The conference is a two day affair and does a great job of bringing together labor and delivery nurses, postpartum nurses, IBCLCs, childbirth educators, doulas, etc. This year was no exception. I enjoyed seeing many of my colleagues from St. Mark’s Hospital there, as well as many of my friends from the Utah Doula Association.
This year the conference was held at the Gathering Place at Gardner Village, which was a great location, though the staff was a little distracting with loud talking and setting up for an evening event before we were even finished!
As usual, the conference opened with the planning committee performing a fun skit. This year, the theme was Gathering Ideas and Growing, so they dressed in springy gardening clothes and sang “Tiptoe Through the Research” and then had everyone join in.
My favorite sessions were:
BonniJean Monson, PT talking about physical therapy during pregnancy and postpartum. Since I have been doing PT for a bad ankle sprain the last few weeks, it was particularly interesting to hear about. She taught some basic stretches and posture techniques we can share with the women we work with, and discussed when a referral to a physical therapist might be helpful.
Kristi Ridd-Young taught about labor coping skills. It wasn’t anything I had not learned before, but it was interesting and worthwhile to attend for several reasons. I enjoyed seeing how someone else taught the techniques differently than I do, it was eye opening to be in the session as participant rather than facilitator, and I enjoyed seeing the interaction and questions from the nursing staff. It always helps me to better see a nurses’ point of view when I attend this conference alongside them.
Dr. Jerald King from the University of Utah discussed the use of donor milk, it’s benefits to newborns, and the current process of collection, processing and distribution. I was disappointed to learn that despite the many benefits to babies, many hospitals, including St. Mark’s, don’t use donor milk at all! Dr. King is working towards the establishment of a human milk bank here in Utah in the next several years, and I will be looking forward to future developments there.
Celeste Thomas and Susanna Cohen of BirthCare HealthCare at the University of Utah wrapped up Thursday with a session on using the rebozo in pregnancy, labor and postpartum. I always love learning new rebozo tricks, and any session that gets me up and out of my seat after a long day of staring at powerpoints is always a winner in my book.
One of my very favorite nurses in all the world, Kelly Martin, and a very experienced doula, Kristy Huber, presented jointly about the relationship between doulas and nurses. It was very well done, and I really appreciated the cross-discipline presentation. I particularly liked the ending note: If you have a problem, don’t gossip about it, FIX IT! They gave information on how to file a grievance with certifying organizations and/or the local doula group, as well as how doulas might discuss their concerns with someone at the hospital where the nurse is employed. I think this kind of accountability and professionalism can only help.
Other sessions included:
Heather Scott, an RN from the University of Utah presented on getting babies skin to skin with mom in the operating room after a cesarean birth. I love, love, love the idea, and she had great practical info on that. Unfortunately, her talk can’t be placed in my “favorites” because she spent a good half hour of her time going on a rant about natural, normal birth and blaming women who are disappointed about a cesarean for having “unrealistic expectations.” Her attempt to portray cesarean birth as “just another normal way of birth” had me biting my tongue, HARD. I may have to do a whole ranty blog post on why the mother blaming and attempt to normalize cesarean birth bother me so much. (I think she hit a nerve there with me, can you tell?)
Mary Erickson, another RN from University Hospital, presented the session “What to Expect in a Baby Friendly Hospital” It was mostly information on the benefits of skin to skin and the stages of alternating rest and activity that babies go through immediately after birth. These topics are great, and for many participants it was new information, but last year’s conference covered these topics extensively and in much more depth, so for me it was a review.
Cathy Coates, yet another RN from the U of U (the conference was heavy on U of U speakers this year…) spoke about delaying the first bath for at least 24 hours. She had some great info on the benefits of vernix and reasons to delay the bath, and for many of the nurses it was pretty eye opening. But I honestly kept thinking “Why should we even have to talk about this? It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to just bathe the baby….or not… whenever works for the family.” I did like her opening remarks about traditions and how doing something just because it is a tradition isn’t a good reason to do it. It’s not the speaker’s fault that the song “Traditions” from Fiddler on the Roof got stuck in my head. I blame my daughter Callie for appearing in that play last year…. She also ended with a great rewrite of the Brady Bunch theme – making it be about delaying the bath. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on the words and get permission to post it.
The closing session of the conference was Christy Porucznik, a professor in the Public Health program at the U and a local LLL Leader talking about “The 10th Step” meaning building community support for breastfeeding. She discussed current resources, how we talk about breastfeeding, multi-generational change and education, etc. Very helpful and useful.
There were a few breakout sessions I was not able to attend, because I don’t yet have my own time turner: