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Director of Organizational Development

Posted by Midwives Alliance on April 21st, 2015

I live in southern New Hampshire with my husband of 24 years and my three children, ages 23, 21, and 14. I also have an adopted 23 year old son and daughter-in-law, who currently serve in the Army and live in California. I have developed two free standing birth centers with integrated home birth practices here, the second of which currently serves well over 100 families each year and is growing at an unprecedented rate. The Birth Cottage is also an active teaching facility, which helps graduate two or more midwifery students each year in conjunction with a MEAC program or the NARM PEP process. Currently, I am serving my last year as the Chairperson of the State of NH's Midwifery Council, our licensing and regulatory board. In my spare time, I am a firefighter and AEMT, National Ski Patrol, and board member of Guardians of the Ribbon, Southern NH, a group dedicated to raising money and awareness around women's cancers. In other words, I drive a pink fire truck all summer.

My initial plan for life was entirely different. I have a degree in architecture and interior design, and a vast background in business management. The birth of my first two babies, one in 1992 in a hospital and one in 1993 at home, changed my life forever. I have been attending births since 1992 as a doula, childbirth educator, and midwife. I returned to college and completed a degree in Community and Human Services with a concentration in Maternal and Perinatal Health through the State University of New York. My introduction to midwifery political work began with the prosecution of my own midwife just after my daughter was born at home. Being involved in legislative work became a part of my heart and soul early into my career; it certainly wasn't something I sought out. In fact, the first nine years of my midwifery practice I spent looking over my shoulder while living in a state where licensure was unavailable but I was certainly vulnerable, and often crossed into a state where midwifery was completely illegal. Moving to New Hampshire and becoming a part of an amazing group of midwives, who had developed a self-governing and independent board, was an incredible and life changing experience that has fueled my desire to see it replicated for all midwives in all states.

As the Director of Organizational Development, I am tasked with creating a robust business framework to support the operations of the Midwives Alliance. This framework includes financial resources and income, business practice development, marketing strategies, and most importantly, a strong and growing membership. These things are the foundation of a good business model which will sustain itself for the future. My goals include seeing midwifery become a sustainable profession with outstanding revenue sources for midwifery providers, integrated systems in place for both midwives and consumers within a larger healthcare model, and independent practice free from prosecution and restrictive oversight. Supporting the development of our professional organization is vital in obtaining these.

Membership has been my focus for the last several months. Membership and student membership drives have shown wonderful potential for growth this year, and we are now focusing on member retention.

We are planning many new ways for members to stay connected to MANA's work in 2015!

  • Online workshops and webinars with CEUs;
  • More Virtual Town Hall meetings to talk about issues of concern to midwives and to hear the voices of our members;
  • Division of Research updates to share the exciting work of the DOR and to encourage everyone to learn about and contribute to data collection;
  • Ongoing improvements in our website to better reflect your interest in technology and social media as a tool for sharing information;
  • Updating our essential documents and preparing more position papers on topics and issues of interest to midwives and clients;
  • Participation in the global dialogue on midwifery and maternal child health issues, representing YOUR voice at the national and international level.

Is there anything that I can do for you? Would you like to see a membership benefit developed, or a special promotion launched? Please contact me, as I'll happily welcome your suggestions and input. Without you, the members, the Midwives Alliance could not thrive.


About the author

Adrian Feldhusen, NHCM, CPM, is the founder and owner of The Birth Cottage in Milford, NH, a free standing birth center offering woman centered care throughout the lifespan. She currently serves as the Chairperson for the state's licensing and regulatory board in New Hampshire, and is a firefighter and AEMT in her community.

Meet Amy Smith, Director of Professional Development

Posted by Midwives Alliance on April 9th, 2015

I live in Phoenix Arizona where I currently attend homebirths. I have three beautiful boys, one courageous husband, amazing parents and wonderful there "in a pinch" friends that make my work and service as a midwife possible. It is my great honor and privilege to serve families during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum and like many midwives the calling to serve families has been both joyous and challenging. 

I come from a science background. I have an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and a work history in research, clinical diagnostics, biochemical genetics, and analytical biochemistry. I found my way to midwifery through a love of people, children, bonding, breastfeeding, and the wonder of the natural processes of birth and of life. I studied and learned midwifery through a MEAC-accredited school, Midwives College of Utah, and the apprenticeship model. I have learned much from many midwives. But I am most grateful for my primary preceptor Mary Henderson. She is a very experienced midwife who has served Arizona for over 30 years and is known for her compassion and acute attention to detail. The need for willing midwifery teachers and clinical preceptors is greater now than it ever has been. The sense of appreciation I have for those willing to guide, teach, observe, listen, and inspire is immense and in many ways directs my work here at MANA. As your Director of Professional Development I am seeking to support you and the profession of midwifery in functional and dynamic ways.

As Director of Professional Development I work closely with other Board Directors and MANA committees to keep important documents, like the MANA Core Competencies, revised, relevant and up-to-date. We are also working on position statements, practice guidelines, consumer hand-outs, student services, continuing education opportunities and town-hall informational and interactive webinars. An essential role of mine here at MANA is to serve YOU the midwife in the field by providing you with tangible tools for your practice and in ways that advance midwifery both regionally and nationally.

I am excited and honored to serve you as a member of MANA's Board of Directors. I need your help to realize the full potential of the Midwives Alliance. If you have ideas or a desire to serve or contribute in any way please reach out to me at! I look forward to hearing from you and I do hope our paths will cross soon.

About the author

Amy Smith, LM, CPM, is a mother, midwife, advocate and activist. Amy is originally from Maine but has spent the last 13 years soaking up the great Arizona sun.

Update from the States: Massachusetts

Posted by Midwives Alliance on April 9th, 2015


Guest Author: Sarah Whedon, Ph.D

Here in Massachusetts, midwifery supporters have been working for many years to pass a bill that would license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). We believe we now have a real shot at passing the bill into law in the current legislative session.

This January we re-filed the bill, An Act Relative To Certified Professional Midwives (SB 1825/HB 2941), sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and Senator Anne Gobi. If passed into law, the legislation would:

  • require all midwives practicing out-of-hospital to be CPMs;
  • create state licensing requirements for CPMs;
  • establish a Committee on Midwifery to issue CPM licenses and regulate CPM practice.

Currently, Massachusetts regulates only Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), who do not attend homebirths here. There is no state oversight of CPMs, who provide out-of-hospital care to approximately 500 women and their families across the state each year, a number that is growing annually.

Representative Khan, the House sponsor of the bill has said, "It is critical for the future of maternal health care that we establish oversight for the homebirth midwives practicing in the Commonwealth. Not only will it ensure accountability and offer families secure options for choosing to deliver their child at home, but it will reduce medical costs, promote collaboration among healthcare professionals, and improve public safety for consumers."

Although the bill was originally drafted in 1998 by supporters of Massachusetts CPMs, they quickly formed a coalition with CNMs to advocate for the midwifery legislation. That coalition operated for more than a decade until, for both administrative and policy reasons, the formal coalition was dissolved in 2010 and the bill was cleaved into two, one that would regulate the practice of CPMs and the other which expanded the scope of practice for CNMs. The CNM bill passed in 2012, freeing CNMs from a requirement to work under a supervising physician and allowing them to both write prescriptions and order tests.

The CPM bill has been reintroduced into the Massachusetts legislature multiple times, working its way through various committees. During this time, it has the gained the support of powerful consumer organizations like the Massachusetts ACLU, Amnesty International, Massachusetts NOW, Mass Friends of Midwives, Massachusetts League of Women Voters, Our Bodies Ourselves, and the Massachusetts' Women's Bar Association. However, due to pressure from powerful medical organizations, the bill has been stalled each time.

Judy Norsigian, who for many years was executive director of Our Bodies, Ourselves, wrote to debunk myths about the midwifery bill perpetrated by medical dissenters. She asserted that, "failure to license CPMs will make the several hundred home births that occur in Massachusetts every year less safe by failing to create an integrated maternal health care system with enhanced collaboration among all care providers. This bill would affirm that all Massachusetts maternal health care providers are committed to practicing with state oversight and public accountability."

Massachusetts Midwives Alliance and Massachusetts Friends of Midwives continue to collaborate on advocating for the bill. We recently received the good news that Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez will now be the House Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee and Rep. Kate Hogan will be the new House Chair of the Public Health Committee. Both have been supporters of the midwifery bill during prior sessions and have indicated an ongoing commitment to advance this legislation. We congratulate Reps. Sanchez and Hogan in their new leadership roles and look forward to working with them on An Act Relative To Certified Professional Midwifery.

We are hopeful that this session will be the one in which Massachusetts formally recognizes the vital role of Certified Professional Midwives in providing broader birth options for low-risk birthing families.

For more information and to get involved please contact:

Audra Karp, Mass. Midwives Alliance, 617-522-8383

Ann Sweeney, Mass. Friends of Midwives, 617-254-6175/617-901-2777

Follow along with the bill's progress on Facebook and Twitter.

The history of this bill is drawn from an unpublished paper by Molly J. Lawney, "Massachusetts: 'An Act Relative To Certified Professional Midwives'" March 18, 2013.


About the author

Sarah Whedon, Ph.D, is a homebirth mom who serves as co-director of the Boston Doula Project and managing editor of Pagan Families.

Update from the States: California

Posted by Midwives Alliance on March 24th, 2015


California midwives are going to the legislature with three midwifery bills this session. California Association of Midwives (CAM) and California Nurse Midwives Association (CNMA) have each sponsored legislation that will increase access to midwifery care for the families of California.

New California Legislation: Expanding Access To Midwifery Care Through Medi-Cal

California Senate Bill 407 will, if passed, authorize California Department of Health Care Services to recognize licensed midwives as providers in the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP). This is a critical step towards Medi-Cal coverage for licensed midwives in California. SB 407, sponsored by CAM, will add licensed midwives to the list of qualified Comprehensive Perinatal Service Program providers under Medi-Cal, further expanding access to community-based midwifery care in all settings for all women and families in California. The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP) provides educational, nutritional, and psychosocial support to pregnant women, as well as childbirth and breastfeeding education, services already provided within the scope of LM practice and fully in line with the midwifery model of care.

The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program became a Medi-Cal benefit in 1987. Licensed midwives are not currently, but should be, recognized as eligible providers of these benefits, which fall squarely within their scope of practice. The passage of this bill would allow licensed midwives who work in clinics providing CPSP services to bill Medi- Cal.

This bill is a part of a larger legislative strategy spearheaded by the California Association of Midwives (CAM). "All women in California deserve to be able to choose midwifery care," said Sarah Davis, LM "Our goal is to expand the option of midwifery care to all women in California by making care with licensed midwives Medi-Cal eligible."

If passed SB 408 will expand midwifery care – particularly in rural and other underserved areas – by allowing 'midwife assistants' to legally assist licensed midwives at out-of-hospital births. Typically, two providers attend each birth, but licensed midwives are scarce in some areas of the state. This bill would allow a specially trained 'midwife assistant' to legally assist a licensed midwife, expanding the reach of existing providers.

California Assembly Bill 1306 removes physician supervision from the law governing CNM practice. It also authorizes a certified nurse-midwife to manage a full range of primary health care services for women from adolescence beyond menopause in all settings, including, but not limited to, a home, without direct supervision of a physician. The bill, sponsored by CNMA, would provide for consultation, collaboration, or referral as indicated by the health status of the client and the resources of the medical personnel available in the setting of care, and would provide that the practice of nurse-midwifery emphasizes informed consent, preventive care and early detection and referral of complications to a physician and surgeon. This bill would authorize a certified nurse-midwife to provide peripartum care in an out-of-hospital setting to low-risk women with uncomplicated singleton-term pregnancies who are expected to have uncomplicated birth. It would also allow nurse- midwives to furnish medications and devices within the scope of her practice, and to make repairs of the perineum for 1st and 2 degree lacerations.

Regulatory Process Still Underway

Physician supervision is no longer required for licensed midwives, thanks to the passage of California bill AB1308 in 2013. That bill also called for a number of changes to be determined through regulation (as opposed to legislation). CAM, alongside the consumer group California Families for Access to Midwifery (CFAM) have been participating in the regulatory process.

The new regulations dictate a physician referral for preexisting maternal diseases or conditions likely to affect a pregnancy and significant diseases arising from pregnancy. At issue is the complete list of those conditions. The regulation has been the source of some confusion (it calls for exams, not a required transfer of care to a physician). It has also sparked concern, particularly from consumers concerned that a physician may be unwilling to address their desire for a home birth with a licensed midwife.

"Consumers of California want the option of using a midwife, either at home for birth or in clinics, birth centers and hospitals. California Families for Access to Midwifery is very excited to support the three midwifery bills introduced to our legislators! We were a part of the process from the passage of AB1308 (the removal of physician supervison for LMs), to the regulatory process, and now we are supporting SB 407 and 408 and again supporting the removal of physician supervision from the nurse midwives of California AB 1306. " -Tanya Smith-Johnson President CFAM

To keep up-to-date with changes in California, visit CAM's website here and CFAM's website here.

About the author

Sarah Davis, LM, IBCLC, is the Policy Chair of California Association of Midwives and a midwifery advocate in San Diego, California. She has practiced in home, birth center, and clinic settings and is the mother of an amazing 2 1/2 year old.

Our Treasurer Midwifes MANA

Posted by Midwives Alliance on March 23rd, 2015

MANA Treasurer Vicki Hedley shares her background and her passion for The Midwives Alliance, our mission, health and growth

I live in Montvale, NJ and have a busy homebirth practice. I have five children ranging in age from 32 down to 13. I also have two grandchildren, whom I had the privilege to receive into my hands in October of 2012 and October of 2014. I have been attending births since 1996, first as a doula, doula trainer, and childbirth educator, and since 2008 as a CPM when I graduated from the National College of Midwifery. In 2010 I also became a CM. My learning occurred through the apprenticeship model in many different settings with beautiful and wise midwives who taught the art of midwifery through their example. I continue the tradition of mentoring others through study groups and apprenticeship. Midwifery is the most difficult and the most rewarding work I have ever done, and I am honored to have the title "midwife".

Before becoming a midwife I had a private accounting practice for sixteen years. I feel as if I midwifed my clients through the stresses of finances and taxes. I have been a member of MANA since 1999, many years before becoming a midwife. MANA has been the home for all midwives for over 30 years, the mother of the CPM and NARM, and an organization with integrity that I have great respect for. I have served on the Board of Directors as treasurer for nearly two years. I have a feeling there aren't too many midwife/accountants out there, so it seems that I am a good fit for the job. It is a challenge working with a small budget, but we spend our money wisely, always thinking of our membership and how you would benefit most from the available dollars.

I see my role as treasurer as more than just a number cruncher. There is certainly importance in the day-to-day bookkeeping that is required to run our operation; but the treasurer is involved in virtually every aspect of the organization. I oversee conference finances, create budgets, work closely with the Division of Research helping them with their finances, assist in writing grants, and work very hard to strategize ways of increasing our income. Our membership is our most valuable asset. It is you, the members of MANA who keep the operation going. Grants are not used for operations, so we count on your membership dollars to pay for all things operations such as upkeep on our websites, our wonderful conference coordinator, our amazing membership support staff, communications, and more. Without you we could not do the important work that we do.

With your help we can achieve our goals:

  • To engage midwives in dialog and to encourage solidarity across North America
  • To recognize the diversity among midwives and to foster inclusive community building
  • To build an identity as a cohesive organization representing the profession as well as the tradition of midwifery at regional, national and international levels
  • To position midwives as acknowledged authorities, working to improve perinatal health in collaboration with other professionals
  • To collect and disseminate high quality research about midwifery care
  • To promote excellence in midwifery practice
  • To sponsor continuing education opportunities for midwives
  • To increase access to midwives in all settings
  • To endorse the Midwives Model of Care™ as the gold standard for childbirth
  • To affirm the rights of pregnant women to give birth where and with whom they choose

The Midwives Alliance promotes professional development and continuing education of midwives so all women and babies will have access to practitioners who can provide excellent prenatal care, safe and empowering births, comprehensive postpartum care, and privacy during the critically important bonding period of mother-infant attachment.

Thank you for the privilege of serving on your Board of Directors. I look forward to seeing you in Albuquerque in October for our annual conference. Contact me at

About the author

Vicki Hedley, CPM, CM, is a mother, grandmother and midwife in Montvale, NJ.