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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 

In this presentation Father Oleska, an acclaimed expert in the field of intercultural communications, will describe the iceberg metaphor in cross cultural communication. He will discuss how cultures influence the way we understand each other and explain how to deal with cultural influence in a reasonable and appropriate way. V. Rev. Michael Oleksa, ThD


Research Panel

This panel presentation features presentations on 3 research topics.

 Jill Alliman, DNP, CNM; Susan Stapleton, DNP, CNM; Nancy Niemczyk, PhD, CNM; Diana Jolles, PhD, 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

This breakout includes two presentations on simulation theory in neonatal and maternal emergencies. The first session, taught by Stacy Brunquist, will offer participants the opportunity for a more hands-on experience with newborn exams, specifically how to recognize subtle physical assessment findings that warrant further evaluation. Participants will practice the next steps in further evaluating and treating findings.  The second session, taught by Tammy Witmer and Elizabeth Bary, will review emergency preparedness with a focus on maternal postpartum hemorrhage.  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?Maternal Postpartum Hemorrhage: Stacy Brunquist, RNC, MSN, NNP-BC; Tammy Witmer, CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC, NCMP and Elizabeth Bary, MSN, CNM 


Adverse Childhood Experiences 101 & Trauma Informed Care for Midwives

In this 2 part session Laura Norton-Cruz 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.  Then Mickey Sperlich 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.  Laura Norton-Cruz, LMSW and 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? This panel presentation will explore risk for a birth center and how it may affect its liability and insurance.  Participants will learn how accreditation can assist in expectation settings.  Lastly, the panel will discuss the communication models between birth center providers and hospital providers and how it impacts the transfer of care.  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

Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget

In this session participants will learn the skills they need to develop a strategic approach to using digital communications for consumer education and marketing.  Jennifer Christensen and Adrienne Wilkerson will present an overview of marketing principles and strategies and discuss the elements of an effective marketing plan for a health care practice.  They will present how to evaluate communication methods with you target audience and consumer education. Lastly, they will discuss how create brand awareness in a digital world.  Jennifer Christensen, MS and Adrienne Wilkerson


Ethical and advanced Billing for Birth Centers

This panel presentation will explore ethical billing for maternal and newborn care. Participants will learn how to ensure compliance with billing standards. Presentation will include advanced billing scenarios and possible solutions.  Marnie Cabezas; Arden Hammel, BA; Coral Slavin, Phd


Women's Health Care in Uncertain Political Times

This session will examine the current political climate regarding health care and how changes in national health law may affect birth centers and the care they provide.  The presentation will explore how the Affordable Care Act has had both positive and negative impact on birth center operations.  Participants will also hear how some birth centers have identified and implemented solutions to address disparities and gaps in care. The presentation will conclude with a case study of how one organization responded when its federal funding source was in jeopardy.  Jill 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

This panel presentation will explore the differences between open staff model and closed staff model birth centers including the benefits, challenges and opportunies for each.  Participants will learn how the panelists have implemented these staffing models in their  birth centers.  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, presenters will describe a compensation package summary report and how to use it in communicating pay with employees.  They will also explain how to calculate the revenue generated by a birth center provider. Lastly, they will discuss the benefits and differences of working in a birth center from a midwife’s perspective. 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


The Birth Center Model Globally - Initial Results of a Pilot Study

Data gained by this study will help to identify success and opportunity areas for birth center development and if they are a quality option to increased access to high quality sexual and reproductive health care in low and middle income countries.  Jennifer Stevens, CNM, MSN


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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