It is with great sadness that I invite you all to join me in saying good-bye to Cara Terreri, the community manager for Giving Birth with Confidence (GBWC) - the Lamaze International blog for families. Cara has held this position since the blog started in 2009. Over the past years, Cara has shared information, encouraged families, provided valuable resources and been a steady rock for many people around the world, helping them to navigate pregnancy, labor/birth, feeding, postpartum and parenting with confidence, evidenced based information, and encouragement. It is estimated that Cara has written over 2,000 posts for the GBWC blog.
Cara welcomed and supported me when I started in a similar role for Connecting the Dots in 2012 and a remarkable professional and personal friendship was born. This relationship has been fueled by not frequent enough in-person connections at conferences all around the country, along with many calls, texts, collaborations and deadlines that spanned the continent. Every time we connected in person, our time together was too short, full of laughs, insights and a desire to help families (and the perinatal professionals who support them) to have positive and rewarding transitions to parenthood. I, along with the readers of the GBWC blog, will miss her wisdom and knowledge so very deeply.
Please join me in wishing Cara well as she completes her LCSW and supports families in new and different ways. As Cara writes her last few posts, I wanted to ask Cara to reflect back on her role as community manager for GBWC with some questions, that I share with you here.
Sharon Muza: What was the birth climate like when you started writing GBWC? Do you recall trends or common practices that have since faded away?
Cara Terreri: When I started out, it felt like we were a small but strengthening ripple trying to inform the new generation of families about physiologic birth, doulas, avoiding unnecessary induction and elective cesarean, VBAC – and of course, the value of taking a quality childbirth class like Lamaze! Doulas definitely weren’t as common or well known by the general public nor were they as widely accepted by medical professionals as they are today. The medical model of care in childbirth was still very much the standard and a person coming in with a birth plan was often viewed as pushy/demanding or naive, or both.
SM: What have you learned or taken away from having done this work for so many years?
CT: Too many things to name, so I’ll just pick one that feels true across many areas. The value of good support is greater than the value of good information, but when you are lucky enough (luck and privilege play a huge role) to have both, you have the highest chance of success/fulfillment. This is true in birth, in a job, in relationships, and in life.
SM: What “situation or concern” did you think would no longer be an issue to birthing people today, that unfortunately is still very much impacting pregnancy, birth and early parenting?
CT: Unfortunately, we’re still seeing an overabundance of inductions, especially since the Covid years. We’re also still seeing a general lack of support for families during the postpartum time, including familial and societal support, health care support/preventative care, and family-friendly work policies. New parents are not prepared for the hardships and when they inevitably come, the resources and help they need aren’t readily or easily available, if at all.
SM: You had two very young children when you started in this position, and now you have three, some who are almost young adults. How did writing this blog for expectant parents help you to navigate your own childbirth experiences.
CT: I began working for Lamaze before I had children, but started writing the blog when my first two were little. It took me two births – and a lot more confidence – before I birthed the way I wanted (with my third child). Writing for the blog, along with acquiring the LCCE and CD(DONA) certifications, helped give me the confidence I needed to be in charge of my choices in birth. Writing for the blog while birthing and parenting also helped me to see very clearly where the gaps and challenges lie – and what kind of support is needed to cope and prevail.
SM: What is your favorite post that you have written? What has been the most popular post of all time?
CT: The post “Why Cesarean Awareness Month?” is my all-time favorite. It was a piece of poetry I wrote for cesarean awareness and despite some of the dated gendered language, it feels like something that will forever remain poignant.
“What Causes My Belly to Feel Hard and Tight” continues to be the top viewed post! My own first pregnancy helped inform this post as I remember feeling perplexed by this weird sensation, having had no idea about Braxton Hicks contractions!
SM: What top three suggestions or pieces of advice would you give expectant families who are birthing in 2023?
CT: Humans function best when in communion with others – specifically, others who lift you up. Surround yourself with this kind of support – in pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Call on “your people.”
You know yourself best. No one expert, no matter how many degrees or certifications, knows you better than you. Remember this when advocating for yourself during your childbearing years and beyond.
Take a nap. Seriously – let yourself rest and feel good about it. It’s as good for your health as eating a plate of broccoli or a 30-minute workout – maybe even better.
SM: What happens next, for you, after you leave the position of community manager for Giving Birth With Confidence?
CT: This fall, I started grad school for a masters in social work at Syracuse University and expect to finish by 2025, at which time I’ll be able to sit for the LCSW licensure. Not sure the path I’ll take yet, as my knowledge and interests are evolving. I will continue to take on some occasional freelance writing contracts. I’ll be in the depths of parenting three teenagers, one who’s a year out from starting college! I’ll also continue to travel and hike, and spend time with my husband, good friends, and family.
Cara - it has been my absolute pleasure to get to know you, collaborate with you, spend time with you and learn from you, and I wish you nothing but success in your new and exciting new career. I hope whatever the future holds, there will always be time for a good 30 minute nap, and an opportunity to be surrounded by "your people," and that you will count me as one of them!