Archive for the ‘Push for Your Baby’ 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 , , , , , ,

Choosing a Pregnancy and Birth Health Care Provider – New Infographic from Lamaze International

October 22nd, 2015 by avatar

Screenshot 2015-10-21 16.44.29Most families have already chosen a health care provider by the time they find themselves in childbirth classes.  The exception might be those educators who reach families at the beginning of their pregnancies by offering an early pregnancy class that includes this topic.  Most families begin their childbirth class experience close to, if not in, the third trimester. By that time, many pregnant people have chosen their pregnancy and birth provider months before.  They made their choice because they received gynecological care from them prior to pregnancy, a particular doctor or midwife was on their medical insurance panel or their friend or family member had used them.  Some families do a lot of research before making this choice, but many families do not.

Screenshot 2015-10-21 16.43.54One of the reasons that I like being an independent childbirth educator who is not affiliated with any particular hospital or facility, is that my students represent a cross section of members from the community, and their care is equally as diverse.  Families will be birthing at home, in a birth center or in a hospital and will be receiving care from licensed midwives, certified nurse midwives, obstetricians and family practice doctors.  And they will all be in the same class.  As we move through the curriculum, the students learn about best practice and evidence based care for normal, healthy low risk pregnant people.  I spend a lot of time building community and offering opportunities for students to work collaboratively on activities during class.  They connect with each other and share their experiences.  They have a chance to learn about the care and recommendations that their classmates are receiving from the variety of providers represented.  This generates wonderful discussions and questions.

This class diversity allows me to facilitate a discussion about evidence based care and best practices.  Families are encouraged to consider if they are satisfied with the care they are receiving, to have conversations with their health care providers about the standard birth practices and determine if their own birth preferences are lined up with the care they are most likely to receive.  If they come to the conclusion that they may not have made the best choice, we explore what their options are.

Lamaze International understands how critical choosing a health care provider is to families who desire a safe and healthy birth.  Their newest infographic provides resources and information to help families understand that selecting a health care provider is an important decision and not one to be taken lightly.  The infographic also explains how the midwifery model of care is often a good choice for healthy, low risk pregnant people.  85% of all pregnant people are considered low risk.  There are conditions that would risk out a person from midwifery care, and should that happen during the prenatal or intrapartum period, the midwife will refer appropriately to a physician.  This helpful infographic discusses the different types of maternity care providers and offers questions to use as a guide when selecting health care providers to work with.

In addition to this infographic, Lamaze International offers a free online early pregnancy class – “Prepared for Pregnancy: Start off Right” that families can work through.  This interactive e-learning course covers important topics that families should be considering and learning about in the first weeks of pregnancy, often before they have even had their first prenatal appointment with their health care provider.  You are invited to try out this course as well, so that you can recommend it to the “just pregnant” families that you connect with.

Screenshot 2015-10-21 16.44.14As a birth professional, you can help families find a health care provider who is a good fit for their desires and preferences.  Helping them to understand what good care looks like, and providing them resources to identify a doctor or midwife who practice style aligns with their wishes can help them achieve a safe and healthy birth.  Letting them know that it is never too late to switch health care providers, even if they are just days away from their birth.  I asked some families to share with me their experiences in switching to a more compatible health care provider during a pregnancy, and here is what they said:

“When we wrote up our birth plan, one provider read through it and condescendingly asked what website we’d downloaded it from and brushed off our concerns – and ours was a very basic birth plan, evidence-based and realistic. After that and another incident a few weeks later involving fetal movement, it was pretty clear that this practice was probably not our best fit.  I managed to get an appointment scheduled with my first choice CNM for 37w 5d. It was such a hard decision, even to get that far! Pregnancy hormones, feeling like I was disrupting or losing established relationships, even fear that the OB would be mad. Fortunately, the CNM was a perfect fit and we all knew it right away. We finished the appointment and immediately signed the paperwork to transfer care and records. Apparently my body and the baby were pleased, as baby was born less than two days later at 38 weeks exactly. We ended up having exactly the birth we wanted.” – ZV


“I changed providers in my third trimester. The constraints of the birth location were slowly whittling away at the family and doula support I anticipated needing. I opted for a licensed midwife who helped me birth at home, surrounded by the caring loved ones who helped make the experience safe and satisfying. It wasn’t an easy choice, and we had to pay more, but the feelings and memories from that day I will always treasure.I know it was the right choice for our family.” – SB


“I switched from an OB to midwifery care after an early miscarriage. I was upset and my ob said, “let’s just keep this in perspective”. My perspective was that I needed a new care provider! – CM


“I switched providers at 8 weeks. My OB said her office does not do VBACs. So I found another practice who did – and it happened to be with a midwife. I didn’t think I was the midwife type but I really wanted a VBAC.  And I had a great one!” – SW


“For my second child, I had originally gone back to the same OB I used during my first pregnancy (and subsequent miscarriage). I hadn’t been entirely happy with the way I had been treated the first go-round, but I was familiar with him and liked the hospital he delivered at.  Just after my 19 week ultrasound, however, I finally got tired of being ignored and belittled during my appointments. I scheduled an appointment with a midwife at a nearby birth center, took a tour, and never looked back. Being cared for by midwives was the best decision I have ever made…At the birth center, I never felt like I was just another file. They knew me, knew my family, and took the time to make sure I was getting my questions answered and my concerns were addressed immediately – I was never made to feel stupid for anything I said or asked about. My birth experience was 100 times better. Switching at 21 weeks pregnant was, no question, the best thing I could have done.”- JD


“I switched providers at 34 weeks. I switched for a few reasons, but mostly the midwifery practice seemed very standardized and cold not as personal as the practice I delivered with previously. I made the decision to switch, saw my new midwifery group only twice and delivered at 37w4d. I was very pleased with my experience with the new practice.” – TNM


“I switched providers two times during my pregnancy. I had an unusual health history and wanted a birth with the least interventions possible. Despite being upfront about my history with everyone I spoke with, I kept losing practitioners who felt I was too high risk to them to care for. I felt my birthing goals slipping further and further away every time this happened. It was only after I realized I was spending every single appointment crying that I decided that I needed to let some things go. I made my final switch, choosing my family practice doctor who also did babies. I realized that the most important thing was to have a good relationship with a provider I trusted, who respected my goals, and who didn’t have me in tears after every appointment. This change meant I had to change the hospital I chose to birth at to the one in the area with the highest rate of interventions, but I could not spend the remainder of my pregnancy under such extreme stress. Less interventions would be best for my son, but having a mother who wasn’t feeling threatened at every turn would help as well. I get tearful now, over eight years later, writing about it. In the end, I did get the interventions I didn’t want, but only after my provider let me push it as far as possible. She respected my goals. It was the right choice but incredibly challenging to face having to change and losing trust over and over. I felt abandoned by too many people at a time when I was very vulnerable.” – SD

Birth professionals can find all the useful infographics here and share the parent infographics page with the families you work with. Parents can find the new infographic on choosing a provider here on the parent website.  Choosing a care provider is an important part of having a safe and satisfying birth experience.  Childbirth educators and professionals are in a unique position to support families as they navigate their choices and make decisions that can help them reach their goal of a healthy and safe birth, baby and parent.  For a very detailed guide to questions to ask a care provider, I find the Choices in Childbirth National Guide to a Healthy Birth to have a very comprehensive list of questions for families to rely on.  The list can be found on page 10 of this brochure.

Lamaze International continues to support professionals and educators with infographics and tools to help families navigate their pregnancy and birth and work toward healthy outcomes.  This new infographic on “Choosing a Care Provider” is another excellent tool that is available for you and consumers.  Thanks Lamaze!


Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Maternity Care, Midwifery, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Black Breastfeeding Week – “Lift Every Baby” Supports Breastfeeding Black Families

August 27th, 2015 by avatar

BBW-Logo-AugustDates-300x162August 1-7th was World Breastfeeding Week, and the entire month of August was National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  Science & Sensibility shared information and resources in two posts; Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make It Work! Join Science & Sensibility in Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week and Happy World Breastfeeding Week! The Celebration Continues with More Free Resources, along with a “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Nine Ideas for Using Knit Breasts in Breastfeeding Classes” post for those who teach expectant families.

This week we want to recognize and honor Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31, 2015) and share information about the “Lift Every Baby” awareness campaign that is the theme of this year’s program.  Black Breastfeeding Week is designed to raise awareness and provide support in black communities.  Both the initiation rate and the duration rate of breastfeeding in black families has been lower than the rates in white families for more than four decades. Low birth weight, preterm deliveries and maternal complications such as preeclampsia are all higher in black women and the black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white babies.  Breastfeeding and the important benefits it provides can help all babies, but for the most vulnerable and the sickest, breastmilk is a critical component that can mean the difference between life and death.

black breastfeeding mother babyBlack Breastfeeding Week was established three years ago by three women, Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anaya Sangodele-Ayoka, all leaders in the field of maternal child health, with a focus on families of color.  In the past three years, attention, discussion and events focused on supporting Black Breastfeeding Week have only grown as people of all colors recognize the health disparities that exist right here in the United States, between white families and black families that have lifelong impacts, simply due to the color of one’s skin.

Kimberly Seals Allers wrote an excellent commentary on why there is a need for Black Breastfeeding Week.

There are many activities around the country to support Black Breastfeeding Week.  A full event list can be found here.  On August 29 at 3 PM EST the first nationally coordinated “Lift Up” will be held in various cities across the United States.  Black families will join together at different meeting points across the country to “Lift Up” their babies, regardless of their size or age, to recognize the importance of community support for children.

There will also be the first ever Twitter chat (#LifeEveryBaby) in honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, scheduled for tonight, August 27th at 9 PM EST that you are invited to participate in.

Cara Terreri, from Lamaze International’s blog for parents, Giving Birth With Confidence, has compiled a list of  black breastfeeding resources that you should be aware of:

Black Breastfeeding Week website & Facebook page

It’s Only Natural,” – CDC & Office of Women’s Health breastfeeding guide for African American families

Normalize Breastfeeding

Black Women Do Breastfeed website & Facebook page

Mocha Manual

Your Guide to Breastfeeding for African American Women

You can also find more information and resources on the Black Breastfeeding Week Resources and Toolkit page.

Additionally, I would like to refer you to two previous posts in our “Welcoming All Families” series, written by Lamaze educator and lactation consultant Tamara Hawkins, discussing welcoming families of color to your classes.  Working with Women of Color and Working with Women of Color – Educator Information can help educators create and provide applicable classes and information to the families of color joining their classes.

Black Breastfeeding Week is an important event that can help create awareness for the importance of culturally relevant and accessible breastfeeding support and information for black families.  Childbirth educators and other birth professionals should be ready to provide resources that can help close the gap to the families they work with.  Are you participating in any Black Breastfeeding Week events?  Let us know in the comments section and please, let us all join together to “Lift Every Baby.”


Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Infant Attachment, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Happy World Breastfeeding Week – The Celebration Continues with More Free Resources!

August 6th, 2015 by avatar

JHL august 2015

Resources continue to be made available during World Breastfeeding Week that will benefit the childbirth educator, doula, lactation consultant, midwife and other professionals as they educate, support and provide assistance to families who are planning to continue to breastfeed and return to work.  Check out today’s resource list.

Free Journal of Human Lactation articles

In honor of worldwide celebrations of World Breastfeeding Week and the theme “Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work, the Journal of Human Lactation has made the following ten research articles available for free during the month of August 2015 to anyone interested in reading them.

The Journal of Human Lactation is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, insights in practice and policy, commentaries, and case reports relating to research and practice in human lactation and breastfeeding. JHL is relevant to lactation professionals in clinical practice, public health, research, and a broad range of fields related to the trans-disciplinary field of human lactation.

Hat tip to Lactation Matters for the heads up on this generous offer from JHL..

Screenshot 2015-08-05 20.22.25Free iMothering Webinar with Nancy Mohrbacher

Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, an expert in the field of breastfeeding, and author of several books on breastfeeding including Breastfeeding Solutions: Quick Tips for the Most Common Nursing Challenges, (which was reviewed previously on Science & Sensibility) has a free online webinar for families and professionals on on iMothering.com titled –  Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

© Nancy Mohrbacher

© Nancy Mohrbacher

Free Downloadable Resource for Caregivers of Breastfeeding Infants

Additionally, Nancy has shared a super resource that breastfeeding families can share with the caregivers of their nurslings, to help them understand how they can best help and support the breastfeeding working parent when they are watching the child as the caregiver. Check out this printable For the Caregiver of a Breastfed Baby and let families know they can share this with their child’s caregiver to provide accurate information on how best to feed the breastfed baby while s/he is with their caregiver.

Do you have any resources that you have found helpful during this WBW celebration?  I invite you to share and link to them in the comments section so we can all benefit.  Thanks in advance!

Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work! Join Science & Sensibility in Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

August 4th, 2015 by avatar

wbw2015-logo-purpleAugust 1-7th, 2015 is World Breastfeeding Week and is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).  WABA is a global network of individuals & organizations concerned with the protection, promotion & support of breastfeeding worldwide.  World Breastfeeding Week is traditionally celebrated annually the first week of August and this year’s theme – “Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work!

As childbirth educators and birth professionals, we are working with expectant families in the weeks and months leading up to birth, and then often in the early weeks of parenting.  During that time, returning to work is often a distant thought, as families struggle to navigate the labor and birth experience and transition to life with a new baby.  Most of the breastfeeding topics we cover in class and one-on-one with families are of the need to know variety that helps them get breastfeeding off to a good start.  If there is even enough time to touch on returning to work as a breastfeeding parent, it is brief and quick due to time limitations and current concerns.

The reality is that most breastfeeding parents return to work.  This return to formal or informal work may occur earlier than parents would have liked due to financial concerns, lack of paid (or unpaid leave) from employers, professional pressures and expectations, as well as family and society demands.  The struggle to maintain an adequate supply of expressed breastmilk and to continue to breastfeed is real and affects many, many families worldwide.  Issues include an unsupportive workplace, insufficient time  and an inadequate or inappropriate place to express milk that can be bottle fed to their child, and an unwelcome environment to be able to nurse their child, if the child can be brought to the workplace.

Childbirth educators may not have time in our routine breastfeeding class to address many of the issues and concerns that these families face when they return to work.  The typical breastfeeding class is geared for the initial days and weeks with a newborn.  Educators can provide take home resources in the form of handouts and useful links that can help families to navigate returning to work successfully, minimizing impact on the breastfeeding dyad.


Additionally, you might consider preparing a stand-alone class that runs a couple of hours geared specifically for the parent who is returning to work  and hoping to continue to breastfeed.  This might be offered for families to attend while still pregnant or after their baby arrives and they are facing the fact that they are going to be returning to work sooner rather than later.  Do you currently already teach such a class in your community?  How do you market it?  How is it received?  Can you share some of your objectives and favorite resources for the Return to Work class that you teach in our comments section below?

© Helen Regina - Policial WABA 2015

© Helen Regina – Policial WABA 2015

Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work benefits businesses as well as mothers, babies and families by providing a three to one Return on Investment (ROI) through lower health care costs, lower employee absenteeism rates due to babies that are healthier, requiring less sick leave, lower turnover rates, and higher employee productivity and loyalty.

Here is some useful information and resources that I have gathered in one location that you may want to share with your students and families, in order to help them make a smooth transition when they return to work as a breastfeeding family.

Many of these websites also provide information in Spanish and other languages as well.

Lamaze International President Robin Elise Weiss has created a new “From the President’s Desk” video – “Tips for Breastfeeding Success” that you can share with parents. While not specifically about breastfeeding while working, helping families get off on the right foot with a solid breastfeeding relationship can help parents to feel confident that they are meeting their baby’s nutritional needs right from the start and that can continue once they return to work.  You can also direct families to Lamaze International’s online breastfeeding class, where additional information and resources can be found.  Finally, consider encouraging parents to download our new free Pregnancy to Parenting app which contains evidence based and easily accessible information on many topics includingbreastfeeding as well as useful app features like a breastfeeding and diaper log and additional resources.

How are you celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in your community? Share your activities and ideas in the comments section below and thank you so much for all you do to support breastfeeding with the families you work with.

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Infant Attachment, Lamaze International, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , , , ,

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