You'd think we live in a free country. Here we are as a nation, in the midst of an election season where people are paying more attention this early than they have in the past (at least, according to CBS evening news). We are actively participating in our government, debating amongst ourselves the best leader of our nation. We are making choices. Meanwhile, at this point in time, I cannot choose to have my children at home with a skilled midwife. While homebirth might not be for everyone, why are those of us who fit all the criteria for low risk pregnancies forced to have hospital births that often involve interventions that go against our convictions, or are faced with hiring a skilled, but illegal, midwife to break the law?
I have a number of friends and family who have chosen home birth for their families - 24 healthy children, and their respective mothers. Unfortunately, in the state of Missouri, it's still not legal to have a direct-entry midwife, such as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) or Certified Midwife (CM), attend a home birth. As Missourians, we are free to go to the hospital, or, in a few areas, we could go to a birth center. There have been some certified nurse-midwives who are able to attend homebirths, but my understanding is that there are restrictions and requirements that limit their service, primarily because of doctors unwilling to backup midwives, and hospitals are unwilling to allow their doctors to attend or backup homebirth. There are many reasons for such reluctance - misinformation and insurance issues are two notable reasons. We are not free to choose a birth option that evidence backs up as being a safe option for low risk pregnancies.
Last year, there was some legislation in Missouri to allow certified midwives to practice in our state. There has been some trouble with the legislation, however, and homebirth with direct-entry midwives is still not legal. This year there is a Big Push for Midwives across the nation, 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."
If you think that women should have the right to freely choose where they give birth, and the right to choose what they feel is the best care for their baby and for themselves, then I encourage you to see where your state stands on midwifery. If your state allows non-CNM midwives to practice safely and legally under the law, fantastic! If your state does not allow for the legal practice of CPM's, then contact your legislators. Let them know that their constituents believe in freedom of choice with regards to childbirth.
For those of us who live in Missouri, see the blog link to the left - Friends of Missouri Midwives to follow and support the midwifery movement.