Sunday, December 02, 2007

Midwives locally, breasts globally

The United States Breastfeeding Committee is once more planning its annual conference for state breastfeeding coalitions. They sponsor two attendees from every state to come with expenses covered. I did not get one of those slots, so I applied to attend in one of the limited open slots (which means I pay my own way). I'm hoping to get a slot and attend in January since they have some special training they are doing on lactation support in the workplace. A member of my breastfeeding committee, Charlene, was selected to attend last year, and may be selected again this year, so at least Kansas City will have someone there if I don't make it. It would be so cool to meet breastfeeding coalition members from all the US states and territories (and Tribal Nations). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, its a very selective (and costly) event.

I got an email from a reader in my area looking for a certified nurse midwife to do a homebirth.
She had mentioned that she wanted a 'legal' homebirth and therefore only wanted to interview CNMs since CPMs are not legal in Missouri. (Though technically, the illegality is on the part of the CPM for attending her, not on her part for hiring one.) I encouraged her to interview the two CNMs she was aware of but also to consider this option:

"If you are considering a homebirth with a CNM, I think you might find Sage Femme and its midwives a pleasant surprise. It provides a lovely birthing environment and Kirsten Miller was my midwife for my homebirth last year (she no longer does births at home). I think she is wonderful and ditto for Sage Femme. It is a jewel and a well kept secret. If I were you I would appeal to my insurance company- they may very well cover a birth center birth. I went through the appeal process with my insurance company, who at first refused to pay anything. They eventually (it took a year!) covered 100% of the cost of my homebirth- even though their policy was not to pay for them. To speak to your comment, "I was afraid that my options might be limited" - they are. That is why we as birthing women must be willing to negotiate for what we want in birth- and fight if need be. Let there be no doubt- women are losing their options in birth. If we don't work to keep those options open, no one else will. "

Though I really don't want to steer this woman away from homebirth (I hope she'll be happy with one of the two midwives she has to choose from), I was happy to be able to offer another option. Women like this are exactly why I'm writing my book. I can't tell you how many women I meet or hear of who are interested in homebirth but drop the idea because they can't find a midwife to attend them or buckle under the pressure of opposition. My book won't create midwives where there are none, but I'm hoping it will help women find the resources they need to make their births happen in an out of hospital birth environment. (For instance, I'll have a whole chapter dedicated to dealing with insurance companies.) Homebirth and Birth Center birth are the real options to hospital birth. What can we do to make them more accessible to more women?


Anonymous said...

Have more centers...and advertise them! Have birthing classes offered at the centers for new moms. You might catch some having a 2nd baby who take the birthing class at the center (offer it cheaper than the one at the hospital)...or some may switch. Also, have midwives offer to teach sex education in schools, the sections on birth. Maybe if you get to the teenagers, treating them with respect at a young age will cause them to expect respect when they get older from people helping them birth. One place a woman feels "put down" for her knowledge of her own body is in the labor and delivery room with a bossy nurse!


Your section on insurance issues sounds very good.

Amy said...

Great ideas. I, too, am a OB RN who desires to educate and provide options. I'm currently in an environment where there are little besides an epidural and pitocin, internals, etc. Frustrating.
Will drop by again!

Laborpayne said...

Thanks Amy,
I feel your pain-(I felt it so much, I left OB!).

kirsten said...

Great ideas, Dawn! And wow, Sherry, thanks for the morale boost - how did you know I would need to see it today of all days?

Sage Femme has childbirth education classes every other Monday evening and we would love for anyone in the community who wants a natural birth to attend. They are free, from 7-8PM and the next is on Dec. 17. Please just call to register 913-281-6457

jen said...

Hi Sherry! I met you at the doula's conference at Sage Femme. I'm the Master's student doing my thesis on alternative birthers. Who are the 2 MO CNM's that you are recommending? I was just approached by a MO woman wanting a homebirth and without Rachel around I didn't know of a CNM to recommend. I will also be recommending Sage Femme to her.

also, I have a thesis plan and I am hoping you will be able to help be identify some participants in another month or two.

Kirsten-I am the one who is trying to help you (Sage Femme) with grant writing and works for an non-profit evaluation firm. i know many women who are pregnant, although most likely planning OB-hospital births. I'm going to start recommending the centers birth classes and services via myspace. and Dawn had some great ideas. we need to collaborate, get you some grants and put marketing and programs in place.

Laborpayne said...

Would you please email me at and I'll send you the names I have. MO is slim pickens because its illegal, but KS has more options.

Kelley said...

This is very helpful. I am pregnant and living in KCMO, and have just discovered CNMs attending homebirths is illegal. I'm really bummed because I had planned on having a homebirth, and having insurance cover it. I've never had a problem with this before because I had my first 3 babies in Utah where midwifery is MUCH more accepted. I'm not willing to give up on my homebirth yet, but I will definitely look into the Sage Femme Birth Center.

Laborpayne said...

CNMs can legally do homebirth in MO (and every state), its just that there are not many who choose to do so. Finding liability insurance and a collaborating physician is usually whats stopping them.