Today on Science & Sensibility, we meet Elizabeth Varaso, the Education Council's "member at-large." Over the next months, Elizabeth will be sharing posts that highlight the valuable and extensive resources offered by the Education Council and Lamaze International and available to all Lamaze International members. These resources are yet another benefit of becoming a member of Lamaze International. Lamaze has been educating and supporting childbirth educators for almost 50 years. Consider joining now. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.
Sharon Muza: What is the Education Council and what role does it serve for Lamaze International members?
Elizabeth Varaso: The Education Council’s purpose is to develop, implement and evaluate the education programs that Lamaze offers. These are programs that every single LCCE will engage with and include the Childbirth Educator Training Programs, the Learning Guide, continuing education opportunities, and even the online parent education classes. As educators, we must have our own learning needs met in order to do our job preparing families for a safe & healthy birth. The Education Council is the body within Lamaze that makes sure that the tools available to childbirth educators are the very best.
SM: What is the purpose of your role as the “LCCE at-large,” and why does it fall within the scope of the Education Council?
EV: Lamaze leadership is filled with so very many impressive “who’s-whos” of the birth world! Some of the people are those that we would all recognize from authoring books or journal articles. Many of them have been active in maternal infant health field for decades! They recognize that they may not share the same perspective as the on-the-ground LCCEs who are fresh to the field and teaching childbirth classes.
On the Education Council specifically, there is a need to make sure that Lamaze is considering the perspective and needs of all, but especially newer LCCEs. As the LCCE-at-large, I have the honor or participating in the Education Council’s endeavors to create tools, programs and standards that help Lamaze educators to be the very best in the business.
SM: How did you choose Lamaze as an organization to train with? Why did you choose to volunteer your time and energy with them in this capacity?
EV: I really stumbled upon childbirth education and doula work as a result of some very fortunate life events. I had two really wonderful and well-supported births, but was struggling with life as the mom of two little people with so many needs. I reached out to another parent for friendship and support who also happened to be an LCCE and an active member of the Lamaze board of directors. My friend recognized and called out the passion and potential within me, and encouraged me to pursue training as an LCCE. As she spoke about her respect for Lamaze as an organization, I really understood what was so unique and excellent about Lamaze. Before forming a friendship with her, I would have probably been one of those people who just heard “Lamaze” and thought “breathing class” or “generic birth class that they teach in the hospital.” I’m so grateful that I had someone personally involved in my life who introduced me to Lamaze as an organization.
SM: How will you serve and represent other LCCEs in your new role as “LCCE at-large?”
EV: I am actually learning so much about what Lamaze has to offer since I have been serving in this capacity. As I learn more about the Lamaze organization and the resources available, I realize that I missed out on exploring and taking advantage of a lot of the resources that Lamaze offers. So I am working to become more acquainted with those resources -- items like the updated Learning Guide, the Business Toolkit, and the online continuing education opportunities. In the coming months, Science & Sensibility readers will be hearing from me about each one of these resources, and how the carefully prepared material might benefit furthering each professional’s goals and aspirations.
I recognize that all of us face both time and money constraints when it comes to starting, building or expanding our professional goals. I hope that the information that I share in the coming months will help others to make wise choices on how to spend your emotional and financial energy.
If there is a facet or resource of our organization, Lamaze International, that you would like to learn more about, let me know and I can research and share what I find. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Varaso Bio
Elizabeth Varaso is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, a DONA Certified Birth Doula and the mother of three very ornery children ages seven and under. She originally came to Philadelphia 15 years ago to complete her MSEd in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania and to serve at-risk children and families in the Kensington community.
Elizabeth discovered an unexpected calling as a birth professional after being profoundly impacted by the birth of her own children. In particular, the experience of adding a doula to her team of caregivers gave her a vision of how satisfying a well-supported birth could be.
As a doula, Elizabeth has served over 50 birthing mothers which has given her experience and insight of the inner-workings of most of the city's major hospitals. Since becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, she has had the honor of preparing hundreds of couples, teaching in the hospital setting, a yoga studio, local parenting support centers and in people’s homes.
It's her desire to provide empowering, evidence based childbirth education and strong, gentle & loving doula support to other mothers and their partners with the hope that they will not just cope, but thrive through their childbirth experience. Elizabeth is pleased to serve women from a variety of backgrounds and seeks to honor the sacredness of each birth by respecting the needs, goals and values of each individual mother & partner.