Two Birth Stories: An Allegory to Compare Experiences in Current and Envisioned Maternity Care Systems
This allegory compares two women’s experiences of maternity care. It uses words and concepts that reflect the seminal values and principles put forward in the 2020 Vision for a High-Quality, High-Value Maternity Care System to illustrate one hypothetical example of an optimal experience of maternity care that embodies the concepts of the Vision. It contrasts that account with another story that reflects some of the ways that deficiencies in the present health and maternity care system can play out in the experience of a childbearing woman going through this system.
This allegory is designed to “bring home” concretely, through first person narrative, the very different experiences of care delivered in a system that is organized to protect, promote and support physiologic childbearing and to prioritize the provision of effective care with least harm, and care as it is typically delivered in the present U.S. maternity care system. It relates in human terms the importance of system-wide change to the ultimate beneficiaries of maternity care – mothers, babies and families. This systems-level perspective is not intended to criticize the dedicated professionals who are working to provide high-quality maternity care or the childbearing women who make thoughtful choices within the present dysfunctional system, but rather to vividly illustrate through metaphor the benefits that could be realized for all by working to achieve the Vision.