Barb Buckner Suárez, BA, LCCE, FACCE
Where do you live?
How long have you been teaching?
I am a little bit past the halfway mark of my 19th year as a certified Childbirth Educator. I have had the great honor and privilege to teach (literally!) thousands of families over the years. While I am terrible with names, I never forget a face and have been known to remember a former student from 10+ years before.
What was your journey to a career in childbirth education?
My best friend wanted me to be at her first birth and because I rarely do anything half-way, I decided that meant that I should become a Doula. So, I drove 300 miles North on I-5 to Seattle and took a multi-day certification course at the Seattle Midwifery School. The first afternoon, only a couple of hours in, I had discovered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. There is no other way to describe it - I had found my life's vocation. This decision was made even more interesting in that I had not given birth yet myself (and wouldn't for several more years!) Because my husband and I planned on having a family of our own, I knew that eventually I would want to have a job working with pregnant women and their partners that had more regular and family-friendly hours. When I realized that I could be a Childbirth Educator and only work evenings and weekends, it seemed almost too good to be true. Thankfully, it wasn't and I've been teaching expectant families ever since.
Why did you choose to become an LCCE Educator?
I had originally been certified with ICEA, as it was the more common certification found/known on the West Coast at the time I was hired as a Childbirth Educator. Several years in, I decided that I'd like to hold dual-certification in both ICEA as well as Lamaze because I value education so much. I took a Passion for Birth training with Teri Shilling and this ended up being a great point in my career to be reinvigorated by becoming certified with Lamaze. I really appreciate the emphasis Lamaze puts on being evidence-based and really vocal about best practices for expectant families. The professional materials that are available to me as an educator are strong and I appreciate feeling confident in referring my families to the Lamaze for Parents website. I know the information they'll find there is evidence-based, unbiased, current and of exceptional quality.
How, where, and what do you teach?
I teach for two hospital systems in Portland, Oregon: Legacy Health System and Oregon Health Sciences University. I teach 4-week series, weekend prep for birth classes, and specialty classes designed to address the mind/body connection in birth and how to add comfort and coping techniques to the labor and delivery process. I have had the opportunity to be a new educator trainer for both of my employers. I've been really excited to take part in local trainings for L&D Nurses about how to support women physically and emotionally when they are trying to avoid pain medications in labor. And I've been on the Board of Directors for NACEF - Northwest Area Childbirth Educators Forum - since the beginning of my career promoting educational opportunities and setting the bar high for my fellow educators to continue to pursue excellence through high quality educational conferences over the years.
What or who influences your teaching?
I would say that my biggest influencers are the families that I teach. I've learned something new from every single class I've ever taught. I hope that I never feel as though I've arrived - it's that curiosity that I have as each new class begins that allows me to continue to teach with such passion almost 20 years into my career. I have also had the great fortune of having some amazing mentors in this field that took me on when I was a "baby educator" to help me become the seasoned veteran that I am now. I also love to train new educators in this field - they always have new and fresh ideas that inspire me to continue to stretch myself in new ways.
What is your goal as an educator?
I love the idea of being able to encourage women to take on some personal responsibility in their births and to participate as fully as possible. The idea of being an informed decision-maker is integral to my teaching as is providing realistic expectations about pregnancy, birth, postpartum and early parenting. I want my students to feel as prepared as possible for the challenges that come with this experience. If possible, I want them to embrace vulnerability, as opposed to trying to run away from it, so that the powerful transformation that can happen during birth can be fully realized.
How do you use Lamaze Resources to support you as an educator?
I always discuss the Six Healthy Birth Practices - specifically, by name - as well as a theme to my whole way of teaching. I encourage my families to stay off the internet - EXCEPT to visit Lamaze.org as I know it is a resource that I can trust and refer to without concern.
How could you suggest other members receive maximum value from Lamaze?
Reading the Science and Sensibility blog is a great way to get information that is current and evidence-based. Also, the Journal is an excellent resource of fantastic studies that provide information that speaks to the issues that our families are concerned about.
When you aren't teaching, what do you enjoy doing?
I have four kids of my own, ages 16, 14, 10 and 7. I'm a very busy Momma! Between coordinating dance, soccer, acting and playdate sessions, I am hard at work writing a book about birth and I blog at www.birthhappens.com. I love cooking, dancing, karaoke, Boot Camp classes and hiking in the Great Northwest.