Mothers are often disappointed when they give birth in a hospital that offers none of the options they may have read about on the internet or learned in their childbirth classes. Some are literally traumatized by the care they received. At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a teaching hospital where nearly 7,000 women give birth a month, the maternity care is collaborative and the staff believes in offering women evidence-based care and respecting their needs and preferences. Physicians, midwives, nurses, doulas and childbirth educators work together to provide safe, woman-centered care.
A maternity care committee recently put together a brochure titled Choices in Childbirth. Here is an excerpt:
Thank you for choosing Cedars-Sinai! We look forward to birthing with you. We believe that pregnancy and birth are natural experiences that are different for each woman and her family. We honor all families and respect your birth choices. We will share information with you, answer your questions and then make decisions together. When making decisions, it is important to know what “evidence shows.” Evidence is the most up-to-date support from research that helps parents and caregivers make informed choices.
Here are things you should know:
EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT:
When there are no problems in pregnancy or during labor, a vaginal birth is the safest way to have a baby.
Mothers with a good support team and different comfort options can cope better with labor. We welcome your support team (partner, doula, friends and family), and look forward to working together.
When mothers move and change positions, their labor tends to progress better.
We can check your baby’s wellbeing with a hand-heald tool as needed, or with a fetal monitor that stays on your belly during labor.
Labor progresses better when you drink enough fluids and are well-nourished. We will offer you clear liquids to help you keep your energy up.
Babies have better blood counts and more iron if we wait to clamp the (umbilical) cord.
Babies do better when placed skin-to-skin for one hour after birth.
In labor and birth, not everything goes according to plan; some things cannot be predicted. We will make sure that you and your support team agree with any changes that may need to be made to your care plan. Our goal is a health mom and baby, and a positive birth memory.
The brochure includes a tear-out sheet, MY BIRTH PREFERENCES. Mothers can check off a list of options for labor, birth and newborn care and bring it with them when they arrive at the hospital.
Choices in Childbirth shows that when caregivers work together for the health benefits and wellbeing of mothers and babies much can be accomplished.
Ultimately, it is the mother herself who has the right to make her own decisions about how she wants to give birth.
You can find other excellent examples of birth preferences forms for vaginal and cesarean birth in Deciding if a VBAC is Right for You: Hospital Policies that support VBAC and Physiologic Birth. The forms are free to download and use.