Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Midwifery on My Mind

Lately, I've been working to get a bill passed through the Mississippi State Legislature that would allow for licensed Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to serve women in our state. 
Most of you know that my 2 children were born at home with CPMs.
We made this decision after MUCH research..
We read and read and read.
We met with OBs and Women's Hospitals across the entire region.
It wasn't until we met our midwives that we KNEW this is who our care provider would be.

There are many, many reasons I chose to give birth at home with a midwife.
Safety was obviously the biggest factor.
Research shows that for normal, healthy women with normal, healthy pregnancies that midwife-attended homebirth is just as safe if not SAFER than a hospital birth.
Globally, midwives care for the vast majority of women.
Only high-risk women are cared for by obstetricians.
And to be clear, I'm very grateful to live in a period in history when the option of a hospital, an OB and all the technology that is available for better outcomes for a high-risk pregnancy.
But also, this technology should only be used sparingly in such cases as a high risk pregnancy.
It should NOT be the norm.

I digress.
This is my soap box.
 But, the point is midwives are highly-specialized care providers in natural, normal child birth and pregnancy.
The level of care I received was superb.

So, this leads to my passion for midwifery and protecting women's right to have that option if they so choose.
Last year, a bill made it through the House of Representatives in Mississippi that would have made any midwife that was not a Certified Nurse Midwife illegal. Thus, home birth would have been illegal as CNM may only practice in a hospital under a physician in Mississippi (and most other places as well).
In response, we formed the Mississippi Friends of Midwives and the Mississippi Midwives Alliance formed as well. I am currently a board member of the MFOM which is the consumer representative for midwifery in Mississippi. We also decided that based on the national trend of midwifery regulation, that we should be proactive and draft our own bill.

Long story, short, HB207 was born.
 Fellow board member, Bianca Wooden put it so well in her description, that I'm going to quote her recent blog post.
This is the essence of our bill and of our motivation.

• Women give birth at home and hire direct entry midwives, the women of MS deserve a system that will allow them to verify the competency of a midwife and file a grievance against incompetent midwives.

• MS needs direct entry midwives , but we need to define what a direct entry midwife is exactly, and it makes sense to use the NARM (North American Registry of Midwives) recommended CPM (Certified Professional Midwife). We didn’t want this law to eliminate the midwives currently practicing, but we do want to move forward to improving our standards.

• Currently practicing midwives are vulnerable to prosecution under our current legal situation. In other states similar to our, midwives have been arrested and jailed.

• By having a law that defines a direct entry midwife, our state will be more protected against opposing forces introducing a law to restrict births to hospital only.



The thing is that it doesn't matter why *I* chose a homebirth with a midwife.
What matters is that the option was available to me.
By Supporting Midwifery in Mississippi, that option to make an educated decision and choose my own health care provider is preserved. No one should tell you how, where and with whom you should give birth. House Bill 207 needs to be passed so that women have confidence in the safety and qualifications of their care provider just as in any other branch of the health care field.

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