Birthlight Conference 2013 report

What a treat to be able to attend this wonderful conference! I went away inspired, informed and with a buzzing excitement to share the knowledge I gained from the wise speakers at this year’s event.
 
The day opened with a warm welcome from Birthlight’s own Sally Lomas. She reminded us all of the huge part Birthlight plays in the lives of families around the world. Her words were reassuring and encouraging and set the atmosphere for the rest of the day.
 
Wendy Gadsden, who has many many years of  midwifery experience and is also the Birthlight Tutor for the Yoga for Midwives and Health Professionals spoke next. Wendy described the ways in which we can use Birthlight methods in intrapartum care, (ie during birth).  She also assured us of the differences we are starting to make in midwifery care. We still have a long way to go of course but our practices are already creating change and will continue to do so.
 
Françoise Freedman proudly introduced the main speaker Sarah Buckley, author of ‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Parenting’, who gave a fascinating talk about the hormones of  labour and birth. She had a mantra to remind us of how a woman needs to feel to enable these hormones to be produced effectively “Private, Safe, Unobserved” and discussed the ways in which this feelings can be promoted. She gave a detailed description of particular hormones, (oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline and prolactin) which was very easy to digest and made me, and I am sure many of the other attendees, feel very confident to share this information with students. Another main part of Sarah’s talk was about interventions in Birth. She gave very interesting descriptions of exactly what the interventions entailed and how they affected the woman and child. She had strong arguments against interventions but Sarah’s very refreshing approach was to also offer ways in which to accept when interventions are necessary and how to soften the effects of the intervention.
 
The next speaker David Hutchon’s speech was all about the detrimental effects of early cord clamping. This is a practice that is sometimes automatically done and David is determined to change this. He gave a very detailed account of the problems that clamping the umbilical cord immediately after birth could cause. But to simply summerise, the blood in the placenta belongs to the baby and if we don’t allow time for it to come into the baby’s body after birth then we are denying the baby of its full blood volume and with that many essential nutrients for optimal health.
 
Finally we heard a talk from Elizabeth Radford who described epigenetics. This talk was extremely well presented and very detailed. Elizabeth had a superb talent for providing some incredibly indepth information about this complicated topic but in a way that made it very clear and understandable. The talk was highly detailed but in summary epigenetics is the way in which cells maintain their identity. For example how a liver cell continues to know it is a liver cell and so reproduces in the correct way. Elizabeth explained how important nutrition is for both the mother and father, not just for their offspring but also for their grandchildren! I couldn’t begin to relay this information here, it is far too complex! But do look her up, she’s is an incredible researcher and very very interesting.
 
All of the speakers had been specially selected to provide us with up to date and fascinating research and information. I was extremely impressed and will book my ticket to next year’s conference as soon as they become available. I recommend you do the same!

Jane Collins

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