Moving Forward – Mother/Baby Friendly Legislation

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The need to integrate CPMs into our state’s maternity care system has never been greater.

Right now, fewer than 10 out of 102 Illinois counties have legally recognized home birth practices run by certified nurse-midwives or physicians. All but two of these are in the Chicago metropolitan area. Across the state, families who choose home birth are served by community midwives who do their best without access to oxygen, anti-hemorrhage medications or cooperative transport to a hospital in case of an emergency. By bringing these midwives into the system, rather than continuing to shut them out, we can make home birth safer for mothers and babies in Illinois.

All women and their families deserve equal access to CPMs and the Midwifery Model of Care. The demand for home birth services has risen dramatically in recent years and states are beginning to recognize the benefits of licensing nationally certified, skilled experts in home birth attendance. In 27 other states Certified Professional Midwives are licensed professionals, providing evidence-based maternity care in a collaborative environment.

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How You Can Help

Throw a Fundraiser

In order to maintain a half-time lobbyist in Springfield, we must raise a few thousand dollars each month. The lobbyist keeps us informed of relevant bills and initiatives in congress. He also advises us on the best strategies to use in pushing forward legislation. Throwing a fundraiser is a great opportunity to get creative and spread the word about the benefits of increasing access to midwives in our communities. Here are some ideas to get your started: have a yard sale; host a film showing; get a local theater group to perform the play “Birth” by Karen Brody and donate the proceeds to ICCPM, start a silent auction, or host a bake sale.

Contact Your Representative

Find out who your legislator is by following this link, clicking on the map and then entering your address. Once you’ve identified your legislator, check out this wonderful page, published by Citizens for Midwifery, for tips on how to write an effective letter advocating for midwives. You can also set up an in-person meeting with your legislator to talk about licensing CPMs in Illinois (see talking points in next section).

Here are some informational fliers about midwifery in Illinois that you may distribute to your state representatives and senators

Talk to your friends and family

Share with your friends and family about the benefits of licensing CPMs, as well as about the benefits of out-of-hospital, midwife-attended birth. Many women are unaware that homebirth is a valid option in today’s world! Talking with friends and family about the benefits of normal birth with minimal intervention is a great way to normalize homebirth and midwifery in our culture. Here are some talking points, specific to Illinois, to get you started:

  • Women in Illinois are already having homebirths. Even though it is difficult, sometimes impossible to find a homebirth provider throughout many parts of the state, women in Illinois are already having homebirths. Nationally, the number of women seeking homebirth services has risen in recent years, and Illinois is no exception. Women sometimes search into their third trimester to find a provider! Still others never find a provider and opt to leave the state to have a homebirth (albeit, in someone else’s home!).
  • There are more women in Illinois who want a homebirth than there are midwives to serve them. Nationally, DEMs attend the majority of homebirths. Because the legal environment in Illinois criminalizes these providers, their numbers have shrunk drastically in the last decade. Many midwives either leave the state or simply stop practicing due to legal pressure.
  • Licensing CPMs is the answer! If the state of Illinois decides to recognize the national CPM license, it will make the legal environment more welcoming to aspiring providers and increase the access mothers have to their services. CPMs are a safe, cost-effective option for low-risk women AND they are specially trained to work in an out-of-hospital setting.

Interested in additional volunteer opportunities with the Midwives of Illinois? Contact info@illinoismidwifery.org

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