A Historic Time of Change At this historic time of the inauguration of Barack Oboma, our 44th President of the United States, we are called to create change in our nation, our communities, in our lives and to see the value and power of grass roots efforts. As Margaret Mead said: Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I have seen these words in action as grass root organization around the world work to create optimal motherbaby models of maternity care. We must consider how we care for and support women during pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting. Mother’s babies and families must be added to the agenda for change. In the discussion about affordable health care for all, we must also look to how to improve outcomes and reduce costs of maternity care, which effect over 4 million women, babies and families each year. Childbirth Connection writes: ‘23% of those discharged from hospitals are childbearing women or newborns. 6 of the 15 most common hospital procedures in the entire population involve childbirth. Cesarean section is the most common operating room procedure. Maternal and newborn hospital charges ($86 billion in 2006) far exceed hospital charges for any other condition. Private insurers pay for 49% of births, and Medicaid for 43%.’ Read: Childbirth Connection Issues Statement on Maternity Care Priorities in Health Care Reform www.Childbirthconnection.org In addition Citizens for Midwifery, CfM’s Statement to the Obama Transition Team- Maternity Care: A Priority for Health Care Reform http://cfmidwifery.org/pdf/CfMStatementObamaTeamFINAL200901_doc.pdf In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. The way a baby comes into the world has implication on his/her short and long term health. The way a women gives birth has the power to transform and empower her. We must make mothers, babies and families a priority as they are our future. Too many women are facing depression and trauma from birth instead of ecstasy. The effects of the medicalization of birth leave many of our mothers and babies without the skin to skin bonding that leads to optimal care and relationships. I challenge you to look outside of the confines of what we have been told about childbirth and look to what is possible. To view birth from the babies perspective and together we can find ways to provide all women with options to have their babies where and with whom they feel safe and welcome each new baby with love, respect and nurturing care.