CEA/MNY and Bread and Yoga host screening of “Miriam: Home Delivery” on May 21

CEA/MNY and Bread and Yoga are excited to announce a screening of the documentary, Miriam: Home Delivery, on Saturday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m. in Manhattan. CEA/MNY Board Member and CCCE, Molly Weingrod, shares her story of birthing with home birth midwife, Miriam Schwarzschild. To purchase tickets, visit www.breadandyoga.com.

miriam schwarzchild, cea/mny, childbirth education association of metropolitan new york, home birth, bread and yoga

“The first time I met Miriam, I was naked, facing her with my backside, moaning, and pushing so hard on the walls of our apartment that I was surprised they hadn’t fallen in. She came in quietly, knowingly, and I introduced myself with my eyes closed. Our midwife had gone on a planned vacation to Europe. I knew this was a possibility but had never really taken it in. This baby that I was sure would be similarly early to our first, was much later than anyone expected he would be. Two weeks post due date. A month past the gestational arrival of our first. And 6 weeks past when I decided I had had enough of being pregnant during one of the hottest summers on record in New York. As she left town, our midwife said, “Well, I guess this baby just wants to meet Miriam!” I laughed, in affable agreement. But inside I was actually wondering if anyone had ever had a baby that decided not to come out, but instead, grew back into her body. Turns out, our midwife was right. Almost. I’m not sure if the baby wanted to meet Miriam — but somehow he knew that I did. We went on to have a third baby with Miriam as well, and tried to figure out how to have our fourth with her too even though by then we were living in a different city altogether. 

There is so much to say, and so little. Miriam is simply the best there is. 
She is warm without being fuzzy; she is tough without being hard. She is absolutely present, but gives people space; she has strong opinions, but is open and flexible. Miriam is just the right balance of everything – patience, determination, commitment, care. She is wise but humble, experienced but fresh. 
On the fifth phone call about trying perhaps successfully, perhaps not, to get myself into labor, she responded: I want you to try to think about getting yourself out of labor, rather than into it. Can you try to get yourself out of labor? For the first time in a week I relaxed. And hours later, we had a new baby in the house. 

It’s ironic that there is a film about Miriam because she is just about the least dramatic person I know. She is straightforward. She does what she does. Not for accolades, not for show, not for anything other than her love for, and commitment to, this work. I will be forever grateful that Miriam found her calling, and forever grateful that our son, in his inimitable disdain for deadlines, led us to her. “

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A Conversation with Meredith Fein Lichtenberg, CCCE, IBCLC, JD

photo for websiteMeredith Fein Lichtenberg has been an influential mentor and workshop leader for our childbirth education trainees for over a decade. She has served on the Board of Directors for CEA/MNY for a number of years.

Her work as an cooperative childbirth educator, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), postpartum doula and writer, has not just helped a generation of New York City parents come of age but made her one of the most valuable local resources for teachers-in-training.

Meredith’s breadth of knowledge is paired with a strong personal interest in women’s changing identity through the childbirth years. The combination makes for a nuanced and enlightened understanding of how we grow into parents and find our way in these new roles.

On Saturday, May 16th, she will lead our workshop, Maternal Postpartum Issues in Brooklyn. Here is some advice she has for new teachers on how to help ground new parents during the transitional first few days after birth.

5 Things Educators Can Teach Before Birth to Help New Parents Adjust After Birth

1. Distinguish between “normal” and “easy.” In the rest of life we do things as a challenge just for the challenge, there’s a lot in new parenting that’s like that. The point is not to make everything easy and knowing that in advance helps them.

2. And yet, it’s so worth having creature comforts lined up to make everything that can be easy, easy.

3. A little preparation goes a long way. Packing the diaper bag in advance, having some food in the kitchen made already, knowing what books or websites are go-tos and which should be avoided, having notes from your prenatal class on hand.

4. The company of other new parents is vital even if you’re not a someone that usually joins in.

5.  A little reassurance goes  very long way. A check-in with your childbirth educator or a doula or IBCLC is so helpful. It is also important to note that submitting for insurance reimbursement can be a nightmare. I think it helps people to know this in advance and sadly, at the moment, I think it’s best to tell students to expect to pay for their support out of pocket. You will probably not get reimbursed if you want the leisurely, thorough care of a good IBCLC doing a nice long home visit. Childbirth educators can be in the role of telling students that it is worth it to spend money on these things.

Maternal Postpartum Issues

May 16, 2015
10am – 4pm
Location: Birth Day Presence, 182 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Click here to register


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Sheila Kitzinger

Last Saturday we lost one of our essential birth mothers, Sheila Kitzinger.

Sheila Kitzinger was the founder of The National Childbirth Trust in the UK and a mentor to us all. She came to a CEA gathering about 15 years ago and gave an amazing talk on the history of childbirth with slides and artwork and then modeled her Birth Cape of many colors.

Her books are legendary and still relevant today.

Please check out her work and the beautiful obituary in The New York Times.

Ellen Chuse

And here is a link to a wonderful interview with Kitzinger about her own experience giving birth. “This was a sport I could do!”

“For far too many, pregnancy and birth is still something that happens to them rather than something they set out consciously and joyfully to do themselves. ” Sheila Kitzinger 


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Why Labor Hurts and Other Insights from CEA/MNY’s Ellen Chuse

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by Ceridwen Morris, CCCE

In her 30 years as a childbirth educator, Ellen Chuse, CCE, has built a huge following in New York. Week after week, young couples file into her cozy Brooklyn brownstone to prepare for birth and bringing home a baby.

I’m always thrilled when I hear Ellen speak–she’s funny, she’s frank and she knows everything about birth (seriously). In her class, a topic that may seem overwhelming becomes an opportunity for connection, humor and insight.  Ellen, who is also a birth counselor and former president of CEAMNY, has been an inspiration to me and many, many others.

Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with her some years ago:

In your classes I always love it when you say, “you don’t have to like it.” Can you expand on what you’re getting at with this statement?

Birth is an extraordinary event in the life of a woman—one she carries with her throughout her entire life.  But a woman’s experience of birth is completely diminished in our culture and as women we tend to internalize that.  In recent years, especially in the natural birth movement, there’s been an implication that to truly birth naturally the experience must also be ecstatic, orgasmic and spiritual.  I would argue that all birth is spiritual but it’s also hard, sweaty work.  Could you have an orgasm?  Yes.  Is it likely?  No.  Are you less of a wonderful, powerful birthing woman because you moaned, yelled or cursed your way through labor?  No.  As women we have a tendency to focus only on that which didn’t go as we had planned while ignoring all that we did successfully.  I want to give women permission to find labor difficult or their responses unorthodox but still have positive feelings about their accomplishment.  That’s what I mean when I say

” you don’t have to love it, you just have to do it”.

Why does labor hurt? Does it always hurt?

Although there may be a few women who claim to have experienced labor without pain, most women find labor contractions painful.  The degree of pain and the effect that it has on labor can vary from one woman to another but most of us would say that labor hurts!  I believe that the pain of labor is different from other kinds of pain we experience.  Rather than telling us that something is going wrong, it tells us that something is going right.  Mother Nature wants to get our attention and hold our attention to make sure that we don’t confuse this with anything else.  Longer, stronger and more painful contractions are Mother Nature’s way of telling us that we are getting closer to the birth of our baby – that we need to be in a safe place with all our support available.  After all, Mother Nature’s primary concern is the continuation of the species.  Since the beginning of human existence babies needed to be born in a safe environment in order to survive.  Mothers needed to know that something extraordinary was happening and make preparations to receive their babies safely.  Even today we evolved humans tend to avoid, deny and rationalize that which we don’t want to deal with. The intensity of labor overrides that inclination and forces us to pay attention.  And understanding why the pain is there – the normalcy of labor pain – can help to remove some of the fear of pain that is so prevalent in our culture.  Without the fear we just have to deal with the pain, which is often manageable with active coping strategies.

A woman in labor is vulnerable. A woman in labor is powerful. How can she be both of these things at once??

READ the rest of the interview here.


Register for Ellen’s PAIN COPING STRATEGIES workshop MARCH 8, 2015 10-4pm

PRICING & PRE-REGISTRATION FOR HERE (Early Registration pricing available until 12:00pm Saturday, Feb. 28)

Pre-registration strongly recommended as space is limited.

Remember to check out the required readings

Workshops are each approved for 5 DONA International Approved Continuing Education Hours




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Herbs and Veggies and Books, Oh My! A Conversation with Lena DeGloma

lena_bio photoBy Beth Miranda Botshon


We’re happy to have Lena DeGloma teaching with CEAMNY for the next workshop, Optimal Nutrition for the Childbearing Cycle. Lena is an experienced doula, lactation counselor, childbirth educator, massage therapist and clinical herbalist. I had the chance to sit down with her recently to talk about her work.



How did you get into the field of childbirth? Did you always want to do this?

In most of my younger adult life, I didn’t think or know I would be doing work in the childbirth field. I had a background in psychology, women’s studies and community organizing. Interestingly enough, this work is a blend of a lot of psychology, understanding that as it relates to birth, and of course women’s studies and activism. I think women’s autonomy too often gets overridden when it comes to birth. Part of what motivates me to educate is to be sure that couples are going in informed and empowered to advocate for themselves even if the system isn’t set up to support physiological birth or conscious decision making….But I got into this in an organic way – first via my work as a massage therapist – some of my prenatal massage clients asked me to be there at their births, then I went on to become a certified birth doula, then a childbirth educator and lactation counselor…

You’re a clinical herbalist too? 

Yes, I hold an MS in Herbal Medicine and right now I’m finishing up my post graduate work in herbal medicine and nutrition -doing my clinical hours. But my first forays into natural health and wellness started when I was living in an herb farm in Costa Rica 8 years ago. I lived in a tent and started studying tropical herbal medicine there as well as nutrition, massage, permaculture and tropical organic gardening. It certainly informs the rest of my practice, understanding the body as a whole.

So what’s your favorite or most versatile herb?

I really like Shatavari. It’s Indian Wild Asparagus Root. It’s a nutritive and nourishing immuno-modulator. It’s often used as a women’s herb for fertility and as an aphrodisiac. It also soothes the digestive system. You can take it as a powder and it tastes really good.  I also love Tulsi. It’s Indian Holy Basil. It’s super tasty and good for everything!  I could drink it everyday and not get sick of it. It’s funny that the first two herbs that came to mind are traditional Ayurvedic herbs! I’m primarily trained as a traditional Western herbalist, although I do, of course, incorporate herbs from Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine into my practice. One of my favorite Western herbs is probably Stinging Nettle – a long overnight infusion (tea steeped overnight) extracts tons of nutrients and minerals and it is also anti-inflammatory and a kidney tonic. It’s a great pregnancy herb to get in extra nutrients along with Red Raspberry leaf, another nutritive but also a traditional uterine tonic.

What’s your general go-to recipe?

Generally for this time of year and during pregnancy and postpartum, I think foods that are warming, nourishing, dense and easily digestible are really great. Long cooked stews, soups, nice curries – things we’d put in a slow cooker along with warming spices like cayenne, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, and so on – I love the aromatic spices! Especially on these cold days are really great.

What advice would you give to ladies out there about optimal nutrition? 

It may sound trite and basic, but one of the nutritional issues that most US women deal with is just needing more basic veggies. So if I am advising someone on how to modify their diet to include more veggies – instead of saying “This that you’re eating is bad for you and you have to stop eating it”, I say, “Ok, how about adding in one extra serving of greens per day?”Then once people start adding the good things, they begin to stop craving the bad things. This way they don’t really feel like the bad stuff is being taken away, and it’s easier.  So you can add in veggies with yummy sauces, like a quick pesto with raw garlic, fresh herbs, good quality nuts and seeds and then quickly steam up some green beans or asparagus and toss them in that pesto. Or you could make a quick ginger tahini dressing with apple cider vinegar and garlic and toss that with steamed greens like mustards or kale. There’s so much calcium from the sesame seeds and the leafy greens and it’s such good quality fats! So you decide,”Ok, I’m hungry – I’ll eat this veggie dish first” and then it ends up crowding out the other not so healthy stuff like processed foods. What plagues US women really are the sugary things and simple carbs – which is one of the reasons gestational diabetes is on the rise, so we want to crowd out the simple sugars and processed foods with lots of veggies and often extra protein as well!

Sounds like you’re great in the kitchen! What else do you do for fun?

I like to play around making fun herbal concoctions, face creams and lotions and even herbal toothpastes and other products. I also really yearn to get back to playing my guitar and traveling when I have a little bit more free time!

What are you reading right now?

I recently finished a fiction book (!) called The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved it – it’s a historical fiction that spans over a century following the adventures of a family of botanists involved in the early international herbal medicine trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. I also recently read another great historical fiction called The Birth House about a young midwife in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century – the story took place in the part of Canada where my family is from and where I spent a significant amount of time growing up.As for my favorite author for birth books, I love and highly recommend anything by Aviva Romm, who writes about natural wellness and herbal medicine for pregnancy, postpartum, babies and kids.

Find out more about all of the wonderful services Lena offers at her website: www.redmoonwellness.com

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TCPerspective- Fall 2014

Each quarter, we feature a post from one of our Teacher Certification Program (TCP) students. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, life experience and specializations, CEA/MNY is proud to be educating these bright and enthusiastic women as future CCCEs.

I’ve been fascinated by birth for the last 20+ years, ever since I found myself riveted to “A Baby Story” marathons on TLC back in high school, but even then I suspected that what was shown on TV wasn’t quite the full story. Nowadays, as an editor and writer, I know the importance of doing one’s research, and as a first-time expectant parent back in 2007, doing my research meant seeking out the best possible childbirth education during pregnancy and emotional support during birth. My research led me to Bonu deCaires’ classroom at Realbirth and hiring Chantal Traub as my doula, both of who, I later learned, are members of CEA/MNY. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully realize the importance of researching my doctor and/or have the courage to change practitioners when I suspected I might not have the kind of hands-off birth I hoped for, and after a fairly typical hospital birth with an OB that first time around, including several interventions I had hoped to avoid, I knew I wanted a different, better-for-me experience giving birth the next time around. I switched to a midwife who delivered at the birthing center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt at the start of my second pregnancy, but when she moved to a different hospital halfway through my pregnancy, I sought out a homebirth practice and was thankful to be welcomed by Martine Jean-Baptiste and Karen Jefferson of JJB Midwifery. My experiences with Martine and Karen both in that pregnancy and birth in 2009 as well as in my third pregnancy and birth in 2012 showed me how incredibly positive an experience birth can be when women are supported, listened to, and trusted. I worked with doulas during both of those pregnancies as well, and felt so strongly about the impact my doulas and midwives had on my achieving the kind of births I had hoped for and worked toward, that I trained as a doula with DONA just a few months after giving birth to my third child. While I would love to pursue midwifery training, life with three young children doesn’t feel very accommodating to that lifestyle—and neither, really, does doula work for me at the moment, given the challenges of on-call life. As an alternative, Martine sagely suggested that I check out CEA/MNY certification, as a means of staying involved in the birth community while allowing me sufficient time to be with my family.

A year into the program, I have taken all but one of the required courses, audited a handful of childbirth education series, and toured a couple of hospitals—but I’ve also just moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where I’m still acclimating myself to the local birth culture. I’ll fly back this fall for the class I missed in the spring and continue working toward completing the rest of the requirements. Over the past year, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the changes in women’s bodies during pregnancy and the stages of fetal development, the role of the placenta, prenatal nutrition, the how’s and why’s of various obstetrical tests and procedures, coping strategies for the various stages of labor, and so much more, but when it comes down to it, at the heart of what I’ve learned is to meet women and their partners where they are in their pregnancies, help them to determine what their needs are, and help them gain the confidence they need to achieve the birth they hope for. While I feel confident in the choices I made for myself in each individual pregnancy through postpartum period, I know that each woman must make individual and personal decisions for herself and her baby—and that her choices might be very different from mine. In that regard, cooperative childbirth education isn’t about teaching the one “correct” method of going through a pregnancy or giving birth, but instead providing the most recent evidence-based information, and creating a safe space for discussion and support, so that women can make the best choices for themselves. I am looking forward to bringing the model of cooperative childbirth education to South Carolina within the next year—which reminds me, I’ve got to get back to my reading!

-Melanie Rosen, TCP student, freelance writer, mom of three

Melanie Rosen, CEA/MNY

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Announcing our 2014-2015 Scholarship Recipients

CEA/MNY is proud to announce the recipients of our first ever, Doris Haire Scholarship and Still I Rise Scholarship!

Please join us in congratulating and welcoming our 2014-2015 Scholarship Recipients!

Faith McFall-Smith- Winner of The Doris Haire Scholarship
Patricia Rangel– Winner of The Still I Rise Scholarship

We received many qualified applicants and have chosen to extend a partial scholarship to our 1st Runner-Ups!

Lodz Joseph- 1st Runner-Up of The Doris Haire Scholarship
Carla Nelson- 1st Runner-Up of The Still I Rise Scholarship

Learn more about our wonderful new TCPs below!


Faith McFall-Smith, Winner of The Doris Haire Scholarship

Faith McCall-Smith, CEA/MNY, Doris Haire Scholarship RecipientFaith McFall-Smith is from Yonkers, in Westchester County, NY. Faith is a working mother of two, a wife and an aspiring birth worker. After a disappointing first birth experience with her daughter which ended in an unnecessary cesarean delivery in 2009, Faith became a breastfeeding advocate encouraging family, friends and coworkers of the amazing process of breastfeeding. After becoming pregnant with her second child, she was urged to find a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) group and started taking steps toward a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.) With the help and encouragement of family, friends, her ICAN group, her midwives and a doula, she achieved a successful home birth after cesarean in 2011. The HBAC experience has changed her life, making her want to share the joys of the childbirth process with expectant parents. She will be volunteering her time with the Lower Hudson Valley Perinatal Network on the March of Dimes, “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” consumer campaign and co-coordinated the Westchester County chapter of the Improving Birth.org 2014 Labor Day Rally to Improve Birth Outcomes.

Patricia RangelWinner of The Still I Rise Scholarship

After having five natural births, Patricia Rangel became a licensed practical nurse working in the Labor and Delivery and Postpartum Units. Patricia has completed doula trainings with ALACE, DONA International and Ancient Song Doula Services. She is also an Infant Massage Instructor and aspiring childbirth educator. Patricia is the Founder and Coordinator of the Harlem Hospital Center Volunteer Doula Program. Patricia is excited to join the TCP program as she appreciates that CEA/MNY is family-centered and does not support one particular way to give birth. She believes  that the mind and body are connected in the birth process and views childbirth as a normal, natural physiological process. Patricia is a proud cancer survivor, having won the battle against breast cancer.

As someone who has previously met and interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou, she is honored to be the first recipient of The Still I Rise Scholarship and looks forward to joining the CEA/MNY community.

Lodz Joseph- 1st Runner-Up of The Doris Haire Scholarship 

Lodz Joseph, CEA/MNY, Doris Haire ScholarshipLodz Joseph has a Masters in Public Health and completed DONA International birth doula training with Debra Pascali-Bonaro. She discovered birth work while in Rwanda pursuing a medical career and managing an HIV/AIDS program. While working in the local hospital, she found herself drawn towards the laboring women and realized her passion was calling her in a different direction. When she returned to the states she started researching everything about birth and birth support and found the doula profession.

In her doula work she meets clients where they are with compassion, support, enthusiasm, and evidence-based information.  She is a grounding presence, providing non-judgmental doula care. Lodz has a deep confidence in women’s ability to manifest the birth that they desire. She provides a full spectrum of services to expectant families. She also makes her own oils and lotions which she brings to births and gives amazing massages.

Lodz is a native New Yorker born and raised in Queens, first generation American from Haiti. While not at births and studying childbirth, she loves being on the beach, cooking and coming up with new and delicious oils and lotions.

Carla Nelson- 1st Runner-Up of The Still I Rise Scholarship

Carla Nelson, CEA/MNY, Still I Rise ScholarshipCarla Nelson is a Registered Nurse and birth doula. After the birth of her second daughter along with spending several years in the maternity and obstetrics field, she decided to focus and specialize in her career as a birth coach. She completed her training with DONA International and Debra Pascali-Bonaro.

Carla is currently attending The Integrative School of Nutrition where she is completing her certification as a holistic health coach in order to continue providing her clients with a wealth of knowledge pertaining to their care. Fascinated by women’s health and learning, Carla understands that the care mothers and babies receive during and following birth greatly influences their well-being for years to come.  Her mission as a registered nurse and birth coach is to promote a balanced approach to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern obstetric and postpartum care. This is done through family support and education of different relaxation techniques and comfort measures.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering women and expectant parents. She understand that pregnancy and birth is the most transforming time in parent’s life and wants to continue to help capture and savor life’s most precious moments.


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