Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's Time to Take Back Birth

The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had done more of my own research regarding childbirth.
The first time I was pregnant, I wish we had known more about labor coaching and support.
The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had known that there's more to baby's position besides "head down" or "head up."
The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had known it was okay to labor at home.
The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had known that being mobile during labor can mean the difference between vaginal birth and c-section.
The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had know more about the risks of c-section.
The first time I was pregnant, I wish I had known what I know now.

The second time I was pregnant, I decided to listen to people other than my care provider. I decided to hear what natural birth advocates were saying. I decided to find out for myself everything I could so that I would have a shot at a vaginal birth instead of a repeat c-section.

And what I've learned since then is shocking to me. Many obstetricians and Labor & Delivery nurses have never seen a birth without interventions. Many women have no idea the risks of an epidural. Many women have no idea the risks related to c-section, especially as they pertain to future pregnancies and births. And many women, and even some doctors, have no idea that inducing labor even a week or two before the due date can have lifelong consequences for baby and/or mother.

I want women to be informed. I want them to know the facts. I want doctors and midwives and other care providers to understand the difference evidence-based care can make. Women should be told all of their options at their prenatal appointments. They should be able to make a decision based on facts, statistics, and information. Their care providers should help them make these decisions based on best outcomes, risks and benefits, and the desires and goals of the parents-to-be.

That's why I'm so excited about the National Rally for Change taking place on Labor Day, September 3, 2012. Organized by, the Rally will bring together women, men, and children in dozens of cities all over the United States to demand evidenced-based maternity care.

Research shows that labor does not need to be rushed along with drugs, that epidurals can interfere with the natural progress of labor, that c-sections are not necessary 32% of the time (the current national c-section rate), that induction of labor is not medically indicated nearly as often as it happens, and that induction of labor leads to c-sections in well over half of cases. Research also shows that c-sections carry much higher risks than vaginal births, to both mother and baby.

C-sections, inductions, and fetal monitoring certainly have their place. Without them, we would see far more mothers and babies suffering injuries or death in childbirth. When we know the baby is in distress and we can quickly retrieve him from danger, we can give thanks for these life-saving interventions. When we know the mother may be in danger of life-threatening blood loss, stroke from toxemia, or damaging complication, the fact that we can identify risks and bring mother and baby through the birth safely is nothing short of miraculous, especially compared to the much higher mortality rates of the past. However, these types of cases are not the norm, and normal childbirth does not need to be treated like an emergency.

When we demand evidenced-based care from our maternity care providers, we are improving birth outcomes across the board. When we inform women of their choices in childbirth, we are creating a new culture of birth that moves away from fear into a place of empowerment.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I wish there had been a National Rally for Change. Thank you,!

To find a rally site near you, or to organize one for your city, visit

1 comment: