“BIRTH RIGHTS” ON “LABOR DAY”
Parenting Group Says Womens’ Rights to
Natural Childbirth Are Rapidly Disappearing!!!
(Caldwell, NJ) – This Labor Day, as we honor the steadfast efforts of our country’s workers, the Holistic Moms Network (HMN) â€“ a national non-profit with 130 Chapters across the U.S. â€“ will be advocating for some of the toughest labor faced by women: childbirth. Through a number of events â€“ organized on or around Labor Day – HMN will focus attention on the critical issue of preserving a woman’s right to choose how and where she gives birth – a right that is rapidly disappearing.
This past June, HMN issued a press release to call attention to the American Medical American Association’s adoption of Resolution 205, which states that hospitals and hospital birthing centers are “the safest settings” for labor and delivery, despite strong evidence to the contrary. The Resolution is seen by HMN and birth choice advocates as an attempt to outlaw homebirth and eliminate low-intervention childbirth choices for women, thereby robbing them of a powerful birth experience and placing them and their newborns at higher risk of injury and death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, vaginal births after Cesarean (VBAC) rates have fallen by 67% since 1996 and U.S. hospitals are increasingly denying women the right to have VBACs, effectively forcing them into unnecessary Cesarean surgery. This runs contrary to the government’s own Healthy People 2010 initiative which seeks to increase the VBAC rate to 63% by 2010.
“Cesarean section is a major surgical procedure that increases the likelihood of many complications for mothers and babies compared to vaginal birth,” says Dr. Nancy Massotto, HMN’s Executive Director who birthed both of her sons at home. Risks to babies include surgical cuts, breathing problems, and difficulty breastfeeding. Risks to the mother include surgical injury, infection, and death from increased blood loss. Last year, the Associated Press reported that U.S. women are dying from childbirth at the highest rate in decades, with the jump in C-sections partly to blame. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agree that, for the safety of both mothers and babies, a country’s C-section rate should not exceed 15%. Medical institutions are clearly not heeding this advice. New Jersey â€“ home to HMN headquarters – has the highest C-section rate in the country â€“ 38.9% in 2007. This is 7% above the national average of 31%. New Jersey Center for Health Statistics data show that Bayonne Medical Center’s C-section rate was an
astounding 62% in 2006 – up 15% from the prior year. In 2007, Paterson’s Barnert Hospital’s C-section rate was 53.9 but its VBAC rate was a mere 1.8%. To inform women about this crisis and about their birth rights, HMN is organizing and participating in Labor Day events across the country.
HMN is throwing its support behind Birth on Labor Day or BOLD – a global arts-based movement founded in 2006 by playwright Karen Brody. BOLD aims to inspire communities to create maternity friendly childbirth choices for mothers through presentations of Brody’s play “Birth.” The play tells the birth stories of eight women and paints an alarming picture of how low-risk, educated mothers are giving birth today. Over 100 performances of the play are happening in cities across America in September (see www.boldaction.org). Proceeds from the play are donated to local organizations that provide mother-friendly maternity care, in line with the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (see http://www.motherfriendly.org/downloads.php). BOLD programs have raised over $85,000 since 2006.
HMN is spreading the word about BOLD’s New Jersey “Birth” performances, September 5th, 6th, and 7th, at the Middletown Cultural Arts Center, 36 Church Street in Middletown. A “TalkBack” panel discussion will follow each performance. Panelists will include BOLD’s Brody, practicing obstetricians, nurse midwives, childbirth educators, doulas, and birth choice activists. For more information, go to www.boldnj.com, or contact the play’s Director, Vivian Taormina at (732) 775-1550.
On August 30th, HMN’s Orlando Florida Chapter will have a booth at a BOLD Red Tent event. Women will gather under the Red Tent to share their birth stories and record them (in film, written word, or visual expression) for inclusion in the BOLD Library of Birth Truths, set for publication in 2010. BOLD launched the Red Tent initiative in 2007 so that mothers could collect their birth stories and use them to lobby local leaders for mother-friendly birthing options. The event will take place from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Infusion Tea, 1600 Edgewater Drive, in Orlando. For more information, contact event organizer Christina Cowherd at (407) 488-6614 or Tara Felicio, HMN Orlando Chapter Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greenville, North Carolina’s new HMN Chapter Leader Victoria Brown is organizing a production of “Birth” from September 5th through September 7th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville, 131 Oakmont Drive in Greenville. A Red Tent event will follow on September 13th. For more information, contact Victoria Brown at (252) 747-7785 or email@example.com.
On September 2nd, HMN’s Northern Virginia Chapter will host “Labor Day 101,” a panel discussion about choices, support, and options in planning birth. Panelists will include an obstetrician, three midwives, and a labor support doula. The event will take place from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, 10360 North Street in Fairfax. Call (703) 988-0285 or e-mail HMNofNova@gmail.com for more information.
On September 20th, HMN Bergen County and Birthnet of New York/New Jersey will host a panel discussion on VBAC. A panel of childbirth experts including an obstetrician, a midwife, a doula, and women who have had VBACs, will discuss the pros, cons, and options for VBACs. The event will take place at 2:00pm at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, 113 Cottage Place in Ridgewood. Call (917) 602-7054 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“Women need to make informed choices about their birth experiences and opt for maternity care providers who will honor those choices,” says HMN’s Massotto. “Choosing how and where to labor, and refusing unnecessary C-sections, must be every woman’s birth right,” she says.
The Holistic Moms Network is a national non-profit organization connecting parents who are interested in holistic health and green living. For more information, visit www.holisticmoms.org or call (877) HOL-MOMS.
ii. Roberts RG, Deutchman M, King VJ, Fryer GE, Miyoshi TJ. Changing policies on vaginal birth after
cesarean: impact on access. Birth 2007 Dec; 34(4): 316-22.
iii. See for example, F. Althabe F., Belizan J. M., The Lancet 2006; 368: 1472-1473 and Villar J.,
Valladares E., Wojdyla D., et al., The Lancet 2006; 367: 1819-1829.
iv. See http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-08-24-maternal-death-rate_N.htm.