Founded 10 years ago by local doula Élan McAllister, Choices in Childbirth is a New York City-based non-profit dedicated to providing expecting mothers with a wide variety of information on the entire birthing process.
“Choices in Childbirth focuses on three core areas: policy, advocacy, and education,” says Michele D. Giordano, Choices in Childbirth’s executive director. “We really aim to help women understand all of their options—we not only provide information about what services exist in New York, we also encourage women to really think about their choices.”
As a growing advocacy group, Choices in Childbirth works to reform maternal health care through policy work (last fall they released a report on the state of doula care in NYC) and also works to support New York City women in taking control of the birthing process.
“[Élan], the founder of Choices in Childbirth, witnessed first-hand as a doula women’s options and choices being stripped away from them laboring in a hospital,” Giordano says. “She really felt that New York needed a maternal health organization that could really help women and do advocacy at this level.”
Seeking to help both first-time mothers and women that have already had several children, Choices in Childbirth serves as an excellent educational source on array of topics spanning from the moment a woman discovers she’s pregnant until well after the baby is born, such as birth plans and breastfeeding.
Although most women still opt to have their child delivered in a hospital setting, Choices in Childbirth also promotes the exploration of less traditional alternatives such as home birth.
“I think most of the women choosing to do a home birth come to that choice for different reasons,” Giordano says. “I recently spoke with a new mother who decided to have a home birth. She had mentioned that with all of the literature she was reading emphasizing the importance of laboring at home for as long as possible, cutting out the hospital entirely seemed practical to her.”
Obviously, if you’re considering a home birth, the first step is confirming that the pregnancy will be low-risk with no complications. From that point, Choices in Childbirth will guide through the options from choosing medical professionals to the overall planning of the birth itself.
Choices in Childbirth shares much of its information through an annually published pamphlet, the “Guide to a Healthy Baby,” as well as educational workshops for pregnant women. The workshops, which are growing increasingly popular with women around the city, span topics from “How to Have a Great Hospital Birth,” to “How to Build a Strong Birth Team.”
The most attended workshop, “How to Have a Great Hospital Birth,” uses insights from both new parents and medical professionals to show expecting mothers that they can have the birth experience they truly want in the hospital.
Choices in Childbirth also works to give expecting mothers knowledge regarding building a birthing team, including doulas or midwives.
“Research has shown that the benefits to having a doula are very large,” Giordano says. “A doula is really by the woman’s side the entire time. She meets with her multiple times before the baby is born, she helps with the birth plan and is present when the woman is going through labor and ultimately birth.”
To learn more about Choices in Childbirth, visit choicesinchildbirth.org.