Over 100 Chattanoogans took part in this year's second annual Rally to Improve Birth. There were more than 170 cities involved in the Labor Day event.
Families, healthcare providers and advocates in all 50 states came together to call for safer, evidence-based birth practices that put women and babies before profits, convenience and liability concerns. Their goal was to call attention to the crisis in American maternal healthcare.
Officials said, "Tennessee’s C-section rate of 32.8%, 17th highest in the country, is significantly higher than the 15% suggested by the World Health Organization as a highest recommended rate. Chattanooga's C-section rate is even higher than the state rate at 35.5% citywide. While some will point to older, more obese, less healthy mothers as the reason for such high rates of Cesarean surgery, research shows that the most variability in rates is currently among low-risk women, and the Joint Commission, the national accrediting body for hospitals, recently pointed to “physician factors” as the driving force in these differences.
"And, though the U.S. has the highest maternity care costs in the world, it ranks 45th in maternal safety, according to data from the United Nations, which lists our nation’s maternal death rate as tied with that of Iran and Hungary."
“We’re in a true crisis, with the highest costs in the world and some of the worst health outcomes related to childbirth,” said Dawn Thompson, president of ImprovingBirth.org, the mothers’ advocacy group organizing the rally. “Nine out of 10 American women receive care that increases the risks of harm to them and their babies. We must do better.”
Chattanoogans 'walked across the Walnut Street Bridge, through Coolidge Park, and then finished with an event inside the Walker Pavilion.
“With the rates we have here in Tennessee, you bet I am going to come out and support this event. Evidence based care is what people need everywhere, but especially here and especially during pregnancy and childbirth,” one mother of three said.
There were tables set up by local businesses, free refreshments and snacks, balloons and a large assortment of donated prizes.
Local organizers said they were more than pleased with this year's numbers. “It shows the message is getting out. Childbirth is the #1 reason for hospitalization in the U.S., and Caesarian sections are the #1 surgery performed in the country, said team member Adele Gant, “These costs are passed on to tax payers, who pay for 42 percent of births in the U.S.; not to mention the longer-term health costs for having some of the worst health outcomes among developed countries.”