ICAN 2016 – “Respectful Support in Childbirth”

Hermine Haye's-Klein's quote from the ICAN 2016 conference.

Hermine Haye’s-Klein’s quote from the ICAN 2016 conference.

One thing that was inadequately addressed in both my childbirth education and doula training was supporting women who have cesareans. The reason may be that the focus is so heavily placed on treating birth as a normal, natural process, that the reality that a third of all women give birth surgically somehow gets lost.

For this reason, I decided to attend the International Cesarean Awareness Networks (ICAN) 2016 annual conference in Birmingham, AL. I packed up my kids and a friend to help out, drove the 11 hours south, checked into a campground and left my family each morning to attend the conference in the city.

The first speaker I heard was Hermine Hayes-Klein, a lawyer, lecturer and action researcher. Her lecture was entitled, “Claiming the Right to Respectful Support in Childbirth.” She was uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to plan a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), asserting a woman’s human and legal right to make this choice:

  • Decisions in which women were forced to have RCS were erroneous.
  • When informed consent exists, the Dr. is not responsible if the woman refuses.
  • Finances, not liability, is the driving force (lots of research to support).
  • Having sacred rights respected is a human right:
    • Right to spiritual freedom
    • Right to cultural integrity
  • Legal right to birth at a location and with provider of choice falls under right to privacy. When midwives sanctioned, this right violated.

In the historical portion of her lecture, she described how the Witch Hammer, a 14th century guidebook used during the Inquisition, was used to annihilate midwives. She quoted the text as saying, “No one does more harm to the Catholic faith than midwives,” who were blamed for a baby shortage since they had knowledge of contraception. I cried while listening to how a group I so closely align myself with were systematically persecuted, but I’m glad to now have this knowledge.

Regarding birth plans, Ms. Hayes-Klein said, “Women like birth plans, but providers don’t.” She gave the following advice:

  • Use specific language: “My birth plan is that I will make all the decisions about my care on the basis of info, advice and support from my providers.”
  • Women like birth plans, providers do not.
  • Ask provider: “Is there any circumstance in which you would override my wishes or act without my consent?”

For women who believe that their rights have been violated during pregnancy and/or birth, she advised women to “Tell your provider what went wrong.” She said that providers need to hear about how their patients experience their care.

Summer 2016 Childbirth Classes

Private childbirth education classes in Muskegon - be prepared!

Private childbirth education classes in Muskegon – be prepared!

The hardest part about teaching classes has been finding appropriate, inclusive, affordable locations. I did a series of mini-classes last summer at the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center, but was unable to charge the participants. I did a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) class at On the Path Yoga studio in Spring Lake, but they are a busy studio with lots of other things going on.  That’s why I was delighted to receive permission to hold classes at The Center, a welcoming location conveniently located in the four corners in North Muskegon. Earlier this month, I learned that they were moving and going through other internal organizational changes. I immediately thought of the lovely Red Lotus art gallery, located in downtown Muskegon in the basement of the Century Club building and was pleased to find out how accommodating they are to a small business like mine. An artist myself (I sell buttons at the gallery), I’m looking forward to teaching surrounded by unique families and beautiful art!

For more information on individual summer 2016 childbirth classes, please see the events on my Facebook page or my calendar. Thank you and hope to see you at an upcoming class!