Step #1: A mother-friendly hospital, birth center, or home birth service offers all birthing mothers:
- Unrestricted access to the birth companions of her choice, including fathers, partners, children, family members, and friends;
- Unrestricted access to continuous emotional and physical support from a skilled woman-for example a doula, or labor-support professional;
- Access to professional midwifery care.
In order for mothers to feel satisfied with their birth they need to walk away from a birth feeling emotionally satisfied. That is what they will remember. When her feet were cold, when she was hungry, when someone made a rude comment, who held her hand... reasons why she needed someone. Those are the principles that build a beautiful birth story. If a women is supported in her educated birth choices and allowed the freedom to explore her birth, then fear is replaced with comfort and confidence.
Every mother is different requiring unique and tailored support. Most of today's care revolves around a standard time frame or outcome a birth should have to be "healthy" or satisfying. This cannot be the case with women who are individual in health and needs. Women are different and should be valued as such. There are many women who only want their husband present at their side. Some women want their whole family. More and more women are hiring doulas to stand behind them and encourage their birth. This is a right we have and should be respected. When supportive people can nurture a mother in the way SHE needs to be nurtured her birth becomes empowering to her self.
A birth place should have access to midwives. Midwives are trained to care for a mother and her birth experience, not just her "birth". Midwives offer mothers a priceless abundance of understanding. When a mother is understood... her birth experience with thrive!
For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit www.motherfriendly.org.