A Radio Conversation on Midwifery

By Rachel Walden |

Boston’s NPR news station, WBUR, recently featured a program on midwives, “Midwifery in Massachusetts” (archived online).

The almost hour-long segment, which aired on the program “Radio Boston,” addresses why some people choose home births and/or midwifery care; the ongoing discussion in Massachusetts about the regulation of midwives; and related birth issues such as malpractice insurance, c-section rates, cost and birthing centers.

A bill pending in the Massachusetts state Senate calls for the creation of a state board that would regulate and license Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Certified Midwives (CMs) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).

The program also features two Massachusetts commenters: Dr. Angela Aslami, an OB/GYN who does not support home births and does not believe CPMs should do deliveries, and Dr. Gene Declerq — Boston University School of Public Health professor and a technical adviser on the documentary film “The Business of Being Born” — who believes home births can be an acceptable option. Peggy Garland, a CNM who helped draft the licensing board legislation, was also a guest. The program includes listener comments and questions.

Our own Judy Norsigian, OBOS executive director, commented on the program’s website in support of expanding access to midwifery care.

“The key issues here have to do with preserving safe, optimal choices in childbirth for women and their families,” wrote Norsigian, pointing to this Choices in Childbirth statement signed by hundreds of physicians, midwives and other maternity care experts.

Norsigian also notes that OBOS is collaborating with Massachusetts Friends of Midwives (MFOM) and other groups to produce an 11-minute film  to educate Massachusetts legislators about the benefits of the proposed midwifery legislation. The DVD will be available through OBOS’s website by mid-January 2010. She concludes:

After OBOS produced our latest book (“Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth”) in March 2008, I had the unique opportunity to speak with hundreds of doctors, midwives, and community members in more than 50 cities across the country. It is exciting to see greater community activism trying to expand access to midwives in all settings. This will reduce the obscenely high cesarean section rate in this country, improve outcomes for both mothers and babies, and could also save millions of dollars now spent on inappropriate obstetrical interventions that actually worsen rather than improve outcomes.

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4 Comments

  1. Jerilynn says:

    You should know that a recent comprehensive analysis of planned home births with midwives, planned hospital births with midwives or physicians showed that home birth with midwives, where they are carefully trained and regulated (in British Columbia, Canada) is as safe or safer than the traditional labour room, doctor options.

    Janssen P Can Med. Assoc J. August 2009

  2. Rachel, Dr. DeClerq is actually has a PhD, I believe, not an MD. He’s a researcher who has a made a career of midwifery and women’s health out of Boston University. He’s a great speaker and advocate for midwifery.

  3. Rachel says:

    You’re right, Labor Nurse, thank you – I’ve edited the post above to make it more clear that the first Dr. is the OB/GYN, and Dr. Declerq is a BU professor (not another OB/GYN).

  4. Robin says:

    Of course OBGYN’s do not want women to use mid wifes, they’d be out of a job. I watched “The Buisness Of Being Born”, and I believe it is very accurate and non biased. I had a c section with my first baby essentially bc I was taking too long, and it was shift change at the hospital. My second baby I had to search around to find not only a provider but also a hospital that would allow a vbac, which was very successful and less traumatising than a c section. Women need to be made aware of their options, The United States is in a crises when it comes to healthcare, particularly women’s health care. I had a co worker who gave birth to a dead baby at a hospital, and she did everything she was told to by her doctor, it was a freak tragic accident, the baby’s cord had wrapped around her neck during early labor, and by the time she had gone into the hospital to deliver the baby had no heartbeat. It was so sad and heartbreaking, and unfortunatly things like that happen and are not completely proventible no matter if you deliver a thome or in the hospital.