At the end of April an important event is happening in Berkeley, California – the BirthKeeper Summit, a conference that brings BirthKeepers from all over the world to heal birth, and therefore to heal the earth. I first became aware of this conference when I attended the 18th International Congress for the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) as a presenter in November 2013. Deb Puterbaugh, whose idea it was, and I had conversations about the legacy of Jeannine Parvati Baker, who I had come to know at many previous APPPAH conferences in the 1980s and 90s. The conference is a testament to Jeannine’s vision of healing birth to heal the earth. Originally planned to happen in June/July 2014, it was rescheduled for April 30 – May 3, 2015 to coincide with the annual ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) meeting in San Francisco. There will be a march outside the Moscone Center to protest the current harmful paradigm of obstetrically driven birth and to rally for a new holistic paradigm for birth.
It is my great privilege to be one of the BirthKeepers who will be presenting at this historic conference. I will be presenting a workshop within the Present pathway, and the title is Postpartum Presence: Empowering the Family Space in the Postpartum Period. The workshop will focus on how to support parents as they navigate the fourth trimester, the importance of supporting the partner relationship through the transition to parenthood, exploring the multidimensional aspects of life after birth with techniques for mastering the experience, and raising awareness of the causes and interventions for healing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
I have been passionate about the importance of healing birth myself for decades, starting with conferences I sponsored in the 1980s – “Choices in Childbirth” (1984) and “From Obstetrics to Midwifery: Why We Must Change the Way Babies are Born” (1986) in which Michel Odent, world renowned physician dedicated to improving birth, was a keynote speaker. He continues his mission to improve birth, and is once again a keynote speaker at the BirthKeeper Summit. I take my place among the elders at this conference, and an exciting part of this gathering is the cross-pollination with the newest generation of BirthKeepers who are in attendance. This intergenerational movement is a powerful confluence of energy to effect change. We all hold the values of positive empowered birthing, and I am joyfully looking forward to sharing time with other natural birth leaders at this event.
In addition to Michel Odent, Robin Lim, activist midwife and CNN Hero of the Year (2011), Katsi Cook, indigenous midwife and activist for health and reproductive justice, and Loretta Ross, expert on women’s issues, racism and human rights, will also be keynote speakers. There are over 40 workshops on offer on the following pathways: Clear, Embodied, Present, Nurturing, Related, and Social. I anticipate a fertile learning opportunity gained from these other BirthKeepers, who are coming to share their wisdom and experience.
MotherBaby / MotherEarth is our primary immutable relationship, and expresses our connections to each other and to the earth. Nurturing is a fundamental premise of these connections. Healing the MotherBaby connection is the basis of healing MotherEarth. It is an archetypal model for living, and since we always birth in accordance with the way we live, by living in harmony and with respect for MotherEarth, we reclaim the power of natural childbirth. After all, nature (MotherEarth) is the essence of natural childbirth. We are all connected.
If you would like more information about this powerful gathering, check out the link to the event. I hope to see some of you there.