90th Anniversary Symposium of Childbirth Connection Early last Thursday morning my alarm clock woke me when the sky was still a dark purple, and the morning birds were still fast asleep. It was time to hit the road and drive down to Washington D.C. to attend the 90th Anniversary Symposium of Childbirth Connection’ s yearly project, Transforming Maternity Care. This was a wonderful conference where ideas for the future and improvements in maternity care were worked on by a wide variety of health care professionals, lawyers, policy makers, consumers, childbirth educators, doulas, activists, media representatives and organizations who are involved in many areas of maternity care. Together we moved towards what Childbirth Connection calls their Blueprint for Action – a plan of steps that we can focus on in the next year. A large focus in this initiative is to change public policy, and in doing so, change maternity care. The workgroups based the areas for change on the Quality Chasm that is produced by the Institute of Medicine. Their studies show that there is a large gap from where the quality of our heath care is, and where is should optimally be. The six goals that this report states that healthcare should be are: safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable. I think these are very necessary issues that seem simple on paper and in theory, but employing them all in every institution of healthcare in the United States is a very challenging process. There is a very relevant and interesting report on nation-wide maternity care that you can read here that outlines all that is wrong with our system, and also all that we can do to help change our system http://www.childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/evidence-based-maternity-care.pdf. There are many other countries that are more progressive and advanced in their success with improving maternity care, and even though we have overcome numerous challenges, it would still behoove us to look at their practices and incorporate international action plans and models as we move forward. We have to recognize that there are so many practices that have strong research that support their effectiveness and yet are underused in the U.S., for example, continuous support throughout labor (such as provided by a doula), measures that increase comfort and facilitate labor progress, upright and side-lying positions for giving birth, delayed cord clamping, and early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. As Carol Sakala, lead report author and Director of Programs of Childbirth Connection says, “Hundreds of rigorous systematic reviews of best evidence assess the safety and effectiveness of maternity practices. Yet, all too often the evidence is ignored.” Check out the project diagram http://www.childbirthconnection.org/pdf.asp?PDFDownload=transforming-mat… and see how the Childbirth Connection is strategizing this enormous task that they have in front of them. They do incredible work solely by interviewing leaders in the health field and in health management – one cannot fix a problem without understanding how it functions and why a structure functions as it does. The formation of particular workgroups then separates the problems into specialties so that the utmost attention can be given to certain fields. The symposium was a great time for everyone to share their work on maternity care so that we can all come together, even from all of the different fields of healthcare, in the one main goal of improving our system.