By Danielle, contributing writer
Nearly a quarter of states license certified professional midwives or “lay” midwives, while all have certified certified nurse midwives for birth. Even so, access to the natural birth that a mother desires is not available everywhere in the United States.
As States move to license CPM’s now, including my home state of Illinois, it’s worth visiting the idea of why we even want midwives to be regulated.
I would like to say no – that birthing is a natural human phenomenon that should be totally free in every way, but the reality is that we live in a regulated society.
And, as mothers, we need access to some of the things that regulation “allows” today. Like emergency Pitocin for postpartum hemorrhage, pain killer for vaginal tissue repairs, and the fact that it’s best mothers have a legal birth to avoid possible legal ramifications. So, I will give a reluctant yes, we need midwives regulated today to give mothers the most and best birth choices.
Legal Ramifications of No Regulation
Without regulation, midwives just doing their birthing thing can be found as practicing medicine without a license, and be served a cease and desist, fined or even jailed. This has happened to a number of midwives in a number of states, and it’s awful.
Mothers may also worry about legal backlash against their midwife or even themselves for having a homebirth, although unassisted births (births without a medical provider present) are legal in every stte.
Real Mother’s Stories of Midwife Access
My first birth was in Wyoming when CPM’s were just liecensued. I had a homebirth with a CNM and two CPM’s working under. My second birth was in Illinois, where only CNM’s are currently licensed. During the first half of my pregnancy, I received care in the Chicago burbs where I had ample access to certified midwives. When I moved an hour west mid-pregnancy, I no longer had access to certified midwives in my area. I even asked if they would travel if I paid them double (no!). The hospitals in my area are not tolerant to natural methods, and there are no birthing centers within two hours of me. So, I chose to have a homebirth with an out of state licensed provider. I wish that I didn’t have to jump through all those hoops, and could have a closer, legal option. My midwife arrived 15 minutes before my son was born (safely and perfectly into his father’s arms).
What can you do to help?
There are a number of associations in the U.S. to push the licensing of CPM’s. Check out this list to see who is active in your area.
Your state’s informed consent or parental rights groups on Facebook, MeWe, or on their web site’s will also know what legislation is like your state. Most doulas will be able to fill you in on any legislation that may benefit birthing rights, including CPM licensure.
In your local community, you can talk with your state Senator and Representative about the need for midwives in your area. Ask them to sponsor CPM licensure bills; and sign and share witness slips to support.
Though birth should be the most freeing experience in a woman’s life, not a birthworkers are free in our regulated country. However, I do think licensing CPMs will give more women the opportunity to birth naturally – whether that be at home, a birth center, or in the hospital.
Do you think midwives should be regulated?
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