If you were out and about in your town on Labor Day (Monday), you may have encountered a group of women and families carrying signs with messages relating to birth and maternity care. The 2015 Rally to Improve Birth took place in several cities around the world yesterday, and will also take place this coming Saturday, September 12, in many cities. Founded in 2011 to bring evidence-based care and humanity to childbirth, Improving Birth (the non-profit organization behind the rally) is in the midst of its 4th annual rally, and continues to work to ensure that women and families have the information they need to make safer, more informed decisions about their care.
This year, the Improving Birth rally's theme "Respectful Care" centers around addressing disrespect and abuse in maternity care. In addition to the need for improved maternity care, as evidenced by the alarming rate of cesareans and maternal and infant risks and deaths, there has been an influx in the number of women who report bullying, abuse, disregard, and disrespect in the hospital birth setting. Situations where interventions are forced upon women -- both literally and through the use of scare tactics and coercion -- and requests and preferences go ignored are happening to a surprisingly large number of women, with little accountability or recourse for achieving justice. Improving Birth founder Dawn Thompson recently spoke of the issue in a press release: “Every single day, we hear from women around the country that they were ignored, bullied, and even forced in childbirth—especially women who are informed and challenging the status quo.”
Improving Birth and the Rally to Improve Birth are not about advocating for a certain kind of birth -- home, hospital, "natural," epidural -- but rather, according to the website and their mission:
It’s about women being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies, when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives. It’s aboutrespect for women and their decisions in childbirth, including how, where, and with whom they give birth; and the right to be treated with dignity and compassion.
Lamaze supports the Improving Birth mission, too! One look at our website, resources, this blog, and as evidenced by the information provided in Lamaze childbirth classes, and you'll clearly see that our goal is to provide the highest quality of information to help families have a safer, healthier birth.
To join in a Rally to Improve Birth near you (or to start planning for one in your area next year!), check out the Improving Birth rally map. Or, consider donating to the mission, or sharing your own story for other women to see. The Improving Birth website also offers helpful tools for mothers healing from birth trauma, as well as an extensive "Complaint Toolkit," which offers resources to lodge a formal complaint against a health care provider and/or facility.