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!


  1. I have heard, and my info might be outdated, that you have to you given a Bradley birth in order to be a Bradley instructor. There was lots of stuff going on recently, so maybe it's been changed. My doula trainer was a CBE as well and got hers through ICEA. She says it's the most intense. But now she's doing Hypnobabies and I think THAT has become the most intense. And she has never given birth.

    I'd like to do that one day too, but I'm still working towards doula certification. My thoughts are to do ICEA b/c it seems a little more flexible to me.

  2. Not sure if it is applicable but one course that you didn't mention is Charis Childbirth. They certify students as a doula and childbirth educator at the same time for all the reasons you listed. I am actually going through them :) Call me biased but I have attended their "teaching birth" workshop and it is eons about what I am learning in the 12 week Bradley class that I am taking. Maybe I have less experience than most but I really benefited from all of the games, activities, ways to talk to clients that were covered in the workshop. We talked about how to actually LISTEN not just not talk if that makes sense. It really was wonderful and I feel confident in teaching a childbirth class even though I am so young. The Bradley class I am going to is outdated on many things and I don't know if they update or require their educators to update their material. The nutrition information was outdated for starters. The class I am taking also does not facilitate learning for every type of learner. The teacher just lectures, basically, and has a few activities and a few take home reads. I don't know if Bradley does more in helping their educators teach, but I *do* know that Charis does more. Charis also isn't affiliated with any particular "method". It is just natural childbirth. You don't have to stick with any set plan or teach this and that at any certain class. They have suggestions, of course, which is helpful, but if you are a "bradley certified" ect, you have to go by their rules. I don't know about you, but I am my own boss ;) and I don't want to have to feel boxed in. All I want is to give my clients unbiased knowledge so that they can make the best decisions for themselves.

    Maybe you would want to certify with an organization that is more anonymous? In the least Charis allows anyone to attend their "teaching birth" workshop!!! You can see more info on their site and their should be pictures from the last workshop i was at in the up and coming newsletter.

    Hope this helps some!


  3. Excuse the above typo. It should have said, "I have attended their teaching birth workshop and it is eons ABOVE what I am learning in the 12 week Bradley course." I am working on a paper for the midwifery academics course through Charis and I was trying to type fast ;)

    Back to studying,

  4. I'm attending Lamaze with my client, and sometimes it's fun and sometimes I get really angry at the lies the teacher tells. She's very judgmental about homebirth and waterbirth and she works for the hospital, so she's told the women that it is very dangerous for the baby to eat or drink during labor. Also, the class is 40 minutes away from where I live, so even though I like the opportunity to be in a birth space and around so many pregnant people, it's a PITA, especially since I'm working with this client for free. I have heard other doulas charge for extras like this. Are you doing that?

    I also want to be a CBE, and I think it's a great way to find clients.

  5. @Bethany Lynn-I like what you said about being your own boss. That's what I was trying to say and couldn't find the words. I want to be able to teach what I believe, and not have to teach something that I potentially might not agree with b/c it is part of the rules.

  6. Wow, I just wrote a really long response to you all, and blogger decided it "couldn't complete my request." I will now try to re-create it...

    @Kristi - Yes, you are right about Bradley. Here is what they say about their instructor training requirements: "Our program is designed for parents who have taken Bradley Method™ classes, filled out the Student Workbook, read Husband-Coached Childbirth and Natural Childbirth the Bradley® Way, attended La Leche League meetings, had an unmedicated Bradley Method™ birth and breastfed their baby."

    So It looks like Bradley is out for me!

    @Bethany - I don't think think all of the CBE certifying organizations have a set curricula you HAVE to follow, I think they're pretty flexible and allow you to be your own boss!

    I did notice that some organizations, like ICEA, require that the person observing and signing off on your teaching requirements must be certified by their own organization, while others, like CAPPA, have a whole list of organizations they accept.

    @Valerie - CBE by a hospital employee is HUGELY different than CBE from someone who isn't. Its really a shame that she calls herself Lamaze, because that is not at all how they come across to me as a whole.

    I don't charge to attend CBE classes with my clients, because doing so is a pleasure for me! It is like continuing education for me. It also lets me see all the available options in my area and learn the different instructor philosophies. Furthermore, I know what my clients have learned or haven't learned, and I can use that to fill in gaps or to work with them better.

    I know there was something else I mentioned in my first draft of this comment, but I can't remember! Oh well, maybe it'll come to me later :)

  7. I just came across your blog and can't wait to read more. I am just starting the process to become a certified doula, through the CACCP, and am thinking further along the line to child-birth education as well.

    Thanks for the site, I'm headed back to read more!

  8. I also just came across your blog and am interested to hear more about your experiences. I am at the beginning stages of choosing an organization to certify with as a childbirth educator, and I have been leaning toward Childbirth International. I didn't necessarily want to focus on a particular method, and the CBI training seems to be very in-depth, while at the same time straightforward. It is also done completely remotely, which is nice for me both because I have a 3-month-old baby and because there aren't many childbirth educator trainings scheduled in my area for the next year or so. All in all, I am just excited to get to learn more about birth after my own experience! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who wants to talk birth all the time.

  9. Hi, I did my CBE cert through Childbirth International coz I needed to find a correspondence course. I thought it was a very thorough course and really enjoyed it. I love the sound of the Charis CBE too. I'm going to check out their website! :)


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