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South Dakota Birth Matters has a mission to expand birth and breastfeeding options and protections through education and legislation in South Dakota. We are a group of consumers who work with legislators, policy makers, providers, and other key stakeholders in birth and breastfeeding “business” to ensure South Dakota families are heard and to work toward evidence based policies and practices being implemented.
Our organization was founded in 1992 as South Dakota Safe Childbirth Options when concerned families from across the state joined forces to advocate for access to midwives. At that time the South Dakota Department of Health began targeting midwives who provided out-of-hospital maternity care by sending out cease and desist letters. In 2003, two midwives were jailed for practicing as nurse midwives without a license.
These actions by the Department prompted our organization to focus our energy on educating the public and our elected officials on the merits of out-of-hospital birth with Certified Professional Midwives, who are specifically trained in out-of-hospital maternity care.
We have hosted an annual birth conference since 1993 where we have enjoyed such distinguished speakers as Michel Odent, Marsden Wagner and Henci Goer. We also have maintained a strong presence in the state legislature, helping to pass the following legislation to help expand and protect options for South Dakota families:
- 1998 – Affirm the rights of family members to assist at out-of-hospital births.
- 2008 – Allow the opportunity for Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) to attend out-of-hospital births.
- 2010 – Remove the repeal clause on the 2008 nurse midwife law.
- 2011 – License birth centers.
- 2012 – Exempt certain breastfeeding mothers and new parents from jury duty.
- 2012 – Protect health care sharing ministries
- 2015 – Protect the rights of babies to be breastfed in public places
- 2017 – License Certified Professsional Midwives (CPMs)
In 2011 we chose the theme Birth Matters for our East River and West River conferences, because this theme demonstrates very concisely the heart of our organization. Through our work of advocating for expanded birth options for our families, we have become the leading consumer group in South Dakota on all issues relating to birth.
In January 2012 our board took steps to change our name to reflect the growth our organization has experienced over the years. The name “South Dakota Birth Matters” encompasses our mission to continue improving and expanding all birth & breastfeeding options for families in the state through education and legislation.
In March 2017, after much work, education, lobbying, and especially prayers, SD Birth Matters watched the South Dakota State Legislature pass a licensure bill to form a regulatory board and allow Certified Professional Midwives to practice midwifery in SD. The board was appointed and formed later that year, and began the process of developing rules for CPMs to follow in their practices. After many months of meetings, public input, and compromise, the CPM Regulatory Board began accepting applications for CPM licensure in late 2018.
Because of the high licensure fees the CPM Regulatory Board had to put into place, SD Birth Matters has developed a reimbursement grant for midwives and students who need some help with their fees. If you would like to donate to our grant fund, please click into the “Donate” field on the upper right of this page and specify it is for the grant. Every little bit helps to get more midwives in SD!
SD Birth Matters continues to have a presence in Pierre during legislative sessions, and will continue to advocate and work for birth and breastfeeding options for SD Families. Follow us on Facebook and sign up for our mailing list to keep informed and up to date on events and calls-to-action that may come up!