Demonstrators call for change in birthing practices

Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

When Tara Abbott gave birth to her first child five years ago, her labor didn't progress naturally after her water broke. She was given drugs to induce the process.

"I didn't know I could say no," she said. "It was an awful birth."

So she did some research and when she delivered her second son eight weeks ago, she did so at home.

"It was amazing," she said. "It was exactly what I wanted. It was calm and peaceful. Even after my birthing team arrived, I didn't feel pushed or rushed. I felt loved instead of like just another number."

Abbott joined a handful of other activists in Carson City on Monday as part of a nationwide demonstration through Improving Birth to raise awareness of options when it comes to childbirth.

"Despite the dire situation, this is not a protest," said Dawn Thompson, founder of Improving Birth, in a press release. "It is a public awareness campaign to bring attention to the outdated practices that have been proven time and again to not be what is best for mothers and babies."

Demonstrators gathered at the corner of Carson Street and Medical Parkway, although participants said it was not aimed specifically at Carson Tahoe Health.

"We want to educate everybody," said Anne Vondruska, a doula or birthing coach. "Everybody can do better. Every hospital. I want to help families have better births."

Lenny Sue Tinseth, a certified midwife of 27 years, said common practices - including drug-induced labor and cesarean sections - aren't always the best.

"Protocols may not always be what's right for the mothers or their babies. "For low-risk mothers, giving birth outside of a hospital setting presents no higher risk in maternal or infant mortality. It reduces morbidity if they are attended by a trained practitioner."

She said her job empowers mothers.

"It's a great honor to be with a woman who's birthing in her own strength without drugs," she said. "It's a safer alternative to a hospital birth."

However, demonstrators urged, the best birth is the one the mother chooses.

"Where the mother is most comfortable, that's where she should be," Abbott said. "If that's in a hospital, she should be in the hospital."

Part of the mission of Improving Birth is to encourage hospital administrators to review birth-specific policies and procedures and to honor the wishes of the mother.

Matthew Ogan, who delivered all four of his children, joined Monday's demonstration. He said fathers play an integral role as well.

"I believe more men should step up and not be so scared," he said. "To bring my own kids into the world, to hold them right when they're born, that's awesome. It's a life-changing experience. If more men did it, I think we'd have a lot more support of women's rights."

Improving Birth

The Sierra Nevada Birth Network will host a Birth Fair on Nov. 3 at The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada. For more information, go to

For more information on Improving Birth, go to


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