baby_2Maryland lawmakers have before them the opportunity to increase access to midwives. All they need do is support HB1202 – the Certified Professional Midwives Pilot Program. Doing so would immediately create legal access to qualified providers who are ready to work in Maryland. It would also increase access to homebirth for families that choose this as an option – something that is already legal in Maryland, but can be difficult to obtain given the severely limited access to midwives in Maryland. Maryland Families for Safe Birth is leading the charge!

As background, both of my babies were born at home (in Virginia) with the assistance of a midwife. I cannot imagine having them enter the world in any other way, and I’m so lucky that I had access to great care providers. The compassion shown to me during labor is something I hope I never forget, and the reassurance that all was well was profoundly important as I progressed from one stage of labor to the next. This is not to say that I think the home is the only place a birth should take place – but it is to say I speak from experience that it can be a great place for a birth to take place – and I wish all women had this option.

Right now, there are certified professional midwives in Maryland who are ready to practice – and doing so legally allows them to work with other health care providers, to make sure their clients receive the level of care they need. Should a hospital transfer become necessary, a midwife can safely transfer clients to the hospital and other providers, without fear of prosecution. That increases safety for Maryland mothers seeking homebirths.

HB 1202 is a pilot program designed to allow Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to work legally in Maryland while the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) collects data about their services and outcomes. The data collected will be used to determine how CPMs will be regulated after the Pilot Program. HB 1202 is a step in the right direction of reducing health care costs (home births cost a fraction of a planned hospital birth) and increasing access to the full range of qualified birth professionals. Future parents will decide where their babies will be born; this legislation expands those options.

Go ahead, Maryland lawmakers. Align Maryland with 26 other states (including Virginia) in allowing Certified Professional Midwives to practice legally. It gives women more options, it saves money for Marylanders, and can help solve a predicted shortage of healthcare providers in the near future.

Elaine wrote about her two home births (one of which is pictured above, assisted by the fabulous Marsha Jackson, CNM of Birthcare and Women’s Health) at her personal blog, Connor and Helen Grow Up!