The Childbearing Society is approximately forty-five years old. We have been going strong since the early seventies, consistently featuring the same kind of high quality prenatal and postpartum classes that we continue to offer today.
As I read this issue that explores birth over the years—what has changed, and what has remained the same—I think about how The Childbearing Society has had to be flexible, ever shifting to accommodate changes in the birthing world, incorporating new information, adjusting to policy changes, and expanding or shrinking according to the needs of the day. This kind of endurance based on openness reminds me of the nature of labour: it is the capacity to surrender to the process, to yield to the unpredictable powers, that is often germane to coping, to finding the strength of endurance. It is this kind of steadfastness and flexibility that has enabled The Childbearing Society to remain true to the vision espoused by our founders.
What began as a grassroots initiative—a small group of parents and nurses who wanted to help pregnant families understand their choices, improve the birth experience for babies, and advocate for family-centred maternity care—remains essentially unchanged to this day. We are still a non-profit society, we still operate as a democratic collective, and we continue to represent the leading edge in perinatal education. We are the local group, the Vancouver group, the alternative to the mainstream classes. We are fact-based, information oriented, and eternally supportive of all of the parents, babies, and families who come our way. Our aim, as always, is to empower people to make their own best choices.
In this issue we look at birth through the ages through several lenses. Our Question of the Quarter ponders differences in immediate newborn care then and now; our past president reflects on changes she’s witnessed throughout her impressive career in maternity wards; an acupuncturist weighs in on how the role of alternative treatments has shifted over the years, and one of our instructors looks at ways the paradigm around how birth is perceived has shifted over time. All of these articles consider ways in which birth care has improved versus ways in which we may have taken wrong turns.
I think our founders would be quite proud if they could see the path that The Childbearing Society has faithfully maintained over the decades, a path I think we will continue to pave equally far into the future.