BirthNetwork National (BNN) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit grassroots organization that focuses on mother-friendly maternity care, as outlined by the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI). BNN was formed in October 1999 in Oakland County, Michigan by five mothers who were unhappy with their birthing processes. Members are involved among 23 BNN chapters in 11 states, with new chapters created annually.
A partial list of the BirthNetwork chapters include: Alabama; Alaska; Northwest Arkansas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; South Denver, Colorado; Greater Hartford, Connecticut; Brevard, Florida; Northwest Florida; Columbus, Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Macomb, Michigan; Oakland County, Michigan; Southwest Michigan (which includes meetings in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph); Missouri; Nevada; South Jersey, New Jersey; Hudson County, New Jersey; Buffalo, New York; North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; Texas.
Their Core Philosophies include:
- Birth is a normal, healthy process, not an illness or disease
- Empowering births can take place in birth centers, hospitals and homes
- Women are entitled to complete and accurate information on their full range of options for pregnancy, birth, post-partum and breastfeeding
- Women have a right to make health care decisions for themselves and their babies. That right includes Informed Consent as well as Informed refusal.
Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative
The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative was created by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) and is an evidence-based guide that indicates how to identify and designate mother-friendly birthing sites, including hospitals, birth centers, and home-birth services. In order to be deemed "mother-friendly" a hospital, birth center, or home birth service must provide all ten of the following:
1. Offers all birthing mothers:
- Unrestricted access to the birth companions of her choice, including fathers, partners, children, family members and friends;
- Unrestricted access to continuous emotional and physical support from a skilled woman-for example, a doula or labor-support professional;
- Access to professional midwifery care.
2. Provides accurate descriptive and statistical information to the public about its practices and procedures for birth care, including measures of interventions and outcomes.
3. Provides culturally competent care—that is, care that is sensitive and responsive to the specific beliefs, values, and customs of the mother's ethnicity and religion.
4. Provides the birthing woman with the freedom to walk, move about, and assume the positions of her choice during labor and birth (unless restriction is specifically required to correct a complication), and discourages the use of the lithotomy (flat on back with legs elevated) position.
5. Has clearly defined policies and procedures for:
- collaborating and consulting throughout the perinatal period with other maternity services, including communicating with the original caregiver when transfer from one birth site to another is necessary;
- linking the mother and baby to appropriate community resources, including prenatal and post-discharge follow-up and breastfeeding support.
6. Does not routinely employ practices and procedures that are unsupported by scientific evidence, including but not limited to the following:
Other interventions are limited as follows:
- Has an induction rate of 10% or less;
- Has an episiotomy rate of 20% or less, with a goal of 5% or less;
- Has a total cesarean rate of 10% or less in community hospitals, and 15% or less in tertiary care (high-risk) hospitals;
- Has a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) rate of 60% or more with a goal of 75% or more.
7. Educates staff in non-drug methods of pain relief and does not promote the use of analgesic or anesthetic drugs not specifically required to correct a complication.
8. Encourages all mothers and families, including those with sick or premature newborns or infants with congenital problems, to touch, hold, breastfeed, and care for their babies to the extent compatible with their conditions.
9. Discourage non-religious circumcision of the newborn.
10. Strives to achieve the WHO-UNICEF "Ten Steps of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative" to promote successful breastfeeding:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff;
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy;
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding;
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth;
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants;
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated;
- Practice rooming in: allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day;
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand;
- Give not artificial teat or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants;
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from hospitals or clinics.
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- The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS)