The Real Reason to Attend the ICEA Conference: Meet a Rockstar or Join a Band

by Miriam McKinney

The year was 2018 and I was a newly certified ICCE. An old friend and I were flying to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the ICEA conference. I was so excited. I had never been to Louisville, and I had never been to any sort of birth-related conference.

I was a working IT professional and a parent, but my past conferences had been about programming and data analysis. This was new territory for me.

From the minute I picked up my badge and swag bag, I kept thinking, “These are my people!” I had a sneaking sense that this community of birth professionals was quickly becoming important to me. I already knew I loved talking and learning about pregnancy and birth and now I was doing just that with everyone else at the conference.

I’ve always loved learning and many of the sessions from 2018 still stand out especially the “Round Robin” session where I learned how to take a regular baby doll from a store, add beans or rice, and transform that doll into feeling more real. I listened to seasoned researchers who were catching me up on the latest in birth-related topics such as mental health topics and induction rates. Each session revealed another passionate person with knowledge to share. Truthfully, the overall academic prowess of the speakers and the content at the conference took me by surprise. I often thought of birth work as more “touchy-feely” and less academic even though I had spent two years working to get certified and had reviewed medical textbooks and read many academic papers.

As I recount my 2018 conference experience, I get a little choked up recalling that I was lucky enough to meet Penny Simkin, a true “rockstar” of the birth world. I was new to this work and even I knew who she was. The contents in her books have shaped the language that we use as childbirth educators and doulas. I reviewed her “Pain Medication Preference Scale” with ten couples just this past week. I’ll never forget that feeling that I was meeting a celebrity when I shyly asked her for a picture. Her recent passing reminded me of another reason why my first ICEA conference experience was so incredible. I met a rockstar.

Why am I telling you this story? You guessed it, in October 2024, ICEA will be hosting our first in-person conference since that one in 2018. I have the privilege of being your current ICEA Director of Conferences. Talk about a full-circle moment.

We have all learned to adapt to a more digital world since COVID, but the research is clear in two areas. For many learning styles and especially for the adult learner, learning while also with a trusted community or during a social event, like a conference, increases engagement and retaining information. (1)

We are a community of certified educators and doulas and being with “your people” feeds the soul as well as the mind. Another study found that “separating learning from social experience undermines learning” and “student engagement occurs when learning is integrated with meaningful social experiences.” (2)

“Mint julep, anyone?” (Louisville 2018)

Yes, I’m promoting the conference! I’m shouting it from the rooftops. It’s going to be amazing and the more of us that gather, the more amazing it will be. Please be a part of our learning community this fall. I promise you will not regret investing in yourself to join us. And, instead of just meeting one rockstar, maybe we’ll join together and start a band.

Register NOW for the October 2024 Conference:

Lastly, I’m also promoting you being a part of the future of ICEA as an organization. When you join a committee or the board of directors, your expertise and your perspective are added to the overall vision of ICEA.

Join an ICEA committee:

Review the list of board positions, some of which will be opening for 2025 (including Director of Conferences).

See you in October!

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