Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Cochrane Review

There's a new Cochrane review out that lends credence to our arguments that homebirth is as safe or safer than hospital birth when integrated in the mainstream maternity system.

From the plain language summary: It seems increasingly clear that impatience and easy
access to many medical procedures at hospital may lead to increased levels of intervention which in turn may lead to new interventions and finally to unnecessary complications. In a planned home birth assisted by an experienced midwife with collaborative medical back up in case transfer should be necessary these drawbacks are avoided while the benefit of access to medical intervention when needed is maintained. Increasingly better observational studies suggest that planned hospital birth is not any safer than planned home birth assisted by an experienced midwife with collaborative medical back up, but may lead to more interventions and more complications.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Homebirth in Southern Illinois

A few weeks ago a member asked what homebirth was like outside of the Chicago area. ILFOM's representative from Southern Illinois, Trish ShermanPfeiffer, responds:

When most people think of Illinois they immediately picture rising sky scrapers and a
bustling population of diverse individuals and lifestyles. They imagine a place where
families have supported options for the way they choose to live and birth their babies.
This would be a relatively accurate picture if they had been asked to picture Chicago
and not the entirety of Illinois.

The truth is that almost all Midwifery practices in Illinois, including both home and
hospital practices, are located in the Northern quarter of the state. The women of far
Southern Illinois (below the I 64 corridor, excluding the St Louis Metro area) have very
little access to midwifery care of any kind. An exhaustive google search revealed zero
contacts for even hospital based midwifery care, let alone home birth care. Although the
author does know that there is a midwifery practice operating out of Heartland Medical
in Marion, the practice itself is not well identified and could not possibly meet the needs
of every family seeking access to the Midwifery Model of Care. There are no free
standing birth centers in the Southern Illinois region what so ever.

A Certified Professional Midwife recently began serving Southern Illinois families
seeking home birth options. She is unable to advertise because her rigorous training
and credentials are not recognized by the state of Illinois. Hence home birthing families
must rely upon word of mouth to find her. The women of Illinois deserve, like any family,
to have a choice in care provider. One home birth midwife and one hospital based
midwifery practice is simply not enough to serve our population.

As a result of this lack of options, the women of Southern Illinois are often choosing to
birth at home unattended by a care provider of any kind. Others cross the border to
Missouri to give birth in the home of a Certified Professional Midwife who once served
this area but moved to Missouri when they began licensing CPMʼs.

The families of Southern Illinois are fed up. They are tired of having their needs be
ignored, in part because the large population of Chicago does not understand the
desperation of families and scarcity of access to woman centered, baby friendly birth in
rural Illinois. The women of So Ill need the support of their northern and urban sisters.
They have become quite active over the issue and the momentum is growing. The
Southern Illinois BirthNetwork along with Allied Doulas for Southern Illinois have
sponsored rallies, film screenings and other gatherings to bring awareness to the issue.
The people of Southern Illinois are responding with gusto. You can visit their websites to
find out more and join our efforts to widen access to the Midwifery Model of Care.

Hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls have gone out to area State
Representatives requesting wider access to midwives by licensing CPMs in Illinois.
Some have yet to respond in anyway whatsoever to these points of contact. Weʼre
looking at you Rep Bradley (D) of Marion and Rep Phelps (D) of Harrisburg! The
families of Southern Illinois will not sit down on this issue. You will not stop hearing from
us. We are tired of being put off and ignored. The time is now for all Illinois Families,
North and South, East and West, Urban and Rural to come together convince our
legislators that our needs are important.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Questions from the Membership

For the next few posts I'll be tackling questions posted on our Facebook page

Our first question is about becoming a CPM in Illinois. There are many CPMs throughout the state, some practicing legally, some illegally, and some sitting on their credential.

The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) is the organization that oversees the CPM credential, and they have detailed information on becoming a CPM here.

To sum up, there are two main paths to the CPM. The first is to attend a MEAC-accredited program (a list is found here. The second is to apprentice under a qualified midwife and complete the Portfolio Evaluation Process.

After graduating or completing an apprenticeship, candidates must apply to sit for the written exam which is offered twice a year. It appears that the cost of the CPM, independent of tuition, is $2000 From NARM's FAQ

Our next post will be on the homebirth options for women outside of the Chicago Metro area.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Black Market Maternity Care

We've got a problem in Illinois.  Women are forced to find black market maternity care because doctors won't support homebirth, either by attending themselves, or by backing up the CNMs who are the only legal midwives in Illinois.  Families across the state are left with few options. Some choose to have unassisted home births, and some happen to know just the right people to be able to find a black market midiwife.

The Illinois Friends of Midwives supports a bill called the Home Birth Safety Act. This act will bring these midwives into the law, and in doing so give families greater options in homebirth, keeping them safer and providing greater accountability for home birth midwives.

We can use your help to get this bill passed!  Take a moment to find your state representative.  Write them a letter, send them an email, or make a phone call to express your support of HB2685 - the Home Birth Safety Act.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cookies at the Capitol - a lobby day for mothers and midwives

Cookies at the Capitol

A lobby day for Mothers and Midwives

Supported by the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery and Illinois Friends of Midwives

What: A day to talk to (and share M&M cookies with) your legislators to support the Home Birth Safety Act!
When: March 19, 2013 starting at 9 am 'til done, about 2 pm. Best chance to see your legislator is in the morning, before session.
Where: At the Capitol Complex, Springfield, IL
Can't Attend? You can help even if you can't be there in person – read for more details!

Before Cookie Day:
Make M&M cookies (6 to a package) for your legislators. Bring at least 3 packages – one for your representative, one for your senator, and one for the Governor. Home-baked are preferred, but do what you can, even if it means no cookies. Attach a handwritten note to your legislators. Feel welcome to decorate your cookie packages (please use sealed bags; no uncovered plates). Pretty is great! Add a card, or a photo, or a personal note. If you have extra cookies, bring packages to distribute to other legislators.

Print out the names and office numbers of your legislators. You can find this information here:

Let us know if you are planning to attend, and how many cookie packages you are bringing! RSVP for our event on facebook, or by contacting Carrie Vickery – 319-470-4304 or

On Cookie Day:
Dress: Wear your Got Midwife t-shirt or button if you have one. Dress comfortably for walking.

Transportation and Parking:
You can catch Amtrak from Chicago-Joliet or St. Louis. The train station is a couple of blocks from the Capitol Complex. If you drive, bring plenty of quarters to feed meters. There are a few parking garages, but you'll have to walk several blocks. Be prepared for walking!

Arriving at the Capitol:
You'll need a photo ID. You'll also need to pass thru a scanner/security check point to enter the Capitol building. You may need to wait in line. You will enter the building via the North or East entrances, and proceed down the hall toward the Rotunda. Our table will be in North Hallway. Someone will be at the table throughout our day at the capitol, starting at 9 AM. Check in with us and pick up the materials for legislators, a button/ribbon to help us identify each other, and a feedback sheet to record responses from the people with whom you speak. We'll try to answer whatever questions you have!

Visiting Legislators:
When you arrive at your legislator's office, ask the secretary if you can have a few minutes of the legislator's time. If you can speak with them, give your cookies, and ask for their support of the Home Birth Safety Act. Ask if they have questions or concerns about the bill. If you don't have answers, it's okay – let them know you'll check into it and get back with them, or find someone who can better address their concerns. (Let us know at the table so we can send a midwife to speak with them.)
If your legislator is in a hearing or meeting, you may go to the room to wait for them. (It might be helpful, if you're good at remembering faces, to look up their photo ahead of time.) When they exit, approach them, introduce yourself and ask for a minute. Do as you would have above, but be aware of their time.
If your legislator is in the Chambers, go to the 3rd floor, and you'll see a group of people waiting outside a large door. Write your name, address, and their name on a business-sized card, and hand to the doorman, who will deliver it to your legislator. Eventually, your legislator will come out to speak with you. Our lobbyist will be there to assist you if needed.

After you've spoken with your legislators, please return to our table to report back in. Every bit of information you can give us helps.

Remember, you don't have to say a whole lot – smile, be pleasant, give cookies, share your handout, and ask them if they will support the Home Birth Safety Act. Say thank you!

Feeding Yourself and Family:
There are cafeterias located in the basements of both the Capitol Building and the Stratton Building. You are also welcome to find off-site eating places.
Other Things to Do in Springfield:
Take the opportunity to visit some sites in our state 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)

Post-Cookies Get-Together: Gather with us for a bit of fellowship and sharing your experiences. Meet some of your fellow midwifery supporters from across the state!

Can't Attend?
While it would make the greatest impact to have your presence at Springfield, we understand sometimes circumstances prevent that.

Prepare cookie packages to send with a friend! Please let us know if you can't find someone to take your cookies and notes for your legislators, and we will see if we can arrange for your cookies to arrive with another attendee. Contact Carrie Vickery for possible arrangements.

Call the your legislator's Springfield office the day of Cookie Day to let them know you support the Home Birth Safety Act.

Contact Numbers:
If you need help the day of lobby day, you are welcome to contact any of the following people:

Carrie Vickery – 319-470-4304
Trish ShermanPfeiffer - 217-622-4213
Ashley Price – 217-550-9900
Aisha Goodman - 630-306-6662

So, to summarize:
RSVP on Facebook event, by phone, or email
Bring M&M cookies packaged prettily
Bring quarters/money for parking
Know your legislators names and faces
Wear your Got Midwife t-shirt or button
Be ready to walk and talk!

We look forward to seeing you at the Capitol!