Archive for the ‘Lamaze News’ Category

Meet Maria Brooks – New President of Lamaze International

November 17th, 2015 by avatar

“A Lamaze educator is able to anticipate a need that you may have before you experience it. She can tailor your class to help you navigate obstacles that are unique to your health and choice of birth location.”  – Maria Brooks, President, Lamaze International

maria brooks headshot 2015This fall, Maria Brooks, BSN, RNC-OB, LCCE, FACCE moved into the position of President of the Board of Directors and began serving her one year term leading our organization.  Maria (pronounced “Mah-rye-ah”) has been serving on the BoD since 2012 and also serves on the Lamaze ITS Steering Committee and Lamaze Membership Committee.  Maria is an L&D nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.  While I have known Maria for several years, I recently connected to ask some questions on behalf of Science & Sensibility readers.  I know that all of our Board works very hard on behalf of educators and parents.  Please join me in congratulating Maria and welcoming her into her new position. .

Sharon Muza: What are some of the opportunities and challenges that face our organization currently and what plan do you and the board have to meet these challenges?

Maria Brooks:  Exaggerated fears around pregnancy and childbirth have already taken hold in many women by the time they reach our educators. One of the ways Lamaze is trying to help make a difference is developing a para-professional community trainer/model for Lamaze education. A Lamaze peer educator program is an opportunity for Lamaze International to promote evidence-based healthy behaviors before, during, and after pregnancy among 18-25 year old young adult women.  The peer educator program will be designed to train college-aged women using a scripted toolkit to disseminate information on the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices.  The purpose of the peer educator program will be to share information to help young adult women to formulate accurate and confidence-building ideals about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. We plan to pilot the program in the coming year.

“Maria brings a depth of advocacy skills and passion for reaching women and their families in diverse communities with Lamaze education and resources. I look forward to working with Maria, the Board of Directors, and volunteer leadership as we continue the meaningful work of advancing Lamaze’s strategic imperatives in the coming year.” – Linda Harmon, Executive Director, Lamaze International

SM: When you think of the many recent accomplishments of Lamaze International, what are a few that you are most proud of? Why?

MB: In the last few years, Lamaze has made it a priority to “create demand for our brand.” We want to meet women where they are – online! We have seen a tremendous growth in our reach through our expanded presence on social media by hosting monthly Twitter chats and creating content-rich infographics and videos to share via Facebook, Pinterest, our blogs, Twitter, and so much more.  These efforts have raised our social media presence and profile. Both Science & Sensibility and Giving Birth with Confidence have been recognized for their high-value content and have seen significant growth in reach over the past few years reaching more expectant parents and professionals with evidence-based information. That alone is a big success. We are lucky to have these blogs represent the mission and vision of Lamaze. Lamaze also invested in development of a mobile app for expecting families, Pregnancy to Parenting, to make Lamaze education resources easily accessible on the go, and as a resource for our educators to use in class.  

SM: Do you feel that Lamaze is recognized as a serious player amongst maternal infant health organizations?  If yes, what accomplishments have helped us to earn this position and a seat at the table working with other well known organizations to improve maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity?

MB: Yes, Lamaze has had a seat at the table with other maternity care players.  A recent example was being tapped this past year to work with National Institute of Child and Health Development (NICHD) and other key maternity care groups on the development of a new pregnancy registry.  We also have plans to host a Roundtable discussion on childbirth education with key stakeholders.  

Lamaze International offers the only childbirth educator certification program that has been accredited by an outside body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA),  which has reviewed and vetted the standards Lamaze employs in administering our certification exam.  Maintaining certification is equally important for ensuring LCCE educators stay up to date with the latest on evidence-based practices, adult education, teaching and advocacy strategies.

SM: What plans are in the works for the Lamaze International organization that will benefit families as they prepare to welcome a child?

MB: Quality childbirth education is still not available to many women. These are the very women who often have the poorest outcomes with the highest rates of unnecessary interventions. This has to change. If high-quality childbirth education was offered to all women no matter the social economic or educational background, this disparity will change. It is a priority to advocate for insurance coverage and reimbursement to pay for childbirth education. In March 2015 members of the board of directors met with legislators about the importance of all women receiving childbirth education. Currently the Affordable Healthcare Act allows enrollment at the time of birth.  We asked legislators to change the life event designation to pregnancy, to allow childbirth education to be a part of prenatal care and covered by health care insurance. We still have a lot of work to do but this initial step into policy advocacy is a positive move in the right direction.

Hear Maria talk about her birth experience in Lamaze International’s “Push for Your Baby” video.

SM: What about plans and programs for educators?  What can members expect to see from Lamaze during your term that will benefit LCCEs and offer opportunities for those that teach?

MB: Lamaze offers LCCE members a rich array of evidence-based resources to support their professional development, such as regular webinars on current hot topics, The Journal of Perinatal Education with home study modules, the new Business Toolkit and Social Media Guide.  The organization has also invested in developing teaching tools to support Lamaze educators, including the Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators, infographics, the new mobile app, online parenting classes to supplement in person classes.

SM: As both a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and a L&D Nurse, do you find it necessary to keep both roles separate and wear two hats?  Is there any overlap?  What challenges do you face because of your dual roles?

MB: I love the opportunity to wear both hats, and I am very lucky to work in an environment that looks positively on the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices. So no, the two roles do not conflict but each does sharpen the other. As a nurse, a large part of my job is to educate my patients and to help them make informed decisions about their health care. As a LCCE educator, I’m fortunate to have more time to build a relationship and rapport with my students before the actual birth day, but as a nurse, my “classroom” looks a bit different. It may be in triage when I have a mom begging to stay when she is in early labor or not in labor at all. I take that time to let her know the importance of waiting on labor and how every day counts for that little person growing inside her. Or it might be in the labor room with a family who for whatever reason did not take a childbirth preparation class and needs help knowing how to comfort their partner or friend. I spend time helping new mothers to see how powerful they are and how smart their babies are. I also find myself in a special place to help teach my fellow nurses non-pharmacological pain management, allowing them to also feel empowered to work with these families. And of course, I encourage my colleagues to become LCCE certified themselves. I’ve never felt more at home than when wearing both ”hats”.

SM: Why should families continue to attend in person classes when so many online options exist and the internet offers a multitude of learning opportunities and virtually unlimited information for the pregnant person and their family?

MB: The internet has a lot to offer and can be a great complement to a classroom, but nothing replaces a quality in-person class. A Lamaze educator is able to anticipate a need that you may have before you experience it. She can tailor your class to help you navigate obstacles that are unique to your health and choice of birth location. Being face to face with other families also gives an opportunity to  build relationships that grow deeper as your family evolves. Some of my best friends today I met in my Lamaze class. We shared a chuckle not long ago that the person in the class that asked the most questions is now the President of Lamaze!

SM: Tell us something unusual about you that we might never know!

MB: I am a classically trained actor and dancer and worked as a stage actor in New York City for over ten years.

Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, Push for Your Baby , , , , , ,

Lamaze Parent Satisfaction Survey Will Benefit Families – Educators Play a Key Role in Increasing Response Rate

November 3rd, 2015 by avatar

VoteSurveyParticipation at in-person childbirth education classes has been on the decline in past years.  There has not been much research on the benefits of taking a childbirth class, and with the plethora of information available online, it is no surprise that enrollment may very well be on the decline.  At the same time, cesarean rates and obstetrical interventions have overall been increasing.  Maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality rates have not been improving either.

In the 2013 Listening to Mothers  (LtM) III report, 59% of all first time mothers took childbirth classes, compared with 70% in the 2002 LtM I report.  In 2013, 17% of experienced mothers took classes, down from 19% in 2002 (Declercq, 2013, Declercq 2002).

Lamaze International, with its diverse and experienced team of Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, is in a unique position to collect data on the experiences of parents who take Lamaze childbirth classes and utilize Lamaze International resources.  The Lamaze staff and Board of Directors have developed and initiated a Parent Satisfaction Survey that can be filled out by families who have completed a Lamaze class.  The survey is meant to be completed after the birth of their baby, so that the information can be used to determine how their Lamaze class impacted their actual choices and experience.

The information being collected in this Parent Satisfaction Survey can play a key role in helping to:

Understand the impact of Lamaze classes

Data collected through these surveys can be used to understand the impact of Lamaze classes on families and birth outcomes and guide further research on this topic. Exploring this area of research can help Lamaze and other organizations to access funding to further develop and continue studying this important topic

Lobby for improved access

Information gained through these post-birth surveys  can be used to educate lawmakers on the outcomes of births when families participated in birth classes and encourage legislators to offer reimbursement and increased access for childbirth education classes across all socioeconomic and ethnic categories. Lamaze International plans to repeat their “Hill Day” campaign and lobby Congressmen/women in early spring of 2016 by visiting them in their D.C. offices and sharing information about maternal infant health and outcomes experienced by parents and infants during the childbearing year.

Improve information and educational materials

The results of the survey can help Lamaze International to be sure their message is on target and their educational materials are effective in sharing information on best practices, evidence based care and informed consent and refusal.  Lamaze can continue to develop curriculum and services that help families to “Push for Their Baby” during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Help LCCEs to deliver education

Every childbirth educator’s goal is to communicate important information to expectant families through engaging and effective activities.  Aggregated survey information can help Lamaze International provide information and direction to all the LCCEs so that they can assess how they can continue to provide valuable and useful information to the families participating in their Lamaze classes.

Share the message with other stakeholders

Information gleaned from the survey will be shared with policymakers and key third-party organization stakeholders at upcoming roundtables that Lamaze representatives facilitate in and host.  It is important for health care providers, hospital administrators and maternal infant health organizations to recognize how effective Lamaze childbirth classes can be be in creating a safe and healthy birth for participating families.

Linda Harmon, Lamaze International’s Executive Director took a moment recently to answer some questions about the Parent Satisfaction Survey.

Sharon Muza:  There is not a lot of research available on the effectiveness of childbirth/Lamaze classes.  Do you feel this information could be used as the basis of that research?

 Linda Harmon: Lamaze has commissioned a White Paper which will present the evidence related to childbirth interventions overuse in the US hospital system, and the effects they can have on childbirth outcomes, and present the argument that evidence-based prenatal education is a critical avenue for women when making childbirth care decisions.  The parent satisfaction survey will support this research by providing data from the parents who have used Lamaze resources.

SM: How could the information gained from this survey be used to further reimbursement for families who take childbirth classes?

LH: Data gained from the Lamaze Parent Satisfaction Survey will be used to provide important insights about the impact of Lamaze childbirth education on the experiences and outcomes of pregnant women and their babies. These insights will provide valuable information to support discussions with healthcare insurers, hospitals and other strategic partners to advance Lamaze education.  Preliminary data from the Lamaze national parent satisfaction survey shows that women engaged with Lamaze have a cesarean rate of 20%. That’s about 13% less than the national cesarean rate of 33%.  If a 13% reduction in cesarean could be translated across the U.S., the potential cost savings would be nearly $4.7 billion annually.

SM: Lamaze International is an international leader in childbirth education and offers a great curriculum filled with best practice and evidence based information.  Have initial survey responses indicated that our classes have been a useful component for families welcoming a child?

LH: The preliminary data is very positive, but we need substantially more parent survey responses to  validate general trends. In the initial review of survey findings in March 2015,  we compared what women told us in the Lamaze survey with what women reported in the highly-respected national survey Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth.  Early survey responses show that 94% of women taking Lamaze classes say that education provided by Lamaze improved their childbirth experience and 91% feel well informed about decisions in labor and birth.

You Can Help Advocate for Childbirth Education

Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators play a key role in getting the word out to the families who participate in their classes.  Through information received from you, families can be directed to the survey and asked to participate.  During the online survey, participants are asked a handful of simple questions that seek to learn if childbirth education improved their birth experience.

Lamaze has put together many resources for LCCE educators to help you understand the importance of this survey.  These resources include:

  • An FAQ to help you become familiar with the survey and encourage you to participate.
  • How to introduce the survey in class – We have created sample messages and instructions for  encouraging your students to sign up for the survey
  • Promote the survey – We have developed a sample email you can send your class, introducing them to the survey, as well as sample Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.

Every family that participates in the survey will receive a coupon for a discount on a Lamaze toy.

Win a 2016 Lamaze International conference registration

If you encourage participation, you will be entered to win a complimentary Lamaze International 2016 Annual Conference registration. If your name is referenced as their childbirth educator in the survey, you will be entered in the drawing—and the more your name is referenced, the more entries you will have!  This is a real bonus reason to share the survey with parents, even beyond the benefits to research and programs. 

 Are you already encouraging your families to take the Parent Satisfaction Survey?  Share your experiences in the comments section.  If you have not yet begun to communicate information to your families about the survey, I hope that you will reconsider as you recognize the importance of your role in collecting this valuable data.


Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., Applebaum, S., & Herrlich, A. (2013). Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth; Report of the Third National US Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences. New York, NY: Childbirth Connection.

Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., Applebaum, S., & Risher, P. (2002). Listening to mothers: Report of the first national US survey of women’s childbearing experiences. New York.

Babies, Cesarean Birth, Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, New Research , , , , , ,

Sharon Muza – Community Manager for Science & Sensibility Receives Lamaze International Media Award

September 24th, 2015 by avatar

By Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE

cara and sharon lamaze media award

Sharon Muza & Cara Terreri receive Lamaze International 2015 Media Award

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.

cara sharon robin lamaze media award 2015CT: 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.

2015 Conference, 2015 Lamaze & ICEA Joint Conference, Awards, Childbirth Education, Giving Birth with Confidence, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Lamaze News , , , , , ,

Meet Elan McAllister – Lamaze/ICEA Conference Plenary Speaker

September 8th, 2015 by avatar

ElanMcAllister head shot-220x220The countdown to the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 Conference in Las Vegas is in single digits and the excitement is building. I recently had an opportunity to interview plenary conference speaker Elan McAllister, founder of Choices in Childbirth, an education and advocacy group for pregnant people and their families.  Elan will be opening the conference with her plenary session “No Day But Today” and I am very excited to hear her presentation as she shares how we all can make a difference in birth outcomes and experiences for parents and babies.  Still time to register if you have the flexibility to join us in Las Vegas.  A joint Lamaze International/ICEA conference means great networking opportunities, plenty of continuing education and two great organizations coming together to collaborate on the things that matter.

Sharon Muza: You have long been involved in theater and then went on to found Choices in Childbirth. Do you see any commonalities between a theater production and a birth? In the way one prepares for both? In what is needed to be “successful” in both?

EMc: There are so many similarities! Essentially, both are acts of creation. My role (and its been my honor) in both theater and birth has been to hold space for creation to unfold. Bringing something new into the world, whether a new life or a work of art, challenges us in remarkable ways. It takes tremendous courage to let your self be vulnerable to the creative process and I believe that no one should do it alone. As a producer, I have supported artists and encouraged them to believe in themselves and connect with their voice and vision.   As a doula, I have supported women and encouraged them to own their power in birth.

SM:  I have had the deepest respect for Choices in Childbirth and have so appreciated their invaluable consumer booklets that have been a part of my client and student information packets for many years. Can you share some of the feedback you have gotten from both consumers and professionals regarding their value?

EMc: Thank you so much and I’m thrilled to hear that the Guide to a Healthy Birth has been useful to you! Over the years we’ve distributed thousands of Guides all across the country and have had the most remarkable feedback. Women have told us that it opened a door and encouraged them to think more deeply about their birth choices. Many have referred to it as their birth bible. We worked really hard to create something that would be useful to any woman who picked it up – regardless of her birth choices. We wanted to create something that would be respected by the birth community but that could be embraced by the mainstream. I think we succeeded in that goal and it truly warms the heart to know that something you’ve created has made a difference to people.

choices in childbirth logoSM: Choices in Childbirth has been a leader in maternity care reform and has long been committed to consumer education. The CiC organization along with other maternal-infant health advocates have consistently raised their voices to help improve outcomes for mothers and babies in our country. When you look at all of the programs that CiC has had a hand in, can you share what has made you the most proud? What has been the most challenging?

EMc: Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on the work that CiC has done over the last 12 years and to feel profound gratitude to all of the people who have contributed to CiC’s successes. When you’re in the middle of things, you sometimes lose perspective, so I am grateful for this chance to reflect. In this moment, I’m most proud of the work we did last year to petition the city to reopen the labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital (NCBH).   For over 30 years, NCBH provided high quality, teamed-based midwifery care to an at risk population in the Bronx. Women who were used to an impersonal, clinic-based health care experience received personalized and continuous care at NCBH with midwives that they were able to build relationship and trust with. While cesarean section rates were skyrocketing all across the city and the nation, NCBH maintained a c-section rate of about 17%, largely due to the fact that 85-90% of births there were attended by midwives. When the services were suddenly closed in 2013, CiC joined a coalition of community organizers that worked together for nearly a year to demand not only that L&D services be returned to the community, but that the midwifery program be returned in tact. Together with local community members and organizations, we were able to make such a compelling argument to the city that they not only reopened the services but invested a million dollars in upgrading the facility!

SM: How do you think childbirth educators can help families to understand the family’s critical role and rights in shared decision-making and informed consent?

EMc: This is such a challenge. We are all faced with the frustrating reality that a huge percent of birthing families are scared about birth and feel most comfortable turning the experience and power over to the “experts.” Negative reinforcement in the form of, say, warning them about the routine overuse of unnecessary medical interventions will typically shut them down further. I have found that the most effective way to encourage families to be more engaged in the decision making process is to inspire them.   Fear of birth is prevalent in our culture and fear shuts us down. The only way to overcome that fear is to awaken families to the deep, essential truth that birth is a sacred, powerful and profoundly important life experience. Be the voice of awe and wonder that inspires them to show up fully and take a higher level of interest and responsibility for this miraculous event in their lives.

Elan McAllister and NCBH Midwives at L&D re-opening

Elan McAllister and NCBH Midwives at L&D re-opening

SM:  If a childbirth educator wanted to spend time (or increase their current level of involvement) in the birth advocacy role – what do you suggest they consider doing on both a local and on a national level? How could they get effectively get involved?

EMc: I love this question and I will be talking a lot about this at the conference. There is both inner and outer work that needs to happen in order for childbirth educators, (and all birth workers) to better engage in birth advocacy work. The inner work consists of two important shifts – 1) Step into the role of Consumer Advocate. Recognize that you are in a critical and powerful position to amplify the voices of the women and families that you are in direct contact with and 2) Become a Bridge Builder. If we’re going to have an impact on the system we must let go of the “us vs. them” victim mentality and start building relationships with decision makers.

The Affordable Care Act offers countless opportunities for us to engage and impact health care reform.   I’ll be talking more at the conference about how to take advantage of this important moment as well as providing examples of work that CiC has been doing over the last couple of years.

SM:  What are the three most important things that families can do to help ensure that their birth experience is both safe and healthy as well as positive?

EMc:  1) Be well informed and in touch with your desires and beliefs so that you can create and communicate a clear vision for your birth.

2) Choose the provider, setting and birth team that will give you the best opportunity to realize the birth that you’ve envisioned.

3) Let go and surrender.   Trust that you have done all that you can, you are stepping into a divine mystery that cannot be controlled and that will unfold exactly as it is meant to.

SM: Can you share a little about how you made the switch from theater producer to tireless advocate for families during their childbearing years? Were you always drawn to birth and birth advocacy and women’s rights? Or was that a “role” you grew into after experiencing specific events in your life?

EMc: I became involved with both theater and birth at around the same time, about 20 years ago. My early career as a professional dancer lead me to theater production right around the time that the young feminist in me picked up a book on midwifery and had her mind blown! I juggled these two passions/ straddled these two worlds for about 15 years before retiring from producing 5 years ago. Though I turned Choices in Childbirth over to new leadership last Fall, I remain devoted to my calling in service of women, babies and families.

SM:  What are you looking forward to most about being a plenary speaker and presenting to the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 conference attendees?

EMc: It’s always a pleasure to speak to a receptive, well informed audience! I look forward to sharing ideas and learning from my peers.

2015 Conference, 2015 Lamaze & ICEA Joint Conference, Babies, Childbirth Education, Lamaze News, Maternal Quality Improvement, Midwifery , , , , ,

Introducing the Lamaze International LCCE Educator Social Media Guide

July 23rd, 2015 by avatar

LI_0350215_LCCE-SocialMediaGuide-FINALThis past Tuesday, I collected and shared a multitude of Lamaze International resources that are available on a variety of social media platforms that many of you might already be familiar with – Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook and many more.  The vast majority of these resources are available to any birth professional or consumer, and a scarce few are limited to Lamaze International members.  There is one more resource for Lamaze International members that I would like to make you aware of – the just released LCCE Educator Social Media Guide.  The Social Media Guide satisfies one of the Lamaze International Strategic Framework Goals for 2014-2017: Continue to build-out social media presence and engagement, and build educator skill and engagement in social media outreach.

Lamaze International has long provided a LCCE Educator Marketing Toolkit to help educators market their Lamaze classes to their community.  The Social Media Guide augments that Toolkit and is a comprehensive document that explains the different social media platforms so that you can select the one(s) that best meet your needs and serve your purpose.  We then help you get started, if you are new to the selected platform. There is also additional information if you are already a user and want to take your professional social media usage to the next level.

The Social Media Guide shares how it might benefit you and your business to engage with potential clients and students on social media, and what impact it might have on your business.  And as everyone knows, using social media can sometimes feel like falling into a big, black hole.  The Social Media Guide helps you to understand the importance of a) setting limits and b) using your limited time wisely.

Have you wondered if you should have a personal AND professional social media account or use the same account for both purposes?  We can help you decide, as the guide discusses the pros and cons of both.  We also provide various social media graphics that you can incorporate into your profiles, helping you to create a brand identity as a premier childbirth educator.

Each platform section is full of “Pro Tips,” useful suggestions and examples that can help you to use the platform effectively, efficiently and wisely.  There is information for all skill levels from beginner to current user.

There is even a comprehensive glossary so that you can make sure to understand all the abbreviations, acronyms, and keywords that are associated with each platform.

Being active and engaged on social media positions you as an expert in your field and can really help consumers to see both the benefits and value in utilizing your services. It also helps share evidence based information that can help guide families to safer and healthier births.  With a smart and effective social media strategy, you will be able to see the return on your time and energy investments with increasingly full classes and further recognition as an expert in serving families during the childbearing year.

If you are a current Lamaze member, head right over, log in and check out and download your copy of this comprehensive guide. If you are not currently a Lamaze International member, this guide along with all the other benefits offered to members is a real value for the price of a membership.

I also want to share that my colleague Jeanette McCulloch and I are teaching an interactive and jam-packed preconference workshop- “Social Media Smarts: Strategic Online Marketing for the Busy Childbirth Professional” on Thursday afternoon, right before the Lamaze International/ICEA 2015 conference starts, on September 17th, in Las Vegas, NV.

Social media marketing may be free, but your time isn’t. With Facebook views on the decline and increasing competition for your audience’s attention, how can you reach new families and fill your childbirth classes or client calendar without spending your day online? Join us for the workshop and advance your skills!  More info on the conference website.  Early bird registration for the conference and this workshop is available through August 1st.  Register now.

Have you had an opportunity to get a peek at the Lamaze International LCCE Educator Social Media Guide.  Share your experiences putting some of the information to work for you in our comments section.



Childbirth Education, Conference Schedule, Continuing Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze News , , , ,

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