May 28, 2014

My First BirthWorks Practicum Childbirth Class

by: Cathy Daub, CCE(BWI)

You’ve read the books.  You’ve conducted your hospital surveys.  You’ve written your topic papers and completed your medical study critiques along with other requirements. You’ve attended a BirthWorks Childbirth Education Workshop.  You’ve read the BirthWorks 500+ page comprehensive Educator Manual and completed your Comprehensive Essay Exam.  You’ve advertised for your first practicum class and there they are – birthing parents excited about what they are about to experience. You may ask yourself, “How will all my training come together for this class?”  “Am I ready?” “Will I be able to answer their questions?”  “Do I look nervous?” “How can I give them the very best class to help prepare them for having their babies?” “What will it be like working with parents in a group setting?”

I wanted to share the experience one of our trainees recently had teaching her first BirthWorks Practicum Childbirth Class:

The class went great! I was nervous of course and wasn't sure how it was going to fit together, but it went so well. I got great feedback, especially being told that the men were enjoying the course. All the couples said they felt so much closer, and the couple who had their baby half way through came back for the last class because they had enjoyed it so much!

I think the training really prepared me well for questions that came up, and for facilitating the discussions. I think the workshop really helped me understand how to lead the classes and gave me good ideas for visualizations and how to conduct the pelvic bodywork parts.

Everyone also got a lot out of the grief class.  They all didn't expect the class to be what it was, and they all kept coming back to that class as their favorite!

It was just so good. Now I just need to see how they all get on in their births.  I will see them all in August for a reunion!                                Lindsey Welch, MD

When I taught the first BirthWorks class in 1981, I had advertised in our local paper and received nine responses.  Five couples actually signed up for my class.  I was amazed. Then there I was in the room with them, my notes in my lap and when I looked up at them and saw them all looking at me, it suddenly became real.  I was a BirthWorks childbirth educator. These couples had come to me to learn what they needed to know about giving birth.

The class surpassed my expectations.  One woman said she didn’t know if she should come or not as this was her fourth baby and she’d already been to three different classes for her other three.  But a woman who had taken the class said, “Go.  This is different.”  And she came.  At the end, she said she learned so much more than she expected.  She learned what a woman really needs to know about giving birth. She felt more confident, more prepared emotionally, and had more insights about pelvic positioning in labor and birth.  She ended up helping me develop our BirthWorks training workshops and to this day remains one of my soul sisters.  In fact, I’ve met some of my best friends through BirthWorks.

The impact of BirthWorks childbirth classes is much greater than an instructor realizes while she is teaching the classes.  One man called me six months after he and his wife gave birth, to tell me how helpful the classes were in helping their marriage.  The classes were also instrumental in helping them to have a beautiful VBAC birth. 

The impact of the BirthWorks training is also profound.  One woman wrote me after 20 years to tell me how much the BirthWorks philosophy is helping her in her current management position and also through her life.

Birth is instinctive.  Birth is ancient.  Birth is about coming home to ourselves and feeling our own power, becoming empowered. Birth is about life.  All women are born with the knowledge about how to give birth.  When they learn to have more trust and faith in their bodies’ ability to give birth, their lives change.  There is transformation in becoming parents, but also in connecting with the wisdom within.  

May 14, 2014

Meet Our Experts

BirthWorks International is pleased to welcome a diverse group of birthing professionals to answer your questions about birth, health, pregnancy and nutrition! With years of experience working with pregnant women and their needs, we're confident that our panelists have just the expertise that you'll be looking for. As our Celebrating Birth 2014: Ask the Experts event approaches in just over a week, we are excited to share with you our team:

Sarah Appleby-Wineberg                                                              Lori Feldman-Winter
Jeffrey Pinto                                                                                     Heidi Ojha
Brittany Sharpe-McCollum                                                          Geoffrey Bowers
Christy Santoro                                                                              Ruth Wilf
Jill Wodnick

Sarah Appleby-Wineberg, CNM, MSN, WHNP is a certified nurse -midwife in a full scope practice in Sewell, NJ.  Sarah is one of four Rowan University Midwives who provide 24/7 L&D coverage for their local community hospital, as well as complete gynecological care for women throughout their lifespan. Sarah was first drawn to midwifery while working as an exercise physiologist doing NIH funded research on Exercise and Pregnancy in the early 90s.  While collecting observational data during labors, she was often drawn into the role of support person for her subjects, and soon became hooked on the power of women and birth. 

A graduate of Oberlin College (B.A.), the University of Evansville School of Nursing (B.S.N), and the University of Pennsylvania Midwifery program (M.S.N), Sarah shares her busy life with her supportive professor/musician husband Bryan and her two beautiful inspiring teenage daughters, Hannah and Kate.

Bio - Reach MD;
Photo - Cooper Health
Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH, is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the division head of adolescent medicine at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. Dr. Feldman-Winter is also an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on breastfeeding.

Dr. Feldman-Winter's special interests include general adolescent medicine, nutrition, and breastfeeding medicine. Her research also centers around breastfeeding medicine, in addition to her focus on health systems and public health, nutrition and growth, and adolescent rights and consent.

Dr. Feldman-Winter received her medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed her internship and residency at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Photo & Bio via Healthy Living Blog
Jeffrey Pinto, D.O., is an internal medicine physician dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle who believes that good health starts with making the correct dietary choices. He hopes to improve the diet and health of his patients, friends, and family by providing them with the template by which I live my own life via his Healthy Living Blog at  Good health starts with making the correct dietary choices.  His interests lie in choosing, preparing, and eating food that is whole (unprocessed), plant-based and low in fat.

Heidi Ojha, PT, DPT, OCS (Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist), FAAOMPT (Fellow, American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists), currently is full time faculty at Temple University and instructs in their Doctor of Physical Therapy and Orthopaedic Residency programs.   She has published various articles in peer-reviewed journals on orthopedic physical therapy, has received grants from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to fund this research, and regularly presents her research at national conferences.  She teaches in the area of women’s health and is knowledgeable about evidence informed interventions for pelvic floor conditions.  She has two daughters, both of them delivered at home with assistance from a Certified Professional Midwife.


Brittany Sharpe McCollum, CCE(BWI), CD(DONA), is owner of Blossoming Bellies Wholistic Birth Services, providing Birth Works certified childbirth education and DONA certified birth doula support to the greater Philadelphia area.  Brittany has been supporting expectant and new families since 2007, when she began teaching out of her South Philly home. She still teachers her classes in South Philadelphia but also facilitates in Fairmount, Mt. Airy, and Collingswood New Jersey.  Providing families with resources, confidence, and research-based information are at the core of Brittany's goals as a birth professional. 

In helping parents to recognize their strength as humans, role models, and advocates for the needs and wishes of themselves and their children, Brittany assists families in creating birth and parenting experiences of which they feel positive, confident, and informed.  Her approach to birth and parenting focuses on building awareness of one's intuition and combining it with learned knowledge in a way that is respectful of the needs and abilities of each individual.

Photo & Bio via
Geoffrey Bowers, MD, completed his medical education at Jefferson Medical College and his residency training at Jefferson University Hospital, where he served as Chief Resident of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In addition to being admitted to Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical student honor society, he was the recipient of numerous academic honors including Most Outstanding Resident and the Senior Resident Gynecologic Surgeon Award of the Jefferson Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

After completing his medical training, Dr. Bowers worked as a staff physician at Abington Memorial Hospital in the Department of OB/GYN for two years and then moved to Jefferson University Hospital as an Assistant Professor in the Department of OB/GYN. He is the co-author of numerous articles in peer reviewed publications and has made presentations at many professional society meetings and seminars. He has completed Masters Level training on the DaVinci Robot and has performed over 200 robotic surgical cases. Dr. Bowers became Board certified in 2013.

Dr. Bowers resides in Philadelphia with his wife, Michele, and their daughter. In their spare time, they enjoy spending time at the Jersey Shore.

Christy Santoro, CPM, LM, is the owner of Motherland Midwifery, a home birth midwifery practice based in Philadelphia, PA. She is also blessed to be mama to Itzela and Eliodoro. She works closely with a small number of families in the Greater Philadelphia Region and South Jersey who trust in birth as a natural process. Each expectant mother receives personalized care from a midwifery team that includes Christy and another midwife or trained birth assistant and an apprentice. We give information, resources, love and support for women and families to make informed decisions about their pregnancy, birth and parenting journey. We provide a full spectrum of family-centered prenatal, birth and postpartum care. 


Photo & Bio via CIMS
Ruth Wilf, CNM, PhD, is a certified nurse-midwife at The Birth Center, in Bryn Mawr, PA. Originally trained as a biologist, through having children in the 1950’s and ‘60’s Ruth and her husband became increasingly dissatisfied with what was being offered to people having babies, so in the 1960’s Ruth became involved (at first as a parent) with the early childbirth education and breastfeeding movement in this country and since then she has never looked back.

Among other things Ruth organized early childbirth conferences for ICEA and was on the ICEA Board, as far as she knows started the first childbirth classes for clinic patients in this country (1968).  She was one of the founders of the pioneering Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia (1971), where nurse-midwives were the primary caregivers  (with obstetrical back-up) offering “family-centered maternity care” and parent choice for women from all walks of life who were all treated equally, another first on several counts. She lectured widely about Booth and was fortunate to inspire the start of a number of other midwifery practices, both in and out of hospital. Ruth became a nurse-midwife in 1974 and has practiced continuously since then, always teaching and precepting nurse-midwifery students, especially through the Frontier Nursing Service (now Frontier Nursing University) and the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1981 she founded the first midwifery service in southern New Jersey. From 1988 to 2008, she was a nurse-midwife at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, and she has been at The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr since then.  Volunteer activities include: Editorial board of the journal Birth, Issues in Perinatal Care, since its inception in 1974, a member of the Leadership Team of CIMS (organized/chaired 5 conferences), a CIMS representative to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), and numerous others. Her passion for improving maternity care remains undiminished, and she has never lost her primary orientation as a parent/consumer deserving respect for the natural process and for choices in maternity care.

Jill Wodnick, LCCE, CLC, is a national doula trainer and Lamaze educator with experience leading a community doula program to reduce perinatal disparities.  She is affiliated faculty at  Montclair State University’s Center for Autism & Early Childhood Mental Health running the 'Giving Birth and Being Born' initiative. Frequently speaking about birth, she presents webinars and keynote addresses for groups like the NJ Hospital Association, NJ BirthNetwork, presented at Health Connect One's national community doula symposium and other local venues. Jill serves on a national task force to advocate for Medicaid coverage of doulas and leads local programs to improve perinatal outcomes by focusing on health literacy, reducing disparities and breastfeeding initiation and retention. Jill is a certified Lamaze educator and certified lactation counselor

Jill has taught nurses, physicians, community health workers and hundreds of expectant parents. From 2005-2009, she was the Expert Doula for Pregnancy Magazine, Destination Maternity’s website and the PBS program “Parental Wisdom” and has published numerous articles for International Doula Magazine. Jill was invited to be part of the March 2013 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women symposium panel representing prenatal and perinatal educators about preventing all forms of violence through the World Organization of Prenatal Educators Association. Jill infuses songs and spirit into her work and is proud to be part the "One Million Women Drumming" initiative.

From 2010 through December 2012, she has organized the Community Doula Fellowship as a consultant to the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern NJ funded by the Merck Foundation’s NJ Neighbor of Choice award. Jill has taught persuasion, public speaking, communication, and creative drama for Montclair State University, Seton Hall Prep, Seton Hall University, the PA State System of Higher Education's Undergraduate Women's Leadership Institute, Kent Place's Girls Leadership Institute, and the NJ Governor's School of Public Issues.

Jill can be found singing, baking bread and playing Yahtzee with her husband and three boys, Nathaniel, Sebastian and Emerson and volunteering as a parent for Hillside School's Drums of Thunder program.

We'll see you there !

Meet us in the Conference Center at the Cherry Hill Library on May 22 at 7pm to meet the panelists, win prizes, gain invaluable information and even meet local vendors. We'll bring the refreshments and the fun, you bring your questions!

The Cherry Hill Library is located at 1100 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034. If you have any questions, call (609) 953-9380 or email the Program Coordinator Trish Tate at