Full Conference

Full Conference

Price: $349.99
SKU: fullconference2016

Join us this October for three full days of learning and growing!  

Confirmed Speakers include: 

  • Beth Murch

  • Ina May Gaskin

  • Teresa Pitman

  • Christy Hall

  • Gena Kirby

  • Amanda Saunders

  • Jodi Hall

  • Melissa Krawecki

  • Lesley Everest

  • Rivka Cymbalist .... and more to be confirmed! 


Conference Date: October 20-22 2016
Location: Lower Level
Centennial Hall 
550 Wellington Street
London, ON N6A 3P9

Conference Hours: 8:30am-5:15pm
Food/Beverage not included. We will provide light refreshments and water. Please bring refillable containers. Venue welcomes you to bring in your own lunch or you are welcome to visit the many local restaurants. We will provide a list of options.

Topics Include: 

  • Working within a Full Spectrum of Care

  • Supporting Refugee Families

  • Feminism in Birth

  • Supporting Partners

  • The Intersection Of Birth Work and Child Protection

  • Artistic Expression for Wellness

  • Trauma Informed Work

  • Medicinal Herbs

  • Helping Overcome Breastfeeding Obstacles 

  • Breech


  • Supporting long difficult births

  • Indigenous Mothering 

  • When Trauma Survivors Support

  • The Thriving Birth Professional


Group rates for 10 or more available - see the FAQ section below for details. Group rates cannot be applied after registration.

Cancellation Policy for The Birth and Beyond Conference
Registration is non-refundable but transferable up to and including the day of the event. Please contact us with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is The Event “Baby Friendly”?
Yes. Of course. We understand that often attendees need to accommodate the needs of their babies. However, we have run into several icky situations with this policy in the past. We love babies, it is true.  A baby by nature spread good feels and warm fuzzies through our conference, seeing as most of us who attend are usually huge fans of them! That is until you are straining to hear presented material over some one’s sweet babies coo’s or cries. Even HAPPY babies can be very distracting. We will forever allow babies into our conference but we ask that as a caregiver you respect the needs of others around you. If your baby is being disruptive, excuse yourself to the back of the room, take a break, a walk outside or go sit and chill in the lounge until the baby settles. It is the unfortunate reality of bringing along a baby, you may miss some content while tending their needs or the needs of the other delegates. If you need a baby carrier, we will have some for rent at the registration booth. We have you covered.
This policy is restricted to babes in arms only. We cannot accommodate toddlers at the conference. For those breastfeeding older babies/children, we welcome to have an additional caregiver pop in during break times/lunch for you to feed and connect with your child.


Do you accept payment plans?
Yes. We understand budgets! We are happy to work with you, please contact me directly shawn@vestaparenting.ca

What’s the fine print on the group rate?
The group rate for 10 or more is $275+HST. How it works: One person submits the names and emails of each person in the group. Also, acknowledging how they would like to pay - via paypal, cheque, EMT or credit card by phone. We are happy to work out payment plans for those who need it. We will invoice everyone individually. We would recommend having a buffer person or two on the list, as if all 10 don't firm up the rest of the group is invoiced the difference in fees. You are welcome to let people know we are  happy to work with them however they need - monthly payments etc. Group lists must be submitted by July 1st, 2016 in order to qualify.

Workshops and Discussions 

Connecting with the Full Spectrum: Building skills to support all
Pregnancy Outcomes – Christy Hall
In this discussion we will explore the common stigma that exists
around people who are making reproductive decisions, regardless of
which one. We will review the factual information about who has
abortions and miscarriages and how common it is, in order to have a
framework for understanding what drives these various cultural views
about bodies, sex, pregnancy and death. Through this, the barriers to
autonomy, informed consent and authentic decision making that are
familiar to most birthworkers will be further illuminated. We will go
over specific information about abortion, and what the experience is
like for people having them and expose ourselves to the relationship
between abortion and miscarriage, (including fetal anomoly and infant

Working with Refugees – Rivka Cymbalist
You want to provide inclusive service to families who are under the radar of private practice doulas. You are interested in organizing a volunteer program. You have no idea what to do! In this workshop Rivka, who is a longtime veteran of the volunteer doula community, will get you started on the path to creating and maintaining a volunteer program. We will explore how, where, with and for whom you can successfully build a program, and we will ask “why” it should be done, and how inclusive it should be. The session will be active and full of discussion and input from participants.

Dealing with Long Difficult Births – Ina May Gaskin
Ina May offers some tried and true insight on how to offer support to a tired labouring family.

Conceiving Your Story - Beth Murch
As guardians of birth, we are keepers of secrets and vessels of wisdom. Ours are the stories of heritage...of cultivation...of bread, blood, milk, and bone...and, ultimately, of walking that sacred border between Life and Death. There is no excuse for writer’s block! Drawing upon the innate intuition and creativity that are present in all perinatal professionals, this workshop will both inspire and prompt you to compose a story or poem that captures your experiences working in the field of birth...and beyond!

Baby Led from Pregnancy to Birth to Exclusive Breastfeeding – Attie Sandink
Practical information on making it all easier for new families.

The Intersection of Birth Work and Child Protection – Amanda Saunders & Holly Gibson
This is a three-hour workshop that will be open to all birth workers and allied professionals. The session will move through three topics, leaving ample time for conversations.
The Intersection of Birth work and Child Protection will explore how and when birth workers may connect with Child protection workers, and how this intersection impacts the women we service. We will explore how birth and child protection workers can work collaboratively in the prenatal period and beyond (despite potential differences); and discuss how birth workers can begin to navigate the logistics of supporting women involved (or soon to be involved) in the Child Welfare system.
Woven through this workshop will be issues related to confidentiality, boundaries, communication (written, spoken and recorded), legal implications, the process of grief and loss (apprehension/relinquishment), and inextricably linked to this topic is self-care. How do we do this work and ‘be well’.
We look forward to further exploring how Birth and Child Protection workers can continue to share spaces to best support women and children, while discussing the ‘realities’ of Child Welfare from our experiences.


Making Friends with Medicinal Herbs – Rivka Cymbalist
Medicinal plants are powerful and effective agents that are readily available for most of us to use. But we have to know how. In this short workshop, we will make friends with ten of my favourite herbs that I would suggest for use during the prenatal, birthing, and postpartum period. Some of our work will be theoretical, learning about the characteristics of these friendly but powerful plants, and some will be hands-on. The participants will learn about how these plant materials work on the body. We will also explore the process of deciding which herb to use for which situation, and how we can engage our facility of intuition when we are making this choice. Examples of the herbs will be available for the participants, and each participant will leave with a sample of their choice.

VBAC: All Our Stories – Kat Garduno
Usually women who want a VBAC have their mind set, their expectations laid out and a heart that is pretending to be ready, but is actually doing all it can to stay protected. I know this because I was one of those women. Six years ago I prepared for the VBAC I was determined to have. Or so I thought. My preparation left me 'mind-ready' and I knew the facts, stats and had all my to-do list checked off. I inadvertently neglected to make myself 'heart-ready'. This crucial preparation was so very necessary and
was the missing piece that I craved so deeply--and yet did not know how to find it, because I was looking in the wrong places. When  my VBAC "failed" I created a layer of stories to protect myself, to basically shield me and keep myself from having to enter the journey of vulnerability, of forgiveness, of healing and of letting all these stories go. It was a year of excruciating emotional, mental, physical and soul wrenching change. Spoiler alert: somehow I came out the other side alive and well. I fell apart. I came back together. Not the same as before, but reconfigured in a new way, a new version of me that knew what heart-ready feels like. I began attracting people to me who wanted to know this feeling as well.
And thus my journey in birth work began.
So, what does it mean to be heart-ready? How can we become heart-ready for  our own birthing journeys and our mothering journey? What are the aspects we need to consider specific to VBAC to support and guide the women we work with to find this readiness within themselves? How can we embrace and simultaneously let go of the stories and beliefs that weave our reality? These questions, and more I'm sure, are the questions we will explore during this session. Just a heads up--I am by no means an expert on anything! A wise saying says, "and every man who knows a thing knows not a damn thing at all." I don't have ALL the answers but I do have the experience of a journey SO MANY women find themselves going through. If we can support each other with true compassion through *all of our stories* well, I think we can add beams of love and light to this sometimes messy, paths-unknown, world of ours.

Fear – Ina May Gaskin
Ina May’s outlook on “Fear” of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Who’s fear? Where does it come from? How is this fear new and different than the many generations of birthing women before us?

Panel Discussion: Current VBAC Considerations – Ina May Gaskin, Jody Hall, Sheila Stubbs, Kat Garduno, Erika Kakfa
This interactive session will join the passions and voices of many. Come listen and share.

Birth Noise – Ina May Gaskin
Find out what Ina May’s been up to, what’s been on her mind and what she sees happening in the birth climate.


Navigating digital online environments: Ethical considerations for birth workers – Jodi Hall
Knowing how to conduct ourselves online isn't just an issue for teens; increasingly the boundaries between our professionals and personal lives are becoming blurred. Keeping yourself safe, and upholding clients' right to privacy and confidentiality extends way beyond "privacy settings" and "closed groups". In fact, that's just the beginning. Drawing on relevant case studies to demonstrate best practices and (un)anticipated consequences of online behaviour, this workshop will explore ethical considerations in how we conduct ourselves across a range of digital online environments

Fear: The Driving Force Behind Modern Birth Culture – Lesley Everest
There are two essential places we approach life from; love or fear.  Our modern birth culture is predicated upon risk management and liability protection, which are systematically fear driven.  Parents-to-be are terrified of making wrong choices that could risk their babies' health. Our work as birth keepers also contain elements of fear, such as the concern of being misunderstood and judged, as well as the fear of "competition", which erodes community and true prosperity.  How to we come back to that place of love which nourishes and informs a graceful life?

Divide and Conquer – Rivka Cymbalist
This is a three-hour session that will be open to all birth workers and allied professionals.
The session naturally divides into three topics, of roughly one hour each.
A. When Partners Part Ways explores ways that business partnerships in the birth world often start cordially and informally and end in recrimination and pain. How do we create these toxic relationships, and how can we create healthy business bonds amongst ourselves? What can we do when relations break down? How do we construct relationships that are not hierarchical, but which have the necessary controls to avoid messy “divorce”? How can we avoid our friends, colleagues and clients from “taking sides” when a business relationship dissolves?
B. Eating Our Young: Education of a Birth Worker There is a common feedback coming from the recent graduates of our university-based midwifery programs. The graduates come out of these programs with an excellent theory-based education. They are well versed in midwifery care, from routine prenatal visits to emergency care. However, the relationships that are created between many of the students and their preceptors and teachers can be (and often are) described as that of a bully and a victim.
Student doulas have a better time, usually. But many young newbie doulas do a short workshop and then find themselves thrown into the realities of birth work in hospitals where they are not welcomed, and with clients who are abused and afraid.
How can we provide a safe space for our young students to learn about birth work? How can we create educational environments that are inclusive (in terms of race, gender, socio-economic status, and religious\political beliefs), are joyful, and provide a high quality of learning? How can we apply our philosophies about birth (human-centered, pro-choice, low tech) to our realities of education in the birth world?
C. The Blame and Shame Game We all know about this game, and most of us try not to play it. But we continue to embarrass, silence and suffer even with the best of intentions. How can we reduce the incidence of this dangerous and debilitating syndrome? It has infected so much of our lives, from our friendships to our work relationships to our most intimate life choices. Is the answer to reveal everything about ourselves? Is the answer to hide all our secrets? Common sense? A stronger set of boundaries? These questions and more will be addressed and explored together in this final third of the workshop.

Birthing Your Story: Telling Tales – Beth Murch
Your words are heavy inside you, and they are pushing to get out! Open yourself wide and birth them in a sweet-salt ocean of milk, tears, and amniotic fluid! Using your writing from Conceiving Your Story or from home, this workshop will prepare you to receive your inheritance as a storyteller by transforming your words on the page to words on your lips to be shared with your community. Whether you are a performer at heart or simply a scaredy-cat looking to gently push some boundaries, you will be lovingly supported as you learn to communicate in an engaging and interactive manner.

The Safe Sleep Seven: Guidelines for Bedsharing – Teresa Pitman
Based on the book “Sweet Sleep,” this presentation will explain the research behind these guidelines for safer bedsharing. Currently, many public health agencies are advocating that mothers never share their beds with their babies. Instead, they recommend breastfeeding the baby in bed and then returning him to a crib. The reality is that the vast
majority of breastfeeding mothers report falling asleep when they try to follow this approach, and many move to a couch or recliner in an attempt to stay awake – putting the baby in greater danger. The Safe Sleep Seven outlines seven factors, supported by research, which make bedsharing as safe as having the baby sleep alone in a crib – information that every new parent should have to enable him or her to make decisions about sleep.

Working Ourselves out of a Job – Teresa Pitman
Will there ever be a time when we (doula - birth and post-partum, LLL volunteers, childbirth educators, parenting educators, etc.) are not needed, because our families and community give mothers that support and the knowledge about birth, breastfeeding and parenting is so widely known that there's no need to share it in more formal ways? What can we do to move closer to that? What would it look like?

Working with addictions – Christy Hall
Discussing the ways that birthworkers can inadvertently perpetuate harms on people who are going through recovery, because we have internalized many messages from the Drug War.

Bearing Witness to Infant Loss - Melissa Krawecki
Melissa Krawecki, accomplished speaker and published Author with Praeclarus Press of "In the Shade of Ava's Tree: Surviving HELLP, Stillbirth and Rebirth."  My talk would include a reading from "In the Shade of Ava's Tree: Surviving HELLP, Stillbirth and Rebirth" with a chosen selection highlighting the experience of loss from the perspective of a parent, patient and spouse. An open question and answer conversation with doula's and support persons answering the true questions of loss including "what I will see?" and challenging the bias and framework to understand what families' need.

Multiple Considerations – Erika Kafka
With the rising numbers of twins and more, discussing practical ways to prepare families for the addition of babies into their home. From a supporting role, practical ideas on discussions around birth and feeding. Discussions of “typical” scenarios, language used options.

PANEL DISCUSSION: How Obstetrical violence is an extension of gender based violence - Jodi Hall, Christy Hall, Ina May Gaskin, Lesley Everest, Erich Otten

Spoken Word - Storytelling - Beth Murch, Melissa Krawecki, Birth & Beyond Associates. 
Interactive fun night of storytelling and word slamming! (Friday October 21 7:00pm)

Trauma Informed Birth – Jodi Hall
“How do I caringly and effectively support a survivor of abuse through pregnancy, childbirth, and the transition to parenting?” Abuse is not a rare occurrence. Statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Although estimates vary, approximately 10-20% of women will experience abuse during pregnancy. Pregnancy is often a time when abuse begins or gets worse. Chances are you’ve already provided care for more than one survivor of abuse during your time as a practitioner, even if you never saw the signs or knew what impact you were having. In this session we will touch on: Why it is important to focus on trauma and the transition to parenting. Childhood sexual abuse and the impact it has on the child victim and pregnant/parenting adult survivor. The impact of childhood sexual abuse on the childbearing year and what that means for your practice. Nurturing safer spaces for disclosures. Strategies to support disclosures of abuse. Using trauma-informed practices.

Shoulder Dystocia – Ina May Gaskin

Evidence Informed Care for Birth Workers – Jodi Hall
Do you know what is meant by 'evidence' in evidence informed care? Are you confused by contradictory sources of information on the same birth choices? Are you uncertain how to apply best available research evidence to different client situations? Do you know how to determine "good" sources of evidence from "bad"? 
If you're struggling to feel confident in the world of birth research, you're not alone. This presentation provides a brief introduction to research methodologies for birth workers. Participants will gain valuable insight into the world of research, and take away with them some foundational skills in becoming critical consumers of birth related research.

Sissies, Tomboys and doulas: unpacking gender essentialism in
birthwork  - Erich Otten
This discussion will focus on the issues surrounding breaking birth binaries. We will unpack the current stories attached to care providers and the intersections of gender in birthwork, modern birth movements, and queer* culture. Participants will leave with a strong foundation on current Gender Theory and Queer* 101. Distinctions between gender and sex, and the historic importance of multiple genders will be discussed, as well breaking the false “male, female” sex binary. We will end with a discussion on the commonality of multiple chromosomal sexes, ie xx, xy, xxx, xyy, xxy, xxxy xyyy. Ending with a discussion on intersex bodies and the humans who live in them. How Feminism(s) shapes birth This discussion will focus on “the personal is political” and distinguishing feminist theory from the practice of feminism(s). Participants will discuss the first three ‘waves’ of feminism(s) and the resulting offshoots in methodology, theory, and practice. Discussion includes the history of the epidural, the feminist practice of menstrual extraction, trends in motherhood
studies, self-help and birth anarchy in reclaiming birth. 
Decolonizing Birth – Indigenous Mothering Alyssa Gagnon
Wachiye! Nitishinkason nipi nesta pitapekok nesta taykwa takamo ntochin. Ninita omashkekomon. Hello! My name is Water and I am from Fort Albany and Taykwa Tagamou. I speak Omashkeko (Swampy) Cree. I am a Status, mixed-blood, Cree Indian and have always identified as such, but I would like to point out that having Status does not equate to real ‘Indianess’ – but that is an entirely different story. In the context of this presentation, I will focus on my maternal relations and hope to provide brief historical context and how the importance of payakotaynow (family) is at the forefront of my story and how it may relate to the stories of other Cree childbearing peoples across time and space. There is a crucial importance of keeping birth within communities throughout northern Canada, dispelling negative birth experiences in northern, rural and remote areas, and bringing these two phenomena together to establish gaps in care – gaps that I am personally attuned to as an Indigenous mother.

When Birth Workers are Trauma Survivors 
“I would like to see some conversation regarding the reasons why those of us with trauma are called to this work. As well some discussion of how to ensure we are not using this work to heal our own wounds. And how to approach conversations without being triggered ourselves” - birth worker, trauma survivor
So far, the conversation about birth trauma has centered around preventing, identifying and responding to traumatic births in the lives of pregnant and birthing women. However, birth workers bring their own stories of trauma into birthing spaces. These stories can impact how birth workers experience the births of others, and how they are left feeling afterward.
The sad irony is that what makes for great birth workers – empathic understanding, can be the very quality that can cause such heartache.  By talking about our hurts with one another, we can become better at understanding when it’s our own story, our own hurts “showing up” in birthing spaces, and we can resist the urge to project our own perceptions onto others.

Time to talk about trauma in the lives of birth workers – because yes, it’s a part of many of our lives too. We’re getting better at talking about the impact of trauma in our clients’ lives and on the transitions to parenting; however, we are less able to call attention to our own.  Let's break the silence so we learn ways to keep ourselves and our boundaries healthy with clients so we can stay well in the birth work we love. 

Don’t Forget Dad – Gena Kirby
Often in pregnancies the mother and the baby are celebrated while the father is left out. If there is a partner he should be celebrated as well. Gena Kirby will be discussing the importance of the father and how to bring him into the birth and early parenting. In our time together I will discuss the importance of the father during: Pregnancy Labor and the postpartum period (including his role in breastfeeding.) We will discuss how the partner affects labor, emotionally, hormonally and sexually.


Assessing Breastfeeding: Red Flags and Green Lights – Teresa Pitman
A new mother tells you she thinks she isn’t making enough milk. Do you
know what “red flags” to look for that might indicate that in fact the
baby is not getting enough? Or, on the other hand, what information
would tell you “green light” – everything is going just fine? Many
breastfeeding problems or situations need this kind of assessment and
analysis, and this presentation will use case studies to show what to
look for and how to respond.

Ceremony for Healing and Abundance: Lesley Everest & Birth and Beyond Team
With all the beauty and passion we have generated in our Birth and Beyond Conference gathering, how now shall we live?  Coming together in a celebration of diverse community, what do we endeavour to give away so that we may begin to transform our fears and trauma into healing and abundance?  Join us for this closing ceremony to send you on your way grounded and energized.



Go to top