AUSTRALASIAN BIRTH TRAUMA CONFERENCE 2019
08-09 August 2019, Brisbane, QLD
In early August 2019 our inaugural Birth Trauma Conference took place in Brisbane. This event was co-hosted with the Centre for Perinatal Psychology.
The aim of our conference was to unite providers from diverse disciplines involved in the care of families during the perinatal period. Guest speakers addressed a range of topics related to both physical and psychological trauma that can be experienced after birth.
The deep and often long-lasting psychological impact of a birth trauma was discussed from a number of different perspectives, the mother, the father and the health professionals. I can’t thank our ABTA support group members, TJ Tirzah Jaanai Ryan and Clayton Smitdt enough for sharing their deeply moving stories with us.
We are so grateful to each and every, speaker for donating their time and knowledge, enabling us to bring our vision to life.
Each presentation reflected our theme of uniting professionals in birth trauma care, and it was important to us to ensure that we recognised fathers/partners need for acknowledgement and support– and that birth trauma reaches families right through to clinicians, as Leonie Callway highlighted in her incredible presentation.
A few key take-away messages included:
• birth trauma can negatively impact multiple relationships: with oneself, with one’s partner, with one’s baby
• fathers/partners can be affected by birth experience; it is important to recognise the family as a unit and aim to treat/support in a timely manner and that birth experiences can negatively impact the couple relationship
• relationship difficulties can be repaired – we can be hopeful about this, but psychological intervention is often required to assist this process
• Birth injuries need to be better diagnosed and early intervention is crucial, pelvic physio’s have a key role in recovery
• Informed choice vs Informed consent –Communicating the risk and benefits of birth options
• The four pillars of safe maternity care and the importance of debrief to launch the healing process.
There were many others, and I personally found Dr Jenny Kruger’s (University of Auckland) computational modelling of the muscles of the pelvic region and pelvic floor fascinating. It provided the room with a thorough understanding of the mechanics of childbirth and how preparation is key.
Our main conference day was supported by a pre-conference workshop on counselling skills for birth trauma recovery, facilitated by Amanda Donnet and Dr Rachel Bushing. Amanda and Rachel’s highly interactive workshop provided information and helpful frameworks to hold in mind when supporting those following a birth trauma experience. It was wonderful to hear such positive feedback from all of the attendees, many of which had travelled from interstate.
We are hugely grateful to Emily Biliau from McInnes Wilson Lawyers for sponsoring this event, and to the volunteers who all worked together to make sure the day ran smoothly.
To all that joined us from far and wide, we had midwives, obstetricians, psychologists, doctors, clinical nurses, physiotherapists, researchers and educators – I can honestly say that reflecting on all of this – it is one of the proudest moments of my career.
The word of the day was ‘validation’ – it was a common theme that occurred in presentations and conversations throughout the 2 day event. Birth trauma is real, feelings are valid, words matter and that women (and men) want to be heard.
Although the information was at times confronting, we opened up some good conversations across all disciplines. And as we saw during breaks, positive discussions continued as the food, drinks and smiles flowed.
We look forward to seeing you in Sydney, 2021 for our 2nd biennial Australasian Birth Trauma Conference!
Executive Director – Australasian Birht Trauma Association
ABTA has been established to offer emotional and practical support to women and their partners who have been traumatised by a difficult birth experience. We also offer guidance for the broad array of health professionals involved in the care of these women and their families.
A major aim of this conference was to unite professionals and we were delighted to receive registrations from a wide range of healthcare professions.
‘It was one of the best conferences I have been to….and I’ve been to quite a few over the years!! The selection of speakers was also very comprehensive’ – Helen, Project Nurse Manager
‘I have been to MANY conferences in my career and this conference definitely exceeded my expectations. Well done. I’ve left inspired, touched and motivated to make change’ – Lyz, Pelvic Physiotherapist
‘I found every speakers’ content interesting, relative and informative’. – Kate, Clinical Midwife Liaison