Remembering Doris Haire and Sandy Jamrog

The CEA/MNY birth community lost two of its most passionate and innovative leaders this year: Doris Haire and Sandra Jamrog. These women, both founding members of CEA/MNY (Doris Haire founded CEA/MNY with Dorothea Lange, pictured below) made a tremendous impact the way we think about birth and childbirth education–their warmth, wisdom and tenacity will be deeply missed. We honor them now with a few memories from members who knew them well. If you’ve never heard of these women, please read about them and learn what they did. It is vital that we carry on their legacy in our own work as advocates and educators. – Ceridwen Morris

Sandy’s Impact
By Ellen Chuse, CCCE, Former Board President

Sandy Jamrog, CCCEI met Sandy Jamrog in 1974 at the Gardens Nursery School where her son Joshie was in the 2′s.  One of his teachers was Gara LaMarche, the man I would later marry. I was a teacher in the 3′s and long before we were thinking about having a family Gara and I became friends with Sandy and Joe.  In those days Sandy was a dancer. I was a sculptor. I built an abstract pelvis for a performance she gave while pregnant with her third child, her daughter Jenny. Those are my earliest memories of Sandy. I remember Joe’s story about Jenny’s birth – desperately trying to get their next door neighbor Carmen to come over to help since the baby was threatening to arrive before the midwife. I have memories of Sandy pregnant with her fourth child Jonathan. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t know Sandy.

When I became pregnant for the first time in 1979 and eventually decided to have a home birth, Sandy was instrumental in helping me find a midwife – no small challenge in those days in NYC.  Gara and I took a relaxation and massage class series with Sandy and Susan Beach as part of our childbirth preparation and the rest is history.  I had a baby and fell in love with birth.

Sandy pulled me into CEA in 1982, served as my mentor and pushed me into teaching before I thought I was ready.  Sandy was president of CEA for so many years. I remember countless workshops and board meetings in her wonderful, sprawling apartment on the Upper West Side where the family and their sweet dog lived amid futons and pillows and a seeming level of chaos I couldn’t fathom.  There was always a sense of welcome, Sandy’s beaming face and her generosity in sharing her knowledge and support.  Over the years I saw Sandy less often as we were further apart geographically.  After a long hiatus we reconnected at Joan King’s memorial service a few years ago and I visited her soon after. We picked up where we left off as though we had never been apart.  Even at her most fragile Sandy radiated a glow of deep beauty.  Having Sandy join us at our 2013 Teacher and Trainee Tea was such a special moment. Sandy was the living history of CEA and I am so glad that many of our newer members were able to meet her at least once.  During my last conversation with Sandy she seemed upbeat and feeling well enough to begin teaching again.  I know she missed her students desperately.  How wonderful that she was able to feel so much better for a while before her disease took her life.  Sandy was a founding mother of CEA and the very heart of the organization for many years. She will be deeply missed.

Remembering Sandy Jamrog and Doris Haire
By Judith Halek, Birth Balance

When people die, their bodies may be taken from us, yet the memories live on forever.  A little piece of each person lives in us, through the imprint of the effect they had on us. Two icons in the birth community have recently passed:  Sandy Jamrog, 77 years and Doris Haire, 88 years, both vital influences in my 26 years involvement with birth.

Sandy Jamrog’s interests and studies were varied.  She was one of the co-founders of Childbirth Education Association of New York and President for 15 years, wife to Joe, mother of 4 beautiful children: Josh, Jonathan, Jenny, Jeff,  an expert equestrian and ‘horse whisperer.’  Sandy was my friend, childbirth mentor, surrogate mother,  faculty member of the School for Body-Mind Centering since its inception, worked with parenting, pregnancy and infants since 1975.  She co-created the infant Developmental Movement Education (IDME) program with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Sandy studied the body and it’s functions as if she was in medical school.  Her love for childbirth modalities:  lactation, childbirth, nutrition, studies of the body extended over four decades.

The final moments of her life were spent in NY Presbyterian Hospital surrounded by family and friends.  Sandy lived and died on her terms, up to her final breath.  At the memorial in her home, the people’s testimonials reflected Sandy’s love for life, big heart and sense of humor.  When one remembers Sandy, we do so with a smile on our face and love in our hearts.

Some beautiful pages to preview about Sandy Jamrog and her work: Infant Developmental Movement: rolling and baby contact and Ms. Sandra Jamrog.

 

Memories of Sandy
By Kate Sharp, IBCLC

I first met Sandy when my daughter was a toddler.  She hosted a Fertility Awareness workshop; we observed our cervical mucus, I discovered my daughter’s nursing affected every nuance of my fertility (not facts readily available, then, except from one’s own body).

And that was Sandy’s world, the world of learning from your body, forming groups to share the learning, tapping the source of female knowledge, and power.

When I was pregnant with my son I took childbirth class from Sandy (she did classes for my homebirth midwife, Sandy Fields).  A refresher; but unforgettable for me as Sandy’s deep body knowledge communicated directly with my body and the message was, my pelvis would open.  Twenty four years later I still feel that moment.

That was the power of her teaching.

Some years after that childbirth class I was working through problems of baby’s movements to the breast, the heart of my breastfeeding work.  A conversation began with Sandy and I entered the astounding world of Body Mind Centering.

I’m not a bodyworker, a dancer, an artist: these, and others, were my companions in class.  I was the only childbirth person, aside from Sandy, most of the time.  The BMC work changed my life and my work, and forms very precious memories, rooted deeply in my body.

What a blessing.

Sandy’s role in Body Mind Centering was so precious.  Hers was the first in all of the certifications that people took.  Grounded in birth and developmental movement she helped people work through the roots of movement.

When I decided to add childbirth education to my breastfeeding work I was so lucky to co teach two sets of birth classes with Sandy.  She had a generous spirit, encouraging me to teach parts of classes, open with me about my many flaws, uncompromising but so willing to collaborate. And how do we let go of the outcomes, when the odds are stacked against normal birth?  Isn’t this our central question?  We have so many obstacles  as childbirth educators.

Sandy taught me with her body and soul that: every baby IS  a new beginning, every mother DESERVES the tools for a normal birth…and we CAN continue teaching, when, it seems, no one can use what we have to teach.

So many gifts to me from Sandy, personal and in work, one of my mothers, but close enough I sometimes felt like a peer, sisters in the work.

Sandy’s Legacy
By Tamara Wrenn, CCCE, Board President

Sandy was a founding member of CEA/MNY and spent years as an instructor in the program teaching Body Dynamics of Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth. Most recently Sandy attended the 2013 CEA Annual Tea, where she shared stories about birth, and the vision and work of CEA. When I think about Sandy I picture her gorgeous smile, brilliant and lively eyes, and the excitement that she showed for life.  For those of us who had the pleasure of learning under Sandy, the stories abound about how she used movement in her class in a way that no one else could. It definitely made you step out of your comfort zone.

With Sandy’s transitioning I can’t help but think how sad that we’ve lost another elder, another wise woman. Yet, even as she faced the end of this life she did it with grace and dignity. We can only hope to be so courageous, whatever difficulties we face each day.

As we mourn her passing, let us remember to celebrate her legacy. Sandy touched many lives in the birth and parenting community, and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Please feel free to share your memories about Sandy with the group, including images. You may share them in the comments or on our Facebook Page.

Remembering Doris Haire
By Judith Halek 

UnknownDoris Haire was an accomplished, innovative, ahead of her time, birth mover and shaker.  I remember filming Doris standing behind outdoor podiums in New York City rallys, engaging and firing up the audience through her fervor, passion, research, wisdom and strength regarding the latest studies on maternal and infant outcomes regarding interventions used in United States hospital environments. Doris was the President of the American Foundation for Maternal and Child Health and world renowned authority on maternity care and its effects on infant outcome.  Her groundbreaking work in 1972, “The Cultural Warping of Childbirth,” was extremely influential in developing patient-friendly maternity care in the Untied States.  Doris Haire was an advocate of research on the effects of obstetrical drugs and procedures on maternal and infant outcome.  She spoke world wide at conferences, Congressional hearings and brought about the first General Accounting Office investigation into the FDA’s drug regulating practice.  To learn more about her work, go to her website:  www.aimsusa.org   the Alliance for Improvement of Maternity Services.

To read more information about her in this obituary and here’s the The Cultural Warping of Childbirth, Revisited.

 

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TCPerspective- Spring 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. 

As a doula and midwife assistant, I came to understand the importance of the mind body connection in birth. Where there is fear, there is tightness and where there is trust and confidence, there is the ability to release.  This is true with birth as with any other of life’s transitions. It was the passion to explore how to decrease fear and increase self-knowledge and ownership of birth choices and psychophysiologic experiences that lead me to the CEA/MNY TCP program. Becoming a childbirth educator to me means learning not only the most recent evidence-based care and to be able to convey this effectively to a family anticipating birth, but also to understand the feelings, emotions, and weight of the birth experience for a woman and her partner and to find the best ways to support their path.

CEA/MNY’s cooperative childbirth education program bridges this gap in understanding by offering dynamic courses for both families and educators that meets people where they are, supports them in their birth preferences, while also opening the door to the discussion of pros and cons of various choices for birth. This program has taught me how to not only be an effective childbirth educator who is aware of the mind body connection and the ways to use this effectively in birth, but also how to be a better human – able to relate to women, partners, babies and one another in a scope of cooperation, trust, encouragement and acceptance.

- Hannah Haehn, MA, CD(DONA), TCP Student cea/mny, childbirth education association of metropolitan new york, hannah haehn

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TCPerspective- Winter 2014

Each quarter, we will be featuring 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 learned about CEA/MNY through word of mouth as I was looking to become a childbirth educator.  I loved how the education component of the CEA/MNY program was live and in person, as I am not much of an online learner. I was a bit leery as it seemed to be a large financial investment for me overall. After taking the first workshop with Susanrachel Condon this past September, my worries melted away.

The vast amount of information and skills that I have gained from every workshop that I have taken has informed my practice as a doula and future childbirth educator and has made me more confident.  I loved how Susanrachel, in particular, as well as other instructors have been very open to answering questions and making sure that we understand the material being presented.  I also love how the program is all about supporting choices and workshop presenters are not bound to one particular philosophy. I am so glad that I decided to join CEA/MNY!  I look forward to future workshops and finishing the certification program!

- Anna Tran, TCP student, birth doula, mother of one

Anna Tran, CEA/MNY, childbirth education association of metropolitan new york, birth, pregnancy, doula, TCP

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What I Didn’t Know About My Pelvic Floor

Posted by Margot Hodes

How many of you can say you got to know your pelvis in a whole new way this weekend?  Well if you came to the CEA/MNY Pelvic Floor Workshop then you probably can.  Since the workshop description said there would be an “experiential approach”, I wondered, how experiential are we talking?  Do I need to shave?  I settled on just wearing comfortable leggings.  Lara Kohn Thompson, a certified yoga instructor and teacher trainer and expert in pelvic floor health, led this workshop for professionals who work with women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.  Here are some of the highlights of the workshop.  After Lara spent some time reviewing the anatomy and physiology of the pelvis, she described how the state of our pelvis has a symbiotic relationship with our core, posture, breathing and our overall health.  In particular how we carry our body – the position we stand, sit, and walk can either support or put strain on our pelvic floor muscles.

Since we were all interested in the impact that pregnancy and birth has on our pelvic floor, there was much discussion around these issues.  Lara conveyed that many women are concerned that after pregnancy and birth they will have a weak pelvic floor and consequently problems with sexual satisfaction and incontinence.  An important point she made was that our pelvic floor should neither be strong and tight or loose and relaxed – rather, it needs to be efficient like a trampoline.  It needs to be able to stretch and move when needed and respond to pressure.  I thought this was a very powerful concept to carry forward with us.  Women don’t need to strive for a tight pre-pubescent vagina because a tight vagina isn’t efficient.  An efficient vagina will accommodate whomever or whatever makes a woman and her partner feel good; an efficient pelvic floor will provide enough elasticity to make sex satisfying and pleasurable.

Because so often there is little to no attention paid to the health of a birthing woman’s pelvic floor, many women do experience damage to their pelvic floor muscles post-partum.  This post-partum period can however be an optimal time to re-map or re-build the pelvic floor and to work on our postural habits.  Lara had us practice some exercises that allowed us to feel the difference between the superficial and the inner layers of pelvic floor muscles.  These exercises are recommended for women who have strained, torn or damaged pelvic floor muscles.  The superficial layer is the layer we feel when we do a traditional Keegel exercise, in the same way we contract our muscles when we are trying to hold back from urinating, defecating or passing gas (or as my sons like to say #1, #2 and #3 – farts now have their own number).  The inner layer is a deeper layer within the superficial layer.  Picture a bowl (this is the superficial layer) and a triangle inside the bowl (this is the inner layer).  As we lay on our backs and took some deep breaths while we contracted our muscles, many of us could not feel our inner layer.   Then we partnered up and tightly bound a scarf each other’s pelvis (the scarf was tied parallel with our ilium and sacrum).  With our partner keeping our scarf tightly in place this time, we tried to contract our muscles while lying on our backs and most of us could feel a big difference.  Firstly, it felt really good to have our pelvis compressed.  Lara noted that women love the way this feels post-partum and that it really helps them to reconnect with the feeling in their pelvic floor.  This makes sense because having my pelvis squeezed in my not post-partum body, I could access sensation in my inner pelvic floor muscles that I ordinarily would not feel.  If it can help a body that’s not post-partum feel more connected I can only imagine the benefits of this technique on a mom who has just been through pregnancy and birth.

Finally, Lara demonstrated how certain positions that we might consider optimal for pushing can actually put enormous pressure on our pelvic floor muscles.  Picture a woman sitting upright curled forward with her legs spread open and up toward her chest.  Yes, she has gravity working for her, but the pressure on her pelvic floor is like a champagne cork popping.  In an emergency situation when it’s critical to get that baby out fast then this can work to mom and baby’s advantage, but in a normal, uncomplicated birth it’s actually beneficial to let the pushing stage unfold in a more gentle way.  Instead of the mom leaning forward, she can be on an incline and her feet and knees can be raised and propped up against a wall or someone’s body, but not tucked in toward her chest.  This provides an efficient descent of the baby but puts less intense pressure on the mom’s pelvic floor.  It was really eye opening to learn how subtle differences in posture and position can affect our pelvic floor health during labor and birth.  For those of you who would like to learn more about the role of the pelvis in pregnancy and birth as well as ways to help increase pelvic flexibility and coordination, Lara recommended reading, “The Female Pelvis – Anatomy and Exercises” by Blandine Calais-Geramain.

 

Margot Hodes teaches childbirth education and breastfeeding preparation for Tribeca Pediatrics.  She is finishing her certification as a childbirth educator with CEA/MNY and for the past several years has taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Teachers College, Columbia University, where she also received her Ed.D. in Health Education.  Margot is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and has a Master’s in Counseling from New York University.  She lives on the Lower East Side with her husband and two sons.
 
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Addressing Diversity in Midwifery & Childbirth Education

My name is Kate Dimpfl and I’m a birth educator and doula who graduated from the CEA/MNY classes in 2007.  Since then, I have moved to Ithaca, NY and started Holistic Childbirth. When I am not supporting women at births, providing counseling or teaching birth classes, I co-coordinate the Ithaca Perinatal Loss Support Group.   I also serve on the board of the Ithaca Children’s Garden and occasionally guest lecture at Cornell.

I had the opportunity to write about something I think is vitally important to the childbirth education community.  Recently, I  spoke with Keisha Goode, PhDc, a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, about her research addressing diversity initiatives in midwifery education.  It was a great discussion about how the birth community can address and overcome barriers that exist for black midwives in midwifery education.  Beyond that, we talked about health disparities for black women how their experience in pregnancy is different.  Keisha talked about how one way to address these disparities is to integrate race throughout the curriculum in a more substantive way.  As birth educators, what do you think- how can we work together to address real health disparities when we are teaching about birth?  Read the article at MANA.org and let me know what you think:  Does it change the way you think about your classes?

 

- Kate

 

 

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TCPerspective- Fall 2013

Each month, we will be featuring 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. 

As a current TCP student, one of the big important things I’ve learned from CEA/MNY is that birth is normal and that it can happen a million different ways. I’ve also learned that one of the big factors that can color birth is fear. When I audited a childbirth series (one of the TCP requirements) it brought me back to my childbirth class….the one I sat in before actually crossing the parent line. Everyone wants to know what it will be like to be in labor, to push a baby out, to take care of a baby. Everyone wants to know how they can have the best possible birth.

Recently, I read in Gayle Peterson’s book, Birthing Normally, that during labor the uterus will stop contracting and the cervix will stop dilating if a woman is not ready to be a mother. Our bodies are controlled by our minds, and each woman has her own unique state of mind at the beginning of labor. When I was in the last weeks of pregnancy with my first child, I remember asking my midwife and doula on separate occasions what I could do to make certain I had the best possible chance at having a smooth birth at home. They both looked at me and told me that I needed to know that I was the only person who could birth my baby and if I was afraid of something during labor I needed to just say it. I didn’t really understand what this meant until I was in labor, but as it turns out, it was the best piece of advice I got.

Somewhere along the way labor got really hard and it stalled. I didn’t think I could keep going, I really thought I might die from exhaustion and pain. Suddenly I blurted out, “I’m afraid the baby will look like my dad!” I started crying and talking to my husband and doula and quickly was able to let that fear go. Soon after, I gained energy and labor starting progressing again. Learning about the physical process of birth and believing in it is so important when preparing couples for birth. However, the physical process only exists in the context of our emotional state. CEA/MNY is really preparing me to teach couples about how the body works, to help them believe in a woman’s ability to birth, to empower them to hire people who believe in a woman’s ability to birth, and to acknowledge their fears and emotions relating to birth.

- Tricia Philips, TCP Student, Mother of two

Tricia Philips and family

Tricia Philips and family

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The Extra “C” is for Cooperative

The redesign of our website over the summer led to a little soul-searching for CEA/MNY. A lot of our revamp decision-making related to streamlining operations but we were also given the opportunity to think about our identity as an organization. And what came up? Lots of things, among them, the concept of cooperative childbirth education. This term was originally coined to describe our philosophy but over the years it had gotten a little lost. The board decided to revive the use of this designation.

You’ll notice that all of our teachers are listed as CCCEs (certified cooperative childbirth educators). This helps set us apart from other childbirth education models and draws attention back to our core values. But what is exactly is cooperative childbirth education?

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