Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Better Childbirth? Lower Costs? Midwives Deliver!

Jennifer Block's excellent oped was picked up by a third newspaper.

Pre-order your t-shirt!

Want to maximize our impact at the capitol in two weeks? Buy and wear a black got midwife? t-shirt! Imagine a sea of black got midwife? t-shirts filling the capitol, showing the Illinois General Assembly that WE NEED MIDWIVES!

We are going to order a limited number of black got midwife? t-shirts for the rally. You can help us pay for the order, by pre-ordering on PayPal! (Please read all the instructions below and then visit and click on the PayPal Donate button on the lower left to pre-order your shirt.)

The t-shirt is be 100% cotton, short-sleeved black t-shirt (more details coming Friday, after the holiday), with white printing across the chest saying, got midwife?

Cost is $12 if picked up at the rally, or
$15 if you to ship it to your home after the rally, ground delivery of our choice.

Sizes available:

Youth XS, S, M, L, XL
Adult S, M, L, XL (XXL AND XXXL available for an additional $2/must order by )

Because we are not a company that normally sells merchandise, we have a few special notices.

IF YOU PRE-ORDER FOR PICK UP AT THE RALLY, YOU MUST PRINT OUT YOUR RECEIPT AND BRING IT WITH YOU TO THE RALLY!!! We will have a list for the earlier orders placed, but at some point we will be traveling and preparing for the hearing, so we will not have a complete list at the rally, and we are very limited in the time we have to place the final order. If we don't have you listed, you will have to have proof of payment via your PayPal receipt, to pick up your shirt or will have to pay cash of what is still available to pick up a shirt that day.

We are ordering a limited number of t-shirts. We can only guarantee to reserve sizes pre-ordered by Sunday January 4, 2008. We will try our best but cannot 100% guarantee size availability if you order after Sunday, January 4, 2009. Otherwise, all t-shirts are on a first come, first served basis at the time of pickup, the days of the rally, January 12/13, 2009.

When you order, you must write in your PayPal comments section the number of t-shirts, in which sizes, and the name of the person who will pick up the t-shirts in Springfield. Please include the full street address where the shirt should be shipped. IF WE DON'T RECEIVE THIS INFORMATION WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RESERVE YOUR SHIRTS. Again, we are not a company that normally sells products, so our PayPal account is set up differently.

If you order a shirt to be shipped to you, it will be shipped after the rally, and will take up to approximately 5-9 business days after we ship it.

We will not have pickup before the rally. We will not be able to tell you ahead of time, if we still have the sizes you want if you order after Sunday, January 4, 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience any of this might cause, but ordering early will help assure you get the shirt in the size you need.

I hope that is not too confusing! We want to be clear on what our limitations are. Basically the sooner you place your order, the better it will be for everyone and help us do our best to meet your needs.

(Don't worry -- if you don't have a t-shirt for some reason, we will have free got midwife? buttons available for everyone attending the rally, so it will be clear that you are there to rally for home birth midwives!)

Have a very happy and safe New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Twelve years ago today

Twelve years ago today, I was snuggling my newborn, my oldest son, after a wonderful home birth with a CPM.

Twelve years ago today, women where I live in Illinois had a wide choice of CPMs for a home birth.

Twelve years ago today, CPMs worked together with nurse-midwives, forming a network of midwives that home birth families in my community could trust.

Today, there are none.

Today, in the midst of this legislative flurry, we must raise several thousand dollars. Please give TODAY to the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery, so that women and families in Illinois will have access to CPMs tomorrow.

To donate on-line via PayPal, visit and click on the PayPal Donate button in the lower left.

To donate by check, make it out to CFIM
Vicki Johnson
Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
6092 Torchlite Trl.
Loves Park, IL 61111

Standard disclaimers: (1) By tomorrow we mean in the near future, at some time to be determined by the state of Illinois when licenses will be issued. (2) Contributions made to the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery are not tax deductible.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Things looking good for midwifery licensure

Members of the Illinois General Assembly are starting to see the advantages of licensing midwives. This is very good for us. We are continuing to work on our plan for January 12 and 13, and we look forward to rallying with dozens of home birth supporters.

Can we make that hundreds?

Please pass on the news and importance of this rally. We need this to be the largest yet! Try your best to attend and invite everyone you know who is supportive of home birth!

Thank you for all your past support, and let's take this all the way!

Help make Illinois the 25th state to legally recognize certified professional midwives!

for home birth midwives

Show the AMA &
ACOG who's in charge of your baby's birth
Come to the Illinois Capitol Jan
12 or 13, 2009

(use search terms S. 2nd St. and E. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62701 and bring quarters for the parking meters, or walk just 3 short blocks from the Amtrak train station!)

Recent developments have made passage of a bill to license certified professional midwives in Illinois more likely than ever before! 

We are holding a two-day rally to show Illinois legislators that we need midwives, and we need them now. Please invite everyone you know. Come one day or both. Bring your children, your babies, your sister, and your friend. Just be there -- to make history!

**Before you leave for the rally, visit Legislator Lookup to find your state representative, so you can lobby your state representative.**

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How to fix the U.S. Maternity care system: MIDWIVES!

In an opinion piece published today in the Los Angeles Times:

Merry Christmas

Today most Illinois legislators will receive a position statement from the Illinois State Medical Society opposing the Home Birth Safety Act. It is a strongly worded criticism of our bill. This means that the opposition is already aware that our bill will be voted on in January. They even told our co-sponsors that, "Physicians at the Illinois State Medical Society are extremely disheartened with your cosponsorship and support of Senate Bill 385, a bill that we believe is a dangers step backwards in health care and will jeopardize the safety of women ad newborns."

My holiday wish is that everyone reading this will talk with your families and friends over the next few days, and encourage everyone you know to contact their Illinois state representative asking their office, "Now that the nurses are neutral, will you (or the representative) support Senate Bill 385, the Home Birth Safety Act?"

Go to to look up your family and friends' state reps so you can give them the phone number. Please follow up with them. Sometimes people need a reminder or two, but this is really IT. This is THE call to action. Now is the time for EVERYONE to do EVERYTHING they can to support licensing midwives in Illinois! NO HOLDS BARRED!

Thanks you, and have a warm and happy holiday!
Colette Bernhard
Legislative Chair
Coalition for Illinois Midwifery

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Very Special Request

As pressure mounts on the national level, with the American Medical Association seeking to outlaw home births and block midwife licensure efforts, in addition to your awesome legislative outreach, we hope that you will help the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery financially, as well.

We have been busy working the legislation, attending meetings for the past several years, and putting out grassroots messages, and we are grateful for the large and enthusiastic response! You are really putting us over the top! 

There's one other thing we need to make this work. We need your financial support as much as we ever have! Throughout much of the Summer and Fall, we needed to keep our lobbyist on, in part because of all the special sessions called in Springfield to override the governor's vetos, and also while we finished up our dialogue with the Illinois Nurses Association.

So we are asking you to dig deep and help us. Help the Coalition keep our lobbyist, to cover our operating expenses, and continue to pay back volunteers who have many many unclaimed expenses directly relating to promoting midwife licensure at the state capitol for several years.

Please give what you can. Please give again next month (and consider the month after that)! We know this year has been very rough in many ways, and we hope that you will still donate to help us finish this important work. To donate on-line via PayPal, visit in the lower left-hand corner.

You can make a check out to CFIM and mail to:

Vicki Johnson
Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
6092 Torchlite Trl.
Loves Park, IL 61111

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Holiday Update

Okay, everyone! So far the responses we've been hearing from your state representatives are excellent and very helpful.

Most legislative offices will be closed at least the rest of this week for the holidays, and some may not open until after New Year's. So, for just a few days, let's all take some time to catch our breath and r e l a x ...

Take this week to talk with your families and friends over the holidays about calling their reps starting Monday, December 29, 2008 (or the following Monday, January 6, 2009, depending on their state representative's office)!

We are working on revamping and creating materials. We will post them here soon, so that you can use to distribute to the public, to clients, family, friends, coffee houses, health food stores, etc. 

Keep up the excellent work! The AMA ain't got nothin' on you!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home Birth Safety Act assigned to committee

SB 385, the Home Birth Safety Act, has been assigned to the Health Care Availability and Access committee. This this is a very favorable development and the best sign yet that House leadership is supporting the bill! Please look this list over to see if you or any of your supportive family, friends or acquaintances live in these districts, and ask them to take immediate action!

Now is the time to ask that person you hesitated to ask before. We have to pull out all stops, call in all favors, and appeal to everyone to help us ask their state reps to vote yes on SB 385.

Illinois House Healthcare Availability Access Committee

Chairperson :
Mary E. Flowers (D, 31 district)
South side of Chicago. from approximately 71 St. to 87th. St. From the Dan Ryan to parts of Oak Lawn, Bridgeview and Hickory Hills. Please thank her leadership over the years

  Springfield Office:
  251-E Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-4207
  (217) 782-1130 FAX

  District Office:
  2525 W. 79th Street
  Chicago, IL 60652
  (773) 471-5200
  (773) 471-1036 FAX

Karen May (D, 58th district)
North Shore suburbs, including: most of Glencoe, Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff. Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385 and stress that the nurses agree that the educational requirements meet the necessary standards.

  Springfield Office:
  255-S Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-0902
  (217) 557-7214 FAX

  District Office:
  427 Sheridan Road
  Highwood, IL 60040
  (847) 433-9100
  (847) 433-9111 FAX

Republican Spokesperson:
JoAnn D. Osmond (R, 61st district)
Far Northern Suburbs (by the Wisconsin border), from Zion to unincorporated Lake Co. to about the Fox River, including Beach Park, Wadsworth, and Lindenhurst.Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385.

  Springfield Office:
  201-N Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-8151
  (217) 557-7207 FAX

  District Office:
  976 Hillside Avenue
  Antioch, IL 60002
  (847) 838-6200
  (847) 838-2060 FAX

Fred Crespo (D, 44th district)
Includes Hoffmas Estates, Streamwood, Hannover Park and small sections of some surrounding towns. Please request his "YES" vote for HB 385.

  Springfield Office:
  250-W Stratton Office Bldg
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-0347
  (217) 557-4622 FAX

  District Office:
  1014 E. Schaumburg Road
  Streamwood, IL 60107
  (630) 372-3340
  (630) 372-3342 FAX

Lisa M. Dugan (D, 79th district)
Includes University Park and Monee. The western edge of district runs mostly along U.S. 45. Please request her "YES" vote for HB 4440 and explain to her how the current situation of no licensure for home birth midwives is bad for home birth families, who need access to legal providers.

  Springfield Office:
  260-W Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-5981
  (217) 557-7643 FAX

  District Office:
  150 N. Schuyler Avenue
  Suite 205
  Kankakee, IL 60901
  (815) 939-1983
  (815) 939-0081 FAX

Esther Golar (D, 6th district)
South side of Chicago. From the Dan Ryan Expressway to a little bit west of Western Ave. And from I-55 to approximately 65th St. Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385.

  Springfield Office:
  244 Stratton Office Bldg
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-5971
  (217) 558-6370 FAX

  District Office:
  4926 South Ashland
  Chicago, IL 60609
  (773) 925-6580
  (773) 925-6584 FAX

Greg Harris (D, 13th district)
North side of Chicago. From Lake Michigan to Lincoln Ave., and from approximately Irving Park Rd. to Foster Ave. Please request his "YES" vote for SB 385.

  Springfield Office:
  258 - W Stratton Office Bldg
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-3835
  (217) 557-6470 FAX

  District Office:
  1967 W. Montrose
  Chicago, IL 60613
  (773) 348-3434
  (773) 348-3475 FAX

Constance A. Howard (D, 34th district)
South side of Chicago. From the Dan Ryan to approximately Cottage Grove, and then Torrence Ave, and includes parts of Burnham, Calumet City, and Lansing. Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385 and emphasize the nurses dropping their opposition.

  Springfield Office:
  270-S Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-6476
  (217) 782-0952 FAX

  District Office:
  8729 S. State Street
  Chicago, IL 60619
  (773) 783-8800
  (773) 783-8773 FAX

Carolyn H. Krause (R, 66th District)
Northwest suburbs. Some or all of Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Elk Grove Village, Rollilng Meadows and far Northeastern sections of Schaumburg. Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385 and emphasize the nurses dropping their opposition.

  Springfield Office:
  203-N Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-3739
  (217) 557-7208 FAX

  District Office:
  200 E. Evergreen Ave.
  Suite 122
  Mount Prospect, IL 60056
  (847) 255-3100
  (847) 255-3184 FAX

Member: Jack McGuire (D, 86th district)
Most of Joliet and continuing south from there, including Elwood and Manhattan. Please thank him for his leadership on this issue by cosponsoring of SB385.

  Springfield Office:
  239-E Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-8090
  (217) 557-6465 FAX

  District Office:
  121 Springfield Avenue
  Joliet, IL 60435
  (815) 730-8600
  (815) 730-8121 FAX

Member: Rosemary Mulligan, (R, 65 district)
Near Northwest suburbs including Maine, Elk Grove, Niles, and Norwood Park Townships, and portions of the municipalities of Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Rosemont, Norridge, Harwood Heights, and Chicago.  (District map at
Please request her "YES" vote for SB 385 and emphasize the nurses dropping their opposition.

  Springfield Office:
  218-N Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-8007
  (217) 782-4533 FAX

  District Office:
  932 Lee Street
  Suite 201
  Des Plaines, IL 60016
  (847) 297-6533
  (847) 297-2978 FAX 

Member: Keith P. Sommer (R, 106th district)
Central Illinois.Tazewell County (southeast of Peoria) Please request his "YES" vote for HB 4440.

  Springfield Office:
  216-N Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-0221
  (217) 557-1098 FAX

  District Office:
  121 W. Jefferson
  Morton, IL 61550
  (309) 263-9242
  (309) 263-8187 FAX

Member: Michael Tryon (R, 64th district)
Far Northwest suburbs. Most of Crystal Lake, Lakewood, Lake in the Hills, Cary, Algonquin, Fox River Grove, Trout Valley, Barrington Hills, and  Huntley, Please request his "YES" vote for SB 385.

  Springfield Office:
  214-N Stratton Office Building
  Springfield, IL 62706
  (217) 782-0432 

  District Office:
  1 N. Virginia St.
  Crystal Lake, IL 60014
  (815) 459-6453
  (815) 455-8284 FAX

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Former Chicago police officer alleges abuse during labor of fifth child

Woman accuses doctor of making painful labor worse
By Angela Rozas, Tribune columnist
December 16, 2008

Catherine Skol is not a wimp. She spent a decade as a Chicago police officer, working in rough assignments such as the tactical unit, until a head-on collision on the job put her on medical disability.

But none of that prepared her for the hell of labor she endured last March when she arrived at Rush University Medical Center at about 4 a.m. to have her fifth child.

A civil suit filed Monday in Cook County said Dr. Scott Pierce—a fill-in for Skol's doctor who was out of town—arrived four hours later and immediately chastised Skol for not calling ahead. The suit said the doctor told Skol she would soon have the baby and that there was no time for pain medication.

Later, Pierce allegedly told a nurse that Skol deserved the pain because she had not called before coming in. "Sometimes pain is the best teacher," the suit quoted him as saying.

The doctor conducted a painful vaginal exam in the middle of a contraction and then told Skol to start pushing, despite not being fully dilated, according to the suit.

Read the rest of the article at

Colette's comment: Women in Illinois clearly need a wider range of childbirth choices!

Call my state rep again, you ask?

On the importance of contacting your Illinois state representative, yet again.

We have asked you many times to make these contacts. Please keep up the effort. It doesn't matter how many times you have called, because you are providing brand new information. As Colette posted earlier today, the Illinois Nurses Association (INA) has removed its opposition to the Home Birth Safety Act.

Although I have contacted my representative many times about this bill, I just sent him another email. I thanked him for his ongoing consideration of this important issue, and I updated him on the news about the INA and that the Bill's sponsors are pushing the legislation this session.

Recently, I attended the Annual Meeting of the Campaign for Better Health Care. Leaders of this group confirmed the importance of on-going communication with legislators from constituents. It's up to us to keep our reps informed about changes that they be not be aware of.

Like many of you, I have spent years on this issue. I have had the privilege of serving as a Board Member of the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery (CFIM) as the Home Birth Safety Act (SB 385) advanced through our General Assembly, and I fondly remember serving on the Board of Illinois Families For Midwifery (another privilege) years before the existence of CFIM. I have observed and learned quite a bit about advancing legislation through these years. This call for action is special. Things are so different now. We have great feedback coming from Springfield. Our legislative sponsors are directing us to PUSH NOW. We have a coalition of health care organizations working with us, supporting us and embracing us. The last meeting I attended with leaders in our state's nursing community was "warm and friendly". Honestly.

This is not just another rally and call to action. This is THE RALLY AND CALL TO ACTION. This is your opportunity to be part of Illinois' midwifery herstory. More importantly, this is our story. We own it. It's our celebration. Start typing emails tonight. Call your representative tomorrow. Contact your friends and family, associates and members of your religious communities, Don't forget to make your travel arrangements for Springfield January 12 and 13.

Best Wishes for a safe and happy holiday season,

Michelle S. Breen, MHS
Vice-President and Acting President
Coalition for Illinois Midwifery

URGENT Action Alert: Contact your Illinois state representative!

This just in ... ONE LAST PUSH!
Our lobbyist has reported that since the legislature was called back into session, our sponsors have been hard at work on our bill, and they are strongly recommending we push ahead for the last two days of THIS General Assembly, and try to finish passing an amended SB385 on January 12 & 13!!! (That's a Monday and a Tuesday.)

So you have two very easy things to do.

1) Call your state representative in the next week at both offices and tell them the following short message (and ask all your friends and family). Then let us know the what happened!

"The nurses have come to consensus on SB 385, the Home Birth Safety Act. Please let me know if you will support the Home Birth Safety Act, now that the Illinois Nurses Association is neutral."

2) Take out your calendar and schedule in

Show the AMA & ACOG who's in charge of your baby's birth
Come to the Illinois Capitol January 12 or 13, 2008

Attend the Mother of all Rallies! POSTPONED TO EARLY FEBRUARY 2009

Show the American Medical Association who's in charge of your baby's birth! Stand up for home birth midwives in the AMA's home state, and rally in support of the first legislation to be voted on since the AMA passed their resolution to try to outlaw home birth and push back hard against midwife licensure bills.

for home birth midwives
Show the AMA & ACOG who's in charge of your baby's birth
Come to the Illinois Capitol Jan 12 or 13 IN EARLY FEBRUARY 2009 (check back for exact date)

(use search terms S. 2nd St. and E. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62701 and bring quarters for the parking meters, or walk just 3 short blocks from the Amtrak train station!)

Today we received a report from our lobbyist that our sponsors have determined it will be best to try to pass our bill to licensed certified professional midwives in Illinois, on the last two day of session, January 12 & 13.

We are holding a two-day rally to show legislators that we need midwives, and we need them now. Please invite everyone you know. Bring your children, your babies, your sister, and your friend. Just be there -- to make history!

If you live in anywhere in the midwest, you can make a huge difference in stopping organized medicine from blocking midwife licensure bills. This is your chance, no matter who you are, to show your support for home birth by helping the toughest state in the entire country to pass a CPM licensure law! We have the chance to set a precedent in the country, this first year after the AMA officially vowed to stop midwives. DON'T LET THE AMA HAVE THEIR WAY! COME SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH YOUR HOME BIRTH SISTERS!

In approximately the past ten years, the home state of the American Medical Association, Illinois, has LOST MORE THAN 25 HOME BIRTH PRACTICES. We are in desperate need of safe, legal access to home birth midwives.

After after three years of very intense work and negotiations, Illinois is THE FIRST STATE EVER to come to terms with the state's nursing groups.

Now that the nurses have dropped all their opposition, we have the best chance, literally, in history to pass a bill, but we can't count our chickens before they hatch! And that's why WE NEED YOU!!! No matter the weather, take a day out of your life to show our lawmakers that midwives matter!

When you were pregnant, your midwife was there for you. She was available and patient and there for your baby's birth. Now it's your chance (even if your "baby" is now grown) to show the AMA and legislators that licensing certified professional midwives is the right thing to do!

We are going to keep the rally simple. Just be there. You will see us wearing the black "got midwife?" pins. If you're from Illinois, we will help you find and meet with your state representative, and if you're form another state, your presence can really help show the whole nation that home birth is a necessary option, and legal access to home birth midwives should every woman's, baby's and family's right!

We would like to extend a special invitation to our plain clothes friends, but no matter what kind of clothes you wear, we need you. We need everybody to show Springfield how important this bill is!

Stay tuned for more details, and please plan to be part of this truly historic moment, and show your support for home birth!

See you there!

Friday, December 12, 2008

ABC covers home birth demand (but confuses issues)

Mothers-to-Be Saying No to Modern Medicine
Small but Growing Number of Women Choose to Give Birth at Home
Dec. 10, 2008

Modern medicine means not having to go through childbirth alone. But that's what a small and growing number of women are choosing to do.

Back in the 1800s, giving birth at home, sometimes with the assistance of a midwife, was about the only option. But doing the same today generates both well-wishers and critics.

Watch the story Friday, Jan. 2 on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET

"The majority of babies throughout history have been born unassisted, and I felt this is what birth is supposed to be," said Laura Shanley, who has had five babies at home that she chronicles in her book,"Unassisted Childbirth."

"When you're told that this is ...[a] dangerous process and everyone around you is alert and expecting the worst, it's really Murphy's Law," she said.

Does Home Birth Make Sense

The American Medical Association isn't taking any chances. To guard against accidents, and maybe to slow the trickle of rising home births, the AMA issued a resolution in June, saying that "the safest setting for labor and delivery is a hospital.

That's both obvious and sound advice according to Dr. Helaine Landy, a professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

"Having a baby in and of itself, can be a very dangerous situation, whether you deliver at home or in the hospital," she said. "But delivering at home, where one does not have all the ancillary support to be able to save the woman or save the baby, in my mind, just doesn't make a lot of sense."

For actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake, having a baby at home made perfect sense. Lake had her first child in a hospital but decided to have her second child at home with the aid of a midwife, filmed for her documentary "The Business of Being Born."

"I'm not anti-hospital, but more can go wrong in a hospital setting. You're on an assembly line, you're given one drug which leads to another drug, which leads to another drug," Lake said.

Although many women look forward to receiving drugs to subdue discomfort during labor, Lake said the pain of childbirth quickly slips from memory.

"It's very typical for any woman who's having a drug-free birth to say, you know, to hit a wall and to ... scream obscenities, but you forget the second you see that baby, you totally forget about the pain," she said.

Colette's comments: Making a common mistake, ABC confuses the issue of home birth with unassisted birth. There are currently no laws outlawing unassisted birth. There are, however, many states that do not allow home birth midwives (certified professional midwives) to legally practice, depriving many women and families an important safety net for planned home birth.

New Illinois law could usher in free-standing birth centers

Illinois Mothers Can Choose Freestanding Birth Centers
By Libby Ellis
Monday December 8, 2008

When Jan Ferguson, RN, was pregnant 21 years ago, she was one of the first organizers of a conference to drum up support to allow freestanding birth centers to open in Illinois. 

She had hoped to deliver her own baby in a birth center; however, that child has now turned 20, and Ferguson, a certified nurse midwife (CNM) with Eire Family Health Center in Chicago, has yet to see such a center open in the state. But with legislation passed, her own children might be able to realize her dream. 

After eight unsuccessful attempts, legislation, known in birth center circles as Public Act 095-0445, passed in August 2007 allowing a pilot program to establish 10 freestanding birth centers in the state. 

From the outside, freestanding birth centers often look more like homes than clinics and provide an option between hospital and home birth for low-risk women. Birth centers are not necessarily connected to a hospital or other medical facility and offer a model of care based on midwifery: natural delivery without intrusive technology in a home-like atmosphere. 

Birth center patients tend to have an ongoing relationship with the center and with their caregivers, and receive prenatal care and education in the same familiar environment. 

There are a number of advantages to birth centers says Gayle Reidmann, CNM, MS, president of West Suburban Midwife Associates in Oak Park, Ill.

"Birth centers can provide access to underserved populations. Particularly downstate, there are not enough people to deliver babies, and women have to drive two hours to get to a hospital," says Reidmann, also chair of the Illinois Birth Center Task Force. "Additionally, delivering in a birth center costs one-third to one-half less than delivering in a hospital, and in today's economy with so many people without health insurance [though many insurance providers cover birth center deliveries], that's a big deal in any geographic area."

Read the entire article at 

Colette's comments: The article goes on to discuss the rules process. Let's hope they pass reasonable rules that will facilitate quick access to free-standing birth centers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home Birth Demand on the Rise

Reflecting trends we wee in Illinois, several articles have been published around the country, documenting the rise in the demand for home birth services. Here are a few.

New York Times, November 12, 2008
Baby You're Home
Midwives Say Home Births Are Up, Despite Warnings


...local midwives say they have been swamped with calls and requests in recent months, in some cases increasing their workload from two, three or four deliveries a month to as many as 10. (New York health department statistics for this year will not be available until 2010.) Several certified nurse midwives who have home-birth-only practices said they had gotten so many more requests in recent months that they have begun referring pregnant women to midwives in Rockland County, Long Island and New Jersey.

Erica Lyon, the founder of Realbirth, a five-year-old childbirth education center with three locations in the city, said 20 percent of the 160 couples who take her classes each month are planning home births, twice as many as six months ago., one of the biggest online purveyors of birthing pools — deep inflatable tubs with a specially designed built-in seat and handles — said its sales have doubled since last year, with more than 20 percent of its customers in New York City;, another outlet, said it has sold more than twice as many pools this year as last, 25 percent of them to New Yorkers and Long Islanders.

Home birth professionals in New York City have been struck, several said, by the fact that the increase is coming not so much from the dyed-in-the-wool back-to-nature types as from professionals like lawyers and bankers. “People who wouldn’t naturally self-select for home birth are coming in and getting very open-minded,” said Cara Muhlhahn, a certified nurse midwife who has had a home-birth practice for 17 years and is now fully booked six months in advance.

One reason for the change, it seems, is “The Business of Being Born,” a documentary produced by the actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake, which ran in only a few theaters during its theatrical release in January but has become an underground hit among expectant parents since coming out on DVD. (Rentrak, a company that monitors DVD rentals, said that instead of dropping off, as typically happens with new releases, the film is being rented at consistent rates.)

Colette's comments: These so-called "warnings" are unfounded dire predictions made by organized medicine that ignore all reliable evidence that home birth is an equally safe option to hospital birth for healthy women and their babies.