improving birthApparently, we at Mommyish aren’t the only ones who associate Labor Day with a different type of labor. While driving to a family get-together in Fort Wayne today, I stumbled upon a small group of women and children protesting about the importance of vaginal birth. There on a busy street corner, about ten people held signs supporting VBAC and “Respectful Maternity Care.” The overall theme of the demonstration seemed to be “Natural Birth Matters.”

Obviously, I couldn’t just drive by this unexpected demonstration without looking in to it. What type of writer would I be? Who wouldn’t be interested in people supporting vaginal birth after Cesarean on a street corner in the middle of the day?

That’s when I stumbled upon what is apparently a national day of demonstration for “Improving Birth.” The rally is focused around what they call “evidence-based maternal care.” The organization is centered around reducing the levels of c-sections, informing mothers about VBAC and promoting natural, unassisted birth as much as possible. According to their website,

“The National Rally for Change is to encourage and insist that all maternal healthcare providers practice evidence-based care. On average it takes 20 years for proven research to become practice. For the sake of mothers and babies everywhere, we can’t wait 20 years. The long-term effects of unnecessary inductions and cesareans are just starting to be realized. This matters for all people. Despite the dire situation, this is not a protest, but a public outreach event located where the vast majority of the population gives birth.”

In my home town, apparently the group decided that most people give birth in front of the Planned Parenthood office. Even though we have multiple birthing centers here in Fort Wayne, the rally took place right in front of PP. I had a hard time believing that the location was random, but I was confused as to why you would demonstrate about birthing conditions in front of a clinic that does not perform childbirth.

Of course, we here at Mommyish are in support of women sharing their birth stories. In fact, we encourage it. But I have to admit that a demonstration on a street corner about really personal medical decisions such as VBAC felt uncomfortable to me. It felt a little like the bullying that these organizations claim doctors and gynecologists participate in. Every childbirth decision should be an informed choice by an individual and it feels counter-productive to claim that some choices are better than others. Improving birth has some very concrete decisions about why type of birth is better.

Improving Birth is straight-forward about not buying in to the old adage, “As long as there’s a happy baby…” every choice is acceptable. Personally, I think focusing on the means loses sight of the goal. And it creates even more guilt in a process that often puts a lot of pressure on women to begin with.

The conversation around inductions and c-sections is a valuable one to have. I’m just not sure that much information is really being shared by holding up signs on a street corner. (Although I did have to describe VBAC to my husband. So someone learned something.) I don’t know how effective it is to make a sign promoting a deeply personal decision as if there’s only one “right way.” I’m all for talking about labor on Labor Day, but let’s do a little more than holding a sign on a street corner. It’s a bigger issue than that.

(Photo: Midwife Monologues)