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AWHONN 2014 Convention

Today is the start of the AWHONN 2014 Convention. This will be the first AWHONN Convention I’ve attended so I’m very excited to see how they do things and make connections. This is actually my third conference this year. Christian Midwives International was in April, and the International Confederation of Midwives was at the start of this month. I skipped ACNM this year due to the lack of money and time to attend four conferences.

This is also the first conference this year where I don’t know anyone else going.  I realize this can be a major barrier for some of you who want to become more involved in birth ministry — so major that the only reason I attended my first birth conference was because a friend was going to Christian Midwives International and did not want to go alone. I tagged along so she wouldn’t be too nervous. We only stayed a day, but the experience began turning the wheels of some of my most long-lasting friendships in the birth world.

Conferences are no longer a big deal to me, and although it is always nice to know someone when you are traveling to another part of the country, going alone has some perks too.  When you go to a conference with people, you tend to stay with “your people” for meals, for sessions, for free time… and while you will probably meet some new people, chances are the interactions are on a much smaller scale than what you would do if you had been there alone.

So this is my encouragement to you…get involved in conferences.  If all you can do is go for one day then do it.  Allow yourself the time to expand your skill, increase your knowledge, and build your network. I’ll see if I can dig up some old photos from past conferences to show you what I mean. I’ll post what I find.

And if you are going to the AWHONN Convention, let me know.  You can network with me!

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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