Did Mary Have a Midwife?

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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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