebirth was the norm. Our maternity system would look different if its ultimate goal was health and not profit. The funny thing is, intensive midwifery care saves money, as it is less es pensive than traditional hospital care. The Washington Department of Health (2008) found that midwifery care would save Medicaid $500,000 biennially and if private insurance was included, $2.7 million. So sensitive midwifery care is less expensive and has better maternal-baby outcomes. Why do we wait? ”

She uses the following  comfort measures: hydrotherapy, freedom of movement, repositioning, massage, acupressure, efflureage, eating, drinking, hydrating, respectful treatment, continuous support, encouragement,, hot & cold therapies, and a lot of hands on comforting. Her homebirth statistics are impressive: because of careful pre-screening, she has had only one emergency transfer, her cesarean section rate is 7%, and she has done one episiotomy in 8 years.

Ms. Nixon says the system needs reform: “We need more midwives, as they provide the best outcome. I want to collaborate I want to be a medical provider. I do know my limits, I do know when to send a patient to the next level. But I find the hospitals shun this type of collaboration. This is a barrier for the women in my care. I have already triaged the patient, but then the patient is not directly admitted, but must get triaged again in the ER. They say there is a shortage of nurses. I know there is not a nursing shortage, but a shortage of people, nurses, who will work in our hospital’s conditions. Healthcare is in crisis, that’s why there are pressures for reform. We need more midwives, but the system needs reform.”

Ms. Nixon became politically active in order to help change the political climate. She was on the board on the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). She is also on the board of the National Midwifery Organization and is President of her state’s chapter. She contributes to MANA’s data collection project. She asks that we spread the word that researchers are needed to interpret the prospective data that has been collected: over 25,000 courses of midwifery care is available for researchers to study. The data is from 2001 – 2011, every client enrolled in the study at beginning of pregnancy, not based on results, voluntary contribution , not restricted to any one type of credential (physicians, hospital based, majority of the data is from homebirth midwives). Qualified researchers can apply for access to the data, by application to the Division of Research of MANA, which is headed by Melissa Cheyney.

Angy ends our conversation with a smile: “Homebirth is the real world. Birth is in its natural habitat. “


Health Management Associates (2008). Midwifery licensure and discpiline program in Washington State:Ecxonomic Costs and Benefits


MacDorman, M.F., Mathews, M.S. & Declerq, E. (2012). US Department of Health & Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS Data Brief # 84, Home births in the United States, 1990- 2009.

Angelita (Angy) Nixon, CNM, MSN

Having practiced full-scope midwifery in hospitals, clinics, and a freestanding birth center, Angy became a midwife business owner in 2003, provides mobile midwifery services and makes house calls. She participates in peer reviews and maintains a formal collaborative agreement with a physician, as well as collaborative relationships with multiple other physicians. In celebration of her first 7 years in private practice, Angy enjoyed a modified sabbatical, traveling and spending more time with her family. In June 2011, she attended her first ICM Congress in Durban, South Africa. Angy believes birth is a normal process and a healthy event.

Find her at her website.

Babies, Baby Friendly Initiative, Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Home Birth, Lamaze Method, Midwifery, Uncategorized , , ,