The Big Push for Midwives Campaign 2008

Cross-posted over at BlogHers Act.

Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, Paul and Huckabee aren’t the only ones hitting the campaign trail this winter. Thanks to a nonpartisan coalition of consumer advocates, The Big Push for Midwives – a campaign of a different variety, but equally as important – is pushing for the regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Midwife with mother and babyAccording to The Chicago Tribune, “Certified professional midwives, who are lay practitioners specializing in home births, are banned in 26 states… They fall under a different legal classification than certified nurse-midwives, advanced practice nurses who are licensed in all 50 states and work mainly in hospitals.”

Why is this important?

We live in an age where surgical birth via cesarean section (which is full of risks to both the mother and the baby) is becoming more and more common, while physiological birth (where labor starts spontaneously, progresses spontaneously without drugs, and birth happens spontaneously) is almost unheard of in many hospitals. Yet many women want the option of a physiological birth with a trained care provider (midwife) in a birthing center or in their own home. However, because of current laws, that option is not always available.

I believe that all women deserve the right to choose a maternity care provider that is best for their needs which is why The Big Push for Midwives is so important.

The Big Push for Midwives is a nationally coordinated campaign to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association Scope of Practice Partnership to deny American families access to legal midwifery care.

Our goals are to fully integrate the Midwives Model of Care into the health care systems of our states, to highlight the importance of family healthcare choices and to defend the ability of CPMs to provide legal and safe prenatal, birth and postpartum care to families in every state. Childbirth activists from the campaign’s participating states are pooling their collective resources and experience to coordinate and optimize advocacy efforts during 2008.

Amie Newman at RH Reality Check links midwifery and home birth with the rest of reproductive freedom, and believes that women should have the right to childbirth choices just as they do the right to abortion choices.

Hmmm. Sounds like reproductive justice to me. Substitute “abortion access” for “Midwives Model of Care,” “abortion providers” for “CPMs,” and “abortion care” for “prenatal, birth and postpartum care” and you can see how the underlying issues are essentially the same whether you’re talking about abortion rights or childbirth choices.

That is, whether we’re talking about provider choices for childbirth or access to abortion, it is not too much to ask that wherever women live in this nation, the options for reproductive health care are not effectively criminalized in some states and legal in others.

Jennifer Block at Pushed Birth notes that:

… the research data, as well as other countries that are caring for women and babies better than we are, show that midwives should be supporting normal labor and deliveries (the majority), while MDs should be caring for the complications, emergencies, and women with risk factors. This “division of labor” also happens to be far more cost-effective than our current system, which bleeds more cash for less care than any other in the world. The bottom line from a public health perspective: home-birth midwives should be legitimate care providers, not criminals.

Erika of Inspired Mama Musings headed out on her birthday of Jan. 24 with her two kids in tow to a peaceful protest at the capitol building in Idaho to support her local midwives, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

I am very fortunate and blessed to have had births attended by midwives and my hope is that the women and families of Idaho will always have that option.

Idaho is just one of 20 states that are introducing legislation or have legislation in the planning stages. Pennsylvania is another.

Annette of Natural Childhood also attended a rally supporting midwives at the capitol in Harrisburg, Penn., and included several pictures from the rally on her blog.

Our Bodies, Ourselves is also a supporter of The Big Push.

“This is the perfect time to insist that women in all communities have access to the option of midwifery care,” said Executive Director Judy Norsigian. “This would lower the number of unnecessary cesareans and enable many more women to enjoy the benefits of active support during labor and birth.”

Also worth noting is the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth” is due out in March and includes information about the benefits of midwifery. And there’s a great article on the Our Bodies, Ourselves web site that compares and contrasts the type of care typically provided by midwives vs. that provided by obstetricians.

The Midwives Model of Care, based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes, is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth and is in stark contrast to the standard Medical Model of Care. “The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.”

If you’re interested in advocating on behalf of licensing CPMs in your state, please check the list of state organizations and their various discussion lists and websites, where you can find out more information about how to get involved. If your state isn’t on this list and you’d like to get involved, you may email Katie Prown and she can point you to additional resources. You may also make a donation to The Big Push for Midwives Campaign.

Photo credit: Thanks to Homestyle Midwifery Care for this beautiful image.

12 thoughts on “The Big Push for Midwives Campaign 2008”

  1. It is sad that our society does not support midwives more. My husband was born with a midwife present, now that would be difficult to wrangle in some areas. I totally think it is a worthy cause.

  2. I went to the rally in Indianapolis…(I have a few pics on my blog)- It was a great experience and I’m excited to get involved. I had my son in a hospital, but am planning on a homebirth next time.

    Thanks for posting this and bringing awareness to the issue. It’s not an important issue just for homebirthing women, but for everyone who is concerned with our rights as humans.

  3. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this! My first son was born with a midwife and she was amazing, though a vry long drive away. We need more midwives in this country!

  4. i can’t imagine what i would have done without a midwife at my 2nd daughter’s birth. after my first “cattle call” experience with an overbooked, stressed out ob-gyn, i decided that was enough and made the switch. in richmond, there are only TWO practices (out of hundreds) where you can see a midwife and have them at your delivery. there is only ONE in the entire community who will do homebirths.

    i’ll do whatever i can to support this.

  5. I do not think there are nearly enough midwives. I myself had a midwife but it was 2 hospital deliveries which actually worked out to be a good thing because I had both my children with complications at the end. But I am thankful I at least got to have my birth’s my way and my birth plan followed for the most part. However I believe in this greatly because I would have loved to have a home birth.

  6. Midwives Rock!
    I just wanted to make myself available as a resource to those considering homebirth. I’m the oldest of five kids – all born at home. My husband and I tried to have a natural birth in the hospital with a doula for our first son in July of ’05 and it ended in an unnecessary cesarean section. Our midwife and doula attended HBAC in March of ’07 was a healing experience for everyone. I have both birth stories in word docs if anyone is interested.

  7. The best birth of all three kids was with a midwife who let me push when I felt like it rather than pushing with a deadline.

    No episiotemy. No tearing. Beautiful birth.

    Not that all my births weren’t beautiful, but this one was low key on the stress.

    Interestingly enough it was my only birth when we were on the military dime, in a military hospital. No push to have more patients give birth more quickly.

    Interesting, I never realized that.


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