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New CPM Legislation: Good For Maine? Guest Opinion by Jill Breen, CPM, CLC

Posted by Midwives Alliance on May 4th, 2016

Editor's note: While many are celebrating the recent passage of CPM legislation in Maine, others have shared with MANA leadership their concerns about the specifics of the legislation and the particular legislative process. While MANA fully supports licensure in all 50 states, we also believe that, as more states engage in the process, we need to hear from all voices in the debate. We asked Jill Breen, CPM, CLC of Maine to take off her official MANA communications chair hat and share with us her personal perspective on the changes in her state. What follows is Jill's personal response. Like all guest posts at MANA, this post represents her experiences in Maine and should not be construed as MANA's position.

While some midwives in Maine are celebrating the fruits of their labors, others are grieving for their beautiful state. It is a sad time for Maine families who will not in the future be able to use the midwife of their choice. A bill to license certified midwives cleared its final hurdle on April 29, 2016 when the legislature, after intense lobbying from medical influences, voted to override the Governor's veto and pass it into enactment, in spite of hundreds of calls urging them to sustain the veto. As of Jan 1, 2020 only licensed midwives will be legal to practice, only MEAC accredited CPMs may be licensed, unless the current PEP CPMs have completed a "Bridge" to accreditation by that date. After that date no new PEP CPMs will be able to "bridge" to licensure, as per US MERA language. The statute itself states that no licensed midwives may attend breeches, twins or VBACs in an out-of-hospital setting. Although that restriction has an expiration date in a few years the decisions about scope of practice rules and regs, including lifting the ban on VBACs will be made by The Complementary Medicine Board composed of several naturopaths and accupuncturists, a consumer, and now 2 certified midwives and 2 physicians. The Board of Medicine also has joint rulemaking rights until 2021. With the appalling C-section rates, the lack of access to hospital VBAC, the lack of training for physicians in vaginal birth for breeches and twins, and the hospital liability insurance restrictions, the birthing population of Maine will be under the gun, or should I say knife, for the foreseeable future.

For 230 years, since the time of Martha Moore Ballard and the settling of Maine, midwives have been free to practice and families have been free to choose how, where and with whom to birth their babies.This is the founding principle of both MANA and Midwives of Maine, the 2 organizations I have been devoted to and who, for over 33 years, have worked to ensure competency and accountability while protecting these rights to care and be cared for. Unfortunately this new Maine law does not meet that standard. Crafted in collaboration with the Maine Medical Association and other medical practitioners including CNMs, OB nurses, ACOG and several others, along with 6 CPMs, compromises were made in an effort to reach an understanding and gain support for the bill. The position of the Governor and the Commissioner of the Department of Professional Regulation have consistently asserted to the legislature and the public that there is no need to regulate midwives who already have a national credential, have a good track record and pose no threat to public safety. The Governor is absolutely correct when he says in his veto letter that licensure leads to "economic protectionism" - allowing some midwives to practice and not others, and "over-regulation" - allowing midwives to serve some people but not others. He said he was contacted by "many midwives" and dozens of Maine people urging him to veto this bill. The autonomous practice of midwifery includes risk assessment, informed consent and refusal, peer review, and ethical behavior. These are the tools of self-regulation and protection, in my opinion not needing legislation to achieve.

There has never been an illegal midwife in Maine. Now, thanks to this law, there will be. It is a shame that this happened in a state where midwives are already legal, are recognized by the state in statute, and have good relations with state agencies. I believe some midwives will "go underground", some will retire, and many others will go through the mechanism and expense of licensure. More layers, more cost, more restrictions. I sincerely hope that Maine families benefit more from the advantages of licensure than suffer from the disadvantages. People should always be able to choose their midwife and their midwife be able to choose them. With a heavy heart, I raise my glass of cider to Maine, the way life used to be.

About the Author

Jill BreeenJill Breen CPM, CLC has been serving women, babies and families for 37 years as a homebirth midwife and natural family health consultant, and for 20 years as a CPM. A MANA member since 1984, Jill has served on the Board of Directors in several positions including President, as well as on several working committees, and currently is Communications Chair. She is a founding member of Midwives of Maine, a statewide, inclusive association of midwives since 1981. Jill is a Home Birth Summit delegate active on the Collaboration Task Force. She was an appointee to the Maine Governor’s Advisory Committee on Rulemaking regarding certified midwives and was a member of the Maine CDC Inter-professional Work Group addressing flow of care across birth settings. Jill writes, speaks, and mentors including as a guest lecturer at University of Maine. She is the mother of 6 children, all born at home, and has 9 grandchildren, all born into the hands of midwives, including her own.

15 Questions To Ask Before Choosing a Midwifery Path and Program

Posted by Midwives Alliance on July 21st, 2015

What midwifery credential should I choose? How can I tell if a midwifery school is right for me? As a practicing midwife, I am asked these questions by potential students as they decide between becoming a certified nurse midwife or certified professional midwife and when trying to choose a midwifery program.

I have gathered together the 15 questions I often ask potential students to consider as they make their decisions. Give yourself a few minutes, jot down your answers, and don't think too hard about any one question! You might be surprised at some of your answers. I hope these help you find the path that is right for you.

Choosing a path

Where do you want to practice? Consider both the place of birth - home, hospital or birth center - and the state or states you want to practice in. Research the license/credential requirements for the state and place of birth you'd prefer.

Who do you want to serve? Teen mothers, low income families, a small rural community, a big city busy practice with other midwives - who do you dream of serving?

What are the laws concerning midwifery (and student midwifery) in your community? Is it legal for a CNM to attend home birth? Can CPMs practice legally? Where? Do you need to register with anyone? Do you need to be enrolled in a school program to attend births as a student midwife? Can CNM student midwives have an internship with an out of hospital midwife?

Do you want to be able to move about the country and work in a wide variety of settings? Nurse midwifery may be more flexible when moving a lot, and also has the advantage of being able to work as a nurse as well.

Choosing a program

Are you interested in a Nurse Midwifery program? a Certified Professional Midwife program? Portfolio Evaluation Process? or a MEAC (Midwifery Education Accreditation Council) approved program?

Are you able to relocate to go to midwifery school? Do you have the resources to move and attend a midwifery school in another community? Is there an at-distance or online alternative?

Are you able to organize yourself and learn independently? Would a program that offers few "extras" and where you would need to work independently be a good fit? Would you be more comfortable with a structured program, that includes a clear plan for success? Do you want to work with your local midwifery community to learn in an apprenticeship model? Do the programs you are looking at have "perks" - support groups, libraries, database search engines, writing labs, or other extras?

Do you enjoy group learning activities? Do the programs you are looking at offer an opportunity to build community with other student midwives?

Does the program you are interested in offer clinical internships in your own community? Is your local community large enough for you to find a midwife preceptor who can help you finish your clinical requirements? Do your local hospitals offer Nurse Midwife internships? Does your program help you find a preceptor?

Do you need to complete any portion of your academic program before beginning your clinical training? Some programs, and some mentor midwives require that you complete up to a year of academics before starting clinicals.

How many of the students who start the program or apprenticeship you are considering finish, and go on to pass the credential and/or licensing exams?

Finding your resources

What are your financial, emotional, spiritual resources? What is your community support like? Does your family support your chosen work? Can they manage living "on call" with you? Are they concerned about liability issues?

Do you need a midwifery program that has federal financial aid? Nurse Midwifery and some MEAC approved programs offer Federal Financial Aid. Some MEAC approved programs do not offer aid but are much less expensive than those that do.

Do you have the time necessary to commit to midwifery training? Do you have time in your life for rigorous academic and hands-on demands? Can you be on call? Part time or full time? How much flexibility do you need?

Will you need to work while you are in midwifery training? Is it realistic? What is the expectation of the midwife you are working with or the program you will be attending?

 

I hope these questions have helped you to become clearer about how to choose a midwifery path that is right for you. Becoming a midwife is often a winding path, challenging at times, but rewarding! Good luck to you all!

 

About the author

Treesa McLean, LM, is a homebirth and birth center midwife and has been involved in the birth community as a consumer, an advocate, and a birth professional for more than 30 years. She teaches a workshop "Becoming a California Licensed Midwife" and has been the preceptor for a number of student midwives.

Update from the States: Delaware CPM Legislation Passes House and Senate

Posted by Midwives Alliance on June 1st, 2015

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New legislation will make it possible for CPMs to practice in Delaware

House Bill 70 was introduced and passed through both the Delaware House and Senate which will allow for Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Midwives to practice legally in Delaware without a written collaborative agreement beginning June 30, 2016. Since 1984 to present, CPMs needed a physician alliance and written collaborative agreement. This has prevented practice by all but one CPM who currently practices legally and has a written collaborative agreement. That practice currently is limited to serve only the Amish and Mennonite communities per the physician agreement.

Over the past 10 years, there has been continued education and community support for changes to be initiated in the current restrictions toward legal practice of CPMs. Through the many committee meetings with members of the medical community, State Board of Health, and legislators, discussion and education regarding the credentialing process of CPMs has become more clearly understood and accepted. Documents were submitted from numerous states where Certified Professional Midwives are working and valued as a safe option for out-of-hospital birth. Much discussion and work towards safe standards of care has been in process over the past year and now can start to be implemented once the Midwifery Council is designed and in operation. The Midwifery Council will draw up both standards of practice and scope of practice in the state which will then go to the Delaware Board of Medical Practice for approval.

Many thanks to the many members of the medical community, legislators, state board of health and families who were instrumental in helping this goal become realized. Also a special thanks to Shannon Burdeshaw, retired CPM and Karen Webster, CPM for all the time, energy and expertise in assisting the legislative process. Their prior legislative experience in other states served as a great asset to having Delaware join the many other states whose laws recognize and regulate Certified Professional Midwives as primary maternity care providers.

 

About the author

Pat Gallagher, CPM, has been a practicing midwife for 31 years in Delaware. She has been the only CPM legal up to this time due to the need for written collaborative agreement. She has had a physician alliance since 1984 with a practice limited to Amish & Mennonite families per physician back up. 

Pat is a Certified Childbirth Educator (ACHI). She designed and implemented a state wide paramedic refresher class in emergency childbirth and taught a workshop at MANA regional conference on breech & shoulder dystocia. Pat has been active in the legislative process to license CPMs & CMs and on the new legislation.

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