Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Blog!

As I find myself having less free time, the time has come to consolidate as much as possible. One way I'm doing that is by putting all my blogs in one place. Hopefully, this will help me to get information out faster and more often. So, follow me to my new home!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

MAMA Campaign Webinar!

MAMA Has Good News to Share!

Join Us for a Webinar on December 3rd to Learn All About It!

Register at

Our federal lobbyist, Billy Wynne will join representatives from the Campaign Steering Committee, on Thursday, December 3rd, for an exciting webinar about the MAMA Campaign at 8 pm EST. Please note that this is a new date. The webinar was previously scheduled for the beginning of Thanksgiving week, but that week was too busy for too many of our supporters so we have postponed the date a week to accommodate our supporters.

MAMA has good news to share! The effort to secure federal recognition of CPMs got a big boost this week – language beneficial to CPMs is included in the Senate health care bill just released on Wednesday, November 18th. And MAMA is still hard at work to include our amendment to reimburse CPMs in the federal Medicaid program in the final bill that will go to the President to be signed early next year.

You are invited to join us to hear:

* What this new language in the Senate bill will mean for midwives and
mothers across the country

* The impressive support for CPMs that MAMA has built among key
legislators over the last six months, that will serve midwives and
mothers well for years to come

* About the most successful fundraising campaign for midwifery ever!

* What the next steps are this year for Federal recognition for CPMs

It is easy to participate in the webinar!
Visit to register and
receive easy steps to join us. And during the webinar MAMA wants to answer your questions: email a question to and put “Webinar Question Submission” in the subject line.

We look forward to your participation!

MAMA thanks you for your support. If you have any questions, concerns or
comments please contact the campaign at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New MAMA Campaign News and a Webinar

Grassroots Network Message
MAMA Campaign: Great News! and Webinar

Dear Friends,

I'm hoping most of you have signed up for MAMA Campaign updates (go to ). If not, here is the latest! (see below) The hard work by the MAMA Campaign has achieved a great step in the right direction, plus you can sign up for a Webinar to find out in more detail what the Campaign has been doing!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

From the MAMA Campaign:

Items in this email:
1. Congress takes an important step forward for CPMs!
2. We need your help
3. Join MAMA for a Webinar about the Campaign next Monday!

Congress takes an important step forward for CPMs!

MAMA's hard work, with your intrepid support, is paying off! The Senate Finance Committee has included language in their bill that will advance the interests of CPMs and the women they serve - thanks to the support of a key Senator secured by MAMA!
On Friday, November 13th, MAMA representatives met with a top health aide to Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State . In direct response to MAMA advocacy, Senator Cantwell has included a provision in the Senate Finance Committee bill that will require Medicaid to reimburse licensed birth attendants (which would include state-licensed CPMs) who provide services in licensed birth centers. We were told that the Senator feels strongly about including CPMs in the health care bill and recognizes that her home state of Washington has played a leading role in demonstrating the high quality and low cost of CPM care. The Senator has heard the call from MAMA loud and clear and committed to finding a way to move the ball forward for CPMs.

Building from language crafted by the American Association of Birth Centers for legislation that will require that birth centers receive payment for facility fees, Senator Cantwell was able to add language specifying payment to the providers - licensed birth attendants - as well. Other Finance Committee members, including the Chairman, lined up with Senator Cantwell in support of her provision, demonstrating that our outreach to those offices has also borne fruit. Of great significance, she has also secured the commitment of Senator Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader at the center of crafting the final health care bill this year, to keep her language in this year's final bill. Inclusion of this language represents a significant commitment on the part of the Senator, and we are very grateful to her for this important step forward for CPMs and for expanded choice for women and families!

As a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Cantwell has a limited number of initiatives that she can champion herself, but she has offered to fully support any other Senator who will file MAMA's original provision on the floor of the Senate to require that Medicaid reimburse all CPMs in all settings.

We are proud of and grateful to all of the midwives and mothers in action in Washington State for the successful outreach to their Senator! And we are grateful to all of you who have helped to secure the wide support that the MAMA Campaign and CPMs enjoy in the Senate!

The provision included in the Senate Finance Committee bill will provide a strong legislative platform for further action to secure access to CPMs for all childbearing women, both in the current health care bill and in the years to come. It is interesting to note that a number of states have first secured just a portion of their initial legislative "ask" , and then accomplished their original goal in a subsequent year. In New Hampshire , for example, the midwives went to the legislature to mandate that all insurance carriers in the state reimburse the licensed midwives. That year, a mandate was passed that only reimbursed midwives operating out of licensed birth centers. The following year, the midwives were successful in having the mandate expanded to cover all licensed midwives offering services in all settings.

What is next for MAMA this year?
MAMA remains committed to including our original provision to mandate Medicaid reimbursement for all CPM services, regardless of site of birth, in the health care bills this year! We are in negotiation with Senate Finance Committee offices in the effort to secure a champion to file our amendment on the floor of the Senate. In addition, we have a strategy to leverage our support in both chambers to include our provision in the final bill that will be signed by the President, whatever the outcome in the Senate.

We need your help!
Please keep those letters to your Senators coming! You never know which letter will take us over the top and into the bill! Write today!

And please keep your dollars coming! You have made possible the most successful fundraising campaign for midwives ever! Now we are asking that you dig just a little deeper to fund us through the end of this legislative session. We have raised $140,000 to date! Washington State donors have been especially generous, accounting for 20% of this amount. We must raise an additional $30,000 in the next few weeks. If you have not given yet, please make a donation today. If you have given, please consider an additional gift today.

Join MAMA in a Webinar about the Campaign next Monday!

Please join the MAMA campaign steering committee for an informational webinar on the MAMA Campaign on Monday, November 23rd from 8-9 PM EST. Register at Come learn about our strategy, about exciting new developments in the campaign and about how you can support the Campaign's efforts to secure federal recognition of Certified Professional Midwives. The webinar will also strive to answer questions from supporters, so please submit questions ahead of the webinar by emailing, subject line: Webinar Question Submission. Click to register for the webinar.

MAMA thanks you for your support. If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact the campaign at

Feel free to forward the Grassroots Network messages to others who might be interested!

If you find news, resources, or other valuable information that you think should be posted on the Grassroots Network, please send it to with "For the grassroots network" in the subject line. We will definitely consider using them!

Visit the Citizens for Midwifery website at .
Scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your e-mail address. It's that simple!

Check out our website
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Find our Group and Cause pages on Facebook
Find us on My Space

JOIN Citizens for Midwifery!
Membership starts at only $10 to become a "Citizen" for Midwifery
Upgrade and receive the CfM News starting at $30 ($20 for students)
Easy to join on-line with a credit card go to

Are you interested in volunteering with some dynamic women in a supportive environment?
Help CfM promote the Midwives Model of Care!
We have many ways to get more involved.
Get in touch with us!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday!

In honor of my son's 8th birthday, I am posting his birth story. I have never shared any of my written down birth stories. The family situation has changed drastically since he was born, as have my views/knowledge of childbirth but I think the original story is what should be shared. It is raw, innocent of what was to come, and truthful in that moment. Enjoy!
Saturday November 17, 2001
Well, Billy finally got here. He was only 12 days past his due date. I was beginning to get scared I would have to be induced. I started to feel like I was in on the afternoon of the 14th. I had the same feeling I had the day before Leslee came. After work, we drove to Vicki's house to see if I had made any progress. Still dilated to 4cm, but more loose than the day before. My cervix was also a lot softer than it had been on Tuesday.
We went to Wal-Mart for groceries and carried on as usual. By 8pm that night I was starting to feel somewhat uncomfortable. We went to bed, but I found myself unable to sleep. I drank tea, read, and took baths but I still couldn't sleep. I let L sleep until about 3am, when the contractions were getting hard to handle by myself. I phoned Vicki and asked her to go ahead & come. L got up, and we started preparing ourselves for a baby.
The contractions proceeded to come and get stronger, but it wasn't the same type of pain I had with Leslee. With Leslee, I remember it being sharp pain around my whole belly and no waves ~ just constant. This time I could tell when a contraction was coming, and I felt more pressure than anything. I was able to walk around or rock in the rocking chair for the first few hours. By 3am, they were starting to get more intense and I felt like I needed help. I called Vicki and asked her to come. Then I woke up L(he was sick so I was trying to let him sleep). Vicki got here about 20 minutes later and by that time I would sit in the rocker breathing while L rocked me. I was relieved when she got there, even though I didn't think there was a whole lot she could do at that point. Helen, the doula, arrived about ten minutes after Vicki, and the moment she touched my head I knew I was glad she was there.
I kept my blue furry blanket with me almost the whole time. I found it not only kept me warm but also comforted me. Vicki brought a huge plastic ball for me to try to sit on. We set it up against the couch and I squatted on it, then leaned on L during contractions. I like that for quite a while. Vicki also brought her birthing stool, which I tried to sit on twice but never really liked. Around 4:30 or 5 we retreated to the spare bedroom/birth room. L and I laid on the bed (he rubbed my back during contractions) and Helen alternated between rubbing my legs and arms. I was able to rest a little during that time period. Vicki also brought these wonderful creations called hot socks (long tube socks filled with herbs & fragrances) that you heat in the microwave and place on your body. Those were really nice until close to the end. Helen brought aromatherapy oils with her, and I really liked those too.
As the pressure became more intense, I had trouble finding anything comfortable. Finally, I just hung on to L and we "danced" until the contractions were over. By this time I could hardly stand, so L was literally holding me up. Vicki and Helen told me to groan low in my throat to help, which it did! I felt stupid at first but I didn't care because it made the pressure seem less. Then I finally understood why my mom would make so many noises when my brothers were being born.
The first time I felt the sensations to push, it sort of scared me. I couldn't feel what I was doing with Leslee, and I never felt that urge. When I started pushing it felt very odd, and then something would click and it just felt okay. I knew I was doing it right. Then it stung. I could feel myself stretching and Billy coming down. vicki took my hand and touched it to Billy's head. I couldn't believe it. I was almost numb from him, but there he was and I could touch him. Then I had to try not to push so he could come out on his own. I saw his head come & Vicki told L to get where she was so he could catch him. He almost didn't make it ~ Billy came flying out. L put him directly onto my chest & I started crying. I was finally seeing my son and it was all over. I couldn't believe we had just done all this work ~ the pain was gone & we had this beautiful boy showing us how well his lungs worked.
About ten or twenty minutes later, L cut the cord and then I delivered the placenta. NO stomach mashing or pulling on the cord, she just asked me to push. It came out perfectly and in one piece. After Vicki checked it I got to see it. It looked like the pictures, but it was definitely different. I could see the little white spots where it was starting to disintegrate ~ I was 1 1/2 weeks overdue. Vicki showed me how it had looked inside my body, and where Billy had been held. She said the sack was very strong, which meant I had eaten very healthy while I was pregnant. By this time Billy was nursing, and as I watched him I still couldn't believe he was here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Call your legislator today!

Courtesy of the Big Push for Midwives:

Now that the House has passed health care reform legislation WITHOUT CPMs included, it has become clear that we need our OWN bill. The Senate is our best hope to do that.

Please call your Senators today and ask them to take the lead in introducing a BILL to provide Medicaid payment of Certified Professional Midwife services.

To find your Senators and their contact information, go to:


Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators' offices.

Midwives and other childbirth professionals: It's very important to pass this action alert to your clients and ask them to make calls TODAY!

A separate bill for CPMs gives us many more options for ensuring that their services are federally recognized and covered and it allows us to recruit supporters from BOTH parties!

Keep trying if you don't get through. Call AGAIN even if you've called already-it takes more than one call! LOTS of groups are calling their Senators about health care reform today-support for Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care needs to get heard through all the noise!

Ask to speak with your Senator's legislative health assistant. Be sure to get his/her name. This is critical information for us to follow-up with the staff.

Please note that emails and messages left with receptionists are not effective!

Ask that your Senator take the lead in introducing a bill to provide Medicaid payment for the services of Certified Professional Midwives, who are the only type of midwife in the U.S. with specialized training in out-of-hospital maternity care.

Call or email Karen Fennell and tell her who you talked with and any comments or additional information requested so she can follow up with offices. Call 301-830-3910 or send an email to

Some background information and talking points to add if you wish:

§ Pregnant women are being denied access to maternity care thanks to an oversight in Medicaid law that denies low-income women who seek out-of-hospital maternity care access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all but 11 states.

§ Because of this gap in Medicaid law, thousands of women in states across the country unable to utilize the services of providers with a proven record of improving outcomes.

§ Denying pregnant women access to Certified Professional Midwives saddles our health care system with hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs each year.

§ Across the country in rural and urban communities, Certified Professional Midwives are already meeting the needs of pregnant women and their infants who have nowhere else to go at a time when many other maternity care providers have abandoned these communities to practice in more affluent suburbs and exurbs.

§ Demand for access to out-of-hospital birth under the care of Certified Professional Midwives-who are specially trained to provide it-has increased 27% since 1996.

§ Research consistently shows that low-risk women who plan out-of-hospital births under the care of Certified Professional Midwives experience outcomes equal to low-risk women who give birth in the hospital, but with far fewer costly and preventable interventions, including a five-fold decrease in cesarean surgery.

§ Certified Professional Midwives have a proven history of reducing low birth weight and preterm birth, the main causes of neonatal death in the United States and two of the primary contributing factors to racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes, as well as to the costs associated with long-term care.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The end of an era

I am saddened that this wonderful place will no longer be serving Missouri's birthing women. A dear friend of mine gave birth in this facility several years ago, and offers nothing but high praise for Dr. Allemann, the staff, and the Center itself.

I feel fortunate to have met Elizabeth on several occasions in the past few years. She is a strong, passionate woman dedicated to helping other women in an informed manner. She is a rarity among medical professionals, at least in my experience, and her gifts to so many birthing women will live on. She will still be practicing, thank goodness!, but will no longer be attending births. Elizabeth, I know you will be dearly missed and I wish you only the best on your new adventures...and some much needed sleep!

Columbia Community Birth Center to close at end of year

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Ivy White, a certified professional midwife in Columbia, holds 6 week-old William Leigh at the Columbia Community Birth Center before an appointment Sept. 18. A law passed last summer made it legal for midwives like White to assist in the birthing process without the presence of a physician.

COLUMBIA — After operating for almost three years and delivering 175 babies, the Columbia Community Birth Center plans to close at the end of year.

The center was searching for a new physician to take the position of medical director after Elizabeth Allemann announced she would be leaving at the end of October, but the search was unsuccessful.

The Columbia Community Birth Center, a not-for-profit organization, opened in January 2007 and offered a number of female health services, including natural birth under the supervision of midwives.

According to certified professional midwife and the center's executive director, Ivy White, the closing isn't just about the vacant physician's spot, but also the change in the political scene for certified midwives.

"We're moving on. I think the political climate is becoming more friendly towards midwives, and the medical community has started accepting certified professional midwives," White said.

Allemann is leaving her position at the center to focus on herself and her family. She will remain a family physician and acupuncturist at her private practice in Columbia.

Allemann ran for the 19th District Missouri senate seat during the 2008 primary but dropped out quickly. She is an advocate for midwifery laws in Missouri.

"I am an advocate for women making their own options for their health care," Alleman said. "The more options we have, the better people's health is."

A 2007 law upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court legalized midwifery. Before the law, midwifery was illegal if done without a licensed physician.

Allemann says she is curious to see how the center closing will affect the strong home birthing presence in central Missouri.

"Out-of-hospital births are becoming less controversial and more acceptable, so I'm hoping the next incarnation of a birthing center will result in more support from the medical community," Allemann said.

Anastasia Pottinger, a Columbia photographer, received prenatal care from the birthing center but had her child at the hospital.

"I tried to make a bridge between the two, but the birthing center was a relaxing place," Pottinger said. "There was a fireplace, rocking chairs, art on the wall. It was different than walking into a hospital."

Pottinger was a regular at the birthing center and said 75 percent of her birth photography is from home births or the birthing center, and she showcased some of her photos at the center.

"Last week I took the pictures off the walls. I was happy, but sad," Pottinger said. "It was an end of an era."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

National CPM Support NOW!!

All right Missouri birth supporters and advocates! Now is the time. We KNOW we can implement change...we did it here and we can do it nationally! Please sign this petition and/or call your legislator. It is so easy and only takes a few minutes. Give 'em a push!

The Big Push for Midwives

Push the Petition! We're Nearly 10,000 Strong!

Thank you for signing the petition supporting CPMs in health care reform.

We need to reach our goal of 10,000 names this week, as Congress moves closer to taking final action on health care reform legislation. All members of Congress need to know that support for CPMs and out-of-hospital birth in their state is strong!

Be sure to forward this message far and wide and ask your family and friends to lend their support to the cause.

Midwives, it is especially important for you to let your clients know that we need them to speak up!

If you live in one of the following states, we really need you to act. We can't allow Delaware's Congressional delegation to believe that only 11 people in the entire state support midwives and home birth! If you live in Delaware, spread the word NOW!

Or Utah, South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming! Surely there are at least 100 people in each of these states who can let their elected officials in DC know how much they support access to midwifery care!

Most states have hundreds of signatures, some close to 1000. But if you live President Obama's home state of Hawaii, or in Senator McCaskill's home state, Missouri, or in her neighbor state, Kansas, Congress needs to hear your voices today!

We can't afford to allow any members of Congress to think that there are fewer than 100 midwifery supporters in ANY state! If you have family or friends in any of the states mentioned, please reach out to them.

Those are states with fewer than 100 signatures but we need ALL the states to give the petition one more Push over the top so we can reach our goal and put Congress on notice that we want access to CPMs now!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grassroots Network...Take Action!!

Dear Friends,

As the Senate and House are in the final weeks and days of preparing their Health Reform bills for floor debate, THIS IS THE TIME to write letters and anything else you can do to make sure your Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC, know that you want CPMs included at the federal level!

This e-mail includes three things to as soon as possible!

1. The MAMA Campaign continues working in DC to have Certified Professional Midwives included on the federal list of Medicaid Providers. Please write a brief letter to your Senators and Representatives today! They need to hear from their constituents! Even if you think your Congress people have already decided not to vote for any health reform bill, write to them anyway about CPMs. You can find all the needed information (including sample letter language and links for finding who your representative and senators are and how to contact them) at the Take Action page of the MAMA Campaign website:

2. The National Women's Law Center has produced a brief video "A Woman Is Not a Preexisting Condition!" that you can see at:
They have an email setup right on that page to send emails to Congress about this issue, which has a section to add your own words. This is a great opportunity to add some sentences about CPMs, birth centers, and out of hospital birth in general. Thanks to Susan Jenkins for sending this information!

3. The Big Push for Midwives is encouraging everyone to sign their petition supporting CPMs and out-of-hospital birth. This is easy to do, and you are encouraged to forward this request to others. The petition sign-up is at: Find the full text of the Big Push notice at the end of this message.

This is our chance! Let's make sure Congress "gets it" about Certified Professional Midwives!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Glow

The Glow of pregnancy...don't we all wish we had it? Personally, I do not think I look pretty when I am pregnant and I look in the mirror. I do, however, FEEL pretty. I feel alive, earthy, connected to every woman in the universe. But, I don't Glow and I know it.
My friend, M, does. She is pregnant with her third baby right now, only a few months along. Her hair is shiny, her cheeks are rosy, and she has just the tiniest baby bump protruding under her shirt. She is magnificent and I love watching her blossom.
I'm certain to a non-birth junkie this sounds strange, perverse even, but I can rest assured that those of you out there who suffer from the same affliction I do completely understand what I mean. Lucky for me, she does not mind that I feel the need to compliment her every time I see her or offer to carry her basket. I lavish upon her (or at least try to) the attention I feel each pregnant woman deserves.
All pregnant women carry in them more than babies, they carry hope. They carry hope that only innocence can provide, hope that the future is brighter, hope that the next "generation" will learn from us, but most of all hope that miracles really do exist. That is why in Uganda, the Chagga say: "Pay attention to the pregnant woman! There is no one as important as she!"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Disaster Preparedness ~ Midwife style

Below is a great article written by Deborah Smithey, CPM, about being prepared for routine maternity care during times of disaster. She makes some excellent points! To read the article on the Missouri Midwives Association site, click here.

Are we ready for the next disaster?
Click here for printable version

By Deborah Smithey

Man-made and natural disasters can occur at any time, as evidenced by September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Missouri should be prepared for weather, epidemic, and terror-related disasters. What if hospitals are overwhelmed by casualties, disease or infection? Many first responders are not prepared to deal with the special needs of pregnant women and infants. Where will women give birth during the next disaster?

FEMA strongly encourages each state to prepare an out-of-hospital scenario that works well under such conditions. During Katrina, babies birthed unassisted in the Superdome and on the third floor of Salvation Army Corp Community Centers opened our eyes to the need for a better plan.

The Trust for America’s Health reports that Katrina overwhelmed the institutional facilities we often depend upon for health care. In addition, doctors and nurses were forced to perform without the technology upon which they heavily rely.

Women and infants are disproportionately and adversely affected by disasters. Missouri women generally expect to give birth in hospitals; 99% of births occur there. But during an emergency, hospitals may not be immediately accessible. In the case of pandemic flu, hospitals may not be safe for pregnant women and infants.

Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are trained to work in homes and other out-of-hospital settings. Many midwives serve the Amish and Mennonite communities, and so are accustomed to working without electricity or other modern conveniences. Yet their statistics are as good or even better than those of doctors working in hospitals with the same risk population. In the event of a disaster, women could expect excellent birth outcomes by calling a midwife to their homes. In fact, CPMs were among the first responders when Katrina ravaged New Orleans. These midwives are astute in out-of-hospital births with limited technology. They are highly educated in the natural process of birth and in discerning the physiological needs of mother and newborn.

In February 2006, the National Working Group for Women and Infant Needs in Emergencies* was formed to ensure that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, and infants are adequately met during and after disaster situations. Access to out-of-hospital maternity care by CPMs fits with this mission.

Certified Professional Midwives should be part of Missouri’s disaster preparedness plan. The CPM is the only maternity care provider credential that requires experience in out-of-hospital settings. At present, there are approximately 1400 CPMs in the United States. Experienced, community-based certified professional midwives are scattered across the state of Missouri. Many other states already include CPMs in their emergency disaster plan. I urge all Missouri policy makers to ensure pregnant and birthing women and their newborns are safely cared for when the next disaster strikes.

* Members of the National Working Group for Women and Infant Needs in Emergencies include the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, the Midwives Alliance of North America, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the American Association of Birthing Centers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March of Dimes, National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.

Monday, October 12, 2009


As a birth activist in an area rampant with birth hostility, misinformation, lies and propaganda, it can be hard to keep hope alive. During my pregnancy, I took time for myself and tried not to think about the hundreds of other women in the area who were not getting the wonderful care I was. Now that my baby is getting older, I feel the familiar pull of other women....calling me back to birth work, calling me with their questions, their fear, their unknowns. I'm not yet ready to leave my little cherub for these ladies full time, but I'm working my way back to them.
I feel the hope that we can change the birth culture. One woman, one birth story, at a time. I feel the hope that more women are waking up, asking questions, seeking the kind of care they deserve. I feel the hope that our group can flourish and educate. I feel the hope that change is on the horizon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services fires back!

Cause Announcement from Make Mother-Friendly Care a Reality!

Sept. 22, 2009

Dear Producers of The Today Show,

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) and the undersigned organizations are disappointed with The Today Show’s misrepresentation of midwives and home birth that aired on Sept. 11, in a segment titled “The Perils of Midwifery,” later changed to “The Perils of Home Birth.” This biased and sensational segment inaccurately implied that hospitals are the safest place to give birth even for low-risk women and mischaracterized women who choose a home birth with a midwife as "hedonistic," going so far as to suggest that these women are putting their birth experiences above the safety of their babies. Neither could be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, The Today Show did not do its homework on the evidence regarding the safety of home birth and midwifery care. The segment featured an obstetrician who presented only the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) position in opposition to home birth, but it did not make any attempt to present the different viewpoints held by the many organizations that are committed to improving the quality of maternity care in the US. We are deeply saddened that the show did not take the opportunity to note that both CIMS and The National Perinatal Association respect the rights of women to choose home births and midwifery care, and that the respected Cochrane Collaboration recommends midwifery care because it results in excellent outcomes.

There is no evidence to support the ACOG position that hospital birth for low-risk women is safer than giving birth with midwives at home. What the research does show is that the routine use of medical interventions in childbirth without medical necessity can cause more harm than good, while also inflating the cost of childbirth. However, the current health system design offers little incentive for physicians and hospitals to improve access to maternity care practices that have been proven to maximize maternal and infant health.

“Birth is safest when midwives and doctors work together respectfully, communicate well, and when a transfer from home to hospital is needed, it is appropriately handled,” says Ruth Wilf, CNM, PhD, a member of the CIMS Leadership Team.

That is why the national health services of countries such as Britain, Ireland, Canada, and the Netherlands support home birth. In those countries, midwives are respected and integrated into the maternity care system. They work collaboratively with physicians in or out of the hospital, and they are not the target of modern day witch hunts. These countries have better outcomes for mothers and babies than the US.

Childbirth is the leading reason for admission to US hospitals, and hospitalization is the most costly health care component. Combined hospital charges for birthing women and newborns ($75,187,000,000 in 2004) far exceed charges for any other condition. In 2004, fully 27% of hospital charges to Medicaid and 16% of charges to private insurance were for birthing women and newborns, the most expensive conditions for both payers. The burden on public budgets, taxpayers and employers is considerable.

As US birth outcomes continue to worsen, it should come as no surprise to The Today Show that childbearing women are seeking alternatives to standard maternity care. After all, American women and babies are paying the highest price of all—their health—for these unnecessary interventions, which include increasing rates of elective inductions of labor and cesarean sections without medical indication.

To the detriment of childbearing families, the segment “The Perils of Midwifery” totally disregarded the evidence. Although the reporters acknowledged that research shows home birth for low-risk women is safe, that message was overshadowed by many negative messages, leaving viewers with a biased perception of midwifery care and home birth. CIMS makes these points not to promote the interests of any particular profession, but rather to raise a strong voice in support of maternity care practices that promote the health and well-being of mothers and babies.

One of the ten Institute of Medicine recommendations for improving health care is to provide consumers with evidence-based information in order to help them make informed decisions. The Institute recommends that decisions be made by consumers, not solely by health care providers. The Institute maintains that transparency and true choice are essential to improving health care. We remain hopeful that the medical community will soon recognize the rights of childbearing women when it comes to their choices in childbirth and will respect and support these choices in the interest of the best possible continuity and coordination of care for all.

We urge The Today Show to provide childbearing women with fair and accurate coverage of this important issue by giving equal time to midwives, public health professionals, researchers of evidence- based maternity care, and especially to parents who have made choices about different models of care and places of birth.

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services
Academy of Certified Birth Educators
Alaska Birth Network
Alaska Family Health and Birth Center
American Association of Birth Centers
American College of Community Midwives
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Bay Area Birth Information
Birth Network of Santa Cruz County
Birth Works International
Birthing From Within, LLC
BirthNetwork National
BirthNetwork of Idaho Falls
BirthNetwork of NW Arkansas
Choices in Childbirth
Citizens for Midwifery
DONA International
Doulas Association of Southern California
Evansville BirthNetwork
Harmony Birth & Family
Idaho Midwifery Council
Idahoans for Midwives
InJoy Birth and Parenting Education
International Childbirth Education Association
International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization
Lamaze International
Madison Birth Center
Midwives Alliance of North America
Motherbaby International Film Festival
Nashville BirthNetwork
National Association of Certified Professional Midwives
North American Registry of Midwives
Oklahoma BirthNetwork
Perinatal Education Associates, Inc.
Reading Birth & Women's Center
Rochester Area Birth Network
Sage Femme
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
The Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation
Triangle Birth Network
Truckee Meadows BirthNetwork

About Us
The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) is a coalition of individuals and national organizations with concern for the care and wellbeing of mothers, babies, and families. Our mission is to promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs. The CIMS Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative is an evidence-based mother-, baby-, and family- friendly model of care which focuses on prevention and wellness as the alternatives to high-cost screening, diagnosis, and treatment programs.

1. The Perils of Home Births,
2. Birth Can Safely Take Place at Home and in Birthing Centers,
3. Offers All Birthing Mothers Unrestricted Access to Birth Companions, Labor Support, Professional Midwifery Care,
4. ACOG Place of Birth Policies Limit Women's Choices Without Justification and Contrary to the Evidence,
5. Ratifiers and Endorsers of The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative,
6. Choice of Birth Setting,
7. Position Statement on Midwifery,
8. Midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women,
9. Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is And What It Can Achieve,
10. Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices,
11. Millennium Development Goals Indicators, United Nations,
12. National Vital Statistics System, Birth Data,
13. Induction By Request,
14. Cesarean Birth By Request,
15. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,
16. The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative,

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services
1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27607

Tel: 919-863-9482
Fax: 919-787-4916

Making Mother-Friendly Care A Reality
CIMS is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Our mission is to promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs.

View Announcement on Facebook | Leave a Comment | Go to Cause | Invite Friends

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let the mud fly ACOG!

Physicians Take Anti-Midwife Smear Campaign to the Airwaves
Home Birth Mothers, Celebrities, Insulted on National TV
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 11, 2009)—Referring to women who choose to give birth in out-of-hospital settings as “hedonistic” and likening childbirth to a “spa treatment,” members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a trade group representing the professional and financial interests of OB/GYNs, took their anti-midwife campaign to the airwaves in a Today Show segment rife with insults, stereotypes, and misinformation, using one family’s tragedy as a platform for the organization’s well-funded assault against choices
in childbirth.
“About the only thing ACOG has right is that women are choosing out-of-hospital deliveries in record numbers,” said Steff Hedenkamp of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “What Erin Tracy and other apologists for the group’s anti-midwife position fail to see is that one of the forces driving women to seek out-of-hospital care is the paternalistic, profit-driven model of maternity care that far too many of its own members provide.”
During the segment ACOG reiterated its claim, which has been thoroughly debunked by a large and growing body of medical literature, that out-of-hospital delivery is unsafe. Describing women who choose to give birth in private homes and freestanding birth centers as “hedonistic” mothers who knowingly put the lives of their babies at risk for the sake of an “experience” they believe will be like a “spa treatment,” members of the group echoed last year’s position statement claiming that women who choose out-of-hospital deliveries base their decisions on what’s “fashionable” or “trendy.”
“ACOG clings to this ridiculous fantasy that women choose to deliver their babies outside of the hospital because they want to be like Ricki Lake, Demi Moore or Meryl Streep and that if women would only watch enough fearmongering stories on morning television they’ll be brainwashed back into hospitals,” said Katherine Prown, Campaign Manager of The Big Push for Midwives. “Insulting our intelligence and promoting policies that deny us choices in maternity care are not exactly winning strategies for stemming the tide of women seeking alternatives to standard OB care.”
Earlier this year, a New York City couple lost their baby during a planned home birth under the care of a Certified Nurse-Midwife. Licensed and regulated in all 50 states, Certified Nurse-Midwives are trained to provide hospital based maternity care. By contrast, Certified Professional Midwives, who undergo specialized clinical training in out-of-hospital birth, are legally authorized to provide care in 26 states, although outdated regulations effectively
prevent them qualifying for licensure in the state of New York. Legislation to license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives is currently pending in an additional 18 states,
despite staunch opposition from the American Medical Association, which has joined with ACOG in adopting position statements that would deny families who choose out-of-hospital maternity care legal access to nationally credentialed midwives with specialized training to provide it.
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign represents thousands of grassroots advocates in the United States who support expanding access to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care. The mission of The Big Push includes educating national policymakers about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital birth and advocating for including the services of Certified Professional Midwives in health care
Media inquiries: Katherine Prown (414) 550-8025,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Missouri Certified Professional Midwives!

We excitedly welcome FIVE!! (I think) new LEGAL Certified Professional Midwives to Missouri! What a glorious day. Congratulations to these wonderful ladies who have worked so hard to serve families legally. They deserve it and our state's birthing mothers will be better for it. WooHoo!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

ACOG exposed!!

PushNews from The Big Push for Midwives Campaign

CONTACT: Katherine Prown, (414) 550-8025,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 31, 2009

Viral Internet Campaign Exposes Bogus Research on the “Problem” of Increased Demand for Midwife Care
Thousands of Activists Nationwide Force Physician Group to Scrub Its Website

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 31, 2009)­In under 18 hours, a viral internet campaign targeted at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists forced the group to take down a public plea asking its members to submit anecdotal, anonymous data about patients who planned out-of-hospital deliveries. According to the request, which was originally linked from ACOG's home page, the professional trade association for OB/GYNs is "concerned" about the "problem" of growing numbers of women seeking out-of-hospital maternity care.

"Just follow the money," said Steff Hedenkamp of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. "ACOG does not want to continue losing patients to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital birth, so they’re telling members to send in more of the same old tall tales that far too many OBs love to scare women with. Well, we have news for ACOG­it's not working."
The campaign to expose the physician group's plans began on Facebook and Twitter and rapidly drew thousands of women to ACOG's website, where they submitted their own data about their healthy deliveries in private homes and in freestanding birth centers throughout the country. In response, ACOG moved quickly to scrub its website and placed its request for unsourced data from members behind a password-protected firewall.

"This was almost as fun as last year's campaign pressuring the American Medical Association to back off from its ridiculous claim that Ricki Lake is responsible for the increase in out-of-hospital deliveries," said Sabrina McIntyre, mother of two. "The AMA and ACOG seem to forget that women are capable of making rational, informed decisions about our maternity care providers and birth settings. We don't appreciate fear-mongering tactics meant to try and scare us away from using safe and cost-effective, community-based alternatives to our current maternity care system."

"Analysts familiar with ACOG expect the group to use the anecdotal data collected from members to support its ongoing state and federal lobbying campaigns aimed at denying women access to out-of-hospital maternity care and Certified Professional Midwives, who are specially trained to provide it. "ACOG admits in its own documents that they've been forced to use 'hardball tactics' against women who are advocating for choices in maternity care," said Hedenkamp. "Frankly, this latest stunt of theirs to troll for 'fresh' folklore reeks of desperation.

"The Big Push for Midwives Campaign represents thousands of grassroots advocates in the United States who support expanding access to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care. The mission of The Big Push includes educating national policymakers about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital birth and advocating for including the services of Certified Professional Midwives in health care reform. Media inquiries: Katherine Prown (414) 550-8025,

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign | 2300 M Street, N.W., Suite 800 | Washington, D.C. 20037-1434 |

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Food For You!

PushNews from The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
CONTACT: Katherine Prown, (414) 550-8025,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Physician Group Pulls the Plug on Women’s Autonomy Issues Policy Statement About What Women in Labor Will be “Allowed” to Eat and Drink
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 25, 2009)—Displaying a stunning lack of regard for patient autonomy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement this week declaring that the group will “allow” laboring women to drink “modest amounts” of clear fluids during labor while continuing to prohibit access to solid food.
“Once again ACOG has issued a position statement with little regard for the evidence or for the ability of women to make decisions for themselves,” said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “It’s insulting that ACOG actually believes that laboring women should be grateful that they will now be ‘allowed’ to have more than just ice chips, when we have long known how vital nutritional sustenance is to mothers and babies not only during pregnancy, but during labor as well.”
Hospitals routinely adopt ACOG position statements as standard policy governing the treatment of pregnant and laboring women, despite the fact that a number of the organization’s position statements do not acknowledge all of the risks and benefits associated with common procedures.
“ACOG is asking laboring women to do the physical equivalent of a marathon on the power of a ‘modest’ amount of clear liquid,” said Sabrina McIntyre, mother of two. “Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick with my midwife and her wisdom of keeping up my physical stamina for such a monumental event.”
Policies restricting food and liquid intake date from an era when laboring women were routinely given general anesthesia and risked aspirating food into the lungs. Modern anesthetic techniques have virtually eliminated this risk, which is further reduced by the fact that only a tiny minority of laboring women, even among those who deliver via cesarean section, actually receive general anesthesia.
“The women in my birth center eat when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty, all without asking for ACOG’s permission first,” said Elizabeth Allemann, MD. “Women deserve to be fully informed about what the evidence actually shows, and it’s time that the medical profession abandoned policies based on the outdated and paternalistic idea that patients should play no role whatsoever in the decision-making process.”
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign represents thousands of grassroots advocates in the United States who support expanding access to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care. The mission of The Big Push includes educating national policymakers about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital birth and advocating for including the services of Certified Professional Midwives in health care reform. Media inquiries: Katherine Prown (414) 550-8025,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Home births safe...who knew?

From Medscape:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 28 - In terms of perinatal morbidity and mortality, a planned home birth is as safe as a planned hospital birth, provided that a well-trained midwife is available, a good transportation and referral system is in place, and the mother has a low risk of developing any complications, new research shows.

"Low-risk women should be encouraged to plan their birth at the place of their preference, provided the maternity care system is well equipped to underpin women's choice," Dr. A. de Jonge, from TNO Quality of Life, Leiden, the Netherlands, and co-researchers emphasize in the August issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Data regarding the safety of home births in low-risk women are lacking, due in part to the fact that studies with very large sample sizes are needed to assess relatively rare adverse outcomes. Moreover, randomized trials comparing home and hospital births have not been done because women usually want to choose their place of birth, the authors explain.

The present study, an analysis of 529,688 low-risk planned births, was conducted in the Netherlands, the only country in the west with a large enough data set. The group included 321,307 women who wanted to give birth at home, 163,261 who planned to give birth in the hospital, and 45,120 with an unknown intended place of birth.

All of the outcomes studied occurred with comparable frequency in the planned home and hospital birth groups. These included intrapartum death (0.03% vs. 0.04%), intrapartum and neonatal death within 24 hours of birth (0.05% vs. 0.05%), intrapartum and neonatal death within 7 days (0.06% vs. 0.07%), and neonatal admission to an intensive care unit (0.17% vs. 0.20%).

"As far as we know, this is the largest study into the safety of home births," the authors note. The findings, they conclude, indicate that with proper services in place, home births are just as safe as hospital births for low-risk women.

BJOG 2009;116:1177-1184.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Homebirth Debate

Here is another great article written by the author of Pushed, Jennifer Block. I was fortunate to not only meet her last February, but also to participate in a Q & A with her. She is as passionate in real life as she seems in her book and really re-inspired me. To order Pushed, click here

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More support for Midwives and out-of-hospital birth

PushNews from The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
CONTACT: Steff Hedenkamp, (816) 506-4630,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Physician Groups Out-of-Step as the Number of Health Care Organizations In Support of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and Out-of-Hospital Birth Rapidly Increases

Nurses, Perinatal Health Care Specialists Echo Consumer Reports Magazine in Calling for Integrating Midwives into U.S. Maternity-Care System

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 17, 2009)Two major health care organizations have joined the growing number of groups calling on policy makers to increase access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and out-of-hospital maternity care. Acknowledging the large body of evidence supporting the safety of home delivery with CPMs, who are specifically trained to care for mothers and babies in out-of-hospital settings, nursing and perinatal health care organizations criticized the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) resolutions calling for bans on CPMs and home birth. The groups also joined Consumer Reports magazine in highlighting the need for a major overhaul of the U.S. maternity care system.
“I am very proud to be an American, but I am embarrassed that our country, founded on the ideals of individual liberty and freedom, can also support ‘authoritative’ initiatives such as these by the ACOG and AMA, initiatives that are founded on neither science nor an understanding of the physiologic and psychosocial needs of mothers and babies,” said Nancy K. Lowe in an
editorial published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, the official journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). “What is most risky about home birth in the United States is that for most women who desire it there is a scarcity of qualified providers of home birth services.” [Read the complete editorial at: http://www3. interscience. cgi-bin/fulltext /121645508/ PDFSTART? CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0]

Consumer Reports magazine cited the desire for economic gain as one of the driving forces limiting access to CPMs and Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs), who are licensed in all 50 states and practice primarily in hospital settings, but who remain subject to anti-competitive regulations promoted by the AMA and ACOG.. CPMs are legally authorized to provide out-of-hospital care in just half the states, while advocates working to reform the law in the remaining states face stiff resistance from physician groups seeking to establish a monopoly on the maternity care market in the U.S.

“Midwives provide a safe and cost-effective alternative to the current model, where the market is dominated by high-cost, high-tech specialists producing less-than-optimal outcomes,” said Katie Prown of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “Babies delivered by midwives are far less likely to be pre-term or low birth-weight, which are two of the leading causes of neonatal mortality and of the enormous costs associated with long-term care. Midwives and out-of-hospital birth are an integral component of responsible health care reform, and the AMA and ACOG know this. That’s why they’re fighting so desperately to protect their turf, even if it means denying women maternity-care options in the process.”

The National Perinatal Association (NPA) added to the growing list of organizations calling on the AMA and ACOG to end their vendetta against midwives and home birth and instead follow the World Health Organization’ s (WHO) call to “‘work in a spirit of recognition and respect for each other’s authority, responsibility, ability and unique contribution.’” [See their statements on place of birth and on midwifery at: http://www.national]

The Big Push for Midwives is a nationally coordinated campaign to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 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. Through its work with state-level advocates, the Big Push is helping to build a new model of U.S. maternity care built on expanding access to out-of-hospital maternity care and CPMs, who provide affordable, quality, community-based care that is proven to reduce costly and preventable interventions as well as the rate of low birth-weight and premature births.

Media inquiries: Steff Hedenkamp (816) 506-4630,
steff@thebigpushfor midwives. org.

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign is fiscally sponsored by Sustainable Markets Foundation, a not-for-profit organization
recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).
Sustainable Markets Foundation | 80 Broad Street, Suite 1600 | New York, NY 10004-2248
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign | 2300 M Street, N.W., Suite 800 | Washington, D.C. 20037-1434

Cookie Day!

The Friends of Missouri Midwives annual Cookie Day at the Capitol was great! We had many wonderful speakers, including Jennifer Block, the author of Pushed. There were tons of families and bags galore of beautifully packaged homemade cookies. How exciting it was for those of us who were visiting the Capitol for the first time since Midwifery became legal! For the official story and some pictures, go to the FoMM blog.
On a personal note, it was fun for me to go back again. I actually missed walking the endless halls and talking to the various legislators, even though some of them were devils in disguise. It was a bit more tedious with a five week old in tow, but he slept contentedly for most of the day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby's Finally Here!!!

Welcome to the world little one, we are so excited you're here! This baby is so special to me, for so many reasons. It's the first time I've experienced a pregnancy with a partner who truly wants to be a parent and is involved (and what a difference that makes), and for several years I thought I thought my baby-having days were over.
A new family was created this morning at 11:49am . Our little boy (whose name is yet to be determined) was born into his father's hands with the assistance of a very special midwife that also helped not only my brothers come into this world, but started a passion in me for all things birth. Thank you, ________ , for that and for being the one who helped welcome our new family.