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Women Fight For The Chance To Use Their Own Bodies In Giving Birth

13 Mar

Los Angeles, CA (March 2015) — Ninety percent of American women who give birth by Cesarean will have all future babies by surgery. The new feature-length documentary film, Trial of Labor TOLgives a voice to four California women fighting those odds: planning births after Cesarean (VBAC).

Access to VBAC remains extremely restricted in the U.S., with many hospitals maintaining mandatory surgery policies (also known as “VBAC bans”) for women who have had Cesareans. These policies, based primarily on non-medical factors, mean that tens of thousands of women every year have no choice in how they give birth: they are pushed into surgery whether they need it or not.

This situation persists despite a top-level push to increase access to VBAC. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists calls VBAC, “safe and appropriate” for most women, while the National Institute of Health and American Academy of Family Physicians urge increased access to VBAC as a pressing issue of public health, warning against the life-threatening risks of harm from multiple Cesareans. When a woman is given the chance at a “trial of labor,” she has about a three-in-four chance of avoiding the operating room.


Epidurals For Labor: Telling It Like It Is

11 Feb

A national survey of women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2011-2012 reported that 6 out of 10 mothers had an epidural for pain relief in labor. An epidural is a very effective form of pain relief, but it can also lead to complications that eventually makes it necessary for the mother to have a cesarean.

At Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial in Fremont, Michigan expectant mothers are educated about the benefits and risks of using an epidural in labor and their informed choice is respected. Dr. Tami Michele, DO, FACOG, OB/GYN, Medical Director CassieEhard3746461480_ba31648524_zand Obstetrics and Gynecology Department Chair is a strong advocate of women’s informed choices. Mothers are educated about the benefits and risks of epidural anesthesia for labor and also given a Plan for Vaginal Birth form that includes many options for pain relief: massage; hypnosis techniques; use of whirlpool or  shower; use of a birth ball and freedom of movement and positions for birth.

This is the information that women are currently given if they are considering an epidural for pain relief.

Read more  […]

Take A Sneak Peak at The Mama Sherpas, a Documentary by Filmaker, Professor, and VBAC Mom

12 Dec

Brigid Maher, a tenured, associate professor of Film and Media Arts Division in the School of Communication at American University will soon be releasing a documentary about the health benefits and advantages of midwifery care for women with a prior cesarean.

The Mama Sherpas is a feature-length documentary film about women receiving their maternity care through midwife-doctor teams.  For two years Maher followed nurse midwives, the doctors they work with, and their patients to provide an investigative lens into how midwives work within the hospital system. The official TRAILER has just been released. Sherpaslogo

A Sherpa refers to a member of a Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalayas in Eastern Nepal known for providing support for foreign trekkers and mountain climbers. Here, it is the midwives who are the sherpas or guides for the expectant mothers’ journey through pregnancy, labor and birth.

Evidence shows that collaborative care reduces interventions, lowers cesarean rates and improves health outcomes. Maher was inspired to make the film after her VBAC of a 9 pound 10 ounce daughter. She knew that the midwifery model of care she received made all the difference and wanted women with a prior cesarean to know about their options for care providers.

Why is this film important?

About one in three babies are born by C-section today, though the World HealthOrganization recommends that the best outcomes for mothers and babies are achieved when that rate remains below 15%.  Additionally, according to the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized countries.

How can these disturbing trends be reversed?

In recent years, the idea of a “collaborative care” practice where doctors and midwives manage women’s care together has begun to gain traction in the U.S.  So far, research has demonstrated that collaborative care models produce better outcomes for mother and baby, including fewer C-sections.

Maher and her team plan to release the film in the fall of 2015.  You can follow The Mama Sherpas on the film’s website where you can read several of the mothers’ birth stories and check Facebook and Twitter for updates on the film’s world premiere.



Find a Midwife

Citizens for Midwifery

Mothers Naturally

National Association of Certified Professional Midwives

Bringing Birth Back: A New Infographic for Parents on Lowering the Odds for a Cesarean

1 Oct

Bringing Birth Back: The Rise of Cesareans & the Movement to Safely Prevent Them is a review of the rise in U.S. cesarean rates, the risks of the surgical procedure and how parents can take advantage of the new practice guidelines to lower their odds for a medically unnecessary cesarean.

Mothers’ choices for how they want to give birth is theirs to make and should be respected. This easy-to-read format gives mothers information they may not have to help them make an informed decision on how they want to give birth. You can upload this helpful infographic from the nursing website.

Bringing Birth Back