Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lethbridge, Canada - Birth, Breastfeeding and Bonding Conference

The doulas of Lethbridge have out done themselves with a conference this past weekend that was outstanding in content, organization, good will and nourishment for body, mind and soul. I attend a lot of conferences and usually find that I would do things differently if I were in charge, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways. But this conference was so good that I could not find one single thing that I would have changed - well, okay - maybe the room venue - but just so we could hold more people. They will have to find a bigger hotel ballroom for their 2011 conference because when the word spreads about how good this one was, everyone will want to attend. There was so much going on that I didn't even find out how many nursing mothers showed up at the nursing challenge.

One of the unexpected highlights of the conference was a performance by a local musical family - mother and father and 9 children, seven of whom performed. They were so delightful. And then I was recruited along with other members of the audience to participate in a very cute skit. I'll make another post and put up a few photos. They made me put on a floppy hat, a huge dress and then stuffed a pillow under the dress. Viola!! I was suddenly pregnant and pretended to be an irritable birthing woman in a horse drawn cart. Two lovely women were the horses!! Can't wait to post the photos. What a delight in the midst of serious learning and processing!! Thank you Daleen Bybee, Andrea Johnson and all the volunteers and committee members that made this conference possible.

My flight into Calgary was highlighted by a divine appointment with Ruth Reed, a clinical social worker who stopped me during a work session on my computer to discuss the content of my lecture. Turns out she works for an agency in Edmonton that focuses on childhood trauma. I think I'll be going back to Edmonton in the Spring to present the information about infant brain development, the primary developmental period and waterbirth to not only doulas and midwives, but to social workers, too.

For me the real highlight was one of a serious nature and that was listening and interacting with Nils Bergman, MD, from Cape Town, South Africa. He is a quiet soul, but full of passion, knowledge, enthusiasm, and great concern. He helped us shift the paradigm into seeing the harm that incubators bring to the human brain. Babies need to land on the mother's chest and stay there in the habitat - the place where the infant brain fires the right neurotransmitters and wires itself for the capacity to love, feel safe, be nurtured and feel whole. The skin of the mother responds to the skin of the baby and the two begin a chemical conversation, just like the one that was going on in utero. We know this - every mother does, on an instinctual level, but our birthing and post partum practices continue to separate mothers and babies causing real physical and emotional harm. It is not that skin to skin is safe, it is that incubators are dangerous!! Incubators equate survival of the bodily functions, but not growth and development of the brain. If the brain gets hooked up properly, the rest of the functions for which we depend on incubators (such as lung, heart, kidneys, warmth) work better with more efficiency and expediency. And this does not just apply to underweight or at risk premature babies, but to every single newborn on the planet. What kind of human being do we want to create and what behaviors do we want to foster? It all starts in the minutes after birth.