Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative

Photo by Paola Sansão
of Sao Paulo, Brazil

I got an email update regarding the Business of Being Born documentary, and it mentioned something about The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) at So, I hopped on over to their website to take a look around. I read nearly every word, including the donor list. My heart just welled up within me as I read the following recommendations for mothers to consider before giving birth:
Here is a list of things we recommend you ask about. They do not help and may hurt healthy mothers and babies. They are not proven to be best for the mother or baby and are not mother-friendly.
  • They should not keep track of the baby's heart rate all the time with a machine (called an electronic fetal monitor). Instead it is best to have your nurse or midwife listen to the baby's heart from time to time.
  • They should not break your bag of waters early in labor.
  • They should not use an IV (a needle put into your vein to give you fluids).
  • They should not tell you that you can't eat or drink during labor.
  • They should not shave you.
  • They should not give you an enema.
A birth center, hospital, or home birth service that does these things for most of the mothers is not mother-friendly. Remember, these should not be used without a special medical reason.[1]
I suffered through five out of six of these procedures, among other intrusive measures. I remember being soooooo thirsty. It isn't called labor for nothing. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and had my husband wet and wring out a wash cloth for me while the nurse was out of the room, and I sucked on it.

Yet, I remember why they did all these things. The purpose of the I.V. was not only for giving fluids (because they wouldn't let me eat or drink anything!), but for giving me Pitocin to get my labor going quicker and for giving me pain killers because the Pitocin made my contractions so much worse. They never had to break my water, but I understand they do that also to "speed things up a bit." The other four procedures were prepping me for surgery. If I needed a c-section, I would be good to go.

I am convinced more than ever that the typical labor and delivery department at the local hospital is geared 100% for the cost, comfort, and convenience of the doctors, staff, and the facility administrators. The CIMS site gives a much more mother/child-friendly scenario. It's just the way it should be. Check them out:

Contact them here:

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services
1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27607
Telephone: 888.282.CIMS (2467)
Email CIMS at

[1] "Having a Baby? Ten Questions to Ask," The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, 26 January 2008;; (07 April 2008).