Midwifery On The Internet and Rallies on the Ground

Amie Newman

What's happening around the country with midwives over the last couple of weeks? Take a peek...

The International Day of the Midwife has come and gone – with a special focus on celebrating this day virtually – and there’s a lot to round-up as the push to improve women’s access to midwifery and to license and support those midwives who offer this access continues!

With that in mind, I thought I’d round-up some of what’s happening around the country and on our computers related to midwifery.

Online Midwifing, Sorta

The International Day of the Midwife Virtual Conference was a smashing success! Gina Crosley-Corcoran quotes Sarah Stewart (organizer of the conference, and a midwife and social media consultant herself) in an article on the 24 hr. virtual conference:

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“Within a few minutes it became obvious that the conference was going to be a great success, especially compared to last year’s conference – last year we had an average of 6 participants per session – this year we had an average of 50 participants per session. So what made the difference to the success of this event this year?”

Sarah’s blog is an amazing resource, by the way, for anyone seeking information on the organizing power of social media. And the fact that a screen capture featuring my face is up on her site in this post about facilitating an event using social media tools is not at all why I’m linking to this.

For a full range of the online discussions and events that occurred in honor of the day, check out this incredible listing for information about midwifery, first-hand accounts of out-of-hospital birthing, an update on women’s health in Haiti, a discussion of the “art of midwifery”, an exploration into maternal and newborn health globally and more.

“The Mother of All Rallies”

In Ohio, midwives and midwifery advocates, as part of the group Ohio Families for Safe Birth, are rallying at their state capitol today to lobby for a law that would license CPMs (certified professional midwives) in the state. As readers of Rewire no doubt know by this time, The Big Push for Midwives is a national, grassroots lobbying effort to pass laws state-by-state licensing and regulating CPMs, thereby making the option much more accessible and ultimately more affordable to all women. If CPMs are covered as licensed practitioners, they are then eligible to be covered by Medicaid, and to partner with physicians in local hospitals for easier transfer should that be necessary (though finding midwife-friendly OB/GYNs who are working at hospitals is another issue I’ll take up later on in this post!).

Ohio is one of 24 states which does not currently license CPMs. Still, over 1000 babies are born at home each year, in Ohio, with the help of a midwife. More and more women with healthy pregnancies are searching for a less invasive, less clinical, more empowering birth experience – the kind of birth they’re likely to get in an out-of-hospital setting, with a midwife in attendance. Ohio joins many states at this point in the push to license and regulate CPMs, as studies are released which consistently show the safety and benefits to women and newborns of midwife-attended birth.

As a reproductive justice issue, it’s critical that we break down the barriers to safe, evidence-based, empowering options for women who wish to choose with whom they want to birth and where and who do not want to be automatically exposed to a range of medical interventions without cause.

Dr. Biter Gets Bitten?

With the recent closure of the midwife-friendly hospital St. Vincent’s in New York City, and the decision, in California, to inexplicably (or without good cause) bar midwives from a local hospital, it’s hard not to wonder whether hospital administrators and some of the physicians who work at these hospitals aren’t feeling the fear of the rising tide of midwifery? Now it’s not only midwives who are in the bulls-eye but midwife-friendly Ob-Gyns who practice with a woman-centered, less-is-more approach to birth for healthy women.

Dr. Robert Biter, a “beloved” Ob-Gyn practicing at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, CA lost his hospital privileges last week with no explanation at the time of this writing. Dr. Biter is legally unable to comment on the issue. But according to birth blogs around the web, as well as the local television news, Dr. Biter is “dedicated to allowing birth to happen naturally” and is currently offering to attend his patients’ births as an unpaid doula (wow, just wow). One local childbirth educator speculates that,

“I think it’s a smear campaign by Scripps to get rid of Dr. Biter because he doesn’t make enough money for Scripps because he doesn’t do enough C-sections and he doesn’t do enough interventions. And I think it makes a lot of other doctors uncomfortable…”

Natural and home birth advocate and actress Ricki Lake will join others for a rally on Friday to protest the suspension of his privileges.

As always, if you’ve got stories related to midwifery, natural birth, home birth or other similar issues, please email me: amie AT rhrealitycheck DOT org.

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