ARTICLE I – ESALI BIRTH PHILOSOPHY
Section 1. The Esali Birth Philosophy contains the core values pertaining to the overall health and well-being of the family unit surrounding the perinatal stages. It is with this philosophy that all outreach programs are founded. All members, the Executive Director, Elected Members, Appointed Volunteers, and any one affiliated with carrying out the outreach programs of the ESALI FAMILIES organization are required to sign a statement of agreement signifying that they will act for the ESALI FAMILIES organization’s interests and not of their own by following the Esali Birth Philosophy and may be removed from their position if they demonstrate misalignment with the Esali Birth Philosophy values.
Section 2. We believe in positive beautiful birth experiences. We believe that every mother and baby can have a positive empowering birth experience but respect our culture’s challenges that can make this difficult, which is also why we believe in the importance of perinatal (that is, complete – pregnancy through postpartum) education for this to occur. The following simplifies our stance on what we believe to be the most important aspects of the perinatal period.
Section 3. We believe in instinctual birth experiences. We believe every mother knows how to birth and if allowed to instinctually birth would take part in a beautiful and empowering experience. We believe providing knowledge to our community allows them to be removed of cultural stigmas and fear tactics placed on many of us by society. We believe in trusting birth for the normal process that it is and believe in the parent’s rights and abilities to make good decisions for their perinatal experience from the type of birth to prepare for, whom to bring into their birth space, and when to seek help and guidance for their specific situation.
ARTICLE I – RESPONSIBILITY & EDUCATION
Section 1. We stress the importance of being responsible for your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. We believe that because of the culture we live in, it is imperative to not only learn about the perinatal experience, but actively research information – even when provided in a classroom setting or from a trusted friend, professional, or care provider. Education and understanding does not end with a small conversation about a topic. Only the individual can take responsibility to learn. Only the individual can research for themselves. The individual has the power to create a positive birth experience. We believe a mother should accept this wonderful gift to birth her baby with conscious choices creating the best scenario for her specific situation.
ARTICLE II – PREGNANCY
Section 1. We believe that substances, emotions, and the complete prenatal experience directly affect the childbirth, postpartum, and parenting experience. Everything from type of conception (planned, un-planned, or through a course of natural or medicated family planning) to nutrition, movement, stress, parental relationship, environment, and perspective of “traditional symptoms” of the prenatal period will affect your birth and your options for birth. We believe that nutrition is extremely important to staying low risk during pregnancy, and having a normal birth. We do not believe mothers are required to follow a specific prenatal diet, but strongly encourage understanding nutrients-related conditions throughout this period, and promote well balanced food selections of whole foods and a variety of colored vegetables and fruits as an optimal starting point for physical and emotional health.
ARTICLE III – CARE PROVIDERS
Section 1. We believe that every mother has the right to birth with the care provider, if she desires a provider, of her choice. We strongly support the option of a midwifery model of care for normal births and using surgical care providers (obstetricians) for the other small percentage of high risk pregnancies. Additionally, we believe the optimal situation is created when a mother has a compatible care provider, and interviewing multiple providers is a part of the selection process. Furthermore, when selecting a low-risk provider, we also feel that it behooves the mother to interview and select a high-risk provider should that scenario arise.
ARTICLE IV – BIRTH LOCATIONS
Section 1. We believe birth location strongly impacts the birth experience. We believe that every mother has the right to birth in a location of her choice. Home birth should be an option in every community, and we believe this option to be as safe as, with less intervention than, hospital birth. We believe the parents should research and choose the location that is most compatible with their situation and comfort level.
ARTICLE V – ULTRASOUNDS & PRENATAL ROUTINES
Section 1. We believe in the reduction of “routines” but the choice of utilizing options should the medical need arise. We strongly believe that simply because something is an option, does not conclude that it is always safe or should be used. We believe non-invasive routines can provide information that may be valuable for routine care; however, with any test and routine, a mother should ask herself “What will I do with the information obtained?” Furthermore, our stance on ultrasounds is that they are not an optimal choice for routine testing. They provide short and long term risks and a level of inaccuracy that should be considered when deciding to use this procedure. We believe that ultrasounds should only be used when medically necessary (which does not include estimating an approximate birth date or determining fetal gender).
ARTICLE VI – BIOLOGICAL CHILDBIRTH
Section 1. We believe that biological, otherwise known as “natural,” normal, or non-intervened vaginal, spontaneous birth is optimal in most births. We believe options during the prenatal period, specifically nutrition and stress, directly affect the ability to birth normally. Everything from stripping the membranes, cervical ripening, induction (medical or otherwise), AROM, augmentation…etc. has a direct affect on the birth experience, the mother, and the baby. We believe mothers should have the option to birth biologically, even when they surpass an “overdue” date. We believe a positive approach to instinctive labor and birth will also affect the ability to birth biologically, including augmentation, labor positions, birth environment, support system, care provider, birth location, and many other factors. We believe that mothers should be able to choose the birth they desire after being fully informed of their options and alternatives. We also believe a birth guide (plan, wish list…etc) may help guide the birth team, but should be utilized once the support system and birth location have been carefully chosen.
ARTICLE VII – BIRTH PARTNERS
Section 1. We strongly support fathers being present in the birth experience, and the support of experienced professionals (doulas) for the birth experience, as long as they are promoting a positive atmosphere for the mother. We believe that a mother should be able to choose whomever she wishes to be present at her birth, including older siblings. We believe that those experiencing the birth have a direct affect on the mother, and the mother should choose only those that will promote a positive environment for her birth. We believe the birth partner (father, or other significant other that has the closest relationship to the birthing mother and baby) has a tremendous emotional impact on the mother, even when not physically supporting the mother but should be allowed and guided to participate throughout the experience as much as possible.
ARTICLE VIII – POSTPARTUM
Section 1. We believe the hour following birth is one of the most important times for the baby and mother and should not be interfered with unless medically indicated (no matter what type of birth the mother and baby experienced). We believe the baby should be with a parent, preferably the mother, unless medically indicated. The ability to have unrestricted bonding between the mother and baby affects uterine involution, breastfeeding, bonding, breathing, and many other vital factors in the mother and baby’s relationship, and the baby’s well-being. Cord clamping, vaccinations, circumcision, and other postpartum routines should be researched with as high regards as any other choice during this time. The postpartum period is a delicate time in a new family’s life, and positive support is important. The mother should choose wisely those that experience this postpartum time, and request support of caring friends and family that can assist with this transition. We promote the idea of a “babymoon” that allows the mother and father to bond closely with their new addition, and increases bonding and the respect and understanding of the newborn’s needs.
ARTICLE IX – BREASTFEEDING
Section 1. We believe breastfeeding is the final phase of, not and not a separate issue from, the birth experience. We believe that breastfeeding is the normal, natural, and optimal source of infant feeding for at least the first 6 months of life, and encourage extended breastfeeding until at least 2 years. We believe breastfeeding is a public health issue. We believe the mother’s physical and emotional health (during breastfeeding and prior to breastfeeding) directly affects the breastfeeding experience. We believe that the birth experience, and artificial nipple usage, significantly affects lactogenesis. We believe a supportive culture, positive education, and positive support is significantly beneficial to a mother’s successful breastfeeding experience and the lack of these detrimentally affects the breastfeeding experience.