Volume 6, Issue 3 – July 2005
Welcome to IWL’s eNews designed to inform and inspire you about the progress of our global leadership community and commitments.
1) Alumni Profile – Sheila Harrell, FedEx Corporation
Once I understood me again and what is really important to me, then what I cared about fell back into place naturally. I am now happier and calmer. I no longer buy into the fact that I must move to the next expected position in order to be considered successful. I am successful now with all I have currently accomplished because what I have accomplished to date is what I wanted to do.
2) Coach’s Column – Cultivating a Reflective Practice by Ellen Wingard
Mercola.com is an alternative/complimentary web site that focuses on wellness, including nutrition, exercise, emotional balance, etc. Dr. Joseph Mercola comments on published research results with his point of view as an osteopath. The site has an excellent search function that allows you to search on a wide variety of health and wellness topics.
B. Home Birth by Sandy Caldwell
The results of a large, prospective study (published in the British Medical Journal) provide further evidence that home can be better than hospital for giving birth, when supported by a certified midwife.
The research was based on the outcomes of 5,418 births in women who intended to give birth at home with the help of a direct entry midwife when labor began. Rates of neonatal and intrapartum mortality were similar to those detected in most studies of low-risk hospital births in the same region, while the incidence of medical interventions, including epidural, episiotomy, and forceps, vacuum, and cesarean delivery, were significantly reduced.
“The evidence supports the American Public Health Association’s recommendation to increase access to out of hospital maternity care services with direct entry midwives in the USA,” comment study authors Kenneth Johnson (Public Health Agency of Canada) and Betty-Anne Daviss (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Canada).
ObGynWorld.com article (requires login and registration)
PubMed article(no registration required)
I read the article above and grappled with the challenges of giving birth within the US healthcare system which does not systematically provide a full spectrum of health care options for women. I’m referring to the disconnect between midwives and OBs and the difficult, sometimes hostile environment in which most homebirth midwives must provide services.
Worldwide statistics place the US 17th in terms of maternal mortality and 7th in terms of infant mortality (source: UNICEF and World Health Organization).
Most other countries that have better outcomes for mothers and babies have midwives integrated into the healthcare delivery system. Midwives provide care for ‘low-risk’, generally healthy women. Midwives refer to obstetricians those who are considered high-risk or whom are not well and need the additional specialized care.
Part of what is causing the disconnect in the US is our economic model, which sometimes blurs and obscures the benefits of certain care, etc., for financial gain.
If you read the full research results in PubMed, you’ll notice that giving birth at home for the low-risk woman is not only safer, it cost 3x less than giving birth in the hospital. Imagine if even 20% of women in the US gave birth at home (there are over 4.2 million babies born each year in the US ) what a cost savings that would be!
Based on our economic model, women (and men) in the USA who want the very best healthcare for women and infants will be most successful at causing the long overdue changes necessary by demanding it as healthcare consumers . When economic pressure is brought to bear in our system, change occurs.
I invite you to:
• Learn about your options for your reproductive health and the health of your infant children.
• Become educated about the current state of affairs with regard to women’s health care and midwifery specifically in your local area.
• Contact your local political representatives to demand that women’s and infants’ healthcare be made a higher priority in legislation.
• Locate the midwives in yourcommunity (some work in the home, birth center or hospital environments) and become familiar with their services and offerings, especially if you are a healthy, ‘low-risk’ woman.
• Use midwifery care for birth AND wellness if you’re considered a ‘low-risk’ woman.
• Contact your insurer and confirm that midwifery care (for birth and wellness) is covered by them. If not, put in writing to the insurer and your employer your request for midwifery care to be covered.
Sandy Caldwell is San Francisco Peninsula-based IWL alumna, certified birth/postpartum doula, childbirth mentor-candidate and activist. She is passionate about women’s healthcare and continually educates herself on these topics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
4) A Note from Rayona
The time has come to celebrate my daughter’s successful graduation from high school and trek to San Diego State University. No matter how much you plan for or hear about this important rite of passage there is nothing that equals the actual emotional experience. Many of you have walked this important journey with me as I embraced the very important job of child-rearing while building the Institute for Women’s Leadership as a legacy, for not only Chelsea, but all children who stand to gain from our leadership. Thank you for your partnership, love and support over the years.
I have always said that I want Chelsea to inherit a workplace that provides the same kind of nourishment for her full potential as she received at home. Yes, things have improved in the past 18 years but not nearly enough.
I remain committed to the vision that a sustainable world is only possible through the full partnership of women and men; the workplace is a perfect environment to forge that partnership. Until Chelsea graduates and moves into the workplace full time I will continue to lead IWL to fulfill that mission. I don’t envision ‘retiring’ from my life’s work, but once she has acquired her first post-college job, gets married and has kids, I will re-evaluate how much time I spend at IWL versus being the best grandma I can be to the next generation. Needless to say I’ll be around for a while!
Speaking of next generation, IWL’s Helen Waters birthed to a beautiful daughter named Alexandra Kendal Waters. She arrived June 10 at 11:57pm, weighed 6lbs. 8oz and was18 inches long. She’s a real beauty and other than keeping her parents up at night for feeding and cuddling, she, her big brother Wyatt and Daddy Crick are all doing really well. Helen will remain on maternity leave until mid-September and we miss her very much. We also love the fact that she and her family are experiencing an extended welcoming and transitioning process with Alex.
Summer marks the launch of the fabulous new book that I have contributed to, Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership. It has received rave reviews and I just completed a highly successful book launch in Honolulu as a guest of the Oahu YWCA.
WLC alumna Cheryl Ka’uhane Lupenui, president and CEO of the YWCA sees both Enlightened Power and Contextual Leadership as cornerstones in the world-class curriculum at their soon-to-be renovated Leadership Center . We will also be convening a book launch at Stacey’s Book Store in San Francisco , CA and the Eileen Fisher store in Palo Alto , CA later this Summer.
We’ve just returned from Alaska where we continue to work with the amazing women from Alyeska Pipeline Services (APS). They now have a community of over 70 women who have participated in either Women Leading Change or our one-day program, High Performance Leadership (.pdf). APS has also made the work of Contextual LeadershipT available to several not-for-profits in Alaska as an expression of their commitment to being partners in the larger Alaskan community.
As you know I have the great pleasure of sitting on the Women’s Leadership Board (WLB) at the Kennedy Schoolof Government at Harvard. This Spring I joined some WLB colleagues and convened a special leadership day for students seeking master’s degrees in public leadership. I was also invited to present at the Stanford Graduate School of Business Women’s Leadership Club and find that working with young college women really makes my heart sing. They have such a huge appetite for making a difference and they ask the best questions! We are committed to working with Harvard and Stanford in future endeavors and share it with you as it unfolds.
Our Executives Leading Sustainable Change (ELSC) program continues to exceed even our highest expectations.The leaders have created a community of support unlike any I have ever seen in the executive ranks of corporate America.
Thanks to their inspired leadership, IWL has been invited to work with their teams and organizations on truly groundbreaking work in culture change and high performance leadership. We plan to be publishing some success stories so that other companies can see what is really possible when women and men forge true partnership in the service of a powerful vision.
I want to close this letter with a strong encouragement that you pay particularly close attention to your health and well-being. I had a recent scare that awakened me to taking better care of myself. I am eating a very healthy diet, exercising every day, completing all of my annual medical exams and generally enlisting friends and family to help keep me fit and conscious of the gift of good health. If we don’t take care of ourselves we are not much good for others. I dodged a bullet this time and learned my lesson, so please listen to the wisdom of experience.
I will be on vacation for the month of August but am reachable if you have an opportunity to call or send an email. I consider hearing from you one of the blessings that keeps me happy and present to the difference I have been fortunate to make in so many lives.
Here’s wishing you the best summer ever and lots of love and appreciation from all of us at IWL!
Take care and God bless,
Rayona Sharpnack, CEO and founder