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Series: Journey to LCCE Certification – Mission Accomplished!

December 4th, 2014 by avatar

By Cara Terreri, LCCE

 photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

If you have been following Cara Terreri in our Series: Journey to LCCE Certification, you know Cara was last seen hard at work preparing for the LCCE examination.  I received good news from Cara yesterday, and wanted to share her update with you.  Please join me in congratulating Cara on successfully passing the Lamaze exam and receiving the credentials “LCCE”.  I would like to congratulate all of you who also received news of your passing score.  You should be proud of your accomplishments.  If others would like to explore becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, please check out our certification page on the website for information on how to start. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

The final days

At the culmination of nearly two years, the longest part of which was the last five weeks waiting to hear news, the results are in… I passed the exam and am now a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator! Though I felt confident in my knowledge and abilities, self-doubt crept in during the weeks leading up to the exam. I amped up my studying and review time in order to feel more sure in my knowledge. Walking through the door of the testing site, my nerves took a back seat and I felt ready.

My test experience

My test-taking experience was, overall, positive. Many of the questions were reasonable and fair, and for a good number of them, I quickly found the answer. For other questions, however, I really had to closely read the question and think hard about my answer. I could always narrow it down to two answers – it was those last two that really tested my knowledge! The testing system allows you to “flag” a question if it’s one you want to go back and review. Two hours into the exam, I was finished answering questions. I was more than thankful for the additional hour to review the questions I had flagged. For two questions, I felt strongly about sending feedback to staff, a feature available to me during the test.  This feature made me feel like the test was truly created to be fair and open to my feedback. When the test results were released, I was pleased to see that a question had been eliminated, and I was hopeful that it might have been one of the questions I flagged.

Lamaze core values

cara lcceLamaze prides itself on promoting evidence based information and the LCCE exam is no different – questions are created fairly (not intentionally tricky), and cover a wide range of in-depth information that a competent and effective childbirth educator should possess. As someone who writes on behalf of Lamaze for parents everywhere, and as a budding educator and doula, holding the LCCE credential is invaluable. It provides added credibility, yes, but perhaps more importantly, it holds me accountable. Ongoing education is so critical in our field! Throughout the years since working with Lamaze, I’ve come to learn so much about the organization in comparison to others. It’s the level of dedication and commitment to education that encourages me to grow further with Lamaze as my foundation.

What’s next

Now that the exam is complete, the real work begins! Since moving and settling into a new community, I now am ready to create a business plan for 2015 and begin teaching locally. My earlier professional goals centered around doula work, but until I can solidify extended child care, that will have to wait. Teaching classes, however, is very doable and it’s also something I truly enjoy.

Did you also pass the exam?  Share your good news in our comments section and let us know what your next steps are!  Where will you be teaching?  What type of classes?  Let us knw! We want to celebrate with you and wish you all the best as you start your work as an LCCE. – SM

About Cara Terreri

Cara began working with Lamaze two years before she became a mother. Somewhere in the process of poring over marketing copy in a Lamaze brochure and birthing her first child, she became an advocate for childbirth education. Three kids later (and a whole lot more work for Lamaze), Cara is the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze blog for and by women and expectant families. Cara continues to have a strong passion for the awesome power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and for helping women to discover their own power and ability through birth. It is her hope that through the GBWC site, women will have a place to find and offer positive support to other women who are going through the amazing journey to motherhood.

 

Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Series: Journey to LCCE Certification , , ,

Series: On the “Independent Track” to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer

December 2nd, 2014 by avatar

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

Last month, 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. If this is a program you are interested in, look for information in 2015 on how to apply for the 2015 cohort.- Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

When I first saw the invitation to apply to become an independent trainer with Lamaze International, my heart leapt! As a doula trainer, I’d long wanted to extend my training work to include childbirth educators but I’d heard the process to become a Lamaze trainer was complicated. The announcement that landed in my inbox said that there was a new, simplified pathway to becoming an independent Lamaze trainer. As I prepared to launch a new business venture that included many facets of my skill set: DONA birth doula trainings, childbirth classes, business training/coaching sessions and more, it seemed so clear that becoming a Lamaze trainer fit right in with my path. Yes! Count me in!

© Tanya Strusberg

© Tanya Strusberg

I was “in” wholeheartedly, but I still needed to apply and be approved. The application asked about our qualifications and our vision for a Lamaze program. Several days before the application deadline, Laura Ruth in the Lamaze office told me that they’d already received a lot of applications. My nerves set it! The closer the deadline came, the surer I was that becoming a Lamaze trainer was the right path for me; I hoped the review committee would agree.

The wait to hear back was blessedly short. Less than a week after I submitted my application, I heard back from Lamaze International that I’d been approved as part of the first cohort of independent track trainers. How exciting! I immediately started laying plans to travel to Washington, D.C. for the “train the trainer” session, praying that my November doula clients would either have their babies before I left or wait for my return. I also needed a sub to teach my own Thursday night childbirth class.

Thankfully, three babies came in nine days, I found a fantastic sub, and I headed to D.C. with a clear calendar. (Thank you for aligning, birthy stars!) I arrived Wednesday night and met my roommate, Trena Gallant from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Before our official training ever began, our informal education started with the opportunity to share stories and techniques as experienced educators and (doula) trainers. My LCCE heart was already bursting!

I’d been curious from the beginning about who would be in the training, and it was fun to watch the room fill Thursday morning. Several of my fellow DONA-approved birth doula trainers were in the group, there were a handful of other folks whose names I recognized, and I saw a few new faces. The 12 of us hailed from the United States, Canada and even Australia. Everyone participating in the training was an experienced educator, and we had several accomplished Lamaze trainers and leaders in the room to help guide us as well. I was excited know we’d have the chance to connect throughout the weekend.

The morning began with ice breakers and climate setters with our experienced facilitator, Tom Leonhardt. Once we all felt comfortable together, we dove into the science of adult learning. Even as an experienced educator and trainer, I enjoyed the chance to reanalyze how adults learn. One of the things that I love about Lamaze International is its emphasis on evidence-based information, and this training was no different. There’s great science on adult learning, and Lamaze ensures that your trainers understand how to use that science to help new educators create great classes. I appreciated that the training itself was highly interactive – implementing the same proven techniques we were discussing. I picked up some new ideas and other information was reinforced. I was able to explore my own teaching style and its strengths and weaknesses. An expert facilitator, Tom guided us and brought us back to task when we ventured just a little too far down an occasional rabbit hole.

Saturday was spent on additional teaching analysis and introduction of the primary objectives for our Lamaze curricula. Another reason I adore Lamaze is that they lay down core objectives for educators and then allow each LCCE to teach in his or her own way. I discovered that the trainer process was similar. Each trainer will complete a needs assessment for her community, region or country. We are tasked with using a planning table to detail content for each objective, then listing our teaching techniques and evidence-based resources. In part because all Lamaze International training seminars qualify for nursing contact hours, the process of getting your training program accredited is rigorous – just another reason that Lamaze is the gold standard in our field! I could see the work ahead.

On Saturday afternoon we broke into pairs and developed an assigned training module. Each team delivered its 20-minute teaching session beginning Sunday morning. My partner and I volunteered to present first, which allowed us to fully enjoy the rest of the presentations without any thoughts about our own session. What a delight to watch so many incredible educators work their magic! I think we all picked up techniques and language from one another. We reminded ourselves again and again that we were training educators and not parents. That was an interesting shift, as we’ve all been teaching families for years or even decades. We glowed with the praise from our peers and humbled ourselves to received constructive feedback on what could have gone better. What an excellent model for us to follow as we prepare others to teach!

Saturday ended with an exploration of best practices in dealing with challenging participants. I love that Lamaze International wants us to explore these issues with new instructors! Being a great childbirth educator is about so much more than just understanding birth. The science and art of teaching are critically important to our work and Lamaze International is devoted to helping to build truly great teachers around the world.

As I said goodbye to my new colleagues Monday afternoon and wound my way through a weather-challenged journey home, my thoughts turned to next steps. As my new venture- Heart | Soul | Business ramps up, I’m carving out time to work on my Lamaze curriculum. Branding and marketing are on my mind as I solidify plans to combine birth doula workshops, childbirth educator seminars and advanced business trainings to help other birth workers thrive in this heart-centered work. My background is in marketing, public relations and business administration, so that trifecta of trainings feels like the perfect combination!

A variety of questions remain for me. Which cities need childbirth educator, doula and business trainings? How can I help to even further distinguish the Lamaze name in an increasingly crowded marketplace? What are the pieces of a kick-butt curriculum that will help grow strong, confident educators who can make a difference in diverse communities and in their own unique styles? What will it be like to work on that curriculum with Lamaze International’s amazing lead nurse planner, Susan Givens? I’m strongly committed to continuing to teach families and attend births in my home community, but how will those commitments balance with an increased travel schedule?

Stay tuned, friends. I’m diving in and I’m excited to have you along for the journey.

About Jessica English

jessica english head shotJessica 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, Series: On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer, Uncategorized , , , , ,

The Science Behind the Lamaze Exam and the Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator Credentials

May 1st, 2014 by avatar

Last week, around the world, candidates for certification sat for the Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator exam.  That test represented the culmination of weeks, months and often years of planning, preparation, studying and hard work.  While the results are still some weeks out, I thought it would be interesting to learn about the science behind the Lamaze exam and what makes it the gold standard of childbirth educator certifications from Judith Lothian, PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE, the chairperson of the Lamaze Certification Council Governing Body. Today’s families deserve the best, so they can push for their baby, with all the evidence and research that stands behind the LCCE credentials of their childbirth educator. Learn more about attending a Lamaze workshop and explore becoming an LCCE yourself so you can offer families in your community the gold standard of childbirth education. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.
LCCE

Lamaze International is extremely proud of the fact that the Lamaze certification examination is the only examination for childbirth educators that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  Achieving and maintaining this accreditation is a rigorous and ongoing process.

Accreditation by NCCA assures you that the exam you take will accurately measure the competencies of a childbirth educator. The seven competencies of a Lamaze Childbirth Educator are supported by job analysis research that is done every 5-7 years. The last job analysis was conducted in 2012. The results of that analysis were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Perinatal Education. Lamaze members may access the full journal online after logging in to the Lamaze website. Basing the exam on the results of a job analysis is an important way to ensure that the exam accurately evaluates the competencies of a childbirth educator. Fairness is a very important issue and to that end NCCA has evaluated our policies, our procedures and the actual exam, including the construction of items and the exam itself as well as the evaluation of its performance. The NCCA stamp of approval is a vote of confidence that experts in the certification field believe that the Lamaze certification policies are fair and that the certificate examination accurately evaluates the competencies of a Lamaze Certified childbirth educator.

Lamaze is the only childbirth educator certification program that has received NCCA accreditation. Professional standards set by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence describe the difference between professional certification and assessment based certificate programs. “Professional or personnel certification is a voluntary process by which individuals’ pre-acquired knowledge, skills, or competencies are evaluated against predetermined standards. The focus is on an assessment that is independent of a specific class, course, or other education/training program. Participants who demonstrate that they meet the standards by successfully completing the assessment process are granted the certification.” The American College of Nurse Midwives and the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants are examples, like Lamaze, of professional certification.

In contrast, an assessment-based certificate program is a non-degree granting educational program that provides instruction and training to help participants gain specific knowledge and skills and then evaluates achievement of expected learning outcomes and awards a certificate to those who successfully pass the assessment. Childbirth educator certifications, other than Lamaze, are assessment-based certificate programs. Because of this, many educators who have childbirth educator credentials from other organizations  choose to sit for the Lamaze exam.

Why is this important? It assures you that the certification examination has met the rigorous standards of professional certification, that the exam is fair and actually measures what it is should to insure that you indeed have achieved the competencies to practice as a Lamaze childbirth educator.

The certification exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions and the questions reflect the essential information a childbirth educator should know (the competencies of a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator). An inside look at the process of item writing and exam construction and evaluation will give you a taste for how rigorous, and interesting, the process actually is.

The exams are put together by a test development committee that meets twice a year for 4-5 days. The committee includes expert childbirth educators, a public member who is not a childbirth educator, and, often a novice childbirth educator (a high scorer on a recent exam). Using the test blueprint (based on the latest job analysis) the committee writes questions and then a smaller group “constructs” individual exams from the item bank of questions.

nccaDraft items are written in small groups, usually 2 or 3 educators. It is actually very, very difficult to develop a fair question that measures knowledge and skills that are important for the childbirth educator to know. It is tedious work and challenges all of us without exception! Once a small group has developed an item they think has potential it is, often with great trepidation, presented to the entire committee for discussion. Leon Gross, PhD, the psychometrician (a testing specialist) is at the meetings and at this stage he will often point out potential psychometric issues related to the items, including things like “it’s too long”, “there is extraneous information,” “could there be 2 answers?” In developing and evaluating each item we ask ourselves: Is it clear? Is there only one right answer? Do we know the right answer (if we don’t then we most definitely do not use it)? Is there any overlap in the answers? We edit each draft item for content and language, keeping in mind, that the distracters (the wrong answers) should be “plausable”. It is an extremely honest and often raucous process! We all have to be prepared to have our questions torn apart! It helps to have a sense of humor and remind ourselves of the importance of the process. Then the committee decides to either put the questions in the permanent item bank or not. The entire process is done with expert psychometric support.

Our philosophy, in the writing of the items, in the evaluation of the items, and then ultimately choosing the items that will be on each exam, is that we only test what is really important to know. There are no intentional “trick” questions. It’s important to know that if the committee struggles with identifying the correct answer it is automatically not used. And, the questions are written in order to evaluate the competencies of what we constantly refer to as the ‘just good enough candidate.’ So, this is most definitely not an exam where you have to be an “expert” to pass. In order to pass this exam you need to be “just good enough”. This exam is intended to measure competencies of a beginning childbirth educator.

When the committee decides to put a question in the item bank we then establish the level of difficulty for the question. We look at each correct answer and then we look at distractors, the wrong answers. We discuss the distracters related to how plausible this distracter would be to a candidate who is just able to pass the exam. This is an example of the process:

What is the capital of Maryland?
1. Baltimore
2. Chevy Chase
3. Annapolis
4. Fredricksburg

There is one correct answer and three distracters. If you know the capital of Maryland, this is a very easy question. It’s straight recall. If you, however, don’t know what the capital of Maryland is, then you will be tempted to go for a plausible but wrong answer. The correct answer is Annapolis, but Baltimore is a plausible answer because it’s the largest city in Maryland and, of these four choices, it is the most well-known city. For someone who does not know for sure that Annapolis is the capital of Maryland they would be tempted to think it was Baltimore. Therefore, we would label Annapolis the correct answer and Baltimore a “sophisticated distracter”. We aim to have at least 50% of the exam questions with “sophisticated distracters”. The more questions with sophisticated distracters the higher the level of difficulty of the exam. It’s important to know this to understand how the passing score is determined for each test administration.

This exam is criterion referenced which means that the passing score is determined before the test is given based on the level of difficulty of the questions on the exam. Candidates who sit for the exam are never compared to each other and the passing scored is determined by how difficult the questions are, not a predetermined passing score. Candidates are evaluated against a standard not against the scores of the other candidates sitting for the exam. The more items on the exam that have sophisticated distracters, the higher the level of difficulty, the lower the score you need to pass. The fewer items with sophisticated distracters, the higher the score is that you need to pass the exam. The pass score, the cut score, for passing the Lamaze certification exam has over the last years ranged 70 to about 75.

After the exam is given, the exam is scored and reviewed by the psychometrician. A detailed statistical analysis is done. There is an analysis of each item on the exam. How many testing participants got the answer right? What distracters did those who got it wrong go for? The item analysis also identifies what percentage of the high scorers got the question correct and what percentage of the low scores got the question correct. A “good” question statistically is one that discriminates between the high scorers and low scorers. This means that you would expect a high percentage of the people that did well overall on the exam to get a question correct and those that did not perform as well on the overall exam to get the question wrong. If we find that there is an item that most of the low scores got correct and only a few of the high scorers got that question correct, we would wonder why.

After the psychometrician reviews the overall exam and each item, he will flag the questions that may look like they may not be “performing” well. The small group that constructed the exam meets by conference call to discuss both the flagged items and the comments the candidates have made related to the exam. Every comment is reviewed. Whether or not we keep an item, or don’t keep the item, is the decision of the committee. We also look at the performance of the exams that are translated into other languages and look at how individual questions performed for instance in Spanish compared to in English. We try to determine if there are cultural differences or whether there are translation problems. At times a question may be deleted from scoring in a language other than English and not in the English exam. Once we determine if there are items we will drop then the psychometrician will re-score the exam and determine, based now on the questions that remain on the exam (and their level of difficulty), a final cut score. It takes about 6 weeks to get exam results. During that time the certification team is working hard to make sure your exam is fairly evaluated.

The rigor of developing the exam, including the job analysis, and then the scoring of the exam are only one part of the requirements for NCCA accreditation. In addition, our policies and procedures related to everything from exam eligibility and grievance procedures, as well as confidentiality issues and the qualifications of both the staff and volunteers involved in the certification process, are rigorously evaluated. The end result, we hope, is a valid, reliable, fair certification exam that protects the value of the LCCE credential, and, most importantly, assures women and their families that the Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator is competent. NCCA accreditation is a vote of confidence that we are indeed doing what we intend.

Are you an LCCE?  Can you share why you chose Lamaze International and your journey?  Are you considering becoming a childbirth educator?  Have you explored Lamaze as an option?  I invite you to consider certifying with Lamaze International and achieving the gold standard for childbirth educators. – SM

About Judith Lothian

@ Judith Lothian

@ Judith Lothian

Judith Lothian, PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE is a nurse and childbirth educator. She is an Associate Professor at the College of Nursing, Seton Hall University and the current Chairperson of the Lamaze Certification Council Governing Body. Judith is also the Associate Editor of the Journal of Perinatal Education and writes a regular column for the journal. Judith is the co-author of The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence. Her research focus is planned home birth and her most recent publication is Being Safe: Making the Decision to Have a Planned Home Birth in the US published in the Journal of Clinical Ethics (Fall 2013).

Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Guest Posts, Journal of Perinatal Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze Official Guide Book, Push for Your Baby, Research, Series: Journey to LCCE Certification , , , , , , ,

Series: Journey Towards LCCE Certification – Update: Preparing for the Exam

March 11th, 2014 by avatar

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

Many of you may be busy preparing to sit for the exam that, will, upon passing, bestow the credentials; Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) after your name.  The exam will be held during the 23-25th of April, 2014.  For some of you, this has been a long time coming and you have been working steadily working towards your goal.  For others, it has been a whirlwind of workshops and prep and observed teaching.  Regardless, now the exam date is nearing.  We have been following Cara Terreri, the community manager for Lamaze International’s parent blog, Giving Birth with Confidence, on her journey to become Lamaze certified in a regular series on this blog.  Read all of the posts to get the back story on Cara’s childbirth educator journey. Today, Cara updates us as she is counting down the days to the exam.  If you were considering taking the exam, but thought you missed the deadline, please be aware that the registration deadline has been extended until March 17th!  There is still time for you to register!  Contact the Lamaze International Certification Associate for questions and information about the process or to register for the April exam. -Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager

good luck signAs the April Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator exam date draws closer, I finding myself knee deep in studying. Of course, this is on top of finishing certification requirements for DONA, serving existing doula clients, teaching private childbirth classes, blog writing and management at Giving Birth with Confidence, and of course, my personal life. But who doesn’t have a full plate these days?

There are times when I question my choice to take on this path at a time when my children are young, my days are full, my patience is worn, and my energy wanes. And then, I wrap up teaching a class to first-time parents, and the dad turns to me and says enthusiastically, “Wow, I feel like I learned so much in a short amount of time – this was awesome!” There’s nothing like instant positive feedback to feel a renewed sense of purpose. I never thought I would enjoy the experience of teaching as much as I actually do – I love helping families build their own path to birth and discover confidence that previously didn’t exist. It is because of this desire that I feel an even stronger imperative to complete my Lamaze certification. It’s important to demonstrate to families that what I teach is evidence based and proven.  This is the foundation of today’s Lamaze.

So here I am, committed to my path, and working to fit it all in. I spend my evenings and mornings huddled over the Lamaze Study Guide, with a notebook at my side, jotting down important items – in particular, anything that is unfamiliar or not yet a solid part of my knowledge bank. The Study Guide has been most helpful in identifying several new (to me) reading materials (as well as many that are familiar, including resources from Science & Sensibility!  It’s designed in such a way that reading resources are either hyperlinked directly from the PDF so you can easily click through to the source, or they are included at the end each module. Each module also contains in-depth review questions to that serve as a quiz on the material just covered.

Perhaps most valuable to my confidence in preparing for the exam is the 20+ hours I’ve spent already teaching couples (not to mention the countless hours I’ve spent preparing and researching my curriculum and setting up my business). I feel confident that a good portion of the exam will be testing information that I know, live, and breathe on a daily basis. Of course, there is always more to learn, but I do feel more prepared than if I had not been teaching.

As this is my last update until after I sit for the exam, I would appreciate any words of encouragement – or better yet, study tips! Thanks for taking interest in my journey and supporting me along the way.

Cara- I wish you good luck on the upcoming exam.  I know you are well prepared and understand the material.  My tip for you is to know that you have done your best to prepare, you are ready, and I hope that you feel confident when you test.  Just like labor and birth – one question/contraction at a time!  To all of you who are also preparing at the same time, I wish you well and much success on this next big step.  I invite readers to share their best tip and well wishes for Cara and all the others registered for the exam,  in our comments section below.- SM

About Cara Terreri

Cara began working with Lamaze two years before she became a mother. Somewhere in the process of poring over marketing copy in a Lamaze brochure and birthing her first child, she became an advocate for childbirth education. Three kids later (and a whole lot more work for Lamaze), Cara is the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze blog for and by women and expectant families. Cara continues to have a strong passion for the awesome power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and for helping women to discover their own power and ability through birth. It is her hope that through the GBWC site, women will have a place to find and offer positive support to other women who are going through the amazing journey to motherhood.

 

 

Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Lamaze International, Series: Journey to LCCE Certification , , , , , , , ,

Series: Journey Towards LCCE Certification – Update: Hands On Experience

December 27th, 2013 by avatar

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

Cara Terreri has been sharing her experiences as she works towards her Lamaze Childbirth Educator Certification. You can read Cara’s previous posts. Today on Science & Sensibility, Cara updates readers on what has been happening on her LCCE path and how she is preparing to sit for the spring LCCE exam. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager for Science & Sensibility.

It has been one year since my last update and boy, what a difference a year makes! In one year, I have:

  • Trained through DONA International to become a birth doula
  • Attended six births as a doula – enough births to submit for certification!
  • Taught three mini custom private childbirth classes
  • Committed to sit for the April 2014 LCCE exam
source: http://mixaysavang.typepad.com/

source: http://mixaysavang.typepad.com/

A year ago, I wasn’t sure if I could (or wanted to) make this diverging career path a priority. But with each new experience and each new expectant family I encounter, I realize that this is where I want to go, long term, with my professional life. Early hands-on experience, both in serving as a doula and teaching childbirth classes, has been a great way for me to dip my toe in the water, so to speak, and decide whether or not to jump in all the way. Becoming Lamaze certified is a big commitment – of time, money, and heart. And the payoff is big, too. For me, certification is a validation and recognition for the commitment I’ve made to serving women, and added credibility to my knowledge and experience.

When I began my path toward Lamaze certification a year and-a-half ago, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach traditional classes. This past year, however, I branched out into teaching private, mini (4-5 hour) childbirth classes one-on-one to couples. Similar to doula work, privately teaching couples in the comfort of their own home was fulfilling and fun. Plus, it fills a need for couples who have unusual schedules or who would otherwise be uncomfortable in a group class setting. In working with couples as a doula, I find – without a doubt – that couples who have taken reputable childbirth classes are more prepared and informed about their upcoming birth, particularly in their ability to make informed decisions.

As the year comes to a close, I am in the planning phase for partnering with a prenatal Pilates instructor to teach a series of joint childbirth and Pilates classes in a group setting. Prenatal Pilates incorporates the physical and mental groundwork that better prepares women to achieve a healthy, low-intervention birth – it seems a perfect complement to the teachings of the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, which lay the foundation to help women make evidence-based decisions surrounding their prenatal, birth, and postpartum care. There is still much planning to be done on the format of the classes, but I’m excited to move forward as I believe it will provide a new and exciting option for women in our area.

In between planning, I’ll be hunkering down with the Lamaze Study Guide in preparation for the April exam and compiling paperwork necessary for DONA certification. I see a few long nights in my future – not like that’s anything new as a mom of three kids! By the end of next year, I hope to have two certifications under my belt and a year’s worth of experience in managing an active doula and teaching practice. As I learn to navigate the waters of this new career and fit it into an already full life of family and freelance writing, it will be important for me to set boundaries that provide work-life balance and allow me to enjoy time with my husband and children.

How did you get into your career as an educator and/or doula? Did you begin when your children were small or did you pursue this path later in life? How do you find balance? Please share your tips for me and other childbirth educators just starting out.

About Cara Terreri

cara headshotCara began working with Lamaze in 2004, two years before becoming a mother. Three kids later, she’s a full-fledged healthy birth advocate and the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence. Most recently Cara began practicing as a doula and childbirth educator as she works toward certifications as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and DONA certified doula.

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