March 18, 2021
Women's History in Childbirth - Moments Worth Recognizing
By: Cara Terreri, LCCE, CD(DONA) | 1 Comments
March is Women's History Month. Today we look at the history of childbirth through the lens of women's rights in and around childbirth, and initiatives toward improvements in maternity care and infant health. While the timeline below isn't exhaustive, we hope you are able to take away a better understanding of what has happened in the last century of childbirth-- initiatives often lead by women and birthing families themselves!
Timeline of Childbirth Rights and Initiatives
1938 - The March of Dimes was formed, initially to help eradicate polio, ultimately organized to prevent birth defects.
1952 - Dr. Virginia Apgar developed the first standardized method to assess the status of a newborn, called the Apgar Score.
1956 - The first ever La Leche League meeting held to provide breastfeeding support.
1960 - The birth of formal childbirth education created by Elisabeth Bing and Marjorie Karmel, later to become Lamaze International.
1960s - Men (dads) were finally allowed in delivery rooms to be with their partners during birth.
1960s - The use of "twilight sleep" for pain relief in birth finally ended (it also caused loss of memory for mothers and infant health problems).
1960s - First contemporary use of a doula to assist and support birthing families.
1971 - The U.S. Supreme Court outlaws the practice of private employers refusing to hire women with pre-school children.
1974 - Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur determines it is illegal to force pregnant women to take maternity leave due to the assumption they are incapable of working in their physical condition.
1978 - The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans discrimination against women on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical issues.1981: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition
1986 - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) begins surveillance of maternal mortality.
1986 - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) initiates a national strategy to examine and prevent prematurity.
1992 - DONA International was formed, the first organization to certify doulas for labor support.
1999 - The White Ribbon Alliance is established to strengthen the safe motherhood movement.
1999 - Childbirth Connection releases The Rights of Childbearing Women (revised in 2006).
2000s - Studies on the routine use of enemas during labor found them to be unnecessary. Routine use is phased out.
2000s - Routine episiotomy during pushing found to be more harmful than helpful in most cases and is phased out. While it is still performed in the United States, it is not done routinely in most practices.
2001 - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) holds the first National Summit on Safe Motherhood.
2002 - Childbirth Connection releases the Listening to Mothers I survey report.
2006 - Childbirth Connection releases the Listening to Mothers II survey report.
2008 - Childbirth Connection releases the Listening to Mothers II: New Mothers Speak Out survey report.
2009 - The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) is launched as an organization focused on ending preventable maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide.
2011 - White Ribbon Alliance launches the Respectful Maternity Care Charter, based on the principle that respectful maternity care is every woman's right. As part of this, they create "Respectful Maternity Care: The Universal Rights of Childbearing Women."
2013 - Childbirth Connection releases the Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth survey report.
2015 - Childbirth Connection/National Partnership releases Pathway to a Healthy Birth.
2018 - Childbirth Connection releases the Listening to Mothers in California survey report.
2018 - The World Health Organization (WHO) releases recommendations "Intrapartum Care for a Positive Childbirth Experience."
TagsCara Terreri Advocacy Women's History Month