Lamaze Conference

Fun At Lamaze! | Part 3

AndreaPresentingThe third and final day. After all the learning and all the fun, I am utterly exhausted. And yet I have to present again. First thing in the morning. This time my topic was “Out of the Bayou: Helping Families Navigate the Online Swamp” My roommate and friend was kind enough to attend my session and take a photo of me presenting.

This time around didn’t go quite as well – there were issues with the microphone that made loud popping noises and once startled me. I kept having to reboot the microphone. I lost my train of thought a few times, and I didn’t realize the correct end time and went over by about 10 minutes. Oops! Overall not so bad, but not as good as the day before, and nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be!

This was a shorter presentation, a split session with Debby Amis. She presented on making PowerPoint work for you, and spotlighted a new product from Lamaze – a PP that can help you teach the 6 Care Practices. It was an OK session, but I am not a fan of PP at all, didn’t use it for either of my presentations, and so I found it funny that I was paired with her for a split session.

(Once again I was bummed to be missing another of Sharon Muza’s sessions – this one on teaching about cesareans. We both presented twice, and neither of us could go see the other’s sessions!)

AmberMcCannClinicalThen it was time for the last session of the conference, a general session featuring Amber McCann: “Today’s Mothers are All Thumbs: Cultural Competency for Digital Motherhood”. She talked about how involved women of childbearing are are in social media and how we can reach them there. She discussed how moms are not searching the internet looking for your childbirth class, they are searching and looking for INFORMATION. Reaching them with that information can be a good way to get the other thing digital moms want: INTERACTION. I’ve highlighted two of my favorite quotes from her session in graphics for this article.


She discussed several of the more commonly used social media sites, giving a rundown of the basics and how it might be used professionally by childbirth educators. It was a great session and a nice end to the conference.

Overall, I loved the conference. I love being able to spend days focusing on a subject that still fascinates me. I love meeting new people. I enjoyed seeing old friends from previous conferences. I enjoyed presenting (mostly) the sessions I did. The food in New Orleans was fantastic!

After the conference was over, I had an afternoon and evening to myself before I flew home the next day. I was chatting in the lobby with another educator, and we came up with an idea and challenge for a future conference:

A PowerPoint Free conference!! No more sessions where the presenter just reads the slides to everyone. We are educators, and we can do better!! Let’s make EVERY session interactive. EVERY session be more proactive in getting participation. It can be done, and it would be an amazing conference!

I spent the afternoon and evening walking around the French Quarter and the waterfront. I visited Cafe Du Monde for some beignets. I strolled the waterfront. I watched the ships sail up the Mississippi. I watched the sun set over the river. Would have liked to visit the aquarium, but it was closed. As was the RiverWalk shopping area. When it got dark, I ate Gumbo and Shrimp with Grits. And then I packed up and went to bed so I could get up early and fly home. It was a great trip, even if it exhausted me!


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Melinda Delisle teaching massage

Fun at Lamaze! | Part 2

Day 2 of the Lamaze International Conference started with the LONGEST 90 minute session, ever!


Yes, I presented a session first thing Saturday morning! My topic was “Studies, Stats and All That Jazz: Finding Your Research Rhythm for Safe and Healthy Birth” – I think it went well, we discussed different kinds of bias, ways to stay current on research, and I highlighted my “Dirty Dozen” favorite sites to find good evidence based info. People showed up, actually participated and asked great questions, the internet worked, and I am happy with how it went.

With that out of the way, I could relax and enjoy the remaining sessions. There were no general sessions on Saturday, it was a day of all breakouts. I really wanted to attend the presenation “Teaching to the Plugged In Mom: Using Today’s Digital Tools in the Classroom and Beyond” by my friend Sharon Muza and Jeanette McCulloch – a new friend I met at the conference. Unfortunately, they were presenting at the same time I was! However, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the conference and give them feedback – and it was great!

iPad NotesI attended a split session that I had mixed feelings about. The first part was “Birthing Like the Stars” – all about how to use celebrity births in your classes. I’m not one to follow celebrities at all and don’t think I’ll use her ideas much. But the second half “Prenatal Education and the Flipped Classroom” really got ideas flowing for my private childbirth classes, and I am so excited to implement some of the ideas! (And no, I won’t tell you what they are until I get everything in place! But there is a shot of some of my iPad notes on the right…) Christine Maria Just did a fabulous job presenting what she is doing and how it could be implemented. I wish she could have had the full 90 minutes!

Melinda Delisle teaching massageAfter lunch and the Lamaze membership meeting was a session from Melinda Delisle, owner of Pocket Pregnancy. She spoke on “Attracting parents to Childbirth Classes in the Digital Age: What live classes can offer that online classes can’t” – she opened by asking those present why they came to the conference when they could just learn about these topics online. The answers – networking, community, hands on learning, connection to others facing similar challenges – were also many of the benefits of live childbirth classes! The barriers to attending a conference and attending CBE were also similar: time, cost, not valuing the benefits, etc.

Melinda discussed the results of a small survey she’s done on the topic and the results of the Listening to Mothers surveys over the years and the reported decline in attendance at live classes.

Then she spent some time teaching techniques that can only be done live and how to market them as the most valuable experience in the class.

Kim James’ presentation Evaluation Power! was a great one. You might think that evaluations are a boring topic, but Kim gave great information on how to write an evaluation that will bring you more useful feedback to improve your classes AND information you can use to market yourself as well. Kim was a rock star, as she’d planned a 45 minute presentation and arrived to find herself with a 90 minute slot. You couldn’t even tell she hadn’t planned it that way. I now want to completely rewrite the evaluations for my classes and for my doula clients!

The last session of the day was another split session, sort of. Meghan Henley and Jennifer Torres each presented a different area of the results from the Maternity Support Survey – a large scale survey that compares doulas, childbirth educators and labor & delivery nurses. Meghan discussed the results as they applied to labor and birth and Jennifer discussed the results as they applied to breastfeeding. Not surprisingly, CBEs and doulas attitudes are more closely related than L&D nurses, though overall, most were closer than I would have thought. Meghan and Jennifer led an interesting discussion asking class participants why they felt that might be. I did enjoy this session, but wished it had come earlier in the day when I didn’t have so much brain overload.

That evening, the conference organizers had arranged for us to parade down Bourbon St with a brass band all the way to Cafe Soule where we had Cajun food. I took a short video as we walked.

After the dinner, I met with a bunch of women for a “TweetUp” – these were all women who had been tweeting about the conference using the hashtag #Lamaze13 – it was a good group and we enjoyed talking until it was time for bed.

Lamaze TweetUp

Read the third and final installment here.

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NOLA Skyline

Fun at Lamaze Part 1!

The Lamaze conference in New Orleans was a great experience for me, as always, I loved being a part of a large group of women who are all determined to help women have great births!

I flew out the day before and checked into the Astor Crowne Plaza, right on the corner of Bourbon St and Canal St. It was a fairly smooth direct flight, thankfully, and I arrived late evening. My poor friend and conference roommate, though, had a rough time getting there! My plane went around a huge line of thunderstorms, and her plane flew right THROUGH it! To give you an idea, here’s what I saw as we were flying around the storms:

Lamaze Conference New OrleansThe next morning, we had a few hours before the conference started. After a proper southern breakfast, we headed out to explore the city. We walked the length of Bourbon Street, cut over to St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and the Mississippi River. Grabbed some beignets to go and headed back to the opening session of the conference.

First up was a general session presented by Richard Waldman, former president of ACOG. He discussed a wide range of topics, everything from the Affordable Care Act and its impact on obstetrics to how midwives and OBs can work well together. He is married to a midwife and was instrumental in bringing midwifery care – independent midwives – to central NY. What I found most interesting was his discussion on the things that have impacted him both as a care provider and personally. He talked about training, he talked about peer pressure, he talked about keeping patients informed participants in their care. He spoke on a personal and emotional level about how lawsuits and the death of a patient impacted him. It was an interesting perspective.

Lamaze Conference MaterialsNext was a breakout session on “Memorable Class Moments” led by Victora Deer – I chose this session because I always try to go to sessions that will not involve PowerPoint, and I was not disappointed! When I first walked in and sat down, I knew this would be a different kind of session, as there were lots of craft materials waiting at each spot. The first thing she had us do was put on a pair of head bopper headbands that had light bulbs representing all the ideas we could get if we allow ourselves creative freedom. Victoria showed us some of the fun things she does in class, but she also talked about how YOU can create your own fun ideas. She presented 5 steps:
1. Imagination and brainstorming
2. Creativity – changing, molding, adapting to what you want to teach
3. Innovation – applying and integrating into your classes
4. Test and evaluate – actually do the activity in your class
5. Accept/refine or reject

Victoria had a lot of great ideas and was not the least bit shy about doing goofy things like dressing up as “Operawoman” and singing birthy parody songs, jumping like a cheerleader, or mimicking Katie Perry!

That night was the Dine Arounds, basically an activity where the conference organizers make a bunch of reservations at area restaurants and you can join a group to go out together. My roommate Elizabeth and I met up with Melinda Delisle, who we had met at another conference, and two new women I hadn’t met before, Alicia (didn’t catch her last name or snag a business card…) and Tamara Hawkins. We went to Galvez, a Spanish restaurant right on the Mississippi. I had my first paella – YUM! and once again, Liz and I got a real character waiting on us. (We’ll never forget Mary in Milwaukee!) – didn’t catch this waiter’s name but he was an interesting fellow with an interesting accent that shifted from Spanish to French and back again. After we finished with our meal, the owner took us outside on a balcony overlooking the river and the skyline of downtown NOLA.

NOLA Lamaze
NOLA Skyline

And then we headed home and to try and get to bed early. That’s kind of a joke – we ended up talking until pretty late!

Read about the next day here.

(All the photos in this post are from my phone, I promise I’ll post some nicer ones from my “real” camera later!)

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