Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Birth Summit Becomes Reality

For the first time in history the leadership representatives of nursing, midwifery, doula, childbirth and lactation organizations have been invited to meet. It will happen November 8 in Chicago.

Why? The catalysts were many, including the AMA/ACOG proclamation of earlier this year. The fundamental work for this group is to establish a networking system of cooperation where in times of such evidence-lacking proclamations, the "other side of the story" can be told and heard by the childbearing public. This "other side" has not been cohesive but has been responsive to some degree.

Lest we allow history to repeat itself (looking back at the scopolamine issue of the last century and other instances), the medical community could very well slant information and influence the public to make decisions that are less than truly informed and perhaps hazardous to their own health. While some in the profession say that the responsibility of information gathering should be on the expectant parent (or professional), we also know that as human beings, we tend to take information from perceived authority figures without question.

However, this is a critical time to ask those hard questions about not only the typical obstetrical care in the United States, but also delve deeper and explore the training of physicians, nurses and midwives and ensure they are being taught ALL of the techniques necessary to give good care and "do no harm". For if health care professionals are not taught certain techniques, those techniques such as caring for women who request natural childbirth, will be lost.

How many new nurses or new residents that you know or work with are lacking the knowledge of how to assist a laboring woman who wants to have a natural childbirth? They are not aware of the importance of gravity positive upright positioning, the effect of massage/touch, optimal pushing techniques and the use of hydrotherapy. How can our educational institutions turn out professionals lacking these skills? Professionals are quite good at handling opportunities when labor becomes a crisis, but in reality, these opportunities are small in percentages.

We cannot let it up to just the leadership however. Every single birth professional needs to stand up and speak out for a more complete program of education for both expectant parents as well as professionals. This is not only in the classroom but also in the material both groups read.

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