HFM Guest Post: Pushing For Midwives in Maryland

Midwives-in-MarylandI’m so pleased to hand the microphone over to my friend, Erin Whitt Hilker, today. She is passionate about women’s health and particularly about her access to the birth choices. I hope you’ll enjoy her post chronicling her day of lobbying in Annapolis, Maryland’s state capital.
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Hello Hungry readers! My name is Erin, and I have the good fortune to know your beloved author. You can find me at Adornaments Henna, where I practice body art when not making jewelry or momming my little boy. Given that we can be hungry for particular flavors of motherhood, I offered to write up my trip to our state capital in support of midwife availability for Maryland moms.

On Wednesday, January 29,  my husband and I bundled up and drove down to Annapolis to join a lobbying day during which we would talk to our representatives about the importance of being able to choose how, where and with whom we have our children. Having had one, we are not planning on more, but I am bound and determined that every woman should have the option, if it suits her health requirements, to have her birth where and with whom she feels safest.

Lets get some background on the situation, because we aren’t all a part of the Homebirth Underground (just kidding, there isn’t one, so don’t worry, you’re not missing any meetings :p). There are two ways to be certified as a midwife. You can be a Certified Nurse Midwife, or a Certified Professional Midwife. Find out more about CPMs by clicking here. Both require years of training, but only CNMs have licenses due to their nursing background. My son was born at home with the assistance of a CPM, who also took care of me throughout my pregnancy.

I was completely happy with care I received from my midwife, but shortly after my son was born, she, and 14 other CPMs in Maryland were told to cease and desist practicing in the state. Her office closed, everyone there lost their job. While previously their certification was enough to let them practice, Maryland’s lack of CPM licensing options was now being held against them.

This left FOUR, count’em FOUR, midwives for ALL OF MARYLAND. And it’s been this way for 2 years now. It is completely legal in MD to have a home birth, but our assisting professionals are banned from helping us. Because of this, women are having unassisted births, illegally retaining CPMs who are willing to risk losing their careers to help women, or going to a hospital and being treated as higher-risk than they are, if that’s even an option in their area. CPMs were also working in hospitals previously, caring for their patients, and offering alternatives. Now their professional advice, knowledge of the patient and entire presence is banned from hospital proceedings.

In some areas of Maryland, midwives are the only birth professionals available. Rural areas of Maryland can be too far from hospitals, and Amish and similar minorities do not birth in hospitals except for emergencies, so these folks are deprived of their only caregivers.

Chilling
When we arrived in Annapolis, there were 50 women, several dads and a bunch of kids, all chilling in the lounge between our visits. We grabbed pins, stickers, our schedule of visits and a little sheet of info. If you’re a Maryland citizen and curious or want to call, write or visit your representative, you can access the info sheet by clicking here.
Erin and her husband, Tim, meet with Delegate Dana Stein- a supporter of midwives in Maryland.

Erin and her husband, Tim, meet with Delegate Dana Stein- a supporter of midwives in Maryland.

Delegates Stein and Morhaim were supportive and friendly. Cardin and Zirkin were unavailable, so we met with their aides. Cardin’s aide sat in on our meeting with Stein, and had a LOT of questions, especially about the certifying process of CPMs. I was glad to have a midwife there to answer in detail.

With Senator Zirkin’s aide, we did not have a midwife, so I gathered up all my professional and made the pitch myself with the the support of my husband and another mom. We used our talking points sheet and did pretty well, I think.

The other mom shared her experience facing birth without these professionals, and how a friend of hers had to transfer from home to hospital during a birth, and was not able to take her midwife with her for advocacy and information purposes. Left unattended to in triage, her infant died of distress. This is not a situation where less assistance is beneficial. Two years ago that woman’s midwife would have gone in with her, and stayed until the child was stable or longer.

During the visits, I was surprised to learn that Delegate Stein and Morhaim had both had one or more of their children born at home. Delegate Morhaim is the only medical doctor in our legislature, and said that while he usually sides with the medical fields, he feels that midwives are the best option for low-risk mothers.
Delegate Dan Morhaim supports midwives in Maryland!

Delegate Dan K. Morhaim, M.D. supports midwives in Maryland!

There is a rally and further lobbying visits available this Thursday, February 6 in Annapolis. So if this is important to you, please come out to support Maryland moms and midwives! Visit Maryland Families for Safe Birth on Facebook or online for more information. Hope to see you there!

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When Erin isn’t out campaigning for change, she’s also an artist. You can see her jewelry and other artistic endeavors at Adornaments and Artifact Accessories.

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4 thoughts on “HFM Guest Post: Pushing For Midwives in Maryland

  1. I had a homebirth in 2006 with Evelyn Muhlhan, and I just want to say I think it’s unfair to say that midwives were randomly ordered to cease and desist. She lost a baby and had another with severe brain injury, in part because she was lying to her clients about having OB oversight at a local hospital and so she did not want to transfer patients and did not do so in time. I know she was lying because she told me she had current, up to date OB oversight… and when the news hit, I realized she did not. I fully support a woman’s right to homebirth but I believe we need more stringent regulations to ensure midwives are behaving safely and doing their best to ensure care for women and babies, NOT putting their own needs first. Similar situation with Karen Carr, who also lost a baby, although Karen was never a CNM or CPM I do not think. Unfortunately midwives who practice this way, being dishonest to their patients, make it harder for GOOD midwives to continue practicing. But the idea that Maryland is just randomly shutting down midwives is untrue. I think we all want women to have safe births and babies to be born alive and safe.
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-07-14/health/bs-hs-hopkins-malpractice-midwife-20120713_1_nurse-midwives-rebecca-fielding-home-births
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/midwife-karen-carr-convicted-in-alexandria-babys-death-is-under-investigation-in-md/2011/05/11/AFlrp22G_story.html

  2. Evelyn DID. Have a medical collaborative agreement. However, when the shit hit the fan, this Dr decided to terminate said agreement and state she never made it.

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