Saturday, January 27, 2007

You never who is going to call

In regards to our move: We have made it across Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and into Utah!
Related to birth: I was driving across the wide open spaces when the cell phone rang today. It was a staff person with the sit com TV show Men In Trees. She was asking permission to use our Trust Birth poster in upcoming scene of a childbirth class on Men in Trees! They are filming on Monday! I said fine as long as it wasn't the brunt of a joke - she said she liked it and it would be background material! I'll let you know if it makes it into an episode!
If you want a poster for your teaching setting, send me an email. (You can also get it as a postcard)
with a passion for birth,

Friday, January 26, 2007

Training Tip #1: Consider observing two CBE series

I have a tip to offer new CBE trainees: The Lamaze requirement is to observe one CBE class series, but two might be better. Simply watch the first, soak up the content, and join in the discussions. Then for the second, if the instructor is okay with it, dive in and teach.

I got my first taste of teaching last night. This is my second round of childbirth class observation with Robin, and she upped the ante a bit by inviting me to lead a small part of every class in the series. For last night's class, as Robin covered the signs of early labor, I talked about ruptured membranes.

Here's how it went from my perspective:

Robin asks the class to name signs of early labor. Someone says "Your water breaks." For some dumb reason, I don't jump in here (hello? perfect segue anyone?). We continue brainstorming: backache, restlessness, contractions, and a lovely conversation about mucous plugs. Finally, after a break, Robin hands control over to me. I start by encouraging the class to applaud when I'm finished to make me feel good, then I jump in to my spiel. I feel like I'm talking a million miles an hour. Robin tosses me a marker so I can write "COAT" and "BRAIN" on the dry-erase board, then hands over the baby and pelvis so I can demonstrate a prolapsed cord. I swallow my pride and get into the knee-chest-butt-high-in-the-air position mom should assume in the RARE case of cord prolapse. Done. Deep breath. Questions, anyone?

The class applauds, as requested. I'm certain I made absolutely no sense at all, although Robin assured me I did fine. Great, even. She gave me a tip about making sure all the students can see me (I had my back to one couple), and some notes on statistics and facts I may want to mention in the future.

I'm relieved to have crossed this hurdle. It was fun and stressful and easy and difficult all at the same time, if that makes any sense. This preparation is going to help me in many ways. Not only is it giving me teaching experienced with my mentor there to critique me, but it's also an opportunity to begin building content for my own course design.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The ideal place for class

As an aspiring CBE, I’ve been mulling over my ideal setting to teach my classes. Teri included an activity about this in the Passion for Birth binder, and after I’d completed the task I was surprised at what my “ideal” turned out to be.

For months now the thought of where I’ll ultimately teach has been in the back of my mind. Do I want to teach in a hospital? Nah, not really. I’d rather be my own boss in this endeavor. Okay, so where would I set up shop? Could I rent space from a local church or community center? Does my local YMCA have space available for things like this? I've even considered my kids’ day care center.

I know I want the following stuff for my class:

  • Lots of birth balls and pillows and mats for comfort
  • A dry-erase board or chalk board
  • TV, DVD, VCR
  • CD player
  • A place to display the books in my lending library
  • Bathroom facilities
  • Easy access to temperature control (I wouldn’t want it too hot or too cold)

A tall order, I know. And a pain in the butt since I’d probably be lugging a bunch of tools and resources back and forth from home to this “ideal” place each week…

WAIT! Hold the phone! What about my home? My living room? Let’s revisit my list:

  • Lots of birth balls and pillows and mats for comfort - I can use what I have and ask students to bring their own. Done.
  • A dry-erase board or chalk board – My 3-year-old has an easel with dry-erase board I could borrow.
  • TV, DVD, VCR – Got ‘em.
  • CD player – This, too.
  • A place to display the books in my lending library – Yup.
  • Bathroom facilities – Youbetcha. Two, in fact.
  • Easy access to temperature control – Check.

What about enough room to move? If I slide the couch against my living room's back wall, the space would be plenty big enough to accommodate 4 couples comfortably. Plus, I wouldn’t have to drag all my stuff out each week, and I’d never forget anything because I’d always have everything right there. And did I mention it’s free?

Sounds perfect. I’m sure there are pros and cons to having class in the teacher’s home, and I’m hoping to pick the brains of some more experienced educators about what works and what doesn’t in this scenario (ah-hem, Robin). But for now, and at least while I’m just getting started, home is where my CBE heart is.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New tools

Just wanted to let everyone know that the inaugural issue of the Passion for Birth newsletter has been sent out to everyone who has attended a Passion for Birth seminar - I have added a link for new subscribers in the column to the right! Sign up today! I promise not to fill your email inbox or to ever sell, share or anything else with your name. It's easy to subscribe and unsubscribe! (I will need to come up with a more creative, original name for the newsletter - submit one and if we choose it, I will send you a free Idea Box!)

I have to tell you that I will be forever indebted to Robin Weiss for her patience and support and belief that I can do things I never dreamed possible on the web - write a blog, transfer my own website to a new server, create discussion forums, create an email newsletter, add an interactive map, edit very basic html for live links, embed forms, add paypal links....I wonder if I would have ever tried any of this without her as a safety net! She is a true web doula - she doesn't do it for me but I know if I ever get in over my head she is there to extend a hand! Similar in many ways to our role as birth doulas - we don't labor for the women (thank heavens!) we are that presence that assures her that she can do it.

When I lived in Colorado I worked with an active, healthy population (ski area folks.) I was the walking doula and the hospital was very small and community based. Total beds in the hospital = 14! (2 were birth beds). The care providers were all family doctors and one midwife. Because of the severe weather conditions at times, the hospital was very open to having women come in to be checked and then we would walk all over town. I think the women and their partners felt I was the safety net and they could be upright and mobile during early and active labor. I always had a pact with the partner that they would RUN if labor ever quickly changed and we needed to get the car to get to the hospital. (never had to send the partner running!) I remember my first winter birth - I always added long underwear to my support bag after that! Luckily she was hot and peeling off her down coat as quickly as I was putting it on me! All these women knew I would not do anything medicalwise on our walks but my presence was enough for them to tap into their own confidence. Just like Robin has been a great safety net for me! Thanks, my friend! May our lives all be filled with "doulas" as we face the tough stuff!

Friday, January 19, 2007

birth class influence

Quick note: this is an insightful birth story - she shares how her birth classes influenced her and how she was able to tap into her strength. From Mothering magazine: birth with the terminator

First Class

I love the first day of classes as a parent. Even after the milestone of Kindergarten, I still make sure all the kids get walked to the bus stop, no matter how much the beg me not to walk with them. I even ensure that there is a fresh plate of cookies waiting as they return home that first day. There is nothing as special as the first day of school.

So childbirth class shouldn't be any different and for me it's not. The only difference is that I'm the teacher. So today, I'll ensure that my downstairs is clean and that everyone is physically comfortable. I'll make sure the birth balls are all pumped up to just the right amount of inflation and that the handouts are neatly organized.

Though as with starting any new school there are nerves involved. I know that when I start a new class as a student I worry. Can I handle the course material? Will I get along with the other students? The teacher? Will the class hold my attention? With childbirth class, you add a whole new dimension, I worry about different things as a childbirth class student - are my socks smelly if I take off my shoes? Do I have to do anything strange? Will other students stare at my pillow cases? Are my pillow cases clean/acceptable/matching?

I know that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the first night of class and the worries that people bring. So the first night is special. It's a time to join together as a group, to learn names and smile. It is a time to learn the "rules" of class and to set the tone. This is my job as the childbirth educator and one that I take very seriously. I have to be wise, kind, and caring. I need to infuse just the right amount of humor so that the students are at ease but don't see me as disrespectful to the topic. (And yes, I worry that my students will find left over Cheerios on the floor, that my kids will be too loud upstairs and that my home will not be as welcoming as I would like...)

Yes, the first class is special in so many ways. I work very hard to protect it, because it will help set the tone for the rest of the series. It's a job I take very seriously.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lamaze? Seriously?

No one around me seems to know what Lamaze is all about. I’ve told a few people about my childbirth educator goals, as well as my training coming up. As soon as I mention Lamaze they all have the same incredulous reaction. “Lamaze? Really?”

Actually, I had a similar reaction myself at first.

Several months ago when I decided to let my dream of someday teaching couples about birth take root and grow, I began exploring all the certifying organizations out there. ALACE, Birthing from Within, Bradley, ICEA… so many excellent organizations with birth philosophies I could really get behind. How would I choose?

I sent a mass e-mail to all the childbirth educators in my area asking each of them what organizations they chose to support as educators and why. Most of these wonderful women replied with honesty and insight, and an overwhelming endorsement bubbled to the top: Lamaze! Wait… Lamaze? Seriously? The Ohmygod-my-water-just-broke-I’m-having-contractions-hee-hee-who-hee-hee-who Lamaze?

I was surprised to discover that the Lamaze mission for birth was exactly what I was looking for. Lamaze envisions “a world of confident women choosing normal birth.” Confident women! Women with faith in their bodies and trust in the design of birth the way nature intended. Choice! Giving women knowledge and a voice to choose the birth they want rather than the birth the medical establishment wants. Normal birth! Birth is safe and beautiful and perfect and NORMAL just as it is. Why mess with it unnecessarily?

So YES, Lamaze! It’s a terrific network of educators with a fantastic philosophy, and I’m incredibly happy to have found it and Teri's Passion for Birth.

P.S. As for the hee-hee-who breathing. Well, breath is vital in labor and birth and LIFE, so yes, breathing is important. But it is no longer the centerpiece of Lamaze. Teri has a great explanation of breath in labor and Lamaze.

Monday, January 15, 2007

From MO to WA to AZ to MO to WA to KY!

I haven't had access to the web for awhile - major withdrawl! I have been on the road - looking for a new home in Washington and fingers are crossed that the closing goes through at the end of the month - just in time for the moving van to pull in the drive!

After signing the contract on a house, I flew to Phoenix to plan the 07 Lamaze conference with an inspirational group. What I love about the Lamaze conference is the wide range of topics/speakers...we are "gathering in the spirit of birth." So many birth conferences give you a few keynotes and a couple concurrents to choose from. We have 5 keynotes and 42 concurrents (7 at a time) to choose from. There is something for everyone! And we are at a resort/spa that is so relaxing.

And as soon as we unload - I will be flying to Louisville for the first Passion for Birth seminar of 07. The group is diverse including a midwife, nurses, doulas and other women who are passionate about working with pregnant women as they prepare to welcome their baby! There is still room - want to join us? Drop me an email!

Look forward to Amy's thoughts as she gets ready to come to the workshop and then participates!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Another web resource

Lamaze publishes the Journal of Perinatal Education (JPE) - a great resource with a new look! I am biased towards JPE as I am the media review chair and work hard to make that column in JPE a valuable resource for childbirth educators! I hope regular readers flip to that section first! (just teasing!)

But I just learned that past issues of JPE are available on the web at PubMed. What a great resource! Thank you Lamaze for sharing! Now obviously current editions are not available - but from 2000 - 2005 are all there! Journal of Perinatal Education (side note:I started the Media reviews in 05.)

I hope you will read the old issues and consider joining Lamaze so that you will get the current issues hot off the presses! (it's part of the membership benefits - and if you enroll in Passion for Birth, you can join Lamaze for $50 a year up to two years!)

And if anyone reading this blog would like something they have created/written for childbirth educators like books/dvds or teaching tools, contact me to see if they could be reviewed. If any of you love to read and write and would like to write reviews, contact me as well. Be sure to include your area of expertise and understand the priority for reviews are given to members of Lamaze.

with a passion for birth,

Monday, January 08, 2007

Competency 1 - Birth Stories

One of the first learning activities in Competency I of the Lamaze Study Guide is to compare women’s birth stories from your community with women who have given birth with midwives, at home, and outside your culture. A great place to learn about non-mainstream birth is at the MotheringDotCommune discussion boards, especially the Birth Stories board. There you can read about births at home, water births, natural births in the hospital, medicated births, unassisted births and more. Most of these stories are incredibly descriptive and powerfully moving. Some of them are heartbreaking. All of them have something to teach us as educators and educators-to-be. Happy reading!


Friday, January 05, 2007

Passion for Birth Headquarters moving!

As many of you know, I (Teri) am married to a National Park Ranger and it seems every few years we move from one beautiful National Park area to another! And the family is on the move again....this time from southern Missouri to north of Seattle -North Cascades National Park!

What this move means is that communication may be a bit challenging for a couple months as we try to sell/buy a house and most of our stuff is in storage. I just relaunched the website on a more dependable server and they say email will soon be back up and more reliable! My fingers are crossed.

For those of you who are mailing in course designs - my new address for 6 months will be PO Box 2852, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273. The 1-866-P4BIRTH phone number will forward to my cell.

with a passion for birth,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A resource

Ah, the start of a new year! It's always energizing.

I wanted to share a resource for educators. iVillage publishes the LamazeParents and Lamaze Para Padres magazines that are available for childbirth educators to distribute in your classes. The editorial content is reviewed by Lamaze and promotes normal birth. I love the magazine. (true confession: I have an article in there!) There are no ads for bottles, nipples, formula. To sign up for those magazines go to: Lamazeparents Magazine

iVillage also publishes Childbirth Education Connection. It's a newsletter that you can download the most recent copy at Childbirth Education Connection The iVillage Childbirth Education Connection is independent of Lamaze. When you sign up for the program you may receive tear-off sheets, visual aids, and samples. You as an educator have to decide what you will market in your class and what you won't. Remember that EVERYTHING that you hand out has your endorsement assumed.

I wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the magazines and the newsletter! Enjoy!

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Good Birth

A friend gave birth to her fist child on Saturday. Her due date had been December 26, and she started calling the hospital first thing on the morning of the 27th, hoping they’d have a free bed so she could be induced. There was no health reason for her induction; she was simply ready for the baby to be here. Finally, she and her husband went to the hospital on the morning of the 30th, and the pitocin was started at noon. Her OB broke her water around 4pm, and the anesthesiologist administered the epidural. She was pushing by 6:30, and her 8 ½ pound son was born just before 7pm. By all accounts the baby was perfect, and mom looked less like she’d just had a baby and more like she was headed out for dinner. Everyone was happy. This was a good birth for her: relatively painless, and at just the moment she wanted it to happen.

Confession time. I’m disappointed in her birth. How awful is that?! She’s happy and healthy and the baby is beautiful. I should be 100% overjoyed for them. But I’m not.

This birth doesn’t exactly fit with Lamaze’s Six Care Practices for Normal Birth. Labor didn’t begin on its own, routine interventions were not avoided, and although I wasn’t there, I assume freedom of movement was inhibited by all the wires and medication lines. I’d bet money a non-supine position was not used for pushing. Her husband offered continuous support, and I can only hope the baby wasn’t taken away for too long after he was born.

It seems that for every mainstream birth gone wrong, there’s one like this where the intervention cascade flows perfectly. So I’m thinking, when this eventually comes up in my childbirth classes, how can I discuss it? More confessions: it pisses me off when women rely unnecessarily on the medical model of birth, and I tend to view successful mainstream hospital births as crisis-narrowly-averted. I want to be sure I can keep these feelings in check. At this point in my learning process, I don’t think it’s right to allow my personal bias toward unmedicated birth to dictate my answers to class questions. As I said in my previous blog post, I want the facts to speak for themselves.

It all comes back to informed choice. While my greatest hope is that women who attend my classes will choose normal birth, my goal should be that they will make the best choice for themselves based on all the facts.

Peace to you in 2007!