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As a woman, birth professional, advocate, and mom, I have seen, heard, and expereinced, maternity care from nearly every angle. The end of pregnancy can be filled with so much excitment and anxiety. It also can be filled with pressures and decision-making. It can be confusing trying to sort through what your intuition says verses what your family and friends tell you and your provider's recommendations.
My mission is simple: reduce the unnecessary induction and cesarean rate by helping pregnant families make safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies.
I've spent nearly 20 years dedicated to making birth better for families and advocating for evidence-based, respectful care.
I am not anti hospital or doctor. This isn’t about natural birth vs. medicated birth. It’s not about hospital birth vs. birth center or homebirth. It’s about pregnant people being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives – then, within that decision, being treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.
My advocacy journey started like so many others, when I had my first child. At 20 years old, I was completely unprepared for childbirth. I thought that you went to the OB your insurance sent you to, then you go to a childbirth class offered at the hospital and then the doctor would tell you everything else you needed to know. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When labor started, like so many anxious first-timers do, I stayed up all night, pacing the floors, trying to “keep it going”. Then I went to the hospital much too early. After 24 hours of pretty much every intervention available and cords attached to me coming from what seemed like every direction, they said my daughter was in distress, and I needed a cesarean.
After the birth, I heard things like, “Back in the day, you would have been one of those women who died in childbirth,” and “Your pelvis was just too small. The baby would have never come out”. I believed every bit of it.
That birth set the tone for my next birth, three years later. I was determined to have a vaginal birth, but everyone thought I was crazy. My nurse came into the room regularly offering me interventions I was clear I didn’t want and then proceeded to tell me that I was putting myself through this for nothing. By the time my doctor came in, it didn’t take much for him to convince me to give up. I felt I was broken.
In 2003, my journey into advocacy and birth work began with devine intervention. I witnessed some of the most awe-inspiring moments one could imagine over the years, but I also was a silent witness, seeing firsthand the challenges facing families trying to navigate this broken system. A system that is built on a fear of liability, a system that has major financial motivation, and a system that is convinced that more interventions fix both these things.
The dramatic difference between what national guidelines and research said, verses what I witnessed happening in hospitals, was infuriating. I watched as women were coerced into interventions they didn’t want or need, then sat with them in the aftermath as they cried over the loss and trauma they felt.
Thankfully there were doctors in my community that I had the privilege of working with who practiced evidence-based, respectful care. They were the shining lights and proof that it was entirely possible to be both safe and reverent.
Through social media, I learned that these deeply embedded yet outdated practice patterns were happening in every town in America and beyond. I couldn’t stand by any longer. Something had to change.
So, in 2011, I embarked on what would be the most courageous act of my life, leading a small group of passionate people in organizing the first Rally to Improve Birth in 110 cities in 46 states. That effort grew into a movement that is now ImprovingBirth.
Since the inception in March of 2012, ImprovingBirth has grown to be the largest consumer advocacy organization for maternity care in the nation. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead an incredible team in:
• 6 years of organizing the Rally to Improve Birth in all 50 states, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Mexico
• Partnering with and working to organize events like March for Moms and Mom Congress, helping to push important maternal health and maternal mental health legislation through• Producing and inciting thousands of news stories, including major news outlets like The Washington Post, Vogue, The Daily Beast, and Huffington Post that have passed in front of millions of eyes, having immeasurable impact• Generating the first ever obstetric violence campaign in the nation that garnered over 7 million clicks and went on to inspire other countries to do the same• Creating a free downloadable toolkit that empowered birthing families to advocate for themselves - used by more than 3000 people since 2018
My life has been amazing, and I will be forever grateful I listened to that still small voice that has lead me to my passion.
Social media and the internet have become my tools for inspiring a birth revolution.
Childbirth is unpredictable but, you have the power to shape your experience and arm yourself with information.
This website is devoted to you, and I am so glad you’re here.
Dawn has been featured in major publications including Vanity Fair Italy, Huffington Post, local news outlets, Dr. Stu's podcast, Progressive Parenting, and the Daily Beast.