Article By Lauren Wicks
Having a baby is one of life’s greatest miracles as well as a huge responsibility for soon-to-be mothers. Most women want to do all they can to ensure a happy and healthy baby, as well as a smooth delivery process. While you can do your best to eat a nutritious diet, take a daily prenatal vitamin, and play Beethoven out loud to your growing baby, a mother’s control is often lost in the labor process, which can lead to detrimental outcomes. Even though our country spends more money on maternity care than any in the world, the U.S. has the highest maternal death and injury rate of any first-world country. Another equally shocking statistic shows that black women and their babies are four times more likely to die than white women.
Dawn Thompson is the founder of the Improving Birth organization, and she is on a mission to educate hospitals and mothers-to-be on how to improve the birthing process and make it a safer process for patients. Thompson was a doula for seven years, and during that time she discovered the horrors of many women’s birthing experiences in the modern-day hospital setting.
“When I became a doula I’d already had two children via cesarean and began my doula training without knowing there was anything wrong with the birthing system,” Thompson said. She soon discovered the emphasis of many respected hospitals was to make more money rather than provide the best possible care for their patients through unnecessary c-sections and labor inductions. More surgeries meant more money and a c-section was less likely to be a liability than vaginal birth. Thompson also discovered that many of the obstetricians she worked with did not even believe in giving their patients the option to give birth and scheduled them appointments to be induced and undergo surgery to have a child instead.
“Women who do give birth in the modern hospital way are truly lucky,” Thompson said, as over 70 percent of American labors are sped up or induced, often without medical necessity. Once her eyes were open to the injustice occurring to many unknowing mothers-to-be, Thompson knew she had to take action. She organized the first rally to spread awareness for improving the birth system and publications all over the country began shining light on the issue.
Over 250 articles were written on these problems after the rally when there had been very little published about the horrors of the birthing process before. One of her main goals in forming this and the organization was to educate doctors and patients alike on the birthing process and how to hold hospitals accountable for ensuring the best possible practices.
“It’s not a put your head in the sand until you get into labor thing,” Thompson said. “We need to get educated and understand the physiological process of birth.” She encourages women to seek out education for themselves on the birthing process, as our culture provides little insight and also sees discussing birth as awkward.
ImprovingBirth provides the first mother-friendly hospital certification, which guides women to the best hospitals with healthy cesarean rates, low rates of intervention, and high success rates of vaginal birth after cesarean. The organization also provides tool kits for hospitals and mothers alike. ImprovingBirth’s accountability toolkit educates doctors on how to improve the birthing process and educates patients on how to file complaints with your hospital if they endure a traumatic birth experience. The organization’s other toolkit is focused on healing and is geared towards women who have painful physical or emotional scars from being taken advantage of during their pregnancy or in labor.
To find out more about the birthing process and to find out how you can get involved with ImprovingBirth, visit improvingbirth.org.
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