HIGHLAND | Northwest Indiana families joined an estimated 12,000 parents, health care providers and advocates at Labor Day rallies around the country to call attention to what they consider a crisis in U.S. maternal health care. Supporters called for safer, evidence-based birth practices that put women and babies before profits, convenience and liability concerns.
The 2013 Rally to Improve Birth took place in more than 170 U.S. cities, Japan, Australia, and Canada, at 10 a.m. local time, Monday. Locally, participants gathered with signs at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Ridge Road near Wicker Park and drew the attention of passing motorists.
Indiana’s C-section rate of 30.3 percent is significantly higher than the 15 percent suggested by the World Health Organization as a highest recommended rate, said Amy Bauer, local rally organizer, in a news release. While some have pointed to older, more obese, less healthy mothers as the reason for such high rates of Cesarean surgery, Bauer added, research shows that the most variability in rates is currently among low-risk women, and the Joint Commission, the national accrediting body for hospitals, recently pointed to “physician factors” as the driving force in these differences.
And, though the U.S. has the highest maternity care costs in the world, it ranks 45th in maternal safety, according to data from the United Nations, which lists the U.S. maternal death rate as tied with that of Iran and Hungary.
The local rally "went really well," Bauer said, with 68 people participating. In addition to local news media, added Bauer, who works for ImprovingBirth.org, the mothers’ advocacy group organizing the rally, the event was promoted on Facebook and by supportive practitioners.
"We'd like to open the door to some area practitioners and and get a dialog going" about maternity issues," Bauer said. "C-section rates and maternal mortality statistics in this country are abominable."
Rally attendees called for maternity practices that put mothers and babies first, including obtaining fully informed consent, using medical interventions only when necessary and reducing the rate of Cesarean section.