Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

“I have a proven pelvis”: The power of experience in labor, whether borrowed or our own

January 14, 2010

On Monday night we gathered at Realbirth to kick off the New Year with our first 2010 informational meeting: Comfort Measures for Labor. For those of you joining us for the first time, welcome! Also, although we have a regular home at Realbirth for our informational meetings we don’t usually occupy the store area, so I want to thank you for being flexible and helping us be creative as we re-created the space. We had to adjust to the occasional wanderer passing through, but the evening still unfolded beautifully and was transformative for all of us. Through their labor/birth stories, our speakers, Sarah and Jen, shared the clarity that sometimes only experience can bring. We were also excited to have two experienced doulas on the panel, Eden Bertrang and Beth Donelly Caban, both of whom incidentally can claim the revered Midwifery Assistant Training program at The Farm as part of their varied backgrounds. Bertrang and Caban offered practical strategies for managing labor and also treated us to some hands-on demonstrations.

Mary Esther and Terry, our facilitators for the evening, opened up the discussion with a quick poll of the crowd to gauge how the room full of mothers perceived the intensity of labor. Some women had a previous pregnancy to relate to, some were preparing for the very first time. Asked to rate the intensity on a scale of 1-100, answers ranged from 75 to 110. Women also responded “it’s like running a marathon,” and “you may not think you have any more energy, but then you just find it.”

As a pregnant woman approaches the event of the birth, emotions about the laboring process can range anywhere from mild anxiety to absolute terror. No matter the degree of calm or uneasiness the new mother might be feeling, there is also bound to be a persisting curiosity about what to expect—particularly if this is the first time. No matter how you are envisioning your birth: in the labor and delivery room, at home, with an OB, surrounded by immediate family…the question of how to manage is very relevant. After all, even with all the support you may or may not desire, as the person actually giving birth, labor will be inherently intimate for you. It is important to have your own personal understanding of what to expect and how to cope with the process in those moments when desperation weighs heavily and you wonder how you will see it through. Well, who better to shed light on these profound moments than women who have been there and done it themselves, along with the doulas who supported them?

Our first speaker, Sarah, had a story which perfectly exemplifies… (continued on next page) (more…)


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Finally, the whole story! GRITtv covers the “Other Side of Choice” in Birth

December 2, 2009

Right on, GRITtv! Laura Flanders with GRITtv recently aired a segment entitled “The Other Side of Choice: Giving Birth in America.” In this piece, she gave birth experts (including our very own Elan Mcallister, of Choices in Childbirth) a chance to speak about the current state of childbirth in our country.

The segment looks at some of the trends behind the type of maternity care that women are getting and how that impacts our outcomes. Flanders highlights that, despite having one of the “best healthcare systems in the world”, the United States now ranks 37th in the world in Infant Mortality and 34th in the world for Maternal Mortality.

Cheers to GRITtv for talking about the side of maternity care that the media tends to ignore. Cheers to Flanders for calling into question

why has our international infant mortality ranking has worsened from 12th in the world in 1960 to 37th in 2008, during the same period that our rates of medical intervention in birth have gone up exponentially- Cesarean section rates alone have more than tripled?

why in this time of financial crisis, is America spending more on maternity care (86 billion in 2006 alone!) than other countries and getting worse results?

(Find out some of the experts’ takes on these questions in the interview)

It’s sad that we have to be excited about balanced, responsible journalism, but at least someone out there is doing it… Thanks Laura!

Bellevue Update: Efforts Ongoing to Safeguard the Birth Center Option in Manhattan

December 1, 2009

Choices in Childbirth is working diligently with other members of the community to help restore the Birth Center option for the women who birth at Bellevue Hospital Center. We have had very encouraging conversations with administrators and representatives for the public, and we are confident that our community-wide efforts will succeed to re-open the Bellevue Birth Center.

The Birth Center – the only Medicaid-accepting birth center in Manhattan – provided a safe, family-oriented environment for women to birth naturally. Bellevue Birth Center represented an alternative to the medicalized style of birth that was avaialble on the Labor and Delivery floor of the hospital. Unlike the L&D floor, the Birth Center allowed women to walk around during labor, there were no limits on the number of people who could attend, women were able to labor in jacuzzi tubs, mom received continuous one-on-one care, the baby was never separated from the mom after birth, and the entire family was welcomed to stay with the mom during recovery. All of this comfort AND outcomes that were outstanding–the Belleuve Birth Center consistently had a c-section rate of less than 4% as compared to rates nearing 50% at local hospitals!

Thanks to everyone for your support so far of the community effort to re-open the Bellevue Birth Center! We have managed to gather over 1000 signatures of individuals supporting our petition to re-open the birth center. We also have 11 organizations, representing the voices and rights of 100s more women, who have signed onto this joint letter that will be sent to the Bellevue Hospital Administration asking them to reconsider the closure of the birth center. Organizational support includes:

BirthNet New York
International Women’s Health Coalition
Lamaze International
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
National Institute for Reproductive Health
The New Space for Women’s Health
New York Homebirth Midwives
New York Lactation Consultant Association of New York
The Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, Inc.
Our Bodies, Ourselves

Please help us continue to spread the word! If your organization would like to sign onto our formal letter to the Bellevue Hospital Administration, or if you know of an organization that would, please email Malorie Ferrick, Program Manager at Choices in Childbirth

For more information, check out some of the recent press on this issue in the New York Times, City Limits,and blogs like Radical Doula and the Green Doula. And check out this mini documentary about the closure of the Birth Center on GRITtv, featuring CIC president, Élan Mcallister, as well as Katherine Abelson, midwife at the Brooklyn Birthing Center, and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, doula and director and producer of Orgasmic Birth.Thanks for getting the word out!