Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Medical Care is a Consumer Issue

From the book Women and Doctors some good reminders that medical care is a consumer issue (and a business!):

"Keep in mind that health care is a business. Doctors would like to have you see them as thorough professionals, unsullied by such crass considerations as income and market share. Don't believe it! Not only are genuinely unethical and mercenary doctors actively marketing their operations, but well-intentioned doctors are doing it as well. In fact, the health-care system as a whole is actively pursuing you as a patient through the same techniques that everyone with a product is using to get you to be a customer. The danger lies in your failing to understand that. Be a smart and wary consumer, and keep the entire health-care system in the same perspective that you probably already have placed car dealers, insurance salesmen, and makers of food products."

And on a related note, here are some stats from the recent US Maternity Care Facts from Childbirth Connection:

In 2006, combined facility charges billed for "mother's pregnancy and delivery" and "newborn infants" ($86 billion) far exceeded charges for any other hospital condition in the United States.

In 2006, 42% of all maternal childbirth-related hospital stays were billed to Medicaid. The two most common conditions billed to Medicaid as the primary payer in 2007 were pregnancy and childbirth (28%) and newborns (26%), which together comprised 53% of discharges billed to Medicaid.

"Mother's pregnancy and delivery" and "newborn infants" were the first and third most expensive conditions billed to private insurance in 2006, involving 14% of hospital charges to private insurers, or $41 billion.

CfM Blogger

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Burnout Articles from Midwifery Today

I always enjoy reading my issues of Midwifery Today and in the most recent Winter issue two articles really stood out to me.

The first was:

The Rise and Fall of a Birth Junkie, by Mary Doyle
"A midwife describes both her passion for and addiction to the calling of midwifery, along with her subsequent burnout, and makes the case for prioritizing self-care within the midwifery profession."

Though I'm not a midwife, I found this article particularly interesting in light of conversations I've read in online forums about the appropriateness--or not--of using the term "birth junkie."

A quote that jumped out at me was "'Work more, sleep less, and don't eat--you have no time!' is not advice we'd ever give a client, and yet we do just this in our own lives--and we pay dearly for making those choices."

The second article was:

The Stork and the Phoenix: Birth, Burnout and Rebirth, by Michele Klein
"Author Michele Klein uses the archetypes of the stork and the phoenix to delve into the issues surrounding burnout within the midwifery profession, and provides examples of 'phoenix midwives' who have reinvented themselves and their roles 'with women.'"

I really enjoyed her exploration of "phoenix midwives" who rise from the ashes after burning out with midwifery and continue to serve women in other innovative capacities. I've seen this phenomenon amongst my own contacts in the birth world. I think the idea can apply to activists as well as to actual midwives. (As a side note, in the body of the article, the author cites one of my articles--"Birth Lessons from a Chicken"--and that was kind of fun to see :)

CfM Blogger

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

As you gather with your family for the 2009 Holiday Season, we wish you love, joy, and memories to last a lifetime, and we thank you for your support of Citizens for Midwifery. As we greet 2010, we hope every day brings new wonders and a promise of a more peaceful world for birthing women, babies, and families around the world.

Warmest Wishes!

CfM Blogger

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cardiology & Birth Analogy

I'm sorting through my large stacks of books containing pages I've marked with quotes/ideas I'd like to share via various blogs. The pile has become very overwhelming and I've decided I need to pare it down...decide what to post about and what to put back on my shelf. Some time ago, I shared a birth analogy from the book Mother's Intention about health clubs needing to be staffed with cardiologists (just in case one of the patrons had a heart problem while exercising).

Later in the book, the author employs another helpful analogy, again using cardiology as an example to make a point about inappropriately applied maternity care interventions:

What if...

You went to the doctor complaining of chest pain...not bad pain, but bothersome. To rule out a heart problem, the caregiver listens to your heart. He scowls, then excuses himself to make a phone call. He comes back in and tells you that you need to be admitted to the hospital for a test that requires the use of a drug. The drug has a low risk of serious complications, which is why you must be in the hospital, but he feels confident in taking that risk.

You go, and within minutes of having the drug administered, you have a heart attack. You are rushed into emergency open-heart surgery. Complications arise, but they are dealt with. You nearly bleed to death, but with a blood replacement you recover.

The repair doesn't go well, which may mean you will need further surgery later...maybe even a heart transplant. You definitely will need to change your previously active lifestyle.

Later, you discover the call your care provider places wasn't to a specialist, but an HMO lawyer who advised him not to let you walk out the door, just in case the routine examination missed a serious problem. You also learn there were less dangerous ways to determine if there could be a minor problem.

It turns out, you really did have a minor case of heartburn. All you have been through was unavoidable, but "As long as everyone's ok now...that's all that matters"...right?

A comment like that, to a mother who has suffered unnecessarily, when she would have--or could have had--the result of a live, healthy baby without such sacrifice, disregards her feelings of loss.

Parents should be expecting more!

In another book waiting in my pile (Open Season), I was amused to see a quote marked in which OBGYN care is referred to as "gynogadgetry."

And in another book, The Doula Guide to Birth, I marked another quote that feels very relevant to the others above: [a March 2006 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology] "reviewed all fifty-five of ACOG's current practice bulletins, calling these articles 'perhaps the most influential publications for clinicians involved with obstetric and gynecological care.' The study concluded that 'among the 438 recommendations made by ACOG, less than one third [23 percent] are based on good and consistent scientific evidence.'"

Enough said.

CfM Blogger

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Breastfeeding & Birth Continuing Education Resources

Infant Feeding in Emergencies webinar presented by Dr. Karleen Gribble. Some REALLY good stuff here.

Free online courses from USAID via Global Health e-learning centre
(Lots of courses, not just about breastfeeding, but worldwide information about things like infant sepsis, postpartum care, family planning, etc. Great resource! These are not webinars, but are web-based training--click from page to page to page.)

Violence against Women and the Perinatal Period: The Impact of Lifetime Violence and Abuse on Pregnancy and Postpartum

Breastfeeding after Sexual Abuse

Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Parents of Premature Infants

Hope these are helpful! If you only choose one to click on, I highly recommend the infant feeding in emergencies webinar (it does take about an hour, so if you have less time go with the three article links instead...)

CfM Blogger

Friday, December 18, 2009

Response to Boston Radio Program About CPMs

To hear a recent discussion on legislature to create a registry for CMs and CPMs in Massachusetts and read the posted comments, click on this link. Dr Eugene DeClerq did a great job during the interview and our own Susan Hodges posted the following informative comment:

Midwives and midwifery clients and advocates have been working for many years to achieve meaningful regulation for midwives in Massachusetts. The current bill this radio show refers to would create a Board of Registration of Midwifery, which will license and regulate the practice of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Certified Midwives (CMs), and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). The point of having such legislation is both to create a reasonable system of accountability AND to increase access to midwives in all settings.

There is no one type of provider or one birth setting that is best for all pregnant women, because we are all unique individuals. There are always some risks in childbirth, no matter where or with whom you give birth. For most women, pregnancy is a normal process that proceeds on its own unless interfered with, but this process can also be affected by the mother’s beliefs and feelings, and by how she is treated by the people who are with her and their beliefs about birth. Furthermore, a great deal of standard hospital and obstetric practices and interventions applied to women in labor are not based on any evidence at all. Therefore, it is only reasonable that women should have a range of proven options available to them. Passing legislation that enables credentialed midwives to practice legally and with accountability makes sense. No one is going to force any woman to have a home birth, or to have a midwife, but for those of us who would prefer to be attended by a midwife in hospital, birth center or home, such legislation would certainly increase our options.

ACOG is a professional organization accountable only to its members. It does not have evidence to support its anti-home birth stance, it is based purely on belief! See their statement at . It states: “ACOG believes that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center …” without citing a single reference to support this “belief”. So much for scientific medicine. In fact, a large collection of studies over many years and in a number of countries has consistently shown that for a woman having a normal pregnancy a planned homebirth with a trained midwife is as safe as the hospital, with far fewer interventions and less morbidity for mothers and babies. (for just one example, see and see more fact sheets and resources on the CfM website).

Obstetricians and hospitals are not accountable for their outcomes. For example, while the cesarean rates have been increasing every year (now over 30%!!) in the absence of any medical justification for such high rates, no one in state or federal government offices has even been asking: Are we having better outcomes for mothers and babies with these rates of cesarean sections? In fact, research has shown that when cesarean rates rise above 10 to 15%, more babies and mothers die than are saved by the surgery. Similarly, no one has been asking about outcomes related to the huge increases in induction, use of drugs to intensify labor, and use of epidurals. In contrast, even the relatively rare instances of a midwife transferring a laboring woman to a hospital for medical care usually are scrutinized critically.

Informed consent in hospital-based maternity care in general is a joke – women are not adequately informed about the pros and cons (including the % risk) for specific interventions and for NOT doing the intervention. Hospitals and obstetricians rarely if ever inform women that there are economic incentives behind each and every “suggested” practice and intervention, ie, conflicts of interest. In contrast, most states that regulate out-of-hospital midwives require extensive disclosure documents that the client must read and sign.

A woman can find out far more information about a used car than she can find out about her obstetrician. In most states, she may be able with some difficulty to find out rates for some interventions (cesarean section, induction) and outcomes (perinatal death, maternal death) for a local hospital, but not for individual obstetricians. For rates of episiotomies and cesarean sections, research has shown enormous variation among individual providers, even within the same hospital, demonstrating the lack of evidence for the high rates of these practices. A midwife is trained to observe and monitor, but not to intervene unless there is clear justification, because her focus is on supporting the normal birth, not getting in the way. For most women choosing a midwife, especially outside the hospital, she can be pretty sure she will not be subjected to any unnecessary interventions.

Nearly 25 years ago, when intervention rates were far lower than today, I was pregnant with my first baby. My husband (a scientist, and from a medical family) and I did extensive research regarding our options and birth practices. Even then, there was plenty of evidence that unless you had a real medical reason to be in a hospital to give birth, you would be better off at home with a midwife. As a result, at 7 ½ months we switched to a home birth midwife (who happened to be one of very few CNMs with a home birth practice at that time). It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only did I get outstanding care and support, but my midwife competently, safely and non-intrusively addressed a minor “variation on normal”; had I been in the hospital, standard practice would almost certainly have caused a life-threatening hemorrhage. Glad I was at home with a midwife!

Susan Hodges

Disclosure: I am a founding member of and current president of Citizens for Midwifery, a national non-profit organization providing information about midwives and the Midwives Model of Care.

Book Review: The Power of Women

The Power of Women
By Sister MorningStar
Motherbaby Press, 2009
ISBN 978-1-890446-43-7
201 pages, paperback, $29.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

Occasionally, a book comes into my life that touches me so deeply that I am at a loss for words. The new book, The Power of Women, by Sister MorningStar, is one of those rare books. A treasure. A gem. A rare jewel. A delight. These are the words that do come to mind. However, superlatives--though true--do little justice to describing the actual book.

The Power of Women is a book of "instinctual" birth stories told through the eyes of a gifted and sensitive midwife. The stories are from her perspective, not the mother's. Each story has either a lesson to share or is a glimpse into that deep inner wisdom and strength found in birthing women that is so easily ignored or dismissed in our modern birth culture. This book is good "word medicine" and the empowering stories within it shine a light to help other women trust their instincts. This light also helps other birth professionals rediscover the magic and mystery and wonder of birth and women.

The Power of Women also touched me in a special way because the author divides her time between my own native Missouri and a birth center in Mexico. Some of the stories shared take place in each location (more from Mexico). I found it delightful to discover the power of my own Missouri midwifery activist friends represented throughout the book. Familiar names and faces graced the pages for me and it was a treat to experience that connection.

The book consists of twelve chapters, each containing 5-9 different stories each. The stories themselves are not long, narrative birth accounts, but are moments captured brilliantly for the glimpse of powerful truth they share. Some are only 1/2 page in length--but the depth in each is great. The chapters are titled things like "Stories of Power" or "Stories of Courage" or "Stories of Community and the tales shared therein are loosely bound together with that common thread.

To be clear, not all of the stories are "happy" or are necessarily "good" birth stories, some are even fairly scary and even depressing. All are powerful.

My only critique of the book, which I hesitate to share because it seems petty in light of such a beautiful and wise book, is that the formatting of the text is odd. The font size is small and the text tightly spaced with very small indents.

If you find yourself in a place where you feel trapped alone in a world where the birth you love so much is becoming a "mythological story," read this book. If you are an aspiring or current midwife, doula, or childbirth educator and wish to deepen your understanding of birth, read this book. If you are a pregnant woman hungering to dig deeply into instinctual birth and the wisdom and power of story, read this book. The Power of Women is a powerful, touching, and magical journey.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Grassroots Network: Childbirth Connection e-News

Dear Friends,

I just received an e-news post from Childbirth Connection. Among other items of interest, it announces a useful new document:

"Know your facts when you discuss maternity care in the US. We have compiled a brief, new resource document called 'United States Maternity Care Facts and Figures.' It details current statistics including the number of births, proportion of hospital care that is devoted to the care of pregnant women and babies, maternity outcomes such as preterm birth and low birthweight rates, as well as statistics about paying for maternity care."

You can find that document here.

The e-news included information about some recent maternity care research, as well as several other useful links.

Anyone can sign up to receive Childbirth Connection e-news. Go here to do so.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Grassroots Network: “2009 – A great year for CPMs and Mothers!”

Dear Friends,

Below is the latest from the MAMA Campaign. Of particular note: a recording of the webinar from December 3 is now available on-line!

Susan Hodges “gatekeeper”


From the MAMA Campaign 12/9/09:
2009 – A great year for CPMs and Mothers!
As the U.S. Congress keeps working on health care reform all the way up to the Christmas holiday, the MAMA Campaign is going to keep working right along with them to get Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) included in the health care reform bill!

As we keep up the effort to include CPMs, (we’re on the Hill today, the 15th, as we write this to you!), the turn of the year is also a time to take pride in the high points and accomplishments of 2009.

2009: What a Year for CPMs!
Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) was “birthed” by the partner organizations on the International Day of the Midwife in Washington, D.C. in May. Since then, MAMA:

  • Hired a national health policy and lobbying firm to guide our advocacy work in DC
  • Held a “fly-in” of more than twenty MAMA activists to DC in June to meet with over 30 key congress members
  • Traveled to DC nearly every week throughout the summer and fall to build support in the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which have jurisdiction over Medicaid issues
  • Prepared a cost-analysis based on Medicaid data from a health policy study in Washington State that was submitted to the Congressional Budget Office on our behalf by Chairman Waxman’s office
  • Met with 8 top Medicaid officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), a very unusual opportunity for a provider group new to Capitol Hill
  • Achieved a significant partial victory: Senator Cantwell’s provision in the Senate bill that will have the effect of requiring Medicaid to pay the provider fee, in addition to the facility fee, to CPMs attending births in birth centers
  • Has raised over $140,000 towards our goal since mid-July in the most successful fundraising effort for midwives ever!
  • Is still on the Hill for CPMs as we move into January, working to include CPMs in the final health care bill that will be signed by the President!

Thanks to all of you MAMA supporters and your letters, faxes, calls and in-district visits to your legislators, all of the key Senate and House offices now are aware of the benefits that CPMs bring to women and families in quality of care and cost-savings to the system! A huge thank-you to all of you! As we head into the New Year for CPMs, we take with us what our lobbyist, Billy Wynne, has told us: that, in just a few short months, we have achieved Congressional attention and support for our cause that often takes 3 to 4 years! Thank you for your dedication and support!

MAMA Was So Happy to See You!
Thanks to all of you who joined us last week for our Campaign Webinar: MAMA Has Good News to Share! We had a great time and, from your comments, so did you! For those of you who were not able to join us live, a recording of the Webinar is now available at:

Why Including CPMs in Medicaid Will Improve the Lives of Women
As we take stock at the end of this year, we never forget who we’re working for: women who need the choice of a CPM but won’t be able to afford one unless CPMs are included in Medicaid.

We are reminded of the work of CPMs Constance Frey, LM, CPM, and Carolee Hall, LM, CPM. Frey and Hall have a thriving midwifery practice in Olympia, Washington, which attends to 10 20% teenage clients.

Midwifery care, which offers these young women choices and gives them the opportunity to birth unhindered by medication, can allow these girls and young women to be authorities over their own bodies. Direct entry midwifery care provides for one-on-one counseling between midwife and client, and focuses on educating the client, making her a partner in her own healthcare.

They gain confidence to birth their own babies without pain medication and surrounded by love,” says Frey. “Oftentimes teens are the population that needs more of the individual attention that a midwifery practice can offer them.” Frey and Hall have had great success with teens who come to their clinic with difficult histories, including drug abuse, and who are able to change their lives to become more responsible and healthier. “Many, many of these teens end up having natural, unmedicated childbirth and breastfeeding their babies.”
Like most midwives in Washington State, Frey and Hall’s practice is comprised in large part of women on Medicaid. “We are committed to working as much as possible with those whom we can support as they step into that transition into education and empowerment.”

MAMA Reaches Down Deep to Fund the Campaign!
The end of the year is almost here! Donations continue to flow in, providing MAMA with the fuel she needs to reach the finish line! State midwifery and consumer organizations from New England to California and Michigan to Texas have been stepping up to help. The breadth and commitment of our donors continues to amaze us! Can you help MAMA send out the year with a bang? Help MAMA get a great start on 2010 ... donate today!
Go to to donate to MAMA!

MAMA Is Blogging Health Care Reform
Tune into the Grapevine at: , MAMA’s source for keeping you up-to-date on health care reform. And check in today to hear about the BBC interview with Alena Ciecko, daughter of our own Campaign Steering Committee member, Jo Anne Myers-Ciecko, and her experience of being pregnant in the US.

See You Next Year!
This is the last scheduled MAMA Campaign Eblast of 2009. The MAMA Campaign Eblast-writing crew is taking the holidays off to enjoy with our families. Then, come January, we’ll be back at work to let you know everything that happened over those two weeks…and so much more. Please look for us in the New Year!

If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact the campaign at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nils Bergman Kangaroo Care Presentation

Via the lovely ladies at Independent Childbirth, I came across this slideshow presentation about skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and perinatal neuroscience by Dr. Nils Bergman. Lots and lots of amazing and useful information!

Super short summary of the 243 slides: babies NEED to be with their mothers following birth in order to develop proper neural connections and ensure healthy brain development and proper brain "organization." Mother's chest is baby's natural post-birth "habitat" and is of vital developmental and survival significance. Breastfeeding = Brain wiring.

It would be nice to see every NICU and hospital have an in-service about this.

I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Bergman present on this subject in person at the La Leche League International conference in 2007. (Indeed, I actually ended up "performing" on stage with him in a mimed play put on immediately prior to his presentation!) He is a dynamic and engaging speaker (with a great accent!) and has so much of value to share. I will never forget hearing his duet with an LLL Leader of the song "Anything Tech Can Do, Mum Can Do Better."

Yes she can, yes she can, yes she CAAAANNNNNN!!

CfM Blogger

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Facebook Fan Page

Citizens for Midwifery has a newly established fan page on Facebook. Feel free to click the new "find us on Facebook" link on the right hand sidebar to become a fan!

This blog feeds directly into the Facebook page, so for those of you who are reading the post via Facebook, thanks for already being a fan!

CfM Blogger

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grassroots Network: “MAMA Is Still on the Hill for You!”

Dear Friends,

Below is the latest from the MAMA Campaign. You’ll find more information about Senator Cantwell’s amendment that mandates Medicaid reimbursement for state-recognized midwives (including CPMs) providing services in birth centers.

The MAMA Campaign Steering Committee is continuing to work hard to get CPMs included as Medicaid providers in the health care reform legislation as Congress nears the finish line for that effort. There are still opportunities – it’s not over yet!

So, please continue to fax and e-mail letters to your Senators and Representatives. They really need to hear from you, their constituents! See some short and easy sample letters at: and more detailed info at: Keep those letters coming – they do make a difference!

And please consider making a donation -- any amount will help!

Susan Hodges “gatekeeper”


From the MAMA Campaign 12/9/09:

MAMA Is Still on the Hill for You!
The US Senate is pushing forward to pass health care reform by Christmas! And MAMA is on the Hill right along with your Congress Members urging that CPMs be included in this bill! This past week we met with several supportive Senator offices in our efforts to accomplish this goal.

MAMA will be working for midwives and mothers on Capitol Hill right up to the final vote on the joint House/Senate bill, expected to take place by the third week in January. The provision to reimburse CPMs in the Federal Medicaid program enjoys wide support in Congress, thanks in large part to your great outreach to your Congress Members. MAMA will continue to leverage this support to take advantage of any and all opportunities to include CPMs in the health care bill throughout the entire process during this congressional session.

MAMA Was So Happy to See You!
Thanks to all of you who joined us last week for our Campaign Webinar: MAMA Has Good News to Share! We had a great time and, from your comments, so did you! Over 50 people participated. The MAMA Campaign Steering Committee shared information about the campaign strategy, infrastructure, accomplishments, and steps forward. Participants were excited to hear details about Senator Maria Cantwell adding language to reimburse CPMs in licensed birth centers into the Senate bill. And we were excited to be joined on the Webinar by our DC lobbyist, Billy Wynne who shared with us his perspective on the Campaign’s progress!

Participants commented:

-“I was able to get a better grasp of the routes which this campaign must navigate- from lobbyist, to the Senate, to the House. I was pleased to hear that great progress is being made.”

-“I am impressed by the continuity of effort put out by everyone and the seriousness it garnered. I thank you immensely.”

-“Congratulations on this tremendous effort!”

-“It is good to know that the MAMA Campaign is run by real people and is alive and well…hearing from each of you was very promising.”

We Especially Enjoyed Answering Your Questions!
Billy and our Steering Committee members were able to answer a number of questions during the Webinar. For those of you who submitted questions that we did not have time to answer during the call, you will be hearing from us soon. And we thought we would answer one of your questions here as well:

I have read Senator Cantwell’s language regarding the payment of provider fees for birth center birth attendants and I don’t see how this language constitutes a the mandate to pay the provider fee. Can you walk us through this?"

Answer: As you will remember from our last few Eblasts, MAMA has had a terrific victory in the last few weeks: under the Senate version of the health care reform bill, Certified Professional Midwives who deliver in birth centers will have their provider fee reimbursed by Medicaid. The provision included by Senator Cantwell to move the ball forward for CPMs is included in the section of the Senate bill that mandates that the facility fee for birth centers be paid by Medicaid. It reads:

"A State shall provide separate payments to providers administering prenatal labor and delivery or postpartum care in a freestanding birth center…such as nurse midwives and other providers of services such as birth attendants recognized under State law, as determined appropriate by the Secretary."

It is typical that mandates for reimbursement by Medicaid be included in Section 1905 of the Social Security Act, and MAMA’s provision to reimburse CPMs in Medicaid is drafted to be included in the SS Act. However, Congress has the power to establish a mandate for coverage of CPM services anywhere, as it has done here with Senator Cantwell’s provision.

The provision is a mandate because it begins with “shall” rather than a “may.” That is the operative word and the operative distinction. There is no discretion in the language to ignore the directive to make the separate provider payments.

And while “As determined appropriate by the Secretary” might make you worry (after all, what if the Secretary says “no?”), don’t: this is very common language that just makes clear that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has discretion in interpreting legislative text. The second sentence of subparagraph (C), makes very clear who the Secretary needs to include in defining “birth attendant”. This phrase regarding the Secretary does not in any way negate the mandate or leave it to the discretion of the Secretary whether or not to make the separate provider payments. The mandate for payment of provider fees has the force of law with this language. We have researched this language with our lobby office where they have many years of experience in drafting key Medicaid legislation for Congress, and we have no concerns about the effectiveness of this provision.

In answer to another question: the use of the term “birth attendant” in this bill is intended to be inclusive, not diminishing, and will in no way undermine the efforts and accomplishments in the state statutes to use the term “Licensed” for midwives.

MAMA Reaches Down Deep to Fund the Campaign!
MAMA supporters are reaching down deep this month to get MAMA to the finish line! While the Senate is working overtime to find their way through the health care reform debate, we are also finding creative ways to support the work of our volunteers and professional lobbyist.

  • State midwifery and consumer groups are spreading the word -- recent gifts have come from Massachusetts, California, and Colorado.
  • A local brewpub in Montana hosted a fundraiser for MAMA on the night before Thanksgiving.
  • A midwifery school director has challenged students and faculty to match her own contribution.
  • A photographer in Maine is taking holiday portraits for midwifery clients and donating 50% of her sales.

Thank you to all of our donors -- we're almost there! Please send a donation today! Click here to donate to MAMA!

If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact the campaign at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Grassroots Network: OB supports delayed cord clamping

Dear Friends,

As we try to change the way childbirth is conducted, the question of when the cord is clamped affects both mothers and babies. While immediate cord clamping is habitual in hospital-based obstetrics, midwives, especially out-of-hospital, typically delay cord clamping at least until the cord has stopped pulsing.

Now Nicholas Fogelson (an OB?) has written an excellent commentary on the need for this OB practice to change, including references:

Delayed Cord Clamping Should Be Standard Practice in Obstetrics
December 3, 2009

For anyone working to achieve this change in practice, this will be a good resource. And there are good comments to which Fogelson has promptly written thoughtful responses.

Yet another instance of midwives being ahead of the game!

Susan Hodges "gatekeeper"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Permission to Mother

Permission to Mother
By Denise Punger, MD, IBCLC
OutskirtsPress 2007
Softcover, 257 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4327-0385-1

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

Written by a doctor and mother of three sons, Permission to Mother is a series of short, autobiographical vignettes about various natural mothering topics. The style is both a strength and weakness of the book. The bite-sized stories are perfect for a busy mother to read in between household tasks or while nursing her baby. However, the brevity precludes depth and most topics lacked full exploration. Many of the “chapters” are only one page in length (sometimes only half a page). The longest are 3-4 pages. This is not sufficient space to really examine a topic—instead the sections are more like short anecdotes/snippets from the author’s life and experiences, often ending almost as soon as they began.

The book is organized into four parts. The stories in Part One cover a variety of topics beginning with Dr. Punger’s experiences with birth in medical school, then moving into her own birth experiences, her experiences working with a doula, and homebirth observations. The highlight of the whole book is the birth story of her third son—an undiagnosed double footling breech birth at home.

The second section of the book address “The Breastfeeding Years” and includes a wide variety of stories about nursing during pregnancy, tandem nursing, working and breastfeeding, becoming an IBCLC, breastfeeding through anesthesia, and also segments about the family bed, cloth diapering, homeschooling, and unschooling. A surprising story in this section called “My Spiritual Journey as a Physician, Mother and IBCLC,” is actually a story about her sons’ circumcisions. Depending on your personal feelings about circumcision, this section may sadden or disappoint you or it my provide reassurance about your own decisions.

Part Three addresses “Breastfeeding Medicine” and explores some case examples from the author’s medical practice with nursing mothers. Again, the segments are so brief that they contain little of clinical value to other practitioners.

Part Four is a brief section about “Why I Do the Work I Do” and consists of letters to the author from satisfied clients.

As I read this book, I had the persistent feeling that much of the content had been written for other sources—perhaps a magazine or a blog. There was a choppiness to the writing that conveyed this sense. And, as previously referenced, the extremely short, vignette format lent an unsatisfying incompleteness to many of the stories. I also noted a higher-than-average number of minor errors in the text contributing an amateur quality to the book.

Despite these critiques, it was refreshing to read about natural mothering from a physician’s perspective and I enjoyed her insights about breastfeeding medicine. (Can you imagine how the world might look if more physicians practiced with this background and experience?!) If you are looking for short, personal narrative experiences of natural mothering, you may enjoy the simple style and friendly stories in Permission to Mother.

Originally published in The CAPPA Quarterly, October 2008.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Doula Article

Felt the need to post a link to this article about doctors' objecting to doulas in the birth room. The champion opening line was what hooked me:

"Like some ancient wounded creature, the male medical establishment occasionally lashes out in uncomprehending fury at 'patient-led' developments in medical care that threaten to undermine its power."


CfM Blogger

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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Birth, Breastfeeding and Feminism?

Earlier this year a birth activist contacted me for information about feminism and birth. Her "fire" was to write an article was lit by recent (at the time) articles praising elective cesareans. Her article was going to be about feminism and its history in birthwork as well as what she is seeing a current "backlash" against the work of doulas, chidlbirth educators, and midwives (so, elective cesarean being framed as a "feminist" choice in some articles). She asked me for additional articles about similar issues and questions.

I never received an update as to whether she finished her article--I'd certainly love to read it when it is finished! I sent her some suggestions of other articles and resources to assist with the preparation of her article and I wanted to share those links here as well (since I bothered writing them all down!).

From the same site as "In Praise of the C-Section," there is another one about natural vs. medicated birth that critiques the "cult" of natural childbirth.

Then, a much older piece from Salon called I Believed in the Breast, which is basically a critique of La Leche League, but touches on feminism and breastfeeding as well. Speaking of breastfeeding as a feminist issue, I previously posted here about this French article about whether or not breastfeeding is feminist.

There is an extensive thread on the subject of birth and feminism on the AllDoulas messages boards that is extremely fascinating. If it won't let you see the messages without registering, you can register and then search for the thread called Feminism, Birth, and Breastfeeding. It is quite long and represents a LOT of differences in thought about the subject (some of them are disturbing to me, actually).

Then, this blog has a whole series of posts/thoughts about feminist theory and birth that are just great.

And then this is another radical feminist doula blog.

A book I enjoy that explores these ideas (and that yes, talks about the feminists promotion of Twilight Sleep and the paternalism of early birth prep methods) is: In Labor: Women and Power in the Birthplace by Barbara Katz Rothman.

An article that was published since our conversation that is also relevant is Jennifer Block's Birth Wars article.

Several articles that prompted the original question were:

Tova Mirvis, "In Praise of the C-Section: I’m not sorry I didn’t have a natural birth" (March 2009)

Hanna Rosin, "The Case Against Breastfeeding," in The Atlantic. (March 2009)

"Baby Food: If breast is best, why are women bottling their milk?" by Jill Lepore, New Yorker, January 19, 2009

Extreme Birth: The fearless—some say too fearless—new leader of the home-birth movement. By Andrew Goldman (March 2009)

"A Doula Makes Four" by Pamela Paul, New York Times (March 2008)

The Way We Live Now: 10-31-99:; Pay on Delivery By Margaret Talbot,

On a related note, I also received an email about a conference about Breastfeeding and Feminism: Rethinking Public Health Approaches to be held in March, 2010.

CfM Blogger

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Push Alert re: CPM Petition

Push the Petition! We're Nearly 10,000 Strong!

Thank you for signing the petition supporting CPMs in health care reform.

We need to reach our goal of 10,000 names this week, as Congress moves closer to taking final action on health care reform legislation. All members of Congress need to know that support for CPMs and out-of-hospital birth in their state is strong!

Be sure to forward this message far and wide and ask your family and friends to lend their support to the cause.

Midwives, it is especially important for you to let your clients know that we need them to speak up!

If you live in one of the following states, we really need you to act. We can't allow Delaware's Congressional delegation to believe that only 11 people in the entire state support midwives and home birth! If you live in Delaware, spread the word NOW!

Or Utah, South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming! Surely there are at least 100 people in each of these states who can let their elected officials in DC know how much they support access to midwifery care!

Most states have hundreds of signatures, some close to 1000. But if you live President Obama's home state of Hawaii, or in Senator McCaskill's home state, Missouri, or in her neighbor state, Kansas, Congress needs to hear your voices today!

We can't afford to allow any members of Congress to think that there are fewer than 100 midwifery supporters in ANY state! If you have family or friends in any of the states mentioned, please reach out to them.

Those are states with fewer than 100 signatures but we need ALL the states to give the petition one more Push over the top so we can reach our goal and put Congress on notice that we want access to CPMs now!

Grassroots Network: Getting Medicaid Reimbursement for Birth Centers

Dear Friends,

Here's one more action you can take to Support CPMs and Out of Hospital Birth!

The American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) has been working hard to address a critical challenge for birth centers: no Medicaid reimbursement for facility fees, which threatens the very existence of many birth centers. (Did you know: about half of birth centers in the U.S. are owned and operated by Certified Professional Midwives, and CPMs and CNMs work side by side in many.)

Please support this important effort! AABC has been successful in getting amendments introduced in both the House and the Senate that should be part of the health care reform bills now being prepared in Congress. Now we can all help by making sure our U.S. Senators and Representatives know about this provision and that we, their constituents, want it included.

Read the Alert "What do the Birth Center Bill and the Tour de France have in common?" at . It includes links for everything you need to know to effectively contact your Congress people about this issue.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maternal Mortality Graph

I found this image on the BOLD blog and found it very striking and wanted to share it here.

CfM Blogger

Grassroots Network: Actions to Support CPMs and Out of Hospital Birth!

Dear Friends,

As the Senate and House are in the final weeks and days of preparing their Health Reform bills for floor debate, THIS IS THE TIME to write letters and anything else you can do to make sure your Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC, know that you want CPMs included at the federal level!

This e-mail includes three things to as soon as possible!

1. The MAMA Campaign continues working in DC to have Certified Professional Midwives included on the federal list of Medicaid Providers. Please write a brief letter to your Senators and Representatives today! They need to hear from their constituents! Even if you think your Congress people have already decided not to vote for any health reform bill, write to them anyway about CPMs. You can find all the needed information (including sample letter language and links for finding who your representative and senators are and how to contact them) at the Take Action page of the MAMA Campaign website:

2. The National Women's Law Center has produced a brief video "A Woman Is Not a Preexisting Condition!" that you can see at:
They have an email setup right on that page to send emails to Congress about this issue, which has a section to add your own words. This is a great opportunity to add some sentences about CPMs, birth centers, and out of hospital birth in general. Thanks to Susan Jenkins for sending this information!

3. The Big Push for Midwives is encouraging everyone to sign their petition supporting CPMs and out-of-hospital birth. This is easy to do, and you are encouraged to forward this request to others. The petition sign-up is at: Find the full text of the Big Push notice at the end of this message.

This is our chance! Let's make sure Congress "gets it" about Certified Professional Midwives!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Celebrity Webisodes on My Best Birth

I confess to having been a fairly devoted fan of the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer TV show. So, imagine my delight to discover a "Celebrity Birth Webisode" on the MyBestBirth website featuring Alyson Hannigan (Willow in Buffy, now known for playing other roles, but Willow to me!) and her husband Alexis Denisof (Wesley on Buffy). In part 1, they discuss choosing to have a homebirth and the concerns/questions of people around them ("where is Alexis going to sit?" was a popular one from Alyson's mother) and also the reaction of their doctor when they asked him to provide hombirth backup (fear tactics). I look forward to seeing part 2 when it is available.

Also in the series are episodes with Cindy Crawford and Melissa Joan Hart.

I also confess to being a Xena fan--Lucy Lawless had a homebirth as well, so perhaps she'll be in a webisode next and make my fangirl heart content :)

CfM Blogger

*Note that to get the videos to play, I had to open them in Explorer instead of Firefox.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review: Fathers-To-Be Handbook

Fathers-To-Be Handbook: A Road Map for the Transition to Fatherhood
By Patrick Houser
Creative Life Systems, 2007
Softcover, 160 pages, $16.95.
ISBN: 978-0-615-23338-3

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

I am delighted to see another contribution to a growing body of birth and fatherhood literature written for men. Unlike other fathering books I’ve reviewed recently (which were also wonderful) the Fathers-To-Be Handbook was actually written by a man! This man-to-man, father-to-father perspective is a valuable strength of the book.

Patrick Houser is the father of two boys, both born at home with a midwife. His second son, born in 1980 in Missouri, was the first documented water birth in the U.S. The author has been based in the U.K. for a number of years now and is the co-founder of a wonderful organization called Fathers-To-Be, offering resources and education for expectant fathers as well as to the childbirth professionals who work with them.

Fathers-To-Be Handbook is a quick read and is a small-size paperback; like a “pocket guide.” It is definitely meant to accompany other reading and classes. It does not have an index, but does have a helpful resources section.

The first several chapters of the book are about the experience of fathering—about becoming a father, your personal history with your own father (“fathering school”—what was your teacher like?), the importance of fathers, and the journey through pregnancy. The final four chapters address preparing for birth, giving good support, empowered birth, and fathering the newborn. The handbook is very supportive of midwifery, homebirth, and doulas. It also encourages fathers to have a male support person nearby the birthing room (or perhaps available for support by phone).

As the author states in an article included at the end of the handbook, "Humanity cannot invent a drug that can work better than a mother's body can manufacture or a knife that is sharper than her instinctual nature." I deeply enjoyed an addition to birth literature that both honors the father’s experience and is rooted in a positive, healthy, celebratory approach towards birth and the inherent capabilities of a woman’s body.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Media & Midwifery

On Thursday, a good article called "Media out of focus on midwifery" was published in the New Haven Register. Written by a professor of midwifery at Yale, the article includes some excellent observations such as:

"It is puzzling that these stories often do not cite well-documented evidence about outcomes of the practice of midwifery in the United States, nor invite representatives of the American College of Nurse-Midwives or the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives to comment."

and my favorite,

"Women are not seeking 'designer' births. They are looking for humanistic care during pregnancy, labor and birth and are increasingly having difficulty finding that in many hospitals."

CfM Blogger

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grassroots Network: Maternity care insurance problem stories needed!

Dear Friends,

Please read the "Urgent request for stories" message from ICAN below. They are looking for documented accounts where women have had problems with insurance coverage related to pregnancy, particularly regarding discriminatory insurance practices based on a previous cesarean section. Read below for more details and what you can do.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"


From: Gretchen Humphries
Subject: Urgent request for stories

I have sent you this request because of your connections within the Birth Community. I hope that you will see if there is any way you can assist ICAN with this request.

We have made this request before but now the stakes are really high. Peggy Robertson is a woman from CO who testified yesterday before the HELP committee (the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee) about being denied coverage because of a previous cesarean, unless she could prove she had been sterilized. (We managed to work in a couple of comments about VBAC bans too! Which got some response from a couple of Senators!) Senator Mikulski, who chaired that hearing, has asked for more stories similar to Peggy Robertson's. Please distribute this request as widely as you can

-ICAN needs stories about discriminatory insurance practices based on a previous cesarean. This can include but is not limited to demands for sterilization, restrictions on how soon you can have another pregnancy and be covered, higher premiums, restrictions on the total amount of benefits they will pay, excessively high deductibles for maternity care. Even if all you have is your name, state, contact information (email is fine) and a description of the circumstances (with the name of the relevant insurance company(ies) if possible) we can use it. If you have written documentation, that would be pure gold.

There is interest about this at the highest levels of the Federal Govt. and we will use this to open the discussion on other areas of discrimination (like VBAC bans, lack of transparency, etc) please, take a moment and get the information to ICAN. You can email me at or you can snail mail to ICAN of Ann Arbor, PO Box 48, Stockbridge, MI 49285.

Your story could make a difference that would improve the care available for millions of women and their babies.

Gretchen Humphries
Advocacy Director, ICAN
(517) 745-7297