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ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative Promotes Benefits,
Tools for Achieving Healthy Childbirth

“With the cesarean rate reaching an alarming 33% nationally, and the cost of maternity care continuing to rise, it’s imperative that we create and share resources that address the safe, high-quality, low-cost care that’s available for women through physiologic birth.”

—Tanya Tanner, CNM, PhD, MBA, RN and chair of the ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™ Task Force

The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Healthy Birth Initiative™ is a new program that provides resources and tools to help women, their families, and health care providers achieve healthy childbirth. It focuses on understanding and utilizing the innate physiology of birth to avoid unnecessary medical interventions, including cesareans, in order to achieve the best outcomes for mothers and babies.

The ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™also provides evidence-based research to hospital quality managers, highlighting how improving childbirth optimizes their facilities’ quality of care and supports midwives and other health care providers who are pursuing improved birth care in their hospitals. The evidence also helps facilities meet their mandate for national quality measurement and reporting requirements.

For Women and Families

For women, their families, and other consumers interested in childbirth, the ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™developed Normal Healthy Childbirth for Women & Families: What You Need to Know.” This 4-page handout is easy to follow, clearly explaining and advocating for the benefits of physiologic birth for women and families. This guide provides an overview of physiologic birth and tips on how it can be achieved, as well as what can disrupt the healthy birth process.

The handout includes the endorsement of several major women’s health organizations: Lamaze, Centering Healthcare, DONA, Citizens for Midwifery, International Center for Traditional Childbearing, Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families, and International Lactation Consultant Association, and it has the support of the March of Dimes. Available in English and Spanish, the guide is free for download, printing, and distribution. Professionally printed copies in packs of 50 are available for purchase through ACNM at

For Clinicians

As part of the ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™, maternity care providers now have a new physiologic birth toolkit at Developed by ACNM in consultation with Childbirth Connection, the site provides tools, resources, and guidelines for maternity care professionals to use to support, promote, and facilitate physiologic birth. BirthTOOLS (Tools for Optimizing the Outcomes of Labor Safely) walks providers through evidence that supports care practices for physiologic birth. The site assists clinicians and health care systems in implementing best practices to achieve optimal health outcomes for mothers, babies, and families.

The BirthTOOLS site uses a quality improvement framework to guide clinicians in the process of initiating evidence-based changes to promote physiologic birth by auditing the impact of the change. The website brings best practice resources and tools from a variety of organizations to one location, organized for easy access by clinicians, unit leaders, and hospital system managers. Linkages between national quality measures and specific care changes are highlighted.

The site was developed with consultants from Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership, in collaboration with a committee comprised of ACNM members and representatives from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), and Lamaze International.

For Quality Managers

“As a result of reporting measures issued by the Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, hospitals and health care providers must now pay attention to processes and procedures around birth. “With ‘Birth Matters’, we now have a tool to illustrate how healthy birth benefits hospitals and organizations, in addition to mothers and babies.”

—Mary Jane Lewitt, CNM, PhD, and chair of the ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™ Maternity Care System Subcommittee

The ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative™also created the handout, “Birth Matters,” which explores how medical interventions in labor have been misused, resulting in poorer health outcomes, reduction in the quality of care, substantial increases in cost, and fewer choices for women. Directed to hospital quality managers, the handout describes the benefits of healthy, physiologic birth to the women and families they serve, and to health care facilities’ quality outcome measures and patient satisfaction scores.

“Birth Matters”was developed under the leadership of ACNM in consultation with representatives from AWHONN, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), and quality and safety leaders from various facilities across the United States. Copies of this guide are available for free download, printing, and distribution. Professionally printed copies in packs of 50 are available for purchase through ACNM at


American College of Nurse-Midwives.
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