The Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

... maternal mortality is on the rise in the U.S ... two of the four preventable pregnancy-related deaths were associated with cesarean section-the failure of hospital staff to pay attention to worsening vital signs after women have the operation, and the staff's inability to respond appropriately to hemorrhage resulting from a cesarean. The two others are uncontrolled high blood pressure and undiagnosed fluid build-up in the lungs of women with pre-eclampsia ... by following the principles of the evidence-based Ten Steps of The Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) and giving low-risk women access to midwifery care mothers' lives could be saved.

... The Initiative is an effective wellness model of maternity care that offers safe choices to overused and costly high-tech birth interventions that often lead to avoidable cesareans ...

... compared to maternity care provided by physicians to low-risk women, women cared for by professional midwives have a lower incidence of hypertension and pre-eclampsia, fewer hospital admissions for complications during pregnancy, fewer cesareans and more VBACs ... the risks of maternal mortality are increased with repeat cesarean section compared to vaginal birth after a prior cesarean ...

The Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative:

1. Offers all birthing mothers: • 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.

2. Provides accurate descriptive and statistical information to the public about its practices and procedures for birth care, including measures of interventions and outcomes.

3. 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.

4. Provides the birthing woman with 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.

5. Has 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.

6. Does not routinely employ practices and procedures that are unsupported by scientific evidence, ¬including but not limited to the following: • 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.

7. Educates staff 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.

8. 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.

9. Discourages non-religious circumcision of the newborn.

10. Strives to achieve the WHO-UNICEF “Ten Steps of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative” to promote successful breastfeeding: 1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff; 2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy; 3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding; 4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth; 5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants; 6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated; 7. Practice rooming in: allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day; 8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand; 9. Give no artificial teat or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants; 10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from hospitals or clinics.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448