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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Midwifery Modernization Act

The recent closure of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan has put certified professional midwives (CPMs) in a difficult position. New York State law requires CPMs assisting women giving birth at home to have written practice agreements with physicians. Doctors at St. Vincent's Hospital acted as emergency back-up for CPMs and so far they have been unable to negotiate new sponsorships with hospitals and obstetricians in the area, putting their practices and licenses at risk.

Research studies show for that women with healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies, giving birth at home with CPMs is just as safe as, or safer than, hospital birth. The largest study of home births attended by certified professional midwives so far, published in 2005 in the British Medical Journal, followed
5,418 women from the United States (98 percent) and Canada
(2 percent). All the women planned to give birth at home.
12.1 percent were transferred to a hospital and intervention rates were very low: only 4.7 percent of women had an epidural,
2.1 percent had an episiotomy, and 3.7 percent gave birth by cesarean section. The infant mortality rate was 0.175 percent and the maternal mortality rate was zero.

Researchers concluded that "planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States."

The Midwifery Modernization Act, an amendment to the current Midwifery Practice Act, Article 140 of the Education law, would remove the requirement that CPMs maintain a written practice agreement with a physician and allow them to practice independently within the scope of their license.

Urge the New York State Legislature to support the Midwifery Modernization Act by signing the petition sponsored by Choices in Childbirth, a non-profit organization that educates women about their choices and rights regarding childbirth. Having access to home birth is a reproductive right that women can't afford to lose.

Johnson KC and Daviss BA. Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America. British Medical Journal, 330(7505):1416, 18 June 2005.

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