Friday, August 6, 2010

For the Love of Midwives: Wilmington Women Launch a Revolution

The following post was written by Where’s My Midwife? in honor of National Midwifery Advocacy Month, which is commemorated each August. The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and its Government Affairs Committee encourage all ACNM members and supporters to participate in National Midwifery Advocacy Month. Learn more about advocacy activities here.

One year ago, on August 1, 2 certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) were fired from a Wilmington, NC, private practice, and 80 pregnant women were suddenly left without the care provider of their choice. They had chosen a midwife for very personal reasons, and had grown to know and trust their providers. The physicians at the practice assumed the women would simply start seeing the obstetricians, but they did not understand the type of care midwives provide. Our midwives spend 20 – 30 minutes with their clients at each prenatal appointment; they ask about a woman's personal and emotional well-being because they understand that these factors will have an impact on her labor; midwives stay with a patient throughout her labor and delivery.

The women in Wilmington have little or no choice when it comes to maternity care. There is only one hospital in three counties where women can give birth. After two midwives were fired, there was only one midwife serving our community. This was simply not acceptable. So, we took matters into our own hands. We stood up to the hospital and the physicians and said, “We want to be treated a certain way, and we will not allow you to take away or block our access to the type of care we want.” We successfully got the physicians to change a policy that required a physician to be in-house while a midwife labored with her patient. It was a policy put in place by the physicians who then complained when they had to stay at the hospital! It was absurd—and these types of policies are in place all over the country.

When we first started investigating whether or not this had happened anywhere else, Sylvia did a Google search on “CNMs fired” and after searching for ONE NIGHT came up with the following locations:

This kind of bullying has got to stop. Midwives are in a very difficult position – if they ask their ladies to speak out in support of them, the physicians who collaborate with them may take it as an insult, leading to a strained work environment. The next time you are at a visit with your midwife, ask her how she is doing. Ask her how she feels about her practice. Ask her what you can do for her. It may help prevent another situation like the one we experienced here. It is time to give back to the midwives who give us so much.

In order for the culture of fear surrounding birth in this country to change, women must stand with their midwives and say, “ENOUGH!” Our midwives give us support through one of the most challenging, vulnerable experiences in our lives. We believe we owe it to them and ourselves to stand up to those who would restrict their ability to practice. We believe mothers who have lost their midwife mid-pregnancy need to share their stories so that the people who make these decisions based on financial gain can see the consequences of their actions. We believe that women need to reclaim the power of their body's ability to give birth.

If you have experienced the loss of a midwife, or if you are a midwife who has been restricted in your practice, please contact us. Your story is important. Your voice must be heard to effect change.

The c-section rate in this country has just gone up for the 12th straight year.

Amnesty International has declared maternity care in the US a human rights issue.

The United States ranks 41st in the world in maternal mortality—it is safer to have your baby in 40 other countries.

It is time for change.
It is time for a revolution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wonderfully written! thank you!