A national movement is underway to improve birth in America. At least 40 cities across the country are holding a “National Rally for Change” on Labor Day, Sept. 3, to bring awareness to medically unnecessary cesarean sections and labor inductions.
Chattanooga doula, Rachel Jimenez, has been the key organizer of the local rally which will take place in Chattanooga from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the corner of Gunbarrel and Crane St. near Women's East.
This campaign, organized by ImprovingBirth.org, seeks to educate and empower women with evidence-based information in order to make informed choices regarding their maternity care. “We’re not talking about natural birth, we’re just talking about normal physiological birth,” says Dawn Thompson, president of ImprovingBirth.org. “Every woman should have the right to choose the type of birth she wants, we are just asking for them to be evidence based and fully informed choices.”
The World Health Organization recommends cesarean rates should be no higher than 10-15 percent and that anything higher does more harm than good for moms and babies. Despite this warning, 1 in 3 American women are giving birth surgically. That equates to a high number of medically unnecessary surgeries. Additionally, the recommended rate of induction is 10 percent or less but in an analysis of 19 hospitals across the country, it was found that 44 percent of women planning a vaginal birth were medically induced.
A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology examined the “quality of evidence that underlies the recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.” It was discovered that 30 percent of these guidelines were based on “good and consistent scientific evidence” and that 32 percent were based simply on “consensus and opinion.” When obstetric guidelines were looked at individually, 25 percent was found to be based on quality science and nearly 35 percent based on opinion.
The U.S. outspends every country in the world for maternity care, yet the maternal mortality rate is higher than 49 other countries. In fact, Amnesty International reports that “women in the U.S. face a greater risk of maternal death than nearly all European countries, as well as Canada and several countries in Asia and the Middle East.”
Reducing medically unnecessary interventions will not only save lives, but also money, officials said. Childbirth Connection and WHO report that the U.S. could save an estimated $3.4 billion each year by reducing the cesarean rate to 15 percent, the rate recommended by WHO. The Amnesty International report states “an estimated $1 billion could be saved annually—mostly by reducing neonatal intensive care unit admissions—if early elective deliveries were reduced.” The March of Dimes has also begun a campaign to eliminate medically unnecessary inductions before 39 weeks gestation.