Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for Midwives!

Happy Thanksgiving to mothers, fathers, babies, birth activists, midwives, and advocates across the country!

Here is my birth world thankful list from 2008. I'm still thankful for many of these same things this year. I'm also thankful for two fabulously wonderful, amazing, enriching, inspiring new books. These two are true treasures and I'm thankful to have read them. The Power of Women by Sister Morningstar is an incredible gem and a testament to the strength and grace of birthing women. And then, Simply Give Birth by Heather Cushman-Dowdee (formely known as Hathor the Cowgoddess) is another new gem. I highly recommend both of them--what great holiday gifts for the special birthworkers in your lives. My complete reviews of both books will be published in the next two months, but for now, trust me. They are simply amazing and I couldn't let another minute pass without mentioning that fact.

Citizens for Midwifery has worked for over a decade promoting access to the midwives model of care. If you're reading this blog, I assume you're thankful for midwives in some way or another :)

I have never been so thankful for midwives as I was two weeks ago, following my recent second trimester miscarriage. The baby was born at home on Saturday, Nov. 7th, and by that evening I thought everything was all "over" physically speaking. However, five DAYS later I discovered that my placenta was still trying to come out, but would not fully detach (it was out of my uterus, but unwilling to leave my body). Obviously, I became very concerned because it had been so many days since the baby left us. After trying quite a few things to get it to come out, we almost dashed off the the ER, but my gut pulled me back. I did call the hospital, the OB floor, and medical clinic and they all recommended that I go to the ER for a D & C. Though I was concerned, I did not feel in danger. I didn't feel like the placenta really qualified as "retained" (because I could SEE it), I felt like a little bit of membrane/cord must be holding the placenta into my cervix and that it had gradually been working its way free since Saturday--not an emergency, but something I really desperately wanted to take care of. We had a scary night with little sleep worrying and trying to decide what to do.

The next morning, I decided to mobilize my other resources and for me that meant my midwifery contacts. It was very important for me to "do this" and avoid a D & C if at all possible and I couldn't believe I might be going to have to go that route after everything else I'd already done. I spoke with two wonderful midwives on the phone who helped quite a lot (and confirmed my own feelings about what was going on with the placenta). One of the midwives was able to ask her assistant midwife to meet me at her house and see what she could do. This midwife was incredibly kind and wonderful and gentle and helpful and helped me successfully remove the placenta--it was about the size of my fist and had deteriorated into large chunks and was being held in place by amniotic sac remnants, a little bit of which was still through my cervix and keeping it from being released (as I had suspected). I'm glad I trusted myself and my intuition. I'm also incredibly grateful for that midwife--we have no prior relationship at all, she had to drive 45 minutes one way to get to me (and I 40 minutes to get to her), and she wouldn't let me pay her.

Something that struck me particularly about this piece of the story is that this woman was able to kindly and competently do for me what the ER, the OB floor of the hospital, and my doctor's office said they could not do without surgery. How wonderful are midwives?!

CfM Blogger

Grassroots Network: Happy Thanksgiving from the MAMA Campaign

Dear Friends,

Hoping each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Feel free to forward the message from the MAMA Campaign to other lists… And don’t forget to write to your Senators!

Susan Hodges “gatekeeper”

MAMA Gives Thanks!
The MAMA Campaign is moving forward with great energy and determination to include Certified Professional Midwives in health care bills this year! As the country enters the Thanksgiving Week, we want to take a moment to give thanks for the extraordinary strides made in a few short months on Capitol Hill for midwives and mothers. And we want to express our deepest appreciation to all of you: our supporters, whose dedication, stamina, generosity, letters and dollars have made this progress possible.

MAMA is thankful for:

  • Amazing grassroots participation from across the country­mothers, fathers, grandparents, midwives and other supporters­for your letters, calls and visits to legislators in support of CPMs
  • Great support from key congress members who have declared the provision for CPMs to be “good policy for women and babies”
  • Senator Cantwell (D-WA), for her provision in the Senate bill that will result in payment of the provider fee for state-licensed CPMs who provide services in licensed birth centers.
  • Washington State midwives, for the data they prepared for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) demonstrating significant improvements in quality and cost savings with CPM care
  • Campaign donations of more than $140,000 that have resulted in the most successful fundraising campaign for midwives and mothers ever!

MAMA Needs Your Help On the Homestretch!
It’s time to “Pound the Table”! As MAMA continues negotiations to find a Senator to file the CPM provision as an amendment on the Senate floor, this is the time for ALL of us to send a clear message to all our Senators: Certified Professional Midwives will lower health care costs and improve the health of women and babies. There is a pregnant-woman sized hole in this legislation, Mrs. or Mr. Senator. Please fix it!

Find easy letter-writing information and sample letter text here . If you’ve already written a letter, write again! Please keep those letters coming!!!

Letter of the Week
Elizabeth Gilmore of New Mexico wrote a personal appeal to her Senator, Jeff Bingaman, asking him to “be our champion” on Capitol Hill:

"I am an enthusiastic constituent in Taos, NM, where you came to the ribbon-cutting of our Birth Center, in 1997…We are currently Medicaid providers in NM but only because our governor insisted. When he leaves office we may lose this designation because we still are not recognized by Federal Medicaid as providers!"

You too can ask a Senator to be a champion for CPMs! Click here to write a letter to your Senator.

Who Are MAMA’s donors?
She is a mother of four who has Medicaid, who paid out of pocket for her last two home waterbirths, and gave what she could to MAMA!

He is the father of three homeborn children and a nationally known musician, whose passion for his children’s births moved him to generously donate.

She is a midwife who dreams that someday not so far off she will be able to serve more low income women in her community.

She is the grandmother of five, whose daughter triumphed by having a vaginal birth with a CPM after a Cesarean in the hospital.

He is the best friend of a young couple finding their way through a first, surprise pregnancy with the love and guidance of a midwife.

She is a public health policymaker who recognizes that the status quo does not serve women and babies, and wants to help make a change.

She is a new mother who has been transformed through the experience of her birth, and wants to share it with everyone she knows.

She is me, he is you, they are us, working together to bring about big change with our big and small change. Every dollar counts! MAMA fundraising is on a roll, with only $30,000 needed to keep the campaign on track through December. Please help us over the finish line! Donate to MAMA today!

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Date for MAMA Campaign Webinar

MAMA Has Good News to Share!

Join Us for a Webinar on December 3rd
Click to Register

Our federal lobbyist, Billy Wynne will join representatives from the
Campaign Steering Committee, on Thursday, December 3rd, for an exciting
webinar about the MAMA Campaign at 8 pm EST. Please note that this is a
new date. The webinar was previously scheduled for the beginning of
Thanksgiving week, but that week was too busy for too many of our supporters
so we have postponed the date a week to accommodate our supporters.

MAMA has good news to share! The effort to secure federal recognition of
CPMs got a big boost this week - language beneficial to CPMs is included in
the Senate health care bill just released on Wednesday, November 18th.
And MAMA is still hard at work to include our amendment to reimburse CPMs in
the federal Medicaid program in the final bill that will go to the President
to be signed early next year.

You are invited to join us to hear:
* What this new language in the Senate bill will mean for midwives and
mothers across the country

* The impressive support for CPMs that MAMA has built among key
legislators over the last six months, that will serve midwives and
mothers well for years to come

* About the most successful fundraising campaign for midwifery ever!

* What the next steps are this year for Federal recognition for CPMs

It is easy to participate in the webinar! Click to register and receive easy steps to join us.
And during the webinar MAMA wants to answer your questions: email a
question to and put "Webinar Question Submission" in
the subject line.

We look forward to your participation!

MAMA thanks you for your support. If you have any questions, concerns or
comments please contact the campaign at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birth Survey at CIMS Forum

Results of The Birth Survey to be featured prominently at the 2010 CIMS Forum!

Plus... Don’t Miss Ricki Lake , Judy Norsigian, Rima Jolivet, Penny Simkin, and many more!

Where do we begin? We have a spectacular line-up planned for the 2010 Mother-Friendly Childbirth Forum and Annual Meeting, Feb. 26-27, in Austin , Texas . Start planning now to attend this important conference--learn more at

CIMS proudly announces that acclaimed actress, filmmaker, family advocate and author Ricki Lake , along with 15 distinguished faculty, will address attendees at the 2010 Mother-Friendly Childbirth Forum and Annual Meeting. Lake, an integral figure in the birthing community since the 2007 debut of the documentary The Business of Being Born and subsequent projects that encourage childbearing women to become informed maternity care consumers, has traveled tirelessly around the United States to discuss the state of the birthing “industry” in an effort to demonstrate how all parents-to-be can benefit from taking a more active role in their birth experiences.

CIMS' [and CfM's] own Nasima Pfaffl will present an important session titled "Thank You for Listening to Me: Trends and Patterns in the Results of The Birth Survey." As you know, The Birth Survey has been collecting national data on women’s birth experiences for the last 18 months. This presentation will provide information on the patterns and trends in the data captured through The Birth Survey. Questions such as, how do different provider types compare; do women who had a c-section or an induction report feeling pressure to have these procedures; patterns of responses about midwifery care; and how women have reported they feel about the quality of the care they have received. Data will be presented that is not available via the public website!!

Online registration to open soon. Please visit for additional program details, travel/lodging information, and to sign-up for our electronic newsletter.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MAMA Campaign News and Webinar

Grassroots Network Message
MAMA Campaign: Great News! and Webinar

Dear Friends,

I'm hoping most of you have signed up for MAMA Campaign updates (go to If not, here is the latest! (see below) The hard work by the MAMA Campaign has achieved a great step in the right direction, plus you can sign up for a Webinar to find out in more detail what the Campaign has been doing!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

From the MAMA Campaign:

1. Congress takes an important step forward for CPMs!
2. We need your help
3. Join MAMA for a Webinar about the Campaign next Monday!

Congress takes an important step forward for CPMs!

MAMA's hard work, with your intrepid support, is paying off!
The Senate Finance Committee has included language in their bill that will advance the interests of CPMs and the women they serve - thanks to the support of a key Senator secured by MAMA!
On Friday, November 13th, MAMA representatives met with a top health aide to Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State . In direct response to MAMA advocacy, Senator Cantwell has included a provision in the Senate Finance Committee bill that will require Medicaid to reimburse licensed birth attendants (which would include state-licensed CPMs) who provide services in licensed birth centers. We were told that the Senator feels strongly about including CPMs in the health care bill and recognizes that her home state of Washington has played a leading role in demonstrating the high quality and low cost of CPM care. The Senator has heard the call from MAMA loud and clear and committed to finding a way to move the ball forward for CPMs.

Building from language crafted by the American Association of Birth Centers for legislation that will require that birth centers receive payment for facility fees, Senator Cantwell was able to add language specifying payment to the providers - licensed birth attendants - as well. Other Finance Committee members, including the Chairman, lined up with Senator Cantwell in support of her provision, demonstrating that our outreach to those offices has also borne fruit. Of great significance, she has also secured the commitment of Senator Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader at the center of crafting the final health care bill this year, to keep her language in this year's final bill. Inclusion of this language represents a significant commitment on the part of the Senator, and we are very grateful to her for this important step forward for CPMs and for expanded choice for women and families!

As a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Cantwell has a limited number of initiatives that she can champion herself, but she has offered to fully support any other Senator who will file MAMA's original provision on the floor of the Senate to require that Medicaid reimburse all CPMs in all settings.

We are proud of and grateful to all of the midwives and mothers in action in Washington State for the successful outreach to their Senator! And we are grateful to all of you who have helped to secure the wide support that the MAMA Campaign and CPMs enjoy in the Senate!

The provision included in the Senate Finance Committee bill will provide a strong legislative platform for further action to secure access to CPMs for all childbearing women, both in the current health care bill and in the years to come. It is interesting to note that a number of states have first secured just a portion of their initial legislative "ask" , and then accomplished their original goal in a subsequent year. In New Hampshire , for example, the midwives went to the legislature to mandate that all insurance carriers in the state reimburse the licensed midwives. That year, a mandate was passed that only reimbursed midwives operating out of licensed birth centers. The following year, the midwives were successful in having the mandate expanded to cover all licensed midwives offering services in all settings.

What is next for MAMA this year?
MAMA remains committed to including our original provision to mandate Medicaid reimbursement for all CPM services, regardless of site of birth, in the health care bills this year! We are in negotiation with Senate Finance Committee offices in the effort to secure a champion to file our amendment on the floor of the Senate. In addition, we have a strategy to leverage our support in both chambers to include our provision in the final bill that will be signed by the President, whatever the outcome in the Senate.

We need your help!
Please keep those letters to your Senators coming!
You never know which letter will take us over the top and into the bill! Write today!

And please keep your dollars coming! You have made possible the most successful fundraising campaign for midwives ever! Now we are asking that you dig just a little deeper to fund us through the end of this legislative session. We have raised $140,000 to date! Washington State donors have been especially generous, accounting for 20% of this amount. We must raise an additional $30,000 in the next few weeks. If you have not given yet, please make a donation today. If you have given, please consider an additional gift today.

Join MAMA in a Webinar about the Campaign next Monday!

Please join the MAMA campaign steering committee for an informational webinar on the MAMA Campaign on Monday, November 23rd from 8-9 PM EST. Register at https://www2. gotomeeting. com/register/ 709957571.
Come learn about our strategy, about exciting new developments in the campaign and about how you can support the Campaign's efforts to secure federal recognition of Certified Professional Midwives. The webinar will also strive to answer questions from supporters, so please submit questions ahead of the webinar by emailing info@mamacampaign. org, subject line "Webinar Question Submission." Click https://www2. gotomeeting. com/register/ 709957571 to register for the webinar.

MAMA thanks you for your support. If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact the campaign at info@mamacampaign. org.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grief & Taking a Break

Well, shortly after I posted last week my life took a sad and unexpected turn. I was 14 weeks pregnant with my third baby and we found out on Friday afternoon that the baby had died. Very early Saturday morning, he was born at home. Though it was different in some ways than a full-term birth, my experience of miscarriage was very much a birth--my water broke, I had "normal" contractions for about two hours, the baby was born, we saw the tiny umbilical cord, and so forth. I was surprised to discover that some of the same feelings of empowerment were also present after a "natural home miscarriage" as with a natural home birth--I felt strong and brave and like "I did it myself!" as well as amazed at how well my body worked and knew what to do. We learned the baby was our third boy and named him Noah.

I did have what I felt like was some excessive bleeding and ended up visiting the ER for about 4 hours on Saturday morning. Luckily, it turns out that I can lose way more blood than I ever imagined possible and still be okay (my trusty body DID know what it was doing). I am physically and emotionally wiped out, however, and will as such need to be taking a break from blogging here regularly. I was already trying to minimize my posts (while keeping to the once-a-week schedule I've faithfully maintained for quite some time), but now I need to just put this blog on "hold" for a short while. I may set up some posts to post automatically while I'm away, so it doesn't become too stale (I have some book reviews already written and waiting in a file, for example).

CfM Blogger

Friday, November 6, 2009

Articles of Interest

I have a lot of projects going on lately that are taking precedence over blogging here in a frequent or creative way (I am pregnant with my third baby and recently started teaching college classes. I also teach birth classes on a regular basis, homeschool my two boys, etc., etc., etc.). Bear with me and in January I should have more blog-time again!

So, this week I wanted to share some links to articles I read recently:

Three Minute Interview with Ginger Garner (yoga therapist) from the National Association of Mothers' Centers focusing on "Childbirth in America: Why it Needs to Change."

A quote I enjoyed from the article: "Birth is valuable. It gives rise to our entire future. There is power in our ability to give birth to the future of our planet. We need to reclaim that power."

Pregnant Prisoners article. In one residential parenting program mentioned in the article, "Another perk for pregnant women at the prison is access to a volunteer doula program. A non-profit group called The Birth Attendants offers monthly prenatal care, labor and delivery assistance, postpartum services, and family planning education courses."

Also getting a lot of attention in birth activism blogs are the new international infant mortality rankings.

Available at:

Or directly from:

Key findings

Infant mortality rates for preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) infants are lower in the United States than in most European countries; however, infant mortality rates for infants born at 37 weeks of gestation or more are higher in the United States than in most European countries.

One in 8 births in the United States were born preterm, compared with 1 in 18 births in Ireland and Finland.

If the United States had Sweden’s distribution of births by gestational age, nearly 8,000 infant deaths would be averted each year and the U.S. infant mortality rate would be one-third lower.

The main cause of the United States’ high infant mortality rate when compared with Europe is the very high percentage of preterm births in the United States.

CfM Blogger