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Transforming Birth Fund Awards Grant to Convene Home Birth Summit

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ACNM is pleased to announce that the Transforming Birth Fund (TBF) has awarded grant funding toward convening a Home Birth Consensus Summit in 2011. The successful grant proposal was submitted under the leadership of ACNM Home Birth Section Chair Saraswathi Vedam, RM, CNM, MSN, Sci D (h.c.), Associate Professor and Director, Division of Midwifery, University of British Columbia. Joining ACNM as co-applicants of the grant were Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Pediatric Association (APA), National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), Lamaze, and American Association of Birth Centers (AABC).

In addition to the TBF grant, additional funding will be needed to cover the full budget for the summit. While planning for the summit is well underway, individuals or organizations interested in supporting the summit are encouraged to do so through contributions to the A.C.N.M. Foundation, Inc., fiscal agent for the TBF grant.

The Home Birth Consensus Summit will be a two- to three-day multidisciplinary summit with the goal of developing areas of consensus on the provision of home birth services in the United States. Invited participants will include representatives from a variety of stakeholder sectors in positions to inform and influence a change process, and/or commit to measurable steps, including consumers and consumer advocates, home birth midwives, maternal/child health collaborating providers (including pediatrics and nursing), obstetricians (including at least one family practice obstetrician and one resident), hospital systems and administration, health plans and liability insurers, health policymakers, legislators and regulators, and public health, epidemiology, and research professionals.

The meeting will be facilitated by the Future Search Network, a nonprofit organization that is internationally known for brokering lasting agreements and shared initiatives in highly volatile and polarized settings, around issues related to poverty, health care access, regional and ethnic conflict, and education. Future Search meetings produce a "Common Ground Agenda," which articulates a shared vision and direction. Participants make a personal commitment to specific action initiatives and use the Common Ground Agenda as a framework to measure their achievement and engage their stakeholder groups. This agenda and progress on initiatives are revisited on an annual or semi-annual basis.

"Since all stakeholders are concerned with the safety of the birthing mother and infant, the goal of this summit will be to ensure continuity of high quality, respectful care for women regardless of choice of birth site or birth attendant," Vedam noted in her successful grant proposal. "The meeting will be organized in a way that is most likely to foster the dialogue needed to find common ground and spark constructive action that will ultimately benefit all stakeholder groups by improving interprofessional relationships in maternity care."

Summit is Nearly Three Years in the Making
The Home Birth Consensus Summit concept had its ACNM genesis at a business meeting of the membership at the ACNM 53rd Annual Meeting in May 2008, Vedam made a motion requesting that ACNM assume a leadership role in convening a multidisciplinary meeting of key stakeholders to develop a consensus policy to facilitate access to planned home birth. The motion was supported by a majority of the voting members present, and referred on to the ACNM Board of Directors, which also strongly supported moving forward. In a May 2008 board meeting, then-Region VI Representative Leslie Cragin was asked to investigate the possibilities of convening a consensus group to develop an evidence-based consensus statement regarding out-of-hospital birth, with a focus on planned home birth. While a strong role for ACNM was considered key to the success of the conference, it was deemed critical to work collaboratively with the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), whose members account for the largest number of home births in the US. It was also critical to gain an early commitment to participate by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which maintains the most vocal anti-home birth stance in the country.

Vedam's motion specified that the consensus meeting should occur before the 2009 ACNM Annual Meeting, so work began in earnest immediately. A decision was made to utilize a Future Search meeting approach.

The first step in a Future Search approach is to convene an initial planning meeting for the summit. This meeting was held in March 2009 at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), attended by senior representatives of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, MANA, American Public Health Association, Lamaze, Childbirth Connections, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, the National Association of CPMs, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and UCSF. The meeting was collegial, focused, and productive. Participants agreed on the importance and timeliness of seeking consensus on how best to provide collaborative care for those women who choose planned home birth.

ACNM extends its congratulations and appreciation to Saraswathi Vedam for her leadership on this project, and for the commitment of the entire planning committee and the organizations they represent. ACNM will provide additional information about the Home Birth Consensus Summit when the dates are established as well as following the meeting.

For more information on how to donate to the A.C.N.M. Foundation, please visit the Foundation Web site.

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