Friday, June 01, 2012

Giving Parents the Tools and Knowledge to Push for Better Maternity Care

This very special guest blog for Childbirth Today is from Lamaze International.  Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE is the Lamaze President-elect and Director of Continuing Education, Special Projects and the Lamaze Childbirth Education Program for the Duke AHEC Program.

Every pregnant woman hopes for the same thing – a safe and healthy birth for her baby. But, as childbirth educators, we well know that these hopes exist against a backdrop of concerning facts:
  • Critical health measures for women in the U.S. are flat or falling;
  • More money is spent on high-intervention health care for moms and babies and there’s been no improvement in outcomes; and
  • Even the most proactive woman may be reticent to advocate for herself in the care setting, and sometimes she feels pressured to agree to interventions.

A recent study in Health Affairs showed that patients, worried about being labeled ‘difficult,’ often avoid discussing or questioning a health care provider’s recommendation.  For many pregnant women, the pressure to agree to certain practices – from family and friends, as well as care providers – can be significant. In fact, a Childbirth Connection study showed that many mothers have felt pressured by a health care provider to have an induction (17 percent with induction) and a cesarean birth (24 percent with cesarean).

You may also be seeing more women going into childbirth without getting educated first. Taking a childbirth education course may seem like a hassle to busy parents-to-be and Google might feel like a decent way to answer questions, but a good childbirth class can help them sort through conflicting or inaccurate information, and give them the tools they need to get the care they’re looking for.

Lamaze International has launched a new effort to support pregnant women, and their partners, so they can get the best care. The campaign is called Push for Your Baby and it’s aimed at bringing attention to the role of childbirth education in helping expecting parents to partner with their care providers to push for the safest, healthiest birth possible.

For parents-to-be, understanding the different options and working in partnerships with their care provider is critical to receiving the unique care moms and babies deserve. Push for Your Baby provides resources to get educators and parents involved:

  • – Conversation starters for educators about childbirth challenges, ways to identify the best care, tips for pushing for better care, details about Lamaze education, and questions for expectant moms to ask their care provider.
  • Web Banner and Button: To help you spread the word about Push for Your Baby, and the importance of helping expectant parents to partner with their care providers to push for better care, we’ve developed a banner and button that you can post to your website or blog.
  • Parents Push – A shareable video of moms – and dads – sharing their personal childbirth experiences (the highs and the lows). This video underscores the importance of childbirth education in preparing for the safest, healthiest birth possible. Share the video through your social networks, link to it from your website or blog, and show it to the pregnant women you teach or care for.
  • Push Stories – Lamaze knows that some of the best learning happens through story telling. The Push for Your Baby campaign gives parents the opportunity to share both written and video birth stories highlighting the things they were glad they knew - or wish they had known - before labor and delivery, as well as the role that childbirth education played in their experience. Winners will receive prizes from Lamaze, Tomy and GC Brands Childrenswear, and their photos and blogs posted to the home pages of and Tell the expectant moms you teach or care for about the contest and their chance to win!

As Lamaze educators, it’s our goal to help expectant parents prepare for one of the most important days of their life – their baby’s birth day. We’re working to educate parents about the best birth practices based on the most current medical evidence available, and we hope you’ll join us in this effort.

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