Baby Expo and International Motherbaby Film Festival Review

We have just returned from the Gentle Birth Baby Expo and International Motherbaby Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. Highlights included the interesting array of classes that were offered free to the public, a fabulous Babywearing Fashion Show which was produced by the NW Babywearers and thought provoking and educational films that were screened at the Motherbaby Film Festival. We walked around the small expo itself and had the opportunity to speak with a group of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) from the OHSU Midwifery Group. We were pleased to learn that they offer a waterbirth option which is rare to find within a hospital setting. If you reside within the Portland Metro Area and are interested in having a natural birth within a hospital setting, you may wish to find out more about the practice. We were excited to see that one of the exhibitors were: EARTH MAMA ANGEL BABY® who we reviewed back in June 2007. They had set up a beautiful display of their product line!

Here is a brief summary of our 3 days at the Expo.

Friday, September 28, 2007
We arrived at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon and were impressed with the building and the grand scale of it. The signs to the Gentle Birth Baby Expo were clear and pointed us in the right direction. We were warmly welcomed and glanced at the schedule of the events for the day. All the events at the Baby Expo were made available free to the public, which is really exceptional!

We decided to begin our experience by attending a class. Many interesting classes were held simultaneously and it was difficult to select which classes to attend. The first class that we attended was "Stomp! Squat! Positions for Labor and Birth" by a local Doula. With the use of a doll, a pelvis and a pipe and a sweater, the doula proceeded to educate the audience about why lying flat on your back during labor is not ergonomically correct and doesn't aid in the birth process. We were taught a variety of positions which women can assume during labor, which help the baby to move downward and rotate through the pelvis to allow for as easier birth. The use of a birth ball was emphasized!

Following this class, we attended a talk by Carol Penn, DO in the Bold Red Tent, who led us in a guided meditation session.

We headed to a Babywearing Fashion Show which was produced by the N. W. Babywearers group. We thank them for allowing us to take these pictures! (to follow).

Accessory: To be worn over a carrier, it will keep your little one snug and warm!

Children carry their dolls in carriers!

Following the Fashion Show, we stayed for a class titled: "Baby Carrier FUNdamentals: Overview of the Basic Carriers & Their Uses which was led by 2 moms: Heidi Donnelly & Dacia Houser.

We learned about the variety of different carriers that are on the market, including many made locally in the Portland, Oregon area. The speakers were clearly knowledgeable and shared a passion for babywearing that was contagious!

We then attended a though provoking class entitled: "Autism & Environmental Influences" which was taught by Dr. John A. Green III, MD. Dr. Green specialized in working with families who have a child on the autistic spectrum and wish to conceive again. Dr. Green comments that parents should be concerned that the rate of allergies, asthma, learning disorders, depression, diabetes etc are on the increase and believes that our toxic environments are playing a key role in this. He explains that babies/children are more susceptible to toxins and that we should make every effort to reduce our exposure by eating organic produce, avoiding teflon, food additives, using less plastics, reducing our consumption of animal fats, adding omega 3 fatty acids to our diet, eating a nutrient dense diet and living in an eco-friendly home (zero voc paints, avoiding carpets etc). Dr. Green offered guidelines for selecting items for your baby's environment (cotton diapers, edible toys, natural bedding etc). Dr. Green offered parents very practical advice about how to reduce the chemicals and toxins in their homes and given his extensive experience and knowledge working with families who have been exposed to toxins, we feel that this class was the most informative.

We dashed out of the conference to have a wonderful serene Indian dinner at the Tao of Tea and returned in time to view a private screening of the New Unfinished film: Pregnant in America which was held upstairs in the beautiful Ballroom. Gentle Birth Conference Attendees, attendees of the Baby Expo and the general public filled the Ballroom. Barbara Harper, R.N, founder of Waterbirth International introduced the film. The documentary explored one pregnant couples quest to seek out their birth options which led them to several European countries in the process. The film featured many well known experts in the field of infant and maternal health and was certainly thought provoking.

Saturday, September 29, 2007
We attended the screening of the beautifully directed film "What Babies Want" which we will be reviewing next. Afterwards, there was a panel discussion with the film's director, Debby Takikawa and two experts who were featured in the film, David Chamberlain and Sally Clark. The audience asked questions around their or their children's birth experiences and the panel addressed each question with wisdom and sensitivity. We have certainly been inspired to find out the story of our birth.

Sunday, September 30, 2007
Today we decided to spend the day previewing films and headed directly to the Motherbaby Film Festival. During the morning, the film, Breastfeeding Basics was shown, and we were pleased to see that Mother of 7 had co-sponsored the Motherbaby Film Festival. We recently posted 2 articles about Stephanie Neurohr, the exceptional Mother of 7:

We were introduced to a remarkable film called "Breast is Best" from Oslo Norway which was responsible to increasing the breastfeeding rate in Norway from close to zero to almost 100%. Under the direction of the Norwegian Government and in an effort to increase the rate of breastfeeding, this film was played throughout the country of Norway in the cinemas, on television and during public events. The effort was an enormous success and we can only hope that other countries will follow suit. The film teachers mothers how to successfully breastfeed and how to overcome common breastfeeding problems.

Following this film, we were introduced to 2 outstanding individuals, Kittie Frantz, R.N., CPNP-PC and Dr. Chistrina Smillie (Pediatrician). We then proceeded to view the film "Baby-Led Breastfeeding" which explained that full term healthy babies will naturally crawl up to mom's breast and breastfeed on his own! A baby will naturally assume the correct angel etc when he/she is allowed to take the lead. Mom and dad can assist as needed, but should let their baby lead. The expert panel emphasized that moms and dads need to learn to recognize their babies cues and respect when baby tells them that she has had enough milk. Forcing babies to feed when they are full can potentially increase their chance of becoming obese in later life. We were taught that swaddling a baby can switch off his hunger sensation and can potentially interfere with his desire to eat. The latest research indicates that swaddling should be reserved for very fussy infants only and used as a last resort. When possible, hold your baby when you swaddling/wear them vs leaving them alone, swaddled in a crib.

Overall, the 3 day Baby Expo and Motherbaby Film Festival was exciting and educational and a wonderful resource for parents. We hope to return next year!


Barbara Harper said...

Thank you so much for coming to the Gentle Birth World Congress, Baby Expo and Motherbaby International Film Festival. What a fun filled and exciting weekend it was for everyone. Latest figures state that over 3000 consumers walked through the exhibit hall. We are humbled by all the great and enthusiastic comments and emails that we have been receiving. We'll keep you posted on the dates for the next, even bigger, and better Gentle Birth World Congress.

Barbara Harper
Waterbirth International and mother of the Congress

Tia said...

The Babywearing Fashion show looked awesome. Wish I was there! Thank you for covering the event for those of us that couldn't make it!

Todd said...

Fabulous pictures! Great to see a dad being represented.

Caryn said...

The instructional sessions looks awesome. Wish I had been there...maybe next year????