URBANA — When Anne DeAtley's first son was born, her long labor ended in a delivery method she'd rather have avoided: cesarean section.
Three years later, she'll be among the moms and others standing outside hospitals across the nation on Labor Day to take part in Improving Birth's National Rally for Change.
Locally, a rally is planned for outside Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday.
The local rally's organizer, DeAtley, a Savoy mother of two, said Carle isn't being singled out for attention about its maternity practices.
"The rallies are being held outside hospitals because that's where most women today give birth," she said. "We want to partner with hospitals. We're not angry with them."
Among some of the issues being raised in national rallies, DeAtley says:
— Obstetricians and hospitals should follow evidence-based maternity care practices for the best outcomes for moms and babies.
— Induced labor and cesarean deliveries should be used only when medically necessary, and never for the convenience of mothers and doctors.
— Continuous fetal monitoring can up the risk of cesarean births but hasn't been shown to increase fetal outcomes.
The cesarean risk rises with continuous monitoring, DeAtley said, because a baby's heart rate could slow down, the mom could be rushed to surgery, but the baby could bounce back in minutes.
C-section births in the U.S. rose 53 percent from 1996 to 2007, when they reached a record high at 33 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate was 32.8 percent of births last year.
Dr. John Weisbaum, Carle's medical director of women's health services, says Carle already follows evidence-based practices in maternity care.
Carle also helps laboring moms follow their birth plans, he said, but "a lot has to do with keeping mom and baby safe."
Among Carle's policies: There must be a clear, medical indication to induce labor or deliver by C-section, Weisbaum said.
Laboring mothers tend to be up on their feet and fetal monitoring is done only intermittently for laboring mothers unless they're considered high-risk, he said.
"We don't tie the moms to continuous fetal monitoring," he said.
Carle's 2010 total cesarean rate (including repeats for moms who have had first births by cesarean) was about 33 percent.
Carle's cesarean rate reflects the inclusion of Carle's Level III perinatal center, which serves a wide region, Weisbaum said. The sickest babies and moms in most of eastern Illinois wind up coming to Carle for care, he said.
"We deliver very high-risk moms, and very often they have to be delivered very early in their pregnancy to save the baby and often to save the moms," he said.
Cindy Reno, interim director of maternal child services at Provena Covenant Medical Center, said Covenant doesn't do elective cesareans and induced births before 39 weeks without medical necessity. The hospital's rate for induced labor and cesarean deliveries without medical necessity last year and this year to date is zero, she said.
Reno disagrees continuous fetal monitoring leads to more C-section births but said it's used at Covenant depending on whether the mother is high-risk or low-risk.
Covenant's sister hospital in Danville, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, doesn't take cesarean requests lightly but leaves those decisions up to doctors, says Sue Brown, director of obstetrics.
United Samaritans doesn't induce labor for a mother under 39 weeks into her pregnancy without medical necessity for the mother or baby, she said, but the hospital does do continuous fetal monitoring for the protection of the baby, Brown said.
"We don't want to lose a mom or baby due to fetal heart rate," she said.
Total cesarean rates at the Provena hospitals last year were 28 percent for Covenant and 27 percent for United Samaritans, according to those hospitals.
DeAtley said everyone in the community is welcome to join the rally.
For more information, see the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NationalRallyForChangeChampaignUrbanaIllinois.