For those of you who do not know, April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Did you know that our national cesarean rate continues to increase every year? Over 31% of births take place surgically via cesarean section. Consumer Reports has named cesarean surgery one of the top overused procedures in the United States. Even though the US tends to deal with pregnancy and childbirth from a medical perspective, our country’s maternal/fetal outcomes are among the WORST in the industrialized world. I hope you will take some time this month to learn about cesarean surgery, why women in your communities may not consider cesarean-born babies to have been birthed, why women are having more trouble post-cesarean with becoming or staying pregnant, why women may have less access to birthing options following a cesarean, and why women should be searching for less medically-interventive options for pregnancy and childbirth. Talk to people in your community about preventing unnecessary cesareans (keeping in mind that cesareans are appropriate for some emergent situations and in case of emergency), midwifery care (nurse-midwifery and professional midwifery), birth venue choices, and how to help someone recover from a cesarean. For more information on Cesarean Awareness Month, visit http://www.ican-online.org and also search for a local chapter. Together we can make a difference, one birth at a time.
A friend posted a link to the Coalition for Breech Birth on her gmail status. I’m so thankful to know about this resource now. The following quote applies to all low-risk mothers (regardless of fetal presentation or previous cesarean):
“However, caesarean surgery, while it presents many advantages for the surgeon, has lifelong ramifications for the birthing woman and her family, including issues with subsequent pregnancies, secondary infertility, vbac availability, and depression, not to mention a risk of death in childbirth increased threefold over vaginal birth. Women should not be obliged to accept these serious risks as ‘standard of care’. . .”
Please have a look at this site which provides links to the original report that caused breech birth to fall off the natural birth map and the subsequent research that DISPROVED the report authored in 2000 that continues to govern obstetrics & midwifery access and practice to this day.
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!
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:
- A high local cesarean rate (around 31%); a low VBAC rate (about 1%) at the hospital
- A lack of support for the local birth center
- Decrease in numbers of CNMs locally
- Insurance and health care costs
- 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.
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
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.
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.
Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
American Association of Birth Centers
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!
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.