Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Report from the AABC Birth Institute

Special thanks to former LaneCoFBC Board Member Katharine Gallagher for her report on last week's Birth Institute in Washington, DC.

September 20, 2014

Greetings Lane County Friends of the Birth Center!

Thanks for asking me to write about attending the annual American Association of Birth Center’s Birth Institute in Washington, DC. I attended as a board member for the Commission on the Accreditation of Birth Centers. I joined this board a few years ago and it’s been a great chance to build on the positive advocacy experience of participating with the LaneCoFBC consumer group.

It’s an exciting time for birth centers and the communities they serve. There are now 270 freestanding birth centers in the United States in 37 states and DC. This represents growth of 38% since early 2010 when there were 195 birth centers in the US. The word is definitely spreading about the quality, outcomes and consumer satisfaction with birth-center and midwifery care.

The AABC Birth Institute is an action-packed couple of days. The fun kicked off with a day of lobbying. Following a morning briefing by the AABC federal lobbyist, I hopped on a bus with birth center midwives, nurses, administrators, owners and supporters from around the country to visit our elected officials on Capitol Hill. I met with staff from Congressman DeFazio’s and Senators Wyden and Merkley’s offices.

Lobby day was a great chance to share information about critical issues and to highlight important accomplishments. I especially liked providing information about the AABC Strong Start for Mothers Initiative. Strong Start is a four-year demonstration project for reducing preterm birth using the birth center model of care. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid funded this grant and the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center is one of the demonstration sites.

At the Birth Institute, I also previewed the brand new movie “Microbirth.” This short documentary presents and discusses current scientific research on epigenetics. The potential inter-generational consequences that may result from the interruption of physiologic birth are explored. If ever there was a film to caution against unnecessary intervention in childbirth, this is it.  

What’s a conference for and by birth center professionals and supporters without a visit to an area birth center? Having the chance to visit Birth Care and Women’s Health in Alexandria, Virginia was terrific fun. It’s a beautiful birth center right in the heart of a busy urban corridor.  

In the midst of all this excitement are board meetings for the CABC. Giving my time to this organization allows me to see first hand the infinite ways in which diverse and always-evolving birth centers use accreditation to flourish through accountability. These birth centers are the lynchpin to the continued rising profile and reach of birth centers within the maternity care system. Check CABC out to learn more about the exciting important work it does to support growth of the birth center movement.

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