This morning, I was reminded of another reason I considered quitting this whole activist thing. A local CNM commented on my last blog post regarding our meeting with the NC OB/GYN Society:
Hi Kirsti!!!! THANKS FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING!!!!!! Is it possible to include homebirth nurse midwives in the planning stages? I appreciate all Rob and Russ and Lisa are doing-please don’t misunderstand. I just know homebirth needs support from all providers and this is another perfect opportunity for professional midwives and nurse midwives to work together.
I could not agree more. When the CNMs in NC lost their physician back-up, WMM? immediately began blogging about it, contacting the press and organizing public events to raise awareness of the crisis facing home birth families. The leadership of NCFOM attended a Midwifery Joint Committee meeting to testify in favor of the emergency extension of the home birth CNM’s permit to practice. And WMM? wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of NCACNM expressing our desire for the leadership from all parties to sit down and figure out a way to work together to increase access to midwives in all settings:
After we sent this letter, the home birth CNMs and their families formed a separate Facebook group and stopped communicating with us. Shortly there after, we received a formal response from the president of the NC chapter of ACNM reiterating their inability to support licensure of CPMs, effectively giving us the brush off. Apparently, they did not need or want our help until they found out we had had a meeting with the physicians.
From the beginning, WMM? has consistently asked the midwives in our state and in our country to stand together. We have always honored our mission to increase access to ALL midwives in ALL settings because in countries with best outcomes, midwives are the primary maternity care providers. Time and again, the physicians and CNMs I have spoken with point to educational requirements as a reason for not supporting CPMs. But in all of the years since the CPM credential was created, no state has ever reversed their decision to offer licenses to CPMs. In fact, Washington state is now calling for more CPMs to be licensed because the increasing number of families choosing home birth are saving the state millions of dollars.
But aside from all of that, what troubles me the most is the idea that physicians and Nurse Midwives get to decide whether or not families have access to midwives trained to attend women at home. This speaks to the heart of the problem in maternity care – women are judged by their providers to be too stupid to make decisions about their own health. We couldn’t possibly be smart enough to decide for ourselves which provider is right for us, so the physicians and midwives will save us from all that trouble by limiting our options to the ones they feel are best. And which settings are best. And which procedures are best (VBACs, water birth, etc.).
But I digress. . .to answer the question from the beginning of this post, ‘yes.’ As we expressed to your organization back in June, we would love for all interested parties to sit down and discuss how to make maternity care better for the families of North Carolina.