Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby fairs and New Year's resolutions

I attended the baby fair at Lily Lake Pavilion on Saturday. There was a good turnout with lots of bellies and babies. Women in Saint John are blessed with a multitude of places to buy good quality toys and gear for their babies. There are great photographers, spas and boutiques that offer maternity wear.

And then it struck me….what the fair was missing. There was no breastfeeding support information, nor a spot for a tired mom to sit. There were no healthcare providers…they are all too busy and overworked at the hospital. There was no information on birth options.

I was walking around, informally interacting with presenters and moms, wondering if I too should have booked a booth. I thought back to a few years ago, at a baby fair in Fredericton. Moms were happily looking through booths of baby clothes and bottles. At the time I wondered if I had something on my face as moms streamed past the table that I shared with the local La Leche League group. We were not as colorful as the other booths, but we had also relied on our “excellent” information, and our feeling that if we could only educate women, they would flock to our doors. That simply isn’t the case.

As birth professionals we need to realize that we are countering mainstream images of birth and parenting. We need to make sure that we are accessible to women and that our attitudes are ones of acceptance and support. We need to show pride in the work we do, politely correcting misinformation while at the same time refraining from being “defensive”. We need to take advantage of opportunities like the birth fair and shamelessly market activities like breastfeeding challenges and International Midwifery Day. We need to understand that our support of our clients is worthy of a paycheck!

And so I make my New Year’s resolution early this year: PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE! It’s a win-win situation….I do my heart’s work, women learn about options, and slowly we will have more peaceful fulfilling births in Saint John and beyond.