Over these past few months, interning at the Central Coast Childbirth Network has exceeded all my expectations. I have had the honor of working alongside the CCCN members and community, filled with such inspiring and hard-working individuals. I was given so many opportunities in this short time that have helped guide me toward my future career goals. Read my bio in my CCCN blog post here to learn more about me!
I wanted to share and reflect on some of the experiences that I have had while interning at CCCN.
Impactful Shadow Opportunities
I absolutely loved being able to attend two midwife appointments during my shadow experience with Justine Waldram, CPM, LM. I got to hear Justine ask her clients about their birth plans and what they wanted for their birthing experience. It became clear to me at that moment what midwifery can offer in terms of birth. The thought of having a birth experience in the comfort of one’s own home and having a positive relationship with the person that is going to help deliver their baby is something that families may not even realize they can have. Birth is such an intimate time and that memory with last the birthing person’s lifetime. Midwifery allows the pregnant person to hone into what their body is so capable of doing all by itself. In addition, my experience also consisted of seeing the belly being measured, blood being drawn, and a shot being administered- all of which I had no idea that midwives could do prior to this experience. I got to hear both of the baby's hearts beat, alongside the pregnant person, and that was such an unreal experience. To think there is just a living baby growing and moving in the mother’s is amazing and hearing the heartbeat really allows for the realness to set in. I would imagine that being a huge comfort for the parents, as I saw smiles on both of their faces when they were listening to their baby’s hearts.
Another amazing shadowing opportunity was with Zabrina, who was teaching a Lamaze Childbirth class to a mother and her husband. I got to learn so much as Zabrina taught them about the Lamaze practices, about warning signs to look out for during pregnancy, resources they could access for a whole array of different things (acupuncture, doulas, etc), anatomy of a person pregnant versus not pregnant, and so much more. The expectant family was able to learn so much and ask any questions that they had, which was amazing! To see the sense of ease with being able to ask
anything and everything provided so much peace to the family. This made me even more sure about a career in a field that is specific to helping individuals feel confident, at ease, and knowledgeable, and especially related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum where a lot of first-time parents feel scared or unsure- there are a lot of changes and a lot of unknowns. Overall, this experience was so amazing to be a part of. Zabrina is so amazing in the way that she teaches and interacts with her clients. I feel so lucky and grateful to be a part of the experience, and I am thankful to the couple as well for allowing me to be a part of their learning and session.
Lastly, I was given the amazing opportunity to tour two birth centers located on the Central Coast. They were both amazing and unique in their own ways.
My first tour was at Intimate Birth Journey with Erin Ashley, CPM, LM. I was able to see all of the space, from the birthing room, which was big and open, with a bed and a birthing tub, to the Reiki room, to the kitchen where mothers can make some tea or bring some snacks and put them in the fridge. Me and my fellow intern, Nicolette, were then able to ask a bunch of questions. I had never known about a birthing center, which is an alternative to birthing at one’s home. Erin Ashley can deliver at one’s home or at her birthing center, and she said that it’s really half and half. The pregnant person is given the choice of out-of-hospital birth and now gets to choose whether they feel more comfortable in their own home, or at the birthing center. This had me thinking a lot about the huge lack of education centered around women’s bodily autonomy and choices related to childbirth, so seeing that there are even more options to give women their most desirable experience was amazing.
I also got the pleasure of touring the Santa Lucia Birth Center, with Mishell Whitacre, LM, RN, IBCLC. The staff was so friendly and welcoming. It was set up a lot like a doctor’s office, with many different rooms down a hallway. There were two birthing suites, one with light and bright colors, and the other much darker and with less light in the room. There were also additional offices in the center where acupuncturists and therapists could do their work.
Both birthing centers are so amazing and would be a wonderful place for a birth.
Along with the shadowing opportunities I detailed above, I have had so many more amazing and wonderful experiences. Some of my other opportunities were attending La Leche League and Mama Mentoring with Jennifer Stover, where parents or birthing people can come together to learn from Jennifer as well as each other. Each week is learning and discussing different topics, from sibling relationships to lactation support.
I was also able to join Susannah at C.L. Elementary where we helped the kids make thank you cards for their teachers and also be able to express their creativity.
For many of the weeks throughout my internship, I was able to join the CCCN expo planning team and see the behind-the-scenes of how non-profit runs and just how much time, thought, and effort goes into planning for an expo. The expo could not have gotten done without the work of everyone on the CCCN planning team. The expo was so amazing to see, as every meeting planning was coming to fruition on that day. Seeing how the community came together and connected was amazing. I was able to work at the check-in table and see everyone come into the events. I was also given the chance to walk around the expo and introduce myself and learn a little bit more from the vendors. The expo could not have happened without the participation and support from all the vendors, supporters, sponsors, and volunteers, so thank you to everyone who participated and showed up to the event!
In addition to my participation with the expo planning team, I was able to get one-on-one mentorship with both Zabrina and Susannah.
I had conversations and mentorship time with Susannah, thinking about and evaluating my mission and values, and where that can play into future career aspirations. I was able to learn skills, such as working with Wix and Canva through my mentorship with Zabrina. On the second-to-last week of my internship, we all went to make Candles at The Mayan Candle Collective and reflect on the internship experience. Both Susannah and Zabrina have been such amazing mentors and I could not have asked for better support and individuals to look up to throughout this experience.
I started this experience with an open mind and a lot to learn. I couldn’t have imagined a better internship experience and I feel so grateful to have gotten the experience to work with CCCN. I was to extend my gratitude to my fellow intern, Nicolette, who inspired me with her drive and passion for learning and furthering her education in the birth and wellness community. And to Susannah and Zabrina, who treated me with so much love and support since the very beginning of this experience, and who have been inspirations to me both in their professional careers as well as inspiring me personally as individuals and mentors. I still have a lot to take in through this experience in deciding what my next steps are for my future. I do know one thing for sure- I want to work to better the community, and in a career related to helping parents through their pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum journeys. To any future interns, whether you have experience in the birth and wellness community or none at all, you will learn so much and have the best support system in place for you to achieve your goals. I want to say thank you again to everyone who has played a role in this experience. I am so grateful to everyone who opened up their professional careers for me to experience and learn from. Thank you to Susannah and Zabrina who worked hard to open up as many opportunities for me to learn and grow. This will be an experience that lasts a lifetime and has inspired me in ways that cannot fully be expressed in words.
With so much gratitude and love,
Sadie Cooper, CCCN Intern
At C.L. Smith Elementary School: