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Birth Institute Program

Education Sessions

General Sessions for All
Clinical Track
 Administrative Track


General Sessions For All

Keynote Address - Surviving to Thriving: Transforming Intergenerational Cycles of Violence, Risk, and Vulnerability

Using a trauma-informed lens, Sperlich will discuss how cycles of violence and psychiatric vulnerability affect pregnancy and early parenting, and impart risk for adverse outcome for mothers and their babies. She will also discuss the emerging evidence for ways to disrupt these cycles and promote resiliency during the childbearing year and beyond.  Mickey Sperlich, PhD, CPM


Shared Decision-Making

In this session, Hermine Hayes-Klein, JD will outline the principles of shared-decision making in maternal healthcare, and their application in various maternity care settings.  The discussion will draw upon recent studies involving shared decision-making, the relationship between shared decision-making and informed consent and refusal, medical and midwifery ethics, and the medico-legal and liability issues that affect how shared decision-making plays out in practice.  Hermine Hayes-Klein, JD


The Iceberg Theory of Communication 

Father Oleksa is an expert in the field of intercultural communications and has served as a consultant for private, state, and federal agencies.  His five-part PBS television series, Communicating Across Cultures, has been widely acclaimed.  Join the Very Reverend Doctor Oleksa to learn about The Iceberg Theory of Communication. V. Rev. Michael Oleksa, ThD


Research Panel

  • Strong Start Report on clinical outcomes and client-entered data.  Jill Alliman, DNP, CNM and Susan Stapleton, DNP, CNM
  • Associations between length of second stage labor and maternal and newborn outcomes in freestanding birth centers.  Nancy Niemczyk, PhD, CNM
  • Use of Active Management of 3rd Stage in Birth Centers.  Diana Jolles, PhD, CNM and Susan Stapleton, DNP, CNM


Closing Address – System Complexity and the Challenge of Too Much Medicine

Although modern medicine has greatly advanced our capabilities, it has also resulted in a healthcare system of remarkable complexity. Hospital labor and delivery units often have five waste containers - one for sharps, one for biohazards, one for soiled linens, one for recycling, and one, of course, for normal garbage. The complexity of these environments may be the root cause of both our successes and our failures, including a growing tendency to cause harm by intervening inappropriately in childbirth. This talk will review new ways of thinking about how to intentionally simplify the complexity of the healthcare systems we work in order to take better care of mothers and babies. Neel Shah, MD, MPP

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Clinical Track

Best Practices in Water Birth

This will be a presentation of best available evidences and best practices for use of immersion in water for labor and birth.  The session will include controversies and areas in which more evidence is needed.  The panel of speakers will also be reviewing their guidelines and problems they have seen in their birth centers.  Tara Elrod, CDM; Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LN, LM, CPM; Tammy Witmer, CNM; and Susan Stapleton, DNP, CNM


Emergency Drills: Best Practices

Maternal Postpartum Hemorrhage: Tammy Witmer, CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC, NCMP and Elizabeth Bary, MSN, CNM

Assessing Newborns that are "Not Normal": Stacy Brunquist, RNC, MSN, NNP-BC


Adverse Childhood Experiences 101 & Trauma Informed Care for Midwives

  • "Adverse Childhood Experiences 101: How Early Life Trauma Shapes Brains & Bodies & What We Can Do About It" will provide an introduction to the science of early life trauma and its effects throughout the lifecourse, and an introduction to resilience science and the concepts of trauma-informed care. Laura Norton-Cruz, LMSW
  • "Trauma Informed Care for Midwives" will highlight the basic premises of trauma-informed care, how midwives and doulas can identify the needs of women who are survivors of childhood maltreatment and/or interpersonal trauma, and how they might conceptualize trauma-informed care specific to midwifery and doula work. Emphasis will be on putting these concepts into practice in order to foster change. Mickey Sperlich, PhD, CPM


Risk Management and Risk Criteria

What is risk?  How does having, or not having, hospital privileges, and your relationship with your local hospital whether good or bad, affect your birth center's risk assessment?  Owen R. Bell, MD; Darcy M. Lucey, ANP, CNM; Barbara Norton, CNM, ANP; Kim Pekin, BBA, CPM; Dave Pulley, MSM-RMI, CPCU, RPLU


Urogynecology Across the Lifespan

This session presented by a fellowship trained urogynecologist and a physical therapist will address the available therapies, from physical therapy to medications to surgery.  Laura Faye Gephart, MD, MBA and Melissa Sundberg, PT, DPT

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Administrative Track

Digital Marketing Works! Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget

O’Hara will take participants through the digital marketing tools available for small business and how to make the most of a small digital marketing budget. Topics will include: available digital marketing platforms, best practices, creating Facebook ads and tracking analytics.  O'Hara Shipe, MBA


Ethical and advanced Billing for Birth Centers

A presentation of case studies by a panel of billers.  Participants will be asked to submit cases in advance so panelists can address them.  Marnie Cabezas, CPM; Arden Hammel, BA; Coral Slavin, DHEd


Women's Health Care in Uncertain Political Times

This session will address how changes in the U.S. health care system may affect birth centers and the care they provide.  ill Alliman, DNP, CNM; Laura Faye Gephart, MD; Christine Haas, MS; Heike Hornsby, LM, CPM; Alice Taylor, CNM, NP, MPH


Open vs. closed staff models: benefits & challenges

Birth center owners and directors of closed and open staff models will discuss the benefits and differences between their business models.  Dana Brown, CDM, CPM; Paula Pelletier-Butler, MSM, LM, CPM; Susan Sherwood, LM, CPM, ICCE, CD; Coral Slavin, DHEd


Communicating the Value of Working in a Birth Center

In this session, participants will learn how to calculate the value of their benefits package and how to effectively communicate this to staff and providers.  Brianna Bennett, MBA; Erica Beisinger, MBA; Madi Nolan, CPM; and Moira Tannenbaum, MSN, CNM, IBCLC, RNC-LRN, LCCE

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Management and Outcomes of Late Term Pregnancy in a Birth Center Practice

This study can provide information about the experience of women in a large birth center practice experiencing Late Term Pregnancy and birth options in order to inform decision-making by both childbearing families and birth center providers. Fran Wertman, MN, CNM


Women's Perceptions of Urinary Leaking during Pregnancy and Postpartum Periods

The purpose of the study was to discover women’s perceptions surrounding UI and determine if there were any patterns to the previously identified risk factors among pregnant and birthing women. These patterns were evaluated at the cross-sectional data points of immediate post birth, three and six months post birth.  Susan M. Yount, PhD, CNM, WHNP-BC, FACNM

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2017 AABC Birth Institute - Jen Heller from AABC on Vimeo.




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