I haven't really blogged about this but there has been a lot going on in NYC in the midwifery field. The closing of St Vincent's Hospital a few months ago was a big blow to the natural childbirth community as it was the hospital most supportive of intervention-free birth. Additionally, it was the back up hospital for the NYC homebirth midwives. Any women who had to be transferred were usually sent to St Vincent's because the staff had a good relationship with the homebirth midwives.
In New York State, midwives are not allowed to practice without a WPA- written practice agreement that is signed by an Obstetrician. This is a document stating that the midwife has a relationship with this specific doctor, and that the doctor takes responsibility for the midwife's patients if complications arise. The midwives who attend homebirths had WPAs with the doctors at St Vincents. When the hospital closed, the homebirth midwives lost their WPAs. No other doctors in other hospitals were willing to sign a WPA for them, so for the past few months the midwives have essentially being practicing illegally. Nothing has changed about these midwives' skills in delivering babies, they are just missing a form.
Over the past few months, doulas, birth advocates and midwives have been lobbying hard for the Midwifery Modernization Act (MMA) which would give certified midwives the ability to practice without a WPA. It has gone through several rounds and revisions and will hopefully be brought to a vote on Monday in the New York State Assembly.
This is exciting news. While home birth is definitely not for everyone, it should be a legal option for the women who want it. Even for midwives practicing in hospitals, this act would give them more independece and legitimacy as valued providers of care for women.
I am curious to see what will happen on Monday- for more information and to find out how you can support the bill, check out Free Our Midwives.