Friday, January 20, 2012

What is the Midwife Standards Act?

Licensing Midwives in MS is a Step Forward for Public Safety

Currently, lack of state legislation allows the practice of midwifery without any training or skills assessment. Because surrounding states require licensure, Mississippi has become an asylum for unsafe midwives.

The Midwife Standards Act allows midwives who have earned the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential from the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) to become Licensed Midwives and provide out-of-hospital maternity care for healthy women experiencing normal pregnancies.

NARM certification requires a rigorous educational and training process including a clinical internship, with a senior member of the profession, taking a minimum of 3-5 years to complete and a national board exam. Continuing education is a requirement for recertification.

CPMs have written practice guidelines and transfer protocols. With passage of the Midwife Standards Act, Licensed midwives will operate within regulations set forth by the Mississippi Licensed Midwifery Board.

Each year, more families are choosing home birth and hiring midwives as their maternity care provider. According the MS Department of Health, midwife attended birth has increased by over 400% between 1996 and 2010 (15 and 62 births respectively). A recent study reported that nationally, home birth has increased 20% from 2004 to 08.

The average cost of a midwife-attended home-birth is about one-third to one-half the cost of a doctor-attended hospital birth, including all prenatal care.

27 states have passed laws authorizing midwives to practice (including TN, FL, LA and AR), not one has rescinded it’s program. A growing number of states (13) have added licensed midwives as a Medicaid provider, including Florida. In 2010, Congress passed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to CPMs in a birth center. Federal legislation is pending to extend Medicaid coverage of CPMs in any setting.

Home Birth with a qualified care provider is safe. Research consistently shows that lowrisk women planning home births with CPMs have better maternal outcomes, equal infant outcomes, and fewer costly interventions, including a five-fold decrease in cesarean section.

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