Are You Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant?

by Judi Amico, Andrea Barbosa, Angela Bailey & Felicia Elston

SWFLBN Chapter Leaders

Childbearing women in Southwest Florida have a variety of options available when choosing how, where and the type of of provider to give birth with.  In preparing for your special day and the many decisions you will have to make, navigating options and knowing where to find them is easier with the help of a guide.

Often maternity care providers are attending numerous women in a short period of time, minimizing opportunity for individualized care.  Individualized care allows the provider to explain the risks, benefits and alternatives of each procedure that a woman has the right to refuse or give her consent for.  Routine practices tend to apply a standard that results in a “one size fits all” approach.

A wonderful resource for expectant mothers is the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) which defines and outlines maternity services that promote normalcy of the birth process, autonomy and empowerment of the parents, and responsibility of the care provider to implement evidence-based practices..

It is the hope of the SW Florida BirthNetwork that labor and delivery statistics are brought to a healthy balance for mothers and babies.  Cesarean rates are recommended to be 15 percent or lower by the World Health Organization for the best mother and baby outcomes; the rate is approximately 35.9 percent in Southwest Florida.

As a result of the high surgical birth rate, many women face challenges in subsequent pregnancies.  Many obstetricians will not agree to attend a woman who seeks a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC,) or they only agree to attend those who meet certain criteria.  Florida Code has banned birth centers from accommodating a mother who has previously had a cesarean.  A repeat cesarean is nearly guaranteed for those women in the current climate unless they have the desire, knowledge and support they need to have a vaginal birth.  Aside from finding one of the few doctors in the area who will attend a VBAC in a hospital, mothers are choosing licensed midwives to attend them at home or in a hotel room with a physician consult.

Breech is a variation of normal birth, and while some providers in Florida still attend them, a number have stopped attending, whether for political reasons or lack of skill and training.  It is common thought in the United States that a breech position will certainly result in surgery; although, choosing inversion/tile (,) acupuncture and chiropractic techniques have proven successful for many women who go on to birth vaginally.

The way that a woman experiences childbirth can profoundly affect her mental, physical and spiritual well-being.  The Southwest Florida BirthNetwork complements maternity care professionals by helping women understand their rights and options and can help women navigate their choices by providing resources, support and advocacy so they are more prepared to make informed choices in pregnancy, birth and beyond

Southwest Florida BirthNetwork is an official chapter of BirthNetwork National, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.  Consider attending a monthly meeting and pick up a copy of the Birth & Beyond Resource Guide that features providers who have endorsed the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative.

This article was originally published in the January 2013 issue of SWFL Naturally magazine.

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