Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My New Favorite T-Shirt

This past weekend I had the pleasure to surround myself with literally hundreds of women who have dedicated their lives to women and birth - midwives. The Holistic Moms Network was an exhibitor at the American College of Nurse Midwives' (ACNM) 55th Annual Meeting, a powerful event honoring and celebrating midwifery. ACNM's mission is simple yet profound: "to promote the health and well-being of women and infants within their families and communities through the development and support of the profession of midwifery as practiced by certified nurse-midwives, and certified midwives. The philosophy inherent in the profession states that nurse-midwives believe every individual has the right to safe, satisfying health care with respect for human dignity and cultural variations." Midwives get it. They understand that moms want respect and dignity. They recognize that women have the power to birth and are capable of delivering babies naturally. And they honor the process of birth, breastfeeding, and mother-to-mother support. But they have a uphill battle on their hands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cesarean birth rates rose 53% between 1996 and 2007, reaching 32% nationwide - the highest ever recorded in the United States. Even though the CDC's own report recognizes that "Cesarean delivery involves major abdominal surgery, and is associated with higher rates of surgical complications and maternal rehospitalization, as well as with complications requiring neonatal intensive care unit admission" and that "in addition to health and safety risks for mothers and newborns, hospital charges for a cesarean delivery are almost double those for a vaginal delivery, imposing significant costs," American women and birth professionals are not listening.

Why are c-section rates rising? According to the Childbirth Connection, the common myths are that women are opting for unnecessary c-sections for convenience and/or that more births are now requiring surgical intervention. However, research does not bear this out. Rather, common birth interventions, a cultural and medical bias that does not support a woman's ability to birth vaginally, casual attitudes toward surgery and medical intervention, and provider malpractice concerns seem to be contributing to the rising rates. Yes, mothers need to be informed about their options and be aware of potential risks of c-section surgery but they alone are not responsible for this birthing trend. Providers need to step up and acknowledge that our current birthing mentality is endangering our women and babies on many levels.

Why consider a midwife? Midwives start out with an entirely different viewpoint that sees birth as a normal, natural life process. Birth is not a "cookie cutter" event - it's different for every woman and every child. If your familiarity with birth is what you have seen on television, it is definitely time to expand your horizons! Beautiful birth can happen in many ways, many positions, many places. Midwives see themselves as assistants, attendants, and helpers to a natural process, not directors trying to control the action. Midwives also take time to care for their patients on a personal and emotional level, as well as a physical one and their care improve outcomes for both mothers and babies.

If you are making birth choices, start by raising your awareness about the options available to you. Check out Choices in Childbirth's free online Guide to a Healthy Birth to learn more and to find great resources, such as questions to ask your healthcare provider about birth. Talk to other moms, meet with a midwife and a doula, attend a childbirth class, watch a variety of birth videos, and empower yourself with the knowledge to make the best birth choice for you and for your baby!


  1. I had midwives and a doula at both my deliveries (in a hospital no less) and had a fabulous experience. I would recommend it to anyone.


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