Saturday, March 21, 2009

Birth Center Helps Families Gracefully Clear Hurdles to Breastfeeding

The Atlantic Monthly recently published “The Case Against Breastfeeding” which The Today Show covered. While incorrect (see below), the article’s assertions that scientific evidence barely supports breastfeeding is important because it reveals the often disheartening challenges many women and families in our society face when trying to breastfeed. Given the article’s tone and the ensuing coverage and online discussion, the need for compassionate and sensitive discourse could not be greater or more obvious. It is also important to take stock of our local options and, once again, we have much to be grateful for in the unique services found at the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center.

Disheartening Hurdles to Breastfeeding
Whatever one’s feelings about breastfeeding, most people can agree on one thing: breastfeeding in the United States is a challenge for most women. Here are a few of the institutional and cultural hurdles women and families must clear to establish breastfeeding:

  • The US, alone among industrial nations, provides no paid maternity leave.
  • Most expecting women, who themselves were unlikely to have been breastfed, are encouraged to breastfeed but given no pre-baby lactation education. The majority are unaware that “most hospitals perform poorly on breastfeeding support.”
  • Before their milk fully comes in, mothers and babies leave the hospital with no routine follow-up breastfeeding support.
  • Unnecessary breastfeeding complications often ensue requiring the aid of a lactation consultant, a service generally not covered by health insurance.
  • Neither the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists nor the American Academy of Pediatrics requires doctors to be trained in basic breastfeeding support including referring patients to lactation consultants or support groups.

For a more thorough explication of these challenges and the misplaced resentment they understandably spark, read "Case Against Breastfeeding" Overlooks Big Dirty Secret."

Birth Center Helps Families Gracefully Clear Hurdles to Breastfeeding
The PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center is among the 3% of 3,000 maternity centers in the US to earn the "Baby-Friendly" designation, the gold-standard protocol proven to result in breastfeeding success. After mom, dad and baby go home from the Birth Center, they receive an in-home visit where questions and concerns about breastfeeding, infant care and post-partum recovery are addressed. Families are then encouraged to use the free, weekly drop-in Baby Clinic to see lactation consultants, weigh their baby and connect with other parents. Not only does breastfeeding get off to a good start but life-long friendships are also nurtured right along with babies!

The extraordinary value of Birth Center’s “Baby Friendly” designation shines brightly in the Birth Center Tribute video as well as in the 28 heart-felt testimonials offered by Birth Center moms, dads, grandparents and supporters. These letters were written recently to convey to PeaceHealth the importance of ensuring the Birth Center’s future by relocating it adjacent to the new hospital at RiverBend.

Evidence for Breastfeeding is Scientific
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine issued a press release detailing the evidence basis for breastfeeding.

President of the American Academy of Pediatrics also submitted the following letter via email to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly.

In the article, "The Case Against Breast-Feeding" by Hanna Rosin, the author skims the literature and has omitted many recent statements including the 2005 statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics which supports the value of breastfeeding for most infants. This policy references every statement with scientific evidence from over 200 articles which meet scientific standards for accuracy and rigor. The statement was meticulously reviewed by the Section on Breastfeeding, the Committee on Nutrition and numerous other committees and approved by the Board of Directors of the Academy. Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries, a study released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (the AHRQ Report) strongly supports the evidence of benefits demonstrated in the breastfeeding research. The evidence for the value of breastfeeding is scientific, it is strong, and it is continually being reaffirmed by new research work.

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages women to make an informed decision about feeding their infants based on scientifically established information from credible resources.

David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics

Friday, March 20, 2009

CDC releases staggering 31.8% c-section statistic

As research continues to illustrate the risks of unnecessary cesarean surgery, the Center for Disease Control released “Births: Preliminary Data for 2007.” The 2007 birth rate is the highest it’s ever been and so is the cesarean section rate:
The cesarean delivery rate rose 2 percent in 2007, to 31.8 percent, marking the 11th consecutive year of increase and another record high for the United States.
The cesarean section rate has doubled since 1996 and is more than twice the 15% rate recommended by the World Health Organization. It is also well above the federal government’s Healthy People 2010 goal of reducing cesarean section among low-risk women giving birth for the first time to 15%.

Cesarean rates vary widely across the nation, across hospitals and among providers. Variations are said to reflect practices and policies of individual hospitals and providers more than they reflect the health of pregnant women and their babies.

Access to hospital- and provider-level data on cesarean rates would provide women with important information for selecting a birth setting and provider. Toward this end, The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services launched the Transparency in Maternity Care Project: The Birth Survey. Women who have given birth within the past three years can share their provider and birth setting experience via The Birth Survey.

While local-level maternity care data is not yet available, Lane County women do have access to at least one provider and setting within the health care delivery system with a cesarean section rate consistent with national and international standards for healthy mother-baby outcomes: the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center.

PeaceHealth’s commitment to relocate the Birth Center adjacent to its RiverBend campus is all the more important given the recent news about cesarean section rates. Simply put, it's the right thing to do.


To learn more about why transparency in maternity care matters, read:

Monday, March 9, 2009


Following is an update from Lane County Friends of the Birth Center. Please share it with anyone interested in local birth options for women and families. Join our email distribution list by sending an email to

PeaceHealth plans Mother's Day groundbreaking

Last month, The Register-Guard reported the following positive news:
PeaceHealth plans to begin construction on its new midwifery birth center near Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend on Mother’s Day, provided it can meet its fund-raising goals and reach agreement to sell the existing birth center in Eugene.

Mel Pyne, CEO of PeaceHealth’s Oregon region, agreed to set May 10 as a groundbreaking goal during a meeting Friday with representatives of Lane County Friends of the Birth Center, a group that’s been lobbying PeaceHealth to make the new birth center a priority, according to PeaceHealth spokeswoman Andrea Ash and Katharine Gallagher of the birth center group.
Watch the Birth Center Tribute video to see sketches and photos of its future home. It's sure to attract even more women and families. We've heard recent coverage, letters to the editor and a terrific guest viewpoint about the Birth Center have lead women to seek out its services.

As of March 11th, $636,000 or 85% of the fund-raising goal of $750,000 has been reached! These funds will be combined with proceeds from the sale of the present Birth Center building. Community support is essential to reaching the total goal - click here to make a donation to the Birth Center Campaign. We are proud to report that 100% of the LaneCoFBC steering committee has contributed and we hear from family, friends and supporters that they have done so, too. Every gift is significant - even more so in tough times.

Recent blog entries:
PeaceHealth commits resources in the midst of cuts
TIME magazine: The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans
National group recognizes LaneCoFBC's consumer activism
In addition to blogging, LaneCoFBC posts up-to-date info for the following areas in the right-side margin:
Coverage of PeaceHealth Birth Center and Related Issues
Local Resources
Goings-on in the Birth Community
National Resourcres
Birth in the News (newspaper and magazine articles)
Recent Studies, Reports, Books

UO journalism student hopes to shadow Birth Center moms

Leslie Rutberg is a graduate student at the UO School of Journalism interested in observing pre- and post-natal care at the Birth Center. If you are interested, please contact her at Following is a description of her project.
I am working on a narrative journalistic piece about the birth center for a graduate school course (though eventually I would like for it to be published locally to bring attention to the birth center and it's value to the community). Those of you involved in the birth center know that they are involved in much more than just the day(s) of the birth and so I'd like to be able to convey the experience of post and pre-natal care. Seeing this care first hand would help me understand and describe it. I would be grateful if anyone felt comfortable allowing me to tag along on a visit with a midwife or lactation consultant. I would be strictly an observer. Feel free to contact me about this, or anything else about my project, at Thanks so much. - Leslie

Local Events & News

"Nurturing a Better Future through Birth"
Following is a description of the upcoming Midwifery Week conference here in Eugene:
Please join us for this very important conference. We are incorporating many subject areas critical to the practices of midwives, doulas and counselors. In addition to a rich offering of how-to classes, we will have classes on skills development, massage and sexual abuse issues. There is truly something for every practitioner who works with mothers. Learn to be the best practitioner you can be while being supported in your calling—and having fun too!
Click here to read Midwifery Today's Jan Tritten's recent blog post about the conference. She also blogged about recently dropping by the PeaceHealth Nurse-Midwifery Birth Center where she learned about its "Centering Pregnancy" form of prenatal care.

March is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month
Oregon House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing March as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution coincides with House Bill 2666 seeking to establish a workgroup to report on existing services, gaps and funding strategies for prenatal health. According to Representative Carolyn Tomei,
There is a lack of provider education, public awareness, and access to affordable care for women suffering from these common, yet underreported issues… One in eight pregnant or postpartum women will develop significant depression or a panic disorder. Early recognition of risk factors and symptoms reduces adverse health outcomes for both the mother and child ultimately making Oregon families stronger.

The Birth Center provides the kind of affordable care called for in HB 2666. It does so while offering pre- and post-natal care sensitive to the multiple dimensions of a woman’s wellbeing before, during and after birth.

We'll keep you posted on future developments related to the Birth Center's relocation. In the mean time, any of the following actions would be helpful and greatly appreciated!

  • Sign our online petiton supporting the Birth Center
  • Make a donation
  • Join our Facebook group
  • Follow our blog - click the RSS feed buttons underneath "Subscribe"
  • Add your name to our email distribution list - send an email to lanecofbc@gmail

Sunday, March 8, 2009

With an eye toward the future, PeaceHealth commits resources in the midst of cuts

As PeaceHealth cuts $10 million in expenses, it keeps a steady eye on post-recession operations. Recently, The Register-Guard reported PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Foundation pledged $1.875 million toward Lane Community College’s campaign for a new health careers building. The Eugene Weekly reports PeaceHealth also remains committed to spending $20 million toward a new hospital in Friday Harbor, Washington.

Relocating the PeaceHealth Nurse-Midwifery Birth Center adjacent to RiverBend is fully in sync with PeaceHealth’s long view. Its practices and outcomes are fully aligned with its mission, core values and vision. Of equal importance, ensuring the Birth Center’s future by relocating it demonstrates sensitivity to the importance of being in step with national healthcare reforms of increased access, lower costs and excellent outcomes. The Birth Center is a model in each of these areas:
  • Regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, women may initiate prenatal care at the Birth Center.
  • Anecdotal and evidence-based research demonstrates excellent mother-baby outcomes for women receiving birth center care.
Birth Center supporters deeply appreciate PeaceHealth ’s commitment to a Mother’s Day groundbreaking.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

TIME magazine: The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans

TIME Magazine recently published “The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans” which explores the difficulties women interested in vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) encounter. The article coincides with the release by the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) of its results for the 2009 Survey of Hospital and VBAC Bans. The survey reveals a fast-paced trend toward banning VBAC:
The survey shows a near triple increase (174%) from November 2004, when ICAN conducted the first count of hospitals forbidding women from having a VBAC. In 2004, banning hospitals numbered 300. The latest survey, conducted in January 2009, counted 821 hospitals formally banning VBAC and 612 with "de facto" ban. Full results of the research can be seen in the VBAC Ban Database.

Formal and de facto hospital VBAC bans are enormous barriers to women seeking to avoid repeat cesareans. Women served by hospitals with bans are left to choose between a surgery they do not want and traveling long distances to hospitals supportive of VBAC. Some women opt out of hospital care and have their babies at home.

Sacred Heart Medical Center is among the nation’s hospitals supportive of VBAC. Two of the mothers featured in the Birth Center Tribute video had VBACs there with Birth Center midwives attending.

Click here to see a companion piece to the TIME articled published by The Huffington Post.