Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another OBGYN perspective on homebirth

I was interested to learn from the Women in Charge blog that ACOG isn't the only organization of OBGYNs to have an opinion about homebirth. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also has a statement about Home Births (a joint statement issued with the Royal College of Midwives, which tells you something right there!) which stands in dramatic contrast to the ACOG press release officially opposing homebirth.

Some choice quotes from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists statement include:

"There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby."


"Birth for a woman is a rite of passage and a family life event, as well as being the start of a lifelong relationship with her baby."


"Overall, the literature shows that women have less pain at home and use less pharmacological pain relief, have lower levels of intervention, more autonomy and increased satisfaction."

Interesting reading!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thanks to everyone's hard work and persistence...

...Wednesday, Feb. 20th, 2008 was a very good day for midwifery at the Missouri Capitol!

We scored a huge victory when the Senate Committee on Pensions, Veterans Affairs, and General Laws (Senator Jason Crowell, chairman) voted 5-1 to combine SB870 and SB1021 and then 5-1 "Do pass" on the combined bill.

The Committee in executive session, discussing combining the midwifery repeal bill,
and the midwifery licensure bill.

"Okay, I'll deliver cookies to the third floor representatives' offices. And you do the Senate side..."
Carissa and Anna

In previous years, midwifery bills have just barely squeaked out of the General Laws committee, even though there has always been a large amount of support from the whole Senate body. I believe this change to an overwhelming amount of support was largely due to the increasing amount of people who have become involved in educating their legislators about midwifery and advocating for it to become a priority in the Missouri legislature.

If you were one of those people faithfully attending in-district meetings, sending emails and letters, making phone calls, etc, you can claim part of this victory!

We literally saw the attitudes of the committee members change over the past week or two as more and more people have contacted them in support of legalizing and licensing Certified Professional Midwives in Missouri. Keep it up! It's an election year, and they want to know what the hot topics are, and also which side the majority of their constituents support!

Part of the hard working crew that volunteered all day Wednesday at the Capitol.
(Unfortunately, all the families from Southeast Missouri had already left when we thought to take a picture. The crowd was much bigger for most of the day!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cookie Day, Feb. 13, 2008, Missouri Capitol

Here they come, laden with boxes and bags and strollers full of cookies, all to be given away to lawmakers!

The entrance to the alcove where the action was all morning! Kelly and Laurel behind the welcome table, Jonathan on the left. Summer's squatting in the foreground to talk to a child...

Susan (left) reports back on her visits and cookie deliveries (Mary and Alicia and the right). We're all shocked that she has just had a very friendly 20 minute visit with one of the older State Representatives who's always grumpy and says nasty things about the midwives if he even sees them walking down the hall.
"How did you get in to see him?!" we all ask in amazement.
Susan smiles.
"Well, I was just delivering cookies at his office, when he stepped out of the door and asked if we had brought him his favorite kind, Oatmeal Raisin. I apologized that they were chocolate chip, but said they were good anyway. Then I glimpsed his big plushy leather sofa inside the office door, and pointed at my pregnant belly. In my sweetest, nicest voice I said, 'I'm pregnant and need to put up my feet for a few minutes. How 'bout we go sit in your office and chat?' And then we found out that he is friends with my brother... and soon we began talking about midwifery. He told me what he thought, and I got to clarify some stuff with him... Anyway, I like him, and I think that I'll go visit him again. He just might vote for us!"

Koda, Kyan, Ruth, and Kalee delivering cookies - they were so pleased that their assignment sheet listed Senator Graham's office as one to deliver to. Unfortunately, they didn't get to see him, just his secretary who was very happy with the cookies.

After lunch, and several hours of cookie delivering, those who were still there gathered round in the alcove for a Friends of Missouri Midwives meeting. It was neat to hear from so many new people who showed up for Cookie Day why birth and midwifery are important to them.

Cookies, Complications, Icy Roads, and Lots of Willing Workers!

This year, Friends of Missouri Midwives' fourth annual "Cookie Day" at the Capitol coincided with an ice storm that hit southern Missouri.

The roads in the southern half of the state didn't exactly inspire even die-hard midwifery supporters to venture past their driveways. So, most of the carefully wrapped cookie packages went back into people's freezers to wait for the weather to warm and thaw the roads a bit.

But Cookie Day had been planned for a long time, and half of the state was still planning on coming, so the decision was made to move ahead with the Cookie Plans.

'Twas the day before Cookie Day, and...

Kelly was busy coordinating who was bringing how many bags of cookies, and when they would arrive and making sure that she would be ready to greet crowds of people with directions and lists of their legislators and name stickers and midwife buttons... and she was baking cookies.

Margaret was trying to arrange for a local business/restaurant to donate lunch and drinks for the families who would be busy delivering cookies, talking on the phone to people who didn't understand what they needed to do... and baking cookies.

Laurel was responding to emails, and trying to keep things flowing smoothly, planning the FoMM meeting, trying not to panic when the House operations guy said that he didn't see anywhere that Friends of Missouri Midwives had reserved the alcove for the 13th of February, as well as giving people advice on how to make the best impression possible at the Capitol... and she was baking cookies.

Debbie was busy re-drafting legislation, taking phone calls from happy people, frustrated people and confused people at the Capitol and all around the state, setting up meetings with elected and appointed officials, texting the others who were coordinating Cookie Day, emailing information and bill drafts to the legislators and staff who needed it... and supervising the cookie baking that her children were doing.

Mary was trying to keep 17 attorneys and law students from across the country organized and informed who were busily working (all pro bono) on the amicus brief to counter the AMA's brief that was filed with the Missouri Supreme Court. The AMA's amicus brief alleged that allowing Certified Professional Midwives to legally practice was a threat to the health and well-being of Missouri mothers and their babies. The midwife-supporting attorneys were all working together to thoroughly refute that allegation and inform the Court that midwifery is not dangerous; in fact it is sound public policy. With the deadline for submission to the court fast approaching, things had escalated to a mad scramble online and over the phone as various versions and sections of the brief and interest statement circulated in cyber-space. The fact that Mary's electricity (read: internet, too!) had gone out and her little sisters were busily baking cookies made the day even more interesting

The night before Cookie Day... Debbie and Mary had both made it safely over the icy roads and arrived at La Casa, the "midwives" rental house in Jefferson City - and were busy responding to emails, editing the media alert, and typing up instruction sheets for Cookie Day.


Homemade Cookies Open Doors to Talk about Home Birth

Midwives supporters come from across Missouri to meet with lawmakers


Valentine’s Day is coming a bit early this year to policy makers at the State Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Missouri. That’s because midwifery and home birth supporters from across the state will come Wednesday with more than 1,021 home baked cookies and valentines, made by home birth families from across the state for their fourth annual “Cookie Day” at the Missouri Capitol. Cookie Day is an effort to show appreciation to lawmakers for their efforts to change Missouri’s currently hostile midwifery law.

Senate Bill 1021 will establish a state regulatory board for licensing Certified Professional Midwives, or CPMs. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, is currently being considered by the Senate Pension, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committee.

Missouri’s existing midwifery law is considered one of the most restrictive and hostile in the nation, making the practice of midwifery by anyone other than a physician a Class C Felony.

“Our Annual ‘Cookie Day’ is a fun opportunity for the people of Missouri to come and advocate for midwifery and the right to choose their own health care providers. Of course we always have pregnant women who show up, hoping that this year will be the year when they won’t have to worry about their midwife being arrested for attending their birth,” said Mary Ueland, Grassroots Coordinator for the Friends of Missouri Midwives. “There is a new momentum to our efforts this year as more public attention is focused on this issue, and as it becomes very clear that more and more states are adopting the CPM credential as the basis for the licensure of out-of-hospital midwives.”


From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on WEDNESday, FEBRUARY 13 at the Capitol Building, 201 W Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, Missouri. Cookie Day “home base” is in a 3rd floor rotunda area alcove.


Cookie Day 2008 is co-sponsored by the Friends of Missouri Midwives, Missouri Midwives Association, Show-Me Freedom in Healthcare, and Free the Midwives.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

PushNews Response to ACOG statement

The Big Push Campaign has posted a new press release--"ACOG: Out of touch with Needs of Childbearing Families."

"Trade Union claims out-of-hospital birth is “trendy;” tries to play the “bad mother” card"

“'It will certainly come as news to the Amish and other groups in this country who have long chosen home birth that they’re simply being ‘trendy’ or ‘fashionable,’” said Katie Prown, PhD, Campaign Manager of The Big Push for Midwives 2008. “The fact is, families deliver their babies at home for a variety of very valid reasons, either because they’re exercising their religious freedom, following their cultural traditions or because of financial need. These families deserve access to safe, quality and affordable maternity care, just like everyone else.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What do you think of this ACOG statement?

ACOG made public today its statement about home birth. Since it's copyrighted, I'm not going to reproduce it; go here to read it in its entirety.

Some tidbits to whet your appetite:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reiterates its
long-standing opposition to home births. While childbirth is a normal
physiologic process that most women experience without problems, monitoring of
both the woman and the fetus during labor and delivery in a hospital or
accredited birthing center is essential because complications can arise with
little or no warning even among women with low-risk pregnancies.

...ACOG does not support programs that advocate for, or individuals who provide,
home births.

Unless a woman is in a hospital, an accredited freestanding birthing center, or
a birthing center within a hospital complex, with physicians ready to intervene
quickly if necessary, she puts herself and her baby's health and life at
unnecessary risk.

Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of
giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby.

So... tell us what you think!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ode to My Midwife

Previously published in the summer 2007 issue of the Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter:

Ode to My Midwife…

Midwifery model of care







Thank you!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Two Dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was at a conference in a nice hotel. After lunch, a group of mothers and babies were heading upstairs to rest. We got to a door at the end of a hallway and woman we knew blocked it and shook her head significantly. We turned back and another friend blocked another exit with the warning that "they" were coming for us. Any homebirth mother and homeborn baby needed to leave the building immediately because we were going to be captured. The atmosphere was tense and we held our babies tightly and were really anxious. We finally found a way out through the basement where my aunt was waiting in a "getaway" car to take us to California.


Two years ago when I was pregnant with my second baby, I dreamed I was walking through a hospital and saw that all the women were laboring in beds with their arms and legs strapped down flat. One woman said, "but I wanted to give birth side-lying" and the nurse then spun her bed around so IT was on its side (perpendicular to the floor) so the woman was now "side lying" in the air strapped to a vertical bed! After I saw this, I started sneaking into all the rooms and unstrapping the women and encouraging them to "be free!"


I was going to post my personal "analysis" of the meaning of these dreams in the context of our legislative efforts in MO, but then I decided that the symbolism is pretty self-evident without my additional commentary!