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Accountability Toolkit

Mistreatment in childbirth can take many forms, from rude staff to full-blown physical assault, but they all have one thing in common: a lack of respect for the person giving birth. Some of these forms of mistreatment fall under violations of legal rights (like, being touched without your permission; having a procedure done without your knowledge or consent; being forced to do anything) and some fall under violations of ethical, professional, or human rights standards (being told you must use a bedpan or may not have food and drink; being spoken down to or ignored; being separated from your support team against your wishes).

Simply put, there is no reason for anything to change unless people are putting pressure on the system to change. Our collective silence is what allows that trauma to happen again to someone else. It’s time to break the silence and break the cycle.

Filing a formal complaint is a crucial step that can empower you, help in the healing process and create change for other families.

Pathways to Healing

Birth trauma is defined as an event occurring during the labor and delivery process that involves actual or threatened serious injury or death to the mother or her infant. The birthing woman experiences intense fear, helplessness, loss of control and horror. In some cases she feels stripped of her dignity and autonomy.

While there are amazing, wonderful and compassionate care providers who give women accurate information so they can make informed choices and who support women in those choices, there are providers who don’t. We frequently hear from people who report that their care providers gave them inaccurate information and were unsupportive of their decisions. Many also report being bullied, coerced, and abused.

Many share feelings of numbness, grief, shame, guilt, or sadness, and experience nightmares or flashbacks after giving birth. The well-intentioned cheer “at least you have a healthy baby” can feel dismissive and even cruel if you are feeling shattered by your birth.

We often tell ourselves. “Why am I complaining, the baby is great, who cares how it all happened”. But deep down, you are hurting and it's time to change that.

Download this free step-by-step guide to healing. A Healthy Happy Mom is a Healthy Happy Family.

Evidence, Facts, and Rights

If you are pregnant and this is the first time on our site, it can be overwhelming. Especially if someone just said, "Hey, go check out ImprovingBirth," with no context. If you are completely unaware of the challenges facing most women giving birth in the U.S. and many places around the world, we encourage you to read this first. Otherwise....

Making safe, informed decisions about your body and your baby is Job #1 for expecting moms. Here’s a place to start educating yourself.

Click here for evidence-based resources and information.

Evidence-Based Maternity Care

Evidence-based maternity care means practices that have been shown by the highest quality, most current medical evidence to be most beneficial to mothers and babies (reducing incidences of injuries, complications, and death) with care tailored to the individual.

Click here for more, including our table comparing the 2012 rates of common birth practices vs. what current evidence shows is best for moms and babies.

Induction, C-Section, & VBAC Facts

Artificial induction and surgical birth (c-section) can be necessary and life-saving interventions, while vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) remains an underutilized option for many women. We encourage every woman to understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to these procedures so that they can make fully informed decisions.

Click here for the facts on these procedures and on vaginal birth after Cesarean.

Rights

Many women do not understand that they have the right to make decisions about their care, including the right to say "no." Women have the right to informed consent: accurate information about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a suggested course of treatment, procedure, or medication, and the ability to accept or refuse that suggestion. 

Click here to read more about "Informed Consent in Childbirth: Making Rights into Reality."

What is my doctor’s C-section rate?
Do you want to know your doctor's cesarean rate?

This represents the previous two years of non-public insurance claims information. In other words, this doesn't reflect Medicaid patients. Amino adjusts for risk so that "doctors who have higher-risk or sicker patients are not unfairly penalized in [their] analysis."

Childbirth is one area where high surgical volume doesn't necessarily correlate with quality... unless you are looking for a a doctor with a lot of experience performing cesareans. Note that you can pull up doctors affiliated with a specific hospital. Bonus: You get to see Hospital Safety Scores, too!

Without context, you don't know if the doctor is the back-up for a group of CNMs and taking all of the high-risk patients and operative and surgical deliveries.