Becoming a Childbirth Educator-One Woman's Journey

We all have our reasons for wanting to become childbirth educators and/or doulas.  Most of us have gradually discovered a passion for all things related to pregnancy and birth.  Sometimes some of us are fortunate enough to know which path to take and how to reach our goals-and other times it can be a bit overwhelming.  Which organization should I certify with? How long will it take? Will I make any money? Will I be a good teacher and where can I find pregnant couples who would be willing to learn from me? Will I have the time? Can I find a someone to mentor me? In the end it becomes clear that one need only trust and be open to what unfolds...

This is one woman's story about her path to becoming a childbirth educator.  The letter was written in response to an inquiry about the certification process.  I am sure you will find that your story resonates on some level with Dolly's and if not-she does give some excellent advice.  

Thank you Dolly for all that you do to inspire and educate pregnant couples and your words of wisdom for those of us who are either on the certification track or who are giving it some thought.


A Story of Two VBACs

Why a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean should be a Vital Option

My second birth as a student doula was with a woman who was attempting to have a vaginal birth after Cesarean.  She had spent a great deal of time preparing.  Bradley Method classes, a doula, and an obstetrician that was willing to “let her try” to give birth vaginally. 40 weeks came and went-and her doctor started talking about an induction.  Wanting to keep things as low-risk as possible my client tried all sorts of natural induction methods, however at around 41 weeks she found herself in triage awaiting induction.  They had talked of pitocin but her cervix was not favorable.  I remember it so clearly-induction points, clary sage oil, me at her feet, sister at her right hand and partner at her left.  We were going to force her cervix by sheer will into submission. 

Blogs You Should be Following

There are so many amazing blogs out there that pertain to topics we love-pregnancy, birth, doulas, informed choice, breastfeeding, childbirth educators, parenting-its nearly impossible to keep track.  I have decided that every so often I will post a list of blogs you should be following.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions-chances are I will miss out on a great blog or two so if you know of a blogger worthy of our attention-please let us know.  Here are some of my favorites...

Happy Blogging!

Our Bodies-Our Blog -

Science & Sensibility -

Citizens for Midwifery -

Peaceful Parenting -

Birth Activist -


Childbirth Connections-Transforming Maternity Care Project...

Childbirth Connection’s Transforming Maternity Care project collaborated with industry leaders and stakeholders to set a vision for a “high quality-high value maternity care system.”  In order to implement this vision workgroups were created to establish a Blueprint for Action.  An Action Community has been created to bring together individuals, birth advocates, care-providers, and consumer groups

Birth Choices Expo

Birth Choices Expo’s aim is to make information about pregnancy, birth & parenting more accessible so that you can make the right choices for you & your baby and experience the joy of a positive more normal birth experience and a great start to parenting, just as you always dreamed. The last Birth Choices Expo at Annandale Community Centre in October 2009 was a great success, triggering a move to a larger venue to accommodate exhibitors and visitors for March 5, to mark International Women’s Day.

Good childbirth education has been proven to help women have more success with natural birth. Your natural birth begins long, long before you feel the first hints of labour. Birth Choices Expo at Leichhardt Town Hall on March 5th 2010 is the one stop place to start to gather this information. 6pm – 9pm FREE ENTRY!

Rising caesarean rates are proving to be a concern internationally; the World Health Organisation places the average acceptable rate at 14%, Australia is fast outpacing the USA, with caesarean Section rate of 40%. Pregnancy can be overwhelming physically and mentally with lots of decisions and choices to be made; Birth Choices Expo is a unique opportunity for women & families to meet a range of highly experienced birth professionals and obtain information on how to have a great birth, all in one evening in a supportive and fun community event.

Maternal Mortality in the Golden State

According to California Watch (a project of the center of investigative reporting) the mortality rate of women in California who die from causes directly related to pregnancy has almost tripled in the past ten years. Though I am sure you have read all over the Internet that its safer to give birth in Kuwait or Bosnia, the state of California has yet to go public with this information claiming the report needs some more revisions.

So what exactly did the research find? Plain and simple California has seen the largest spike in pregnancy related deaths since the 1930s.  Some researches chalk this up to the fact that now there is just a better counting of deaths and that there hasn’t really been an actual increase.  Others believe that the actual numbers are on the rise and that changes in population, obesity in mothers, and fertility treatments are not the sole culprits. 

What adds to this disturbing reality is that this problem may be occurring nationwide.   It has been suggested that if other states took a closer look they might notice a similar phenomenon.  In response on January 26 the Joint Commission sent out an alert to hospitals stating; “unfortunately, current trends and evidence suggests that maternal mortality rates may be increasing.”

Let's start at the very beginning...

Childhood obesity is on the rise and as a result First Lady Michelle Obama has started a new campaign to bring awareness to this issue.  The goal of this campaign “Let’s Move” is to overcome childhood obesity within one generation.  I imagine this campaign will not only encourage children to get active and lose weight but will also promote preventative measures.  The United States Breastfeeding Committee calls on the First Lady and those involved in this program to recognize the important role that breastfeeding plays in obesity prevention as well as overall health.

In a recent publication Dr. Joan Younger Meek-the USBC chair stated: “Multiple studies have shown that a history of not breastfeeding increases the risk of being overweight or obese in childhood and adolescence. Adolescent obesity often persists into adult life.  Breastfeeding plays an important role in obesity prevention and improving overall health outcomes, and therefore is vitally important to public health.”  She also suggests that the longer the child is breastfed the better the overall health outcomes for not only the child but the mother as well.

The value of a positive childbirth experience...

The other morning at work a subscriber canceled her magazine subscription because as she put it “I am tired of reading about birth and how important the experience is, its only one day in the grand scheme of things.” Let me first start of by saying I respect the opinions and beliefs of others-of course-that goes without saying HOWEVER, as a doula, CBE, and a mother who has had a relatively negative birth experience and most recently an extraordinarily empowering experience I say-is she kidding?!

I was inspired to write a response to this event but in truth I have been grappling with this question for quite some time now. I live in Santa Fe, NM. In terms of national averages New Mexico has one of the lowest rates of Cesarean deliveries. I was raised in NJ where many of my lifelong friends are having their babies. Their experiences are profoundly different from what I have witnessed here. New Jersey births are highly medicalized-I would know-my first son was born there. I would go so far as to say (and this relates only to the group of women I am in contact with) 95% of my friends having babies are doing so via Cesarean sections. I am not here to devalue their experiences but it often raises this question for me and I am not sure if I have yet to uncover any answers. I have done quite a bit of research over the last few weeks on this subject and one thing seems clear-we do not fully understand the significant benefits of a well-supported, normal birth.

Quick Comment about Birth in the Media

I am not the type of person you will ever find reading, watching or paying much attention to celebrities, their birth experiences, or their children (though I have been known to get fired up when some celebrity opts for an elective cesarean and goes public about it).  Therefore I have been avoiding this Gisele Bundchen birth story like the plague...until last night.

On my way home my family and I were listening to the radio in the car. My son insists on listening to a few select stations-very mainstream. During the break they were talking about the upcoming morning program and this is what I heard:

"Listen up ladies-Giselle Bundchen just had her baby at home and in the water.  She said she did not experience any pain-she said birth did not hurt at all. And get this-she did not use any pain medication.  The second day she was up and walking around and doing dishes." 

I will admit there was a hint of excitement when I heard this statement-not for any reason other than the fact that if I heard it on the radio-SO MANY other women heard it as well.  Movies and television spend so much time trying to scare us about childbirth-water breaks, panic sets in, rush to the hospital, and the screams begin-inevidebly something goes wrong or the woman is screaming for her pain meds.  Rarely do we ever get a different image of birth.  As unfortunate as it may be-people, especially women listen when celebrities talk and thankfully this time-this one has something positive and powerful to just this one time I hope this celebrity mom keeps it coming...

Gentle Birth in Haiti-Yayasan Bumi Sehat to Set Up Permanent Clinic

In June 2008 while visiting Bali with my family I made a visit to Yayasan Bumi Sehat.  I was under the impression we were visiting a birthing center, I was soon to find out that this clinic was so much more.  I was inspired by what I encountered at Bumi Sehat and by Robin Lim.  As it turns out the vision, generosity, and passion of this organization and her founders has extended itself to the people of Haiti.

I want to give you a little taste of the history behind this organization. In 1994 Robin Lim lived in Ubud in Bali, Indonesia where she began seeing pregnant women and their babies free of charge. As could only be expected as time went on and word spread more and more people came to see her. By 2006 “Yayasan Bumi Sehat” was in full effect. These days not only do they provide a space for women to have “peaceful, gentle births", (Indonesia has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in Southeast Asia according to the World Health Organization) they work with the community in many other ways as well. In addition they provide general health services, capacity building, and community outreach. They are committed to working with and supporting the people in and around Ubud and of course at their center in Aceh, Indonesia.

It did not take long for the people of Bumi Sehat to respond to the emergency in Haiti.  According to the United Nations approximately 15% of the 63,000 pregnant women in the earthquake affected areas are at high risk for life threatening complications.  In addition for the 7,000 that will give birth within the next month the risk factors are even higher.  Though the earthquake has intensified the situation for women and children in Haiti the infant and maternal mortality rate before the crisis was the highest in the Western Hemisphere according to the United Nations.