Thursday, 11 September 2008

The International Marce Society 2008 Conference

The principal aim of the society is to promote, facilitate and communicate about research into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth. This involves a broad range of research activities ranging from basic science through to health services research.

The Society is multidisciplinary and encourages involvement from all disciplines including: psychiatrists, psychologists, paediatricians, obstetricians, midwives, early childhood nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, community psychiatric nurses, community nurses and health visitors.

Two years ago I was the opening speaker when it was held at Keele University and this time I had my presentation on 'Effective Delivery from the Receiving End' accepted.

I had to fund the trip myself using some of my UKTI Passport To Export grant and also had a donation from King's Church in Frodsham.

The conference was held at the Manly Pacific hotel which would have been great except for the building works which meant we had to put up with banging and drilling!

There were delegates from all over the world and some remembered me from the Keele conference.

The first morning we had three keynote addresses.
1. Gender Differences in Depression and Anxiety: Is Anatomy Destiny? by Gordon Parker.
Conclusion - differences are biologically underpinned but shaped and modified by socio-cultural factors.
2. Pre-existing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Childbearing Outcomes of 'Survivor Moms': Confirming the need for Integrated Maternity Care Services by Julia Seng.
3. Maternal Diet, Lifestyle and Stress and the contributions to Epigenetic Disruption in the Newborn: A Prospective Perinatal Twin Cohort Study, By Jeffrey Craig.

Yes - all before lunch!

After lunch there were four parallel sessions.

I attended the treatment strand.

1. Three in One: Effective Delivery of a Group Intervention of High Risk Mothers and Babies by Alison Cornish and Karen Asgill

2. My turn! Effective Delivery from the receiving end. I told my story briefly and went on to say the key elements that make a real difference to mums and their families using examples given to me by other mums.

3. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression during Pregnancy by Scott Stuart.

I was delighted with the response to my presentation and after it every break I was given positive comments. I reduced some to tears but the main remark was that in the midst of all the scientific data it was motivating to be reminded of the personal elements and reminded of why we are all passionate about this field of expertise.

The day completed with more parallel sessions.

1. Ethical Problems in Psychotherapy by Abram Coen
2. Motherhood: Is it good for Women's Mental health? by Sara Holton et al.

The evening was spent at the Taronga centre at the zoo.
We began by drinking champagne overlooking the Sydney skyline. I had one of my 'how on earth did I end up here' moments?!
Once inside we enjoyed a tasty meal and listened to Australian TV personality Jessica Rowe movingly describing her journey of postnatal illness.

All in all a fantastic day!

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