October 2018

Birth Matters October 2018

By Laura Maxson, LM

A Bellies, Birth and Babies event is the perfect place for new and expectant parents to come together with birth and parenting related professionals to explore options. Putting on this kind of free event is what Birth Network of Santa Cruz County was born to do. In fact, Birth Network was born twenty years ago this fall, becoming the first nonprofit organization in the nation founded to promote Mother-Friendly Childbirth.

Mother Friendly in this case refers to the Mother- Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) created in 1996 by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. The MFCI has withstood the test of time to remain a relevant document to help support both parents and professionals in making decisions in the childbearing year.

Service providers who endorse the MFCI are eligible to become profes- sional members of Birth Network and become part of an online and printed Pregnancy and Birth Resource Guide. These providers include midwives, birth and postpartum doulas, childbirth educators, birth photographers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, lactation support, doctors, yoga instructors and so many more.

The resource guide can be a lifesaver for busy parents looking for a childbirth class or lactation support, but it is also handy for care providers to refer to other professionals. Instead of keeping track of a stack of business cards, they can share a resource guide with their favorite practitioners marked.

Seeing names on paper or in an online listing is one way to get information, but Birth Network wants to encourage parents to have real conversations about real issues to help them understand the choices and decisions affecting their pregnancy and birth. Often the standard care expectant parents receive leaves some holes – time can be short at appointments or taken up with other concerns leaving parents with lingering questions. But more often than not, there can be entire aspects of care options that aren’t explored at all, simply because the provider may not know much about it.

Birth Network’s next Bellies, Birth and Babies event, coming up on Nov 3, from 2-5pm, will give parents an opportunity to have open ended conversations with birth professionals and other parents about their goals and concerns about birth and parenting issues. But just as important as exploring known concerns is the exposure to new topics and ideas that may not have been considered yet.

A parent looking for information on birth photographers might unexpectedly have a pivotal conversation with a lactation consultant. An informal chat with a childbirth educator or birth doula about common interventions or coping in labor might provide pregnant parents with key information to make more informed decisions. Talking about water birth with a homebirth midwife might open up possibilities that many parents don’t even know exist.

To make it a truly fun event, there will be things to buy at the pop-up marketplace from baby toys to skin care products and nursing bras. Diapering demos provide invaluable advice. The many aches and pains of a changing body – with pregnancy and after baby arrives – are addressed by free mini-massages, as well as advice from chiropractors, acupuncturists and other body workers.

The lactation station will have a baby scale available to weigh little ones along with information and support for breast-feeding. The baby wearing fashion show features an amazing variety of carriers available for families to borrow through Santa Cruz Baby Wearing. More baby-wearing action will be on display when the Groovaroo dancers take the floor!

Birth Network’s presence in Santa Cruz County over the past twenty years has had an influence on the many birth and postpartum options that are available. Birth Network celebrates this milestone by continuing their tradition of providing parents with low and no cost opportunities for information, education and advocacy for safe, joyful and empowering childbirth.

Bellies, Birth and Babies – Nov. 3, 2- 5 pm – Pacific Cultural Center, Corner of Broadway and Seabright in Santa Cruz. The first fifty families receive a swag bag and all are entered into a drawing for hundreds of dollars worth of prizes.

Laura Maxson, LM, CPM, the mother of three grown children, has been working with pregnant and breastfeeding women for over 30 years. Currently she is the executive director of Birth Network of Santa Cruz County and has a home-birth midwifery practice. Contact her at [email protected] or [email protected]

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