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Ebola, Fearbola, and the Childbirth Educator

November 6th, 2014 by avatar

By Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN

ebola infographic cc cdcMany news outlets and social media venues have been disseminating information on the Ebola virus and the impact on populations both in West Africa as well as the potential impact on developed nations, including the USA.  The expectant families that you work with may have shared concerns for themselves, their children and their unborn baby with you?  How have you responded?  Did you feel like you had the information that you needed to provide them with facts to calm their concerns?  Occaisonal contributor Rebecca Dekker of EvidenceBasedBirth.com takes a look at the facts about the Ebola virus and shares resources and information applicable to pregnant and breastfeeding families that you can share. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility

What’s the childbirth educator got to fear about Ebola? How do you address your students and clients’ fears?

Well, if you live in the U.S. or in any other country other than Africa—right now, there’s really not much to actually fear. That is, if you’re only worried about yourself and your own community.

The truth is, here in the U.S., there are so many more things that are more likely to kill you than Ebola—other infectious diseases such as influenza, motor vehicle accidents, smoking, secondhand smoke exposure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, even radon—an odorless, colorless gas that exists in many of our homes in the Southeast and can cause lung cancer—you name it, and it’s probably more likely to harm you than Ebola.

So why all the fear here in the U.S.? 

Ebola is a rare but deadly disease, and it has been ravaging West Africa. In developed countries, we feel fear because cases of the disease have finally reached our own shores, when in fact we should have paid attention much sooner to what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Does all this fear of Ebola do any good?

Personally, I believe that the fact that so much attention has been drawn to Ebola in developed countries may be a good thing. Fear here means that our governments have finally begun to put energy and resources into stopping the epidemic in Africa– not necessarily for humanitarian reasons– but to prevent the spread of this disease to us.

The Ebola epidemic that has affected parts of West Africa has been a fast-moving event that is only just now showing signs of slowing down. Researchers have conclusive evidence that this is the largest, most severe and most complex Ebola epidemic that we have witnessed since Ebola was first discovered nearly 40 years ago. The number of cases and deaths in this epidemic is many times larger than all past Ebola outbreaks combined.

Before the current epidemic, the Ebola virus had mostly been contained to small outbreaks in rural communities. This time, all of the capital cities in in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have experienced large outbreaks.

For the first time, Ebola has entered communities like West Point, in Monrovia, Liberia. According to the World Health Organization, “West Point is West Africa’s largest and most notorious slum: more than 70,000 people crowded together on a peninsula, with no running water, sanitation or garbage collection. The number of Ebola deaths in that slum will likely never be known, as bodies have simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers.”

Ebola has been especially hard-hitting on health care workers. Health workers on the front lines are often exposed to very infectious bodily fluids—blood, vomit, and diarrhea. The fact that health care workers can be at high risk for catching and dying from Ebola was first discovered during the very first Ebola outbreaks that took place in Zaire and Sudan in 1978. Fortunately, researchers have found that proper use and training with personal protective equipment can drastically lower health care workers’ chances of catching the virus. It’s probable that the cases we saw in the U.S. among nurses were due to improper training, inadequate protection equipment, or both.

Interestingly, Ebola actually isn’t as contagious as many other infectious diseases. Measles is an airborne disease, and it is highly contagious. Someone with measles can walk through a room, and another person can walk through that same room two hours later and catch the same measles infection. For every one person who has measles and lives among an unvaccinated population, they will—on average—infect 18 more people.

© CDC

© CDC

In contrast, one person with Ebola infects two other people on average, usually people who have had close, prolonged contact with that person. And the research we have on humans so far shows that Ebola is not airborne—although there have been a few primate studies that suggested otherwise (but some researchers think that maybe the monkeys were spitting on each other!)

One reason Ebola has spread so widely in West Africa – in spite of the fact that this virus is relatively hard to catch compared to other infectious diseases—is that the countries affected are extremely poor. Many people lack running water and soap in their homes.

This means that in West Africa, if one family member comes down with Ebola, there’s a good chance that others in the home will become infected, especially if patients bleed and vomit profusely. Families without modern toilets and washing machines have trouble cleaning up after patients who lose control of their bowels and produce huge amounts of diarrhea. Even burying the dead can spread Ebola in these countries, because common burial rites involve washing the dead and preparing the bodies. However, news organizations are reporting that communities have begun adhering to recommendations to refrain from traditional burial practices that expose more people to the disease.

So, it makes sense that we would fear for our fellow humans in West Africa. They are experiencing what can only be described as a humanitarian crisis. What’s even more concerning is that the virus has—at least for now—crippled an already weak health care infrastructure. This has created what the World Health Organization calls, “an emergency within an emergency.” A great example of this is that pregnant women and infants cannot receive emergency care while resources are drained by the Ebola virus epidemic.

So why are some people panicking about Ebola in the U.S., where the chances of an infection are completely remote? How do we make sense of this?

Well, when it comes to understanding how people perceive risk, and why some people are panicking about Ebola in the U.S., it may be helpful to understand some basic scientific principles behind how people perceive risk.

First of all, risk is subjective. And emotions and our mood change how we interpret risk. So facts matter less when emotions take over.

Also, many people also have an inherent lack of trust in scientists and the government– both here in the U.S. and in West Africa. People often believe their own senses and own experiences more than what scientists say. Many people don’t really understand the scientific process, and have doubts about what they hear. They confuse the research evidence on Ebola with the legal system, and they think there is lots of room for reasonable doubt about whether or not Ebola is airborne, for example.

Also, it’s really important to understand that people perceive a higher risk from rare events with really severe outcomes than they do for common outcomes with less severe or delayed outcomes.

[Does this sound familiar? Just take that sentence above and think about the concept of VBAC and repeat Cesarean. Obstetricians perceive a higher risk from rare events with really severe outcomes—such as uterine rupture—than they do for common outcomes with less severe or delayed outcomes—such as serious maternal infections after a planned repeat Cesarean, or placental abnormalities in future pregnancies].

People also tend to worry more over things that we can’t control. We can control our driving, and getting a flu vaccine, and our diet, and cigarette smoking. But we can’t control Ebola, so that scares us more.

So when we bring fear and emotion into the mix, people’s risk perceptions can end up looking like they do for some people in the U.S. right now– paranoia about Ebola.

It is unfortunate that we have overblown fears of contracting Ebola in the U.S., but if we could redirect our thoughts and channel our efforts into containing the outbreak in West Africa, this is where we will make the biggest difference.

So, in summary:

  • Ebola is a rare but deadly viral infection
  • We are currently witnessing the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
  • The chances of any one of us contracting the virus in the U.S. are extremely remote
  • Fear of Ebola will hopefully trigger people in developed countries to reach out to our fellow humans in West Africa and help them fight the virus

Items of interest related to childbirth and breastfeeding

How can we help?

If you’re worried about Ebola, don’t panic but do put your concern into action. Many health and relief organizations in West Africa are in need of resources, and you can help. This blog article has a comprehensive list of charities working in West Africa right now.

Have your clients and students asked you about Ebola?  Have they expressed concern for themselves or their baby?  Have families discussed the fear of entering the hospital to birth, due to their perceived risk of the hospital as being a potential source of exposure to the Ebola virus?  Hopefully after reading this blog post by Rebecca, you can help provide the facts.  You can also direct them to the Evidence Based Birth online class “Ebola, Fearbola: Separating Facts from Paranoia” and the About.com article “Five Things Pregnant Women Need to Know about Ebola” written by Robin E. Weiss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides a wealth of information that you can access and share with the families you work with. – SM

About Rebecca Dekker

Rebecca Dekker

Rebecca Dekker

Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN, is the founder of Evidence Based Birth and teaches pathophysiology at a research university. She has taught continuing education classes on HIV and recently developed an in-depth class on the pathophysiology and epidemiology of Ebola (2 nursing contact hours). To learn about how Ebola is transmitted, prevented, diagnosed, and treated, check out Rebecca’s class on “Ebola or Fearbola? Separating Facts from Paranoia,” here.

Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Guest Posts, Maternal Mortality, Maternity Care, Newborns, Research , , , ,

You Are Invited to Participate in an Online Learning Opportunity: Patient, Staff, and Family Support Following a Severe Maternal Event

October 10th, 2014 by avatar

council women safety

Past posts on Science & Sensibility – CDC & ACOG Convene Meeting on Maternal Mortality & Maternal Safety in Chicago and U.S. Maternal Mortality Ratio is Dismal, But Changes Underway, and You are Invited to Participate have shared information on the National Partnership for Maternal Safety, a multidisciplinary initiative focused on reducing the rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States.  This partnership falls under the umbrella of The Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care. This unique consortium of organizations across the spectrum of women’s health has come together to promote safe health care for every woman, at every birthing facility in the U.S. through implementation of safety bundles for common obstetric emergencies (hemorrhage, preeclampsia/hypertension and venous thromboembolism) as well as supplemental bundles on Maternal Early Warning Criteria, Facility Review after a Severe Maternal Event, and Patient/Family and Staff Support after a Severe Maternal Event.

The public Safety Action Series has introduced topics including an overview of the Partnership, efforts underway to define and measure Severe Maternal Morbidity, identify and implement Maternal Early Warning Criteria, Quantification of Blood Loss, and the outlines of the OB Hemorrhage Patient Safety Bundle. These slide sets and audio recordings have been archived and are available to the public.

christine morton headshotThe next event will be Tuesday, October 14 at 12:30 pm EST, with presenters Cynthia Chazotte, MD, FACOG, and Christine Morton, PhD, on Patient, Staff, and Family Support Following a Severe Maternal Event, and you can register for the event here. Registering for any event puts you on a list to be informed of upcoming events and future activities of the Partnership. Childbirth educators and other birth professionals may have students and clients who experience a serious medical event during labor and birth.  Having resources for families and for yourself is absolutely critical.  This information will be covered during the online event.

Christine Morton is a board member on the Lamaze international Board of Directors.   We are lucky to have such an active and knowledgeable professional to serve and support the Lamaze mission and values. Please share this information and get involved.

Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Maternal Mortality, Maternal Quality Improvement, Maternity Care, Pregnancy Complications , , , ,

Tweet with Us! – Share & Experience the 2014 #LamazeDONA Confluence on Twitter

September 11th, 2014 by avatar

 By Robin Elise Weiss, PhDc, MPH, CPH, ICCE-CPE, ICPFE, CLC, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE

lamaze twitter 2014The 2014 Lamaze International/DONA International Joint Confluence in Kansas City is scheduled to convene in just one week and the excitement is palpable!  Bags are getting packed, presentations finalized and birth professionals of all backgrounds are getting ready to meet old friends and make new ones.  The content and information that will be covered in the plenary  and concurrent sessions will be new and exciting.  Today on Science & Sensibility, Lamaze International’s incoming president, Robin Weiss, a leader on our social media team, shares all the “need to knows” for getting the most out of the conference via Twitter. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager

The past few years the idea of using social media in conjunction with the conference has grown. And the 2014 Confluence with Lamaze International and DONA International is no different. Using the hashtag #LamazeDONA, you will be able to find a treasure trove of information about the conference, and even learn from the sessions – even if you aren’t in Kansas City.

If you are new to Twitter, you will simply need to sign up for a free account. This handy guide will help you to get started in five easy steps.  You can search for the #LamazeDONA hashtag.  Using this hashtag helps twitter users sort a specific conversation that is focused on the confluence and just our users.  Simply read and interact with the people who will talk on this search.

You will want to join in the discussion, tweet and retweet your favorite snippets of wisdom from the fabulous speakers.  If you are not attending, you will want to follow the #LamazeDONA hashtag as attendees tweet live from the sessions they are participating in.

Back this year is the fabulous Tweet Up! We are going to try to do two this year. The first is scheduled for Thursday at 4p.m. Meet by the registration desk. @RobinPregnancy and @KKonradLCCE will be there to walk you through a few things if you have questions or just say hello! @KKonradLCCE will also host a simple social Tweet Up, watch #LamazeDONA for specific information to join – all are invited, no personal invitations needed.

We will also have prizes for your participation when you watch the hashtag, including some for those joining in at home, so be sure to watch #LamazeDONA for directions.

A great article on Twitter etiquette for you to review prior to the confluence

You might also want to consider reading Birthswell’s helpful three part series: Twitter 101 for Birth and Breastfeeding Professionals if you are new to this fast moving and captivating social media platform.

Check out Facebook, where it is possible to follow the same hashtag, #LamazeDONA for updates as well.  Many Facebook users use the same hashtag system to share information on that platform.

 People to Follow

@LamazeOnline (Lamaze for parents)

@LamazeAdvocates (Lamaze for educators)

@donaaintl

@RobinPregnancy (Robin Elise Weiss, social media team for Lamaze International and incoming President)

@KKonradLCCE  Kathryn Konrad (preconference and concurrent presenter)

@ShiningLghtPE Deena Blumenfeld (concurrent presenter)

@Gozi18  Ngozi Tibbs  (plenary speaker)

@Christinemorton  (concurrent presenter)

@mariajbrooks Maria Brooks (Lamaze Board Member)

@jeanetteIBCLC Jeanette McCulloch (concurrent presenter)

@doulamatch Kim James (concurrent presenter)

@douladebbie Debbie Young

@mldeck  Michele Deck (plenary speaker)

@pattymbrennan Patty Brennan

@doulasrq Patti Treubert ‏

@babylovemn Veronica Jacobson

@tamarafnp_ibclc &  @storkandcradle Tamara Hawkins (S&S contributor)

@thefamilyway Jeanne Green & Debbie Amis

@gilliland_amy  Amy Gilliland (concurrent presenter)

@yourdoulabag Alice Turner (concurrent presenter)

Are you going to be live tweeting from the confluence?  Share your Twitter handle in the comments section and we can add you to our list.- SM 

About Robin Weiss

robin weiss head shotRobin Elise Weiss,  PhDc, MPH, CPH, ICCE-CPE, ICPFE, CLC, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, is a childbirth educator in Louisville, KY. She is also the President-Elect of Lamaze International. You can find her at pregnancy.about.com and robineliseweiss.com

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Early Bird Registration Closes August 1 for the 2014 Lamaze & DONA Confluence!

July 29th, 2014 by avatar

confluence header

This year’s Confluence (the special term being used to describe the 2014 conference hosted jointly by Lamaze International and DONA International in Kansas City, MO is shaping up to be simply an outstanding experience for all the attendees.  The confluence committee has put together an outstanding line up of speakers for the general sessions.

Pre-Conference Events

In the days  leading up to the confluence, attendees can register to participate in several different pre-conference events.  Choose from a three day Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminar – one step on the path to becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  This workshop is taught by the Denver-CPAC Lamaze-Accredited Childbirth Educator Program.  Take in the wisdom and experience of midwife Gail Tully, of Spinning Babies fame as she leads participants through a half day program designed for doulas, educators, doctors, midwives and L&D nurses.  Learn strategies and skills to teach to students and use with laboring women, when a malpositioned baby is interfering with the normal progression of labor and birth.   Patty Brennan, author of “The Doula Business Guide: Creating a Successful Motherbaby Business” leads a four hour business development workshop on establishing and growing a successful birth business and all that a birth pro needs to be successful.  Our final pre-conference offering is a full day “Evidence Based Nursing: Labor Support Skills” workshop designed especially for clinicians who want to help support safe and healthy birth through non-pharmacologic pain management strategies and hands on labor support skills. This workshop is taught by the amazing Kathryn Konrad.

Captivating General Session Speakers

Penny Simkin, Eugene DeClercq, Michele Deck, Katharine Wenstrom and Ngozi Tibbs are the plenary speakers at this year’s confluence and I could not be more excited.  These leaders in the field each bring their own diverse background and perspective to the confluence, while having the common goal to improve maternal infant health.  Learn more about the general session speakers and their background in this Science & Sensibility post.

Concurrent Sessions (focusing on four different tracks)

This year, there are four tracks of concurrent sessions!  Choose the track that most interests you or mix and match the concurrent sessions to customize a program that meets your individual needs.  Our four tracks are:

  • Evidence based teaching and practice
  • New and emerging research in the field of childbearing
  • Using technology and innovation to reach childbearing women
  • Supporting the needs of childbirth professionals

Enjoy the presentations of both seasoned presenters back again to share their wisdom and welcome those presenting for the first time, full of fresh and exciting perspectives and ideas.

Social Events

LCCEs attend the DONA Conference Photo Credit HeatherGail Lovejoy

Photo Credit HeatherGail Lovejoy

Half the fun of attending a professional conference is the opportunity to network and socialize with both new friends and old. The 2014 Confluence is no exception.  The Wine and Dine Event scheduled for Saturday evening at the beautiful Amigoni Urban Winery will include a custom designed wine tasting and gourmet dinner.  Your ticket includes RT transporation, to make it easy to enjoy the evening with a minimum of stress.

Exhibitors

When I attend conferences, I always make sure to leave plenty of time to browse the exhibit hall.  I love to see what new and innovative products are available for my doula and CBE practice.  Exhibitors from all over come to share what is hot and what is helpful and I love being able to ask questions about services from these experts and try out and examine all kinds of items useful for my business.  The list of exhibitors is long and full of well known companies who you will love to connect with in the Exhibit Hall.  For a list of those currently exhibiting, see our exhibitor list on the Confluence website. New exhibitors are being added, so check back frequently and be sure and stop by and say hi!

Register Now

There are many reasons to attend the 2014 Lamaze and DONA Confluence in Kansas City, MO September 18-21.  Take advantage of early bird pricing by registering by August 1 so that you can save some money and feel confident that all your continuing education and networking needs will be met by attending this fabulous Confluence.  See you in Kansas City!  Register now!

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“Kansas City, Here I Come!” Ten Reasons You Should Plan on Attending the 2014 Confluence with Lamaze and DONA

June 10th, 2014 by avatar

confluence header

 

On September 18-21, 2014, just about 13 weeks away, hundreds of doulas and childbirth educators, along with other birth professionals, will be meeting up  in Kansas City, MO,  for the 2014 Confluence with Lamaze International and DONA International.  The theme is “flowing together for safe, healthy birth and beyond.”  This confluence (according to Merriam-Webster, a confluence is a place where two rivers or streams join to become one or a situation in which two things come together or happen at the same time) is a joint conference hosted by the two organizations.  While this conference cooperation has long been a dream of both organizations, the vision is finally coming to fruition this fall with this great conference opportunity.

Here are my top reasons why you want to to attend the 2014 Confluence: Lamaze & DONA – Flowing together for safe, healthy birth and beyond.

1. Have fun in Kansas City, a midwestern Missouri town of half a million, sitting on the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers.  Officially known as the “”City of Fountains,” there are over 200 fountains in Kansas City, second only to Rome.  Kansas City is known for its steak and BBQ cuisine, along with its jazz music.  There will be plenty of time to enjoy all three during conference down time.  For more on attractions, restaurants and what to see and do in Kansas City, check out the official Kansas City tourism site.

2. See old friends from conferences past. This one of the best things about going to a conference. When you attend, you have the chance to see the birth professionals that you connect with throughout the year online and on the phone, and rarely get a chance to visit with in person. Imagine three plus days to chat, visit and learn with your best birth buddies. Some of my dearest friends I only see at the Lamaze conference, and I cherish the time I get to spend with them.

3. Meet new friends and establish new relationships that can grow and flourish! There will be so many interesting people from all over the world attending the annual conference. This year, we will have doulas and educators attending from many countries all around the world, as well as men and women from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is easy to mix and mingle with people new to you, find out interesting things and establish new friendships!

4. Lamaze International and DONA international contact hours are available to you for every conference session you attend, and participation in pre-conference workshops will award you even more! The 2014 Confluence will also award nursing contact hours as Lamaze International is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation

5. Learn fun, childbirth class activities, creative teaching ideas, doula client tips, ideas and suggestions that will enhance your classroom and doula client activities and relationships. Learn from leaders in the maternal infant health field as well as from innovative doulas and childbirth educators.   Lots of learning opportunities and take-aways of useful material for you to use when you get back home.

6. Learn about new research, evidence based information and best practices that you can take back to your communities to help improve maternal infant outcomes for women and families. Leaders in the field will share the newest information with you. Use this new information in your classes and your clients, offering the latest facts to your families so they can make informed choices.

7. Hear five fabulous keynote speakers present in our general sessions. Michele Deck RN, BSN, M.Ed., LCCE, FACCE, Eugene R. Declercq, PhD, Katharine D. Wenstrom, MD, Ngozi Tibbs, CD (DONA), LCCE, IBCLC, and Penny Simkin, PT  are all excited aout presenting to the DONA and Lamaze community at this groundbreaking conference.  Read Dr. Waldman and Amber McCann’s interviews on Science & Sensibility and then hear them speak in New Orleans.

8. Attend fantastic pre-conference events on a variety of topics by arriving in Kansas City a few days early! Complete a Lamaze Childbirth Education Seminar, attend a Birth or Postpartum Doula workshop, Evidence Based Nursing: Labor Support Skills workshop, or one of two speciality workshops on getting grants for your organization or resolving fetal malposition. All of these pre-conference activities offer additional contact hours for attendees.

9. Learn about new and exciting opportunities and alliances that Lamaze International and DONA International have planned for the future to continue to grow our organizations and remain leaders in the field of doulas and childbirth education. Both organizations will be holding annual meetings on Saturday morning, open to all during the confluence. You can meet the board members and staff of each organization and provide input on how the organization is meeting your needs.

10. Network with colleagues and experts and establish professional relationships with opportunity for collaboration and joint-ventures. Discuss business opportunities and create new alliances that can help you further your career and grow your business.

Bonus Reason #11! Come say hello to me! I will be in Kansas City, both presenting and blogging at the conference and would love the chance to meet you all, hear your thoughts on our blog and learn what you would like to see on the blog in the future!

Won’t you consider attending this year’s Lamaze/DONA confluence in Kansas City, MO?  Early bird registration prices are available until August 1st, 2014. Discounts are offered to members also! What are some of your favorite reasons to attend the conference? Will we see you there? Let us know in the comments section. To learn more about the programs, speakers, learning opportunities, venue and to register, please see the conference page. And don’t forget to make your hotel reservations sooner than later so that you can secure your desired lodging. See you in K.C!!

Photo Source: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by ZTW1: http://flickr.com/photos/zachwerner/7730952314

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