Thursday, April 14, 2011
Thinking about Becoming a Childbirth Educator
Lately I've been contemplating becoming a childbirth educator more and more. As a doula, I encounter families kind of late in pregnancy. Some have had childbirth education classes, some haven't. Some take a several week series of classes from an independent educator, and some take a one day hospital staff-led course. They have varying levels of knowledge, which means I do varying levels of childbirth education in my prenatal visits. And sometimes it is not enough time to inform them of everything they should know, or its too late to help them or change minds, etc, for the better.
As a childbirth educator, I would be able to reach families when they are earlier in their childbirth planning, most willing to be filled with childbirth-related knowledge and open to new ideas. My work would have a large effect on their having a positive birth experience, fully informed of all their options. Knowledge is power is a very important concept for me.
Furthermore, childbirth education is a lot more flexible than doula work. I would be able to make my own schedule, teach as much or as little as I'd like, still doula, and not have to worry about being on call for a month at a time and unable to go out of town. The benefit of also being a doula means I can still be with mothers and couples during their actual births and can bring extra knowledge to my childbirth classes.
I've been honored to be able to attend one Bradley childbirth education class in a series with one of my past clients. The class seemed so much fun - surrounded by other couples who are also pregnant with whom to chat and share experiences with, learning everything one step at a time with your partner present, having videos, charts and models to assist in visual learning. Also, getting to physically practice childbirth coping techniques and labor contractions, and being able to ask questions of the instructor as they came into your mind. I loved it!
I am also honored to be able to be currently attending a Lamaze class with a client. I've only been to one so far, and it was very different from the Bradley class. This one took place in the instructors home, and there were no other couples present. It was excellent one-on-one time and the couple was able to feel completely relaxed and ask as many questions as they wanted. The instructor was also really happy to have me there, and included me in all question answering and solicited my opinion and experiences. I had a fabulous time hearing/learning/thinking birth for 2 hours, and I can't wait for the next class! I also learned a lot from the instructor, a more seasoned doula. And the clients benefited from both of us discussing our knowledge and experiences with them (more than they would have gotten if I hadn't been there!)
All in all, I get really jazzed when I think about teaching childbirth education. I feel like its a logical step to take in the world of birth work, and it would feed my hunger for birth conversations all the time! And helping new moms!
The next step is to choose which organization I would like to certify with! Many doulas go through CAPPA to add on CBE (childbirth education), I think because it is quick and easy. Another option is Bradley, which I really enjoyed attending and I like their natural birth philosophy, but I'm not sure about because the tag line is "husband coached childbirth." I'm just not sure that's how I want to "sell" my CBE. Another option is Hypnobirthing, which I think is cool, but not something I think I want to be an instructor of. Lamaze is, of course, the big one that everyone has heard of. The process looks a little bit harder and longer, and I do worry that when people think Lamaze they think of an old type of childbirth ed with all the funny breathing. But Lamaze has recently gotten really big on doing some great research and evidence work on childbirth, and I really like their healthy birth practices concept. There are others, like ICEA and so forth, that I don't know much about, and some new ones like Brio birth, but I feel like they all start to sound the same at some point.
The names that keep popping up on pregnancy sites that talk about childbirth education are Bradley and Lamaze, so those seem like the big ones to consider.
Does anyone have any insights on the varying childbirth educator certifying organizations and philosophies? Or on being a childbirth educator in general? Does anyone know if some of these (like Bradley) require you to have given birth yourself? Thanks!