By Trish Wilkinson
“When we know better, we do better.”
On Labor Day, if you happen to be driving down University Avenue in between Carle Hospital and Carle Clinic between 10 a.m. and noon, you might notice something a tad different on the sidewalks.
You will see a group of people with signs peacefully promoting a cause they feel very passionate about…especially as a number of the rally-ers have a personal stake in the cause. This group of people will be promoting Improving Birth’s “National Rally for Change.”
I had the chance to sit down with the Champaign-Urbana local coordinator, Anne DeAtley, to get more information about the rally, and why it is so important to her. It should be noted that she has given birth twice — her first son born by unplanned cesarean, and her second son born by vaginal birth after cesarean.
Q: What is the purpose of this rally?
DeAtley: I will just quote the founders of the rally, Dawn Thompson/ImprovingBirth.org, as the quote says it all: “The National Rally for Change is to encourage and insist that all maternal healthcare providers practice evidence-based care.”
On average it takes 20 years for proven research to become practice. For the sake of mothers and babies everywhere, we can’t wait 20 years. The long-term effects of unnecessary inductions and cesareans are just starting to be realized. This matters for all people. Despite the dire situation, this is not a protest, but a public outreach event located where the vast majority of the population gives birth.
Q: What are the statistics of cesareans, both locally and nationally?
DeAtley: In our area, as of 2010 statistics, the statistics are:
- Provena: 29.6 percent
- Carle: 33 percent
- Nationally: 32.8 percent
What is alarming is the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated for years that cesarean rates should be between 10 and 15 percent. The United States spends more money in the area of maternal/fetal care, but we rank 49th in the world for maternal mortality, and 41st in neonatal mortality. That is both alarming and disturbing.
Q: So the rally is a protest against cesareans, inductions, and any intervention that can occur during a labor and/or birth?
DeAtley: Again, we want to emphasize that this is NOT a protest, but a call to awareness and empowerment. We are not saying there are not cesareans and inductions that are truly medically necessary … we appreciate and respect the availability of medical interventions. However, when they are overused or become routine, that’s when they become problematic.
Q: You said that it takes quite a while for research of evidence-based care to come into actual practice. Why is that?
DeAtley: It seems that the information is out there, but it takes time and effort to obtain recent research when you are a busy provider. It isn’t our intention to shame physicians/providers — we understand the intense nature of health care and providing services. ImprovingBirth.org has guidelines to assist hospitals to implement the most recent evidence based practices, which would alleviate busy physicians the burden of doing the legwork themselves. While it takes time, the outcomes would benefit providers, hospitals, and of course, most of all, moms and babies.
Q: What do you hope people will walk away from the rally knowing?
DeAtley: We hope moms and their support systems will be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their families based on evidential studies.
Q. Who will be at the rally?
DeAtley: We would love to see as many Chambana families as possible join us as we stand up for moms and babies. Everyone is invited to join us. This is going be the largest women’s movement in decades! You are definitely going to hear about this after Labor Day, so come on out and be a part of making history!
If you are interested in finding out more about the rally, visit the Facebook page for this local event.
Trish Wilkinson has been married for 24 years and is the mother of two boys (first born by unplanned cesarean; the second was a VBAC). A child and family therapist for 15 years before becoming a doula in 2001, she started Tree of Life Doula Services and Birth Resources in 2005 and has attended more than 250 births, including cesareans. She is a certified doula through Doulas of North America, as well as licensed clinical social worker for the state of Illinois.