Meet Stephanie Sosnowski, a certified Childbirth Educator and IBCLC from Campbell Hall, New York. Stephanie currently serves on the ICEA Board as the Secretary. In this interview, learn about what inspired her to join ICEA and what advice she gives to newly certified professionals.
What Inspired You to Become a Childbirth Educator?
I had an unwanted cesarean section birth in 1982 and shortly after, found the local chapter of the Cesarean Prevention Movement (now known as the International Cesarean Awareness Network) for support. I went on to become the Chapter President and an advocate for pregnant women in the community, encouraging them to learn as much as possible about advocating for themselves for the birth experience they wanted. I have a successful VBAC and have continued to support women who wanted the same experience for themselves. I became a volunteer for a local non-profit that was just created to address the high rates of infant mortality in our region and, after a few months, was hired by them to become their Perinatal Health Educator. That was when I learned about ICEA and felt drawn to their philosophy of “Freedom of choice based on knowledge of alternatives.” I became an ICEA Certified Childbirth Educator in
1995 and co-led the local CEA group with another ICCE in my hometown. I taught birth and breastfeeding classes for the non-profit for nearly 30 years, as well as private classes for expectant couples. I ‘retired’ from that job in 2020 and have been working part-time for a local community hospital as one of the lactation consultants, and also teach their childbirth classes monthly.
What Is Something You Wish People Knew About Your Work?
That your birth experience is something you will never forget, and that taking a prenatal class (not just ‘googling’ the info or asking your friend what she did) to better understand the actual risks and benefits to the things that can happen during labor and birth, will help to make your experience a more empowering one for you and your partner.
Do You Have Any Stories or Moments That Stick Out to You During Your Time as an Educator That You Could Share?
I can’t think of any one experience, but I still love to meet couples who took my classes after they gave birth and hear them tell me that what they learned in my class really helped them and that their partner was able to use many of the relaxation/massage techniques that we practiced in class.
What Do You Like to Do in Your Free Time?
I can’t say that I really have any free time! In addition to working part-time at the hospital, I serve on the ICEA Board, as well as the Board of the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition, so there are lots of meetings and projects that I am involved in. I also teach Zumba and other fitness classes at several local gyms. Plus, continuing to work part-time at a local pediatric office as their IBCLC and run their new moms’ group. And I try to attend educational events as much as possible so that I can stay updated on new research and information in the perinatal field. I do have 3 grandchildren that I love spending time with, too!
Why Did You Choose ICEA?
The organization’s philosophy matches mine—I try to instill information in my classes so that the couples can make their own decisions about what birthing options are best for them, not me!
What Do You Do as Secretary on the ICEA Board?
My job as the Secretary is basically to attend all of the Board meetings, as well as the Executive Committee meetings, and take the minutes. I have only been on the Board for less than a year, so I am continuing to learn more about the inner workings of the organization.
What Advice Would You Give Newly Certified Professionals?
Continue to stay up-to-date on new research so that your classes can reflect the most current information. Look to non-profit organizations in your community to offer your services to a more diverse population to which you are accustomed. Learn more about different cultures to expand your knowledge! The fact that social media and the virtual world exists now (it was not around when I started teaching) means that you have so many ways to reach new clients—use all those resources!!