The quality of maternity care in our country is poor. Childbirth costs more in the United States than in any other developed country, but our maternal and child health outcomes lag behind those of other countries. Too many babies are born at low birth weight. The rates of maternal mortality and prematurity are high. Disparities persist – especially for African American women and babies. And too many women receive unnecessary and unwanted interventions during labor that don’t result in better outcomes.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we renew our commitment to improving the quality of maternity care so women can enjoy safe, satisfying pregnancies and births, and babies can have a healthy start in life. We ask you to join us. We can all play a part in helping pregnant women and newborns get the high-quality care they deserve.
It’s critically important that pregnant women have the tools and information they need to partner with their providers to make the best decisions about pregnancy and childbirth, and ensure care adheres to a woman’s preferences. Most women assume they are receiving the best care, but that’s not always the case. For example, in our Listening to Mothers III survey, 25 percent of women with cesareans reported feeling pressure from a health professional to have that procedure. Providers must adhere to evidence-based guidelines and adapt their practices as guidelines change, and women must have the opportunity to take a more active role in their care.
That’s where we need your help. In many cases, a woman does not have the information she needs to take a more active role in the decision-making process around her pregnancy, labor and childbirth. That’s why too many decisions about pregnancy and childbirth are made for women, not with women. Childbirth Connection programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families has created a number of resources for pregnant women to help them access the best care. Most recently, we produced a consumer-friendly resource to help pregnant women partner with their providers to prevent unnecessary cesarean sections.
Information is power and we need you to share this important information with the pregnant women in your life: your sisters, cousins, friends and co-workers. Sharing can be as simple as sending an email saying “I thought you might find this resource helpful.” However you decide to take action, you’ll be making a difference.