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