By Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE
One of the highlights of the recent Lamaze International/ICEA 2015 Joint Conference in Las Vegas, was being awarded the Lamaze International Media Award for 2015. The purpose of the Lamaze International Media Award is for Lamaze International to honor individuals or organizations that present normal, physiologic birth and/or Lamaze International in a positive light in the mass media. It is given to a blogger or journalist who has worked hard to provide both consumers and professionals with accurate information on current best practice. Both Cara Terreri, the Community Manager of Giving Birth With Confidence, Lamaze International’s consumer blog, and I were 2015 recipients. Cara and I interviewed each other for both blogs this week so we could share the news. Today, you find Cara’s interview of me, and tomorrow on GBWC- I interview Cara. Check out both blogs and learn a bit more about the Community Managers behind the two Lamaze International blogs – including some fun facts. – Sharon Muza Community Manager, Science & Sensibility
Cara Terreri: How long have you been the Community Manager for Science & Sensibility?
Sharon Muza: I have been the Community Manager with Science & Sensibility since May, 2012, and have written or edited more than 200 posts for the blog. Yowza!
CT: What else do you do professionally in addition to this position?
SM: A lot! I hold many birth related jobs in Seattle, WA and sometimes it is hard to keep track! I am an independent childbirth educator and I teach some specialized classes that I developed like “VBAC YOUR Way,” “Labor YOUR Way” and “Cesarean YOUR Way” along with a lot of private classes. I am a certified birth doula, and also a birth doula trainer for the Simkin Center, Bastyr University, which offers a DONA Approved workshop. I teach a seven week out of hospital birth series for the fabulous Penny Simkin, as part of her teaching team. I am a consulting instructor for Parent Trust for Washington Children’s childbirth education group – Great Starts, where we have over 30 childbirth educators working. I am a trainer for Passion for Birth, a Lamaze approved program that trains childbirth educators. I rent birth tubs, sell rebozos and TENS units and conduct advanced doula trainings on a variety of topics both locally and on the road. I offer editing and copywriting services, typically for other birth related businesses. I also present at both local and international conferences and sometimes do a bit of writing for other online publications. In between all that, I work on a variety of smaller projects that come and go. I am really a serious multi-tasker when it comes to my employment. A true freelancer. You can learn more about me at SharonMuza.com
CT: How did you feel when you learned that you had received the Lamaze International 2015 Media Award?
SM: Robin Elise Weiss, President of Lamaze International, called to tell me initially, and I was stunned speechless, which doesn’t often happen. I was honored and amazed and feel very, very grateful for the recognition. It makes all the hard work feel very worthwhile. I am still smiling and beaming with pride.
CT: What do you enjoy about writing and managing the blog?
SM: Writing and managing the blog means that I have to work hard at staying current with new research as it comes out, which truly helps me to know what best practices are, and I believe makes me a better educator and doula. I also get to work with fabulous writers and researchers who are guest bloggers and regular contributors, and that collaboration is very enjoyable. I very much enjoy other contributions I get to make to the Lamaze International organization, including developing and contributing to some of the online classes, participating in the Lamaze Institute for Safe & Healthy Birth projects and providing feedback on other ongoing projects.
CT: What are some of the challenges of this position?
SM: I think one of the biggest challenges as Community Manager for Science & Sensibility is that no sooner do I finish one blog post then I am focused on the next one and the next one and so on. It is challenging to keep up with the editorial calendar. Also, I find it challenging to really dig deep into the research and understand the studies, which can be thick with facts, assumptions and statistics. And deadlines. Always deadlines.
CT: Where do you get inspiration for post topics?
SM: I do a lot of reading, I subscribe to over 400 blogs and news feeds (I cried when Google Reader went away a few years ago) and I have a ton of Google alerts set up for a variety of different topics. I also receive ideas and suggestions from researchers and contributors. Readers of the blog often email me with suggestions as well. Sometimes there is a topic that I want to learn more about, so I either research and write a post or contact an expert in that subject matter to ask them to share their expertise.
CT: Do you have a top post or two that you are really proud of or is a particular favorite? Why?
SM: Personally, I really love the “Welcoming All Families” series that I started in 2012 that explores how educators and other birth professionals can make their classrooms, practices, and services a welcome place for a variety of diverse clientele. I look forward to that occasional series continuing in the future. My new favorite is the 2015 series I started, “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators” where each month I, along with other educators, share interesting and engaging activities that educators can use in their classrooms when working with families. My heart is in teaching and that series really excites me. I have tried several of the ideas written by others and they have been a big hit with the families I work with.
CT: What’s the most visited/read post on the blog?
SM: Last time I checked, it was a blog post written by Mindy Cockeram, LCCE – “The Red/Purple Line: An Alternative Method for Assessing Cervical Dilation Using Visual Cues” first posted in 2012. I wouldn’t have expected this, but this post has had the most visitors of all the posts ever published on the blog.
CT: What do you hope the readers of the blog take away from your posts?
SM: My hope is that readers of the blog will be able to learn about and understand just a small portion of the research that is constantly being published and has the potential to affect maternal-infant health. I hope that readers will find information that they can synthesize and share with the families they work with in a helpful way. I also hope that readers enjoy the blog, find it useful and continue to read it.
CT: What are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading yourself?
SM: This is a hard question to answer, as I really read a lot of blogs. I have several food/cooking blogs that I enjoy, and I also am very interested in zero waste living (reducing garbage, recycling, upcycling and repurposing) so I read several blogs related to that. Then a whole host of maternal infant health blogs. Some blogs on being a better educator and teacher. But mostly hundreds of blogs on the childbearing year written by consumers and professionals.
CT: What is the last book you read of a professional nature?
SM: The most recent book I read of a professional nature was “The Science of Mom” in order to edit a recent book review on Science & Sensibility by contributor Ann Estes. For fun, I am reading one of Mindy Kaling’s books and have a graphic novel about Julia Child on hold at the library for me. I am a big library user – both “real” books and electronic books I can check out for the Kindle.
CT: What are some exciting plans for the blog in the future?
SM: I would love to add some more contributors to the line up on the blog – are you interested in writing for Science & Sensibility? Let me know! I have a few other ideas up my sleeve; readers will have to stay tuned to see what turns up!
CT: What is something unusual or fun about you that readers don’t know?
SM: I love good coffee – as soon as my feet hit the ground in the morning! People who know me understand it is best to wait to talk to me until I have started my one (and only one) very strong, large cup that I drink each day. I love to laugh, I am a wee bit sarcastic (which is not always appreciated), and am normally change adverse. I love routine! I have a degree in Biology with a concentration in Fisheries, and have been about 1600 feet down to the bottom of the ocean in a two man submersible. It is very dark down there! When I was growing up I wanted to be a pilot/lawyer/marine mammalogist – all together.