Best Expectations

. August 29, 2013.

When it comes to supreme tests of physical and emotional strength, child birth represents the pinnacle for many women. It follows, logically, that the experience
should be as stress-free for mom, baby, and everyone else involved as possible.

But that’s not always the case.

“I really wasn’t aware of my options with my first son’s birth,” says Carla DeVries of Saline, mom of Owen, 4, and Jace, 8 months. “So for my second baby, I did as much research as I could on childbirth.” Through a friend, she found out about Improving Birth (, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about evidence-based maternity care and educating women on their rights during pregnancy and childbearing. According to founder Dawn Thompson, “It’s about women 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.”
Carla had her second child, like her first, with the help of an OB/GYN, but with a difference. “I learned that certain procedures considered ‘routine’ didn’t necessarily need to be done,” she says. “I talked through my choices with my doctor, but I had the information I needed to do what was right for me and my baby, and I knew my rights.”

She became Improving Birth’s local, Ann Arbor coordinator for the organization’s meetings, distribution of information, and the big, second annual event. “There are local chapters in all 50 states, and Labor Day is designated as a day for a peaceful rally,” she says. The Ann Arbor gathering will be one of more than 150 events across the nation and internationally, held the day before Labor Day, on Sunday, September 1, next to the Burns Park playground; details are below and can also be found on the group’s Facebook page(

“We’re having a fair with plenty of info so that you can learn what evidence-based care is all about,” she says. “You can meet and talk to the many practitioners in the area, and we’ll also have kids’ activities and a free yoga demonstration.”

Improving Birth Fair, Sunday, September 1, 10 am-2 pm, Ann Arbor Senior Center, 1320 Baldwin Ave, Ann Arbor. For details, search “improving birth Ann Arbor” on Facebook, or
go to