Where’s my midwife?

Sylvia from a new organization, Where’s my midwife? sent me this video. It chronicles the response to a Wilmington, NC ob-gyn practice that one day decided to fire all their midwives. The physicians told them that they didn’t want to “wait around for the midwifery patients to give birth.” This is unfortunately not a new or unique story. It’s happening all around the country. Midwives need autonomy from doctors who can control their ability to practice.

I got chills multiple times while watching.

It’s a success story, as their grassroots organizing resulted in a reversal of the antiquated hospital policy that required an OB to be present when a woman was giving birth with a midwife. Doesn’t look like the midwives got rehired though.

This movement is growing, that’s for sure. In just the three years I’ve been writing this blog, the activism and activity around this issue has exploded. There are so many more doulas, midwives, parent advocates. Things are getting worse in the world of birth, and it’s getting people activated.

Where’s My Midwife is continuing their activism beyond this one instance, and working to open a Birth and Wellness Center in Wilmington NC in May 2015.


International Midwives Day

Today is International Midwives Day (and Cinco de Mayo).

Choices in Childbirth thinks that a good way to support International Midwives Day is to take action to help the homebirth midwives in NYC who are unable to practice since St. Vincent’s shut down.

What better way to celebrate than helping us support the Midwifery Modernization Act?!

PLEASE – Take a moment to review this action alert, and set aside 15 minutes of your day to call your local legislators to ask for their support of this crucial piece of legislation.

We will be organizing in-person visits to the local (NYC) offices of our state representatives in the coming weeks. Please contact Terry if you are interested in showing up and talking directly to legislators! Terry@choicesinchildbirth.org

**We particularly need more supporters from Queens!**

** If you haven’t yet, please sign the petition in support of the Midwifery Modernization Act

** For more information about the MMA, view the:
NYSALM fact sheet
– and Free Our Midwives Website

** And for more information and more ways to celebrate the International Day of the Midwife, visit www.InternationalMidwives.org!

Go to it!

Video and update about NYC midwives

Rachel, a doula from New Jersey, sent me this video she made about what she fears the birth future will be like.

So the situation with the NYC homebirth midwives has not been resolved, despite amazing advocacy and action on all your parts. The Department of Health told Choices in Childbirth they got more calls about this issue than any other, ever.

I’ll keep folks posted if I hear anything else about the situation in NYC.

UPDATE: Lauren at Birth and Bloom has an account of the press conference that happened on Friday.

At midnight tonight, half of NYC’s homebirth midwives will be illegal

St. Vincent’s is closing. It’s a bad situation for many involved, the women who gave birth there, the other patients who received care there. No attempts at saving the hospital have worked.

Another result of the closure is that the NYC home birth midwives no longer have a back-up hospital or WPA (written practice agreement). They need this WPA, signed by a doctor, in order to practice in NY, even though those doctors have little to no involvement in their practice. St. Vincent’s was one of the only supportive hospitals in the city.

About half of the homebirth midwives in NYC have found other people to back them up–but the other half are stuck. At midnight tonight, they can no longer practice legally, despite the fact that they are licensed practitioners.

It’s a mess, and the NY government is not considering this an emergency because their patients can “just give birth in a hospital.”

We all know why this is unacceptable.

You can help. Take action today to put pressure on the NY State Department of Health:

YOU MUST ACT NOW to save the home birth option for New York Women:
  • 311
  • Wendy Saunders, Executive Deputy Commissioner for the NY State Department of Health, appointed by Governor Paterson. 518-474-8390
  • Larry Mokhiber, the Secretary of the Board of Midwifery (518-474-3817, extension 130)
And say….

With the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital, half of the licensed, highly trained home birth midwives serving NYC have lost their Written Practice Agreement (WPA).   St Vincent’s was the only Hospital in the city supportive of a woman’s right to choose a home birth and willing to sign a WPA.  In the weeks since it’s announced closure, these midwives have reached out to hospitals and obstetricians all across the city looking for support, with no success.  Please help us to save the homebirth option in New York.

Access to homebirth in NYC put at risk by closing of St. Vincent’s hospital

For a few months now, news has been circulating that St. Vincent’s, a Catholic hospital in NYC’s Lower East Side West Village was facing closure due to crippling debt.

It’s a Catholic hospital, which means no abortion procedures, no emergency contraception, and probably some other shitty anti-choice practices as well.

But it’s also one of the best hospitals for birth in NYC. Not only has St. Vincent’s been the back up hospital for most NYC home birth midwives, it’s also done a lot over the last year and a half to reduce c-sections and improve conditions. Doulas, midwives and VBACs were supported by the labor and delivery ward there.

Well now it seems the closing is definite.

It’s not just NYC that facing this kind of problem–in Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital is also facing potential closure. It’s a hospital that serves many un and under-insured patients in the Miami area, and also has relationships with midwives.

For a movement that wants to get birth out of the hospital, you’d think we’d be happy to have hospitals closing. But we need hospitals as back-ups for home and birthing center births. Also why is it always the birth friendly hospitals and centers that get shut down? I wonder if not doing enough c-sections is bad for the profit margins.


If you want to take action in NYC, check out Choices in Childbirth for petitions and actions.

Wyoming becomes 27th state to legalize Certified Professional Midwives

wyoming quarter designMore good news on the midwifery front, this time from Wyoming!

A bill was signed into law there on March 5th, legalizing the practice of Certified Professional Midwives. CPMs are midwives that are trained to practice in homes or birth centers. They are an essential player in out of hospital birth access.

Yay Wyoming!

According to the Big Push, Nevada is now the only state in Western US that does not allow CPMs to practice.

Mississippi anti-midwifery bill defeated!

Great news from Mississippi. The bill that had passed the House there and was headed to the Senate was defeated.


For background on the bill go here, and thanks to everyone who took action.

Mississippi poised to pass bill outlawing certified professional midwives

Basically, the bill that has passed the Mississippi State House would outlaw the practice of any midwives that aren’t nurses.

There are many ways to learn midwifery, including the excellent programs completed by CPMs, which include traditional schooling as well as apprenticeship.

We need MORE midwives in this country, not less.

If you live in Mississippi, the Big Push for Midwives has details about what you can do to stop this bill from passing.

Wyoming may become 27th state to legalize midwifery

Via RH Reality Check, a new bill to legalize the practice of Certified Professional Midwives (non-nurse midwives) looks like it has strong support in Wyoming.


Midwives banned from California hospital

Jos at Feministing has the full story, but it deserves mention here as well.

Basically, midwives who were practicing at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital received a letter in the mail telling them they could no longer deliver there, and instead had to deliver at a facility 11 miles away. The reason cited was the lack of NICU at the Valley Hospital.  More details here.

It’s such a shame that the few midwives that do practice in the US (and put up with the challenges of being in a hospital run by OB-GYNs) have to deal with crap like this.

Also,a related side note/rant. On Jos’ post at Feministing, all the comments decided to attack my assertion that the increased rate of maternal mortality in California might just have something to do with the double in the number of c-sections.

It amazes me that even the readers of a feminist website would go to such lengths to defend c-sections. I’m not anti c-section. But 30% and rising is way too much. Also, apparently, only “self-serving doulas” think that elective, non-emergency c-sections are not the best way to give birth.

If you’re feeling feisty, head over to the post and join in the comment conversation.