Birth can take many forms, not just the physical act of carrying and birthing a child. Birth also manifests in cycles, growth, and change all around us. As the seasons' turn, a new leaf, or new life, emerges. Birth is all around us. The cultivation of the Central Coast Childbirth Network grew from conversations and ideas to visions. So this is where our blog will start. We will share with you CCCN's birth story, a manifestation from thoughts to creation, to serve our community.
Many came before us and have done what we are doing now. Not just locally, but around the world. The idea of a birth network is not new. How to Build a Birth Network by Cynthia Yula and Katie Heffelfinger illustrates a birth network as a "program of birth activism that can be set up in any community to stimulate better birth practices, political activism, and media-savvy for the birth community." Over the last year, we asked parents, families, and professionals what Central Coast Childbirth Network means to you? We love the responses pictured to the right. We will continue to make sure CCCN is all of this and more! (Photo Credit: Karla Wenger, Karla Wenger Photography)
CCCN has built a network to support anyone who is family planning and family building, including adoption, fostering, surrogacy, infertility, loss, and childbirth from preconception through the first year of parenting.
The last known birth network in San Luis Obispo County was the Birth and Baby Resource Network (BBRN). Founding member, Jennifer Stover, LLLL, BHS, O-BA, CS tells the story of an earlier time when was originally named BORN, Birth Options Resource Network to ACO, Advocates for Childbirth Options, the earliest members included Jennifer Stover, Donna Kandel, Sydni Thurmon-Hamill, Sue O'Conner, Terri Gates, Becky Schneider, and Heather Abernathy. No longer established, the BBRN FB page remains active. On the Facebook page, it states, as the BBRN mission "...helps educate, empower and support childbearing women and their families during pregnancy, birth, and early parenting." Their hard work and dedication built a network foundation to support birthing families on the Central Coast that remains alive through mentorship, services, and outreach in CCCN and our community today.
Fast forward to 2020, and this month will be exactly one year since the creation of the private Facebook (FB) group page Central Coast Childbirth Connection for Professionals. Today there are 74 local birth professionals and advocates from SLO County, and Northern Santa Barbara County in our FB group and growing.
Zabrina Cox, Owner of Central Coast Childbirth Connection, RN, Certified Labor Doula, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, started this FB Group. After working in the medical field and birth community on the Central Coast, Zabrina saw an opportunity for greater connection among professionals and families in the birth community that once existed. There was a desire to bridge gaps and build bridges between SLO County and the Northern Santa Barbara region. Fortunately, Zabrina was not alone in her ideas. Through conversations with a variety of professionals, everyone got to work.
Over the next year, Zabrina and founding members met monthly. The first meeting was in her living room (pictured to the left). She remembers mentor Jennifer Stover advising, "have the pot lucks and just don't stop meeting." Great advice! The meetings moved between the gracious donation of professional office space, to a local coffee shop—best meeting rooms at Pismo Beach Coffee, Bean, Tea & Leaf, and now we meet virtually amid COVID-19. CCCN grew with hours of early volunteer work from interim Board Members, a former board member of the Birth Network of Monterey County, Brittany Randolph, website design, and event coordination by Mckayla Rodriguez, doula and childbirth educator, and Cal Poly Intern Kassidy Hamer, many conversations with mentors from the former BBRN, and the members of neighboring birth networks such as the San Diego Birth Network and the Birth Network of Monterey County. Since the first meeting, along with the growing support of birth professionals, advocates, and local organizations, Central Coast Childbirth Network was born.
CCCN has been an all-volunteer, grassroots effort. With over 30 Founding members, we believe in its purpose. CCCN's mission is to connect with a diverse network of birth and wellness professionals who are committed to inform, educate, and advocate for the individual needs of all families on the Central Coast from preconception through the first year of parenting. Currently, CCCN is hosting educational events such as Meet-the-Doula, Birth, Baby, & Family EXPO, and a website rich in resources, including a CCCN member provider directory. By growing our birth community with support, education, and connection, we want to continue to improve the health and well-being of families and encourage lifelong informed decisions about their care.
We are excited to announce that last month, CCCN Articles of Incorporation was approved, and we are one step closer to our 501c3 Non-Profit status. CCCN now has an established Board of Directors, which we will have the honor to introduce in upcoming blogs. Today our network is made up of Doctors, Midwives, Doulas, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Nurses, Photographers, Fitness Instructors, Nutritionists, and more. Using our collaborative efforts to become a non-profit will help us grow and establish our roots to achieve our mission and vision with contributions through donations, volunteers, and partnerships. We are very grateful for our membership at Spokes; local non-profit helping others become non-profit. They have proven to be an invaluable resource to our network. We are almost there!
As we grow, CCCN will join forces with local hospitals, established community programs, non-profits, and advocates across SLO County and the Santa Maria Valley, and Northern Santa Barbara County. We are beyond grateful to receive the encouragement, collaboration, and love from so many of our community members. We recognize the great efforts and strides already established in our community, especially for populations who face greater health disparities and inequities. We are thankful for the early support from the Center for Family Strengthening and the First 5 SLO. We want to join the contagious energy within our community to build a strong, thriving community. Pictured above is our first Birth, Baby, & Family Expo in San Luis Obispo, CA. (Photo Credit: Karla Wenger, Karla Wenger Photography)
As strong and thriving as our community is, there is still much work to be done, locally and across the United States surrounding perinatal health, birth, and postpartum issues. Our blog will continue to be a source of information, education, and advocacy for YOU!
Please follow along as we continue to share our story and how we see the CCCN growing in our community, among professionals, parents, and families. Every birth story is as unique as the parent, child, and family. No two birth stories are ever the same. How you join parenthood is wildly special. This is the space we honor.
We want to hear from you. What are you looking for in a Birth Network? Have a story to share? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The CCCN Team
Resources: Yula, Cynthia, and Heffelfinger, Katie. How to Build a Birth Network. Midwifery Today, Issue 56, Winter 2000. https://midwiferytoday.com/mt-articles/how-to-build-a-birth-network/. Retrieved on April 2020.