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Marinah Farrell

President Marinah Farrell Reports From the Midwives Alliance Spring Board Meeting

Posted by Midwives Alliance on May 19th, 2015

MANA Board Spring 2015

Spring is the perfect time for renewal and budding ideas. The Midwives Alliance Board of Directors took advantage of this fertile time to hold our annual spring board meeting. Together, we narrowed down our 2015-16 initiatives, including:

  • US MERA. The United States Midwifery Education, Regulation and Association meeting was held the weekend before our Spring board meeting. Our delegates who attended came back optimistic and full of good news for the future of US MERA and collaboration between the 7 organizations. The work of coming together and finding common ground is always challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and there is still much work to be done. MANA will continue to communicate with members about our work with US MERA as we move forward.
  • Our recent decision to make the official policy of MANA to require voting members to be credentialed midwives. MANA has received a warm response to this change and a recognition that this is a celebration of the CPM, honoring the many founders of MANA and the midwives who envisioned and created a credential that would validate the apprenticeship model. MANA is deeply committed to advancing midwifery and moving the CPM forward.
  • The challenges of being a board of working midwives who volunteer by putting many unpaid hours into MANA. The joy of the Midwives Alliance is that it is based on community and grassroots work. Our founders did (and still do, many of them!) so many hours of work that we have found ourselves to be quite a force - many good things have come from MANA since we were born in 1982. We work on behalf of midwives who are an invaluable resource for our society and for change in maternity care, and we take great pride in giving of ourselves to the community. We also recognize, unfortunately, the risk of burn out. While we also recognize the privilege involved with being able to give many volunteer hours, the majority of us actually are NOT privileged enough to stop working to do full time volunteer work. And yet we truly want the voice of ALL midwives to be at the MANA table. As the Midwives Alliance faces the competition of corporate interests that may be better funded, we want to continue our work in advocating for quality research and recognition of ALL midwives. In order to do this, we truly need YOUR help.

There is an opening right now on the MANA Board of Directors! The position of Secretary will be filled by appointment as we accept letters of interest, conduct interviews and strive to find a member midwife with appropriate skills and enthusiasm for the future of the Midwives Alliance. Download the MANA Board Job Descriptions here, and contact Sarita if you are interested. 

MANA strategic directions for 2015-2017

We identified the following areas as key initiatives for the Midwives Alliance, and are working to plan the actions needed for implementation, to be initiated at our Fall 2015 board meeting in October.This is exciting work! Among the directions are:

  • The Division of Research. Funding and furthering the ability of the Research committee members in their organizational capacity. 
  • Organizational development for MANA. Reaching out to membership and working on skill-based board positions as the new board structure of MANA.
  • Professional development for our students and midwives. More webinars and conference/networking opportunities. 
  • Policy. MANA continues planning for training and outreach in the arenas of policy, advocacy, and legislation. By partnering with Elephant Circle for training in legislation and equity work and the creation of a specific board position for policy and advocacy, MANA is working on a vision for how we can better represent midwives at state and national levels and in collaborative endeavors with other organizations. 
  • Conference. MANA conferences are a touchstone for midwives. We are growing into the new age of technology and will be implementing better registration, a new director position that uniquely focuses on conference and events, and coordinated effort between all the MANA Board of Directors to make the annual MANA conferences accessible and full of opportunity (we can't wait to see you in Albuquerque in October!). 
  • Communications. MANA has a stellar communications team that wants to reach out to YOU, our members and friends, to ensure that you are always involved in our work, aware of new research or midwives in the news, and to disseminate the information of policy work or other MANA initiatives. The communications team also ensures that our Division of Research has a voice of advocacy in the face of enormous public pressure. MANA communications is doing great work.

Access and Equity - the overarching umbrella

Finally, and as we have done since MANA was envisioned in 1982, we continue discussion around the necessity of working for inclusion and equity for all midwives to feel at home as members of MANA. The MANA board has come to realize that we are finally at a place where our framework has shifted, and an understanding that social justice is not one unique place in the organization, but is the lens through which we do all of our work. It includes thoughtful consideration of how better to help midwives in states that are not legal, students who don't have access to education, midwives who are in the margins or from vulnerable populations who desire more equity in the profession of midwifery, and midwives who aren't able to make fair wages. MANA has worked hard and shifted more than we ever thought we could to make this happen. 

We are justly proud of more than 30 years of work on recognition for all midwives, with inspired midwives who grew the Midwives Alliance to this place where we can say that midwives have created innovative education and associations while protecting and promoting Normal Physiologic Birth and Breastfeeding. We continue to be innovative and progressive and stay attuned to the times. MANA has been diligently rebuilding our structure to be more efficient with our resources, to meet the needs of a younger generation that is wanting more technological access to information, to continue the data collection that is used DAILY by midwives working on legislation, to recognize that the issues of inequities in midwifery (both in access to the profession as well as the families we serve) must be addressed NOW, and also to continue to be the voice at national tables that is thoughtful to the needs of all midwives.

MANA is here to serve you, and we are tenderly reaching out in the spirit of unity and friendship. As the current President of the Midwives Alliance I reaffirm our commitment to you, and ask that you consider joining MANA in our efforts – join as a member, join the board, our committees, volunteer or intern with us. I hope that you will support the initiatives you care about the most in whatever way you can, and in particular recognize that our Division of Research needs your support to continue their dedicated work in data collection and compelling research. As more and more midwives participate in MANA Stats and other organizations wish to collaborate on larger data collectives, I must appeal for your generosity on behalf of MANA's Division of Research to meet the goal of expanding their capacity so that midwives can continue to prove their competence and expertise in natural birth. Please send a donation earmarked for the DOR today.

Thank you for your friendship. With your help we will continue the work of research and advocacy for Every Midwife.

The Midwives Alliance: Unifying Midwives since 1982.

Thank you,

Marinah Farrell

Marinah FarrellAbout the author

Marinah Farrell is a CPM in Phoenix Arizona working in homebirth and birth center practices. She is recognized for her work in public health issues, is a founding member of Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic in downtown Phoenix, and participates as a human rights activist both in the US and internationally. Marinah is in her first term as MANA President.

Midwives Alliance: Celebrating What YOU Bring To Midwifery

Posted by Midwives Alliance on February 10th, 2015


Midwives Alliance: Celebrating What YOU Bring To Midwifery



Midwives are NOT all the same, and MANA celebrates their difference. 

This drives our strategic priorities for 2015:

  • Support for midwives who wish to continue their fight for autonomous practice

  • Legalization of the CPM in all states

  • Access to training for all midwives to meet the unique needs of their communities

  • Equity in the profession and calling that is birth work.

We are proud that our volunteer board is composed of: CPMs, LMs, CNMs, a CM, and a DO, midwives from every educational pathway. We are working hard in a consensus model to help midwives have a stronger national voice and presence. 

Here’s how we want to work with you and for you in 2015.

Deeper connections to our membership.

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

  • Online workshops and webinars with CEUs,

  • 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, including waterbirth.

Representing YOUR voice at the national level.

The Midwives Alliance amplifies YOUR voice at national midwifery and public health conferences and in coalitions that bring partner midwifery organizations together such as US MERA and the Allied Midwifery Organization. To better represent you, I want to hear what matters to you! I personally would love to travel to your state and visit with your local organization and hear your concerns as we move into this year – the more we form a communication web the better we can address the hard repercussions of midwives in states where they are on the ground working for change.

Bringing together midwives from across the nation: MANA15!

Where else do ALL midwives come for nourishment, knowledge, skills and new perspectives? Please join us for YOUR midwifery gathering in Albuquerque October 15-18th, 2015: exciting speakers, gathering of indigenous midwives, free pre-conference skills workshops for students, trips in the glorious New Mexico landscape, fabulous merchants, and so much more! 

We have a dedicated local crew working hard to help make this year an enriching and memorable experience. In this time of ever expanding internet conferences and virtual meetings, MANA wants to remain a welcome place for midwives, birth workers, consumers and activists to come together and share their voices in person. We hope you will always think of the Midwives Alliance as your home, so we are working diligently to make sure you have a lovely fall gathering this year.

Welcoming YOU, your voice, and your skills to MANA.

I invite you to join the Midwives Alliance as a volunteer and as a member. It may seem impossibly daunting to work within a national organization, but I want to assure you that NEW voices are what we are looking for in 2015. MANA cannot be your voice unless you participate and we are dedicated to helping new voices become strong voices, so consider joining us as we hold the ground for "all midwives."

Tell me what matters most to you.

I hope you will feel free to contact me, any time, at I want to hear from you and care deeply about your rights, as does the entire board of MANA. We need greater autonomy and justice within the profession, and as we move into 2015, The Midwives Alliance wants to continue to be the progressive organization that has always defended the rights of midwives to be distinct and autonomous practitioners. Midwives are THE solution to our maternity care crises in the United States and the world.

Thank you and Happy New Year!!

Marinah V. Farrell, CPM

President, Midwives Alliance of North America

Marinah FarrellAbout the author

Marinah Farrell is a CPM in Phoenix Arizona working in homebirth and birth center practices. She is recognized for her work in public health issues, is a founding member of Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic in downtown Phoenix., and participates as a human rights activist both in the U.S and internationally. Marinah is in her first term as MANA President.

An Open Letter to ACOG

Posted by MANA Community Manager on April 10th, 2014

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a joint statement with the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine on ways to reduce primary cesareans. As a part of our Cesarean Awareness Month efforts, we wanted to share with the MANA community our open letter to ACOG. We welcome your comments.

Dr. Jeanne Conry, President
Dr. Hal Lawrence, Executive Director
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Dear Drs. Conry and Lawrence,

On behalf of the Midwives Alliance, I am writing to congratulate you for the strong commitment to high quality maternity care that ACOG has demonstrated by developing and disseminating the Joint Statement by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery.

In recent studies and commentaries regarding causes for the escalating rate among low-risk patients, experts suggested the increase in cesarean sections was due to maternal health issues, such as gestational diabetes and obesity, fetal issues, such as malpresentation and multiple gestation, as well as malpractice concerns affecting hospital policies and practitioners. However, this new position statement by the nation's maternal and fetal health experts suggests that modification of certain maternity care practices could in fact reduce primary surgical deliveries. The World Health Organization called for the elimination of unnecessary cesarean sections as early as 1996, yet until recently there were few resources to assist maternity care providers in achieving this goal. This new joint statement provides a critical, evidence-based and actionable guideline for both health care providers and consumers. The emphasis placed on accounting for patient preference when making these complex decisions is reflective of the value that ACOG places on patient oriented outcomes.

As you may be aware, in May 2012, MANA, ACNM, and NACPM issued a joint statement entitled Supporting Healthy Normal Physiologic Birth That statement provides a complementary evidence-based guideline for practitioners who seek to facilitate normal physiologic birth and limit obstetric interventions to those that are necessary and evidence-based. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate across disciplines to endorse evidence-based best practices in maternity care.

I wanted you to know that MANA publicly endorses the Joint Statement on the Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean. We are committed to working together—physicians, nurses, midwives, hospital personnel—to strive for an integrated maternal and child health system that provides high quality care for all women and infants in the U.S.

Thank you again for your leadership and vision.

Marinah V. Farrell, President
Midwives Alliance

Marinah V. Farrell is the president of the Midwives Alliance of North America. Politics and traditional medicine is what led Marinah to midwifery, and she has a firm commitment to both political activism and birth work. Marinah has been the president of various non-profit boards, has worked in waterbirth centers and medical facilities for international NGOs, free-standing birth centers in the U.S, and has been the owner of a long standing homebirth practice. Marinah also works with various local grassroots organizations in Arizona such as the Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic in downtown Phoenix, and assists in collective endeavors with other grassroots groups. Marinah is focused on the issue of lack of access to midwives and the profession of midwifery in communities where health disparities are overwhelming, as well as training in cultural safety.

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