What confident births look like

The weekend, during the Ready for Birth: Express class, I took a couple of minutes to show a birth video that I don’t always show; it was a larger class, and it was wonderful to have so many different families. Some were giving birth in birth centers, others in hospitals, some with OBs, others with midwives. There are a billion birth videos out there, but I love this first one because it’s a wonderfully accurate depiction of birth: the mom has intense contraction waves, but is able to still laugh a little during the breaks in between. It shows her moving around and changing positions. And more importantly, it shows how gorgeous birth can be when the person giving birth is surrounded by caring providers in a calm, patient environment. On Saturday, after this video, there weren’t many dry eyes.

The birth of Cody Taylor | Waterbirth at Mountain Midwifery Birth Center in Denver, CO from crownedbirthphotography on Vimeo.

Why do I want to show you these? Because birth is usually talked about in a way that’s scary. Because birth isn’t shown realistically on TV or in the movies. Because most people never hear about the amazing empowering, positive births– only the traumatic ones.

Here’s a birth in a hospital. It is another water birth, and I’m not terribly thrilled with how long it took to get baby to the surface, but it’s cool.

Milo’s Water Birth from David Mullis on Vimeo.

Here’s a hospital breech birth–keep in mind, these care providers are taught how to deliver vaginal breech births. It is something that is possible, but ONLY when the care providers know how to handle it. There are still quite a few places where vaginal breech birth is a skill still emphasized during education and training. Unfortunately, it’s not taught in the US on anything approaching a regular basis.

Nascimento Mariana, parto natural hospitalar pélvico – 04/jul/2013 – Natural breech hospital birth from Além D’Olhar fotografia on Vimeo.

A preterm birth of a wee double rainbow baby; again, the care provider is calm, patient, and caring. Births of rainbow babies are emotionally challenging. When a family gets pregnant after a previous stillbirth or miscarriage, there’s the very reasonable fear that another loss can happen. BUT, and this is important– in these cases, it’s even more critical to have a calm, caring, supportive birth environment rather than a fearful, negative birth environment.

Double Rainbow Baby, the Birth Story of Emilia from Jennifer Mason on Vimeo.

A hospital birth in—well, not the US. I love everything about this video. Again– you see calm, patience, and encouragement.

Thomas | Parto natural hospitalar from Ana Kacurin on Vimeo.

So here’s the deal: Everyone deserves this kind of environment during birth. Full stop. It’s not about medicated, unmedicated, natural, vaginal–it’s about understanding that birth is a normal biological process. It’s about a mother who is confident in her body’s abilities. It’s about having care providers and support people present who hold the space. Birth can be positive. It’s a lot of work, it’s never easy, but it doesn’t have to suck. A triumphant experience is possible.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Fact vs Fiction in Modern Birth: An Intro

fact-vs-fiction-intro

Childbirth is distinctly different than any other discipline of modern medicine: Unlike every other medical specialty, humans have been giving birth for as long as– well, for all of human existence. As modern medicine started to really develop at the turn of the 20th century, childbirth– once looked at a normal life process– was taken over by doctors who at first really didn’t know at all what they were doing and had very little actual understanding of the female body or birth. That either the mom or baby made it through the process of birth in early hospitals was often a matter of luck.

I joke sometimes in class that so much of what’s wrong with birth in the US, with our rising maternal morality rates, is thanks to the arrogant, misogynistic, vain, and ignorant decisions made by men of the medical establishment since at least the 1850s. Who came up with the idea that episiotomies should be routinely done without evidence to prove their claims? Men. Who decided, without any evidence otherwise that once a mom had a cesarean, all births should be cesareans after that? A man–in 1912. And I’m not saying this to make a generalization that men are terrible, but to point out so many aspects of modern birth came from those without any real knowledge of the process. Once medical research really kicked in in full force in the 1950s, we saw some outcomes in maternity care improve, but not always.  Here’s where I strongly suggest that you read Tina Cassidy’s fantastic book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born. If you want to know the full play by play of modern maternity care–this is the book you need to read.

The reality is, while there are a few things that can be measured and quantified about pregnancy and birth (hypertension really being one of the most obvious situations, followed maybe by cholestasis of pregnancy), many doctors who provide maternity care struggle to fully grasp that birth can be really hard to study. However, just because some aspects about birth can be difficult to study or quantify, that doesn’t mean that evidence-based maternity care doesn’t exist–because it does. In addition to the 6 Healthy Birth Practices as laid out by Lamaze International, other strong resources and proponents of evidence-based care can be seen in the Report from 2008 called Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve and in the joint consensus statement  Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery from ACOG and SMFM, originally published in 2014 and reaffirmed this year.

I am a strong proponent of intellectualism. Our shift to anti-intellectualism in all facets of life is more than a little disturbing. And while I can’t address everything in the world, I can go through some of the aspects of maternity care in the US and abroad, explain where they originated, what the original motivations were, and place those beliefs in the continuum between fact and fantasy. This post is an introduction to what I hope will be a interesting project. The next couple of posts will cover the rise of early birth “methods”…and then see where that takes us.

Are you ready? Let’s do this.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Can you have a natural birth and use Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous Oxide Twin Cities

I’ve had this blog post tumbling through my head most of the week, and so it needs to be written so my brain can start processing other things…like different blog posts.

So, I don’t know if you know this, but we’re really lucky to have some of the things we do in the Twin Cities. Within the next week or so, almost all of the the hospitals in the area will have nitrous oxide as an option (Although it looks like the wait will be a number of months for St. John’s and Woodwinds), and I’m pretty certain that all of the birth centers have it available. Do you know how rare that is in the US? I know it’s popped up a couple of other places, but not in the widespread availability we have here. Ever since it first showed up as an option, I’ve been including it in our discussions of pain medication and interventions in classes, discussing the pros and cons. It is a medication, after all. But…..

Philosophically to ME anyway, using nitrous just doesn’t seem to be on the same plane as narcotics or epidurals. It doesn’t have any meaningful long term effects on mom or baby within a minute or two of not using the nitrous. It doesn’t involve restrictions on labor beyond the mom having to be the only one touching the mask and she must administer it herself. And the analgesic effects are only felt with active use, meaning a mom must actively breathe it in. The risks are low, the benefits are high, a mom can use it off and on throughout her labor as needed. It doesn’t work for everyone, though, and not everyone likes it.

You know what it reminds me of? Hydrotherapy, i.e. soaking in a tub or using a shower. The ease of use is about the same, the risks are low for both, you’ll still find providers actively against the practice. (ha!)

What worries me is that, as more people use nitrous for their labors and births, that this option– which was first embraced locally by birth center midwives– becomes another thing for “natural birth” proponents to place into the “bad” category. First of all, I’m not sure on any given day what people are labeling as “natural” (vaginal?), but the process of making decisions for birth isn’t a binary one. Things aren’t either good or bad. Pitocin isn’t inherently bad. Epidurals aren’t inherently bad. You can’t make decisions about birth that way. Birth and the process of making decisions IS a continuum. It’s always best to start from the place of the normal biological process of birth and then build in an understanding of where interventions, including pain management options, fall on that line. However, I’m concerned that parents aren’t choosing to take birth classes that help them understand the full scope and use, opting instead to take classes with little to no actual content, but endorsed by the hospital, or to take a class that does lean heavily on labeling certain interventions “bad”.

Using nitrous oxide is on one end of the pain management spectrum. Epidurals are on the other end. Both totally have their place in this world. As nitrous becomes an option everywhere and more families are informed about their pain management options, I’ll be interested to see how it ends up being labeled in the good/bad universe of birth options. For now, I’m going to very loudly and very firmly hold it as an option that may work for some people, that is fast acting, and has very few side effects when used properly…just like hydrotherapy.

That’s what I have for today. Thanks for listening.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Twin Cities Hospital Baby Costs

Twin Cities Baby Costs

In case you missed it, last week I published a blog post that compiled the costs listed on the Minnesota Hospital Price Check website. Like I said then, there are some limitations on the information; those numbers don’t reflect variations in deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. Also, I used the “Average Cost”, which takes into account that various hospitals and various conditions have longer or shorter average lengths of stays. However, it’s a number that makes for some useful comparisons.

One thing I wanted to mention: If you’ve been following this blog over the last 4 years, you’ll know that I think this data is exceptionally important to help parents pull together the information that they need to make decisions about safe births. Giving birth is the one “medical” life event that usually allows people enough time to plan and ask questions in preparation for finding good care. Where you go and who your care provider is is THE biggest factor in determining outcome. Not mom’s health. Not baby’s health. And certainly, hospitals are businesses (although non-profits), so following the money is really important.

I love to have in-depth discussions about these things in my childbirth classes, and I love to help families who are unsure about their options or the choices they made ask the questions they need to ask to find the best care for their family. It’s a huge part of Lamaze education, and it’s something I think every parent can benefit from.

Back to today’s chart. Most births involve healthy newborns, but there are times when complications arise for baby. For this reason, I included 6 total diagnosis codes in the chart. Some hospitals, due to lack of appropriate facilities to care for sicker babies, won’t have data listed; they transfer those babies to hospitals with NICUs. Also, in the “Prematurity with Major Problems” and the “Extreme immaturity or respiratory distress syndrome, neonate” categories, you’ll notice some hospitals have very low costs listed compared to other hospitals. Those “cheaper” hospitals had very few babies in 2014 with those diagnosis codes, usually less than 10. Those are outliers that can mostly be ignored. And certainly, this doesn’t capture all the intricacies, so I urge anyone who really wants to know more to look at the data on his or her own, or leave comments below.

Baby Hospital Costs

If you think this is valuable, please check out everything I offer at BabyLove and come see me!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

6 Easy Questions to Ask Your Midwife or Doctor

Questions to ask your OB

I’m a big fan of talking to your care provider about things that have a huge impact on the outcome of birth for both mom and baby, but I know some of those big questions can seem awkward. After talking with some of my Confident Birth and Beyond (Lamaze) classes lately, I’ve come up with some questions that should be pretty easy to just slide into your prenatal appointments.

1) When’s the last time you did an episiotomy?- Episiotomies are only really necessary in very rare, very specific circumstances (victims of female circumcision can need episiotomies, for example). If you trace the history of episiotomies, it’s pretty clear that it’s rarely needed. A good answer to this question goes something along the lines of, “Well, I haven’t done one in 8 years” or “I’ve done maybe 4 in my whole career at the very most.”

2) Are you OK with me using upright pushing positions?

and

3) Are you going to make me lie down for the actual birth? Question #2 and question #3 kind of go hand in hand, but you’d be surprised how often a doctor or midwife tells a mom she can PUSH in any position, but will then, at the last minute, tell a mom that she HAS TO lie down for the “delivery”. Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #5– Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back is best for moms and best for babies, period.

4) So, what do you think about the ACOG/ SMFM Consensus Statement on the Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery? When it came out in March of 2014, the Consensus Statement was a really big deal. How big? It redefined the onset of active labor from 4 cms cervical dilation to 6cms of dilation. That’s just one of the numerous guidelines published to help improve our rising maternal mortality rate in the US. Your care provider should be up to date and following these practice guidelines, because there is a need for improvement from the normal way of doing things.

5) Do you do a lot of VBACs? The issue of VBACs versus Elective Repeat Cesareans is so much bigger than just the oft-cited “rupture”. The rising cesarean rate in the US is largely a result of reduced access to VBACs, and our rising maternal mortality rate has been tied to repeat cesareans. Most women who gave birth by cesarean are candidates for VBACs; it’s a matter of finding a care provider who will “allow” them. And if your doctor “allows” them (see how I put that in quotation marks? heh), does he or she actually DO any?

6) How quickly after birth do you clamp the umbilical cord? The case of delayed versus immediate cord clamping is pretty much decided– it needs to be delayed. A recent study on cord milking following cesareans (since you can’t really wait for the cord to stop pulsing on it’s own during a surgery) had some pretty important results, including a reduction in cerebral palsy. Yeah, you know that thing fetal monitoring was supposed to prevent but doesn’t? At this stage, it’s pretty hard to defend immediate cord clamping, even when babies are born prematurely or need resuscitation. Clamping and cutting needs to wait.

  • What questions did I miss?
  • Did you ask your provider about any of these things?
  • What kind of answer did you get?

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Am I biased? You bet.

BiasedBiased

Recently, although I’ve heard it before, the charge was leveled at me that I am biased in my classes. I was called, “Pro-breastfeeding, anti-drugs.” I spoke with a few other Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, and it seems that this charge is something that we’ve all heard. So, I think it’s time that I out myself for all of my biases.

First of all, I teach what’s best practice, what’s evidence-based, and what’s biologically normal. Now, keep in mind that it takes, on average, 17 years from the time something is deemed best practice (ie. safest) in maternity care before it used on a regular basis. 17 years. When new practice bulletins come out from ACOG, when the American College of Nurse Midwives issue statements, when the AAP put out new guidelines, guess what? That’s what I’m teaching. If I only taught what was being done by doctors and midwives– well, I have major ethical concerns with that. In an environment of “shared responsibility,” there’s a moral imperative to give families the information that they need to know if they are getting safe and competent care.

As for the “pro-breastfeeding” charge; I’m always interested to know why someone’s motivated to make that charge. Yes, I am a Certified Lactation Counselor. So? In classes, I teach the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines on infant feeding and mention what the World Health Organization’s stance is on the issue. Maybe the issue is that my classes meet the standards as set forth in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Again…so? We have 6 hospitals in the Twin Cities that are certified as meeting the Baby-Friendly requirements, all of the Healtheast system, one HealthPartners hospital, HCMC, and the U of M hospital, I hardly think I hold a renegade position. If those hospitals want to maintain Baby-Friendly status, they need to make sure their childbirth education classes have the same content as mine do. With almost 90% of moms initiating breastfeeding, I’ll stand with and support them. This is not about condemning one feeding choice, it’s about helping moms reach the goals they have for themselves.

What else?

I believe that it’s important to teach an understanding of the processes that are the biological norm.

I believe in maternity care transparency.

I believe that moms need to be responsible for finding competent care. They need to learn what that looks like and how to find it.

I believe that infant car seats are usually a waste of money and, since they are more often recalled and used incorrectly, can quickly become not as safe as convertible car seats. I also hate that parents aren’t taking their babies out and more than half of kids now have flat heads by age 1.

I believe in teaching about healthy choices and safe choices.

I believe in judging a hospital and birth center by their outcomes, not their wallpaper.

Are these things really that bad? Is it wrong to make sure parents aren’t being lied to? Is it wrong to be critical of those “educators” who are giving parents unsafe information because it’s the cultural norm? Is it wrong to help parents seek out safe care? Is it bad that I advocate for the right of a mother to be listened to? I hope not.

Every day, I hear birth stories and breastfeeding stories from moms who didn’t get the education or support that they needed and either they ended up with poor outcomes or their babies did. And you know what? I’m going to stay the course, because moms, babies, and families deserve it.

-Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Video: Birth By the Numbers

Dr. Declercq is one of my very favorite conference presenters. He looks at the facts, the hard numbers, every year, to see how the US is doing in maternity care. If you’ve ever seen The Business of Being Born, he’s interviewed in it.

In the last 2 weeks, he put out a video with the most up to date numbers. Watch it!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Is a Doula the same as a Childbirth Educator?

doula same as childbirth educator

This Thursday, I’ll be heading down to the Lamaze International/ DONA International joint annual conference. I’ve been to a Lamaze conference. I’ve been to a DONA conference. As far as I know, this is the first time they two organizations have had a joint conference. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when both groups are in the same room. You see, there is some doula/ childbirth educator crossover, but not as much as you’d think. One reason? It’s far easier to get trained and certified as a birth doula than to be trained and certified as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, mostly because there are simply more doula trainings. One thing, though, that I feel very strongly about is making sure people realize that hiring a doula is not an acceptable substitute for childbirth education, and a childbirth educator isn’t a substitute for a doula. Both are necessary, and they have very, very different roles.

A childbirth educator, and thus, a childbirth class, is important to help you understand the birth process, various interventions, and help you set realistic expectations for the first few weeks after your baby is born. You need to know these things before you go into labor– once you’re in the midst of birth and postpartum, you just won’t have enough bandwidth to absorb any of that information. And as I wrote previously about the relevancy of childbirth education in 2014, the conversations that we can have in class can not be replicated through any other means.

As a childbirth educator, my certifying organization works very hard to make sure we are staying up to date on evidence-based care. In fact, I’d argue that since we aren’t contractually required to follow a set curriculum that is rarely updated, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators are the most likely to have the most up to date policies and guidelines included in the class content. The policies and standards of care are ever-evolving; usually with the goal of improving outcomes for moms and babies.

As a doula, I prefer if the parents I work with have developed their birth preferences separate of my input. That way when the doctor or midwife asks them about their preferences, I know that the family has fully thought through what they want and don’t want. Education allows them to sort through all of their options, and doula support seeks to help them achieve those goals. And really, to think that 2 or 3 prenatal visits can cover as much as is covered in a birth prep class is an insult to those of us who are childbirth educators.

BUT…as a doula, I offer in-person support at the time of birth. That’s obviously not something I do for the families who take classes at BabyLove (unless they contract with me and my doula partner for doula services).  As a doula, my role is to stay there, in the moment, to offer physical and emotional support to the birthing mother and her partner. The act of being a doula is fluid, sometimes intangible, and it’s hard to articulate exactly what I do. So much of what I do comes from instinct, from my experience with other births, and largely just following mom’s lead.

As doulas have become more mainstream, the role of childbirth education has diminished. And I am frustrated that the same women who are fighting so hard to promote paid doula care are also trying to say that what they do is a replacement for childbirth education. If they want respect, they should be respectful. We would all do a lot better if we could acknowledge that it takes interdisciplinary cooperation to best care for and support new families.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Childbirth Education: Is it still relevant?

Childbirth classes Twin Cities
Wisdom from a dad about vaginal exams. He’s so right!

It’s no secret childbirth education class attendance has gone down in the last decade. The reasons are a combination of many things:

  • Hospitals cutting back on options for families as cost controls put pressure on small departments
  • Reliance on online resources by families
  • Doctors and Midwives actively discouraging patients from taking classes
  • The rapid inflation of class prices
  • Too many years of big, impersonal, boring classes that leave parents unlikely to recommend childbirth classes to others
  • The resurgence of named “method” classes

Again, as one of the few area independent educators (only?) who started my career teaching for hospital programs, I’ve had a very different experience with the role of childbirth education in the community. I’ve watched the attitudes flip, where moms are scared to take classes, or think the information is so obvious that they don’t need to spend any time in a classroom. And as much as I love doulas and I know they are evidence-based, there is a limitation to both the training and scope of practice that means that doulas aren’t meant to take the place of education. Once parents actually GET into my classes, there are a few things they are all pleasantly surprised about:

First, the ability to ASK questions and discuss a wide spectrum of topics with an educator who is neutral and can address things like evidence-based care and best practices. Asking those questions on social media and message boards don’t help parents get facts….just a lot of opinions, which can make it all seem relative, useless, and a waste of time to figure out. Instead, I find that when classes are run in a way that allows for conversation about topics between parents, with the guide of an educator, help parents sort through the opinions, and put other ideas and experiences into context.

Second, good classes are structured in a way that leads to many “AHA!” moments for parents that can’t happen when trying to get information from a book or online. Those moments are what then spurs other questions, helps pull together the larger picture, and inspires confidence. Part of what I LOVE as an educator is when I hear parents coming up with gems of wisdom that prove to me that the process of sitting through 8, 12, or 15 hours of classes is valuable, helpful, and worthwhile.

Third, and I’ve had this conversation with educators who have been teaching longer than I have– what we’re missing in the Twin Cities is the importance of having families from all walks of life and circumstances sitting in the same room. As is the case with so many things, the “boutiquification” of pregnancy and birth in everything from strollers to childbirth education is further separating us from each other, leading to a more fractured, less inclusive, less diverse experience. That leads to an echo chamber of sorts, and parents don’t have a chance to hear that there are other ways to see things, and other families might be facing different situations.

Finally, I want to point out that every doctor and midwife SHOULD be supporting the process of evidence-based childbirth education. Evidence-based. NOT outcome-based. If we are going to reverse current trends in the US of poorer outcomes for mothers and babies over the last 10 years, we can ONLY do that by bringing childbirth education attendance rates back up. It’s so very hard to put into words, but I’ll try: Even with the best care providers, there’s a limitation to the amount of time they can put into educating and giving resources to families. As a childbirth educator, my role in the community isn’t just to educate, but to help encourage families to have healthier pregnancies, find providers appropriate to their situations, and catching a myriad of things that otherwise fall through the cracks. It might not make sense, but I know my BabyLove families get it.

I’ll be headed to Kansas City next month to be inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. I’m honored to join a group of smart, caring, passionate women (maybe men? Hmmm…) who feel as strongly about the importance of childbirth education as I do. It’s not flashy, it’s not trendy, but I know that childbirth education is as vital in 2014 as it was when Elizabeth Bing first started teaching in the 1950s. And hopefully, class attendance will reverse trends.

That’s what I have today.

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Lamaze: What’s in a name?

Lamaze Childbirth Education

It’s not very often that I talk about the thought processes behind what goes on here at BabyLove; running this place requires a myriad of decisions, from minor, like what kind of wipes to buy to use in classes (I almost grabbed scented, but I was worried about someone being allergic to the fragrance), to big things, like leases and buildouts and hirings and firings. Now, I don’t have a degree in marketing or web design, but I’ve had to figure things out as I go along. Would it be better if I hired someone? Yes, but in the end I’ve had to realize that I have to weigh the costs versus benefits carefully.

But today I’m grappling with something that seems so mundane on the surface, but I’ve been struggling with it big time: Do I keep the Evening Lamaze Series and the Weekend Lamaze Series as they are, or do I change the names to “Informed Birth: Complete Childbirth Class?”

To me, 8 years ago, when I was first struck by the idea that I was called to serve moms and their families at births, I researched childbirth educator programs along with doula certifications. Doula trainings are far more frequent, so I attended that first. As I looked through the various childbirth education programs, I looked at Bradley first. I’d had friends take Bradley classes, but when I met with a Bradley teacher, she was a little hostile to the idea of doulas, and having read Dr. Bradley’s “Husband-Coached Childbirth” when I was pregnant with my daughter, there was something that didn’t seem really like it fit at all with how I looked at birth. (Orange Juice? Really?)

I also looked at Birthing From Within as a possibility.  I loved the book, but the trainings were all really far away and would cost a huge chunk of change. I checked out ICEA, too. At that time, ICEA was based out of Minneapolis, but there were no upcoming trainings, and I just could not get a good feel for what ICEA was about.

I went back time and time again to Lamaze. It made sense to me; I’m really pragmatic, so I liked that it was evidence-based, not a method. This might sound kind of silly, but when I read books about “methods,” I’m really put off by the idea that they are selling the idea that if you do x, you’re almost promised you’ll get a good/natural/ vaginal birth. I have the same feelings when it comes to books about sleep and books about toilet training, for what it’s worth.  I can’t ever shake the feeling that someone just made something up, gave it a name, and started selling books.

I was also really in love with the support Lamaze has for Doulas; back then, the 6 Healthy Birth Practices were called “Care Practices that Promote Normal Birth”. The actual care practices haven’t changed, and having a doula has always been one of the steps to having a normal/ healthy birth. After my encounter with the Bradley teacher who thought doulas were a bad idea (Yes, I know now that she’s an exception rather than the rule), I liked how Lamaze dovetailed with my vocation as a birth doula. I loved all of the care practices, too, and liked how they provided a framework to help families have the best outcomes possible.

So to me, Lamaze means healthy. Lamaze means informed. Lamaze means helping families face birth more empowered. As you’ll hear others say, Lamaze is “not your ma’s Lamaze.” I worry, though, about what parents think about Lamaze when they are trying to figure out what kind of classes to take. Do they just think about breathing? Do they think the emphasis is on vaginal births? Do they picture rows of moms sitting on the floors being coached by a spouse/friend/ family member?

I worked really, really hard to become an LCCE. Back when I certified, there were a lot more things I had to do before I was allowed to sit for the certification exam than LCCEs have to do now. I had to write an entire curriculum on my own. I had to get that curriculum approved by the Lamaze trainer. I had to teach a COMPLETE series (to two families I found via Craigslist in the library of the senior center) and have the whole thing observed by an experienced and certified educator. Only once those steps were completed was I given the green light to take the exam. I also like to point out that the Minnesota Department of Health only recognizes ICEA and Lamaze certifications for MA reimbursement.

So, I don’t know. I’ve announced the name changes in the last newsletter. But it was just now, as I was fixing the names on a page on my website, that all of these thoughts started running through my head. What do you think? Seriously. I want your thoughts.

Do I keep the names “Evening Lamaze Series” and “Weekend Lamaze Series” or do I ditch them?

Help!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.