“Labor” Day takes on a new meaning this year with the 2013 Rally to Improve Birth being organized in 160 cities across America, and around the world.
Behind this global event is a mother, Cristen Pascucci, pushing to improve the birthing experience for all women.
In the final days of Pascucci’s pregnancy two years ago, something happened that radically changed her view of how pregnant and birthing women are treated in this country.
My midwife called to say that I needed to come in that evening for an artificial induction of labor. I was getting too close to 42 weeks for her comfort, and even though I technically should have had another day, the hospital’s only opening was that night … I knew a medical induction in a first-time mom doubles her chances of a c-section, with all the associated risks of harm to her and her baby, and I didn’t feel like we’d tried hard enough to exhaust the alternatives yet … I felt rushed and pressured, even though there was no emergency.
Cristen’s son Henry was born without incident or intervention (with another midwife at another hospital), but the experience inspired her to research how and why health providers establish their birthing guidelines. Her conclusion — one that is backed up with empirical evidence and data — was that many policies in this country are designed to first serve providers, lawyers, and insurance companies, before mothers and babies.
“Birth is one of the last places in America where a modern woman is expected to lie back, shut her mouth, and take what’s done to her,” Cristen told the Talking Good blog. “In many ways, our medical and legal systems support the total disempowerment of women in a major life event that can have lasting health consequences.”
“And this is all happening in a system that delivers dismal outcomes for moms and babies,” she added.
Last year, Cristen became Vice President for ImprovingBirth.org, a mother-run 501(c)(3), and she joined the advisory board of Human Rights in Childbirth, under which she co-founded a legal advocacy network. Through rallies and advocacy, these organizations are spreading the word about women’s choices about how to give birth, including potential harms, benefits, and alternatives to procedures.
The Labor Day rallies, organized by ImprovingBirth.org will take place as far away as Japan, Australia, and Canada.
(LEARN more about Cristen Pascucci and birthing facts at Talking Good)