My Birthing Philosophy

As a recognized member of Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) and a certified “Mother-Friendly Nurse”, I hereby resolve to define and promote “Mother-Friendly” maternity services in accordance with the following principles:

Photo by Vivian Chen

Photo by Vivian Chen

Normalcy of the Birthing Process

  • Birth is a normal, natural, and healthy process.
  • Women and babies have the inherent wisdom necessary for birth.
  • Babies are aware, sensitive human beings at the time of birth, and should be acknowledged and treated as such.
  • Breastfeeding provides the optimum nourishment for newborns and infants.
  • Birth can safely take place in hospitals, birth centers, and homes.
  • The midwifery model of care, which supports and protects the normal birth process, is the most appropriate for the majority of women during pregnancy and birth.
  • Woman with high-risk pregnancies should be informed of what to expect during pregnancy and birth.

Empowerment

  • A woman’s confidence and ability to give birth and to care for her baby are enhanced or diminished by every person who gives her care, and by the environment in which she gives birth.
  • A mother and baby are distinct yet interdependent during pregnancy, birth, and infancy. Their interconnected–ness is vital and must be respected.
  • Pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period are milestone events in the continuum of life. These experiences profoundly affect women, babies, fathers, and families, and have important and long-lasting effects on society.

Autonomy

Every woman should have the opportunity to:

  • Have a healthy and joyous birth experience for herself and her family, regardless of her age or circumstances;
  • Give birth as she wishes in an environment in which she feels nurtured and secure, and her emotional well-being, privacy, and personal preferences are respected;
  • Have access to the full range of options for pregnancy, birth, and nurturing her baby, and to accurate information on all available birthing sites, caregivers, and practices;
  • Receive accurate and up-to-date information about the benefits and risks of all procedures, drugs, and tests suggested for use during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, with the rights to informed consent and informed refusal;
  • Receive support for making informed choices about what is best for her and her baby based on her individual values and beliefs.

Do No Harm

  • Interventions should not be applied routinely during pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period. Many standard medical tests, procedures, technologies, and drugs carry risks to both mother and baby, and should be avoided in the absence of specific scientific indications for their use.
  • If complications arise during pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period, medical treatments should be evidence-based.

Responsibility

  • Each caregiver is responsible for the quality of care she or he provides.
  • Maternity care practice should be based not on the needs of the caregiver or provider, but solely on the needs of the mother and child.
  • Each hospital and birth center is responsible for the periodic review and evaluation, according to current scientific evidence, of the effectiveness, risks, and rates of use of its medical procedures for mothers and babies.
  • Society, through both its government and the public health establishment, is responsible for ensuring access to maternity services for all women, and for monitoring the quality of those services.
  • Individuals are ultimately responsible for making informed choices about the health care they and their babies receive.

Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative:

To receive CIMS designation as a “Mother-Friendly” provider, she/he must carry out the above philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care:

A mother-friendly service:

  1. Encourages all birthing mothers to find:

    • Encourages women to ask about accurate descriptive and statistical information to the public about their hospital/ birth center’s practices and procedures for birth care, including measures of interventions and outcomes.
      • Unrestricted access to the birth companions of her choice, including fathers, partners, children, family members, and friends;
      • Unrestricted access to continuous emotional and physical support from a skilled woman—for example, a doula,* or labor-support professional;
      • Access to professional midwifery care.
    • Provides culturally competent care—that is, care that is sensitive and responsive to the specific beliefs, values, and customs of the mother’s ethnicity and religion.
    • Encourages the birthing woman to have the freedom to walk, move about, and assume the positions of her choice during labor and birth (unless restriction is specifically required to correct a complication), and discourages the use of the lithotomy (flat on back with legs elevated) position.
  2. Encourages women to find practices with clearly defined policies and procedures for:

    • collaborating and consulting throughout the perinatal period with other maternity services, including communicating with the original caregiver when transfer from one birth site to another is necessary;
    • linking the mother and baby to appropriate community resources, including prenatal and post-discharge follow-up and breastfeeding support.
  3. Encourages women to find a provider/hospital who does not routinely employ practices and procedures that are unsupported by scientific evidence, including but not limited to the following:    Educates women in non-drug methods of pain relief, and does not promote the use of analgesic or anesthetic drugs not specifically required to correct a complication.

    • shaving;
    • enemas;
    • IVs (intravenous drip);
    • withholding nourishment or water;
    • early rupture of membranes*;
    • electronic fetal monitoring;

    other interventions are limited as follows:

    • Has an induction* rate of 10% or less;†
    • Has an episiotomy* rate of 20% or less, with a goal of 5% or less;
    • Has a total cesarean rate of 10% or less in community hospitals, and 15% or less in tertiary care (high-risk) hospitals;
    • Has a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) rate of 60% or more with a goal of 75% or more.
  4. Encourages all mothers and families, including those with sick or premature newborns or infants with congenital problems, to touch, hold, breastfeed, and care for their babies to the extent compatible with their conditions.

    • Discourages non-religious circumcision of the newborn.
  5. Encourages women to birth in a birth center with WHO-UNICEF “Ten Steps of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative” to promote successful breastfeeding the hospital/birth center should:

    • Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff;
    • Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy;
    • Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding;
    • Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth;
    • Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants;
    • Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated;
    • Encourage rooming in: allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day;
    • Encourage breastfeeding on demand;
    • Give no artificial teat or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants;
    • Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from hospitals or clinics

If you have any questions about my philosophy or teaching methodology, please contact me.