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Announcing the ACNM Healthy Birth Initiative (TM): Resources for Promoting Physiologic Birth

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 changes advocated.

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 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, and Lamaze.

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 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!

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 10/8/2014 1:26:16 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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