24h-payday

Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Lamaze International’

Series: Journey to LCCE Certification – Countdown to the Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator Exam

September 25th, 2014 by avatar

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

Cara Terreri has been documenting her path to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator since taking her workshop in August of 2012, in our series: Journey to LCCE Certification. Today ,we have another update as she prepares to sit for the exam next month.  The LCCE credentials are the gold standard for childbirth educators and Cara, along with many other men and women worldwide, are seeing the culmination of learning and preparation coming to a close with an exam date scheduled for late October.  Get an update on Cara and share your exam tips for Cara and others in our comments section. Interested in becoming an LCCE? Find out more. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.

© Cara Terreri

© Cara Terreri

Since my last installment, my life has taken a near 180 degree turn. Birth work still remains my professional priority and passion of course, but after a huge move out of state, I will now pursue doula work and childbirth education – as well as take the LCCE exam — in Myrtle Beach, SC. When I would have been preparing to take the exam in April in Atlanta, I was in the thick of selling my house, packing out, and preparing my family to move to the East Coast. Thankfully, Lamaze gives you the option to defer taking the exam.

With one month to go until the exam date, I am spending my afternoons and evenings poring over the pages of the Lamaze Study Guide, in particular, the “review” sections for each core competency. Reviewing key questions help me to understand my weak points (pregnancy complications and prenatal tests) and give me a tighter focal point for studying. To further boost my knowledge, I attended the fantastic Lamaze International/DONA International joint conference (“confluence”) last week – the timing couldn’t have been better! The insightful sessions echoed many of the themes throughout the Study Guide. But perhaps most important, I was able to speak directly with several LCCEs about their experience with the exam. I heard things like “fair,” “read questions closely,” “common sense,” and “you’ll do great!”

In the days to follow, I plan to take the Exam Prep Course from Lamaze, which includes a practice test. I feel fairly confident about my depth of knowledge, but this is like the extra bit of insurance I want before the big day.

Of course, taking the LCCE exam is just the tip of the iceberg for me professionally, since having relocated to a new area. Now that my kids are in school and we’re more settled, my goal is to build relationships with local educators, doulas, and lactation professionals, along with moms and families. Lots of work to do, and I’m so energized by my drive to help women and families, I want to do it all! But I remind myself that the key is to help, not help everyone. This will likely be my life’s work and because it is not my sole source of income currently, I do as much as I can that works into my stage and place in life.

Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts on the Lamaze exam! Any last-minute tips? Suggestions for studying?  How to calm those last minute jitters? And of course, positive thoughts in my (and all the exam test takers) direction would be much appreciated next month on “game day”!  I will update readers after I take the exam.  And of course, will share my results – hopefully a passing grade.

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.

 

2014 Confluence, Childbirth Education, Giving Birth with Confidence, Lamaze International, Series: Journey to LCCE Certification , , , ,

Black Infant Mortality and the Role of the Childbirth Educator and Doula

September 16th, 2014 by avatar

By Sherry L. Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, CD(DONA)

September is National Infant Mortality Month and today, Sherry L. Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, CD(DONA) shares what she and her organization, Uzazi Village, are doing to help reduce infant mortality in the Black community, where Black babies are disproportionately affected.  You are invited to join Sherry and her team at a reception for Doulas of Color and Allies on Friday.  See below for more information.  I plan to be there and look forward to seeing many of our conference attendees there as well. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.

© NationalHealthyStart.org

© NationalHealthyStart.org

 

I am fresh off the trail, the Missouri Katy Trail, that is. From September 1-12th, I organized the Black Infant Mortality Awareness Walk. My goal was to walk across the midsection of Missouri talking to clinicians, academics, legislators, and policy makers along the way about the high infant mortality rates in the Black community. I chose to walk during the month of September because it is National Infant Mortality Month. I started off in Kansas City, MO and ended in St. Louis MO, walking along the Katy Trail and driving between towns. Now that the walk is behind me and the DONA/Lamaze Confluence ahead of me, its time to think about the message that doulas and childbirth educators need to hear about Black infant mortality. Black infant mortality is a silent epidemic, that is killing our babies and ravaging our communities.

If we don’t all experience equity in health care, than none of us really does.  Sherry Payne

What is infant mortality? It is a statistical term that refers to the number of infant deaths (from birth to age one) for every 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rates are used as a sensitive indicator of community health. Counties, cities, even countries depend on their infant mortality rates and their rankings to tell them how they are doing in protecting the health and wellbeing of their most vulnerable citizens. The United States currently ranks 55th in the world for infant mortality at about 6 deaths per 1,000 live births.  (CIA Factbook) That doesn’t sound too bad until you compare the US to other industrialized nations like Japan with an infant mortality rate of 2 deaths per 1,000 live births, or Canada with a rate of 4 deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA Factbook). In fact, compared to other industrialized nations, the US does rather poorly on its infant mortality statistics.

© Jordan Wade

© Jordan Wade

What’s behind the high rates of infant deaths in the US? Well, if you look closely, you’ll see that the high numbers come from within communities of color, particularly the African-American community. In Missouri, for example, if you examine the data by race, you will find that infants in the African-American community are 2-4 times more likely to die prior to their first birthday than their Caucasian counterparts. (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2013.) According to the CDC, infant mortality rates have been dropping among all racial groups, but the difference between death rates among Whites and Blacks persist.  Audiences I spoke to all across Missouri were shocked to learn that the African-American community experiences so much more infant death. Of course, its not just Missouri, these disparities are present throughout the United States.

What are the causes of infant deaths in the Black community?  The March of Dimes lists the frequent causes of infant mortality as prematurity, and complications of prematurity.  Other causes listed in the Kansas City Fetal Infant Mortality Review Report include; low birth weight, lack of access to prenatal care, delayed prenatal care, and poor quality of prenatal care, SIDs and unsafe sleep environments.  These problems are often exacerbated by overarching systemic and structural racism that unfairly targets and penalizes African-American women.  Here in Missouri, low income women can wait up to six months or more to be approved for Medicaid, and often may not be able to start prenatal care until they are approved.  

What can doulas and childbirth educators do about Black infant mortality? Well plenty, actually. Doulas have already been shown to be effective in lowering induction and prematurity rates. (Hodnett, Gates, Hofmeyr, & Sakala, 2013.)  Doulas and childbirth educators by the very nature of their work, assist healthcare consumers in being better informed about their childbearing options. Doulas provide the one on one support that is needed by any woman to boost her confidence in her ability to endure the rigors of childbirth without excessive use of interventions that can place a mother and her baby at greater risk. Childbirth educators can ensure that women understand informed consent and know how to advocate for it. They can both prepare a woman for successful breastfeeding which is protective for sick and vulnerable infants.

But aren’t low income African-American women, the women most likely to be affected by poor birth outcomes, the least likely to interface with doulas and childbirth educators? Yes, that is true. One of the ways to solve that problem is to recruit, promote, and support candidates of color into these fields. There are plenty of women of color who want to do this work, but they often lack the resources. They need the help of allies to provide resources, scholarships, internships, discounts, etc. to assist in getting through expensive trainings. Not all women of color need financial assistance, but for those who do, it can be a formidable barrier. They also need accessible pathways into the profession. If your organization is hosting a training, communicate that within your local communities of color, so that others have a possibility of sharing in the educational opportunities. Do you have women of color as clients in your practice? Invite them to consider becoming doulas or childbirth educators when the time is right for them. They may not consider it a possibility until someone else brings it up as an option.

To learn more about how doulas and childbirth educators can positively impact infant mortality in the Black community, attend my session at the upcoming conference, “Doulas in the Hood: Improving Outcomes Among Low Income Women.” You’ll learn about programs in Missouri and other states that have created successful models that link doulas with low income women. You’ll hear what we are doing here in Kansas City to bridge the needs gap for low income African-American women, for breastfeeding support, for culture specific childbirth education, and for peer model doulas.

Do Black women need Black doulas and childbirth educators?  In a perfect world, my answer would be yes.  It is important for a woman to have a doula or childbirth educator that shares her cultural/world view and understanding of birth and parenting.  However, while there simply are not enough African-American doulas, and childbirth educators out there, those who do serve African-American clients have a responsibility to educate themselves about the issues that impact communities of color.  Examine your own internal biases (everyone has them).  Take a look at your practice.  Would it be inviting to other women of other cultures, races, and ethnicities?  Refer to Science & Sensibility’s Welcoming All Families: Working with Women of Color post from earlier this year.

Until we begin to see the problem of Black infant mortality as a problem for ALL of us, the problems will persist. If we don’t all experience equity in health care, than none of us really does.

I would like to invite any and all of the confluence attendees to join the Board of Directors of both Lamaze International and DONA International and my Uzazi team at our Uzazi Village Reception for Doulas of Color and Allies, on Friday evening, September 19th, 2014 at 7 PM.  Uzazi Village is located at 3647 Troost Ave, Kansas City, MO, 64109.  Hear about programs that are working to lower the infant mortality rate among black infants in our community and connect with others who share your concern and desire to affect change.

References

Amnesty International. (2010). Deadly Delivery: The maternal health care crisis in the USA. Published by Amnesty International.

Beal, A., Kuhlthau, K., and Perrin, J. (2003). Breastfeeding Advice Given to African American and White Women by Physicians and WIC Counselors. Public Health Reports. Vol. 118. p. 368-376.

CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Cricco-Lizza R., (2006)., Black Non-Hispanic mother’s perception about the promotion of infant feeding methods by nurses and physicians. JOGNN: Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, Mar-Apr; 35 (2): 173-80.

Fetal Infant Mortality Review 2013. A Program Report of the Mother and Child Health Coalition. Kansas City, Missouri.

Hodnett, E. D., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, G. J., & Sakala, C. (2013). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. In: The Cochrane Library, (9).

Kozhimannil K, Hardeman R, Attanasio L, Blauer-Petersen C. (2013). Doula Care, Birth Outcomes, and Costs Among Medicaid Beneficiaries.
Am J Public Health 2013;103(4):e113-e121.

Lee, H., Rubio, M.R., Elo,T., McCollum, F., Chung, K., Culhane, F. (2005). Factors associated with intention to breastfeed among low-income, inner-city women. Maternal & Child Health Journal Sep; 9 (3): 253-61

Missouri Foundation for Health (2013) Health Equity Series: African American Health Disparities in Missouri. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Section for Epidemiology and Public Health Practice, St. Louis, MO.

MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (2002). Infant mortality and low birth weight among black and white infants–United States, 1980-2000. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Jul 12;51(27):589-92.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review (2013). Progress in Increasing Breastfeeding and Reducing Racial/Ethnic Differences — United States, 2000–2008 Births 62(05);77-80 Retrieved from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a1.htm?s_cid=mm6205a1_w

National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR). Deaths: Final Data for 2011

Newborn loss. (n.d.). Neonatal death. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://www.marchofdimes.org/loss/neonatal-death.aspx

Van Ryn, M. (2002). Research on the Provider Contribution to Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Medical Care. Medical Care. Vol. 40, No. 1 pp. 140-151.

About Sherry L. Payne

© Sherry Payne

© Sherry Payne

Sherry L. Payne, MSN RN CNE IBCLC CD(DONA), holds a BSN in nursing and an MSN in nursing education from Research College of Nursing/Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. She is a certified nurse educator and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She presents nationally on topics related to perinatal health and breastfeeding among African-American women. Ms. Payne founded Uzazi Village, a nonprofit dedicated to decreasing health inequities in the urban core. She is an editor for the Clinical Lactation journal, and participates in her local Fetal Infant Mortality Review Board (FIMR) Board, where she reviews cases and makes recommendations for improvements. Her career goals include opening an urban prenatal clinic and birth center. She would also like to work towards increasing the number of community-based midwives of color and improving lactation rates in the African-American community through published investigative research, the application of evidence-based clinical practice and innovation in healthcare delivery models. Ms. Payne resides in Overland Park, KS with her husband , where they have nine children, six of whom were home-birthed and breastfed.  Contact Sherry for more information about her programs.

2014 Confluence, Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Newborns , , , , , , ,

Registration Closes September 15th for October’s Lamaze Certification Exam

September 4th, 2014 by avatar

finger rememberRegistration for the October 2014 Lamaze exam will close September 15th 2014.  The Lamaze exam is being held in locations worldwide October 23-25, 2014.  Passing the Lamaze exam is one component for those individuals on the path to Lamaze certification.  Candidates for the exam will have successfully completed all the requirements in one of the three pathways and all that remains is the final step; sitting for and passing the exam.

You may be interested to know that the Lamaze Certification exam is the only childbirth educator exam that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.  Regular contributor Judith Lothian wrote a wonderful piece for Science & Sensibility this past spring, on the science behind the exam and what makes it the gold standard in the world of childbirth education certification.

My exam experience

I remember very clearly taking the Lamaze exam many years ago, when I first became certified.  My local test site at the time happened to be at a local airfield.  When I checked in for the exam I was handed ear plugs along with scrap paper and a pencil.  There was so much air traffic, planes of all sizes, taking off and landing right outside on the runway, vibrating the windows and sometimes the entire building.  I can laugh at it now, and I think I laughed at it then.  I was the only Lamaze registrant and took my exam amongst many flight students.  The “background noise” must have helped, I did well and passed the exam.  I know that test site is no longer in use, so future exam takers won’t face the same situation.

What I do remember about the exam is that 3 hours given for the exam felt like an ample amount of time.  There are 150 multiple choice questions and  I did not feel rushed. I had time to go through all the questions and return to those I was unsure of and then check over all of them one more time.   I felt like it was a fair exam.  A firm exam but very fair.  I recall the questions definitely

The Lamaze study guide is a very helpful tool for preparing for the exam, even for experienced educators.  If you have not yet acquired your study guide yet, you can order it here.  The study guide is available in both English and Spanish. The Lamaze exam is based on 7 competencies

The exam is based on 7 competencies

Competency 1: Promotes the childbearing experience as a normal, natural, and healthy process which profoundly affects women and their families.

Competency 2: Assists women and their families to discover and to use strategies to facilitate normal, natural, and healthy pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting.

Competency 3: Helps women and their families to understand how complications and interventions influence the normal course of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early postpartum.

Competency 4: Provides information and support that encourages attachment between babies and their families.
Competency 5: Assists women and their families to make informed decisions for childbearing.

Competency 6: Acts as an advocate to promote, support, and protect natural, safe and healthy birth.

Competency 7: Designs, teaches, and evaluates a course in Lamaze preparation that increases a woman’s confidence and ability to give birth.

Some tips for studying and taking the exam.

Definitely consider using the study guide.  It can help you with being up to date with current best practices and covers topics in all the competencies.

Consider setting up study groups – either virtually (post in the comments here if you are looking for a study buddy) or locally in your community.  Having the support of others who are going through the same thing can really help make it a fun and enjoyable process.

Get a good night’s rest the night before the exam

Enjoy a nice healthy breakfast with a good source of protein (personally, I need a very robust cup of coffee as well!)  Maybe even take yourself out to your favorite breakfast place for a great meal.

Do something grounding in the hours before the exam.  A yoga session, a massage or a walk or run outside in the fresh air can be just the thing you need to get the jitters out and feel confident.

Remain calm and confident before the start of the exam.  You have studied, you are prepared and you are ready. Some deep breaths and a few shoulder rolls and stretches before you start will have you alert and ready to begin.

Take your time going through the exam.  The three hours allotted should be adequate.  The exam software makes it easy to move around the exam, answer the ones you know and go back to the ones you wanted to wait on.

Check your work one more time thoroughly before you leave the testing site.

Celebrate your success at completing the process and settle in to receive your results in December. Be proud of the work it took to get to this point.  Know that you are going to be an excellent childbirth educator teaching the principles of safe and healthy birth to families in your community.

Conclusion

If you, too, want to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, but have not yet started on the journey, click here to find out how you can become certified.  There are pathways for new educators, experienced educators and midwives/student midwives.  Then hop over to our workshop page and find a workshop near you.

Remember to get your registration in and good luck on the exam.  Looking for that virtual study group – post in our comments section.  Come back after the exam and tell us how you thought it went.  If you have taken the exam before, share some tips and information to help those sitting this fall.

Photo credit: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by The Secret History GRSG: http://flickr.com/photos/rmdemsick/5065345783

 

Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze Method , , ,

You’re Invited to Lamaze International’s Next Twitter Chat: Prenatal Fitness

August 19th, 2014 by avatar
perinatal fitness

CC http://flickr.com/photos/cumidanciki/7807501656

Won’t you consider joining Lamaze International’s President Elect, Robin Elise Weiss, as she hosts our next Twitter Chat on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 9:00-10:00 PM EST.  The topic to be discussed is prenatal fitness and you can find the party at #LamazeChat.  You will want to put this event on your own calendar as well as share with your clients and students via social media, so everyone can benefit from the fast moving discussion that will no doubt be filled with facts and information that everyone can use.

Perinatal Fitness expert Catherine Cram, M.S.,  owner of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting shares some tips that will be discussed further during the Twitter chat. Childbirth educators may find it useful to share this information when discussing fitness and exercises in your childbirth classes.

• The key to getting the greatest benefits with prenatal exercise for both mom and baby are to continue to workout to the end of the pregnancy.

• Research has shown that women who continue to exercise throughout pregnancy gain less weight, have reduced complications during labor and delivery and return to pre-pregnancy weight faster than those that don’t exercise.

Tips for sticking with exercise during all trimesters:

• Try to include several types of exercise, from walking to swimming or biking and mix it up so mothers don’t overwork muscles and joints.

• Break up workouts into two sessions of a shorter duration if fatigue makes it tough to maintain the usual routine.

• The exercise intensity level should stay within a range that feels challenging, but not so hard that a mother is out of breath.  We use what’s called the “talk test” with prenatal exercise, which simply means that a mother should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, and if she can’t, then she is working too hard.

• As pregnancy progresses it’s as if women are wearing a backpack that gets heavier each week.  Keep this in mind when workouts seem to be getting harder- the workout is a lot tougher even at the same intensity at 30 weeks than at 15 weeks. Modify routines as needed to keep workout level within safe limits.

• Make sure to add some upper body strength training to the workout.  Mothers will need that strength for all the lifting required with baby care.  Keep in mind that all someone needs to do for strength gains is one set of 10-12 repetitions of a weight.  Exercise bands are a great way to do strength training, and they’re inexpensive and easy to use.

• Buddy up with a friend for fitness sessions. Encourage class members to plan exercise sessions together outside of class.  They will be a lot more successful with maintaining a fitness routine when they are partnered or in a fitness group, and it makes the time go a lot faster.

twitter logoTwitter Chats are a fun way to connect with both families and other educators from all over, learn more about the topic, Prenatal Fitness, share resources and enjoy a pleasant discussion.  Robin Weiss is a skilled facilitator who makes every Twitter Chat she hosts a totally enjoyable event. New to participating in a Twitter chat? Check out this article for information on how to participate and get the most out of your experience. Don’t be shy about jumping in.  Your participation will be totally welcomed! See you August 21st at 9PM EST!  Tweet, tweet!

 

 

 

Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, News about Pregnancy , , , , , ,

Teaching Childbirth Education Classes While Pregnant – An LCCE Educator’s Experience

August 12th, 2014 by avatar

By Katherine Steen, BS, MAIS, LCCE

Childbirth educators may work in this field at many points in their life.  They may be childless, they may have young children or their children may be out on their own. I believe one of the most interesting times to be a childbirth educator is when you yourself are pregnant and expecting a baby.  To be teaching on the topic of labor and birth to pregnant families at the exact time that you are also preparing for your own labor and birth can create some interesting class dynamics.  I asked my friend and colleague Katherine Steen, LCCE, to share what her experience has been like teaching classes while she prepares to welcome her second little one  Here is her story! – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility

CC  (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by J. McPherskesen: http://flickr.com/photos/jmcphers/4276103110

CC (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by J. McPherskesen: http://flickr.com/photos/jmcphers/4276103110

As educators, we work hard to minimize bias in our teaching. However, there is no hiding the fact that teaching birth classes while pregnant changes one’s perspective. I began my career as a childbirth educator about a year after my first child was born. In January 2014, I learned I was pregnant with my second child. Here are a few of my experiences.

First Trimester

Physical Challenges

Unlike my first pregnancy, I experienced nausea this time around, which made teaching difficult at times. I did my best to nibble during teaching to ward off the queasies and wore long sleeves to hide my Sea Bands. My second biggest challenge was fatigue. I normally teach 3.5 hour classes on Saturdays in a facility where it takes me about an hour on each end to set up and clean up. By the time I got home, I was ready for a nap. Unfortunately, my 4 year old did not always share my enthusiasm for sleep. A third challenge was transportation to and from class. I was used to riding the bus or my bike 12 miles round trip since we are a one car family, but was physically unable to, thanks to the nausea and fatigue. This meant I relied on my partner to drop me off and pick me up for class each week.

Breaking the News

Because I experienced a miscarriage previously, I was hesitant to reveal my pregnancy to my students until after the first trimester. Once I revealed my pregnancy, I began to get questions from students about my choices of provider and birth place. I am hesitant to reveal things about my choices as I don’t want to impose my values on them, but if a student asks me one on one I am generally inclined to tell them the truth. At the time, I was able to say I had not decided (which was true). It was most interesting when I began having reunions for series I taught early in the year when I revealed to students that I was pregnant while teaching their series. They reassured me that they couldn’t tell how tired and nauseous I had been and were quite excited for me.

Following My Own Advice

When it came time to pick a provider, I had a different perspective than in my first pregnancy. Not only were my needs and interests different at this point in my life, but I had a wealth of knowledge about evidence based maternity care and a broader perspective on the variations of pregnancy and birth to consider. In interviewing providers, I brought a copy of the Groopman-Hartzband Medical Mindset Spectrums (a worksheet created by Kim James and Laurie Levy, adapted from Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You, by Groopman and ) to discuss and asked about experiences/protocols for long, slow labors, premature rupture of membranes, and pregnancies that proceed into the 41st week. When a concern arose during off hours, I found myself thinking about what I would say to my students if they were in my position. Would I tell them to page their provider or call in the morning?

Second Trimester

Increased Empathy and Concern

While I physically felt better in my second trimester, the reality of our parallel life experiences continued to factor into my teaching. The first change I noticed was that I had much more empathy for pregnancy discomforts and decision making challenges. Suddenly the reality of my students became more real for me and I found myself physically feeling their twinges. I had so many opportunities to access pregnant women, postpartum families, and their scary (and wonderful) stories and my attitude toward their experiences was split.

On the one hand, I felt increasing non-attachment to their birth choices. Whereas previously I had felt disappointed when a birth did not meet a student’s expectations or when families at a reunion struggled with breastfeeding or had highly interventive births, I began to hear beauty and joy in birth stories that did not go according to plan. As long as a family was satisfied with the experience, I considered it a success. I began to envision alternate realities for my own birth and come to terms with the idea that it could go any number of ways and still be a great experience.

On the other hand, my concern and empathy for those who had scary experiences was magnified. For example, when one of my students gave birth prematurely, the situation seemed so much more relevant to me as our due dates were only a few weeks apart. Or when a family shared the story of their baby’s lengthy NICU stay due to oxygen deprivation during the birth process, my heart was heavy.

I also began to lead a postpartum support group during this time and took to heart the pregnancy, breastfeeding, and birth challenges the women in the group faced. In all of these situations, I simply did my best to hide the tears that sometimes arose without warning and tried to focus on supporting their journeys. It was good practice for me to minimize sharing my personal experience and encourage the mothers to tap into their intuition and share ideas with each other.

Third Trimester

Don’t forget to eat, drink, pee, and sit down!

Once again, teaching was physically challenging. I began to place a chair or birth ball close to the front of the room in an effort to remind myself to sit down periodically. I filled my plate at the beginning of each class with the snacks the students brought and made sure my water bottle was close at hand. I often found myself joking with students as we met in the restroom during every break as well as before and after class.

CC  (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by mandaloo: http://flickr.com/photos/mandaloo/4762404381

http://flickr.com/photos/mandaloo/4762404381

Figuring out what to wear while teaching was also a challenge. Even before I was pregnant, I taught in short sleeves year round because I have no control over the temperature at my sites. Lately, keeping cool has been even more challenging because this summer has been quite warm by Seattle standards. I went through several sizes of maternity khakis and finally decided they were too hot. I switched to skirts, but discovered how difficult it is to demonstrate lunges without flashing the class. I started having my doula/cbe observers demo for me in addition to assisting students. I cannot quite bring myself to teach in shorts, though I did resort to sandals a few times. And then there was the day I discovered I had outgrown all my bras.

Brain Farts

Between teaching two series at once (something I rarely do) and being pregnant, I had any number of moments when I found myself asking my students if we talked about something in a previous class because I honestly couldn’t remember. And forgetting the words for things. Like what’s that pushing position when you are not quite sitting, not quite lying down? Well, at least I showed them what it looks like. And then there was the week I read the snack schedule wrong and reminded the families to bring snack a week early. Thank goodness my students are on top of things and e-mailed me to clarify.

Memories

One last thing that I didn’t anticipate was how I would start to remember more clearly my postpartum experience as my pregnancy progressed. One evening, I found myself describing some of the physical and emotional realities of that difficult time in far greater detail than I am usually capable. I paused to look at my students’ faces and saw pure shock. I want to adequately prepare them for the challenge that awaits as well as the range of experiences that are normal during postpartum, but I don’t want to scare the pants off them. I ended the class and nobody moved. Somehow I came up with a quick, confidence boosting statement and they began to gather their things. Did I go too far? My trusty observer seemed to think they would recover.

Here I sit with one more class to teach before taking some time off to welcome baby. I will not miss spending two hours every Saturday schlepping my materials up three floors and moving furniture. I will miss building rapport with students and am looking forward to three class reunions in a few months.

What has been your experience of teaching while pregnant? What are the joys and challenges for you? Please share your experiences and discuss with me in the comments section.

About Katherine Steen

© Katherine Steen

© Katherine Steen

Katherine Steen, BS, MAIS, LCCE, has been teaching childbirth classes since 2012. She currently teaches for the Great Starts program of the Parent Trust for Washington Children in Seattle, WA. Prior to the birth of her daughter, she spent 10 years working as an educator in zoological parks. In addition to teaching birth classes, she loves to cook, garden, read and spend time outdoors. Her current fitness endeavors are water aerobics and prenatal yoga. She is expecting her second child in September 2014.

Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International , , ,