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Why become a childbirth educator?


We ran a contest and asked readers of our childbirth education blog to submit the reasons they became a childbirth educator! Thinking about becoming a childbirth educator?  Read why this might be a great choice and the varied paths people have taken to work with women, babies, their families at this dynamic time!  
(Winner's entries are posted alphabetically by writers last name! Thanks to all were willing to share their heartfelt inspirations and their reflections on why they do this important work.)
LLL Leader to doula to CBE and beyond!  
     I began my journey as a new mother, breastfeeding a little baby.  I was lead to La Leche League International, and there I grew to love mothering through breastfeeding.  I joined the ranks and became an accredited LLL Leader, to help other mothers as I had been helped                
     Soon I realized how birth affects breastfeeding.  I took a step back and became a DONA-Certified Birth Doula.  As a doula, I began to see how what a woman knows affects birth, which in turn affects breastfeeding.  Taking another step back, I looked into childbirth education.  With a recommendation from my doula trainer, I found Passion for Birth.
     I still love my roles as a breastfeeding counselor and a birth doula, but I am passionate about being a Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator.  I feel the reason I was pulled to work first with breastfeeding mothers, and then with birthing families, was only to get me where I am now:  I interact with expectant couples in an informative, exuberant way to help expand their options, ideas, and confidence in choosing the birth that best fits their unique experience.
- Stacie Bingham
I love birth, in all its raw, no-guarantees intensity.
I get a kick out of seeing clients grow physically, emotionally, powerfully, confidently as the classes unfold.
And doing this almost completely fills the gap in my heart until I can be back in the birth room myself.

Liz Chalmers

Empower and eradicate misconceptions
     I became a Childbirth Educator for two main reasons. First, I wanted to empower women through the natural methods of childbirth. I remember the feelings of strength and control that I encountered when I had my two children at home in the presence of midwives and I wanted to pass this on to other expectant mothers. With my first pregnancy, I was alone and thinking of giving my baby up for adoption. Then one day, along comes the most incredible woman who ended up changing my life. She was a midwife who said she would take me on as a client for the fee of $50 (for supplies) in the hopes that a home birth would convince me to keep the baby. Well, her plan was a success and she has given me a gift I have yet to repay. Now I have a eleven-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son and the most wonderful husband in the world.
     My second reason for becoming a Childbirth Educator was because I want to eradicate some people’s misconceptions about pregnancy and the birthing process. A woman’s pregnant uterus should not be treated as a tumorous growth to be controlled by medicine, but rather a natural event that women have been participating for many years before doctors. In most cases birth can be accomplished safely and satisfactorily without intervention, such as drugs and surgery. The need for patience must be practiced in the presence of a laboring woman. I believe that each labor and birth is a unique and miraculous experience. I also believe that there is more than one good way to have a baby and that parents should have the proper tools available for effective informed consent and informed refusal.
 - Candace McCollett
Birth choices
     The reason I became a childbirth educator is simple really.  My experiences with having my children, up until that point, had not been what I was looking for.  I didn't know enough to make the birth choices that I needed to make.  So, when I learned all of the valuable information, that really helps a woman make decisions that will impact her birth, I had to share it with as many people as would listen.
     I feel as though I empower women by helping them find the answers they are looking for.  Whether it is about their pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, newborn, or just about how to handle it all, I feel like I make a difference in their lives.  That alone is worth every moment of studying and every step that was taken for me to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  I love my job.
- Heather Qualls

Women and social justice and that feeling

On a discussion board once, someone asked the question “what’s at the root of your love of birth?” I was still for a moment and let my intuitive, heart-felt, gut level response come to me and it was this:

Women’s health, women’s issues, women’s empowerment, women’s rights.
Social justice.
And, that feeling. The “birth power” feeling–-that laughing/crying, euphoric, climbed-the-mountain, glowing, rapture…feeling. The transformative, empowering, triumphant, powerful, I DID IT, feeling.
I want each woman to have the chance to experience that transforming power, that sense of personal accomplishment, the increased self-esteem, and the euphoria of knowing “I did it!” I climbed my mountain, I ran my marathon…I gave birth to MY BABY! I want all women to have the chance to experience that and this is why I became a childbirth educator.
     I have a long time interest in women’s health and women’s issues. In 2001, two years before the birth of my first baby, I started reading avidly about pregnancy and birth and became instantly captivated by natural childbirth as powerful experience for women and also fascinated by the erosion of women’s rights in the birthplace. I first sent for information about becoming a childbirth educator that year, but decided that I should wait to become one until I had a baby of my own (seemed like the most important first “credential” to me). My son’s birth is 2003 was a triumphant and empowering experience for me and lit my fire to become certified—I wanted to share the transformative potential of birth with other women. I became provisionally certified in 2005 and fully certified in 2006. The birth of my second son at home in 2006 further solidified my commitment to healthy birth education. I continue to teach because of the root reasons cited above as well as for the tremendous satisfaction I feel when a mother tells me that her confidence in giving birth has dramatically improved and that “I’m actually looking forward to it now—like an adventure!” I believe that a confident, normal birth sets the stage for confident, empowered parenting. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction women experience in birth starts them out on the “right foot” on the lifelong journey of motherhood.
     I view my birthwork almost like a tree, with women as the roots, pregnancy as the trunk, (the journey) and then blossoming beautifully in that birth-power feeling.
- Molly Remer
For 35 years...
Over 35 years ago my husband and I attended childbirth classes at the hospital I worked at as an RN.  The movies were old, VERY old… class was OK- we learned basic “stuff’, but there was nothing exciting about our classes.  In fact, the favorite part was going to Friendly’s after- we girls had hot fudge sundaes for 79 cents each, and the guys had Jim Dandy’s for $1.25 each!! 
Birth went well… but was traditional birth for that time. Had the doctor I loved; Received the 3-H enema- high, hot, and helluvalot!!  They gave me Demerol, which made me feel like a space cadet.  Labored in labor room, birthed in delivery room, then recovery room after.  All was worth it, though, when I held Heather in my arms.  All I had gone through with labor was forgotten, as I looked into her beautiful little face.
After the whole birth experience I was telling friends about the classes, and I said, “I’d LOVE to teach childbirth , but I could NEVER do it!”  They encouraged me to pursue it, and I attended the National Council for Childbirth Education Specialists program with Polly Perez and Connie Castor when Heather was still a baby (1974).  I remember listening to the ‘breathing tape’ at my mom’s, and mom came into the living room and asked me, “What are you listening to?!?”  She’d had 9 kids, and for her, it was all natural!!  We laughed about that!!
We moved to Indiana where I established childbirth classes in a pioneer area.  I had to convince the Obstetrical board that there was a need for CBE, developed a program and it became very successful.  These women had been clueless that they could advocate for themselves. It was still the ‘traditional birth experience’ as described above, but the moms knew what was happening, she made choices for her birth, and the ‘coach’ was at her side, helping her through.  So, it was ‘baby steps’ which grew remarkably!!  And it made a BIG difference in that area!
Four years later I became pregnant with my son, and again, I listened to the ‘breathing tape’.  Heather would sit and practice breathing with me.  What a difference in birth; I was in a birthing room, Sean was put on my belly, skin to skin and stayed with me, and it was an unmedicated birth.  My teaching methods changed.  I became more of an advocate for moms to take part in their birth, for them to do things to make the birth their own, to communicate with their doctor.  As times changed, so did I and how I taught.
I‘ve run my own childbirth business for 17 years, taught with several different hospitals, attended MANY seminars on birth/ maternal-child issues, been on planning committees for CBE seminars, became Lamaze certified through Passion for Birth, and my love for anything related to birth has grown beyond measure. I love sharing with the couples, love seeing their joy and enthusiasm as they welcome their new baby, and love teaching… something I thought I could NEVER do!!
Now, 35 years later, I look back and see how times have changed, how the pendulum swings back and forth, but birth remains constant. It’s how we view it and how we present it.  If we encourage our moms to make choices, speak up, get involved, and discuss concerns and options with their doctors and partners, we will make a difference.  I hope I have made a difference in some of my couple lives… I know I have, because they made birth their own!!
- Faith Terry