Sunday, March 30, 2008

Educate, educate, educate, advocate

In August of 1980, when I taught my very first Lamaze Childbirth Class, little did I know that I was joining a growing sorority of birth advocates. I was soon enveloped into a new world ~ a world where others cared about the emotional and spirituality of birth as well as the physical outcomes. Someone had finally put the pieces together. I felt it.

In 2004 I read the book "Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding: Protecting the Mother and Baby Continuum" by Mary Kroeger and Linda Smith. This book has rock solid research to substantiate the fact that our US birthing practices are not mother friendly nor are they baby friendly. It shines the light on how many of our birthing practices are more tradition than backed by research. It also focuses on how these same traditional birthing practices often negatively impact breastfeeding ~ we sabotage our own clients/patients!

So as I look forward to my 30th year of teaching in 2010, I continue to teach and educate expectant parents on the wide range of birthing options available to them....not just those available in their community but available to all. Why? Doesn't this set some of them up for disappointment? Change will not happen because a nurse, childbirth educator, doula, doctor or midwife advocates for change. Change will happen when the consumer, the clients/patients desire and ask for the change in policy and procedures.

Just as happened back in the 1970's when the Childbirth Movement was in its hay day, we can once again educate women, empower them with data, and support them in helping to make the changes in our maternity care system. A good example of ignored data is the statement by Dr. John Kennell who has said that "If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it." His nearly 30 years of research with Dr. Marshall Klaus and others show that the providing the mother with a doula made a remarkable difference on obstetric outcomes. Doulas can empower women by answering the questions not answered by childbirth education classes, show the mother and her partner relaxation and non-pharmacologic pain relief techniques that can reduce the perception of pain by as much as 65% and so much more.

It is important to educate and stand firmly on the foundation of research. Through research, education and empowerment, women will find their joy in the childbirth experience.

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