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Rally stresses need for informed birth choices

More than 60 people stood outside Meritus Medical Center to reduce the unnecessary induction and unnecessary C-section rate, support normal births and educate mothers about options

September 03, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Haven Drooger of Chambersburg, Pa. attends the National Rally for Change with her 6-month-old niece, Emmersyn Mumma, Monday on Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown to support evidence-based maternity care.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

More than 60 people stood outside Meritus Medical Center on Monday for the first National Rally for Change, bringing attention to the need for informed birth choices and humanity in American maternity care.

“Our goal is to help new families get the information they need,” said Jen Sincevich, a member of the leadership board of Hagerstown Regional Childbirth Resources, which paired with ImprovingBirth.org to host the rally at the intersection of Robinwood Drive and Medical Campus Road. “We’re really pushing for a continued movement toward care based on research.”

Hagerstown was one of 110 cities in 45 states where similar rallies at or near hospitals took place Monday, according to a press release from Dawn Thompson of ImprovingBirth.org. Women, men and children showed up at the rally holding up signs in support of evidence-based maternity care.

“It’s a movement of mothers coming out saying, ‘We can do better for our moms and newborn babies,’” Sincevich said. “I think that hospitals, physicians and moms are really on the same page. They’re just approaching it from different angles.”

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Evidence-based maternity care, according to ImprovingBirth.org, means providing care based on reliable research that can help mothers and their babies, reducing cases of complications, injury and death.

Unnecessary Caesarean sections are a major issue among supporters of the cause.

The goals of the supporters are to reduce the unnecessary induction and unnecessary C-section rate in the United States, support normal births and educate mothers so they can make informed choices about their births.

“People lose sight of the fact that they are consumers in the medical world and there are options,” said Hagerstown resident and rally attendee Emily Kollmor, 35. “I had both of my children at home. I believe women have a lot more choices in an environment where they’re given more choices.”

The United States is 50th in the world in maternal survivor rates, according to the press release from Thompson. C-sections are performed at one out of three births.

Amy Miller, 34, of Hagerstown, also attended the rally and said a major problem is that not all of the options given to women are weighed fairly. She had a sign that said, “It’s not informed consent if you make me uncomfortable to say ‘no.’”

“Women are getting information from their peers and from the medical community, and they just take that as the truth without necessarily researching both sides,” she said. “We’re hoping that medical professionals will give more options and much more education to women.”

Miller added that the need for medical professionals to cover themselves against liabilities and the fact that certain things have been standard practice for so many years could be causing them to use “outdated” methods.

“If we can move some of that natural birth into hospitals, it’ll be better for everybody,” she said. “If we can let birth take its natural course, the baby will most likely be OK.”

ImproveBirth.org did highlight on its website, however, that it is not completely against inductions and C-sections, saying “We believe that induction and C-sections can be lifesaving interventions when necessary.” However, its focus is on trying to reduce unnecessary instances of both.

Midwives, who provide professional care to women during pregnancy, labor, birth and afterward, also were supported at the rally.

Hagerstown resident Jeremy Galvan, 30, is married with a 20-month old son and attended the rally to help support midwives. Galvan said his wife had their son at home.

“I hope that every time somebody hears the word ‘midwife,’ it reinforces that there are other options out there,” he said. “People are having home births every day in our country, with midwives.”

Galvan is president of an organization called Maryland Families for Safe Birth, which also supports evidence-based care.

Stephanie Jenks, 20, of Frederick Md., attended the rally to support midwives.

“My boyfriend’s mother is a midwife, my sister had a home birth, and she had a really positive experience,” she said. “Everything was natural. I have other friends who were forced into unnecessary C-sections.”

The rally was scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to noon, and another rally in Maryland was held in Columbia, according to ImprovingBirth.org.

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