Deciding to Become a Childbirth Educator

img_0138

Deciding to become a childbirth educator can be a beautiful journey.  If you find yourself among your friends advocating for safe and healthy birth practices maybe you are destined to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  Learn more about my journey to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator here.  If you have continued reading this post, there is a good chance this is a path that was meant for you.

All of this being said, deciding to become a childbirth educator is a major commitment of time and resources.  That isn’t meant to discourage anyone, there are tons of ways to make the business aspect and start up leg work much easier.  There are resources available to Lamaze members in building and designing their course that will get students started, and the community that comes with the journey is amazing, but it is still a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly.

I think it is important in times like this to outline why you think it is ideal for you, whether or not there is a need in the community you plan to serve, and what you need from this business to feel fulfilled.  I’d like to help you brainstorm to see if now is your time to shine as a childbirth educator.

So, the first topic is why is this ideal for you.  Ask yourself why YOU would make an excellent childbirth educator.  What characteristics do you possess that will engage and empower your participants?  What is your passion about the childbirth process that will drive you through the start up phases of business where you are pouring your heart and soul into classes and students have yet to come running?  What will sustain you years down the road when you are revamping your class for the ump-teenth time?  Now take those answers, and write them down.  You may need to refer back to them (or even rewrite them) over the years.

Next, I have a few questions about the needs within your community.  Look around to see if there are any classes available in your area.  (Honestly, this step could be skipped.  I believe we are drastically short on childbirth educators.  The national average for mothers who take childbirth classes is around 35%.  This to me is enough to prove that the need is strong and there is work to be done.  But below are some good opportunities and challenges for market saturation.)

If there are none, this presents both opportunities and challenges.  There is definitely a need, and I applaud your for being the one to step forward to address it.  The challenges in this is that if your community has been without a childbirth educator for a long time, it could be difficult to convince expectant mothers and their care providers this is something they need.  It’s like saving and buying a Kate Spade purse and being surrounded by minimalists.  Luckily it is easy to explain and share the value of quality childbirth education.  Just be prepared to dust off your soap box and remember Margaret Mead’s quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

If there are many childbirth educators in your area this again will present your business with challenges and opportunities.  Luckily, based on the number of instructors, you can assume this is something that is well received in your community.  Your challenge will be to set yourself apart.  I recently read an article about the Caliafornia Gold Rush.  Please excuse my terrible paraphrasing here, but the people that went west to mine for gold didn’t get rich, the guys selling the shovels and mining supplies did.  Find an untapped market, or consider offering your class in a new innovative format.  Or perhaps just your style and personality will be a wonderful addition to your community’s birth advocacy presence.

If you find yourself somewhere in the middle, you are one of the lucky ones that get to pull inspiration from challenges and opportunities of the previous two.  Take this business by the horns, make it your own, and go out and sprinkle knowledge, empowerment, and strength your own way.  Your community will thank you.

The final questions on this discovery journey, is what do you need to feel fulfilled in this business endeavor.  Ask yourself why you are doing this.  Are you looking for supplemental income?  Are you looking for a full time job?  How much time are you interested in committing to this journey?  How many times a week are you interested in teaching?  Are you motivated by something completely different?  Do you see birth disparities in your community that you want to help address?

Some people become childbirth educators to fill a specific need within an existing job.  Perhaps you are providing hospital based classes and becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator will improve your teaching skills.  Or maybe you move often do to your partner’s employment and you are looking for a career that is portable.  Once you are ready to get your teaching off the ground, there are a few things you will need to cover.  For hospital based childbirth education programs, many of these will be taken care of already, but I’m going to address issues that would be important for new businesses or start up programs.

The first question is where are you going to teach.  Look around your community to see what your options are.  You will need a private space with plenty of floor room.  Many new instructors will teach out of their home, but if you have small children or pets this could be problematic.  So, let’s consider other options.  Does your local hospital have classroom space available to outside organizations?  What about your public library or community center?  Fitness centers, like the YMCA, and churches are also great options.  I teach my classes at our local Women’s Clubhouse.  When finding your location, you need to make sure that pricing is low-free to ensure that you can sustain teaching even when enrollments are low (like December).

The next question, is what are you going to teach.  Luckily for you, if you are considering the Lamaze route, Lamaze has a Toolkit with tons of information on how to teach and links to free videos to show your parents.  They also have great resources for free on building your curriculum.  Another great place to turn for teaching tips is Pinterest.  As I mentioned before, the community that surrounds Lamaze is amazing.  If something works great for an instructor, they share it.  I am currently revamping my stages and phases of labor activity to include Mr. Potato Head, a technique another instructor shared on Lamaze’s Science and Sensibility blog.

The next major topic you will need to determine is what your will be charging.  Look around at your community and see what others are charging.  If you are the first in your community to offer this, explore neighboring communities where people are currently traveling for childbirth education.  This can give you a starting point on earning potential.  You will also want to consider how many people you will be teaching and what your financial needs are.  Another great option is crowd-sourcing.  Millennial moms are known to crowd-source (openly ask social media communities) everything from strollers to car seats to doulas.  There is no reason you can’t ask Millennial moms what they would be willing to pay for childbirth classes.

Once you have determined location, content, and pricing all you have left to do is put it out in the community to moms.

I would like to end this with a quote I use in my classes and in life, “She believed she could, and so she did.”  Do you believe you can make this business work?  I believe in you, you just read this whole article in a time when people rarely stay on a blog longer than two minutes, this is something your want.

If you are interested in attending or hosting a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator Seminar from Birthing Babies VA, please click here.