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Coalition to improve maternity services. (Pregnancy & Birth).

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) was established in 1996 as a collaborative effort among a broad spectrum of maternity service providers, including midwives, physicians, nurses, childbirth educators, labor support providers, postpartum doulas, and lactation consultants. ALACE has long supported the work of CIMS, and I currently serve on the leadership team of CIMS' board of Directors.

In its first five years, the work of the coalition focused on the creation and implementation of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth initiative (MFCI), which provides guidelines for identifying and designating "mother-friendly" birth sites including hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth services. The initiative outlines ten steps for mother-friendly care and includes a requirement for birth sites to also qualify as "baby-friendly" according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines.

After several years in development, it was exciting to officially launch the Mother-Friendly Designation Pilot Program at the CIMS annual meeting last February. Representatives from pilot test sites came to the meeting to describe their commitment to mother-friendly birth and to pick up their official confirmation as pilot sites. We anticipate that at least one of the sites in the Pilot Program will qualify for Mother-Friendly status within the next few months.

I believe that CIMS provides a very inspiring model for achieving tangible change in how consumers and providers define normal birth. As a coalition, it includes individuals and organizations from many different backgrounds working toward a common goal. And this goal will be achieved by a combined effort from consumers and providers, which is an essential partnership.

As ALACE childbirth educators and labor assistants, you can make a huge difference by educating your clients about CIMS. Your clients, in turn, will be able to lobby hospitals and birth centers to become mother-friendly, which will affect real change in the care of mothers, babies, and families across the United States.

What can you do to bring Mother-Friendly birth to your community?

* Encourage hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth services in your community to apply for Mother-Friendly Designation. You can download the entire Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative at, or contact CIMS to receive a hard copy.

* Distribute CIMS brochures to your clients and other expectant parents. The contents of CIMS' brochure "Having a Baby? Ten Questions to Ask" appears on the following pages of Special Delivery. The actual brochure is laid out to appeal to many different reading levels and includes a space for childbirth educators and labor assistants to list their own contact information. I think it does an excellent job of providing consumers with a framework for communicating with their providers, and it helps to make providers aware of the ten steps for mother-friendly birth.

* Join a CIMS Committee, or attend the 2002 CIMS Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA the weekend of February 22-24, 2002.

* Make a financial contribution to support the important work of CIMS. Contributors will receive a copy of the MFCI video, a seven-minute piece that explains the ten steps and is a nice addition to childbirth classes. More information on supporting CIMS appears in the brochure stapled inside this edition of Special Delivery.
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Title Annotation:Coalition for Improving Maternity Services
Author:Porter, Jessica
Publication:Special Delivery
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2001
Previous Article:Baby-friendly hospital initiative improves breastfeeding initiation rates in a U.S. hospital setting. (Breastfeeding).
Next Article:Having a baby? Ten questions to ask. (Pregnancy & Birth).

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