Did Mary Have a Midwife?

Merry Christmas from SD Birth Matters

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I’m wondering what it was like for Mary being so far away from home for the birth of her child.  Did she have the help of a local midwife or did she and Joseph birth “unassisted” by other humans?  Like Mary, many women in South Dakota today do not have the option to have their baby in the safety of their own home with a trusted midwife.  Although Certified Nurse Midwives are allowed by law to assist at home births, very few choose to do so and most practice only near Sioux Falls and Rapid City, leaving the families in the rest of the state on their own.

The evidence continues to mount that our cultural norm of high-tech birth practices is not beneficial to most babies and moms.  Interventions like fetal monitoring, induction and cesareans that were developed for high-risk births are now being used on many women with healthy pregnancies.  As rates of cesareans and inductions have risen, so has the number of babies that are being born premature.  And although our high-tech health care system heroically intervenes to save younger and younger babies, it seems a more effective solution would be to prevent the problem in the first place.

We are incredibly grateful that, at the encouragement of our South Dakota Department of Health, every hospital with maternity services in our state has agreed to a policy of no elective inductions before 39 weeks.  This seems like such a common sense policy, but I have heard grumblings from some parents who don’t understand why they can no longer schedule their baby’s birth.  We need to keep educating parents about the benefits of this policy.

When procedures are done for convenience rather than medical necessity, we end up with higher rates of injury and death to babies and their moms.  The Midwives Model of Care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.  That is why South Dakota Birth Matters is so passionate about increasing the number of skilled midwives practicing in South Dakota.

This year we will be bringing 2 bills to the South Dakota State Legislature that would give South Dakota families access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), the experts in out-of-hospital birth.  Plan A is a licensure bill that will take a 2/3 vote to pass.  Plan B decriminalizes the practice of midwifery for Certified Professional Midwives licensed in other states and student midwives under the supervision of an approved preceptor.  You can read more about these bills at SDBirthMatters.org.  Our goal is to increase the safety for those families in our state who choose to have their babies at home by giving them access to licensed professionals who are held to evidence-based practice standards.  Plan A holds those midwives accountable to a board within our state. Plan B does not.

We will not be able to get one of these bills passed without your help.  We have a dedicated leadership team who is working to get you the resources you need to network with all your acquaintances and make a huge impact on the legislators.  Here are 4 easy steps you can take right now to make a difference:

  1. Send a handwritten note to your 3 legislators asking them to support the Midwife Bills (how to info here).  Your legislators want to hear from you!  A handwritten note now will pave the way for future communications as our bills make their way through the process.
  2. Get active on our Facebook Page (links below).  The more people who like, share, and comment, the more our message gets spread to others.  Even just a one word comment, really helps boost a post.
  3. Help with our Advocacy Day on January 19th.  There are lots of ways you can help listed on our online sign-up sheet.  If you can’t come or send food, please send a financial donation to help cover expenses (any amount is greatly appreciated).
  4. Ask at least one other person to take these steps with you.

None of us can do it all, but all of us can do something.  Working together we are making a difference.  Thank you in advance for the steps you are taking to help provide better birth options for South Dakota families!

May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
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Join Us at the Capitol on January 19th

Your help is needed to make our 2016 Legislative Advocacy Day the best ever.  South Dakota Birth Matters will have a display set up in the Capitol Rotunda all day and serve lunch to the legislators there from 11 am to 1 pm.  There will be time for you to visit with legislators, attend committee hearings and watch both the House and Senate while in floor session. (We will post more details as we get closer.)You can sign up to:

  • bring food,
  • help with set up,
  • help with clean up,
  • serve as our photographer
  • serve the meal, or
  • provide childcare 

at our online volunteer site. You can also let us know if you need childcare, which will be available from 9 am to 3:30 pm in the Visitors Center (right next to the Capitol) for a free will offering.  Please post on our Facebook Event if you are interested in ride shares from your area or staying with a host family in Pierre.

If you can’t come, but still want to help, we need your financial support to pay for things like facility rental, bottled water, juice, and paper products.  Any amount is greatly appreciated!  You can donate to our Paypal Account on the home page of our website  or send a check to :
South Dakota Birth Matters
Julie Pease, Treasurer
1200 N Advantage
This picture is a throwback from our 2008 Advocacy Day.  We are still here fighting to give South Dakota families access to the birth options that are working well in other states.  This year our focus is on licensing Certified Professional Midwives – the experts in out of hospital birth.  Certified Professional Midwives have been recognized in 30 states. None of these states has ever rescinded their laws, because these midwives are providing a valuable service and saving families and states money.Join us in bringing Certified Professional Midwives to South Dakota!


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Midwife Bills for 2016 Legislative Session

South Dakota Birth Matters is working on two bills for the 2016 legislative session to give South Dakota families access to Certified Professional Midwives

Licensure Bill
This bill sets up an advisory committee under the Board of Nursing to license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives. It is modeled after the statute that regulates Certified Nurse Midwives (SDCL 36-9A) and contains the language regarding educational requirements from the historic US MERA agreement.

What is US MERA?
Last year, all of the major US midwifery education and credentialing bodies got together and agreed upon language for Certified Professional Midwife licensure. This language sets standards for education that meet the criteria set by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).

Why does that matter?
It matters because the national office of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now officially support the ICM education and training standards. The language in our new bill meets those standards.

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) endorses the ICM education and training standards and strongly advocates the ICM criteria as a baseline for midwife licensure in the United States, through legislation and regulation.  Women in every state should be guaranteed care that meets these      important minimum standards…All midwives – whatever their title or professional designation and             regardless of where they practice – should meet the ICM standards, to ensure access to safe, qualified,   highly skilled midwives in all settings including birth centers.”

Companion document to the ACOG Policy Statement on Midwifery Education and Certification and the Obstetric Care Consensus document, Levels of Maternal Care, developed jointly by ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, April 20, 2015  Link to ACOG Statement

Decriminalization Bill
Some may argue that we do not have enough Certified Professional Midwives currently practicing or willing to practice in our state to warrant passing a licensure bill. This decriminalization bill would create a bridge to licensure by doing 3 things:

Section 1 allows Certified Professional Midwives who are licensed in other states, and student midwives under the direct supervision of an approved preceptor to practice in South Dakota. This is accomplished by adding them to the exemptions listed in the nurse midwife practice act (36-9A-3).

Section 2 of the bill calls for the repeal of Section 1 on July 1, 2020.

Section 3 establishes the Midwife Regulation Fund where voluntary contributions can be collected and used for initial costs of setting up a regulatory board or advisory committee to regulate Certified Professional Midwives.

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2016 Legislative Session

We will updating here during the 2016 SD Legislative Session. To ensure you never miss an update, please fill out our Contact Form to get on our email list!

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Birth Matters

Why does birth matter?

Birth matters because the way a child comes into the world, sets the stage for their entire life.  Optimizing the birth experience gives babies and their parents the best opportunity to thrive as families.  Birth challenges can effect breastfeeding and bonding and have long term physical, financial and emotional effects.
Does birth matter to you?
Do you believe in putting as much time into researching your birth options as you would put into a consumer purchase such as buying a house or a car?  We all want babies and mothers to get the best care possible, which means different things to different families.
What is most important to YOUR family?  Is it available in South Dakota?
Are you looking for evidence-based care or are you satisfied with care based on medical precedence?  Are you aware that many procedures commonly used in US births have been proven harmful by the scientific research?
Do you know the c-section rate at your hospital…..of your care provider?  Is your hospital designated as Baby-Friendly?  Have you put your preferences into a birth plan and discussed it with your care provider?  Are you willing to change care-providers, if your first choice isn’t a good fit for your needs?
Until consumers start demanding more scientific birth choices, the system will continue to put procedures benefiting hospitals ahead of the needs of families.
South Dakota Birth Matters believes families should have the same birth options that are working well in other states and countries and true informed consent.    We encourage all families to know their options and demand evidence-based care…because in the “heart” ofSouth Dakota …Birth Matters.
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Video Contest Winners


Grand Prize – Abbie Paulson, Aberdeen, SD

Youth Award – Emma Pease, Centerville, SD

You Tube Award – Brayla Miller, Chadron, NE

Audience Favorite Award- George Dennert, Columbia, SD

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