It’s easy for me to remember how long I have been a childbirth educator. Since I started when my first son was about a year old, all I have to do is to subtract a year from his current age. What’s hard is realizing that he is almost 33, which means that I have been teaching about birth for over 30 years! One of the things that has kept me going all these years is attending the annual conferences of Lamaze International and ICEA (and sometimes DONA) on a regular basis. Being surrounded by strong women (and a few men) who believe that we CAN change the culture of birth; making and reconnecting with friends from all over the world; learning something new to share or use in a class; challenging myself when I present a session – all these things renew my commitment to childbirth education and revitalize me. Yes, it’s expensive and it takes time away from my regular job and family. But I honestly feel that “magic” happens at these conferences.
This year, both Lamaze and ICEA are in October. In Florida, at the Lamaze Conference you can hear Teri Shilling present an interactive keynote session. Teri will “walk the talk” of “teaching from the back of the room” in a room of several hundred participants. Penny Simkin, who I admire as THE quintessential childbirth educator and from whom I always learn something new, will challenge us to contemplate the meaning of “normal birth.” My Family Way partner, Jeanne Green, will help us to understand and to better reach the new generation of pregnant women. Other sessions will update us on controversial issues such as the cesarean epidemic and labor progress and will inspire us to try creative new strategies in our childbirth classes.
In Oklahoma at the ICEA Conference, Sandy Jones will help us to understand and to respond to declining enrollments in childbirth classes. Birthing from Within co-author, Pam Englund, will inspire us; Family Way author, Cindy Carter will address doula care for families with multiples; other sessions will update on current topics and give us new ideas for our classes.