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.