A worldwide rally is planned for Labor Day to call attention to a perceived healthcare crisis surrounding maternity care in the United States.
The third annual Rally to Improve Birth will take place on Monday in dozens of states across the country and in Canada, Mexico and Australia. Initiated by the non-profit organization Improving Birth, the event aims to raise awareness and support for evidence-based care and humanity in childbirth.
Locally, a rally will take place from 10 a.m. to noon outside of the Cape Coral Hospital.
"This is the third time that we have hosted a rally here in Southwest Florida," event co-coordinator Megan Nickel-Martin, with the International Cesarean Awareness Network of Lee County, said.
She explained that evidence-based care uses practices proven by science to be the best for mothers and children, and the humanity aspect entails respect for mothers' bodies and their decisions in childbirth.
"We're saying that both of those things are important to us," Nickel-Martin said.
Rally to Improve Birth
Monday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon
Cape Coral Hospital, 636 Del Prado Blvd. S.
To call attention to the
healthcare crisis surrounding
U.S. maternity care
She pointed out that mothers and their babies should come first when talking about maternal care. Unfortunately, others things such as profit, convenience and liability concerns can come first instead.
"Nine out of 10 women in the United States receive care that increases, rather than decreases, the risk of harm to them and their babies," Nickel-Martin said.
"We're just tired of women being treated this way when they're at their most vulnerable," she added.
Routine practices used that are based on non-scientific evidence can include being instructed to give birth lying on one's back, the artificial rupture of the membrane and the induction of labor.
One in three births in America is now by cesarean section, with an estimated half being preventable. Nine out of 10 women who had a C-section will go on to have their future children that same way.
"We spend the most money on childbirth in the world, and yet we have some of the worst health outcomes among developed countries," Nickel-Martin said.
Locally, a big issue is a lack of access to vaginal birth after caesarian, or VBAC. She explained that area hospitals have policies in place to support VBACs, but there is little support from doctors.
"We're experiencing a lack of providers or OB/GYNs who will attend a VBAC in a hospital," Nickel-Martin said, pointing to the opinion of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "They say that VBAC is safe and appropriate for most women, and that is sort of where the disconnect is at."
On Monday, rally participants will wave signs bearing messages in support of the cause.
"All we want is safe and respectful maternity care, and for the message to be heard that birth matters," she said.
The public is welcome to join in. Maternity-based vendors and businesses will be on hand.
"It's going to be a family event," Nickel-Martin said. "It's just a really good way for the community to come together and speak up for what they believe it right."
Informational literature will be available.
"It's giving people who have similar ideals a place to speak," she said.
Last year, the local rally was held at Lowdermilk Beach Park in Naples, with an estimated 30 to 40 people taking part. The first year, about 50 to 70 people attended it at the Gulf Coast Medical Center.
"The first year, we had a really great turnout," Nickel-Martin said. "We're hoping to have closer to 100 this year."
For more information on the local rally, visit: www.facebook.com/ImprovingBirthSWFL.
For information on Improving Birth, visit online at: www.improvingbirth.org.
"We're in the community," she said. "We're helping moms who have been affected by these practices."