What drew me to childbirth advocacy

I received an excellent question from a Facebook friend the other day.  And even though my response is brief, I suppose this might be a question that a lot of folks have for people like me!

“So I’m curious… What led you to become involved with ICAN? Personal experience or passionate commitment to natural childbirth? Or both?”   “I am always interested in how people come to be involved in this kind of advocacy.”

My brief response:

I had a cesarean in 2004 and didn’t fully understand the impact of it until much later. I joined ICAN when it was time to try for another baby and have been involved ever since. So, now it’s personal experience as well as passionate commitment to evidence-based practices in obstetrics as well as spreading the word about the benefits of natural childbirth, VBAC, homebirth, birth plans, doulas, midwives, whatever! Also, I’m very concerned about the national cesarean rate and our local rate in Missoula. That’s it in a nutshell!!

And of course I suggested that she have a look at my blog!

It was a big day

Phew, 7pm and I’m exhausted.  Here’s a summary of my activities today:

The twins – yes, I said twins, look good.  I’m not quite as far along (only by a couple of days) as I would have thought, and this is an agonizing alteration to my pregnancy “schedule.”  What I mean is that as a loss momma, that last thing I want to be doing is backing up in time… adding MORE time into the 1st trimester.

Both babies are measuring about the same size.  Both babies’ heartbeats were easily detected and measured right around 130 which is good for 6 weeks 4 days or so.  We were so thankful to see those sweet flickers again.

My husband and I found out definitively about the twins about a week ago.  A nurse at the RE’s office recommended a scan because my HCG numbers doubled too quickly.  At about 5-1/2 or 6 weeks we were able to see two sacs and even visualize the heartbeats for both babies.  I call them my little flickers.

Health Reform:  I was thrilled to have been invited to attend a local health reform meeting to represent consumer concerns.  I introduced myself as an University professor and a professional opera singer which of course got a couple of laughs.  Then, I continued by saying that I’m a consumer advocate and come to this gathering as a woman with a scarred uterus.  The main concerns I articulated as a cesarean mom were:

  1. A high local cesarean rate (around 31%); a low VBAC rate (about 1%) at the hospital
  2. A lack of support for the local birth center
  3. Decrease in numbers of CNMs locally
  4. Insurance and health care costs
  5. Insurance company driven health “care”

Additionally, it alarms me that even with my supposed “good” health coverage, I am struggling to pay last year’s medical bills.  The bills are overwhelming, so they pile up, and my credit score is suffering as well.

Arts Advocacy:  I am one of the educations outreach directors for a new opera company.  We had a meeting today to help prepare for the next board meeting and our upcoming educational outreach program.

I even managed to mop the floors.  I’d say it was a pretty darned productive day.

Legislative Alert: American Association of Birth Centers Announcement

I am just a messenger.  This is extremely important and requires quick action.  I know it’s a crazy busy time of year, but please do take a moment to make these calls.  Midwifery is good for women and babies!  Support a woman’s access to ethical and mother/baby-friendly care.

American Association of Birth Centers
Legislative Alert

URGENT – Make Calls before December 22nd!

We are making progress with education of the House and Senate about the need to add the birth center facility to Medicaid covered services! But, many Representatives and Senators have not yet had a call from you or your clients. We must have sponsors from both parties! We are also targeting key people who will vote YES or NO whether our bill will get out of committee and to the floor — once we have introduced the bill.

For background information click here.

Please make calls to congressional health staffers this week before the holiday recess!

1. Click here to get the names and phone numbers of the Washington D.C. offices of your two Senators and your Representative.

2. Ask the name of the healthcare staffer and ask to speak to them.
3. Write down their name and phone number.

4. Tell them you own/direct/work at/are a consumer of/care about the services of a birth center.

5. Tell them that a bill will be introduced soon to add birth centers to Medicaid. [NOTE: the bill does not yet have a bill number.]

6. Ask for their support and sponsorship of our bill to add birth centers to Medicaid. That’s all you need to say–we’ll do the rest.

7. Then call or email AABC’s lobbyist Karen Fennell (301-830-3910, karenfennell50 @ yahoo.com or me (423-253-4455, jkalliman @ yahoo.com to tell us what they said. We will follow up.

NOTE: We do not have a bill number because it is not yet introduced, but we want to introduce the bill in January and need sponsors now. We can send them the draft bill language if they are interested in sponsoring the bill.

justinandelise (flickr)

image attribution: justinandelise (flickr)

This is urgent if we want to sustain birth centers in the United States. Please call today.

Please pass this on to your Friends of the Birth Center groups and ask them to call too.

Sincerely,

Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
Legislative Chair
American Association of Birth Centers

Natural Childbirth Advocacy and Social Media

Thanks to Twitter and @PressReleasePR, I came across a wonderful brief post about engaging your audience through social media.  Author Lucio Ribeiro suggests:

1) Research your audience with Surveys, Analytics and Search Tools.

2) Find your audience – or “Fish Where the Fish Are

3) Let your customer know you’re there, answering questions, giving feedback and slowly building your authority

4) Reach out to them in a voice and channel in which they are holding the conversation

5) Understand that you don’t’ have more full control over your reputation, but you do have control over what you’ll be building, so be transparent!

dullhunk (flickr)

Atribution: dullhunk (flickr)

I’d like to ask a couple of questions related to points 2 & 4.  Where are the people who are interested in natural childbirth?  Especially, where are the women who are at risk of uninformed acceptance of evidence-lacking medicalized childbirth, an experience that may come back to haunt mother and child immediately and long term?

Where are childbirth advocates and moms conversing?  Is it in person, over the phone, on Facebook, on Twitter, on forums – where?  Wherever the bulk of that interaction may be – we need to be there too.  And how do we draw more “low tech” mamas to the internet – to Facebook and Twitter and blogs and on-line forums?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Awareness Effort: One Day for Human Rights

Please consider not only signing the petition, but also raising awareness about the petition and “One Day for Human Rights” through social media networks and blogging.

There has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about “One Day for Human Rights.”  Give @HumanRightsDay a follow to keep up on this important initiative.

For those of us who are natural childbirth advocates, this could be a great strategy for us to use.  A One Day for the Mother-Baby Dyad or something like that?  One Day for Natural Childbirth would be an obvious title, but the reason I like the Mother-Baby Dyad thing is because many people perceive natural childbirth advocacy as a selfish endeavor on the part of the mother.  No, rather it’s a health goal for the mother and baby as a duo, a pair in the critical postnatal period.  The mental, physical, and emotional health of one directly and indirectly affects the other.  This has been studied and observed in humans and other mammals.  If you’re interested to learn more about the mother-baby dyad, I highly recommend the Conscious Woman webinar, “What Would Mammals Do?” by Diane Wiessinger.

Anyway, this is something to chew on . . .

On the Radar, 11/15/08

The weekend is an excellent time to catch up on the latest news. Here are some things rolling around the internet that piqued my interest.

I had to edit my post to include the latest cartoon by Hathor the Cow Goddess.  This one really resonates with me in a funny and sick way.  It’s so true . . . except that I never made it out of the hospital bed, unless you count changing beds to be wheeled into surgery . . .  If wishes were horses, I’d have followed my instincts and not left my house that night.  We were fine until the midwife broke my water. <sigh>

AMA Scope of Practice Initiative Advances – I get so focused on what ACOG and the AMA is trying to do to childbirth, that I forget the far reaching affects of their actions. This post was written by the American Optometric Association. I think it’s a good one to study to get another perspective on expanding SOPP. Plus, it makes me thing that we need to forge ties with other “secondary level” practitioners, hire our own marketing teams, and put together a real professional campaign against the AMA.

Can you give yourself a few minutes every day for the next 15 days to practice relaxation and yoga? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially since I’ve started reading Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. One of my students let me borrow it. While I’m at it, let me share one wonderful thing I’ve read from the book thus far:

Peace is all around us – in the world and in nature – and within us – in our bodies and our spirits. once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. (23-24)

It’s so hard for me to recognize peace around me, and, in a way, to embrace the healing and transformation that is promised by embracing peace. I keep being led to practicing mindfulness, peace, meditation, yoga, being present, but I keep resisting it. How about you? And will you also take mamascoffeetime’s challenge to practice yoga? If you have a little one at home, try the Animal Adventure!

I found a petition, “Practicing midwives Should Be Licensed and Carry Insurance.” I sighed in sadness and exasperation when I read it. It really stinks that this family lost their baby in this manner, but shouldn’t they have been aware through the interview process if their midwife was licensed and if she carried insurance? I’m not trying to point fingers back at this family, but these are such basic questions. For some homebirthers, it’s important that their midwives carry the proper credentials. Others recognize that midwives don’t always care about formal recognition for what they do. They help babies and their families at one of the most critical and beautiful times in their lives. A piece of paper doesn’t mean that they’re a good or bad midwife any more than a medical degree ensures that you have a good doctor. And to require midwives to carry insurance is to ask them (and us) to continue to support a system that is completely FUBAR! Anyone who has suffered from major medical problems – even if they have “good” insurance – can attest to that.

Choices in Childbirth Statement Encourages Options and Evidence in Maternity Care. What a concept, eh? Options for women and their babies? EVIDENCE when it comes to maternity care?? Here’s a taste, but please do read the whole thing! I wonder if ACOG or the AMA will respond?

The statement also calls for evidence-based practices in maternity care, and for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association “to strike those resolutions that deny childbearing women the autonomy and rights that medical professionals, educators, and women’s health advocates have historically endorsed.”

A wonderful post at BlogHer, It’s lonely out here: planning for a natural childbirth. Some great comments too!

CfM Grassroots Network: MEAC Needs Our Help! What they really need is our $$.

And last but not least . . . a new website and blog to which I will subscribe: The Unnecessarian which I found via CfM and Birth, Interrupted. Read the latest blog entry and you’ll see that they’re already holding the medical community’s feet to the fire.

Anatomy and Physiology of a VBAC Ban

I’m doing research for an upcoming presentation for Happy Mama regarding VBAC Bans.  We’re finally at the point in my community where this issue has to be addressed head on.  VBACs aren’t actually banned in Missoula at Community Medical Center, but they are rare because of the criteria in place discouraging women from having a vaginal birth after one or more cesareans.  This is NOT an evidence-based practice – to obstruct women’s access to natural birth.  What is more concerning regarding the medical climate in Missoula is that the cesarean rate is above 31% and therefore on par with the national average which is already twice the rate recommended by the World Health Organization.  According the the CMC website:

More babies are born at Community Medical Center than any other hospital in Montana. CMC is the hospital of choice for many families because family-centered care is accentuated in obstetric and newborn services.

All the more reason to ensure that CMC is providing the highest level of ethical, supportive, and evidence-based care.  First, I will contact Tracey Thompson, the Director of Women’s & Children’s Services at the hospital.  I’ve talked with her before, but when I called in a more formal capacity as an ICAN leader, she didn’t return my call.  If I do not receive what I need from her, I’ll call and talk with a labor & delivery nurse.  Depending on what I find out, I will contact the hospital’s Board of Directors and the President & CEO, Steve Carlson.

I am investigating discrepancies that have been reported regarding Community’s VBAC policy.  I have been told that the OB must be bed-side when overseeing a VBAC.  (Not great for mom; not great for the doc; not great for the doc’s other patients.)  I have been told that the OB must be on campus when a VBAC patient is in labor.  This has been particularly problematic for Dr. Lynn Montgomery’s practice, since his birth center is about 3 whole minutes from the hospital and therefore NOT on campus.  [Lynn Montgomery died from a massive heart attack at age 51.  I do need to write about him.  He is sorely missed in our community.]  Since Dr. Montgomery’s death, his CNMs have lost their privileges at the hospital.  Isn’t that horrible?  And it is my understanding that area OBs are more than happy to take business away from the birth center (sure we’ll take your clients) but won’t back up the CNMs at the hospital or donate their services temporarily to help keep the Birth Center in business.  More on that later.

Here are excellent resources to consult when you have questions about VBAC Bans:

VBAC Ban Stories & News

Google search: “VBAC ban” petition

Additional Resources

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