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Labor Day Rallies Empower Laboring Mothers

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Organizer Kendra Smith and daughter with crowd at National Rally for Change on Labor Day

Women are discovering their power as consumers of health care who have more than one option for childbirth.  Supporters of evidence-based care gathered around the country on Labor Day, at various peaceful rallies like the one in front of a Knoxville, Tennessee hospital. Baby wearing and strollers were common, while older children helped parents with signs declaring messages like “birth matters” and “know your options.”  They were part of the National Rally for Change.
Organizers were careful to state they were not protesting anything, but that they want to empower women while encouraging more doctors and hospitals to adopt evidence-based maternity care. The Improving Birth organization behind the rallies defines this on its website, “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.”  The International Cesarean Awareness Network cautions that while nearly a third of births in the United States are by cesarean, many of them and some inductions may be medically unnecessary.

National Rally for Change in Knoxville, TN

Co-leader Kendra Smith of the Knoxville chapter of ICAN, who helped organize the Improving Birth event, said her first child’s birth, with interventions she did not want, prompted her to explore her options.  “With my next two, I had them at home, all natural, they came when they were ready, and it was really empowering. The goal (for everyone) is not natural childbirth.  The goal is evidence-based care and informed consent so moms can make the best choice for themselves.  If that’s an induction that’s medically necessary, an epidural, a cesarean or if they just want to walk in the hospital completely natural and just let their body do what it does on their own time, we think it’s every mom’s choice to have that option.”

Mary Rodio of Knoxville’s Holistic Moms Network Chapter

Doula Lori Wade of Knoxville Baby Lady agrees that mothers-to-be can take varied approaches to childbirth and also serves as a childbirth educator.  “I will support their decision, but I just want them to be informed and make the best decision that they can.”  Wade stresses there are risks and benefits that everyone should be aware of.

Certified nurse midwife Manola Mccain joined the rally to support use of evidence-based care and holistic maternity practices in more hospitals. Mccain believes she can best use her masters in nursing with its focus on midwifery in a traditional hospital setting, while another midwife might help in a home or birthing center.  “Personally I prefer practicing in the hospital setting so I can practice as a midwife within the safety of a hospital.”

Doula and childbirth educator Kimberly Sebeck is co-leader of the local ICAN group and encourages women to read as much as possible about the range of childbirth approaches.  Sebeck and Wade both stressed taking a polite, cooperative approach with doctors. Sebeck suggests that you need to find out how open medical professionals are to limiting labor interventions.  “You want to have trust in your birth team, I think that’s very important.  However, if you know that they’re going to push an induction and you don’t want an induction that’s not medically necessary, you probably should interview some other providers.”  Other differences between hospital protocol and evidence-based care might be details like whether laboring mothers are allowed to eat and drink.

Smith explained that ImprovingBirth.org hopes to make education on evidence-based maternity care available to medical professionals around the country.  “The women are the consumers.  We’re paying our insurance premiums.  We’re paying the doctors in the hospitals so we’re the ones who should be saying ‘this is what I would like.'”

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One Response to Labor Day Rallies Empower Laboring Mothers

  1. Erin Patrick September 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Great post!! Thanks a lot for coming out!!

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