5 Habits of the Successful Childbirth Educator

Vonda / 1st May 2015 / No Comments »

The Baby's Viewby ‘That Gates Woman’

at BirthBasics.org

1. She is credentialed.

This professional not only values understanding the evidence-based and empirical knowledge related to the birthing woman and family but she also works to perfect how to best share that information with her clients.

2. She creates and works from behavioral       objectives.

Her birth class is designed from the start to provide clients time to discover knowledge, feelings, and skills useful in labor, birth, and parenting. She creates a plan to practice these skills in every class.

3. She welcomes observation and feedback             from other professionals.

Observation is one of the best ways to improve teaching skills. The discerning educator chose a CBE certification program that required her to be observed in the classroom setting by another birth professional and she learns from the experience.

4. She never stops learning.

The successful professional seeks continuing educational opportunities. She knows adult learners and the birth profession are always growing and changing.

5. She evaluates outcomes.

The professional birth educator provides an easy way to gather feedback from her clients at all her teaching events. Evaluation provides for realistic growth and improvement. She knows her clients will teach her and she values their input.



Rapid City, South Dakota

605.209.7115 | Vonda@BirthBasics.org

Doula – Is This You?

Vonda / 9th April 2015 / No Comments »

I was attending my first ICEA International conference when I first heard the word Doula. Having just passed the ICEA Childbirth Educator exam, I was celebrating my new status as an ICCE and soaking up the presence of so many other educators with a similar passion for birth.  Childbirth Educator was my profession.

But there were unmistakable clues that more was in store for me in supporting the birthing family. At each of the births I had observed for my ICEA certification program, I was not just an observer. From contraction to contraction I was swept up in the process of my client’s birth. Time stood still as her needs alone seemed to dictate my motivation. There were times when it was obvious we needed to move and other moments where my only job was to quietly hold a space for what was to come.

At that first conference, Penny Simkin stood to make a simple announcement. The first applications for a doula program were ready and she gave a brief description of a doula’s work. Immediately I saw myself in her words. At each of the births I had attended for observation alone, I had effortlessly fallen into the role of doula. She was describing me and I knew that I am, and always have been, a doula.

Does this describe you?  Do you see other’s needs and quietly work to facilitate those desires as you are able? Do you value the work of labor and the strength it encourages in women? Are you strong enough to walk with a laboring family no matter where the path leads? Then you, too, are a doula and probably always have been!

So celebrate your gift. Discover ICEA’s Birth Doula Program. You have the innate skills of a doula but ICEA’s Birth Doula Program will help you explore questions you have not yet asked. Embrace your skills and join the doula profession…after all, this is You!

Strolling with Baby to Be

Vonda / 9th October 2011 / No Comments »

Fall is here and the cooler weather makes the outdoors more comfortable for pregnant moms. Even though most moms receive a new stroller at a baby shower there is no need to wait for baby to be born to enjoy strolling with your baby.  You can take your baby on a walk even before the birth. Walking is a great exercise for the pregnant mom and both mom and baby will benefit. Walking can boost your mood, improve your sleep and reduce the aches and pains of pregnancy. Walking can also help prepare your body for the strenuous work of birth.

For women with an uncomplicated pregnancy, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG, recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all days of the week as a general guideline.  Walking is a great option; easy, inexpensive, and both you and baby will enjoy the time together even before baby is born. Walking daily this fall can be a regular time to connect with your unborn baby. Talk to your baby as you walk. Share your hopes and concerns about the impending birth experience. Make it a time to relax from your busy day and connect with your baby.

Establishing a habit of daily exercise now also means you will be more likely to continue walking with baby after the birth. So no need to wait to use the new stroller, take your unborn baby for a daily walk this fall and enjoy the stroll!

The Pain Coping Scale: Penny Simkin’s new tweek to an old tool

Vonda / 28th August 2011 / No Comments »

Once again, Penny Simkin has created a practical and useful  tool for use in the labor room. The Pain Coping Scale evaluates not just pain, as pain is normal in the birth process. The Pain Coping Scale provides a tool of how well a client is coping with her pain. Penny’s series of a two-part blog post ran on Science & Sensibility, the Lamaze International research blog (references below). As a doula, I can relate to the how difficult it is to watch our client’s at the height of labor and wonder, “Are we doing enough to help?” In my experience many hospital care providers are poorly prepared to differentiate between pain and suffering and are not trained to recognize warning signs of birth trauma should it occur.

Primary to this discussion is realizing that pain in labor is normal and distinct from suffering. Reading Penny’s entire post is a good introduction to or reminder of this concept. Pain can occur without suffering and suffering occurs without pain. 18% of new mothers report having a traumatic birth experience in a national study (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, & Applebaum, 2008). 9% of those women had ample symptoms to be diagnosed as PTSD.  Prevention of suffering in labor should be a topic for every doula and childbirth series.

Most useful to doulas and childbirth educators is a section entitled “Practical Suggestions to Prevent Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Childbirth”. Checklists are provided for before, during, and after labor to identify issues or fears related to childbirth.  The concept of using a code word to prevent suffering is now well introduced in the vocabulary of most doulas and educators.

New to some educators may be the Pain Coping Scale. This is a modified Pain Scale that appears above. Coping well because no pain is evident is rated as a 0 at the smiley left end and not coping with pain is rated as a 10 at the desperate looking face on the  left.

Women in labor may rate their pain as high but if they are coping well, she may not be suffering. Those who rate their pain as high and their coping as low  deserve the attention of the doula, staff,  everyone.  She is suffering and it’s time to increase all the support available to prevent feelings of despair and abandonment.

Thank you, yet again, Penny, for an effective tool in preventing suffering in birth. Our client’s deserve all our best support!


Part 1: http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=2145

Part 2:  http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=2312





A Positive Pregnancy and Birth

Vonda / 21st August 2011 / No Comments »

There are so many unknowns when it comes to carrying and birthing a child, especially the first newborn.  Is it a boy or a girl? Is the baby healthy? Can I do this? Even family and friends add to the list of variables with their concerns and advice. Nine months can quickly become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs; thrills and tears and all at once. Despite the emotional ride, you can make it to parenthood if you follow a few simple suggestions.

Educate yourself about pregnancy and birth.  Get on-line and do some reading. Talk to family and friends about their positive experiences. Find an early pregnancy childbirth class with a certified independent educator to review the many decisions you will have to make. Consult  www.birthsurvey.com about providers and facilities in your home town. Consider the full range of care available including midwives and doulas.

Take control of your care. Plan to interview everyone you will bring into your circle to ensure they are a good match and do it early on in the pregnancy. It may seem at times there is only one suggested way to get things done; the ‘This is how we do it here’ mentality.  When that’s not right for you speak up with positive ways routine care can be changed to better suit your needs. Your care providers want to know and are often pleased to personalize their care when they know what you need.

Find support and use it. Get your partner involved by letting them know how you feel.  Hire a birth doula. Research shows this is one of the cheapest ways to better outcome and reduce overall costs. When friends tell you they would like to help, get your calendar out and make a plan right then. Can they provide a meal one week after you get home? Find the breastfeeding moms’ group in your area and attend a meeting.

Attend a childbirth class with a certified independent educator that introduces and practices comfort measures for labor. Most women do not need complicated plans for comfort but it is helpful to understand how breath awareness, positive positions, and staying calm can help your body do a better job of getting the baby out. Understanding the process decreases fear and increases your natural ability to cope with this miraculous transition.

Surround yourself with positive images of birth. Turn off the birth stories on TV and let scary birth stories pass on to other ears.  Listen to those in your circle of care who believe you can do this and encourage you to find your own way.  Post positive images around your home and make time daily to calm yourself and your baby. Realize there are negative outcomes you cannot control and don’t threaten your peaceful countenance worrying about those possibilities.

Penny Simkin, a renowned birth research scientist, once said that most women can give birth normally if they take four simple actions: inform yourself, get support, practice strategies to comfort yourself during birth, and have a normal labor. You may not be able to control the last suggestion but you can significantly influence the first three.

Here’s to you and this first ride to parenthood. Make it one of positive memories and personal growth.


Your First Pregnancy

Vonda / 10th August 2011 / No Comments »

The news is exciting… you’re pregnant!  But with that first positive pregnancy test there are also questions and, maybe, doubts.  “Am I eating the right foods?” “Is the baby alright?” “Can I do this?”

In years past, women were surrounded by mothers ready to share their many experiences of birth. But in today’s world of diverse career paths, you may find yourself feeling alone in the new role of pregnancy.  And how can you go about “getting it right” the first time? How can you make the childbearing year most satisfying when learning from experienced moms may be difficult?

The ready-made group found in today’s childbirth class can provide that circle of informed peers. It offers a place to discover other new moms and partners with the same concerns, questions and maybe fears. It is a place to compare the complaints and joys of pregnancy and discuss various birth plans.  It should be a place to realize that you know more about building a family than you thought and you have some great support to get the job done. Afterwards, the class becomes a familiar social group for your changing family.

Take the time to investigate the classes in our community. BirthBasics offers many classes for the childbearing year meeting your questions with evidence based information. Pre-pregnancy, newly pregnant, the childbirth series and sibling classes are scheduled on the website year-round. The BirthBasics class is a place to explore birth when it follows an expected path as well as what to do when it seems to follow it’s own unique course. BirthBasics makes time to focus on breathing awareness with relaxation as well as other comfort practices for labor in every class.

Dare to make it a special year for the arrival of your precious newborn. Share the journey of birth with BirthBasics…because you know the rest.


Basics for the Birthing Family and the Birth Educator

Vonda / 14th July 2009 / No Comments »

Welcome Birthing Families in the Black Hills Area:
BirthBasics offers an Early Pregnancy Class, a 3-Week Birth Series, and a Sibling Class to guide you on your journey to parenting. Schedules and fees are listed here for each class in the Rapid City and Spearfish area.

Welcome Birth Educators:
BirthBasics provides workshop contact hours for the Professional Childbirth Educator and the Doula/Labor Support professional. These ICEA approved workshops provide 18 contact hours toward certification in these birth support fields. The PCBE workshop also provides 16 nursing contact hours.