Tuesday, March 06, 2012

International Women's Day March 8

As we approach International Womens Day on March 8, perhaps we should bring to the forefront the most pressing issue (IMHO) in the US today - maternal morbidity and mortality.

Many of us are scattered around the country, in our own little pockets and trying to make a difference.  Each one of us has our own little victories, our own little A-ha moments.  But what if all of us took our little victories and put them together?  If we all banded together, working together, putting our philosophical disagreements aside and worked for one common goal: reducing maternal morbidity/mortality through evidence-based maternity care?

Sadly, many hospitals do not practice evidence-based care.  Many are practicing what was taught X number of years ago when the care providers were in school, or they are practicing the same as when their last practice guidelines were written, or they are practicing this way because that is the "way we've always done it".    As a birth researcher, I know it takes many hours to examine the current (defined as the last 3 years) research and decide which is plausible and which is not.  But to ignore evidence-based care because it rocks the traditional boat or because of ignorance of the studies does not instill a great deal of confidence in today's maternity care.

For example, how many hospitals in your community are designated as "Baby Friendly"?  If not 100%, it should be!  Not only does Baby Friendly examine breastfeeding outcomes, but it also examines the obstetrical policies and procedures and practice guidelines that lead up to the birth, skin-to-skin and breastfeeding moment!  The impact of those obstetrical practices during labor certainly do impact thebirth, skin-to-skin and all subsequent breastfeeding moments!  To ignore this, is to ignore the health and well-being of every mother-baby couplet in the US.

Maternity professionals are dealing with isolationism and apathy.  Many are tired of the "fight", tired of working toward the same goals and not making any progress.  Really?  You think we have not come very far?  While the maternal morbidity/mortality and infant morbidity/mortality statistics are still deplorable and the cesarean section rate and elective induction rate are still too high, more and more hospitals are using birth balls and hydrotherapy ....more women are using doulas and seeking good childbirth education than 20 years ago.

If birth is your calling, your passion, then don't give in to the isolationism and apathy.  Contact your certifying organization TODAY and ask two questions: what are they doing to promote evidence-based maternity care and how can you help?  One person can make a difference.  And why can't that one person be you.

Celebrate Women.  Celebrate Birth.

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