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Conference 2017

Turning TRUTHS of Birth into Action

September 8-10, 2017 * Crown Plaza Hotel, Virginia Beach, Va

BirthWorks Conference 2017 Putting TRUTHS of Birth Into Action, Virginia Beach, VA

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Pre-Conference: Thursday, September 7, 2017

8:30am-11:30am Michel Odent

Michael Odent MD Birth Works International speakerPart 1: Why are human births special?

  • Why are human births special? To answer this question we’ll consider the particularities of two organs:
  • The placenta. The human hemochorial placenta is highly effective at transferring maternal antibodies (IgG) from the maternal blood stream to the fetal blood stream. This is why, among humans, the main preoccupation in the perinatal period is not immediate access to the early colostrum: it is colonisation of the body of the neonate by a great diversity of familiar microorganisms. From bacteriological and immunological perspectives, we’ll classify twenty first century human births into two groups: birth at home and birth “elsewhere”.
  • The brain. The concept of neocortical inhibition will be presented as a key to understanding human nature in general and human birth in particular. We’ll study several human physiological functions that are usually obscured by neocortical inhibition. The process of parturition is one of them.

Part 2 The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee (Title of a book to be published in London on September 28, 2017)

  • We’ll present a revolutionary vision of Homo based on an unusual combination of data provided by a huge diversity of emerging and fast developing disciplines: genetics, physiology, pathology, ancient techniques of canoeing, studies of the fluctuations of sea levels, etc. 
  • Understanding Homo as a member of the chimpanzee family adapted to the land-sea interface will have huge practical implications, particularly in the perinatal period.

12:30pm-7:00pm Exploring the Latest Science About a Baby's Microbiome - Toni Harman

Toni Harman, producer of the film MICROBIRTH, will lead a pre-conference workshop at BirthWorks International's Conference 2017Research is emerging almost daily on the role of the microbiome in human health. It keeps our bodies functioning, protects us from disease, and is mostly established before the age of three. But studies show that common birth interventions including the use of synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics, Cesarean sections, and formula feeding could interfere with, or bypass completely, the crucial microbial transfer from mother to baby that helps seed the microbiome and kick-start a person’s immune system.

This full-day workshop with Toni Harman, co-author of “Your Baby’s Microbiome,” will clearly outline the problem and provide steps you can take to protect your child, and offer parents important tools for empowered decision-making, and a new perspective on microscopic events that will impact your baby’s lifelong health. This is an important workshop for parents and anyone working in the field of childbirth.

8:00pm-10:00pm Showing of Film “Why Not Home”

Dr. Michelle Minikel thought home birth was crazy–until she got pregnant. Turns out she’s not alone. Why Not Home? exposes a secret from within the medical community. A small but growing number of doctors, midwives, and nurses who attend birth in the hospital are choosing to have their own children at home. Through the compelling stories of women who choose to go outside the hospitals where they practice to give birth, viewers experience the beauty and challenges facing families both at home and in the hospital in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Beyond the personal stories, Why Not Home? is a critical and thoroughly researched look at how we are providing maternity care in the US and the choices we are giving women and families about that care. Maternal mortality rates are rising in the US at a time when they are falling in every other industrialized country. Why Not Home? challenges viewers to move beyond the polarization and judgement that has plagued this issue for decades and instead embrace a more integrated and collaborative model for the future. Includes post-film discussion.

Conference Day 1: Friday, September 8, 2017

7:00am-8:00am Yoga

7:30am-8:30am Registration and Breakfast; Exhibits Open

8:30am-8:45am Welcome

Co-chairs Cathy Daub PT, President BirthWorks International and Amara Minnis CBE(BWI), CD(DONA)

8:45am-10:15 am Keynote

What a Perinatologist Learns By Being a Doula – Bethany Hays

Both Perinatologists and Doulas see their jobs as creating healthy children who grow into healthy adults. Perinatologists, Neonatologists, and Obstetricians all carry biases that cannot be further from the truth in terms of their role and goals for mothers and babies. We now know that stress during pregnancy “programs” the life-long health patterns of the baby. And we know that the one thing that can reverse the stress of pregnancy and birth is the care and attention of mother and father during the newborn period. This makes the role of the Doula critical; especially given the stress many mothers are experiencing during pregnancy and when their babies are young. As a Perinatologist, I was barely aware of these issues, as a Doula for my two daughters-in-law and my niece, I have had to improve my skills of listening, responding to subtle cues from mother and baby, and keeping my own agenda out of the picture, while at the same time imparting the importance of the pregnancy, birth, and early childhood experiences to the parents. It is not an easy job…maybe I’ll go back to perinatology!

10:30am-11:30am Breakout Sessions

A1 Healing Touch™ as Self-care for Birth Workers as a Way to Change Birth Culture


Blair Conger

Birth professionals work under intense circumstances. The hours are long. The families are in a transitional state. Expectations can be high. Outcomes can be far from the expectations held by those involved. For many birth workers the physical and emotional toll can be high. Healing Touch™ is a heart-centered bio-field therapy that can balance, clear, open and energize the human energy system. Healing Touch™ is a gentle adjunct to self-care for all members of the birth team. We will explore how Healing Touch™ can restore and invigorate the birth team, how this restoration creates a resonant space around the birthing family and how Healing Touch™ philosophy can help us hold sacred space for the birthing family. There will be a brief experiential demonstration of Healing Touch™ for the group.

A3 The Impact of Birth Trauma on Babies and the Newborn Family


Kate White

 Current data show that between a quarter and a third of births are considered “traumatic” (Simkin, 2016). Many women, their partners, their babies and birthing professionals report symptoms of post-traumatic stress as a result.  Birth professionals, pediatricians, nurses, and lactation consultants all then work hard to help these families with varying degrees of success.  This presentation will review birth trauma, especially how it shows up in babies, breastfeeding, and the dysregulation of the nervous system of the whole family.  Details will include descriptions of birth trauma, what it looks like in babies and helpful tips for professionals of all kinds.

A2 Human Rights in Childbirth


Amber Price

The experience of pregnancy and childbirth are central and essential to the human experience. When the voice of the woman is diminished, or disappears, and the judicial or medical systems take over her right to determine the course of her pregnancy, fundamental Human Rights are violated. Each human’s right to make decisions for her own body and for her unborn child may be challenged and dictated by the society in which she lives. We will review the laws surrounding birth and consent, legal interference in the birth process, and current discourse surrounding Human Rights in the context of Obstetric Violence.

A4 Physiologic Birth in a Hospital Setting


Karen Shields

Although out of hospital births are on the rise in the United States, more than 98% of births continue to occur in a hospital setting. It is imperative to the health of women and their babies that physiologic birth be supported in a hospital setting. In 1996 the World Health Organization called for the elimination of unnecessary intervention in childbirth. In 2012 ACNM, MANA and NACPM published a consensus statement intended for health care professionals and policy makers “Supporting Healthy and Normal Physiologic Childbirth” This workshop will explore these statements along with elements that support physiologic birth in a hospital setting. It will also provide practical measures to affect change.

11:30-1:00 Lunch and Exhibits

Group Photos of Speakers. Speakers eat together.

1:00pm -2:30pm General Session Keynote

Optimize Your Lifestyle and Environment for Everyone’s Health –  Steven Pratt

The nutritional and lifestyle choices which “mom and dad” make before conception will increase fertility, their chances of having an un-complicated pregnancy and a healthy baby, and everyone’s chances of living a longer and healthier life. Environmental toxins are everywhere (e.g. yard, kitchen, garage, lotions, deodorant, shampoos, wood, paint, flooring, car interiors) and they concentrate in our fat. These topics will be discussed in detail. Longevity and optimal health really do begin prior to conception.

2:30-3:00pm Exhibits

3:00-4:30pm General Session Keynote

Birthing Beliefs Into Action: A Manifesto of Maternal Feminism Sally Dear-Healey

What do ‘crunchy mamas’ and ‘technobirth feminists’ have in common? Do all birthing women have equal opportunities? In what ways are our beliefs about birth impacted by biological essentialism? Combining ‘psychosocial epigenetics’, evidence-based research and birth activism allows us to effectively reframe issues and the questions, participate in legitimate conversations with stakeholders (mothers, fathers, and care providers), and effect meaningful and fundamental short- and long-term change for mothers, babies, families, and even our world.

4:45-5:45 Breakout Sessions

B1 How To Teach The Microbiome To Expectant Parents


Toni Harman

Science about the infant microbiome is complex and can be difficult to explain to parents, and yet this is critical information that can impact the lifelong health of children. Documentary filmmaker, author and course creator Toni Harman presents a way that birth educators and healthcare providers can present the science so that it is both accessible and understandable by expectant parents. The session covers essential information parents need to know about the microbiome in pregnancy, vaginal birth, C-section, and breastfeeding, and how this information can be communicated in parent classes.

B3 Karen’s Healing Kitchen: Food as Medicine


Karen Burzichelli

Are you looking for new ideas to eat more healthfully? In this dynamic workshop, taste the savory delights of a whole foods plant based cooking demo that shows how we can use delicious food as medicine to achieve a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, and a healthy body.

B2 The Connection of Human Values and Optimal Pelvic Positioning for a Peak Experience in Birth


Cathy Daub

What do human values have to do with optimal pelvic positioning? The answer is “Everything!” Come hear and see in an interactive and hands-on workshop how this connection builds confidence and decreases fear in birth and leads to a peak experience – the gift birth offers to all women.

B4 Dystocia According to Ohm’s Law


Jeanne Ohm

You can help prevent dystocia in birth with integrative chiropractic care in pregnancy! Assessment techniques for all practitioners to discern physiological indicators throughout pregnancy that may lead to dystocia in birth will be described.  Three causes of dystocia that remove interference to the nervous system and balance pelvic muscles and ligaments which in turn reduce uterine tension will also be explained.

5:45-9:15pm Exhibit Hall Open

7:30-9:30pm An Evening With Ina May – Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin Birth Works International SpeakerIna May Gaskin is often referred to as the most famous midwife in the USA. She is the author of many books read around the world. She has been an inspiration to thousands of women and has also shown the safety of homebirth for most women. Don’t miss this special opportunity to see part of The Birth Story featuring Ina May and hear her stories about birth from The Farm. Ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Book signing and pictures to follow.

Conference Day 2: Saturday, September 9, 2017

7:00-8:00am Yoga

7:30-8:30 Registration and Breakfast

8:30-10:00 General Session Keynote

The Critical Importance Of ‘Seeding And Feeding’ A Baby’s Microbiome For Lifelong Health – Toni Harman

Documentary filmmaker and author Toni Harman explains the concept of ‘seeding and feeding’ a baby’s microbiome with vaginal birth and breastfeeding. As the baby travels through the birth canal, the baby acquires the mother’s bacteria. Then human milk oligosaccharides found in breast milk feed the bacteria newly arrived in the baby’s gut. As humans, we have evolved for this biological process to happen in this way. This helps optimally train the baby’s immune system which lays the foundations for a lifetime of best possible health.

10:00-11:30 General Session Keynote

Great Expectations – Jeanne Ohm

Dystocia in birth often leads to a more difficult birth and subsequent medical procedures. But with education and specific chiropractic care, practitioners can heighten the mother’s awareness of nervous system function including emotional, technocratic, and neuro-biomechanical causes that can lead to dystocia. Practical lifestyle approaches that enhance normal physiological birth outcome will be discussed along with Salutogenic care and Porges theory of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).

11:45-12:45 Breakout Sessions

C1 Respectful Maternity Care of the Obese Intrapartum Patient


Amber Price

In the United States, 10% of women of childbearing age now have a BMI of 50 or greater. Obesity is an epidemic, and is affecting pregnancy and childbirth in an alarming way. With knowledge of the condition, and a conscious look at our biases regarding obesity, a normal birth can be achieved in many instances. Birth attendants are in a position to advocate for obese women and their babies, and promote optimal outcomes and a successful breastfeeding and postpartum journey.

C3 The Fourth Trimester: Sleep, Stress, and Physical Activity


Steven Pratt

As with many things in life, there’s a synergistic relationship among the chemical reactions in your body related to stress, weight, and sleep. Lack of sleep can create more stress and make it harder to control your weight. These interactions play an important in a successful pregnancy/family outcome. Physical activity fits into the mix and helps mom to lose weight, boost her mood, and deal with the normal stresses related to mothering a newborn.

C2 Seeking the Relief for Discomfort During Pregnancy


Caroll Phillips

After attending this one hour breakout session, the attendee will be able to explain the musculo-skeletal cause of pain during pregnancy and why certain positions help to reduce pain and restore balance in the pelvic structures, including the uterus.

C4 Survival Skills and New Parenting


Bethany Hays

One of my favorite books is Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. Apparently, I am not the only person to apply the wisdom of this book to my own professional challenges. W.W. Norton Publishers states: “Deep Survival had an immediate impact. As the first scientific book on survival, it set the bar and started the trend that spawned a spate of imitations. Groups ranging from the Navy SEALs to the Sloan School of Management at MIT began using it as a learning tool. Its appeal has been so broad and deep because the principles in Deep Survival apply to any challenge that life poses, from coping with a financial crisis to battling a life threatening illness or dealing with addiction and recovery. And psychologists, oncologists, business executives, and clergy have brought the principles of Deep Survival to their clients to help them face adversity, to manage risk, and to enhance decision making in every form.” During this breakout session we will look at some of the important survival skills as they apply to getting through pregnancy, labor and the first months of parenthood. My emphasis will be on how the midwife, doula and other support people can help the new parents to not only survive but to enjoy the experience.

12:45-2:15 Lunch and Exhibits

2:15-3:45 General Session Keynote

Experiential Knowledge IS Expert Knowledge – Ina May Gaskin

The notion that theorectical medical knowledge about pregnancy and birth is expert knowledge often clashes with experiential knowledge produced by pregnant women, their bodies, and their caregivers. Ina May discusses how her autodidactic entry into the field of maternity care provided a database of what happens when pregnancy is viewed as a normal and natural function.

3:45-4:15 Exhibits

4:30-5:30 Breakout Sessions

D1 Bringing Experiential Truths into Birthing Spaces Where They Are Lacking


Ina May Gaskin

Mothers often don’t know how to critically analyze procedures that are widely accepted where most give birth. This session will throw light on successes and on-going efforts to expose women to “here is how I did it” information rather than “here is how it must be done.”

D3 Karen’s Healing Kitchen: Food as Medicine


Karen Burzichelli

Last chance to experience Karen, savoring the tastes of her amazing healing kitchen where she demonstrates the art of eating more healthfully. Her excitement is contagious in this live demo where you participate in tasting her savory delights of whole foods plant based cooking. Karen shows how we can use delicious food as medicine to achieve a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, and a healthy body.

D2 Reflexology for the Birth Worker


Donna Favilla

Reflexology is based on the stimulation of complex neural pathways that are directly connected to the body systems that support the body to function optimally.     This interactive workshop will teach the birth worker the basic premise of reflexology. Reflexology can support the mother during all aspects of her pregnancy for all types of common ailments.

D4 If I Knew Then what I Know Now; It’s Never Too Late to Change the Future of Childbirth – One Belief, One Birth, and One Action at a Time


Sally Dear-Healey

Anecdotal and evidence-based research supports the bridging of science and spirit and nowhere is this more evident than the work currently being done in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology. Taking an active and intentional role in parenting from the moment of conception (and even before) provides opportunities for parents to form a significant and remarkable relationship with their baby and avoid a host of problems. When problems or issues arise, help is available.

How can we change the future of childbirth, one belief, one birth, and one action at a time? By engaging in evidence based birth activism, we’re able to effectively reframe the issues, allow re-connection of the de-connection, participate in legitimate conversations with stakeholders (mothers, doctors, nurses, families), and bring about meaningful change.

5:45-9:30 Exhibits

8:00pm-10:30pm Plan B Comedy Improv and Chocolate Fountain

Plan B Comedy ImprovIt all began in early 2011 when Brendan Hoyle and Jason Kypros decided that they would combine their talents and create Plan B Improv.  Their brand would be fun and their content would be smart and professional.  Today they have entertained countless audiences in venues ranging from 500 seat theaters to crowded bars.  Plan B holds workshops for those interested in their style of comedy at the Zeiders American Dream Theater.  They also teach classes to students at multiple schools in Hampton Roads as well as corporate workshops for various groups including the Navy JAG.  Plan B is awesome and so are you!  Flip Flop!! Find yourself laughing with their improv at our conference, on the topic of birth. Refreshments this evening include a chocolate fountain!

Conference Day 3: Sunday, September 10, 2017

7:00am-8:00am Yoga Relaxation

7:30am-8:30am Registration and Breakfast. Exhibits

8:30am-10:00 Keynote General Session

Obstetric Violence – Amber Price

Obstetric Violence is physical or emotional trauma perpetuated against women in the birth space, and can occur at the hands of midwives, physicians and support people, in hospitals and at home. The lines between consent, choice, coercion, life-saving procedures and trauma are frequently blurred, for both the pregnant woman and her provider. Observers, birth participants and witnesses often feel powerless, and may suffer from PTSD as a result of witnessing trauma. We will take a hard look at ACOG’s 2017 committee opinion on Obstetric Violence, and examine the definition, prevalence, perceptions, causes and pathways to purposeful positive change towards Respectful Maternity Care.

10:00am-12:00 General Session Professional Forum

Turning the TRUTHS of Birth Into Action Panel Discussion with audience interaction

Moderator: Chris Waters

Panelists: Steven Pratt, Ina May Gaskin, Jeanne Ohm, Sally Dear Healey, Bethany Hays, Toni Harman, and Amber Price

Panelists will share their insights into how infallible truths about birth can be put into action to help ensure safer and more positive birth experiences for birthing women and their families.

12:00-12:30 Slide show from BirthWorks International Conference 2017

Closing remarks

Call for Sponsors

We are excited to offer Sponsors and Exhibitors a wide range of opportunities to bring your products and services before our engaged community of childbirth educators, birth and postpartum doulas, other perinatal caregivers, as well as birthing parents. Download our Sponsor and Exhibitor Prospectus and contact us today!

Crowne Plaza Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia (Photo: VisitVirginiaBeach.com)Come to Virginia Beach this September! Our Conference is located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which features free WiFi, an indoor pool and fitness center, and on-site dining at the Tines Restaurant or Aqua Lounge.

The hotel offers a free shuttle to nearby dining and shopping options.

Be sure to mention the BirthWorks Conference to get our group rate when booking your rooms!

Call the hotel: 757-473-1700