Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can a Birth Conference Really Be Neutral?

One of the major differences of the Controversies in Childbirth Conference is that we claim to be a neutral venue for inclusive discussion. I have been asked and have heard people asking others, "Can a conference really be neutral?"

One of the things that makes "Controversies" different is that is not produced by a membership organization. It is a totally independent conference. All membership or association conferences are self-serving! They are designed to make you feel good about the job you're doing and to feel good about the association that you belong to and pay your dues to. Therefore, you will probably not see a seminar on the schedule of an association conference that is critical of the association or the profession.

Next, associations are extraordinarily political!!! There are official and unofficial hierarchies. There is generally paid staff who want to keep their jobs and not rock the boat. Often you will hear someone say that they don't submit speaker abstracts, because some officer, director or muckety-muck doesn't like them and has blocked them from appearing on panels in the past.

Rarely will you find debate in a session between the presenters. One reason for this is that the association does not want members leaving the room yelling at other members. Remember, association conferences usually contain business meetings, and someone needs someone else’s support to get elected or to get a project passed through the board or membership.

The Controversies in Childbirth Conference is different. There are no business meetings, there is no hierarchy, and there is no politics. There is a small group of people that help with the conference and also help decide on seminars and speakers. As the conference coordinator, I try very hard to keep these people's identity secret. This avoids the unpleasantness of receiving phone calls from friends, trying to get other friends on the program or get seminar topics approved.

Being neutral also means that there is no agenda hidden or otherwise. It's not about showing homebirth is good, epidural so good, obstetricians are bad, midwives are bad, etc. Many panels are done in debate or panel format with presenters who may not agree with each other. Please know that although there may be disagreement, everyone involved with the conference is committed to professional, civilized discourse and discussion.

If you want to hear how great homebirth is, go to MANA. Want to feel good about doulas? Go to DONA. Want to feel good about the contributions of OB/GYN's ? Goto ACOG. Need a pat on the back for being a nurse midwife? Go to ACNM. I could go on and on.

Do you want to hear the issues that other professionals involved in birth face, in an unbiased professional manner? Come to the Controversies in Childbirth Conference! !


Starting Wednesday, we will talk about the newly announced seminars for the conference.

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