How many hospitals do you know of that offer waterbirth or fully support the midwifery model of care? How many L&D departments are run by a chairman convinced that mother-friendly care is the gold standard that all hospitals should strive to provide to birthing women? While the answer should be “many” if not “all, “
As an Ecstatic Birth advocate and Choices In Childbirth (CiC) board member, I am often asked “Where can I have the best birth experience?” The majority of women aren’t comfortable with the answer “home.” Yet the alternatives, birthing centers or mother-friendly hospital programs are sorely lacking.
This week, I had the pleasure of accompanying CIC’s Executive Director Elan McAllister to a community outreach forum at Nassau University Medical Center where they are unveiling a new birthing center this fall. We were thrilled to discover that NUMC is is a bright light of hope in an otherwise dark landscape of birthing options on Long Island.
The forum began by acknowledging each and every midwife present with a rose in honor of Midwifery Week. This touching gesture set the stage for an uplifting panel of presenters where we learned that NUMC has successfully been integrating midwives and mother-friendly care into their labor and delivery program for years. We witnessed an incredible air of collaboration and mutual respect between the doctors and the midwives that work at NUMC.
In an era where it feels challenging to find consistent mother-friendly care in a hospital setting, NUMC provides a great model for how it can and does work. Their outcome statistics fully back the program up. They boast the lowest c-section rate on Long Island by far- (at 28.1% in 2011, they were the only hospital in the county with a rate below 42%).
Elan was invited to share CIC’s work, a large part of which involves advocacy to make sure that women have access to a full range of evidence-based best practices when choosing where and how to birth. The last decade has been heartbreaking in the NY area as many programs that delivered mother-friendly options to women have closed down- despite the fact that all the evidence shows that such models deliver better outcomes for moms, babies, AND our health care system. CIC is currently undergoing a huge initiative known as the NYC Report to better illuminate the birth landscape and pave the way for better options; NUMC’s program is a prime example of what works.
Sheila Kamara Hay is a writer, Ecstatic Birth advocate, CIC board member and super-mama to three little ones. She can be found writing about pleasure and childbirth at http://ecstatic-birth.com/