August 16, 2021
Series: Why I Advocate - Blake Slusser
By: Blake Slusser | 0 Comments
Connecting the Dots is running a weekly series leading up to the Lamaze International 2021 Virtual Advocacy Summit on September 27-29. The virtual summit is an opportunity to connect with your fellow Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators from around the world, who will be meeting to address the most critical and timely policy issues that affect prenatal care and childbirth outcomes. In this series, blog readers will have an opportunity to meet perinatal professionals and read their personal essays on why they advocate for evidence based care, improved policies and funding that impact birth outcomes. You can find the entire "Why I Advocate" Series here. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Community Manager.
Why do I advocate? Honestly the list of reasons I advocate has grown so much over time.
While pregnant, I found myself scouring books and articles to fully understand all aspects of birth. I researched childbirth classes and jumped in feet first. I was well informed and advocated for myself during labor, birth, and postpartum. As a result, I experienced many things that were very uncommon 12 years ago that we know are healthier for babies like spontaneous labor, uninterrupted skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, and breastfeeding in the first hour, to name a few. When I shared these experiences with friends, I learned their births looked drastically different and probably understood for the first time how self-advocacy and education could have such a drastic impact on birth outcomes. After this realization, I decided to career switch into perinatal education.
Once I deepened my understanding of evidence-based birth practices, I saw even further the impact on maternal/fetal outcomes. Often when parents are left to make decisions in the middle of labor, it is almost impossible to fully understand benefits and risks. Lamaze childbirth classes give parents the information and tools necessary to make decisions in a manner that leaves them with a more positive birth experience. I believe that Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices help create a blueprint for safe birth, but also supports parent’s autonomy in making decisions that are right for their family.
I also advocate because I’m sad and angry at the state of maternity care in the United States. Birth should be safer for women now with all of our medical advances and technology, yet women are 50-percent more likely to die from pregnancy related complications today than their mothers were. In the United States, 700 birthing people die annually and black people are three-four times more likely to die than white birthing people. On a personal note, both my sister and I were both near misses during what should have been uncomplicated births. As a mother, I want better for me, for my friends and family, and for all birthing families.
About Blake Slusser
Blake Slusser is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, birth doula, yoga teacher, and trains new childbirth educators through her Lamaze Accredited Childbirth Educator Program Birthing Babies. The mission of her company is to improve access to evidence based childbirth education through parent and educator courses.
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