Friday, June 6, 2008

Central Maine Birth Discussion Group: Books, Film & Advocacy

Sometimes after reading a book about birth or watching a birth-related film, I really wished I belonged to some kind of discussion group - to hear about what others thought about certain ideas or what connections they made, and to ask the questions that came up for me in my own reading/viewing.

There are spaces online to do this, and of course it's fun to debrief with similarly-interested friends & family... but lately I've been thinking about how wonderful (exciting, interesting, productive... I could go on ;-) it would be to have a Birth Discussion & Advocacy Group (hospital and homebirth) here in Central Maine.

Southern Maine has Birth Roots, and there is the new birth center in the Sebago-region, The Birth House, but I'm unaware of any kind of discussion/advocacy group in the Augusta area. It's easy to get to Winthrop (where I'm thinking of for this) from Augusta, Hallowell, Gardiner, Lewiston & Auburn, and even Waterville.

Some potential books/films I'm thinking of to discuss:
Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care or The Business of Being Born or The Baby Catcher or Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth etc. Anyone have any suggestions?

What's motivated me to finally start putting this idea out there is the Lamaze Webinar, "Starting Conversations for Change" that I "attended" a few weeks ago. You can view it yourself from this page: Lamaze International Webinars.

The presenter, Debra Bingham, outlined the critical importance of working for change: the Cesarean-birth rate, the fact that maternal mortality is slipping back to where it was in the 1970s (yes, how it's recorded has changed, but it's still under-reported now), declining access to VBAC, declining percentage of women spending the first hour of their babies lives with their babies (according to Listening to Mothers II) etc. & etc.

Bingham asked - how many of the hospitals in your area use the Lamaze Six Care Practices That Support Normal Birth?
1. Labor begins on its own
2. Freedom of movement throughout labor
3. Continuous labor support
4. No routine interventions
5. Spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity-neutral positions
6. No separation of mother and baby after birth with unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding
She recommended forming small "women's advisory" groups to find out what care is like in local hospitals, discuss what changes need to be made and how to go about implementing those changes, and then to track success. She used the acronym MAP-IT (mobilize, assess, plan, implement, track).

While pregnant women and women who have recently given birth can be powerful change agents by "voting with their feet", asking questions, giving feedback, etc., we who want to see change happen need to also act. Agents for change need to be a larger, more-diverse group in order to be successful.

Bingham asked participants to consider whether or not this statement was true: "“I can implement mother-friendly & baby-friendly care in my community."

This post is the first concrete step in my journey to answering that question. My goal is to set up an initial meeting to introduce ourselves, to discuss our purpose(s), and to plan a book/film to discuss and a meeting date etc.,

If you think you'd like to attend a discussion/advocacy meeting - as a woman who is planning a pregnancy, who is currently pregnant, who wants to process a recent (or not so recent) birth... who is a "birth junkie" or a birth professional etc... leave me a comment or send me an email!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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