Wow. What a fast and furious three days in Fort Worth, Texas! Over the course of the Lamaze International 2011 annual conference, attendees had the opportunity to attend four keynote addresses, choose from 32 breakout sessions, view 5 showings of new films on pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period, network with each other during numerous social gatherings and, yes, even take in some of the local Texan honky tonk culture. We practiced prenatal yoga together (even though only a small portion in attendance were actually pregnant!), and learned the basics of Dancing for Birth. Pre-conference attendees were able to complete their Lamaze Childbirth Educator Seminar training or attend one of two workshops: Evidence-Based Nursing Care ~ Labor Support Skills, or Reality Birth ~ Educate, Advocate, Motivate!
Of course it is difficult to capture the essence of a conference experience in one short article, so the sessions I’ll mention here are meant to be just a sampling, rather than an all-inclusive summary.
Dr. Rebecca Ewing’s opening address introduced us to a new educational film recently created by the Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network (NNEPQIN), with the intent to bring awareness to the potential risks associated with induced preterm birth. The keynote address by Debra Pascali-Bonaro was an inspiring overview of the International MotherBaby Organization and the amazing work it does around the world. Liz DeMaere spoke to us about the MORE OB program which focuses on improving the quality of obstetric care. Dr. Susan Markel spoke about non-evidence-based practices of the immediate newborn period, from a pediatrician’s perspective. Donna Hartley’s concluding keynote address called upon the audience to lay out a concrete plan for how each of us can proceed in fulfilling our potential and reaching our goals.
Dr. Rixa Freeze provided an excellent discussion on taking a proactive approach to breastfeeding support in which she reminded us of the fact that our culture has generally lost the “language of breastfeeding”—making our work to support these mother-baby dyads more complicated. Wendy Schiffer’s discussion on how to approach discussions about pregnancy, normal birth and fertility awareness in children in a manner that fills the gaps left by traditional public/private elementary school sex education curricula was fantastic. It’s never too early to help girls and young women gain a better understanding of how their bodies work, and the great potential for what our bodies can and do accomplish on a regular basis. And many of us found great value (and fun, while practicing!) in the presentation on acupressure applications during late pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period—presented Lamaze International Past President, Sharon Dalrymple and her l&d nursing colleagues Haley McEache and Lindsay Snodgrass.
On a personal level, I have to admit that attending the conference was particularly fulfilling as I was able to meet and interact with Lamaze folks who live all over the country and who I had previously only interacted with via telephone or social media. While social media allows us to make the world a smaller place in some ways, it also distances us from the personal interactions that keep us human. Seizing the opportunity to come together in one place, at one time, revitalizes our human sensibilities; it refocuses our commonalities and our common goals.
Next year’s annual conference is scheduled to take place in Charleston, SC. Did you miss this year’s conference? Are you intrigued by what Lamaze International does, what our mission is, and how we go about promoting safe and healthy birth? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then I encourage you to join us next year in Charleston. I know I’m already looking forward to it!
Posted by: Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE, FACCE
Lamaze 2011 Conference, Lamaze Annual Confernce