A birth expo being held this weekend will feature a showing of Ina May Gaskin's story along with local experts providing expecting parents valuable information.

Expo helps Kootenay families make own birth stories

What started out as a simple screening of a documentary, has turned into a pregnancy outreach event that aims to help expecting parents.

What started out as a simple screening of a documentary, has turned into a pregnancy outreach event that aims to help expecting parents create their own birth stories.

A birth expo being held this coming weekend will include the screening of Birth Story as part of an overall educational event that puts expecting parents together with those who might support them throughout their pregnancy and beyond.

Caroline Sumner, a pregnancy outreach coordinator for Kootenay Kids, said as she worked on the event it seemed everyone wanted on board.

“It took off on its own. It turned from a little screening for about 20 people at the Family Place to taking over a 400-seat theatre” she said. “I am really overwhelmed with how this event formed itself.”

This film being shown at the Capitol Theatre tells the story of Ina May Gaskin, a pioneer midwife in the United States. She was recently awarded the Right Livelihood award for her life’s work advocating for women-centred childbirth methods that best support mom and baby.

A birth is a “pretty important event — something that’s relived,” said Sumner. “It can be a great time but it can also be a really daunting time.”

The registered nurse hears many birth stories in her line of work and she said it doesn’t matter what kind of birth a woman chooses to have — what matters is feeling “empowered and relaxed.”

“Physically, socially and emotionally, if we have a healthy mom, we will have a healthy baby,” Sumner said. “It’s the holistic idea of a healthy mom equals a healthy baby, that’s what does it.”

The event takes place on Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre. Following the screening of Birth Story, people are able to check out information that will help them become “empowered” for their own birth.

Kootenay Kids will be at the expo along with La Leche League. Attendees can also learn from doctors, midwives, and public health nurses. An acupuncturist, chiropractor and massage therapist will be available and information on Pilates and a doula are on the bill too.

Present will be a well-informed selection of experts offering safe options and attendees can learn what suits them.

“I just wanted an event that brought us all together,” said Sumner of the lineup that helps a pregnant woman gather her team.

Gaskin said, “A society that places a low value on its mothers and the process of birth will suffer an array of negative repercussions for doing so.”

Sumner explained healthy beginnings mean healthy futures and by supporting new parents, a community provides for the next generation.

Sponsored by Kootenay Kids, Cedar Family Medicine Clinic, Kootenay Community Midwives and the Kootenay Doula Group, the event is free.

The Birth Expo was chosen as the kick-off event for World Breastfeeding Week. Organizers encourage attendees to bring photos, stories or poems of them breastfeeding which will be used in displays around town to promote breastfeeding anytime, anywhere. Participants will be entered into a prize draw and their photos will be returned to them if they wish. Entries can also be emailed to nelsonbreastfeeds(at)gmail.com.

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