Sunday, September 27, 2009

CDC finds cesarean section triples newborn deaths

In a recent Associated Content Article, CDC Says Cesarean Triples Neonatal Death Risk, Misha Safranski reports on a sadly expected outcome to a large study about the risks of cesarean section surgery for the babies it is supposed to save.

The study was well-designed (of course, this is the CDC!) and only looked comparable low risk pregnancies that resulted in either cesarean section or vaginal delivery.

Even more astounding than the simple fact that cesarean section raises the risk of infant death - regardless of the reason the cesarean was performed - is that even when the researchers adjusted for sociodemographic, medical and congenital factors, and removed infants with APGARs under 4, the risk of death was only reduced "moderately". A stark difference in the death rates between cesarean born infants and vaginally born infants remained even with no medical explanation.

Compare a triple death rate for cesarean section with home birth, which has been shown to be equally safe to hospital birth, and one has to wonder when the state of Illinois will license certified professional midwives to help women across the entire state access safe care for home birth. If women can choose surgery which puts her infant as such greater risk, why can't women hire certified professional midwives for a safer choice?

Bear in mind that this article doesn't even address the drastically increased risks for second, third or high order cesarean sections.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cindy Crawford on Home Birth

Dear Cindy,

I saw your lovely video about how you came to home birth during your first pregnancy at I'm so grateful that you are willing to open up your private life like that to help other women. It is this generosity to which I am appealing now for home birth mothers and babies in Illinois.

Your home state of Illinois needs you! Did you know that in your home state, Illinois, nearly 3/4 of the state has no -- zero -- access to legal home birth providers?

After years of heated legislative debate and negotiations the midwifery community came to terms with the state's nursing groups, lined up a crackerjack team to present evidence at a legislative hearing, only to have the doctors' lobby groups put politcal pressure and use hardball tactics to squash efforts to license Certified Professional Midwives in Illinois.

Apparently Illinois is a land of beauties (we knew that already, right?). Bo Derek was a huge hit at the state capitol when she showed up in Springfield to lobby the Illinois General Assembly against the horse meat industry. We think that you, too, Cindy could bring some much needed attention to this important issue!

So if your reading this, please come to Illinois in November 2009 or early 2010 to help home birth families accross Illinois have access to legal midwives!

Thanks so much for any assistance you can offer us in this struggle!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What if ... the buzz on social networks

There is a buzz beginning on major social netowrking sites like facebook and twitter that is growing with the news of a toddler flu death in Texas.

What if I go into labor, and the hospital is full of flu patients? What if hospitals become overrun with contagious carriers of a deadly virus? Who has the specialized portable equipment and knows how to help women give birth safely without all the risky drugs that most American hospital staffs rely on? Obstetricians do not understand natural childbirth nor how to help women avoid the need for risky pain relief. If we want our babies to be truly safe during epidemics, the answer is clearly making sure that those midwives who are certified in home birth can serve moms and babies.

The H1-N1 flu has many in the birth community collectively thinking, saying or typing ... "we told you so!"

With nearly half the country failing to license certified professional midwives, our nation's experts in low-tech out-of hospital birth, we are left to wonder: who will care for women giving birth in times of disaster? Do we really want our most vulnerable and precious newborn babies coming into this world where sick people are being housed?

“Thankfully, the hospital where the toddler died doesn’t provide obstetric services. But if the flu continues to spread at predicted levels, it’s just a matter of time before healthy mothers and newborns are going to start getting exposed. It’s absolutely critical that we begin recruiting Certified Professional Midwives to our local, regional and national disaster preparedness plans,” stated Katherine Prown of the national Big Push Campaign, which advocates independent, legal practice for certified professional midwives and nurse-midwives alike. "It was only reported later that the child was treated in a children's hospital, but that's no comfort when a woman is in labor and hears a vague new report about flu in her area."

Prown's thoughts are echoed by many birth advocates like Jacque Shannon-McNulty, a childbirth educator, doula who is also with the groupChicago Commuity Midwives posted a link to a USA Today article about the 91 cases confirmed in the U.S, along with her own comment:

Healthy moms and babies need special protections in place for birth during a flu pandemic. We need to ensure that these women and their babies have safe out of hospital birth options available to minimize the risks of swine flu transmission to vulnerable, healthy populations. What's the best way to minimize needless neonatal deaths from a flu pandemic? Keep healthy moms and new babies away from sick people and the virulent flu viruses flooding the hospitals. It's a simple, cost-effective and appropriate measure. Moms are already thinking about this- our elected officials need to be proactive here, protect these moms and babies and pass the Homebirth Safety Act as soon as possible.

The Coalition's president, Michelle Breen, MHS, is driven not only by data and science but also common sense:
"The Chicago area could have about 90 cases of swine flu in the next three weeks". ([quoting National Public Radio} How long will it take for the General Assembly to pass the Home Birth Safety Act?

Shouldn't Illinois do everything possible to increase the number of licensed home birth experts so that families can decide about place of birth and associated risks?

Do you have a pithy comment or profound statement? Post it here! Blog about it. Facebook it or Tweat! Let's make sure that the proven safe solution of certified professional midwives is recognized and utilized!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Worried about the flu?

Let your state representative know. Concerns about hospitals being inaccessible or too dangerous for healthy birthing women, we see this as yet another reason to license certified professional midwives and include them in disaster preparedness planning.

Visit Illinois State Board of Elections (click on By Address) to look up who your state representative is. Call your Illinois state representative's office TODAY and ask the best way to send this press release (email, fax if you can, or snail mail), and then let us know what you did!

Include a small hand-written note asking (or thanking) them for their support. If your rep is a republican, you can include a quick statement that, even if this flu scare turns out to be nothing, this is just one more reason that Medical lobbying groups should NOT be steering public policy and interfering with your family's childbirth decisions.

Send Colette Bernard a facebook message or email me at Tell us any small detail of what happened so we can keep track!

Big Push Flu Press Release Big Push Flu Press Release Colette Bernhard Press release. As the country braces for a possible flue pandemic, advocates call on local, state and federal authorities to include certified professional midwives in disaster preparedness, due to their expertise in low tech, out-of-hospital birth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SPRINGFIELD HEARING (first 30 minutes)

Our hearing has a real buzz surrounding it in Springfield ... still! Now you can see the first thirty minutes and witness the travesty of the Illinois House Health Care Availability Access Committee voting this legislation down! This video was shot with a small, hand-held camera and was not mic'd up to the microphones, so be prepared to put your listening cap on! Also, you can hear all the families waiting, Our supporters filled the room and spilled out into the hallway. Lobbyists and other legislators came to witness this hearing, and anyone present could not comprehend why anyone would vote against this desperately needed piece of legislation.

We would like to thank the following legislators for their especially strong support for licensing midwives:

Senator Bill Haine
Represetnative Julie Hamos
Represetnative Mary Flowers
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie
Represetnative Daniel Burke
Senator Martin Sandoval
Senate President John J. Cullerton
Representative Paul Froehlich
Representative Toni Berrios
Senator Willie Delgao
House Assistant Majority Leader Joseph Lyons
House Assistant Majority Leader Jack McGuire
House Assistant Minority Leader Ron Stephens
Senator Pamela Althoff
Representative Mike Tryon
Reprsentative Luis Arroyo
House Deputy Majority Leader Art Turner
Senator Donne Trotter
Representative Deborah Mell, and
Representative Eddie Washington

Monday, March 30, 2009

Greetings home birth supporters:

We have an exciting update from Springfield!

Last Thursday, Tonesha Cross and I traveled to Springfield to lobby the bill and let House members know that Senator Haine and Representative Hamos are still committed to continue working the issue. We touched base with several legislators including Edward Acevedo, Mike Boland, Anazette Collins, Barbara Flynn Currie (who was delightful), Kenneth Dunkin, Mary Flowers, LaShawn Ford, Esther Golar, Greg Harris, Cynthia Soto, Betsy Hannig and others.

The morning began by distributing fliers to house members and checking in with a few of our cosponsors who have not yet signed on to the current bill.

We were excited to do some initial coalition building with other groups. We were even able to lobby the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, who were happy to be working with us thanks to Governor Quinn's support of our issue.

We also met with Senator Haine. He is pleased with our new talking point that legislators who vote against the Home Birth Safety Act are contributing to the harm of mothers and babies. He feels that now is the time for us to begin focusing more on the risks inherent in hospital birth that are completely avoided at home. Senator Haine informed us that he is determined to pass this bill and is going to start lobbying himself even harder in the House. (yay!)

Because the House had an extra long session, we found a little time to sit in the gallery, so I could point out several dozen legislators to Toney, explain their positions on our bill. We also were able to observe some of the personality and political dynamics involved in the legislature. There was vigorous debate, so we really got to see them in action.

While there, we picked up an audio disc of the March 3, 2009 Health Care Availability Access Committee Debate, or hearing. Senator Haine has charged us with producing a two to three page flier full of quotes from the hearing with the highlights -- by the middle of this week.

At the end of the day, we had a very long talk with Representative Will Davis. He was very interested and asked a large number of detailed questions. Our biggest surprise of the day came when Rep. Davis informed us that State Senator Toi Hutchinson (Chicago Heights) had her children at home! (We have already followed up with her office and have a tentative appointment scheduled.)

Following our "after hours" talk with Rep. Davis, we walked around in half-dark offices passing out another set of fliers for legislators to receive Friday morning.

All in all, it was an extremely productive day. As you can see, contrary to a couple of new reports that were written immediately following our hearing, our bill is far from dead! We really need to ramp up our presence in Springfield to continue to promote it. Senator Haine is fully committed to seeing our bill pass, but to continue this effort we need more money in order to be effective.

Together we can do this! If each of us does what we can, no matter how big or small, we will be able to be in Springfield with a steady presence. We will be able to continue to distribute high quality materials to legislators. We will be able to retain our lobbyist, who is our eyes and ears and a vital part of the equation!

We hope that each and every one of you is taking part in our TEN FOR TEN campaign. Find ten friends who will each donate $10 for the Coalition. It's helpful if you collect it and send it in to the Coalition for them. Many times our friends are well-meaning but taking the final step of actually sending the contribution will slip our minds. So if you can collect your friends' donations and send them in, we can really make a lot of headway quickly. (Truly can't think of ten friends to ask? Don't worry about it! Just do what you can!)

Also please keep planning your local fundraisers large and small. Remember that Mother's Day is coming up. Any weekend in May would be a good time to have a mothers & midwives pancake breakfast, bake sale or spaghetti dinner. You can have a father's day bbq or brunch. A car wash, freedom picnic or ice cream social is great in July. Please think about what you can do in the future, and let us know! Provide us with the details of anything you plan, and we'll post it on our blog, our new google calendar, and facebook to help promote your efforts.

To donate on-line via PayPal visit

or send a check made out to CFIM to:
Vicki Johnson, Treasurer
6092 Torchlite Trl.
Loves Park, IL 61111

Thank you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Urbana Garage and Plant Sale for Mothers and Midwives May 1 & 2

URBANA, IL -- Garage and Plant Sale to support HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act. Help families who choose to birth at home have access to licensed midwives.

May 1st and 2nd 8am-2pm
706 E. Fairlawn, Urbana IL

DONATE ITEMS TO THE SALE (50/50 see below)
Do your spring cleaning, get good deals, and support something you believe in!

Help by letting your friends and family know of the sale, volunteering to help, donating items beforhand or coming to the sale to purchase gently used items and plants.

Anyone can sell items and we will do all the advertising, set up, clean up, etc. Household and children's items (no big appliances) can be dropped off at 706 E. Fairlawn on April 28-30 from 4-6:30. Half the proceeds go to support the Bill, you keep the other half. You can price items yourself or you can leave that to us.

After noon on Saturday everything is 1/2 price or less. Anything not picked up by 1pm on Sunday gets donated to a local agency.

If you wish to sell plants, want to help with the sale, or have any other questions call Sarah at 217-384-0429. Thank you!

Sarah Stalzer Arcoleo

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In which we keep going despite what we thought!

Dear Illinois Home Birth Supporters:

We just heard news from our very own Senator Haine and Representative Hamos that they want to keep working on our bill this session to see if we can still move it! This just proves that we don't need a roller coaster, because the political process is much more surprising, with all sorts of twists and turns.

Procedurally, there are ways to work around the deadline, and our legislators and lobbyist can navigate those details. What we must do is to continue to meet with our own state representatives and keep asking them to commit to a yes vote! So ... we are going to start working things more politically instead of trying to have evidence-based discussions, and we will be going back down to Springfield starting next week. Also, we will be developing new talking points for you to use when contacting your own state rep.

We will know a lot more details after talking more with our sponsors, but I wanted to let everyone know that, despite the bitter disappointment we experienced earlier this month in the hearing, the bill is alive and kickin'!

This development also means we will have to continue to pay our lobbyist, and we are already three months behind with him, so we have to ask you if you want us to continue. Do you want midwives to be licensed in Illinois? We know your generosity has come through in a big way for us in the past, and we are asking you again to support our work in Springfield on your behalf.

That is why we are launching a new fundraising campaign called Ten for Ten! We are asking you to please ask at least 10 of your family and friends to donate $10 each to the Coalition. Even if some people turn you down, you can still help a lot by collecting $10 donations from as many people as you can!

Think of the power of us banding together and refusing to let the money and power of organized medicine continue to push us around! Think if everyone reading this found ten friends to give $10 each. That, alone, would get us all caught up with our lobbyist, and will help us begin to pay him for April. We know a lot of you have friends who might not share your passion for midwives and home birth, but at least want you to have legal access to a qualified provider. This is a great way that they can help without having to invest a lot of time (or even money).

You can send a donation to the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery via PayPal by visiting our blog and clicking on the Donate button.

Or make your check to CFIM and mail it to:
Vicki Johnson, Treasure
6092 Torchlite Trl.
Loves Park, IL 61111

Thank you for your continued support!

The Coalition for Illinois Midwifery is a lobbying entity in the state of Illinois; therefore your donations are not tax deductible but still support a very important cause.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Results of HB 226 House Hearing

Click on the picture to see the official
Illinois General Assembly Bill Status Page

After what was characterized by many present, of some of the most fabulous and compelling testimony that has ever been presented in the Illinois General Assembly for any bill, the Health Care Availabilty Access Committee voted 4 - 8 to keep HB 226 in committee. (In other words, it did not pass).

The room was packed with home birth families from across the state. We all witnessed the truth finally revealed in all its glory before committee. And still eight voted against this bill that would keep our babies safe at home.

The vote count was as follows:
Julie Hamos (who was substituting in for Esther Golar)
Mary Flowers
Mike Zalewski
Keith Sommer

Karen May
JoAnn Osmond
Greg Harris
Rosemary Mulligan
Timothy Schmitz
Michael Connelly
Will Burns
Lisa Dugan

Please take the time to thank our wonderful legislative sponsors and supporters, listed below. In the next day or two, please send a quick thank-you noet to the following people ESPECIALLY OUR LEGISLATIVE CHAMPION IN THE HOUSE Rep. Julie Hamos of Evanton, Illinois!!!

In your thank you note, be sure to include a photo of your children (printed on regular paper from a digital file is fine) or a child's drawing or painting or hand-made thank you card. If you prefer, you can send a Hallmark type thank you card. The point is, please send something to show your appreciation as soon as you can.

Also, if you are on facebook, you can search for and become a supporter of Rep. Jullie Hamos. 

PLEASE SEND A THANK-YOU TO THE FOLLOWING (or as many as you can manage)

Representative Julie Hamos
256-W Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Mary E. Flowers
251-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Paul D. Froehlich
279-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Daniel J. Burke
233-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Deborah Mell
280-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Eddie Washington
200-8 S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Keith P. Sommer
216-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Representative Michael J. Zalewski
231-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pre-Hearing Rally

Pre-Hearing Orientation and Rally 
For HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act.
March 3, 2009, 1pm
East entrance of the Capitol 
Along S. 2nd St. (by the corner of S. 2nd St. and E. Monroe St.).

Following the rally, we will head inside and lobby our own state representatives (senator is optional), and "be seen on the scene". Be sure to look up who your state rep is at home. We will NOT have a way to look that up for you in Springfield. Visit and click on the By Address tab.

After you find and talk with your state representative, you might wander around, or sit up in the House or Senate gallery if they are in session (or even just go in to see the House and Senate floosr, which are both gorgeous). You also might take a free architectural tour of the capitol; check at the information booth for details

Please bring a letter for Governor Quinn! State that a lack of licensed midwives has been a problem for decades in our state, and all efforts to license midwives have been held up in the Illinois House by organized medicine (or you can name the Illinois State Medial Society, although they have their sub-specialty auxiliary groups working on it now, too). You can choose to go to the governor's office on the second floor to drop it off yourself, or leave it with us, and we will deliver it for you.

The committee hearing will start at 4pm in room 118 of the Capitol. If you are a licensed physician or advanced practice nurse, please be prepared to sign in as a "record or appearance". There are several bills up for consideration before this committee. We do not know the order in which bills will be called, but we hope we will be one of the first. Dr. Minkus will be testifying on behalf of the bill. We have also asked a high-risk OB from Southern Illinois to testify, but he is out of town and has not confirmed.

We are looking for a few people to volunteer as ushers to politely remind anyone whose child is fussing or even talking above a whisper to exit the hearing. We hate to be strict about it, but the hearing is considered a serious matter. Most of the legislators love children, but don't like it if they interrupt a hearing. Anyone who needs to settle a fussy baby or toddler should please respectfully do so out in the hallway. Nursing is your legal right in Illinois, and women openly nurse in the hallways, but, we do ask that you be as modest as possible during the hearing.

(BTW -- I suggest you bring nutritious snacks and bottled water, which can be eaten in the cafeteria and in the hallways but NOT in the House or Senate gallery or hearing room.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SUPER URGENT - Hearing for Home Birth Safety Act next Tuesday!

Greetings home birth supporters. We have an extremely urgent message.


@ We cannot overstate how important this is. @

The Home Birth Safety Act (HB 226), which will license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) for home birth, is going to be heard in the Health Care Availability Access Committee next Tuesday, March, 3, 2009, at 4pm. This will either be the beginning of a great era or the final chapter in our decades long efforts to pass a CPM licensure law. The next time after this year to introduce a viable bill will be years from now, so we must make our best efforts now.

We have gone down every possible avenue over the past few years, to get as much support as possible, and even reached agreement with our state's nursing groups. We have built a strong coalition with many state groups including Illinois Public Health Association, Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and Health and Disability Advocates, among others. We've even managed to get our bill placed in a better committee. So it all comes down to this: will we make it out the House Health Care Availability Access Committee, or will our bill die?

We have just received word from our people on the ground in Springfield that individual doctors have been traveling to Springfield to lobby against our bill. A lot of them. And they are making an impression. This is unprecedented in Illinois and even across the whole country that large numbers of individual doctors are actually going to the state capitol to lobby against a CPM licensure bill. So please PLEASE if you value home birth and want the option available for your future pregnancies or for your daughters in the years to come, then make it your number one priority to come to Springfield, Illinois next Tuesday, March 3, 2009!

We need EVERYONE to take a vacation day or call in sick, pull your kids out of school, and bring your sister, your best friend and your mother to Springfield that day to pack the hallways and the hearing room! We have to show Illinois legislators that the people of Illinois need access to licensed midwives!

Please forward this message to everyone you know and ask them to do the same!

See you there!

Monday, February 23, 2009

We have a new committee!

Earlier today, the Illinois General Assembly's website posted that our bill, HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act, has been assigned to a different committee, Healthcare Availability Access. This is a good sign, but we still have an uphill battle.

Please look over the list of the targeted legislators again to see if you or anyone you know lives in these districts. Make sure that you and your family and friends immediately contact their state representative to support HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act. Then let us know what you hear! You can contact Colette on facebook or via email at or Pat Colet at

The Healthcare AA committee usually meets the first session day of the week in the afternoon, so we will most likely call the bill NEXT TUESDAY, March 3, 2009. Assuming we (along with our sponsors and lobbyist) believe that we are ready, and soon as the General Assembly's website posts the hearing notice, we will pass on the final details of the hearing time.

Please pencil in the date and plan to attend with your QUIET children. Children are very welcome so long as they are quiet, but due to the legal nature of the proceedings, you must be prepared to exit the room immediately if your child starts to make any sound whatsoever. That said, we hope that you will be able to attend to show your support! We will post more details later.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Huge Increase in Health Groups Supporting Certified Professional Midwives

As reported by The Big Push for Midwives Campaign,  there has been a sudden increase in nationally prominent health organizations joining an already the burgeoning list of prominent health organizations which support licensing or acknowledge the safety of home birth with a CPM. (see a pdf of the Big Push's press release here.)

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), a highly respected national nursing group, recently published an editorial blasting the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for their outdated and out of touch policies trying to restrict home birth and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) licensure.
In the editorial published in thecurrent issue of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, the official journal of AWHONN, Nancy K. Lowe, CNM writes, “I am very proud to be an American, but I am embarrassed that our country, founded on the ideals of individual liberty and freedom, can also support ‘authoritative’ initiatives such as these by the ACOG and AMA, initiatives that are founded on neither science nor an understanding of the physiologic and psychosocial needs of mothers and babies.” Lowe adds, "What is most risky about home birth in the United States is that for most women who desire it there is a scarcity of qualified providers of home birth services.”

The National Perinatal Association, a multi-disciplinary health advocacy group, issued two supportive Position Papers:
(1) "Choice of Birth Setting" (download the pdf here), which highlights a comprehensive Cochraine Database Review of peer-reviewed scientific studies, pointing out that the Cochrane Database concluded:
"... there was no strong evidence to favor planned hospital birth vs planned home birth for low-risk preg nant women.“ Planned hospital birth may even increase unnecessary interventions and complications without any benefit for low-risk women“

(2) "Position Statement on Midwifery" (download the pdf here), which explains the different types of midwives:
"The designation “midwife” is therefore accompanied by a qualifying term such a Certified Nurse- Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM) or Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) which shows the midwife has successfully passed a national certifying exam and is competent to practice."

Groups that have long supported the concept of home birth with a CPM include:
These national and international groups are joined by several Illinois groups including :
  • Illinois Public Heallth Association
  • Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Illinois Nurses Association
    Illinois Nurses Association 2008 Statement: "The INA has changed its position from oppose to neutral because they feel the current proposal adequately protects the public, including sound education and certification requirements, and does allow women to choose to have a licensed certified midwife to provide prenatal and childbirth services in their homes."
  • Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition
  • Health Medicine Policy Research Group
  • Health Disability Advocates
  • Illinois Families for Midwifery
  • Chicago Women's Health Center
Seeing the groups line up, it is interesting to note the only groups opposing are the American Medical Asociation and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who are pouring their vast resources into supporting state medical groups in utilizing, not rational argument, but scare tacticts and political strong-arming in an attempt to tamp down grass-roots consumer movements whose time has come.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Consumer Reports Looks at American Childbirth!

In October 2008, the respected Consumer Reports, known for its unbiased and accurate reports that consumers can rely on, published at report, Maternity Care - High tech vs. high-touch, about childbirth services in the United States. It comes as no surprise to home birth advocates that hospital birth is fraught with peril, and midwives at home are very safe.

First, they give a good description of the advantages of a physiologically normal birth.

When it's time to bring a new baby into the world, there's a lot to be said for letting nature take the lead. The normal, hormone-driven changes in the body that naturally occur during delivery can optimize infant health and encourage the easy establishment and continuation of breastfeeding and mother-baby attachment. Childbirth without technical intervention can succeed in leading to a good outcome for mother and child, according to a new report.

Then they conclude:
The report found that, in the U.S., too many healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are being routinely subjected to high-tech or invasive interventions that should be reserved for higher-risk pregnancies ...In fact, the current style of maternity care is so procedure-intensive that 6 of the 15 most common hospital procedures used in the entire U.S. are related to childbirth. Although most childbearing women in this country are healthy and at low risk for childbirth complications, national surveys reveal that essentially all women who give birth in U.S. hospitals have high rates of use of complex interventions, with risks of adverse effects. (emphasis ours)

They also included a "True/False" Maternity Care Quiz that included the following:

An obstetrician will deliver better maternity care, overall, than a midwife or family doctor.
False. Studies show that the 8 percent to 9 percent of U.S. women who use midwives and the 6 to 7 percent who choose family physicians generally experienced just-as-good results as those who go to obstetricians. Those who used midwives also ended up with fewer technological interventions. For example, women who received midwifery care were less likely to experience induced labor, have their water broken for them, episiotomies, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and electronic fetal monitoring, and were more likely to give birth vaginally with no vacuum extraction or forceps, than similar women receiving medical care.

Epidural anesthesia is a low-risk way to make labor easier.
False. Many women welcome the pain relief, but might not be well-informed about the increased risk of its side-effects, including lack of mobility, sedation, fever, longer pushing, and serious perineal tears.

Epidural anesthesia presents risks to newborns.
True. Babies whose mothers received epidurals during labor are at risk for rapid heart rate, hyperbilirubinemia (the presence of an excess of bilirubin in the blood), need for antibiotics, and poorer performance on newborn assessment tests.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Targeted Action Alert

We have thirteen eight calendar days to gain enough votes to move our bill to license certified professional midwives out of committee and onto the House floor. That is not a lot of time, so we are targeting specific legislators. We need to concentrate our energy over the weekend to see who we can find in the seven districts listed below. Our goal is to get their phones and faxes ringing off the hook on Monday morning (or sooner) with our supporters! If you live in one of these districts, please do your best to visit Springfield next Wed - Fri or the following Tues - Fri.

That means now is the time to immediately contact everyone you know in one of the following districts who might do you the favor of placing a quick phone call. Ask them to call or fax a letter to their state representative to support HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act by next Tuesday in the district office (or Springfield Wed - Friday morning).Tell them you would like to know the exact details of what took place -- any feedback or reaction is helpful, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, it helps us refine our message. (We compile it all and analyze it and respond appropriately, changing week to week or even day to day.)

It only takes three minutes to place a call, and maybe 5-7 minutes to write and fax a letter. Here are some quick instructions of what to say in your call or faxed letter:

  • Include your name and home street address.
  • If you are a doctor, nurse, chiropractor, physical therapist or childbirth educator say so!
  • Mention that are a constituent (or that you live in the district).
  • Ask your state rep to vote YES on HB 226, the Home Birth Safety Act.
  • If you are asked what your interest is, you can tell your own story.
  • If you did NOT have a home birth but still support this bill state so! (shows legislators the support among the general public as well)
  • It is okay to say something like your sister, friend or cousin had a home birth, and you are doing this to support her, or you want her to have access to licensed care.
  • If you are asked a technical question that you can't answer (or aren't sure what's best to say), it is perfectly okay to say you don't know. Just let us know, and we will follow up on the subject.
  • Please make a note of what happened and pass it along to the Coalition or Illinois Families for Midwifery
Karen May (D, 58th district)
North Shore suburbs, including: most of Glencoe, Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff.

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

Greg Harris (D, 13th district)
North side of Chicago, Uptown area. From Lake Michigan to Lincoln Ave., and from approximately Irving Park Rd. to Foster Ave.

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

Rosemary Mulligan, (R, 65th 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

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

William Burns, (D- 26th district)
Chicago. From the Gold Coast down through the East side of the Loop from the Lake Front as far West as approx. State St./King Dr., as far South as approximately 71st St.. Includes Miegs Field, Soldier Field, McCormick Place, Museum Campus, Grant Park, Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile. (Also think of anyone you know who owns a business in this district.)

Springfield Office:
284-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2023
(217) 782-8569- 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 25th Pl. to approximately 65th St.

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

Michael J. Zalewski (D, 21st district)
Western suburbs and part of Southwest side of Chicago. Includes the South half of Berwyn, the West half of Stickney, SouthEast portions of Riverside and the South half of Brookfield, the SouthEast quarter of LaGrange Park and the far East sections of LaGrange, most of McCook and Summit, and the Southwest side of Chicago from approx. 71st St up to I-55 and as far East as Cicero Ave.

Springfield Office:
231-E Stratton Office Bldg
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5280
(217) 557-1934 FAX

Michael G. Connelly (R, 48th district)
Far Western Suburbs. South parts of Wheaton, East half of Naperville, West half of Lisle, Northern sections of Bolingbrook, and West half of Woodridge.

Springfield Office:
208-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-8028

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big day at the capitol!

From Sara Baum, who attended the Feb. 10 Mother of All Rallies:

It was really interesting and amazing to participate in this process and to realize that we as individual constituents can have a big influence on what information our legislators have and whether they support an effort or not. Our lobbyist said that legislators sometimes reconsider their position on a bill when they know that even one constituent is paying attention to the bill and cares about it and takes the time to go all the way to Springfield to say so.

I was nervous to talk to my legislator for some reason. One of my fellow mamas reminded me that HE works for ME, and that he needs to hear what I and other constituents care about, because that is what him representing us is all about. Sometimes it's easy to forget this simple fact. I enjoyed talking to Harry Osterman, and he was really nice! I think our representatives enjoyed seeing us there and knowing we cared about the work they are doing. And now that I've gone and talked to my legislator, I'm not afraid to do it again.

I have often felt that there is not much I can do to help support legislation that I care about, or that there is no connection between us and our government. But if we create a connection, there can be one. And creating it is easier than it seems.

It was great to be there with others who care about mothers and babies and birth options in our state and are working hard to change things for the better.

We had a terrific rally and lobby day! Thank you to everyone who traveled to Springfield to support certified professional midwives! Our theme was "got midwife?". We lobbied our state representatives, and we passed out m&ms and cookies to the Illinois House.

There were an estimated one hundred home birth supporters, packing the halls of the capitol including nearly twenty members of the Amish community.

View pictures here!

We began the day with a large crowd gathering in the cafeteria for a pep talk and marching orders from two of our fearless sponsors -- Rep. Julie Hamos and Rep. Paul Froehlich. After materials were distributed, our caravan of moms and dads with strollers, slings and babes in arms set out on the adventure of tracking down their reps and sharing their stories. Everyone was wearing black got midwife teeshirts and/or buttons.

Throughout the day we heard mostly good reports back from everyone! Our information table we well visited, because who can resist pictures of our gorgeous born at home children? We owe a very special thank you to Judy Cole for tirelessly managing the table and Jacque Shannon-McNulty for helping us distribute t-shirts!!!

In the afternoon reinforcements arrived as a second wave of supporters joined us! We met many people who wanted to buy our teeshirts, including a professional lobbyist whose wife had a birth with a midwife at West Suburban. (West Suburban is where the midwife who passed the free-standing birth center bill works, and all their midwives have been encouraging their patients to support our bill!!) Also in the afternoon, we were joined by Rep. Dan Burke.

There were a large number of health care professionals in attendance today, including several nurses, chiropractic physicians, nurse-midwifery students, doulas and certified professional midwife students.

At the end of the day, we heard a report from a very supportive senator that in his meeting with our new governor, he made sure they knew the cookies they were eating were from the midwives!!

Today we began to process all that we learned on Tuesday, while our sponsors continue to work on their end. In the next few days, we will have more details about how best to proceed from here, so stay tuned ...


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Teeshirt details

got midwife?

Make a statement! Be seen, and let the whole capitol know that we need midwives! Buy your got midwife? teeshirt on your way into the rally!

Teeshirt Details: We will be selling a limited number of black teeshirts that say "got midwife?" in white letters across the chest. They will be availabe on a first-come, first-served basis only (except for the two pre-orders that were placed when we made the original announcement last month). Sizes available range from Children's XS (2-4) through Adult XL (and we have one XXL). We are sorry; we cannot guarantee to have your size, but stop by and see what we have!

Hours: 10:30 am - 1 pm. We will try have someone there, even if shirts sell out, until 1 pm.

Cost: $12 each.

Location: The teeshirts will be for sale on the sidewalk down by the street, on Monroe St, on the North side of the capitol, near the parking meters. You can stop by there on your way into the main North entrance into the capitol building. (We are not allowed to sell anything on state property, which is why the teeshirt sales will be outside.)

Don't worry if teeshirts are sold out before you arrive, we will have free buttons for everyone attending! Everyone will have something to wear that matches.

Can't wait to see you all there!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IFFM & CFIM launch facebook group

Yesterday Illinois Families for Midwifery and the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery launched a facebook group. In just a day, we have nearly 100 members, including three state legislators! 

If you belong to facebook, please visit and join our group 

Help us spread the word! Put our group url in your facebook status status.

( is a social networking sight. We are not affiliated with facebook in any way, other than spreading the word about the great need for licensed home birth midwives in Illinois, or individually, for personal reasons.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Contact your State rep and ask him (or her) to sponsor HB 226 today!

Dear everyone who values childbirth freedom:

We have a new bill number! For this session, we will be working on, and hopefully passing (!) House Bill 226, the Home Birth Safety Act.

As the new legislative session begins, we are nearing the end of our journey. I am enclosing a message from our lobbyist, about the progress we made at the end of the last session. 

As you may already know, our opponents, many of the state's doctors groups, spearheaded by the Illinois State Medical Society, have been lobbying very hard against the Home Birth Safety Act. Legislators are used to relying on these groups, particularly the ISMS, for information regarding the healthcare needs of Illinois. Sadly, the Medical Society has not entirely accurate in their portrayal of the issues surrounding home birth. Legislators, particularly in the House, do understand the need to support home birth by licensing midwives. 

We are working diligently to bring accurate, and true information to your state rep, but there's something we will never be able to do, that only YOU can do ... meet with your own state representative, face-to-face, so they can see that people in their own district, normal, every day folks, need midwives, and that licensing certified professional midwives is the answer to the shortage crisis that grips our community. 

Organized medicine is painting home birth as a patently bad choice, and, like the majority of the population, most representatives only know hospital birth. Now that our bill has gained new momentum, representatives are being more forthcoming about their hesitation to voteyes to license midwives; home birth seems to many state representatives like either an out-of-date practice or something weird. Yet we know that home birth families are normal, healthy families that deserve access to licensed midwives, making a reasonable choice!

No one can take your place! 

So please take the time to see if you have the same, or a new, state representative. First look up your zip+4 at and then visit the Illinois Legislator Lookup Page, (or visit and click on Legislator Lookup), click on the "By Zip+4" tab and enter your zip+4 (no dash). Your state representative is the third listing.

Next check to see if your state rep is was of the following cosponsors of last session's bill (SB 385) -- Julie Hamos - Arthur L. Turner - Mary E. Flowers - William B. Black, Jack McGuire, Shane Cultra, Mike Boland, Cynthia Soto, Paul D. Froehlich, Lou Lang, Karen A. Yarbrough, Luis Arroyo, Harry Osterman, Maria Antonia Berrios, Daniel J. Burke, Ron Stephens, Careen M Gordon and Joseph M. Lyons

Then, pick up the phone and try to set an appointment to meet with your rep! PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE. Every single meeting is vital. Nothing can show your state representative that his/her own constituents need licensed midwives like an in-person visit with you! Only you can help normalize home birth in their eyes. 

If your state rep was a sponsor or cosponsor last session, please meet them, shake their hand, and thank them for their support, and ask them to cosponsor again. Also, ask them to reach to their colleagues to explain to them how important this legislation is.

If your state rep did not cosponsor last session, please meet them, shake their hand, stress how important this bill is to your and your family, and ask them to cosponsor this time.

Also, plan to come to the capitol on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, for our Rally and Lobby Day! Please make time in your schedule for this all-important event. The only thing more impressive to a legislator than an in-district in-person meeting is seeing you travel to Springfield to meet with them.

And, last, but not least, keep in mind that the Med Society has nearly two dozen paid lobbyist in the capitol full-time, and this serves as a grim reminder that we, too, need money to operate

PLEASE DONATE TODAY We need your financial help to keep the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery's professional lobbyist representing us, to cover expenses to produce and distribute materials to legislators every week, and to pay back modest travel expenses for our unpaid volunteer lobbyists, who must be in Springfield each week as "subject matter experts" to support our professional lobbyist. This is no small undertaking, and it is only with the collective support of all of you that this can continue to move forward.

To donate on-line via PayPal, visit and click on the PayPal Donate button on the lower left. To send a check, please make it out to CFIM and mail to

Vicki Johnson - CFIM
6092 Torchlite Trl.
Loves Park, IL 61111

We know many of you have donated multiple times already, and we are very grateful. However, we need your support again. Please give what you can. Please give again next month. If you've never donated to support the Coalition before, now is the perfect time, as we mount a great effort to pass this legislation!

Don't let the Medical Society outlast us. Give today, and set that appointment with your state representative!

Rally Date confirmed: Tues. Feb. 10, 2009!

Let's get ready to rock the capitol on
Tuesday, February 10, 2009!!!

Please plan to come to Springfield and show our legislature how much we need midwives!

-- Please forward far and wide --

Now is the time to pull out all stops and show your support for home birth in the good ol' USA! Please join us at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois for a very special day.

We have heard from a film maker that they might be interested in filming a large midwifery rally, and wanted to know what our turnout on Feb. 10 would be.

We understand that dates have been bounced around causing last minutes changes over the past few months, but this time, THIS IS IT. We are at the beginning, rather than the end of the session. There is no looming impeachment, and we are confirmed for our date of Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 11 am.

If we can get 100 adults to commit to attending the Mother of All Rallies in the next day -- by 10 am, Wed., Feb 3, 2009 -- perhaps we can take part in this film project!

This year six states are poised to pass legislation, including us. We have the opportunity to be part of a huge surge, and if we hold a big rally in the home state of the American Medical Association, we could make a huge impact not only for our bill, but possibly the entire country.

But we can't do it without you, so please make every effort to attend. You can rsvp by emailing us directly (see emails below) or joining the facebook event at

Colette -- (birthnews at earthlink dot net) or
Pat -- (colefam at gmail dot com)

Please immediately invite everyone you know who is supportive of home birth. Now is the time to show legislators how much we need midwives!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Illinois State Capitol
S 2nd St & E Monroe St
Springfield, IL 62701
11 am - Stratton Building Cafeteria

Plan for the day
11 am - noon Orientation in the Stratton Building Cafeteria.

After orientation - lobby your state representative, state senator, and leave a letter for our new Governor! (We will provide you with materials and instructions)

Fill out your feedback form, and hand it in to our information table off the Rotunda (we will be there until 2:30 pm.)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Optional debriefing at Gallina Pizza, 432 E Monroe St, Springfield, IL‎ - (217) 522-5271‎, approx. 3:30 pm (time may vary).

Tips for attending a Lobby Day
Yes, by all means, bring your children! Bring quiet toys and activities to amuse your children, and snacks and drinks. Nursing is your legally protected right in Illinois thanks to our General Assembly, so you should encounter no problems with that! :-)

EVERYONE LOVES TREATS -- We recommend you express your feelings with baked goods! Show your love for mothers&midwives, Bring m&m cookies or other baked good (3 wrapped paper plates of cookies -- one each for your rep, your senator and our new governor). If you cannot bring cookies for some reason, please bring a few packs of m&ms Do you really love to bake? Then please helps us by bringing a few extra plates in case there is a district with no constituents. [If you live in the Champaign area, please be aware Sen. Frerichs prefers healthy snacks to candy or cookies.]

You can find the Stratton Building Cafeteria by entering the capitol and asking at the Information Desk, or entering the office building due West of the Capitol.

If driving, bring lots quarters, because the free parking lot usually fills up by 8:15 am. You will most likely end up parking at a metered spot in the streets and have to put several quarters into a meter. Be prepared to walk a few blocks from your parking spot.

Prefer not to drive? You can make it a one day round trip on Amtrack from Chicago, Joliet, Bloomington (and other stops along the way). The Springfield Amtrack Station is only three blocks from the capitol.

When you finish your lobbying, you might enjoy taking a FREE architectural tour of the capitol building. See the million dollar renovations of our gorgeous capitol building.

Watch the Illinois House and/or Senate Floor in the Visitors Galleries.

Especially if you have an extra day, Springfield has many area museums and learning opportunities (most close at 5pm):
• The new Lincoln Presidential Museum
• The Illinois State Museum, a free state natural history museum part of the capitol complex, South of the capitol
• The Springfield Children's Museum, a sweet little museum for young children; 619 E Washington St, Springfield, IL‎ - (217) 789-0679‎
Lincoln's Home (with tours an opportnity to earn a Jr. Rangers badge)
• Lincoln's Tomb (a little outside of town at Oak Ridge Cemetery; automobile needed; call ahead to ask for hours 217-782-1717)

First aid -- Need a band aid, aspirin or cough drop? Visit first aid in both the Stratton Building and the Capitol (ask a guard or at the Information Desk for directions).

Most of all, bring your desire to see midwives licensed!

Hope to see you there,

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The good news is, we made huge progress on our bill, coming to terms with another one of the bill's opponents, and had a great lobby day with a home birth nurse-midwife and a non-practicing British-trained midwife who now lives in Illinois reaching out to several legislators that needed to hear more about midwives and home birth.

The kind of bad new is, we ran out of time to pass it in this session.

So the Mother of all Rallies will be rescheduled in early February. Check back for an exact date sometime next week!

Thanks for your patience and understanding!