Professionally, 2017 has been a wonderful year. I am so thankful for the opportunities I had and I am looking forward to continued growth in 2018.
Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminars
I’ve met 41 women from seven different countries in our Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminar - an 86% increase in enrollment from 2016. SEVEN COUNTRIES!!! Just think about how many childbearing families are now being taught by these educators across the globe! It’s incredibly humbling to think about how far a single person can reach. Little ol’ me can teach a single Lamaze seminar to about 10 students who will go on to teach Lamaze to hundreds of families. The reach spreads quickly and I don’t think I will ever take that for granted.
I’ve trained 10 doulas (both new and experienced) from three different countries in our Family Trees Doula School. The 2018 spring semester of Doula School already has two countries represented. Doulas are a valuable resource in healthcare. Caring for people in such an intimate moment as childbirth is not a skill anyone can do well. It takes a very special person. If you are warm, nurturing, and enjoy providing care to others, consider doula work. Although typically reserved for childbirth, doula skills carry over to almost all areas of healthcare. Comfort techniques and relaxation skills help nearly all patients, whether they are taking their first or last breath, and anything in between.
Throughout the year, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach Labor Support Skills to over 100 student nurses. In addition, I taught about 20 resident physicians about hormonal physiology of natural childbirth. It may be surprising to know that most nurses, doctors, midwives, etc., receive absolutely NO TRAINING in labor support skills during their time in nursing/medical school. In the last few years I’ve written more labor support curriculum for healthcare professionals and I feel myself being pulled towards this important work. Childbearing families need healthcare providers capable of providing hands-on support during one of their most vulnerable moments in life.
Advocating on Capitol Hill
In October, I sat in a room with some of the most brilliant minds in maternal healthcare. We examined current practices, outcomes, and advocacy work in the United States. The following day, my fellow Lamaze colleagues and I held appointments with Pennsylvania’s Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I walked the halls of the Senate building and mingled in the cafeteria in House of Representatives. I began that day nervously hanging in the background allowing the leader of our group to take the reigns and ended the afternoon being promoted to the speaker for our group. I’ve never considered myself a politically involved person, but I can say this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Next year, I’ll make it a twice-in-a-lifetime.
Research & AWHONN Presentation
I recently received word that a research project I was asked to be part of, was submitted to and accepted by AWHONN. My colleagues and I were invited to present our research topic at the national conference in Tampa next June. Presenting at a national conference is an honor for which I am thrilled to have been given.
In early 2017, I accepted a per diem position teaching childbirth classes at a major hospital system over 1000 miles from home. Teaching in a brand new, state of the art hospital, where commitment to evidence-based practice, midwifery-led care, and a team of colleagues who support and raise one another make it worth every travel mile. I feel a sense of belonging here, and I always trust my gut.
I heard a speech earlier this year about those of us who work in health care often came to this profession because we heard our calling. This speech was impactful, and I’ll write more about it in another post, but reflecting on this past year makes me so glad I answered that call. I hope you will answer your call, too.
Sitting by the Gulf of Mexico with my youngest daughter after completing my last Lamaze seminar of 2017, I realized just how many places my job has taken me in one year. In the moment, I was so wrapped up in my work that I never stopped to realize how fortunate I was to have a job that allowed me to travel to some of the most beautiful places on Earth, meet people from all over the world, participate in important research projects, and in advocacy work on Capitol Hill. I’ve been able to do things with this little career in childbirth that I never would have imagined.
As I reflect on this past year, it occurs to me that having a job with rewarding benefits that cannot be measured in monetary value is quite special. Yes, I get paid to do my job. But I’ve also had so many experiences and opportunities that were simply priceless.
I know far too many people who work extremely hard for an employer who would replace them next week if they left. The reward is the very-much-needed-consistent-paycheck at the end of the week. I did the same for the first 20 years of my adult life until I had what people refer to as “a calling”. Ever since I answered that call, I have been rewarded in many ways. I’d like to share some of my adventures, so I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts entitled, “Where Does Your Job Take You?”. Stay tuned!
Life is an adventure. Let’s enjoy it.
Several months ago I polled a breastfeeding moms group on Facebook and asked them what would have been most helpful for them to know about breastfeeding prior to having their babies. The women responded with their own answers (not a pre-made answer poll).
It’s important to emphasize that this is NOT professional advice, but rather pieces of advice breastfeeding mothers wish they had known before having a baby.
Additionally, I recommend taking a breastfeeding class, read (and re-read) a good breastfeeding book such as Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, join a breastfeeding support group, and surround yourself with positive women who have successfully breastfed. Consider hiring a postpartum doula - a valuable asset during this time.
Here are the top responses:
What advice would you share?
I recently received an email from someone asking if her credential as a medical assistant would qualify her to take one of our Lamaze seminars and pursue certification. Over the years I’ve received similar inquiries from EMTs, LPNs, mothers, and just about anyone else you can imagine, who felt the calling to work with childbearing mothers.
There are NO pre-requisites for pursuing Lamaze certification. Taking the Family Trees Lamaze-Accredited Seminar will prepare you for the process of attaining Lamaze certification.
Upon registering for a Family Trees Lamaze-Accredited Seminar, you will receive information to get you started on your path to a new career as a childbirth educator. Most people feel so excited once they register for a seminar and are enthusiastic and ready to get to work the moment they sign up. Seminar participants receive a required reading list that gives each person the opportunity to begin preparing for certification immediately. You have the chance to use that enthusiasm right away – and be productive at the same time. You can begin learning that very moment! You’ll arrive at your seminar with a good information under your belt, and you’ll be ready to apply what you’ve learned by the time you get to seminar.
The three-day seminar is inspiring. If you’re looking for some motivation to do some meaningful work in this world – well, this is it. We jump right in and for the next 25 hours, we are going full speed. We cover 25 learning objectives in those three short days, and participants leave with a new sense of purpose. It doesn’t matter who you are – whether you’re a nurse with 20+ years of working in labor and delivery or whether you have no experience what-so-ever but felt drawn to this field – you will leave feeling well-prepared and ready to go help childbearing women. Most people leave seminar feeling like they’ve got this huge secret that they need to share with as many women as possible. (There’s really no secret – just a recognition of the fact that most of us never learn what the human body is fully capable of doing).
Here are few words from recent seminar graduates:
After our three days together come to an end, there’s still plenty left to do. For those who are pursuing certification, the Lamaze Learning Guide will further hone your skills and competency. You’ll study for the Lamaze Exam (given twice a year in April and November) using the knowledge you’ve gained from the required reading list, the seminar, and the Lamaze Learning Guide. Even more exciting is that you’ll have enough tools to begin teaching childbirth classes almost right away! In fact, this is how I paid for my study materials and the exam when I was working towards certification.
Not everyone who attends seminar will pursue Lamaze certification. Some participants take the seminar to receive 25.5 CNE for required professional development. Some participants are already teaching childbirth education but need to boost their teaching style or content.
Whatever the need, the seminar is an amazing experience.
Wendy Trees Shiffer, MS, FACCE, LCCE is a mother and maternal-fetal health educator. She is the founder and program director for Family Trees Birth Programs serving childbirth professionals and new parents.