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- Birth Freedom Network

Last Updated: 9/28/2011

"What” is Birth Freedom Network

Birth Freedom Network is a cause.  The cause embodies FREEDOM to birth in the manner we choose, where we choose and with whom we choose without government intervention and/or control.  It operates on the basis of the Declaration of Independence which states: we "are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (1)  We have a Cesarean epidemic in the United States.  The CDC reported on December 21, 2010 that for the 13th consecutive year the cesarean rate increased. It is at a record high of 32.9% of all births. 3 out of every 10 women will have their babies by major abdominal surgery.  This means that of the 4,131,019 births in the US in 2009, approximately 1,359,105 gave birth surgically.(2)   The rate in 1965, the first year it was measured was 4.9%.  The WHO recommends a rate of 5-10% for safety and it has been shown that anything over 15% is harmful.(3)  The current rate is over twice that amount.  The reasons for the rise are complex and the results do not decrease maternal or perinatal mortality.  Since 1996, the cesarean rate has soared a whopping 56%, according to the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2008, a report from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  That is an epidemic.   A recent study Dr. Jason D. Wright of Columbia University and colleagues reviewed 717 practice recommendations from ACOG, the organization which sets the standards/protocols for the practice of obstetrics.  Over 90% of obstetricians belong to this non-profit organization which exists to promote education, research, advocacy and practice.  They found that only 30% of their practice recommendations were based on randomized controlled trials, which are considered the top-notch evidence, and 38% came from observational studies, which have limited value and 32 % were based on purely "expert” opinion.  The choice to attempt a VBAC is prohibited in many hospitals based on ACOG recommendations and some states make it incredibly more difficult than others.  When a woman enters a hospital to give birth, she submits herself to hospital policies and procedures.  Many times those policies and procedures severely limit her choices and autonomy over her own body.  She is told she must submit to exams, monitoring and procedures that interfere with her normal birth process.  Women are not being given true informed consent.  You must have the ability to say no for it to be true consent.  Women deserve to be able to make the choices they desire related to their birth, such as freedom from provider interference, freedom to move around, no routine interventions, choice of position for pushing and birth, complete access to their baby at all times barring emergencies, and freedom to breastfeed at will.  Women are forced into lack of hydration and nutrition, receiving IVs, labor enhancement to stay on a pre-conceived time-table, repeated vaginal exams, having episiotomies, forced perineal stretching, forced early cord-clamping, all of which are not evidence-based interventions.  More and more women are choosing to stay home to give birth for just that reason.  Women want to choose for themselves how to give birth, and what level of involvement their care provider should have. Birth is a biological function of the human body, it is not an illness.  Homebirth is an option that should be available to any woman who wants to choose it and is willing to accept the responsibility for that choice.  It has been proven to be a safe choice for most women in many studies.  She should be able to choose anyone to be with her that she wants, regardless of their qualifications or credentials.  She should be free to have a credentialed midwife, an uncredentialed midwife, her mother, her sister, her husband, her partner or nobody at all.  Women want to give birth to their babies, not have their babies delivered to them.  Most times the birth process will proceed without interference if left to itself.  It should be up to the mother herself to determine if and when support is needed or medical assistance is necessary. She is qualified to make that choice for herself.

   The "Mother” and the "Birth” of Birth Freedom Network

Terri LaPoint, from Birmingham, Alabama is the mother and creator of the Birth Freedom Network.  I know Terri from our shared involvement in the midwifery school Ancient Art of Midwifery.  The first time I heard her speak was at the Trust Birth 2010 Conference in Redondo Beach, CA.  It was evident from our first meeting that she is a dedicated Christ-follower.  She reflects His Character.  You would find her genuine, kind, friendly and very easy to talk to at your first meeting. She makes you feel as if you are good friends right off the bat.   It is clearly evident that she is a good student of all areas of life among them the Bible, marriage, motherhood, midwifery and patriotism.  BFN was born out of the article printed in the magazine Midwifery Today in the Issue 98, Summer 2011 entitled Birth and Freedom.(4)  Families want to be free to make their own choices and we want our government to recognize the freedom we already have guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.  Several states have chapters born out of the needs of each particular state and their laws regarding the birth process.  As of September 2011,  there are chapters in AL, CA, NC, and OH.  You can find these chapter causes on Facebook

 "Why” Birth Freedom Network

Terri explains, "Birth Freedom Network has been set up to facilitate discussion and legislative efforts to secure the legal right for mothers to choose where and with whom they birth. Women have the right to give birth where and with whom they choose, therefore we propose that midwifery should be, (already is) legal by virtue of the fact that all women own the biological function of pregnancy and birth, and have both the right and the responsibility to make all decisions about where and with whom they birth. (Carla Hartley) This group was formed in 2011 to facilitate discussion and efforts to secure that freedom for mothers. This is NOT a group advocating mandatory licensure or regulation of midwives, because invariably those lead to loss of freedom for mothers. We believe that women have the right to choose where and with whom they birth, without qualifiers. We support the Trust Birth Initiative, because their focus is TRUTH.  We do not support any legislative effort that puts the decision of who may or may not use their own birth canal for birth, in anyone's hands other than the mothers giving birth.  We believe that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution give us a firm foundation from which to fight to secure the right of mothers to birth where and with whom they choose.  Additionally, we do not support any effort to limit the freedom of women to choose unassisted birth. The essence of freedom mandates that her right to that choice is hers, not anyone else's.” (5)

Liberty is owning your own body.  You own you, and I own me.  My freedom ends where your body begins.  Yet, mothers are being forced into cesareans against their will.  It’s very easy to locate information confirming this, just Google "forced c-sections” and you will find many documented cases.  In the hospital setting we are forced to submit to interventions at the discretion of the provider.  In your own home, you make all the choices and accept the responsibility for those choices.

In September of 2009 a family in Montgomery County, Ohio was prosecuted for child endangerment just for the choice of giving birth at home. Several hours after their birth, the family made a 911-call because the mother wasn't feeling quite right.  In Montgomery County, whenever a child is involved in a 911 call, the police are dispatched as well.  When the team arrived, instead of attending to the mother, the EMTs insisted that the newborn needed immediate medical attention, despite the lack of any problematic signs or symptoms to base that opinion on.  The family was forced to go into the hospital and have their baby evaluated.  He was evaluated and released with no issues.  This family was later charged with felony child endangerment.  In order to avoid the continued legal battle, more expenses and possible jail time, they did eventually plea bargain to a misdemeanor charge.  

What happened TO this family, and others like them, was criminal in my opinion.  They made an educated choice after evaluating their options.  I cannot understand why the prosecutor decided to go forward with this case.  Because I know this family, because my daughters and daughters-in-law are in their childbearing years, because the state of hospital birth is dismal and because I care about my community and the rights of American women I have personally joined this cause.  FREEDOM begins with birth.  If we’re not free to birth without government intrusion, then what are we free to do?  The State should not be able to tell women how they may or may not use their birth canals.  You may think that since you and your family will only give birth in the hospital that this issue doesn’t affect you.  It does however also encompass women birthing in the hospital.  If you want to refuse any hospital policy or procedure, you should be free to do so without fear of having CPS involvement.  Women who want a chance to attempt a VBAC or to birth a breech baby vaginally or to birth multiple babies vaginally are unable to secure hospitals or providers willing to allow them to make their own choices.  We should be provided with the information and then be allowed to choose which set of risks we want to assume.  After all, we are the ones that will live with the consequences of those decisions, not the doctors or the hospitals.

The "Mission” of Birth Freedom Network

The MISSION of BFN is "To secure the God-given right of mothers to birth where and with whom they choose.” (6)

Join us, won't you?

Notes:

(1)    Declaration of Independence . para 2. 1776

(2)    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_03.pdf

(3)    http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10456

(4)    Midwifery Today Issue Number 98 (Summer 2011)

(5)    BFN on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Birth-Freedom-Network/215308291822191

(6)    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Birth-Freedom-Network/215308291822191?sk=info

 

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