Guest Column: Sept. 3 ‘National Rally for Change’ aims to improve maternal care

By Karyn Schwitters

The United States ranks 49th when it comes to maternal care, meaning 48 countries — most with less money — provide better birth outcomes than we do.

We need to examine how we can improve this for mothers, babies and families, and decrease infant and maternal mortality rates.

Improving Birth’s “National Rally for Change on Labor Day” Sept. 3 seeks to educate and empower women with evidence-based information so they can make truly informed choices regarding their maternity care.

One of the main interventions we are focused on decreasing is cesarean sections. They occur way too frequently in this country, and often without medical necessity.

Studies have shown that when cesarean rates rise above 10 to 15 percent, more harm is being done than good, and yet, even in Rockford, the rates average around 35 percent.

A local rally will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Sept. 3, in front of SwedishAmerican Hospital, 1401 E. State St., Rockford. The event is not a protest, as we recognize there are many wonderful doctors and nurses in this community who deliver excellent care. But as a community, and as a nation, we need to be looking at how we can continually improve and deliver the best care.

Karyn Schwitters is an interning therapist in Rockford, working toward her master’s in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She had a daughter in 2010; delivery was medication-free with a doula, but she ended up being told she required a cesarean because of a “failure to progress.” She is organizing the local rally with Jessica Beaufils, a doctoral student at Ball State studying medical anthropology. She was forced to have an induction for her first birth, and chose a home birth for her second. For more about the National Rally for Change, visit

From the Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2012, issue

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