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.
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.