Posts Tagged ‘Mother-Friendly’

Help us Save St. Vincent’s

February 11, 2010
As you may already know, St. Vincent’s Hospital is under threat of closure. Government officials, hospital administrators, and community representatives are working to define a solution to this problem. We will keep you updated with any details that we have.

In the meantime, we want all decision makers to know that the community is behind this hospital. We ask that you stand with us in support of St. Vincent’s. Scroll down to see how you can help.

The closure of St. Vincent’s would not only have a tremendous impact on the residents of the Lower West Side of Manhattan, the repercussions would be felt throughout the City’s already overburdened healthcare system. For the birth community, the loss of St. Vincent’s would be a particularly devastating blow for many reasons.

First, most New York City labor and delivery units are already operating at or above capacity. With the closure of St. Vincent’s, these already overburdened units would be forced to collectively absorb an additional 1800 births per year. This is a serious public health concern with overcrowding leading to substandard care for all women.

Second, in addition to overburdening its neighbors, the closure of St. Vincent’s would mean that New York City families would be losing the only hospital in the city that is actively striving to provide truly Mother-Friendly, evidence-based care. In the last year, major steps that have been taken toward this goal including:
Lowering the C-Section rate
Supporting unhurried, family-centered maternity care
Implementing progressive VBAC policies
Welcoming home birth transfers
Exemplifying of the Midwifery Model of Care
Providing exceptional Neonatal Care
Providing the only Perinatal hospice-like care in NYC

*Download our outreach letter for a full explanation of the importance of St. Vincent’s for the birth community*

How you can help
1. Sign the petition that Choices in Childbirth has created to show support for St. Vincent’s – particularly their one-of-a-kind Maternity Care Service.
2. Visit Councilwoman Quinn’s Website to sign her petition to keep St. Vincent’s open.
3. Visit the new website: and help in whatever ways are at your disposal. Here you can share stories of what St. Vincent’s has meant to you as a parent, provider, or community member. You can also write letters to elected officials using the templates on this website.
4. Download a a copy of our outreach letter and share this information with your friends, family and colleagues. We need to get the word out about what an incredible loss for the birth community this would be.

“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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Birth in the Media

December 3, 2009

Thinking about the recent GRITtv interview, “The Other Side of Choice: Giving Birth in America” brings about another important and seldom talked about issue in childbirth advocacy: Birth in the Media.

It is refreshing to see the media telling the full story about the options that are available to women in their maternity care. All too often the choices women make and their views of birth are “manufactured” by the ideas that are presented in the media. The media dramatizes birth and tends to steer women towards a particular belief about birth. These instilled ideas about birth then go on to influence the way that women approach their own birth.

The media portrays birth as a dangerous, scary event that happens in a hospital. Consider for a moment: how often has the average Jane seen birth portrayed as anything other than a scared woman being rushed in on a gurney screaming her head off and cursing out her partner on some TV show? Most women don’t give birth at home anymore, so we wouldn’t see birth there; hospitals limit the number of people who can be present during birth, so you’re unlikely to see it there; and sex-ed is nearly non-existent in schools today… so where else would you see birth except in the media? (If you want to see the other side of birth, by the way, check out Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s film, Orgasmic Birth.)

Even media outlets that supposedly provide factual and balanced reports, like the Today Show, have succumbed to fear-mongering and misrepresenting the truth when it comes to birth. Just this fall, the Today Show ran a poorly researched and deeply biased segment entitled “The Perils of Midwifery” that portrayed homebirth and midwife-attended birth as dangerous and even hedonistic. This report blatantly ignored ample research demonstrating the safety of midwife-attended homebirth in the US and around the world.

Reports like these intensify the portrayal of birth as dangerous, and scare women away from wholistic, natural care in their pregnancy in favor of the medicalized style of birth. Don’t get me wrong, I think that having OBs available in a medical emergency is an amazing achievement in maternity care and undoubtedly saves thousands of lives in emergency settings. But it is important to remember that OBs are surgeons, and they are trained to think like surgeons. They are trained to look for problems and try to fix them or minimize them, often with medical interventions. The Midwives Model of Care, on the other hand, looks at birth as “normal until it’s not” and customizes care that treats each individual as a unique part of the broader spectrum of natural birth–and has safeguards in place to bring in other OBs or consults as necessary.

Ultimately, where a women births and with whom should be her own decision, and she should be supported regardless of what that choice is. It is appalling that the media has so clouded the issue by representing only one segment of the choices available to women.

I applaud media outlets like GRITtv who are finally shedding light on the “Other Side of Choice.”