Posts Tagged ‘health care decisions’

Improving Birth National Rally for Change Overview

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

On Monday, September 3 I had the awesome opportunity to engage with¬†passionate women (and a few men) outside a local hospital in Phoenix, AZ. The commonality among us was that we are all unequivocally devoted to improving childbirth in the US. We were in fact joined by men and women in over 100 cities across the US all united together by our desire to provoke positive change within¬†our country’s maternal health care system. The rally was organized by the Improving Birth Organization. It¬†was¬†not a protest, but rather a¬†peaceful public awareness event intended to promote Evidence Based Maternal Health Care.

 

What exactly is Evidence Based Maternal Health Care?

The Improving Birth Organization defines it as “care that is provided that has been proven by reliable research to be beneficial to mothers and babies, reducing the incidences of complications, injury and death”(http://www.improvingbirth.org/the-evidence-shows/, 2012).¬† The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health states that “Evidence-based maternity care uses the best available research on the safety and effectiveness of specific practices to help guide maternity care decisions and to facilitate optimal outcomes in mothers and newborns”¬† (http://www.who.int/pmnch/topics/maternal/ebmaternitycare/en/index.html). In other words we want don’t want maternal health care decisions to be driven by cost, convenience, or fear. We want the needs of pregnant women and babies to be respected deeply and responded to with great integrity. We want¬†families to be well informed consumers of the health care system and be well support throughout their childbearing years.

So what exactly did we do?

We stood outside a hospital (although not because we were targeting that particular hospital; rather it was chosen because it was a central gathering place and had high traffic volume) holding up signs with different sayings on them about childbirth. The Improving Birth Organization provided rather specific guidelines on what the signs could say. The signs were intended to be positive, non-confrontational messages about birth. The five suggested slogans were:

Evidence Based Birth
Know Your Options
Birth Matters
Vaginal Birth After C-Section
Lower the C-Section Rate

There were also explicit instructions given on interacting with any members of the press, if given the opportunity to. Basically we were asked to avoid sharing negative personal opinions and stick to facts and personal experiences. The goal was to spread wisdom as opposed to fear of childbirth. Nor did we want to convey hatred of the medical community. We were also to be clear that we were NOT promoting home/natural birth per say; the focus was on evidence based maternal care (which includes home/natural birth).

 

All in all it was a great event that I am sooo glad I attended. To be honest the morning of the rally I kind of felt like bailing. I could think of a million and one excuses not to go. The day before the rally we had just gotten back from a 12 week trip. I was tired and had a bunch of unpacking to do, mountains of laundry, tons of mail to sort through, there was no food in the house, the kids were beyond cranky from disrupted sleep while traveling; it seriously tempting to think all of those things needed my attention more than the rally. But once I arrived at the rally site I knew it was exactly where I needed to be that morning. The women there were simply amazing; they were incredible, yet humble advocates! Some of them were there as professionals who work in the birth community. Others were there due to their own personal experience with birth. There were babies and children present serving as constant reminders as to the heart of our cause.

It was a hot and sunny day in Phoenix (as most days are), but we didn’t complain. We found shade where we could and remained devoted to the two hour time frame of the rally. Two security guards from the hospital approached us and¬†kindly requested we stay off the grass while holding signs, but other than that there were no confrontations to be had. Sometimes cars honked at us or passengers waved at us. A bus load of male college students shouted funny things to us from their open windows, but it was all in good spirits and made us laugh.

I was so honored to be a part of this movement and feel that even if ONE woman is impacted because of our efforts, then a BIG difference was made!

Anyone else attend the National Rally for Change on Monday? If so I would love to hear your experience!

-Sarah