Teaching expectant parents about the upcoming life-changing event in their lives can be a daunting job! For some, it is their passion, their vocation, their life’s work. There have been the sagefemmes or the wise women in communities as far back as historical writings and drawings. For it was the wise women who helped young girls through the pangs of menstruation, the yearnings of young womanhood, the ups and downs of marriage, the trials of childbirth and the powerful years of menopause.
Who is eligible to teach childbirth classes?
In the US, there is no standardized training, certification or licensing for childbirth education as there is for nursing. Individual hospitals or birth centers may have their own policies that dictate who teaches expectant families. For example, a hospital may mandate that only certified childbirth educators teach the childbirth classes and only lactation consultants can teach breastfeeding classes. On the other hand, some facilities do not require that their childbirth educators be certified; the only requirement is that they are nurses. However, nursing schools are typically not teaching how to teach, therefore an increasing number of nurses (and non-nurses who wish to teach) seek out programs that can teach them how to teach the information for a variety of learners.
Some organizations or programs take those with little or no maternal/child health background and provide a rigorous path of external reading, observation of other educators, workshops, and other educational work. Other organizations and programs require a certain level of expertise prior to entry into their paths of study, such as labor/delivery nursing experience, midwifery, doula training or similar experience.
Must one become trained and certified?
Again, there is no standardization. So no, technically, one does not have to be trained or certified. However, it is common for expectant parents to ask for background training and certification – it shows a commitment to the professionalism of the field. Additionally, nurses who have been teaching from a set curriculum find training and certification exciting for themselves and they then share this excitement and enthusiasm with their students. This increases “patient satisfaction” and increases popularity of the programs.
How does one choose among certification options?
Interested candidates have a myriad of organizations and programs from which to choose. Close examination of the philosophy of education, training program requirements, contents of workshops or traininings, time commitment, follow-up after the workshop, availability of a mentor, and of course, cost, can assist a candidate in choosing the certifying body best suited for them. The experience of those facilitating the training workshops may also be a component for consideration. For a listing of certifying organizations and programs, click here.
Where and what can a childbirth educator teach?
A childbirth educator can teach at a hospital, birth center, chiropractor or physician’s office, YMCA/YWCA, health club, church, or at the client’s home. She may be employed by the above facilities or be an independent practice and start a business. For more information about starting a birth-related business, click here.
A childbirth educator can teach preparation for childbirth classes, labor comforts class, sibling classes, adoptive parent classes, grandparenting, cesarean preparation classes, infant care and VBAC classes to name a few. With additional training, an educator can teach CPR/infant choking prevention, breastfeeding and carseat installation. The types of classes and services available are limited only to the educator’s imagination!
If you have specific questions about becoming a childbirth educator, please email us. We will be happy to assist you.