With more showers than flowers defining this Mother's Day, Hinako Kuhlow decided there's no place she'd rather be than a free potluck celebration at Ashland's Bellview Grange.
"I wanted to see all the moms and babies," says the 28-year-old Talent resident, cradling her 6-week-old son, Mahkai.
Kuhlow and many other participants connected through midwife Laura Roe at the monthly event organized by a new, local network of health providers.
A founding member of Southern Oregon Birth Connections, Roe invited some 25 families she serves annually to the group's fourth meeting since February. Practitioners plan to educate the community at these regular gatherings on aspects of childbearing and rearing, as well as mainstream, alternative and holistic facets of health care.
"There's so much information, and it's kind of nice to have it consolidated," says Kuhlow's husband, 31-year-old Zach Kuhlow.
"It's kind of like a provider listing but in person," says Stella Lyn, a doula, apprentice midwife and herbalist who helped found the group.
"I think it's amazing to them to realize how many choices there are," says Lyn. "It's like putting a face to a name."
From naturopathic physicians and lactation specialists to yoga instructors and massage therapists, a dozen practitioners are listed on the website www.southernoregonbirthconnections.com. More than 30 providers, however, massed for the group's first event, a Valentine's Day open house, says Lyn. La Clinica and Ashland Community Hospital have been represented, along with acupuncturists, herbalists and hypnotherapists.
Starting with a 30-minute meet-and-greet before an hour-long lecture, the gatherings host "new ideas and other ways of living," says Kuhlow, a nursing student who was raised by a "vegan, hippy-type mom." He says he sees no reason why mainstream medicine can't coexist with holistic models.
"Eventually, they'll merge."