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Locals to participate in Sept. 2 Rally to Improve Birth

August 29, 2013

Online Staff Report

Monday, Sept. 2, Rockford families will join an estimated 12,000 parents, health care providers and advocates in all 50 states at Labor Day rallies around the country to call attention to the crisis in American maternal health care.

The 2013 Rally to Improve Birth will take place in more than 170 U.S. cities, Japan, Australia, and Canada, at 10 a.m. local time, Monday, Sept. 2. Supporters will call for safer, evidence-based birth practices that put women and babies before profits, convenience and liability concerns. A listing of all rally locations is available at www.rallytoimprovebirth.com; Rockford’s rally will be at the intersection of Mulford and Riverside on the southwest corner.

The Illinois C-section rate of 31.2 percent is significantly higher than the 15 percent suggested by the World Health Organization as a highest recommended rate. While some will point to older, more obese, less healthy mothers as the reason for such high rates of Cesarean surgery, research shows the most variability in rates is among low-risk women, and the Joint Commission, the national accrediting body for hospitals, recently pointed to “physician factors” as the driving force in these differences.

And, though the U.S. has the highest maternity care costs in the world, it ranks 45th in maternal safety, according to data from the United Nations, which lists our nation’s maternal death rate as tied with that of Iran and Hungary.

Rally attendees will call for maternity practices that put mothers and babies first, including obtaining fully informed consent, using medical interventions only when necessary, and reducing the rate of Cesarean section. This major surgery occurs in one in three American births — more than double the highest recommended rate by the World Health Organization.

We’re in a true crisis, with the highest costs in the world and some of the worst health outcomes related to childbirth,” said Dawn Thompson, president of ImprovingBirth.org, the mothers’ advocacy group organizing the rally. “Nine out of 10 American women receive care that increases the risks of harm to them and their babies. We must do better.”

Policymakers who support better maternal care lauded the family-friendly rallies, which will also highlight barriers to evidence-based care. Some states, under pressure from well-funded hospitals and professional lobbyists, have effectively banned proven, cost-effective options for families like birth centers and midwifery care.

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., said: “I find it a travesty that despite a vast body of knowledge regarding best evidence-based practices in maternity care, current U.S. practice has not followed that research. That is why I introduced the MOMS for the 21st Century Act in Congress, and why I will continue to fight for a national focus on evidence-based, optimal maternity care for all women. I believe that if we all work together towards this goal, the day will come when the holistic model of listening to the evidence, listening to women, and trusting in the normalcy of childbirth will be the norm, rather than the exception for all women and newborns.”

Recent studies show there is often a drastic difference between evidence-based care (practices proven best by science for mothers and babies) and the care women receive in labor and delivery rooms. (See 2012 State of Maternity Care Table for a comparison.) Caregivers are often driven by routine, profits, convenience and liability, rather than the needs of families and mothers, many of whom say they did not provide fully informed consent to medical procedures during birth.

Dr. Nikolas Capetanakis, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist in San Diego, noted: “Evidence-based practices and fully informed consent should be paramount in the dialogue between the practitioners and patients. The patient should be part of the decision-making process both before and, most critically, during labor.”

For local rally information, contact Emily Dickey at (815) 871-3376.

ImprovingBirth.org is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization by moms, for moms, and is dedicated to evidence-based, humane maternity care. For more information, visit www.ImprovingBirth.org.

Posted Aug. 29, 2013

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