Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mother-Friendly What?

When I got together with a couple other ladies from my community to start a chapter of BirthNetwork National a year-and-a-half ago, we only had an inkling of what it would involve.  We have grown to be the largest chapter in the country with nearly 100 members and have accomplished some amazing things in our community.  If you are in the Fort Worth area, I would like to invite you to be a part of this growing movement.

Our chapter is the Tarrant County Birth Network.  This spring, we published a book of birth stories called The Birth Next Door, which is available for sale, benefiting TCBN .  We hold free monthly meetings on a variety of topics based on the MFCI (we'll get to that in a minute).  Visit our website for topics and location.

We are currently in the process of gearing up for the 2nd year of BOLD Fort Worth 2011, consisting of a play, Birth, by Karen Brody and a Birth & Family Expo.  Mark your calendar for September 23-24.  If you have a Mother-Friendly business you'd like to advertise in TCBN's Resource Guide (distribution 10,000), there is still time!  Here is a link that will tell you everything you need to know.  Deadline is August 1st.

The foundation of the Birth Network is solid and this is really what I wanted to discuss in this post.  We throw a lot of terms around and people tend to glaze over.  For example, the 10 Steps of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) written by CIMS, or the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, is the basis of everything we do, nationally and locally.  The 10 Steps are evidence-based and have shown that if followed, maternity care will be improved for the entire family.  I encourage you to read through these steps and check out the CIMS website.  There are useful downloads there as well, including topics such as breastfeeding, induction, and risks of cesarean section. 

Many people are aware of, or at least have heard of, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, written by WHO-UNICEF.  I have discovered most people don't really know what that means, but it sounds good, doesn't it?  There are 10 steps to being Baby-Friendly, and basically, it has to do with breastfeeding support -- not separating mom and baby, not offering bottles or pacifiers, and all around encouragement of breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a part of something much bigger -- it is the 10th Step to the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative.  I want to very briefly, in my own words, tell you what these steps are:

To be Mother-Friendly, a birth place must carry out these philosophical principles:

1.  Anyone can be with the mother at all times if she so chooses, including a doula.  She should have access to professional midwifery care.  (Hospitals who do not employ midwives are not Mother-Friendly.)

2.  Statistics are easy to come by.

3.  Is respectful of differing cultures, customs, and religions. 

4.  Mom has the freedom to move as she wishes and is not forced to be in any position she does not choose.

5.  If transfer of care becomes necessary, everyone is treated with respect and the mother receives respectful care throughout the process.

6.  Routine interventions are not used unless medically indicated.  Key statistics include:  induction rate of 10% or less, episiotomy rate of 20% or less with a goal of less than 5%, c-section rate of 10% or less and 15% or less in high-risk hospitals, VBAC rate of 60% or more with a goal of more than 75%.

7.  Staff is educated in non-drug methods of helping the laboring woman and does not encourage the use of drugs.

8.  Staff encourages family members to hold, touch, and care for their baby, including premature or sick infants.

9.  Discourages non-religious circumcision.

10.  Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative -- Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed!

I hope you will press your care provider and birth places on these steps and if they are following them.  The more we talk about Mother-Friendly Maternity care, the more common it will become.

If you are interested in finding a local chapter of BirthNetwork National, visit their website.  There may be one near you.  If not, start one! 


Mellanie said...

Love it Donna!

Zenbuoyant said...

Wonderful! Question, #9, discourages non-religious circumcision. Does that open the door to encourage religious circumcision? That would really overstep ethical bounds. Jews and Muslims usually do their own bidding. It's bad to lead a Christian astray. Many are blind to the fact their New Testiment warns against it. Advocating genital cutting on a newborn goes against the basic tenets of Wholistic care.