When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2009, I signed up for Childbirth Education classes. I had done so much reading and watched so many births and documentaries and as prepared as felt I could be, I was also still really fearful of the labor and birthing process.
When it was time, I attended my classes throughout a 6 week series. I then realized how much I stood to learn by taking these classes. My instructor was an amazing woman. A mother of four children and a full time childbirth educator. She made class something I looked forward to each week. I met dear friends in class and I am still close with them to this day. I will always be grateful to my instructor for what she gave to me in terms of knowledge and confidence. She taught me so much more than I could have imagined and she played a huge role in how I approached my own process and birth intentions. Exercises we did in class aided me in making major decisions about my care and my labor.
I went into early pregnancy having one plan, and only one plan, in my mind as far as my labor and birth were concerned. And then I was induced. Things did not go as “planned”, (they often don’t!) and I was faced with many decisions in the process. Throughout my induction of labor, so many things I learned in class came into my mind and allowed me to make informed decisions regarding my labor and my birth and the approach I took to caring for my newborn daughter, once she was born. I can’t imagine going through that process without the knowledge that I had gained in my classes.
Within days of the birth, I decided that I wanted to become an educator. The process took me some time, as I had one more baby while pondering how and when to make it happen. In the meantime, I became a labor & postpartum doula and finally, I decided to take the plunge and register for the childbirth educator certification program with the amazing Julie Brill, along with the encouragement of my dear friend Maria Rossi Noyes.
Upon taking my class with Julie, I was determined to jump in headfirst and complete my certification as soon as I was able. Within months, I had successfully completed my requirements and had achieved my goal. I was officially a CAPPA certified childbirth educator.
This path has led me on so many incredible adventures. I have had the honor of working with mothers and families of all ages and backgrounds. I have worked in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts in private settings, midwifery offices, hospitals, and a mental health agency. I have used my doula skills, personal experiences, and the training I received from Julie Brill in my day to day work as a childbirth educator and not a day goes by where I don’t feel inspired to learn more, to do more, to be more for my students and families.
I am current employed by a hospital and I am instructing the Preparing for Childbirth classes, Newborn Care, and Breastfeeding classes. While doing this, I am working towards my certification as a Teen Educator in hopes of implementing a program within my hospital.
Each day I work, I meet families and mothers who have the same fears and anxieties that I faced going into childbirth and parenting. I invite them to share their feelings with me so that I can do my best to alleviate some of that for them and open their minds to working towards the best birth experience possible for them. I love when a family comes out of my classes with their questions answered and their horizons expanded.
All in all, I have been so fortunate to have had the experiences that I’ve had as an educator and I’ve built a lifelong career doing something that I love. I hope to continue to make an impact on the lives of my students doing something that I am incredibly passionate about. I am blessed to be able to work with and teach expecting families, nurses, and doulas in the process of certification. Along this path, I have had the honor of working with amazing childbirth professionals and I’ve gained a community of people who I hope to work with indefinitely.
Ann Tohill, CLD, CPD, CCCE, CLC runs Mountain Mama Doula and can be reached at email@example.com.