The Birth and Beyond Vision

It'’s not "“us vs. them",” – the reality is that “We”, together, can make change. Quite simply, that is our vision.

Lactation Consultants. Doulas. Nurses. Obstetricians. Midwives. There are a so many different professions involved in the care of a pregnant woman and her child. Reality is, we have to work with each other whether we like it or not. Ah, the “"or not".” It can be easy to fall into the mindset of every perinatal demographic being “us” and the others being “them”. We'’ve all witnessed hostility between groups, it'’s real and it'’s out there. But, is it necessary? Does it serve our communities well? On a basic human level, we all want the same thing – a happy, healthy baby; a happy, healthy mom; a happy, healthy family. And truthfully, we have some work to do. But this “"or not"”, the “"us vs them",” seems to be causing a stall in changing our maternal experiences.

Over the years I have worked in various parts of perinatal support – as a doula, a breastfeeding coach, and providing post-partum support. A love of learning is instilled deep within me, and I am constantly looking for and attending various academic opportunities. However, what I find is that they are usually targeted to one specific profession, often hosted by the group'’s association or certifying body. I acknowledge that these are incredibly valuable for skills development within the given profession and enable attendees to share knowledge with their peers. However, what if we looked at peers as everyone who is providing perinatal care? What if we considered the overlap in education that occurs within professions? What if we created an environment where “us” and “them” simply didn'’t exist?

This is where the Birth and Beyond Conference was born. No matter what our genre of perinatal work, we all have similar interests and passions and goals. We often want to learn a little more about this or that, but it can be hard to attend several conferences a year. We want to do what'’s best for the people we care for. And providing the best care means not just working in the same room, but working together. So, how about a different concept in education? Let'’s learn together. Let'’s share experiences. Le't’s discuss the issues with each other. Let'’s have fun together. All of us,– from speakers to attendees, each of us as important as the next.

Admittedly, the focus of the Birth and Beyond Conference is a more natural and non-invasive model of care.  We are strong advocates of normal birth and breastfeeding; we believe in the power of women and their babies.  We want this conference to not only serve as an education opportunity, but a forum where we can gather and work together to identify opportunities to use and promote this model.  We would love to see midwives, doulas, nurses, and obstetricians sitting at the same table discussing how they can or have put non-invasive practices in to action.  

You'’ll see no plenaries at Birth and Beyond. That can be really difficult for seasoned conference goers to wrap their heads around. What? No plenaries? Nope. Not here. Each year we assemble some of world’s top notch speakers in a variety of areas. And then we let you choose. You get to choose what you want to learn about based on your interests, your experiences, the gaps in your training. You get to move around throughout the day, and therefore have many more opportunities to network and connect with others who share your interests and your passions.

On top of that we throw in some fun activities to loosen us all up after a full day of learning. Interactive play time is not just important for children, but for us too! It puts us all on the same level as humans getting together, increasing our skill sets and hopefully taking back bits of new information to keep improving our practice. The women and families we support can only benefit from us coming together.

We are not the “wait around to see if someone else will do it” types. While we think this is great role modelling for our children: work hard, follow your hearts, do your best, take risks – it also can get us into boat loads of stress and many sleepless nights. We work from our hearts and always strive to reach the greater good. While we may not always be “successful”, we do not live with the regrets of “what if…”. Truly, we’ve been amazed at the experiences, the connections and the personal growth that has come to us from many sources. We'’re all in it together, and we truly believe there is a place for everyone and that everyone can work together for the betterment of new families. We hope we'’re onto something, and that you will join us on this journey.

Warmly,

Shawn De Vree
Birth and Beyond Conference Co-Organizer
Co-Owner, Vesta Parenting Inc.

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