Attending Conferences

Once you are at the conference, a quiet breastfeeding infant may be permitted to attend a plenary session. If so, you should sit near an exit in case your baby fusses and you need to step out. Depending on the meeting, you may not need to attend a lot of conference sessions anyway. You can actually improve your networking capacity, or at least your visibility, by standing outside a conference session holding a baby. Especially at large plenary sessions, you are increasingly likely to meet other physician-mothers doing exactly the same thing. You may even get the chance to talk with women in the family planning stages who are looking to you as a role model.

Be forewarned that there are also some real downsides to bringing children of any age to conferences. These include but are not limited to getting kicked out of interesting plenary sessions, not being able to go out to dinner at fancy restaurants with your work colleagues or potential mentors, and having your partner or babysitter stuck caring for a fussy baby in a hotel room that never gets cleaned. But for some of us, the challenges and frustrations of combining work and family responsibilities away from home pale in comparison to being separated from our children for several days in a row, especially when they are infants.

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