The National Rally for Change - Improving Birth

Labor Day seems a fitting time for us to think critically about birth in this country. This Labor Day, September 3, 2012, women, men, and children will come together all around the country for ImprovingBirth.org's National Rally for Change. "The National Rally for Change is to encourage and insist that all maternal healthcare providers practice evidence-based care," to bring about a shift in the public perception of birth and the way care providers handle pregnancy and birth.

The statistics about birth in the United States show a disturbing number of unnecessary inductions and cesarean sections, unneeded interventions during the labor and delivery process, and a general fear of allowing nature to take its course. While modern medicine certainly has created an environment where it is theoretically safer than ever to give birth, the high rates of inductions and c-sections are disrupting the natural progress of pregnancy and labor and creating a culture of fear surrounding birth.

It's time to "take back birth!" When we demand evidenced-based care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, we find that c-section and induction rates plummet and maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity rates improve. Research is showing that our rates of cesarean section, induction, Pitocin augmentation, and other interventions during the birth process are far higher than necessary. Unnecessary or too-early inductions lead to c-section in a staggering percentage (67%) of cases, and c-sections carry a whole host of risks, such as premature birth to lifelong health problems such as asthma for the baby, and infection, infertility, and complications in future pregnancies for the mother.

It's not that c-section, induction, and other interventions don't have their place. Indeed, they are life-saving procedures when used properly. That's where the idea of "evidence-based care" comes in. Use interventions when necessary, based on solid medical research, not just because that's how it's done. 

The National Rally for Change and ImprovingBirth.org want women to be informed about their choices surrounding childbirth. Just as you are entitled to informed consent when it comes to any medical procedure, women have the right to make an informed choice about how they want to handle their births. We have a right not to be bullied by doctors and nurses into unnecessary inductions and c-sections. We have a right to labor in our own time and not on a hospital timetable. We have a right to know when procedures are necessary and when they are for the convenience or protection of the care provider. We have a right to know what a normal birth looks like, and we have a right to choose a normal birth. We have a right to give birth in a birth center or at home or in a hospital, with a midwife or a doctor, in the water or in a bed. We have a right to be mobile during labor, to eat and drink when we are hungry or thirsty, and to give birth in whatever position is most comfortable. We also have a right to choose a scheduled c-section or induction, to have an epidural administered, or to receive other pain relief via IV, as long as we make those choices knowing the risks and benefits. 

What is Evidenced-Based Materinty Care? "'Evidence-based maternity care' means that the care that is provided has been proven by reliable research to be beneficial to mothers and babies, reducing the incidences of complications, injury and death."

We need to raise awareness of the state of maternity care in this country and call for change. Please check out ImprovingBirth.org for information about rally sites in your area, how to become a rally coordinator in your city, and to find out other ways you can help. 

We hope to see you at The National Rally for Change, September 3, 2012!

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