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Meet Joan Combellick – Lamaze/ICEA Conference Plenary Speaker

August 13th, 2015 by avatar

The Lamaze International-ICEA 2015 Joint Conference is a little more than a month away and I am excited about all of the learning opportunities and connections that will be happening in Las Vegas.  I remember attending the last Lamaze-ICEA joint conference five years ago and it was very memorable.  Over the next month, I would like to introduce you to the four plenary speakers at the conference. We are lucky to have these experts sharing their wisdom and expertise with us.  Today, we meet Joan Combellick, CM, MSN, MPH.  Joan is a midwife and researcher who is interested in the microbiome and the newborn.  She will be sharing relevant information about this new field of research and how it is related to birth in her plenary session: Watchful Waiting Revisited: Birth Experience and the Neonatal Microbiome.  Meet Joan in this brief interview as she shares some thoughts on her topic.  Join us in Las Vegas to hear the session and learn more about this important new field of research.  To register for the conference and find out more about the Lamaze International – ICEA 2015 Joint Conference visit the conference website.

Sharon Muza: The microbiome and the newborn have been getting lots of attention in the mainstream press in recent months. Parents are coming to class with lots of questions about this topic for their childbirth educator. What do you think are the most common questions expectant families might have on this topic as they prepare to birth?

joan combellick head shotJoan Combellick: I have found it is a topic that is variably known and understood among the women I care for. Many have never heard the term microbiome and think about bacteria primarily as “germs” that we need to rid ourselves of through the use of bactericidal wipes or soap, etc. With these women it is important to start with the concept that bacteria is not always dangerous, rather we actually need and depend on the trillions of bacteria living in all different parts of our bodies. Further, that initial bacterial colonization at birth and in the newborn period is an important developmental process.

 Other women have done extensive reading on the subject. With these women it is important to help ground their knowledge in the current state of the science. For example, the lasting effects of probiotic supplements are not well understood or documented. The relationship between alterations in the newborn microbiome and subsequent disorders, such as asthma and allergies, is an association only, not a causal relationship. The exact characteristics of a “healthy” microbiome for any given person have not yet been clearly defined. These are just a few examples of areas within microbiome research that need further illumination.

SM: How should the childbirth educator respond when parents ask these questions?

JC: I think it is important to reflect this is an emerging science with much more to come. There is a lot of media attention on this topic right now, much of which suggests that the microbiome is the key to all human health. But many answers are still out. Certainly it seems the microbiome may play a role in shaping human health or disease, yet health promotion and disease prevention must also be recognized as a multi-factorial processes.  

SM: What role do childbirth educators play in helping families to understand the role of the microbiome on their newborn?

JC: Childbirth educators are uniquely positioned to engage with women and their families in deep and meaningful ways on microbiome-related issues, as they are with many issues related to pregnancy and birth. This is a new topic for health care providers as well as women receiving care and I suspect it is not very thoroughly discussed during pregnancy, partly due to lack of knowledge on the part of health care providers, but also partly due to lack of time during typical prenatal appointments. Childbirth educators can very effectively open this discussion with women, respond to questions and clarify concerns and practices. They can also support women in a more active pursuit of information and a more robust discussion on this topic with their health care providers.

SM: What changes have you observed in families’ choices and birth preparation plans as their awareness of the importance of their newborn’s microbiome increases?

JC: In my clinical work I have had only one patient who underwent a scheduled cesarean delivery for breech presentation ask for help in exposing her infant to vaginal bacteria. She had already done research on this experimental intervention and carried it out largely on her own. I mostly just helped her navigate the hospital environment while she did so..

I have encountered many women taking pre-, pro-, or syn-biotics, though their goals in taking these supplements is not well defined.

SM: Do you think that hospitals are recognizing and addressing this issue with changes in procedures and protocols that support a healthy microbiome in all the babies born in their facilities?

JC: I believe there is very little discussion about this topic and I have not seen any changes in procedures and protocols at the institutions where I work. I think there is openness on the part of providers to learn more, but I think demand for information from women receiving care may actually lead the way on this.

SM: If families could do one thing prenatally and during labor to help ensure their newborn’s microbiome is the healthiest it could be, what would that one thing be?

JC: Follow a path of normal pregnancy, labor and childbirth to the fullest extent possible. When medications or interventions are suggested, understand why they are medically necessary. Avoid interventions done electively or without medical reason.

SM: How has what you know and have studied about the importance of the newborn’s microbiome changed the way you practice?

skin_to_skinJC: I try to scrutinize all of my own clinical practice more thoroughly in both big and small ways. For example, have I made sure that mother and baby have prolonged skin to skin contact immediately after delivery? Have I educated women to the fullest extent possible about the benefits of breastfeeding and then do I offer the practical support that is needed in the first weeks after delivery when breastfeeding is established? Do I need to prescribe that antibiotic prenatally, or is this a case when watchful waiting is more appropriate? Am I at all times following protocols that prioritize vaginal delivery whenever safe for mother and baby?

SM: It has often been suggested that it takes 17 years to go from “bench to bedside,” when the research can be applied to wide-spread clinical procedures. What do you think can be done by both professionals and consumers to speed this process along as it pertains to the microbiome and the newborn?

JC: As educators and clinicians it is our responsibility to stay up to date on the most current research. But this is often difficult. Professionals and consumers alike can speed this process by opening the discussion, just asking questions and pursuing answers. This can help everyone learn more about the topic and most importantly, insure the most up to date care is given and received. Women should always feel empowered to lead the discussion about this topic with their care providers.

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

JC: I am both a midwife and a researcher. In my clinical world, I know that it is very difficult to stay up to date on current research. And in my research world, I know that research is all too often not well informed by clinical practice. The two worlds often have a lot of distance between them. This is an exciting conference to me because it is an opportunity to bring research and care together. I hope to clearly present the research I am working on, but I also hope to be better informed about the issues childbirth educators encounter in their work. Childbirth educators often have the best opportunity to know the concerns, knowledge and practices of women and their families. I very much look forward to the sharing of information in all directions.

SM: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Science & Sensibility and attendees at the upcoming conference?

JC: We have observed alterations in newborn bacterial development that are associated with interventions used at or around the time of birth (such as cesarean delivery, antibiotic use, and formula feeding). Further, these alterations have been associated with subsequent health outcomes like obesity, allergy, eczema, asthma, and diabetes. While all of these interventions can be truly life saving when used appropriately, it is also clear that in the US and around the world the use of cesarean delivery, antibiotic treatment and formula feeding is occurring at rates that vastly exceed what is medically necessary. It is important for women to ask for and be told in a way they understand the true medical indication for any and all interventions. It is also important for women to understand that birth is not something that should be scheduled into a busy calendar merely as a matter of convenience. Microbiome research suggests that our normal human birth process, as variable and unpredictable as it may be, is important to promote and protect to the fullest extent possible.

 

 

 

2015 Conference, 2015 Lamaze & ICEA Joint Conference, Babies, Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, New Research, Newborns , , , ,

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.

wbw2015-obj

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 , , , , , , ,

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 , , , ,

Lamaze International Has The Up-to-Date Resources You Need! Are You Connected?

July 21st, 2015 by avatar

lamaze connectedLamaze International offers a large variety of useful material for Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators and others to use to increase professional knowledge and help you when working with and sharing information with expectant and new families.  There are YouTube videos, infographics, a smartphone app, professional and consumer blogs, a Pinterest account, weekly newsletters for families, bi-weekly newsletters for Lamaze members, Facebook pages, a Twitter account, Instagram photos, live and recorded webinars and more all available to help you better serve the families that you work with. No matter what type of resource material you choose to access, you can be sure that it is evidence based, current and presented in a professional manner.  Here is a summary of many of these resources in one place so that you can use this post as a reference for easy access to useful information whenever you want.

Blogs

Science & Sensibility blog for birth professionals – if you are reading this,  of course you have already found this blog.  Published twice a week, you can get all the news, analyses of recently published studies, teaching ideas and more.  You can subscribe to this blog to be sure never to miss a post.

Giving Birth with Confidence – Lamaze International’s consumer blog written by Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE.  Follow along with families as they move through their pregnancies, get up to date information on pregnancy, birth and postpartum information – all delivered in a consumer friendly, easy to read format.

Videos

Lamaze International YouTube channel – a variety of videos, including “From the President’s Desk,” where Lamaze President, Dr. Robin Elise Weiss shares information on a variety of current issues, short and informative videos on many of our infographics, Six Healthy Birth Practices, and many more professional and consumer friendly videos that promotes safe and healthy births.  You can subscribe to this YouTube channel to receive updates when new videos are added.

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

  • @LamazeOnline – educators and parents can follow along on lots of updates and a great interactive monthly Twitter chat.
  • @LamazeAdvocates – connects birth pros with peers, professional development & resources to support expectant parents on their journey to a natural, safe & healthy birth, as well as participate in a monthly Twitter chat on a variety of topics.

Pregnancy & Parenting Smartphone App

A great tool for families to use through pregnancy, labor/birth and parenting.  Comprehensive, full of great evidence based information and simply very useful.  Check out the Pregnancy & Parenting app page on the Lamaze International website to see all the useful features, and find resources to help you introduce the app to the families you work with.

Infographics

Evidenced based information in an easy to read (and easy to share), visually appealing infographic format.  Topics include:

  • VBACs (new!)
  • Cesareans
  • Labor Support
  • Healthy Birth Practices
  • Electronic Fetal Monitoring
  • Epidurals
  • Separating Mom and Baby
  • Restricted Food & Drink
  • Restricted Movement
  • Avoiding the First Cesarean
  • Inductions

Find them all here, in both web-based and jpeg formats suitable for printing at your convenience. Don’t forget about the accompanying videos that are based on the infographics.

Email Newsletters

Your Pregnancy Week By Week – a weekly evidence based newsletter designed for parents that provides them with helpful information, tips and resources, delivered right to their inboxes weekly, based on their due date.

Inside Lamaze – a vital resource for continuing education available to Lamaze Members. The latest news, research, and information on upcoming events right in your inbox two times a month. Join Lamaze now to receive this valuable bi-weekly newsletter.

Webinars

Professional webinars for birth professionals with contact hours that are accepted by many maternal and infant health organizations, including nursing associations. Many of the webinars are free and only incur a small cost for contact hours.

Instagram – a place to find all the Lamaze pregnancy, birth and postpartum news that is fit for a picture!

Lamaze has you covered with great resources that keep you informed, up-to-date and connected on a variety of platforms and in diverse formats.  Stay connected with Lamaze International and have a plethora of useful information always at your fingertips and ready to share with expectant families.  How do you stay connected with Lamaze?  What’s your favorite Lamaze resource? Let us know in the comments section below.

Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, New Research, Research, Webinars , , , , , ,

Series: On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer – The Curriculum Gets Written (Almost)!

July 7th, 2015 by avatar

By Jessica English, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA)

Late last year, LCCE Jessica English began the path to become an independent trainer with Lamaze International, as part of the just opened “Independent Track”  trainer program.  This new program helps qualified individuals become Lamaze trainers – able to offer Lamaze childbirth educator trainings which is one step on the path for LCCE certification.  She’s agreed to share her trainer journey with us in a series of blog posts; “On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer”, offering insights at key milestones in the process.  You can read the first part of Jessica’s journey here.  Today, Jessica updates readers on her progress as she tackles the curriculum. If you are interested in becoming a trainer of Lamaze Childbirth Educators, you can find information on applying for the November 2015 Independent Track Program on the website now, and applications are due August 31, 2015.   –  Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

JEnglish retreat 1I am so ready to start training childbirth educators!

Unfortunately, my curriculum is not so ready. But I’m getting there — and building lots of empathy for the process my future students will be going through as well.

After finishing my trainer workshop in November, I spent some time processing everything I’d learned. I felt excited about becoming a Lamaze trainer, but I wasn’t ready to jump into writing my curriculum. This is a pretty typical pattern for me, so I was patient with what I know to be a healthy process for myself. I think and process and mull… And then when I’m ready I leap.

As winter turned to spring in the U.S., I watched a few of my classmates finish their curricula and start promoting their trainings. Awesome! Birth workers I had connections with from around the country started asking me when I’d be teaching my first workshop. Wonderful! I started a list of future Lamaze educators so I can update them when I am fully approved to train. I started to feel ready to leap, but the days, weeks and months flew by without much of a dent in my curriculum. I run a busy doula agency and I’m a birth doula trainer and business coach. Not to mention teaching my own childbirth classes and taking care of my own doula clients! And did I mention that I organize a major baby and family expo each February? The phone was always ringing, the email never stopped, meetings dotted each day. I’d jot down ideas or bookmark a resource that I wanted to use with my students. I tried reserving an hour a day to work on the curriculum, but it was challenging to really hold that time sacred. I also found it hard to clear out other distractions. It felt like just as I’d really dig in to a topic, time was up and I needed to move on to another (wildly different) task.

english independent - jpgYears ago in my corporate life, I learned the Eisenhower Decision Matrix for categorizing tasks (popularized by Stephen Covey). I sometimes use this matrix with my business coaching clients. Tasks are divided into categories of urgent, important, both or neither. Using this tool, I could see that I was stuck mostly in the urgent column, but not getting to the Lamaze trainer curriculum because although it was extremely important, it was in no way urgent. It was time to prioritize the important.

I checked in with a couple of folks in my brain trust, sharing my frustration about finding the time to write. (I’ll bet you have a brain trust too! This is my inner circle of trusted advisors that I turn to for support. Some of them are paid, others are mentors or friends with whom I’ve developed a circle of reciprocity — “you help me engineer my life, I’ll help you figure out yours too.”)

My business advisor suggested a retreat.  I talked with another brain trustee, looking for ideas on an affordable retreat. She mentioned Gilchrist, a local retreat center where I could rent a simple cabin and spend a couple of days in the woods. Yes! Perfect! My brain trust had come through for me again.

I reserved three days and two nights in the woods, packed up my food, teaching supplies and laptop. My goal was to leave the retreat center with a fully written curriculum ready to submit to Lamaze International for review. Gilchrist is a 45-minute drive from my home, so I tried to use the drive time to clear out all of the “urgent” from my system. The cabin and the grounds were beautiful. There was no wifi in my cabin and even phone service is spotty, which made it easier to focus in on the curriculum. Each day I walked the trails, cooked, wrote and meditated on everything new childbirth educators would need to make a real difference for families.

I felt connected and focused. It’s always easier for me to tackle big tasks in one large chunk than to piecemeal it, and the retreat was just what I needed. As I think ahead to helping new educators find time to finish their curricula and plan for their classes, I’ll offer the options of reserving small chunks of time over a long period (this works well for some people, even though it’s not a great match for my personal style) or maybe booking their very own Lamaze retreat.JEnglish retreat 2

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite reach my goal to finish the trainer curriculum on retreat. I’m close, though. Another full day of writing should be enough to wrap up what I need to submit to Lamaze International’s lead nurse planner, Susan Givens. An interesting sidelight of the trainer process is that I’m getting laser focused on my own childbirth classes. What are the strongest pieces of my curriculum? Where are the weak links? If I’m training new educators, I want to be sure I’m modeling the best teaching techniques in my own classes. So tucked into the calendar this summer, I have another full day reserved for finishing my trainer curriculum, and also a full day to re-examine and revitalize a few topic areas in my own eight-week Lamaze series.

I’m still puzzling through a few technical issues with the curriculum. I’m working toward enough structure that I can make sure attendees get everything they need, but also some flexibility to let them take the reins at times. I want to model the same innovative teaching techniques I hope they will use in their own classes. I’m grateful for my experience not only as a childbirth educator for the past decade but also as an approved birth doula trainer for DONA International. I have a great sense of both the research and the reality of adult learning. Also on the docket: figuring out how my business curriculum will be incorporated into my Lamaze workshop. Should it be part of the core training, or an extra day or half day that new educators can opt into if they’re planning to teach independently? Business building is a big part of my focus in the birth world, so this piece of the curriculum is really important to me! Some of this will come clear as I finish writing, but experience also tells me that things will shift and adjust as I start to train and get a sense for what works best in action.

To use a birth analogy (because Lamaze educators can turn everything into a birth analogy!), my trainer curriculum feels like it’s in transition. Intense. A little overwhelming. But transition! What a fantastic place to be! Almost there. Keep going. Almost there.

About Jessica English

jenglish-headshot-2015-2Jessica English, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), is the founder of Heart | Soul | Business. A former marketing and PR executive, she owns Birth Kalamazoo, a thriving doula and childbirth education agency in Southwest Michigan. Jessica trains birth doulas and (soon!) Lamaze childbirth educators, as well as offering heart-centered business-building workshops for all birth professionals.

Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, Series: On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer , , , , ,

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