Date: 8th July 2021
By Sarah Moore
Like many publications, Birthing Magazine shifted its focus in 2020 to promoting content on its website and social media. Birthing Magazine can be picked up for free at various locations across Calgary, but its physical distribution is limited since people aren’t in public as much.
Editor-in-chief Nicole Bross says that since the pandemic started, traffic on their website has increased; this change reflects an increase in Birthing’s online audience. Compared to previous years, they have more online readers and contributors who are outside not only Alberta, but also Canada.
“I really like that people are hearing about [Birthing] from outside our physical distribution point, but it’s really important to make sure that the stories that we’re telling still relate to Alberta, specifically,” says Bross.
For example, in the past the magazine has advocated for an expansion to midwifery services because they were restricted in Alberta compared to elsewhere in Canada. Bross says the Alberta audience is unique in terms of a mindset of independence, as well.
“I think people see a lot of value in being able to make their own choices and being able to do what they want to do in terms of how they give birth and how their medical care during their pregnancy proceeds,” she says.
Birthing Magazine, which is published by the non-profit Birth Unlimited, prints three issues a year. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it has covered how pregnancy and giving birth has changed. Public health measures have, overwhelmingly, limited the in-person support people can access during their pregnancy and labour.
“Basically, people have lost a lot of their community,” says Bross. “That definitely has an effect, I think, on how people view their pregnancy experience, their labour experience, and then their postpartum experience as well.”
She hasn’t heard many positive birth stories since the pandemic began, but the magazine offers suggestions to combat new challenges faced during COVID-19. For instance, new parents can maintain important connections when visiting in-person isn’t an option, through things like Zoom visits with family members or joining online parenting groups.
“We’re still trying to find the positive moments, even if the overall experience isn’t what people expected,” says Bross. “We’re really trying to emphasize those little moments in the bigger story.”
Looking to the future, Birthing is looking at organizing a Patreon membership for additional revenue.
“Our commitment is still the print magazine, going forward,” says Bross. “That’s something that I think is really important, but we do acknowledge that we need to provide more digital content to expand our reach.”
What was the first magazine you fell in love with?
I got Chickadee magazine when I was a kid. My grandparents paid for a subscription for a year and I super loved that. I loved reading the nature stories and doing the puzzles and stuff like that.
What is your favourite thing about working in magazines?
Getting to read and share different people’s stories. One of our features that I think is one of the biggest draws to Birthing is we do two or three birth stories in every issue and it’s just people –not professional writers, just regular parents – writing about what their birth experience was like. Even though they’re not written by professional writers, they’re so visceral and emotional. I really love reading those experiences and getting to share them.
How would you describe Alberta’s magazine industry, in a couple of words?
Innovative, creative and entertaining.
Who is someone whose work you especially admire?
I interned at Avenue magazine when I was in university at Mount Royal, doing a journalism degree. The editor of Avenue at the time, Janice Paskey. taught me so much about how magazines are run. She basically made me want to work for magazines because she seemed to enjoy it so much and she had so much passion for telling interesting stories. She was also really, really patient with 20-year-old me who had never worked at a magazine before and really had a lot to learn. She let me write important stories and things that I was interested in and things that I felt were important to me and my generation. Even though I was an intern, it felt very collaborative.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
I am looking forward to getting to meet contributors again and talk to them not over a screen. I’m looking forward to hearing more positive birth experiences again and seeing a shift from a lot of stories where people say, “This wasn’t what I expected and it wasn’t what I wanted for myself,” to getting back to people saying, “This was my dream birth and everything went exactly how I wanted it to.”
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