By Ginger Breedlove,
CNM, PhD, FACNM, ACNM President and Tanya Tanner, CNM, PhD, MBA, RN, Healthy
Birth Initiative Task Force Chair
As midwives, we’ve known forever that birth is a natural
process and not a medical emergency, that women’s bodies are best left to do
what they were built to do, and that physiologic birth gives the best start to moms
and babies. Warnings about unnecessary intervention in childbirth date back
nearly 20 years, to 1996, when the World Health Organization first called for
change. Little concrete progress has been made in national quality initiatives
toward the promotion of physiologic birth since then. As recently as 2012, the
National Priorities Partnership focused on reducing rates of cesarean and
elective delivery before 39 weeks, but more resources are needed to enact the
The time for healthy, physiologic birth is now, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives Healthy
Birth InitiativeTM is here to help!
Providing you with resources to push normal birth forward,
no matter who you work with – consumer, clinician, or stakeholder – we’ve
created the tools to help you make it happen. The ACNM Healthy Birth InitiativeTM
can help spread change from the ground up, turning moms, families, health
care providers, and health systems into champions for physiologic birth.
The Initiative takes a 3-pronged approach:
For women, their
families, and other consumers the Initiative developed Normal
Healthy Childbirth for Women & Families: What You Need to Know. This easy to follow, 4 page handout
clearly explains and advocates for the benefits of physiologic birth to the average
health care consumer. The document highlights tips on how healthy birth can be
achieved and what can disrupt it. We believe it will help many women make good
decisions about the type of birth they want for themselves and their babies.
Normal, Healthy Childbirth includes the endorsement of 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
Maternity care providers now have a new, comprehensive physiologic birth resource toolkit at www.BirthTOOLS.org. BirthTOOLS (Tools for Optimizing
the Outcome of Labor Safely) walks providers through the
evidence that supports physiologic birth and offers targeted resources and
protocols to assist clinicians and health care systems in implementing best
practices that achieve it.
The site was
developed with consultants from Childbirth Connection, a program of the
National Partnership, in collaboration
with a committee comprised of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and
Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), National Association of Certified Professional Midwives,
For hospital quality
managers, the new handout Birth Matters: Understanding
how Physiologic, Healthy Birth Benefits Hospitals and Organizations explores the benefits of physiologic,
healthy birth within organizations that provide obstetric and intrapartum
health care. Birth Matters highlights research along
with quality and safety data that support the implementation of physiologic
birth within systems that are focused on meeting the quality standards of
Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the Joint Commission, and the National Quality Forum.
When a majority of women begin labor spontaneously, give birth vaginally
without unnecessary surgical interventions, and initiate exclusive breast milk
feeding, hospitals will achieve accountability for their provision of safe,
reliable care for women and their newborns.
Copies of Birth Matters are available for free for
download, printing, and distribution. Professionally printed copies in packs of
50 are available for purchase through ShopACNM.com. Plus,
look for a free copy enclosed in your copy of the upcoming Fall issue of Quickening!
This National Midwifery Week,
make it your mission to share our resources to improve physiologic birth with
your clients, your colleagues, and your institutions. Join us in becoming a
change agent to improve birth for moms, babies, and their families!