It’s Been 95 Years, Baby!: A Closer Look at Our First Decade

Childbirth Connection is celebrating our 95th birthday this year by featuring one decade of our work each month on the TMC Blog. This month we will feature our first decade – 1918-1927.

Childbirth Connection was founded in New York City as the Maternity Center Association (MCA) in 1918 to implement recommendations from a report on the poor health of women and infants around the time of birth. At the time there were no standards for maternity care, many women lacked access, and infant and maternal mortality rates were high.By 1920, MCA had established 30 centers and substations throughout the city to ensure universal access to prenatal care and to teach the community about the value of such care. The nurses at the centers helped select the women needing hospital care and refer them to hospitals, and helped the women planning to give birth at home to make arrangements for adequate care. To coordinate this work, MCA created a standard record and a central clearinghouse for all maternity records “to prevent duplication in the maternity work throughout the bureau and to assign to the various agencies those patients reported to the clearing house as in need of prenatal supervision.”As MCA and its methods became known throughout the country, demand grew for information about how to replicate its care model. “MCA Routines” was published to describe in detail the techniques for each phase of maternity care, and disseminated to health and social agencies throughout the United States.

The first study of the MCA centers was performed in 1921. The records of the first 8743 patients who had received community-based prenatal and postanatal care were collected by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and analyzed by Dr. Louis I Dublin and Anne A. Stevens. The study showed that improved prenatal care was associated with a 29.2% reduction in the deaths of infants less than one month old and a 21.5% reduction in the deaths of mothers. Analysis of each maternal death revealed a need to extend the prenatal services to encompass intrapartum and immediate postpartum care. The next year, MCA expanded its scope to include these services, and for the remainder of the decade the organization continually documented and improved their techniques, and successfully piloted their use in a nearby rural county.

Next month we will look at our second decade. To view an interactive timeline of our history, visit 95 Years, Baby!

Filed in 95 Years, Blog on Fri., Mar 1, 2013

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