In 1932 Grantly Dick-Read MD gave birth to a revolutionary concept with his book Natural Childbirth. This book and a second entitled Childbirth Without Fear (1944) stressed the importance of overcoming the pregnant woman’s fear of giving birth as well as the advantages of a physiologically normal childbirth. From this pioneering work sprang a movement calling for specific education for childbirth.
In 1947 after readers around the world made Childbirth Without Fear an international best-seller, Dr. Dick-Read was invited to the United States by the Maternity Center Association. His visit spurred the interest of both parents and professionals in forming groups to implement his concept of conscious, cooperative childbirth, and in 1950 the first such group, the Milwaukee Natural Childbirth Association, was founded.
The formation of other childbirth education groups followed rapidly, and in 1955 representatives from nine such groups met at the Maternity Center Association to discuss their common problems. Three years later, again at the Maternity Center Association, thirteen groups met. A formation of a national organization was discussed, and an interim committee named to lay the groundwork for such an organization.
At the first National Convention for Childbirth Education held in Milwaukee in 1960 the name International Childbirth Education Association was adopted. Proceedings to incorporate as a nonprofit group were begun, and the first board of directors and officers were elected. Today ICEA’s influence reaches around the world.
In 1961, in Milwaukee, the ICEA Board of Directors held their first meeting. That year also marked the appearance of ICEA News, the “Newsletter of the International Childbirth Education Association, a Federation of Groups and Individuals Interested in Family-Centered Maternity and Infant Care.”
In 1962 the growing impact of ICEA was revealed in several ways: six additional members accepted positions on the board of consultants; the five-day second biennial convention held in Seattle was attended by parents, nurses and physicians from twenty-three states and Canada; the first International Congress of Psychosomatic Medicine and Childbirth convened in Paris in July; ICEA more than doubled in size from ten groups and twelve individual members to twenty-four groups and fifty-eight individual members representing twenty-two states and four countries. Members of La Leche League groups, advocates of prepared childbirth, and a state health department were among those who joined ICEA.
In 1963 the first four regional conferences sponsored by ICEA were held in Madison, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and San Francisco, California; membership doubled; and a brochure was developed listing ICEA’s purposes.
In 1964 ICEA established a Supplies Center to sell books, films, reprints, manuals and other source materials; greater emphasis was placed on the father’s participation in childbirth and childrearing; a speakers bureau was set up; and ICEA member groups began to establish training programs for educators.
In 1966 ICEA sought ways to increase interest in midwifery.
In the late 1960s ICEA continued to hold biennial conventions and regional conferences in alternate years and continued to grow in size; a short-lived publication for members called ICEA Forum was introduced and later reappeared in 1976, this time addressing the needs of member groups.
Membership grew from 1,600 members in 1968 to over 3,000 in 1972. Perhaps most significantly, ICEA’s motto, “Freedom of choice based on knowledge of alternatives” in childbirth, now appeared in the brochure.
In 1972 ICEA published The Cultural Warping of Childbirth.
In 1973 ICEA Sharing was published as a periodical for childbirth educators; the position of ICEA Canadian Director was created; ICEA requested that the US Food and Drug Administration investigate the effects of drugs used in childbearing; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) invited ICEA representatives to consult with them regarding revisions of the College’s Manual of Standards; the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Drugs invited ICEA representatives to offer suggestions at the committee’s meetings.
In 1974 an annual ICEA Virginia Larsen Research Award was established to further research related to childbirth options.
In 1975, staffed by local CEA members, the ICEA Publication/Distribution Center opened in Rochester, New York.
In 1976 ICEA sent a rebuttal to ACOG’s position paper against out-of-hospital births. ICEA published a resolution supporting the right of parents to choose the place of birth.
In 1977 ICEA Review was introduced as a periodical reviewing current topics relating to the childbearing year. First published three times per year, it eventually has been incorporated into the International Journal of Childbirth Education as a separate quarterly periodical which is also available in reprint form.
In 1979 ICEA committed to developing a certification program for childbirth educators.
In 1980 ICEA made a major decision to consolidate its services. The ICEA Central Office was established in minneapolis to handle the daily bookkeeping activities, such as Bookcenter sales, production of periodicals, membership processing, circulation records, and printing and distribution of ICEA publications and worker materials. At the present time the staff includes an office administrator and from eight to ten part-time and full-time employees.
In 1981 ICEA joined other organizations to petition to US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Health and Human Services to offer recommendations regarding the misuse of infant formula in the US; ICEA also joined other groups in the formation of the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition.
In 1982 the ICEA Teacher Certification Program was implemented.
From 1978-82 ICEA developed position statements on planning maternal and newborn services for the childbearing year, cesarean birth, electronic fetal monitoring and diagnostic ultrasound in pregnancy. From 1979-1988 ICEA adopted resolutions on midwifery, midwifery in Canada, birth at home, free standing birth centers, parental leave after childbirth and adoption, disclosure of information about obstetrical practices, and involuntary cesarean sections.
In 1984 ICEA focused on curtailing the negative impact of obstetric lawsuits on childbirth options.
In 1985 ICEA sponsored a forum on malpractice issues in childbirth with two US governmental agencies, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services; ICEA adopted a resolution on midwifery in Canada and submitted it to the provincial governments across Canada in an effort to establish midwifery as a recognized profession in that country; ICEA commemorated its 25th anniversary with an Anniversary Book and six regional conferences. The ICEA Teacher Certification Program was accredited by the Council for Noncollegiate Continuing Education (now called Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training).
In 1986 ICEA News, ICEA Forum, and ICEA Sharing were replaced by the combined quarterly periodical, International Journal of Childbirth Education. A fifth position paper, The Role of the Childbirth Educator and the Scope of Childbirth Education, was published which defined ICEA’s position on the two issues; a series of six conferences in Australia were sponsored by ICEA, taking events to non-American sites for the first time; ICEA adopted a formal definition of FCMC. Computerization of the office has increased efficiency and improved member and customer services.
In 1987 and 1988 two International Conventions were planned for each year, replacing the regional conference/biennial international convention format. ICEA also offered three Canadian conferences, and in 1987 the ICEA Basic Teacher Education Workshop (BTEW) made its debut. In 1993, it was retitled ICEA Childbirth Educator Workshop, and in 1999, it was again retitled ICEA Professional Training Workshop — Basic Teacher Training. The position paper Epidural Anesthesia for Labor was also published; ICEA publications saw a resurgence of new titles, revisions and updates of previously published works, and the availability of teaching aids and posters.
In 1989 ICEA published the ICEA Resolution on Childbirth Education, and the ICEA Position Statement: Cesarean Section and VBAC; major revision of the ICEA Bylaws and Election Standing Rules was completed; the Teacher Certification Study Guides and examination were revised; the designation of an ICEA Certified Childbirth Educator was changed from ICEA CCE to ICCE; the International Convention became an annual event.
In 1990 the position paper Informed Consent in Pregnancy and Childbirth was adopted; eleven organizations endorsed the ICEA Resolution on Childbirth Classes; the International Convention was held in Chicago.
In 1991 ICEA revised its logo, which made its debut on the cover of ICEA Bookmarks; ICEA certified its 1000th ICCE; the Journal started being printed on recycled paper and was indexed by the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). As a means of working with other groups and organizations, ICEA also adopted the International Lactation Consultant Association’s Position Paper on Infant Feeding and the March of Dimes’ Position Statement On Substance Abuse During Pregnancy; the board reaffirmed its previous position not to endorse products; ICEA coordinators and the Cesarean Options Committee mailed over 1,200 copies of the ICEA Review: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section to hospitals and health agencies in their areas.
From 1992-94 ICEA streamlined the board and a new look for the Journal was established. Additional pamphlets, teaching aids and posters were published; a new class manual, Pregnancy, Childbirth and You, was published.
From 1994-96 ICEA continued to look at the Board structure and how best to meet the membership and its changing needs. The Bylaws were updated and the election process was revised.
The Teacher Certification Program established the Experienced Educator Program in addition to its original format. ICEA joined the information Superhighway through the World-Wide-Web.
In 1994, ICEA purchased Pennypress.
The 1995 ICEA International Convention was held in Phoenix, Arizona, during which ICEA celebrated its 35th anniversary. ICEA certified its 2000th ICCE.
During the 1996-98 term, the board structure was further revised and the election process was changed to a selection process. Honorary membership was also granted to all ICEA past presidents.
In August of 1996, ICEA announced the Postnatal Education Certification Program. In 1997, this program was expanded to included non-ICCEs. The Doula Certification Program began in March of 1997.
Additional teaching aids were developed and ICEA expanded the number of posters available for educators. The ICEA position paper on fetal monitoring was revised and retitled Assessment of Fetal Well-Being During Labor and Birth. The Cesarean Birth and VBAC position statement was also revised.
During the 1998-2000 term, the board approved transitioning more of the work of each position into the Central Office. ICEA endorsed the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative as put forth by the Coalition for the Improvement of Maternity Services (CIMS). In addition, ICEA endorsed the Canadian Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care: National Guidelines.
To avoid confusion within the various certification programs, the Teacher Certification Program was renamed the Childbirth Educator Certification Program.
During the 2000-2002 term, the board entered into an agreement with Growing Family and its professional web site. The board also renewed its agreement with Impact Media, the publishers of New Parent Magazine. In the spring of 2001, ICEA purchased Pink Inc. Publishing Company.
In 2000, ICEA announced its new Perinatal Fitness Educator Certification Program. ICEA certified its 3000th ICCE.
The Perinatal Fitness Educator Training and Postnatal Educator Training Workshops were added to the list of Professional Training Workshops.
Four new ICEA Position Statements and Reviews were added: Perinatal Fitness, Diagnostic Ultrasound in Obstetrics, Informed Consent in Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Birth Alternatives.
In order to meet the educational needs of ICEA educators, more alternate contact hour programs are being offered through the International Journal of Childbirth Education.
To meet growing technology, applications for certification programs, workshops, and conventions, orders for Bookcenter materials, and alternate contact hour programs are now available on the ICEA web site.
Beginning in 2002, ICEA began functioning with an Executive Director. Much of the work of each position is now handled in the Central Office under the direction of the Executive Director.
ICEA began offering its Basic Teacher Training for Childbirth Educators, Doula and Labor Support Training, Perinatal Fitness Educator Training, and Postnatal Educator Training Workshops in conjunction with health care facilities, in addition to offering the training during the ICEA International Convention.
In 2002, ICEA also became a member of the March of Dimes Prematurity Alliance.
In 2003, a new position statement, ICEA Position Statement and Review: Postpartum Emotional Disorders, was published. Mini Bookmarks, devoted to particular subjects, began to be published.
In 2004, ICEA purchased the rights to publish and distribute nineteen posters from CAPPA. A decision was made to develop, produce and distribute additional teaching aids for educators and doulas.
During 2005, a survey of all members and customers was completed to evaluate ICEA programs and services.
In 2006, the ICEA retroactive contact hour approval process was revised as a direct response to the member survey.
ICEA began to list items from its Bookcenter on eBay.
The ICEA web pages were redesigned to better reflect the organization and to be more user-friendly for members and customers.
In 2008 moved its office from Minnesota to Raleigh, North Carolina and changed its management.
In 2009 the journal was changed to an on-line publication to take better advantage of the features of Internet publications, namely full color, audio and video links and “live” references. The website was completely redesigned to permit easier ordering for Bookcenter items.
ICEA decided to hold its 50th anniversary convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in collaboration with Lamaze, also celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2010. Again, in 2015 ICEA and Lamaze held a joint conference in Las Vegas, Nevada celebrating 55 years.
The last half of this decade has been one of renewal. Position papers have been updated. The process of membership and certification have been streamlined. ICEA now enjoys ANCC accreditation, offering approved continuing education for nurses in the US. The international influence of ICEA continues to grow as we receive inquiries from around the world.
At the strategic planning meeting in the spring of 2017, the ICEA Board of Directors voted to launch new Mission, Vision, Core Values, and Goals. These give a clear focus as we look to the future. ICEA continues to set high educational standards for professionals that serve families during the childbearing year by disseminating information about childbirth, breastfeeding, family-centered maternity care and freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives. We remain true to our vision:
A nurtured world through professionals trained in family-centered maternity and newborn care.