Monday, November 2, 2009

Women's Press Article: Birth & Baby Resource Network

There is an organization of tireless volunteers working in our community who, like those in many other “women’s” organizations, receive little recognition or fanfare as they strive to educate, support and empower young women starting families. What drives these women’s passion to reach out and share their wisdom about pregnancy, birth and early parenting? Why do they feel it is necessary to continue to struggle against the tide of our current culture?

In 1992 a group of women interested in becoming midwifery assistants and doulas met at a workshop. They shared a common goal: to make women’s birth experiences better, less medicalized and more woman-centered; more self-empowered. This meeting sparked an organization that has changed names, changed members, and changed locations over the years but has never changed its core beliefs that pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy processes that women are uniquely equipped to perform, and that women should have access to quality evidence-based care wherever they choose to birth; hospital, home or freestanding birth centers. They believe that an educated woman will make her own best choices for herself and her family and that these choices should not be made for her or taken away from her. This group is the Birth & Baby Resource Network or BBRN.

As in many other “women’s” groups, there is a coming and going of members as women try to balance the needs of their families, their lives, their work and their passions. It is always a blend of birth professionals, such as birth educators and doulas, and women young and old who were touched deeply by a birth experience and wish to reach out to others. Some had a beautiful, positive birth which touched them profoundly as women and mothers and they wish to help other women achieve the same. Some had births that left deep wounds on their female psyche from which they are still recovering and hope to spare other women. Some have never experienced giving birth but are drawn to the process as a calling; a deep, abiding woman-to-woman, sister-to-sister experience in our core.

As in many other areas of our female lives, these women are coming to see our current set of cultural beliefs about birth as being a fraud perpetrated on women by the male- dominated world of medicine and litigation. Women are drawn into the system by offers to take away their pain and promises of perceived safety. No one tells them about the risks inherent in the system or gives them an honest choice. No one really shares how empowering birth can be for a woman. This is a pivotal rite of passage for a woman and should not be directed by outside interests, such as the threat of a lawsuit, or someone else’s personal time schedule. Birth can’t be quantified, regulated, put on a timeline or boxed into someone else’s preconceived notion of how women should birth. Every woman is unique, and so are her births.

If you are interested in learning more about birth in our community or becoming a member of the Birth & Baby Resource Network visit them in Mission Plaza at their annual Birth & Baby Fair Saturday May 9 or on the BBRN website at

Jennifer Stover
Birth Educator & Doula
Founding member & Current President of BBRN

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