Posts Tagged ‘natural childbirth’


Read this excellent blog about why mothers need childbirth classes, whether birthing in the hospital or at home.  Understanding this can help us on our journey to have better births in the United States and lower cesarean rates.


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By Karen Gehl, BS, ICCE

A client recently asked me, what do all those letters mean after your name, and what is the difference between being a “childbirth educator” and a “certified childbirth educator”?  This is a great question, and one many people have as they search the internet for resources and classes to help guide them through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenthood. If you have googled “pregnancy” lately, you already know there is an overwhelming amount of information to be obtained on the internet.  It can be very confusing, and unfortunately, often misleading.  It is important for expectant parents to really research the credentials of the people they hire to help them through this special process of bringing their baby into the world.  It is my belief that there is nothing more amazing, awe inspiring, and breathtaking than experiencing or witnessing the birth of a child.  We owe it to that tiny little being to provide him with the safest, most loving environment possible, both inside and outside of the womb.  This is why childbirth classes are so very important, and this is why I have dedicated myself to being the best childbirth educator I can be.  And this is why I welcomed this client’s question!

I explained to my client that I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Virginia Tech in 1987, which is why I have the initials B.S. following my name.  The ICCE initials stand for International Certified Childbirth Educator, which means that I have been certified to be a Childbirth Educator by the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA).  What does it mean to be certified through ICEA?  ICEA holds their instructors to a very high standard of knowledge and it has a very intense and rigorous certification process for childbirth educators.  From the time I decided to pursue a career in Childbirth Education to the time I actually received my certification, I had invested 2 full years to acquiring continuing education credits, attending conferences, completing the extensive list of required reading, observing classes, being observed, student teaching, and finally sitting for the 3 hour exam.  It was a very long and intense process, but I passed the test and was officially certified (and very relieved!) in spring of 2006.  That is when I earned the initials ‘ICCE’ after my name.

ICEA has achieved a reputation as one of the leaders in the field of childbirth education because of their strict standards for certification, which is also why they require ICCE’s to prove they are keeping current on childbirth issues!  How do they do this?  Well, in order to maintain the very highest quality of childbirth educators, ICEA requires recertification every 4 years.  I am required to keep up with all the latest research and information on pregnancy, labor and delivery, as well as breastfeeding and newborn care.  In order to recertify, I am required to prove that I am continuing my education and keeping current on all the available information in the field.

For example, July 2010 the ACOG (the American Congress of Obstreticions and Gynecologists) issued a new statement that a vaginal birth after a cesarean is “a safe and appropriate choice for most women . . . including for some women who have had two previous cesareans.”  You can read about it by following this link:   http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr07-21-10-1.cfm

I am very proud to say I have just recently completed my requirements for recertification!

But the studying doesn’t stop there, nor does my commitment to my clients!  The field of childbirth is always evolving and the information changes as new studies are done and new evidence based practices are implemented.  When I am not in the classroom teaching, I spend a great deal of time just keeping up to date on all the latest research and studies regarding pregnancy, labor, birth, newborn care and breastfeeding.  This is how I ensure that my clients will get the absolute best information, based on evidence and research, so they can make the very best choices for themselves, and for their babies and fully experience the life changing miracle of birth.


Click Here to find one of Karen’s Childbirth/Lamaze Classes for you on our Event’s Calendar or call our office today at (434) 384-MAMA (6262).

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By Jane Bradshaw, RN, IBCLC, RLC, Childbirth Educator, HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator

What’s wrong with this statement? How could a woman benefit from Prepared Childbirth Classes if she definitely wants an epidural?

1. Because a laboring woman can not always have an epidural when she wants it. Usually she must be in active labor and progressing, effacing and dilating. It is worth it to know comfort measures to cope with labor until that point.
2. An epidural may slow or stop labor. If that happens more drugs are given to stimulate labor to ‘move it along’, usually pitocin. Both of these, the epidural and pitocin, are strong, serious drugs that can cause fetal distress. Parents need to understand these drugs well before choosing them, knowing the benefits, risks and alternatives, how to ask questions and discuss these with their care providers. Then they need to be able to consider their options to make the best decisions for themselves and their baby.
3. Sometimes an epidural, Plan A doesn’t work (roughly 10% of the time) or it may work on only 1 side only numb one area and not others. Then what do you do? Women who don’t have Plan B are more likely to feel totally unprepared, disappointed, upset, fearful and have more pain.
4. Sometimes labor goes too quickly to get the epidural! These quick labors are usually healthy but very intense. It is worth it to know techniques to help yourself through a fast & furious labor, just in case.
5. A woman or her baby may have a medical condition, at any time that makes her unable to have an epidural. This is a rude awakening if a woman has planned on getting it, and is not prepared to cope without one, again causing more fear, tension, and pain.

What do childbirth preparation classes, commonly known as Lamaze, teach that would benefit a woman who plans to have an epidural?

1. The normal process of labor and delivery. Many mothers fear labor and the knowledge acquired in childbirth classes can reduce fear, tension and pain.
2. All benefits, risks, and alternatives of treatments and medications, including epidurals, that are possible during labor so the woman and her partner can make smart, informed decisions.
3. How to talk with your care provider about your medical choices in labor. During labor, much of what happens to you is optional. Know your options!
3. Lots and lots of risk-free, non-medical comfort techniques for labor.
4. Techniques that promote a healthy labor, ways to help it progress normally, so it is as short as possible which is good for both mother and baby. Who wants a long labor anyway?

Prepared birthing classes are good for EVERY expectant couple!

Call Best Start Parenting Center for more information about Prepared Childbirth Classes or visit our classes page on our website by clicking here.

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By Karen Gehl, ICCE

I am going to share a secret with you….I love to take self-help quizzes. You know the ones…”Are You Married To Your Perfect Mate”, “What Is Your Exercise Personality”, “What Is The Perfect Diet For You?”….I have taken them all, including one I saw recently titled “Are You a Candidate for Natural Childbirth?”

I have to admit, I was intrigued. Isn’t a woman born a candidate for natural childbirth? Isn’t that one of the major characteristics that differentiates us from our male counterparts and defines us as women? And if a woman isn’t a candidate for natural childbirth, what kind of birth does that mean she is a candidate for???

As a childbirth educator I have always stressed to my pregnant clients that their body knows what to do during pregnancy. The woman’s body knows how to move internal organs and parts out of the way to make room for the growing baby inside her uterus. Her body knows to grow a placenta, an organ she has no need for unless she is growing a baby. Her uterus knows how to expand from about the size of a fist to the size necessary to accommodate her baby, regardless of what size that baby ends up being, and then return to its original size after the baby is born. Her body also knows when and how to begin the process of moving the baby out of her uterus when the baby is finished developing and is ready to be born. And if all of that isn’t enough to impress you, consider that the woman’s body will make milk uniquely designed for her baby!

This is what I have been teaching for years. Could it be that I have been teaching it wrong all this time and that some women are just not “candidates” for birth the way nature intended it to be? I decided to take the quiz myself and find out!

I answered questions about:
• my tolerance for pain (which is not especially high),
• my confidence in my body (hmmm….I have sort of a love/hate relationship with my body),
• my feelings toward strenuous exercise (ick! I hate to sweat!),
• how strong my support network is (my closest relative is 200 miles away) …
… on and on the questions went and I answered all of them honestly.

Then I tallied up my answers and determined my score. The result of my quiz revealed……drum roll please……that I am NOT a candidate for natural childbirth! Wow! What a revelation! I wonder how differently my births would have gone had I known that I was indeed “NOT a candidate for natural birth” back when I was delivering each of my two children…… NATURALLY!!!

I am a woman. I am not only a candidate for natural childbirth, I was made for natural childbirth! I am not super woman. I am not a martyr. I am not any better at giving birth than any other woman on the planet. I just believed I could do it, because that is what my body is designed to do, because I am a woman!

Click here to read Karen’s birth story!

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