Tanya Strusberg, LCCE
Introduce yourself and where you teach.
I am Tanya Strusberg and my prenatal education practice is called Birthwell Birthright. I live and teach in Melbourne, Australia.
What motivated you to become a childbirth educator?
I had my two children very close together (they are 1 year and 1 week apart in age!) and so I was at home as a full time mother for an extended period. When it got to the point where I was contemplating going back to work, I found that I just didn't want to go back to doing what I had been doing professionally for so long. I wanted a new challenge. Something interesting, rewarding, meaningful and that also complemented my life as a mother with very young children. The traditional workforce never looked less enticing!
When I received an email from the woman whose Lamaze course my husband and I had attended with our first baby to promote a new course she was offering to train women to be Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, I literally leapt at it! It was so utterly perfect. It ticked all my boxes and then some. I absolutely adored my course as well as the incredible women I studied with.
If someone would have told me five years ago that this is what I would be doing now, I would have laughed hysterically because it is so far removed from my former career – but I just love being a Lamaze educator. It is a joy and a privilege to do this work.
What is the most difficult obstacle you currently face as a childbirth educator?
I think there are a couple of things. Currently, I work in a full time (unrelated) day job and teach my Lamaze courses at night and on weekends. My children are still very young (3 and 4 years old) so all together, I am finding juggling everything fairly exhausting work. In my ideal world, I would quit my day job and just focus on building my Lamaze practice to the point where it will become my sole source of income. I absolutely believe this is possible, so I just need to be patient and creative and work toward my dream goal.
My other major challenge is finding ways to build awareness of Lamaze here in Australia, where it is largely unknown. If people know anything they think it is either a) the breathing method or b) the company that makes baby toys.
I am a regular contributor to a very successful website for Australian mothers and write an "Ask the Childbirth Educator" column and other articles on pregnancy, birth and early parenting. In each article, I try to include some Lamaze words of wisdom or links which will lead them to access some of the fabulous online resources available to them. I feel like I am slowly making headway which is encouraging. However, at the end of the day, I am only one person (and currently the only LCCE in the entire country!) I would love to have LCCE training and certification available for people here (I studied and certified while I was still living in Israel). I believe there is huge potential for Lamaze to grow in Australia.
Having received an International Conference Grant, what did you find most helpful while attending the Lamaze Conference?
Being given the opportunity to come to the Lamaze conference was amazing. It was so exciting to meet so many other LCCE's (I don't have that opportunity here in Australia) and learn from other people's experiences. It was also such a highlight to hear some of the most respected figures in the field speak - like Ina May Gaskin, Dr Jack Newman and Henci Goer. I really hope to be able to go to the conference again as it was such an inspiring experience.
Briefly share a success story as a childbirth educator.
It's hard to pinpoint one story. I get so much joy and satisfaction – both professionally and personally – when I hear from women who have taken my course and gone on to have a really beautiful and satisfying birth experience, especially women who initially approached their impending labours with fear or trepidation. I can hear in their voices how proud they are, and knowing that I was able to play a part in helping them to achieve that is just the most amazing feeling in the world. I can be having a really rotten day, but when I get a call from one of my ladies to say they just had their baby and they had a wonderful birth, it puts me on a high for the rest of the day. I don't think there are many jobs as awesome out there.