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IH/IBP - past, present and future: an interview with Katherine Czapp and Rahima Baldwin on the 15th anniversary of the organization.

An Interview with Katherine Czapp and Rahima Baldwin on the 15th Anniversary of the Organization

Special Delivery: Katherine, you joined Rahima working at Informed Homebirth in 1983, part-time at first, then editing the newsletter and now virtually running the organization full-time since Rahima is midwifing again and co-directing a birth center. How do you think the organization has changed under your leadership?

Katherine: I feel IH/IBP has made real strides over the years in making service our first priority. After all, we are a service-oriented organization, and we want to provide people with as many resources as possible to help them attain their goals. For example, we give pregnant women help with their questions, refer them to local IH teachers, and make sure they feel free to call back for more resources or to consult with midwives in the office if they have other questions about their future care.

Service is also important when people call us interested in either of our training programs. I think we are in a strong position nationally these days, although we are still not as well known as the other major organizations, such as Lamaze. So we really need to try harder, and take the time, for example, to discuss the Childbirth Educator Program not only in terms of the nuts and bolts of applying and certification, but we try to communicate the philosophy of this organization.

Ideas and idealism are very powerful with people again. When a woman can talk to us about either her personal success or feelings of disappointment with her own birth, and then we can help her extrapolate that to her own and other women's power in the rest of their lives, something very important and exciting happens. She suddenly sees the "big picture" and understands what we're trying to teach people.

Other messages are strong, too--such as consumer awareness. People want to conserve resources, to feel like they are responsible citizens of this planet through recycling and making conscious and intelligent consumer choices in as many areas of their lives as possible. And now something as important as birthing is coming under that same scrutiny. That's where we come in ahead of other organizations. We have already thought about it from this angle, and when they put the pieces together their picture looks a whole lot like ours.

Rahima: Yes, I see not only renewed interest in the general population (after several years of women flocking for their epidurals or being too busy to be childbirth educators), but also a call for us to take a stronger stand for homebirth and midwifery in the future. We have been a steadfast voice for those ideals over the last fifteen years, maintaining the torch of information for couples seeking alternatives. And we've also worked on how we might translate what we have come to know about birth to reach people who are more in the mainstream.

But I think the time is really coming to stoke the fires again, basically boldly and brazenly to say, "Midwifery is the standard of care. Homebirth is the standard by which other births should be measured.

What is hospital birth changing toward? It is changing to be more like home birth and everyone knows that, even if they can't bear to admit it. Recently a director at a Detroit hospital said that the idea to put in ldrp rooms (labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum in the same room) came from their experience with high risk patients, who couldn't be moved from labor to delivery. "We decided that if it worked for them it would certainly work for everyone else." Well, baloney! They modeled it after homebirth, but they don't even know that, or can't bring themselves to say that. It just sticks in their throats.

So I think we have to say this is where things are coming from, and where they are going. I think ideologically the time is coming to take a stronger stand.

Special Delivery: In the late '80s IH experienced a slump. With the epidural epidemic and so many women working outside the home, there didn't seem to be as much interest in saving the world, as it were, or changing other people's births. Do you find that has changed now?

Katherine: Yes, there is greatly increased interest again--in becoming a childbirth educator, birth assistant or midwife and in having babies at home. I don't know if it's a natural reaction to the general trend of the '80s--that decadent decade of self interest, greed and unconscious ambition that has left us with a social catastrophe. People in the nineties seem to be more earth conscious, and aware of more humanistic approaches to just about everything. I think the increased idealism really has been coming to play for us in the last few years.

Rahima: Have you seen any change in the last few years in who is becoming a childbirth educator with our program? What attracts people to our program, and have those people changed in what they're doing, who they're teaching?

Katherine: Our teachers are reaching more varied parts of the population. Many more are teaching in hospitals or doing "outreach teaching" to low-income or teen populations. Lesbian couples, the hearing impaired, our teachers are serving all kinds of groups!

Rahima: Another thing we do is to try to connect our teachers who are doing outreach teaching, teaching teens or special populations, through Openings and contributions to the manual, which is constantly being updated.

Katherine: Instructors in different regions of the country sometimes feel isolated, so we encourage our instructors to contact teachers in other parts and get the resources that they need to strengthen their own teaching. And we have recently inaugurated a new region for "women of color" which will be headed by Pamela Collins from Chicago.

SD: What about the area of birth assistant training--that seems to have really taken off in the last couple of years.

Katherine: Yes, it's been very exciting to watch that grow so rapidly over the last two years. I think the general population has educated itself and is demanding improved standards of care in areas that no one questioned before, including birthing in a hospital. Books on labor companions by Polly Perez, Penny Simkin and Carl Jones have helped to make the concept better-known and more accepted. Consumers at large have become more receptive to the idea that a trained birth assistant accompanying the two of them to the hospital can be their best investment toward preventing an unnecessary cesarean.

Women are taking our birth assistant training all over the country in greater and greater numbers, and they are finding work as well. The average fee seems to be about $350 for working with a hospital couple. That has been extremely gratifying and exciting to watch happen. We feel we are making a real difference in birth in America through the birth assistant population.

SD: So interest is up not only in childbirth educator training, but also birth assistant training?

Katherine: We are not only having more workshops, but also greater attendance, virtually anywhere we hold them. And many areas where we haven't been able to hold workshops for the last couple of years are now ripe. That's been exciting to see.

SD: Do you also find an increased interest in homebirth and midwifery?

Katherine: Especially in becoming or finding a midwife, but also in homebirth. More people seem to be interested in homebirth as a serious option, and they start with us to get more information and go on from there. That's why we had the recent spring issue of Special Delivery focus on homebirth, to get all the information in one place. This issue has been wildly popular. And Rahima, you were about to say that we are going to make the major articles from that issue available as a booklet...

Rahima: Yes, our next project is to reformat it as a booklet instead of as an issue of the newsletter so it will be available for anyone who inquires.

SD: What other projects are in the works?

Rahima: In addition to increasing our commitments to alternatives and service, we are working on upgrading everything. For example, this issue of the newsletter is more professional looking, moving more toward a being a magazine or journal. I'm also working with Catherine Stone on revising the childbirth educator training program to reflect what is really important in birth. A provocative article I wrote for an upcoming ICEA Journal was entitled " Have We Learned Anything About Birth?" because most childbirth educators teach classes the way they did twenty years ago.

We were really one of the first organizations to teach from a holistic mind-body integrated approach, but the other organizations are starting to catch up with us. And what is the leading edge now? I feel it is to educate women on an emotional level to reclaim confidence in their bodies and the process of birth. This is universal--it is independent of where they give birth. But we also need to publicize the studies showing that IV's and episiotomy and all of the "standard procedures" of a typical hospital birth are interventions whose benefits remain unproven (in fact, many are detrimental). The statistics are now in from birth centers; the studies show that there is no scientific rationale for most procedures. Women need to become aware of anthropology, of how hospital procedures work to maintain the dominant values in society and then opt out of those dominant values in birth, just as they are in areas such as ecology and politics.

This impulse toward upgrading everything will also be reflected in revisions in the childbirth assistant training program. We were one of the first organizations to offer such a training in 1983. Now there are several programs nationally and birth assistants have become health professionals in their own right.

Karen Parker, who developed the program, is currently working on revisions and a certification program to continue to meet the needs as the profession continues to evolve. Along with this new level of professionalism, we intend to maintain a unique component of our program, teaching such skills as labor assessment (taking fetal heart tones and evaluating dilation so couples know when to go to the hospital).

So our work is cut out for us! It's an exciting time in the areas of childbirth education, birth assisting and midwifery. The healthcare system is not working as it currently is. By working together, women as consumers and as professionals have the opportunity to effect the next wave of changes in the American way of birth.

New Regional

Director for

"Women of Color"

IH/IBP childbirth educators have always been linked through a regional director according to their geographic location. Now a new region has been added for "Women of Color," which will be headed by Pamela Collins from Belleville, IL.

The intent will be to link women of color who are teaching childbirth classes so their special concerns can be addressed and to provide a central source for resources--information and ideas about visual aids, teaching strategies, and so forth. That way any IH/IBP childbirth educator who is teaching inner city teens or Hispanics or other distinct populations can contact Pamela about resources or other instructors who might be of help.

Pamela joined the IH training in July of 1991, and it was after attending a workshop in Chicago that she wrote to us because, despite how wonderful she felt the program was, she felt a kind of emptiness because she was the only black woman in attendance. We contacted her, suggesting that she help us establish a new regional director's position. She is looking forward to becoming a resource for our teachers.

Pamela had her second child, Aliyah, at home 11 years ago. Her oldest, lan (22) had been born in a hospital, and Karriem (6) was born in a birth center. She is working on completing her certification and will be teaching classes for a doctor in St. Louis who does home births.

IH/IBP instructors are urged to write to Pamela to introduce themselves, share concerns or suggest resources for her files, such as films or slides showing Blacks, Hispanics or Oriental couples; materials in Spanish; outreach to Native Americans or other populations. Write Pamela Collins, 703 Shabin Dr., Belleville, IL 62221 (Tel: 618/277-7710).

Catherine Stone Named Director of

Teacher Training

Catherine Stone has been designated the new Director of Teacher Training for IH/IBP. She has been active in the organization since 1980 and has been leading many of the Childbirth Educator Training Workshops since 1985. She also teaches many of the Birth Assistant Training workshops developed by Karen Parker.

Catherine will be working with teachers on their certification requirements (quizzes and correspondence work), and she will also be working with Rahima on revising the teacher training manual and workshop format.

Catherine holds a Masters Degree in Perinatal Psychology and is active as a midwife. She has two children, Sarah (13) and Kaitlin (10), and recently married Steve Bumstead, who is a micro-processing technician. Catherine and her family live in Sonoma, California.
August 1977 --IH incorporated (nonprofit)
 in Boulder by Rahima
 --Homebirth preparation
 classes offerred (Boulder)
March 1978 Homebirth cassette tape
 series offered with manual
 --Childbirth educator training
 by correspondence
May 1978 Carole Tryjanowski (Shane)
 first IH-trained teacher and
 national director
May 1978 "Choices in Childbirth,
 Colorado '78" with keynote
 Suzanne Arms
June l978 Special Delivery completed in
 six weeks in Mexico.
January 1979 Midwifery Study Program in
 San Antonio, Texas
March 1979 Special Delivery published by
 Les Femmes (Celestial Arts)
June 1979 "Birth and Rebirth" conference
 for midwives at Lama
 --Marianne Schroeder
 national director & editor
Nov. 1979 5-day Childbirth Educator
 training offered by Rahima
Sept.1980 Rahima begins Waldorf
 teacher training in Michigan.
February 1981 5-day Midwifery Skills
 workshops developed by
 Anne Frye and Valerie Hobbs
March 1981 Informed Birth & Parenting
 added as a second name
April 1981 Laine Gerritsen heads
 national office in Boulder
May-June 1981 Two workshops on Waldorf
 education held in Boulder
 (leads to founding of Shining
 Mountain Waldorf School)
October 1981 Informed Birth & Parenting
 Book Store begins mailorder
August 1983 Katherine Czapp joins staff in
 Ann Arbor
Nov. 1983 Weekend Workshops added:
 Basic Midwifery Skills (later
 called Birth Assistant Train
 ing) by Karen Parker and
 Herbs and the Childbearing
 Year by Susun Weed.
June 1984 lst Annual Magical Years
 Conference on the Young
 Child (20 participants).
Nov. 1984 National Office moved to
 Ann Arbor
1985-86 Publication of Pregnant
 Feelings by Rahima Baldwin
 and Terra Palmarini
January 1986 Childbirth Educator training
 shortened to 2-1/2 day format
1987 Workshops "Trusting
 Ourselves--Women and
 Birth" by Rahima and
 Harriette Hartigan
 --Katherine Czapp edits
 Special Delivery
October 1988 Special Delivery video with
 Rahima Baldwin by Injoy
May 1989 You Are Your Child's First
 Teacher by Rahima Baldwin
 --Advanced Childbirth
 Educator Training developed
 and cancelled.
June 1989 --First "Moving Midwifery
 Forward" workshop with
 Valerie El Halta held in PA.
October 1989 --Garden of Life Birth Center
 opened by Rahima Baldwin
 and Valerie El Halta.
January 1990 --Marian Leon edits SD
Sept.1990 --Katherine Czapp becomes
 national director
Sept. 1991 --Rahima edits SD newsletter
April 1992 --9th Annual Magical Years
 Conference draws 240
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth & Parenting
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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