Monday, July 13, 2009

Mother's Advocate: 6 Steps to a Safer Birth

I discovered a new website for expectant parents that helps them have healthier, safer births: Mother's Advocate.
It has both videos and print materials explaining the 6 Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices:
1. Let labor begin on its own.
2. Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.
3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.
4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
5. Avoid giving birth on your back, and follow your body’s urges to push.
6. Keep your baby with you—it’s best for you, your baby, and breastfeeding.

Mother's Advocate is a fantastic resource for women in their childbearing years who are planning hospital births. (These 6 care practices also apply to out-of-hospital settings, of course, but they are already the standard of care in birth centers and home births.) You can watch women pushing in upright positions, moving and changing positions during labor, and having immediate skin-to-skin contact with their babies. And the best thing is that you see these things happening in a hospital environment.

The videos are short and easy to understand. The accompanying print material explains the principles more in depth. Besides handouts about each of the 6 Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, Mother's Advocate offers 10 additional printouts on topics ranging from how to choose a care provider to positions for labor.

Jill at Unnecessarean posted about Healthy Birth Practice #5: avoid giving birth on your back, and follow your body’s urges to push. In Getting Upright in Labor, Jill includes several different perspectives and quotes about vertical birth, including screen shots from one of the Mother's Advocate videos.

This is a great place to send pregnant women when they are beginning to think about their birth options. My only wish is that the videos also showed women laboring in less institutional settings. Footage from hospital-based or freestanding birth centers, for example, would provide a nice counterpoint to the images of women clad in hospital gowns and hooked up to monitors.


  1. Actually, I really appreciated the fact that the material IS in an institutional setting. I and virtually every other woman I know birthed in a hospital setting. However, I am coming to understand what an absolute rarity I was, having five hospital births with absolutely no interventions (other than a hep lock). I have a deep desire to help women learn that if home birth seems too extreme for them (and there are NO birthing centers -- NONE -- in the Phoenix area, not free-standing, nor with hospital affiliation), that birthing naturally in a hospital is do-able. Virtually all the lit out there right now is geared to a one-or-the-other approach -- either for homebirthers OR to standard induced/epidural'ed/c-sectioned births. From my perspective, this is fabulous, helpful middle ground.

    I immediately forwarded the links to a friend of mine who is due in 2 weeks, and has asked me to be her labor coach. I have sent her tons (maybe too much!) info, but again, it all tends to be from one extreme or the other, and she (and many other women) are just not extreme.

  2. I thought there was a new FSBC in Phoenix--I remember someone sending me links to it. It's in a huge early 20th century mansion and looks really cool...but I can't remember what it's called. In any case, I see your point--but sometimes (for me) it's hard to see what's happening behind all of the hospital trappings--the woman seems to get lost behind the wires and monitors and gowns! I know it's probably not like that for many women, who really don't notice those things as much.

  3. OK -- I did a little Googling, and made a phone call. The only birthing center is Bethany Birthing Ctr, and it is definitely not in a mansion. It was closed down for a time -- I thought it was permanently closed -- but it appears that it is back open. If there's a new one opening up to join Bethany, all the better! But, I couldn't find any info on it.

    About wires and gowns, etc., I encouraged my friend to bring her own clothes (like a swim top/tank especially), and she's already got a hep lock in her birthing plan so as to not be tied down. And, she's going to do intermittent monitoring... I don't like all those trappings either -- literally trappings! -- and it is possible to birth without them, but you have to know your rights, and you have to know what to ask for, which a vast majority of hospital birthers don't! So, that's why I think the videos are particularly helpful. If someone watched all seven of those videos, each at 2-3.5 min long, that little bit of info would be enough -- if applied -- to have a fabulous, natural, hospital birth.

  4. Oh, golly. Bethany birthing center is still operating as a women's health center, but has not hosted/serviced in-house births since June 2007.

    Now I'm more interested than ever about a new birthing center opening!!


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