Where Education Meets Practice: A Subculture of Better Birth

There is a passion in our community to participate in the redemption of the childbirth process; by this we mean taking the life-giving event away from unnecessary interventions and giving it back to a woman in touch with her body and able to make educated decisions.

Since 2006, such education has been made available to mothers within our community and in 2009 it was formalized with the inception of the NOVA Childbirth Education Program. The aim of this program is to train educators who equipped with knowledge, practical tools and an invaluable social network of support and resources, can teach mothers that they can labor confidently and make informed decisions that produce the safest outcomes for themselves and their babies. To date, within our community, there have been 42 births within a 5-year span; 10 births so far in 2010, with 3 more due in the month of December alone!

The current birth trends in the greater Nashville area serve to highlight the positive effect of childbirth education among the women of Global Outreach Developments Int'l (G.O.D.). According to the Joint Annual Report of Hospitals filed with the Tennessee Department of Health for 2008, approximately 35% of births in the most prominent hospitals are cesarean sections. Many factors contribute to this, including elective cesarean sections and inductions. In addition, Fifty percent of births begun by induction resulted in a cesarean section. Recent studies reaffirm earlier World Health

Organization recommendations about optimal cesarean section rates. The best outcomes for mothers and babies occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good (Althabe and Belizan 2006).

Among the women of G.O.D. in 2008, 15 out of 16 births were vaginal — a wonderfully low cesarean rate of only 6%. Out of the 15 vaginal births, 13 were natural (without the assistance of interventions) and 2 were vaginal births after cesarean, 1 of which was breech. In 2009 and 2010, there have been 18 births—1 cesarean and 17 vaginal births (among such vaginal births were 1 breech, 3 inductions and 1 set of twins). Another positive outcome has been the percentage of first time mothers who have had vaginal births after induction: 7 of 8 women induced have had vaginal births. That is 88% in comparison to the typical 50%.

Women who have had cesarean births are generally encouraged to schedule a repeat cesarean section for their next birth(s). Although vaginal birth after cesarean has been proven to be safe, in 2004 only 14% of women in Nashville hospitals even attempted one. Of the 3 women in our movement who have had cesarean sections and subsequent pregnancies, 3 have had vaginal births after cesarean. That is a 100% attempted and successful VBAC rate!

The contrast between our experience and these statistics are testimonies to the fact that God’s presence, coupled with empowering education, has been the driving force for the mothers of G.O.D. Such experiences have motivated our community to envision the necessary transformation of unacceptable maternal and infant mortality rates amongst the poor in East Africa, South East Asia, India and Latin America.

Note: Statistics from the Joint Annual report of Hospitals filed with the Tennessee Department of health for 2008.

By Cannon Cameron