The International Childbirth Initiative (ICI)

by Bonita Katz, BA RN ICCE ICBD IAT CLC

I have been a bit of a vagabond in my adult life. I’ve lived in six different states and traveled to three different continents. One thing I’ve learned is that standards of maternity care vary widely. How long after rupture of amniotic membranes before interventions take place – twelve hours? Eighteen?Twenty-four? Or does your facility simply monitor mom for signs of infection? Variations of standards for eating and drinking during labor, administering intravenous fluids, and a myriad of other practices can make anyone’s introduction to maternity care confusing and frustrating. What is really necessary? What is evidence-based?

The International Childbirth Initiative (ICI) seeks to set international standards of safe and respectful maternity care. ICEA’s endorsement of this initiative was announced at the 2018 ICEA conference. You will find videos that clarify the twelve steps of the ICI on their website. The ICI has now been incorporated into our certification programs.

Part of what we do as childbirth educators and doulas is to teach consumers to navigate the health care system. We not only define terms and explain procedures; we also encourage them to understand and engage in their decision-making role. As new parents clarify their personal values we must also help them learn how to advocate for themselves.

In addition to educating and supporting new parents, we can also influence the standards of care in our communities. Do we foster relationships with healthcare providers that allow for honest, open dialogue? Do we see ourselves as part of a healthcare team that strives to give the best care to each person we see?

The International Childbirth Initiative offers an objective standard for safe, respectful care that can be achieved even in remote, impoverished areas. Use it in your community to spark discussions about quality of care. Join other ICEA certified professionals as we seek to fulfill our vision of “a nurtured world through professionals trained in family-centered maternity and newborn care.”