Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Talk at American College of Nurse Midwives Annual Meeting

I'm recently back from a few humid days in DC, where I gave a presentation at the 55th American College of Nurse Midwives Annual Meeting. It was a very impressive gathering. About 1500 were expected to attend. There were 5 days packed with talks, workshops, exhibitions, lobbying, parties, etc. I was pleased to see that there was a special focus on international midwifery, and the role that midwives can play in improving maternal health in the developing world.

On Tuesday, 6/15, I gave a one hour educational presentation entitled "Introduction to Fertility Awareness: How a Proven Method of Natural Fertility Management Works and How it Can Benefit Your Patients." I didn't think many people would attend, because my session took place during Lobby Day, when the midwives took to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators about issues relating to the practice of midwifery both here and abroad. However, I was pleasantly surprised as the room became completely full, with about 100 people in attendance. This was the largest audience I've ever addressed, and my nervousness was increased by the fact that they were all midwives, and that I might not be telling them anything they didn't already know. But what I found was that, although almost all of them had some familiarity with Fertility Awareness, only one of them was actually teaching it, and most were only really familiar with FA for pregnancy achievement. They were very interested in the presentation and had a lot of practical questions at the end.

There was only one other presentation related to natural fertility management, and it was on The Creighton Method a.k.a. NaProTechnology, which is a type of Natural Family Planning (NFP). As you probably know, NFP has religious underpinnings. The presenters completely de-emphasized this, and spoke mostly in medical terms. It was there if you were looking for it, but I have a feeling that most in the audience really didn't understand the distinction (unless they had been at my talk the day before). Their stats on resolution of fertility issues were compelling, but they spoke only in positive terms and did not mention a single drawback to their methodology, or a reason why a woman or a couple might not want to use it. It seemed more like a sales pitch than a medical presentation. In my presentation I spoke specifically of the pros and cons that a woman contemplating Fertility Awareness should consider. No method is right for everyone, and good reproductive health care always seeks to expand the range of choices available to women, not dictate to them what they should or should not be doing.


Felisa Billet said...

Hi Ilene,

I took your course 4-5 years ago in NYC. It's been a very long time since we've been in touch. I've had a few kids (homebirth!), moved to Florida...but I still remember the FAM classes and continue to use the method (except that I haven generally pregnant or breastfeeding for the past few years).

Anyway, thanks so much for your updates and newsletters. I really love reading everything that you post on the blog.

Regarding your recent (or not so recent trip, depending on how you look at it) to Africa, did you read the book: "Monique and the Mango Rains -- Two Years with a Midwife in Mali" ?

I recently read the book and it reminded me a lot about your experience in Africa (or at least what I learned about it from your blog)

ANYWAY -- I wanted to know if there is some way we could read/watch/listen to your recent presentation at the American College of Nurse Midwives Annual Meeting. It sounds like a very interesting presentation and I would love to hear/read your speech. Is it archived or uploaded anywhere?


Chana Billet

Fertility Awareness Center said...

Hi Chana! So good to hear from you. I have not read that book, but it looks wonderful, so thanks for the tip. Regarding the presentation I gave, I will not be posting it online (though it is available to people who attended the conference, via a secure website). However, my new website does (and will) have some content that may be of interest to you. Yes, my new website it up, though I haven't "officially" launched it yet - I'll be shouting it out to the world in a couple of weeks. But anyone intrepid enough to be reading these comments can get a sneak peek, by going to If you look in the "goodies" section, and then go to "stuff to check out," you'll see a section called "Ilene in the media." We're still putting things in that area, but there is already a fabulous interview I did back in '08, on WBAI, where I was lucky enough to be featured on "Healthstyles" for an entire hour. Hope that quenches your thirst. Please keep in touch!

Melissa King said...

So awesome! Really encouraging to hear about your opportunity to speak and the great turn out!