BirthNetwork National began in October 1999 when five mothers began brainstorming on how to improve maternity care in their local community. They formed a non-profit organization to support anyone seeking information, resources and support for healthy, respectful maternity care. Soon after, they discovered the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI), which was created by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), and realized that it was the evidence "backbone" to support the intuition behind their mission. BirthNetwork National is based on the MFCI, which outlines the principles of Mother-Friendly care in order to promote the safest, healthiest and most cost-effective maternity care. BirthNetwork National has evolved from one chapter in Southeast Michigan into a national organization with many chapters across the country. We are part of a growing movement of birth activists striving to bring peace and dignity to birth by helping empower women to make informed choices about their maternity care.
BirthNetwork National imagines a day when a woman learns that she is pregnant and her first impulse is to call her local Birth Network chapter for support and information on Mother-Friendly birth.
Mother-friendly birth is the norm. High-tech birth is seen as an unfortunate, yet necessary solution to a high risk situation. Women have access to qualified midwives and obstetricians who specialize in normal birth and can seek the care of obstetricians who specialize in high-risk care if it is deemed necessary. Women have equal physical and financial access to licensed birth centers, hospitals and home births.
Why is this vision so important? We believe that:
- Greater participation in birth leads to greater participation in parenting.
- Women have the right to experience birth in a way that maximizes self confidence and trust
in the wisdom of our bodies.
- Birth should not be a violation of women's rights as thinking, feeling human beings.
In order to affect the kind of change we envision, cultural attitudes towards women and birth must change. Physician and midwifery training programs must change. Research protocols in the field of maternity care must change. Women must be empowered to make informed choices about their maternity care, and they must have access to Mother-Friendly care.
We are helping to build a national grassroots movement committed to making this vision a reality. We know birth can be safe, satisfying and empowering and we know birth matters not only for a day, but for the rest of our lives and the lives of our children. Please join us as we work to make our vision a reality.