I believe you know what you're supposed to do, career-wise, when you're young. I recall being as young as six years old and loving babies. Now that I'm older, and I'm doing what I love, it all becomes clear to me when I look back.
Tell me about your journey.
I attended University of California, Berkeley, and I earned a degree in Ethnic Studies. I wanted to major in Journalism because I'm a strong communicator and writer, but it's not offered to undergraduates, so I took journalism courses whenever possible. After graduation, I moved to Sacramento and got a job at Channel 13 as a production assistant. I wasn't happy working there, so I quickly moved on. I was fortunate to land a job at an insurance agency the next day, but once again decided it wasn't the right environment for me. I left after three years.
I was hired at Kaiser Permanente. I started in customer service, where I worked for three years, before getting transferred to health education. Not long into that position, my boss encouraged me to become an educator. Within six months, I got my certification in childbirth education, and I've been doing that since 1999.
Tell me about the process involved in certification.
I am a member of the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). [The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) is a professional organization that supports educators and health care professionals who believe in freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care.] In order to be certified, you have a two-year window where you must do four things: Acquire a minimum of 16 ICEA approved contact hours by attending the Professional Childbirth Educator Workshop; observe and support two births; complete an evaluated teaching series; and pass a written exam. Members can take an ICEA Professional Workshop or attend the yearly ICEA Convention to fulfill the contact hour requirement for recertification.
I am also a certified doula through ICEA. [Doulas attend and support the physical, emotional and social needs of women in labor. They offer guidance through the first six weeks postpartum.] Certification requirements can be found on the ICEA website.
What are your duties?
I taught childbirth education for years, and now I primarily teach others how to teach childbirth classes. I travel internationally leading workshops as an ICEA trainer. I'm still involved with Kaiser Permanente where I'm employed on an as-needed basis. The option of being full or part-time is also available, but since I'm a mother of two young children, I wanted a flexible schedule.
Part of what makes childbirth difficult today is the culture of fear surrounding the experience. It is frustrating that people don't understand how powerful, enriching and transformative their birth experience can be.
I felt there was a serious need for an independent education center where families can learn about all options, holistic and traditional, so I recently opened a center called Birth and Baby Information Education Services (BABIES) in Sacramento. The center educates families and trains birth professionals in all areas of birthing and parenting.
Why do you love this profession?
Families are making a positive transition in their lives as they prepare to bring a child into the world, so there's a great deal of love, joy and optimism in this work.
Any advice to aspiring educators?
This field has no limitations. You can use your skills in amazing ways. For example, I did a three-year term on the ICEA board as a treasurer, and I recently finished a yearlong term as editor of the International Journal of Childbirth Education, which published quarterly. Even though I wasn't working face to face with families, I was still able to make an impact on families and birth professionals.
For more information, visit www.allbabies.biz.
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