New Topic: Midwifery

Whoa, this topic is out of left field! Yes, it is; but allow me to explain. This will be a series of posts regarding midwifery, my home state of Alabama’s viewpoint of midwifery, and my current resident state of Georgia’s viewpoint of midwifery. I am blogging about midwifery now, because the Alabama legislature is beginning to meet for committees and bills. The ABC (Alabama Birth Coalition) introduces new midwife and home birth bills every session. Yet, go ignored most sessions. Although, there is a huge calling for the necessity of midwifery care within Alabama. I’ve been called many names for my viewpoint of midwifery (mainly “Hippy” – from a wonderful Christian women’s bible group); but that doesn’t deter me from my cause. I am proud to where the label “Hippy”, if it means all women have proper, safe, and CHOICE to maternal healthcare for what ever reason.

So, how did I come to jump on this midwifery bandwagon? While an undergrad at Auburn University {War Eagle!}, I was studying Animal Science. Due to many uncontrollable circumstances, I was not making the best grades; although I LOVED the major. I switched my major back to Sociology (SOCY), what I originally began studying. However, I was in a professional agricultural sorority, I loved being in the College of Agriculture (COA), and I needed extra classes to keep me a full time student that SOCY couldn’t provide. So, I found a minor within the COA department that would compliment my SOCY degree. Rural Community and Development, which is a long title for rural sociology (RSOCY). All of these RSOCY classes were grad classes, and gave me the challenge I needed that SOCY did not. {SOCY was the most boring study, unorganized, understaffed department, and other things contributed to me changing majors in the first place.} Anywhoo, during one of the rural SOCY classes; I began studying about the rural Appalachian people of Tennessee. One aspect that fascinated me, was their rural healthcare; specifically women’s healthcare (OB/GYN). Many of the women could not afford or distrusted hospitals or OB/GYNs. So, how do these extremely impoverished women have so many kids?! It is common to use midwives, local women trained in childbirth. The option was cheaper and they trusted the midwives. That opened a whole other door for me. What in the heck are midwives?

That is where I began researching and found Ina May Gaskin, a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) in Tennessee and her “Birthing Farm”. She has written many books on midwifery and natural childbirth. (Her story is truly amazing.) This is where I learned there are several types of midwives, all categorized by certain educational certifications or lack there of. I’m not going to go into detail about the different types of midwives. I firmly believe one should research on their own, plus the organizational website of Midwives Alliance North America has a great explanation of the 3 legal types within the U.S. So, go check it out.

Back to my story…another semester at Auburn, I had another RSOCY class that focused on healthcare in rural Alabama. I was surprised to learn that many rural hospitals do not have maternity wards and the lack of OB/GYNs within these areas were scarce. I, then, wrote a research paper about the benefits of midwifery in West Alabama for a project. While writing the paper, I learned that the state of AL has major restrictions on midwifery and out of hospital births. AL only allows Nurse Midwives and they must practice under an OB/GYN. Home births are legal; however, a medical professional attending/assisting with a home birth is illegal. There are no freestanding or attached birth centers within Alabama. Many of the West AL counties are predominately African-American and impoverished. Access to hospitals are limited, much less maternity care. I learned many of these women drive 1.5+ hours for OB/GYN care and to deliver their babies. This forces laboring women to drive hours to give birth by a medical professional, something they most likely cannot afford, or to dangerously deliver their baby unassisted at home. I wondered where are these women’s voice? Who is fighting for them? I quickly became interested in the group Alabama Birth Coalition.

The ABC is the voice for these women and other women that want the CHOICE to proper, holistic, and cheaper maternal care. As you can probably tell, I get “fired up” about the denial of midwifery in Alabama. I hope these next few posts (there will be other posts for those that like my normal material) will educate and inspire you to learn, support, and be the voice of midwifery in AL (and the other few states that disregard midwifery).



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