Archive for the ‘Patient Advocacy’ Category

Lamaze International Releases Valuable Cesarean Infographic For You To Share!

October 10th, 2013 by avatar

Lamaze International has long been a leader in providing resources for both parents and birth professionals that promote safe and healthy birth for women and babies.  Evidence based information, appealing handouts, useful webinars for both parents and professionals, continuing education opportunities and more can all be found within the Lamaze International structure.  In May, 2012, Lamaze International released  (and later went on to be a co-winner for the 2013 Nonprofit PR Award for Digital PR and Marketing) the Push For Your Baby campaign, which encouraged families to “push for better” and “spot the best care,” providing resources to help parents wade through the overabundance of often inaccurate information swimming past them, and make choices that support a healthy pregnancy, a healthy birth and a healthy mother and baby.

Today, as I make my way to New Orleans, to join other professionals at the 2013 Annual Lamaze International Conference, “Let the Good Times Roll for Safe and Healthy Birth,” Lamaze International is pleased to announce the release of a useful and appealing infographic titled “What’s the Deal with Cesareans?” In the USA today, 1 in 3 mothers will give birth by cesarean section.  While, many cesareans are necessary, others are often a result of interventions performed at the end of pregnancy or during labor for no medical reason.  For many families, easy to understand, accurate information is hard to find and they feel pressure to follow their health care provider’s suggestions, even if it is not evidence based or following best practice guidelines.

Families taking Lamaze classes are learning about the Six Healthy Birth Practices, which can help them to avoid unnecessary interventions. Now, Lamaze childbirth educators and others can share (and post in their classrooms) this attractive infographic that highlights the situation of too many unneeded cesareans in our country.  Parents and educators alike can easily see what the risks of cesarean surgery to mother and baby are, and learn how to reduce the likelihood of having a cesarean in the absence of medical need.

In this infographic, women are encouraged to take Lamaze childbirth classes, work with a doula, select a provider with a low rate of cesarean births, advocate for vaginal birth after cesarean and follow the Six Healthy Care Practices, to set themselves up for the best birth possible.  This infographic clearly states the problem of unneeded cesareans, the risks to mother and baby, and provides do-able actions steps.

It is time for women to become the best advocate possible for their birth and their baby.  With this appealing, useful and informative infographic poster, families can and will make better choices and know to seek out additional information and resources.

Educators and other birth professionals, you can find a high resolution infographic to download and print here.

Send your families to the Lamaze International site for parents, to find the infographic and other useful information on cesarean surgery.

For Lamaze members, log in to our professional site to access this infographic and a whole slew of other useful classroom activities, handouts and information sheets.

I am proud to say that I am a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and that my organization, Lamaze International, is leading the way in advocating for healthier births for mothers and babies through sources such as the “What’s the Deal with Cesareans?” infographic and other evidence based information and resources.  Thank you Lamaze!

What do you think of this infographic?  How are you going to use it with the families you work with?  Can you think of how you might incorporate this into your childbirth classes or discuss with clients and patients?  Let us know in the comments section, we would love your feedback!  And, see you at the conference!



Babies, Cesarean Birth, Evidence Based Medicine, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Lamaze International, Lamaze International 2013 Annual Conference, Maternal Quality Improvement, Maternity Care, Medical Interventions, Newborns, Patient Advocacy, Push for Your Baby , , , , , , , , ,

Seeking Real Life Stories from Women Who Have Experienced Pregnancy & Birth Complications

May 28th, 2013 by avatar

© http://flic.kr/p/3mcESR

Both expectant families and childbirth professionals alike would like nothing more than pregnancy and birth to remain uncomplicated and proceed normally. We can celebrate when that happens but we have a responsibility to also teach and share about some of the variations from normal that may come up during pregnancy and birth.

Cara Terreri, the Community Manager for Lamaze International’s parent blog, Giving Birth with Confidence, is looking for women’s input on pregnancy complications for a new series that she will be running in the coming months.

If you have had personal experience with one or more of the following (or know students, clients or patients who do) and would like to participate, please contact the blog manager, Cara Terreri at cterreri@lamaze.org

  • Preeclampsia/eclampsia & HELLP
  • Placental abruption/hemorrhage 
  • Placenta previa/accreta
  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
  • Incompetent/weakened cervix
  • Hyperemis Gravidarum
  • Preterm labor
I look forward to reading this upcoming series and sharing the stories with my students and clients.  Thank you for any help you might provide.

Giving Birth with Confidence, Lamaze International, News about Pregnancy, Patient Advocacy, Pre-eclampsia, Pregnancy Complications , , , , ,

Getting the Most out of Your Hospital Tour; A Parent Webinar for You and Your Students

April 18th, 2013 by avatar

Taking the hospital tour is considered to be a right of passage for expectant parents choosing to birth in the hospital.  They gather together in a group, a bit nervous, a bit excited, following the tour guide, quietly tiptoeing through the labor and delivery unit, hearing and seeing women in labor, peeking into empty rooms, learning where to park and finding out about the amenities that the facility has to offer.  They smile slightly to themselves and begin to imagine themselves birthing in one of these very rooms in the not too distant future.

A few families may ask questions, inquiring about policies and what they are “allowed” to do once admitted.  In fact, some of these questions may come up in your classes or you may hear stories about what the students learned on their various tours.

Lamaze International is offering a Parent Webinar: Getting the Most out of Your Hospital Tour next Wednesday, April 24th. at 12 PM EST.  This one hour webinar is being presented by Allison Walsh, IBCLC, LCCE.  This engaging learning opportunity can help parents to prepare for their tour,  ask questions that count and really understand what they need to do to have an active, upright birth within the hospital setting.


I encourage childbirth educators to inform their students about this webinar opportunity and suggest your CBE families register now.  The webinar will be made available in recorded form in a timely fashion after the live presentation is completed.  As an educator, I see lots of opportunities to bring this webinar into your classroom for discussion, watch snippets of it throughout your series, or ask your students to do a fun role play, incorporating what they learned from the webinar.

Some CBEs and L&D nurses may be the tour guide at the hospital, and this webinar can help them to offer an effective and evidence based tour that thoroughly meets the need of participants.

Tweet about this opportunity, post it on Facebook and share with students and your community of pregnant families, encouraging them to register now!  By attending this free webinar, families will become more informed maternity care consumers and in a better position to “Push for Their Baby.”

The Lamaze Parent blog, Giving Birth With Confidence highlighted this webinar in a comprehensive blog post yesterday that you may also want to share with your families.

To learn more about the Parent Webinar: “Getting the Most out of Your Hospital Tour” and to register, please click here.  See you at the webinar!

Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Giving Birth with Confidence, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Maternity Care, Patient Advocacy, Push for Your Baby, Social Media, Webinars , , , , , ,

Cesarean Awareness Month: An Interview with Christa Billings, President of International Cesarean Awareness Network

April 16th, 2013 by avatar

In recognition of Cesarean Awareness Month, I want to share an interview with Christa Billings, the president of International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).  For over 30 years, ICAN has had an international presence and through peer to peer support and many volunteer hours, has worked tirelessly to prevent unneeded cesareans, help women recover emotionally from a cesarean and advocated for VBAC as a safe and appropriate choice for many women when they plan their future births.

I have been the chapter co-leader of ICAN Seattle for several years, and have been honored to walk alongside the women who make up our chapter as they have discovered their own strength and power and learned how to seek information and evaluate evidence and research.  There are many chapter leaders just like myself, working hard in our own communities, to help women both before and after a cesarean birth. ICAN has partnered with many other maternal health organizations and maternity leaders to help improve the state of maternity care for many women.  Learn more about this organization and be sure to share this organization (and its resources) with your students, clients and patients.

Sharon Muza: Can you tell me a bit about the history of ICAN?

Christa Billings: The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Esther Booth Zorn and many other motivated women in 1982. ICAN originated as “Cesarean Prevention Movement,” later changing its name to ICAN in 1992 to reflect a more positive statement. ICAN has now grown to over 180 chapters throughout the United States and worldwide over the past 30 years. ICAN’s mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

SM: How many chapters does ICAN have nationally and internationally?

CB: ICAN has 181 chapters, 145 in the USA, and another 36 internationally.   

Mission Statement of International Cesarean Awareness Network

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

SM: What does an ICAN meeting look like?

CB: A typical ICAN meeting entails women coming together with women of similar experiences for peer to peer support. Meetings are sometimes topic specific and sometimes general support. Often birth stories are shared. There is often laughter, tears and a feeling of camaraderie. The feel of a particular meeting can change based on who is there and what it being discussed. I like to remind newcomers that they should always try a second meeting as they are all different. Sometimes meetings can be VBAC heavy and other times they can be cesarean recovery heavy. It really depends on who shows up to the meeting and who is driving the discussion.

SM: Who is welcome? Mothers? Partners? Birth Professionals? Providers?

CB: Some meetings are open for women/lap babies only and other meetings welcome children, dads, husbands, partners, birth professionals and other community members who want to learn about cesareans, VBAC and recovery. Each chapter may vary on how they do things, so check in with the chapter leader if you have any questions.

SM: What are some things that ICAN does that reinforces it’s mission statement?

CB: We offer support to mothers through listening. We also help in educating them by providing evidence based research to help them make the best possible birth choices for them or to cope/understand what they have experienced. We recognize that both VBAC and cesareans carry risks. We help women understand what those risks are with both choices, where typically many providers only provide the VBAC risks.

SM: I know that ICAN periodically holds conferences; can you tell me about them? Are there continuing ed hours available from them?

CB: The ICAN conferences are a time to spend quality face to face, talking with women who support VBAC and are interested in reducing the cesarean rate. This conference isn’t just for VBAC and cesarean mothers; it’s for anyone who supports birth. There are many great speakers and public discussion on various birth topics.  We do offer continuing education hours.

SM: How did you get involved in ICAN yourself? How did you find yourself in the president’s position?

CB: I found ICAN five years ago when I first stepped foot into an ICAN meeting during Cesarean Awareness Month. I was just a mom looking for support as I planned a VBAC. I quickly found great support. My second birth ultimately ended in another cesarean, even though I attempted a VBAC. If I couldn’t have a vaginal birth I wanted to make sure others had the support and education to ensure the best advantage in planning for their births. I wanted to give back to the organization that helped shape my birth journey. I decided to join my local ICAN chapter’s board & accepted a position as the Northwest Regional Coordinator. Later in 2010, I went on to VBAC my 3rd daughter at home after 2 cesareans. After attending the 2011 ICAN conference I really felt pulled to do more. The conference was very inspiring and it touched me deeply.  It was a thrill to meet all the women I had been communicating with over the years. These mothers were no longer just a name in an email. Putting names & faces to it gave the journey to VBAC a whole new meaning to my life. In 2012 I joined the Board of Directors as Chapter Director. As we reshaped the board be a bit smaller and focused, I moved into the role of Vice President. The previous President stepped down and in October 2012 and I became the new President of ICAN. I never envisioned my life taking this path, but here I am and I’m proud to be the voice of the mothers for an organization so dear to my heart. ICAN has forever changed my life.

SM: What challenges do we face in lowering the cesarean rate? Do you think the tide has turned?

CB: While research has consistently shown that VBAC is a reasonably safe choice for women with a prior cesarean, there is an alarming disconnect between what evidence based research shows is good for women and babies, and the way that hospitals and providers practice. Mothers need to start demanding research based care. The challenges we still face are getting care providers to work with us to improve birth outcomes by providing evidence based care and to stop practicing by provider preference, convenience, legal liability concerns and to perform cesareans only when the research clearly indicates it is needed.

I would like to think that the tide is starting to turn, but I am not ready to say it’s turned quite yet. Mothers are joining together to recognize they have a voice and choices in their maternity care and are starting to demand evidence based care. The recent statements from ACOG give us a little hope that people are opening up their eyes to see how out of control the cesarean rates are in many places.

SM: Are you optimistic with recent statements from ACOG about who should VBAC and how to handle maternal request cesareans?

CB: I’m not sure optimistic is the right word, I would say hopeful. I think it is great that ACOG is finally acknowledging that primary cesareans will affect future births and that in the absence of maternal or fetal indications for cesarean delivery, a plan for vaginal delivery is safe and appropriate and should be recommended to patients. These births are a very small percentage of the births, as often primary cesareans are not being performed based on maternal request, but rather being performed by provider preference, convenience, legal liability concerns and many other reasons. I will be optimistic when providers and hospital administration acknowledge that birth is a human right, that the consumer has the right to decide whether they accept the choices presented to her and start providing true informed consent and stop using scare tactics to influence women’s decisions. 

SM: What do you want childbirth educators to know and share with students about ICAN and cesarean awareness?

CB: That ICAN is a non-profit advocacy and support group whose mission is to improve maternal and child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting vaginal birth. We offer support and information to thousands of women through our main office, local chapters, website, forums, email support groups and various social networks. We provide evidence-based information, using research that is accessible for women and their care providers.  It’s important that women understand the effects a primary cesarean can have on them and on all future births.  It would be great if childbirth educators included ICAN as a resource for the families in their classes who may end up with a cesarean.

SM:What do you want health care providers to know?

CB: We are a support network for women healing from past birth experiences and for those preparing for future births. Our vision is to reduce the cesarean rate driven by women making evidence-based and risk appropriate childbirth decisions. We are not anti-cesarean. ICAN recognizes that when a cesarean is medically necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved. While VBAC does carry risks associated with the possibility of uterine rupture, cesarean surgery carries life-threatening risks as well. The choice between VBAC and elective repeat cesareans isn’t between risk versus no risk. It’s a choice between which set of risks you want to take on. We are here to help educate mothers on all risks to help them make the best choices for their birth.

SM: If someone was interested in adding a chapter, what would the first step?

CB: If someone wanted to start a chapter in their city or town, they would need to contact the regional coordinator for their area. Their regional coordinator will walk them through the steps & requirements to open a chapter.

SM: What can people do if they want to volunteer in other ways besides being a chapter?

CB: They can contact our volunteer coordinator for more information on how they can help. Please let our volunteer coordinator know what your special skills are that you have to offer and she will match you up with the right position suited to your skills. We have many positions or tasks within ICAN that are not chapter specific. As an all volunteer organization. we are always looking for help.

SM: I want to thank you, Christa for all the information you have provided and for your time in doing this interview.  I hope that more people will share the resources that ICAN offers with the birthing families that are affected by cesarean birth.



ACOG, Cesarean Birth, Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, informed Consent, Maternity Care, Patient Advocacy , , , , , ,

Maternity Support Survey – Critical Research on Under-Studied Maternity Roles

January 22nd, 2013 by avatar


photo:Dawn Thompson, improvingbirth.org

I’d like to draw your attention to a very important study that is currently looking for participants – The Maternity Support Survey. This comprehensive study is the first to compare doulas, childbirth educators, and labor and delivery nurses, working in the United States and Canada, in terms of their approach to maternal support and care. The survey explores these individuals’ knowledge and attitudes toward current childbirth practices, technologies and support.  Now is your opportunity to share how you view your responsibilities.  This research team wants to hear from you!

The team behind the research has been working for over two years via conference calls to develop the survey and methodology.   The research team consists of Louise M. Roth, PhD, (Principal Investigator), Christine Morton, PhD (Co-PI and regular contributor to this blog), Marla Marek, RNC, BSN, MSN, PhD(c), Megan Henley, Nicole Heidbreder BSN, MA, Miriam Sessions, Jennifer Torres, and Katie Pine, PhD.  They are sociologists and nurses, working in California, Arizona, Washington DC, Michigan, and Wyoming.  To raise funds for the project, they launched an Indiegogo campaign and have been featured on the Every Mother Counts blog.  The Maternity Support Survey has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Arizona, and Louise M. Roth, PhD, is the Principal Investigator of the study.

I’m sure the readers of this blog are aware that research has shown that support during labor and delivery has a significant impact on method of delivery, maternal and neonatal morbidity, and rates of postpartum depression. Yet existing research in maternity care has largely focused on how mothers and families view their care or on the perspectives of midwives and obstetricians, with less attention to the views of individuals who provide support to women during pregnancy and birth. The Maternity Support Survey is addressing this need.

Topics that the survey investigates include: whether doulas and childbirth educators view their maternity support work as a career, how doulas and childbirth educators establish their expertise, how technology affects workload among labor and delivery nurses, how maternity support workers are affected by managed care and litigation concerns, and emotional burnout among maternity support workers.

The Maternity Support Survey has partnered with Lamaze International and the following organizations in the recruitment of participants: Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN); Birthing from Within; International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA); BirthWorks; DONA International; toLABOR (formerly ALACE); and CAPPACanada.  These organizations felt that this research was important enough to reach out to their collective members with a request for participation.

The survey launched in November 2012 – the organizations above sent emails to their members, along with monthly reminders.  By early mid January 2013, the survey had logged 1500 responses, with relatively equal numbers of each group responding.  Then, the research team decided to extend the reach of the survey to those doulas, CBEs and L&D nurses BEYOND the membership organizations.  A viral social media blitz ensued, with positive results.  Within a week, the survey logged an additional 600 responses.  As of January 21, 2013, the survey has been completed by just over 2100 respondents.  Doulas now comprise about 44%, with L&D nurses at 35% and CBEs at 33% of the total respondents.  The survey will be open through mid-March, so there is still time to share widely among your networks.  Data cleaning will happen in April, and analysis will begin in May 2013.  The researchers plan to disseminate their findings at conferences and publish in journals of interest to these occupational groups as well as in sociology and other fields.

Those of you who are members of these organizations may have already received an email with a link to the survey (and hopefully have already completed it). However, if you are not a member of one of these national organizations OR have NOT received an email from your organization inviting you to take the survey, here’s how you can share your views:

The survey is available online for US residents here.

The survey is available online for Canadian residents here.

The survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, and participation is entirely voluntary. The research team will NOT have any way of personally identifying you or your responses, and will not contact you for any purposes unrelated to this survey or give your information to any commercial organizations. For questions or feedback, please contact Louise M. Roth, PhD.


Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Maternal Quality Improvement, Maternity Care, Patient Advocacy, Research, Research Opportunities , , , , , , ,

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