Mother-Friendly is short for the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI). There are 10 steps, which an institution or care provider must take in order to be considered “mother-friendly”. . They are very specific and some steps are harder to achieve than others. Do not just assume that your care provider is Mother-Friendly. Ask them. These steps are based on evidence and what produces the best outcomes in birth.
A Mother-Friendly Care Provider, Hospital, Birth Center, or Home Birth Practice: Read more
Preparing for birth is a unique time in a woman’s life. Many women spend their lives looking outward, seeking to serve others. But in labor and birth a woman has the opportunity to be at the center for a brief moment, and to have those around her serve her, listen to her, and help her in any way they can.
Occasionally, however, those close to a birthing woman use it as an opportunity to fill their own needs or express their own fears to the mother or those closest to her. While it may seem obvious to most, dumping our own emotional baggage on a pregnant or birthing woman is actually inappropriate. Sadly, there are many who have missed the boat on this particular subject.
How many birthing women are surrounded by people (including family) at their birth that they didn’t even want present? How many pregnant women must listen to the horror stories of others simply because they have a round belly and are, obviously, expecting? Birth, however, is not about making those that surround a woman happy and comfortable. A great birth team seeks to make the mother and her closest loved ones happy and supported so that they and the baby can have the best experience possible both physically and emotionally.
The Goldman and Silk “Ring Theory,” as discussed in this LA Times article, explains the idea that during times of extreme stress (such as turmoil or illness) the person most affected or at the “center” has the privilege of receiving emotional support, and the ability to “dump” outward. That is, the person at the center can ask for help, and the people outside can offer.
The idea that “support goes in, needs expressed go out” doesn’t just apply to illness; it works beautifully in labor, too.
When a woman is in labor she should be at the center of the circle, the center of attention, and the person who is focused on. She can request anything from those around her. Support should always flow towards the center from the outer circles, and requests should flow outward. For example, random strangers should not act as though the birth is theirs or that their needs are more important than those of the laboring mother. The mother should not have to support her partner, doula, or family. When the focus
of support stays on the mother, the entire labor goes better and she feels safe and secure.
Remember this simple rule of birth etiquette when attending a birth. Remember, also, that very soon that laboring woman will be a mother and all of her attention will be focused outward on her precious child. We can focus our love and support on her for a few hours to help ensure that both mom and baby receive the best start possible.
What is the difference between the midwifery and the medical model of care?
One of the first decisions that a woman makes, after her discovery of pregnancy, is her choice of care provider. In most countries, there are two basic care providers available- the obstetrician and the midwife. There are many factors that contribute to which provider will work best for your birth. A basic understanding of the common differences in their approach can help you make the best decision for your family.
Midwifery model of care-
Most midwives, whether working out of a hospital or attending home births, practice what is known as the “midwifery model of care.” The basic midwifery approach to birth and the pregnant woman tends to be more holistic. This means that they look at all factors which may contribute to the health and safety of the woman and her birth. Emotions, living situations, nutrition, and education should all be addressed by someone providing the midwifery model of care.
At the time of birth, this care provider will be aware of and trained to spot things that may go wrong, but will, overall, consider childbirth a natural process that frequently proceeds normally and safely.
Those trained in the midwifery model of care routinely refer out to an obstetrician when they observe that the pregnant woman needs to be cared for by someone with a deeper knowledge of pathology.
“The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence
of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.”
Medical model of care-
A practitioner using the medical model of care, as is common among western medical doctors, tends to approach the patient from a problem solving approach, searching for the defect or dysfunction and trying to fix it. Unlike the midwifery model of care that seeks to understand the whole person and prevent unnecessary intervention or surgery, things are viewed from a pathological model searching for the problem and a solution.
Obstetricians, who provide the bulk of medical care for birthing women in the United States of
America, frequently approach their patients and their pregnancy and birth from this angle.
Which is right for me?
When choosing your care provider, there are many factors to consider. One would be your own philosophy towards birth. Do you view birth as a normal life event or as a pathology or disease?
Assessing your own beliefs will help you choose a care provider that best matches your own needs.
Another thing to consider is your own health and wellbeing. If you or your pregnancy are high risk, for some reason, then choosing an obstetrician who approaches birth from the medical model of care and who is versed in your risk factors in particular may be the choice that works best for you and your family.
It is also important to realize that not all midwives use the midwifery model of care and not all obstetricians use the medical model of care. You may be able to find an OB who views birth as a normal, healthy life event and approaches it with minimal interventions. You will also find midwives who have come to view birth as dangerous and pathologic and who have high intervention and cesarean section rates in their practices. Interviewing your individual care provider and asking for experiences from other mothers, doulas, and your childbirth educatorwill help give you some idea of their practice and philosophy.
Take your time and research your care provider. Your birth and your baby are worth the effort!
Citizens for Midwifery- “Midwives Model of Care” brochure
One thing that is very important to us at Birth Boot Camp is supporting and encouraging the midwifery model of care. We are honored to have a very experienced and insightful midwife, Melody Morrow, CPM, as a member of our Advisory Board. Why is Melody so excited about Birth Boot Camp? She has seen the classes improve outcomes for her clients. Here are a few of her words. Thank you, Melody, for your support!
Birth Boot Camp childbirth education has had an incredible impact on my midwifery practice. As a midwife, I have found that the midwifery clientele has shifted recently and become more mainstream. Women are now choosing midwifery care that haven’t necessarily researched and taken responsibility for their choices in birth. Some just want to try a waterbirth because it looked cool on television. What this means for me as a midwife is that if I take these clients, I have to make sure they are properly educated before the birth. If they don’t receive that education, I will likely be spending many, many more hours with them in pre-labor, labor and possibly a traumatic transport to the hospital.
I began to require that all my primips (first time moms) and women birthing outside the hospital for the first time take a childbirth class. While something was better than nothing, I didn’t necessarily notice a significant difference in outcomes for my clients who took a short class (4-6 weeks). However, I did notice that clients who took a longer Birth Boot Camp class did often have very different outcomes. Women were less fearful and more determined. They participated in their care and were making informed choices. Dads were providing excellent, confident support throughout pregnancy and, noticeably, in labor. Moms who would have otherwise had epidurals or C-sections, were having unmedicated births.
I believe Birth Boot Camp will enhance and support your work as a midwife because:
1. It promotes and affirms the midwifery model of care. The Birth Boot Camp curriculum is based on the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative. What they teach aligns perfectly with how I practice.
2. It gives parents 10 weeks of intentional education. This enables parents to make appropriate decisions for their care and increases their ownership of responsibility. In short, more families “own” their birth choices. Education lasts approximately 18-24 hours, so they simply have time to learn what they need.
3. The live classes promote peer support, encouragement and determination. Think of these couples meeting for 10 solid weeks to learn about birth with like-minded people and a dedicated teacher who has done it before. They are supported and positive about their birth and having more of their emotional needs met.
4. Someone else, besides you, is encouraging the same things you want them to hear. Good nutrition, exercise, positioning, and much more are all things they are learning about OUTSIDE of your visits, not just during them. My clients are more likely to be intentional in caring for themselves when they are given directed information, statistics, etc. and discussing these things with their partner and other birth workers.
5. Dads become more confident, involved and less fearful. A confident and involved dad really helps with mom’s well-being. Many clients will become even more passionate and appreciative of the choices they are making, even if they don’t have their desired outcome.
6. It is contemporary. The films are current and interesting. The topics concerning birth and interventions are up-to-date. In class, they discuss babywearing, cloth diapering, chiropractic care, doulas, Spinning Babies™, and other things that we want our clients to know about, but may not have time to fully teach them. Their class will connect them to resources that I might not be able to.
7. It forces couples to stop and focus on their pregnancy in this fast paced world. Couples connect with their pregnancy and with each other. They discuss issues and they come to an understanding. They appreciate their baby and the experience together. I wish every couple did this!
8. Knowledge is power. This means less confused, fearful phone calls and false labor runs for you.
In short, when my couples access the kind of quality childbirth education provided by Birth Boot Camp they have a better birth experience, my job is easier, and if things don’t go as they planned, they are comforted in knowing that they did all they could. This kind of childbirth education truly makes a difference.
Melody Morrow, CPM, LM, BBCI loves babies and birth. Since 1998 she has attended over 1,100 births and assisted in the training of over 70 midwifery students. She is passionate about preventative, respectful care for mothers, babies, and their families. Melody works in Texas at Edenway Birth Center as the administrator and senior consulting midwife. She is enthusiastic about her calling and loves to help empower families as they become informed and educated about their choices during their maternity and birth experiences.
Many families are beginning to realize how important a natural birth can be to both them and their babies. But the idea of having a natural birth can be overwhelming and when you first begin pursuing it. Here are a few tips on getting the natural birth you are looking for.
1) Take a natural birth class: 1000 years ago everybody had a natural birth, it was just “natural”. But today most people deliver in hospitals and there is much to learn if you desire a birth slightly different than the norm. A good class with an experienced teacher can help you learn how to make this happen.
2) Carefully choose your birth place: All hospitals are not the same. Some offer a good NICU, others fantastic surgeons. If you are particularly looking for a natural birth, you will want to find a hospital that has policies that help with that desire, rather than hinder it. Your birth teacher will be able to teach you what to look for.
3) Carefully choose your care provider: From OB to midwife, there are lots of options in both skills, personality, and experience. Interview, discuss, and find out what birth professionals in your area recommend in your local care providers. It will be worth your time and effort.
A natural birth is possible, but it takes preparation and passion.