1st International Birth Psychology and Birth Teams Congress

Hand in Hand for Birth Association has pioneered the First International Birth Psychology and Birth Teams Congress where both birth psychologists and birth teams meet. This congress was successfully held at the ?stanbul Harbiye Cultural Center on 28-30 June 2019.

We would like to thank ISPPM (The International Society for Pre-and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine) and APPAH (Association of Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) for their cooperation and Acıbadem Taksim Hospital for main sponsorship.

32 speakers and trainers from Turkey and different countries around the world have presented their field of expertise to the attendants pre-congress workshops on June 28: Betty Anne Daviss (Birth Teams in the World), Amara Eckert (Prenatal Records), Johanna Schacht (Art Therapy and Symbols at Birth), Mehdi Djilali (Haptonomy), Barbara Harper (Birth in Water), Sandra Barsley (Creating a Joyful Birth Experience), Deniz Altınay (Reborn with Psychodrama), Anna Verwaal (Long Term Effects of Birth), Marion Konig (Attachment Analysis).

Neşe Karabekir and Hakan Çoker (co-chairs of the congress), Deputy of Konya Leyla Şahin Usta (Chairman of Human Rights), ISPPM – APPPAH vice presidents Amara Eckert, Alin Cotiga, Sandra Barsley, Peg Beldsoe made their opening speeches on Saturday, June 29. Midwife Betty Anne Daviss from Canada made a speech about all different birth teams in the world.

The second session of the first day started with the participation of Midwife Nazan Karahan, the President of the Turkish Midwives Association and she made a speech about the Reality of Birth and Midwifery in Turkey. Afterwards, Hülya Okumuş and Merlinda Aluş Tokat from the Department of Women Health Nursing of 9 Eylül University explained the roles of nurses in pregnancy and birth. Op. Dr. Şule Selman ( Doctor of Birth with No Regret) fascinated us all with her speech about The Effects of Stress during Pregnancy and Birth on the Brain Development of the Baby. Baby nurse and photographer Doula Anna Verwaal shook us with her incredible birth stories as a “storyteller”.

Midwife Barbara Harper, who traveled around the world and made speeches about water births, explained the water births with her unique presentation. Op. Dr. Hakan Çoker ,our co-chairman of the congress and founder of the Birth with No Regret Teams, explained the mother-baby-friendly hospital model created in Taksim Acıbadem Hospital. He gave us hope about the transformation of private hospitals. Op. Dr. Mehdi Djilali made a very enlightening presentation about Haptonomy with birth videos.

The last session and the panel of the day was directed by Op. Dr. Semra Özer, who works as a private doctor in Acıbadem Hospitals. The panelists consisting of a doctor (Dr. Hakan Çoker), Midwife (Serpil Varlık), Doula (Duygu İslamoğlu) and Birth Psychologist (Neşe Karabekir) gave information about both their own fields and the difficulties experienced while working as a team. Before the panel, choreographer Erman Ezgin and Aslı Gökçe presented their dance performance that metaphorically displays birth, existance and support at birth in accordance with the spirit of our congress. Our Saturday night ended when we were eating our dinner on the Bosphorus tour.

The morning of Sunday, June 30th began with the modern Whirling Dervishes Performance of the “Dönen Kanatlılar”. Afterwards, the founder of the Integrative Psychotherapy Institute, Mr. Tahir Özakkaş, shared his personal journey of existence that begins with birth and extends into adulthood in his unique way. Later, Psychodramatist Deniz Altınay, President of Istanbul Psychodrama Institute told us The Spontaneity Theory of Child Development.

Final speaker of the morning session was the former president of APPPAH, Sandra Barsley. She made a speech for birth teams and families about the regulation of infant’s new life after birth. Also, she informed us about the Multiple Vagal Theory. Elif Göcek, The President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, explained the importance of parent and baby attachment for the infant’s mental health. Clinical Psychologist Alin Cotiga, one of the lecturers of The University of Bucharest, explained how prenatal recordings can have an impact on the development of infant and parent & infant interaction with scientific evidences. Amara Eckert, vice president of ISPPM, explained how prenatal traumas can be evaluated with play , body and movement therapy. The last speech of the session was given by the Birth Psychologist / Psychodramatist and Doula Özlem İlbeyli who gave her thesis on “How does the newborn feel pain & how can it be prevented by birth teams”.  Cem Keçe, a CİSED instructor, gave a speech about sexuality during pregnancy in the last session. Aslı Göker, one of the lecturers at Manisa Celal Bayar University, questioned us about “How and how much information should we give about birth and infants on social media?”. Gynecologist Serpil Kırım led us to question about mother and infant rights at birth. Psychologist Neşe Karabekir, the President of the Hand in Hand for Birth Association, made the last speech of congress. She finalized the congress by explaining “Birth with No Regret Teams” and “Birth Psychodrama”.

The goal of the congress was to gather professionals of childbirth from all around the world together, to let them share their visions without judgment, to allow for the creation of a platform that enables them to produce and share, and let them transfer these to the upcoming generations of professionals. We are glad and honored that we were able to move beyond these goals that we set. The motto of our association that says "Respect for the newborn, procreator, birth and the birth team" was delivered to the whole world from İstanbul.

Doula, birth psychologist and Birth with No Regret mother Burcu Ay performed her song titled "Hand in Hand for Birth" that she composed and wrote the lyrics for. Along with her daughter, we sang the song together on stage for the first time. We have promised to gather together for the next congress that is going to take place in 3 years.

For the first time, we had doulas accompanying the experts during their speeches. There were also many surprises such as gifts in bags, dance and Mevlevi Sema (Whirling Dervishes) performances; which helped to ensure the diversity and quality of our gathering. Even the announcements were made early in the morning to prevent them from clashing with the time periods of our workshops and presentations. The ability of mothers to join the congress with their babies, and the presence of nursing rooms has made the congress acquire the title of the first mother-baby friendly congress. We would like to offer our gratitude to everyone that enabled us to live through this historical experience in our country, one by one: Our speakers, sponsors, academic and editor committees, congress and travel agency, the employees of the Harbiye Military Museum, volunteer psychological counsels & midwives, the doulas, doctors, birth psychologists, midwives and nurses that have worked without getting any sleep before, during and after the congress, the generous people that didn't hesitate to offer opportunities to our students that were in need of financial assistance; and most importantly, to all the parents and babies that have given us the courage and strength to fight for every single person's ability to choose their birth environment and birth team... THANK YOU. Let's give hand in hand for birth...

Hand in Hand for Birth Association President and Head of Congress Neşe Karabekir, on behalf of the Hand in Hand for Birth Association

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