Surrounded by midwives, nurses, doulas, childbirth educators, and mothers I noticed the atmosphere felt decidedly woman-centric. And right.
Why had we gathered?
On a cool May evening, nationally known birth experiences and local treasures Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN and Cristen Pascucci hosted a group of about thirty for the first annual Kentucky Birth Summit to hear board-certified continuing education lectures on Group B Strep, PROM, Newborn Procedures, and the Legal Rights of Childbearing Families. Hosted by Evidence Based Birth, the event raised funds to cover approximately one month of lobbying expenses for the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition.
New to the work of KHBC, and birth work in general, I was excited to glean any bits of knowledge I could from the wisdom surrounding me. The number of attendees was perfect; not overwhelming for whole group discussions and easily divided into smaller groups. As you might expect, there was lots of excited conversation during the (delicious!) Bourbon n’ Toulouse catered dinner and at the end of the evening.
Rebecca Dekker led the first two sessions of the Summit. I appreciated that the more technical information she provided was easily made relatable through interactive activities and provoking questions. In true Evidence Based Birth fashion, Rebecca encouraged us to compare commonly held beliefs against the facts. Is term PROM associated with a higher risk of cord prolapse? Should a mother always use antibiotics if tested positive for GBS? An impressive amount of information was clearly presented in a short amount of time. Attendees who chose the professional tickets received a flash drive with presentation slides and additional information. Well worth the price!
Cristen Pascucci’s session on the rights of childbearing families took place after dinner and was a lively way to close out the event. Informed consent and refusal, as well as the ethics of patients’ rights, were discussed at length. We examined ethical statements from organizations like ACOG, and compared what was written on paper to practice. Insurmountable problems (lack of informed consent, denial of human rights in childbirth) do not lose their weight after such discussions, but the needle is pushed in the other direction the more these conversations are had. Cristen’s passion for advocacy is infectious. It was inspiring to learn from her and other experienced birth workers at the event.
When asked for remarks on the event, attendee and expectant mom LJ Johnson said, “I thought it was wonderful. I learned a lot, especially about Strep B and being checked after your water breaks. I feel better informed and much better able to be an advocate for myself and my baby.”
Better advocating for one’s self and one’s baby is exactly the heartbeat of the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition. The first Kentucky Birth Summit was a great success and I hope not the last!