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Birth Institute Program

Education Sessions 

General Sessions for All
Clinical Tract
 Administrative Tract


General Sessions for All

Keynote Address - American Birth Centers: The Ultimate Bridge between Evidence and Practice

American Birth Centers hold the potential to transform birth in the U.S. and serve as a model system to for providing evidence based care in countries around the world. Why are birth centers uniquely positioned to provide true evidence based care? How far have birth centers come since their inception? What is needed in order for us to move forward? How can we continue to engage families in the quest for birth center access in every community? Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN

Building Bridges to Communities - LGBTQ Pregnancy, Birth & Parenting

Drawing on the skills that providers, administrators, and support people already possess, this session will take time to explore the needs and considerations of supporting LGBTQ people and families through pregnancy and birth. There will be opportunities to engage interactively and resources will be provided for attendees. Focus will be on creating a clinical environment that meets the needs of LGBTQ folks, conception planning, lactation, and general health topics for LGBTQ communities. Rayden Sorock, BA; Lizzie Anderson, CD (DONA), MSW, LSW; Aya de Chellis, RN, BSN, CD(DONA), SNM

Strong Start - What's Next?

This session will review preliminary outcomes of the AABC Strong Start project as we complete final services and data collection. The presentation will discuss next steps to continue vital birth center-based research. Included will be a discussion of potential future projects to examine and compare effectiveness and cost savings of birth center care. Jill Alliman, CNM, DNP

The Ethics & Realities of Forced Cesarean Surgery

Are women forced into cesarean surgery? How is this possible? When does it happen? And why does it occur? This session will explore the extreme disconnect between medical evidence, national guidelines, and the current maternity care system as it relates to cesarean section and VBAC policy. We will review how forced cesareans can occur in the face of national guidelines that denounce them while professional ethics affirm and honor the autonomy of the pregnant person. Finally we will close with how we can turn the tide, create change, and improve the care our clients and children will ultimately receive. Jen Kamel, BA

Closing Address – Bridges to the Future: Communities Matter

This session will provide an overview of the role of community support and environmental influences in birth outcomes and breastfeeding success. Kimberly Seals Allers will discuss the findings from The First Food Friendly Community Initiative in Detroit and Philadelphia, and the community-partnered participatory research model and community assessment approach that combines mother and baby support with economic family strengthening to help mothers overcome social stressors. Kimberly Seals Allers, BA, MS


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Clinical Tract

Building a Bridge between Low-risk and High-risk

This panel presentation will discuss the bridge between low-risk and high-risk. Panelists will describe how their roles coordinate with each other for an integrated system of care. The discussion will focus on defining risk and identifying effective strategies for physicians and midwives to work together. Janice Anderson, MD; Daniel Edelstone, MD; Suzanne Shores, MSN, CNM, FNP; Ann McCarthy, MSN, CNM, moderator.

Best Clinical Practices: Expecting the Unexpected

This breakout includes two presentations on simulation theory in neonatal and maternal emergencies. The first presentation on neonatal emergencies is taught by Dr. Melissa Riley. The session will offer participants the opportunity for a more hands-on experience with neonatal emergencies specifically neonatal resuscitation and placement of LMAs. Then join members of the clinical staff members of Lifecycle WomanCare (Bryn Mawr, PA) in exploring preparedness for maternal emergencies. Who needs to participate? How often should these drills take place? Are there high tech and low tech methods to improve emergency drill effectiveness? What are the methods of debriefing emergency drills to improve employee performance? Julie Cristol, MSN, CNM; Megan King, RN, BSN; Gazelle Lange, RN, CNM; Melissa Riley, MD

Appropriate Charting in Risk Management

In this session, Olga Ryan will present examples of useful charting tools and techniques, and review common pitfalls in documentation to avoid. Olga Ryan, MS-NL, RN

Caring for Women Involved in Domestic Violence

Typical Domestic Violence training in midwifery educational programs focuses on intimate terrorism (battering), which is primarily perpetrated by males on females. However, this type of DV constitutes less than 10% of DV. This session will cover the other types of DV (90%), which are perpetrated equally by men and women, how to screen for these types of DV, how they are handled by the justice system, the effect of these types of DV on the children and therefore the next generation, when to refer, and tips for choosing good treatment programs. It includes video of unrehearsed responses to open-ended questions by a pregnant couple that chose to get treatment voluntarily. Cynthia Flynn, CNM, PhD, FACNM

Research Panel

  • Hydrotherapy and Water Birth in Birth Centers A report of preliminary analysis of approximately 5400 water births attended in all birth settings by midwives from birth center practices. This presentation also includes patterns of use of hydrotherapy and water birth, basic perinatal outcomes, and maternal and neonatal transfer rates. Heather Thompson, PhD, CPD, CLE
  • Cost-Effectiveness of Planned Birth in a Birth Center This presentation will explore the costs and effects of planned birth in a birth center, hospital, and at home, supervised by a community midwife, in women at low-risk of complications in the Netherlands. Marieke Hermus, MS
  • Birth Outcomes of Women with Pregravid BMIs>30 Enrolled for Care at AABC Birth Centers This presentation will describe the initial data analysis of outcomes of women with BMIs > 30 who enrolled for prenatal care at AABC Birth Centers. Data comes from the AABC Perinatal Data Set. Implications for practice and policy based on the Perinatal Data Set will be reviewed. AABC outcomes will be compared to national data and data available from other midwife managed births. Cecilia Jevitt, CNM, PhD, FACNM
  • Literature Review This presentation discuss findings of the Integrative Review of the Literature on Maternal Outcomes in birth centers. Jill Alliman, CNM, DNP

Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation

Panel presentation

  • Marijuana in Pregnancy & Lactation This presentation will describe the different methods of THC delivery, review the available literature regarding THC and breastfeeding, and how to create an evidence-based conversation with clients. Heather Thompson, PhD, CPD, CLE
  • Drugs in Lactation This presentation will describe the process through which medications can enter human milk and the three most commonly used methods to estimate infant exposure to medications. Participants will also learn about appropriate resources to turn to in clinical decision making regarding the risks and benefits of medication use and breastfeeding. Debra Bogen, MD
  • Drugs in Pregnancy Pregnancy leads to several physiologic changes that impact the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs. This presentation will address what types are drugs are used in pregnant women, what is the impact of pregnancy on patient exposure of the drug, and provide guidelines to optimize drug therapy in pregnant women. Raman Venkataramanan, PhD, FCP, FAAPS


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Administrative Tract

Marketing and Social Media

Participants will learn the skills they need to develop a strategic approach to using digital communications for consumer education and marketing. Jeanette McCulloch, IBCLC; Amber McCann, IBCLC

Establishing and Maintaining Ethical and Effective Billing

This session will examine the advantages and disadvantages of in-house vs. outsourced billing, and the roles an office plays in the billing process. This presentation will discuss documentation requirements that support coding and billing, including the increased specificity required by ICD-10. Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LN, LM, CPM; Joan Slager, DNP, CNM, CPC, FACNM

Customer Service and Effective Communication

Enhancing the customer’s experience before, during and after any interaction is critically important to an organization’s ongoing success. Creating a culture where personalized, profession and polite customer service is the standard occurs when effective communication is embedded throughout the organization. In this presentation we will expand the traditional idea of “customer service” and explore ways to enhance communication and customer support. We will also focus on strategies to manage the challenges of difficult customers. Marlene Boas, PhD, LPCC, BCC

Human Resources – Employee Handbooks and other legal issues

This session will cover the do's and don’ts of employee handbooks and policies, including social media policies, and HIPPA, among others. Marie Rivera Johnson, JD

Staffing Panel: Hiring & Scheduling for a Balanced Work/Life

Susan Stapleton, CNM, DNP, FACNM will begin the session by sharing and discussing the results of the Staffing Section of the Birth Center Profile Survey. The session will then turn to a panel of birth center directors and their experiences in staffing.

  • Clinic and on-call scheduling challenges for birth centers with a small staff but high demand. Cynthia Flynn, CNM, PhD, FACNM
  • The presentation will describe strategies used to appropriately staff a multi-state network of birth centers.  Ginger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, APRN, FACNM
  • The experiences of a small business owner/entrepreneur and birth center clinical director and her scheduling and staffing strategies for small to medium-sized practices. Kim Pekin, CPM

Building Bridges to Insurers through Employers and Coalitions

What can birth centers do to raise awareness and understanding of their value proposition for health plans, employers, employer coalitions, and consumers? This presentation will describe some of the actions taken by the Industrial Relations Committee of AABC and some of its members at a local level, over the last twelve months. A tool kit will be presented for birth centers to act at their local level and future actions related to national employers, payers and Alternative Payer Models (APMs) will be discussed. Linda Davis, BSN; Fran Schwartz, JD, Harold Miller


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  • Castor oil as a natural alternative to labor induction: A retrospective descriptive study. Andrea DeMaria
  • What is the effect of planned birth in a birth center compared to alternative places for childbirth on perinatal outcomes. Marieke Hermus
  • Developing the Optimality Index‐NL2015. Marieke Hermus
  • Identification and description of birth centers in the Netherlands. Marieke Hermus
  • Waiting for Baby: A study on Women's Perception of Due Dates and Stress. Beth Metz Lemmel
  • Cesarean Outcomes in U.S. Birth Centers and Collaborating Hospitals: A Cohort Comparison. Patrick Thornton
  • Freestanding Birth Centers and Enhanced Care Services in the United States. Alisha Wilkes

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