Midwifery Week, Disparities, and Models of Collaborative Care
It’s National Midwifery Week! So far, I’ve celebrated by (ever so briefly) attending the Lamaze-ICEA mega-conference, chairing an event here in Connecticut with educational lectures and an inspiring presentation from a local midwives who helped in the Haiti relief efforts, honoring the midwives who cared for me during my son’s birth four years ago, and announcing publicly that I am hanging up my birth bags in exchange for a fantastic job at Childbirth Connection. And it’s only Wednesday! There’s plenty more Midwifery Week to come…
This Midwifery Week has me more hopeful than I’ve been in past years, in large part because of all that I just mentioned. In addition, a few recent events inspire me to believe that maternity care is poised to change for the better, and that midwives and midwifery advocates will be a major force for that change.
1. Last month, I took part in one of two regional roundtable events sponsored by the Office of Women’s Health and coordinated by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass-Boston. Midwifery Care in New England: Addressing the Needs of Underserved and Diverse Communities of Women were events aimed at initiating dialogue about health disparities in the region and the role that midwives play in ensuring that all women receive the care they need. This was the first meeting I’ve attended that addressed midwifery practice but was convened by people who were not midwives. It gave midwives and other stakeholders a chance to really look at the public health and policy implications of midwifery practice, and to address the system barriers to providing optimal care to vulnerable populations. Even more exciting: it was just the first event in what will be a series of meetings and reports, and possibly funded demonstration projects.
2. ACNM and ACOG are jointly calling for papers describing successful and sustainable models of collaborative practice involving obstetrician-gynecologists and certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives. One of the major recommendations in the Transforming Maternity Care Partnership’s Blueprint for Action was to, “Develop, test and implement interventions to improve collaborative practice among primary maternity caregivers and other members of the maternity team.” This joint effort by ACOG and ACNM demonstrates an important step toward implementing that recommendation.
3. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced a bill called Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century (also known as MOMS-21 and H.R. 5807) that has 42 co-sponsors in the House. The bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, but there is momentum on Capitol Hill to look seriously at maternity care quality improvement and rein in excess costs. More legislation is likely to follow so stay tuned about how to support these bills. You can start by telling the candidates and elected officials in your state that maternity care matters to you, and that you support MOMS-21!
Whether you are a midwife, had a midwife, work with midwives, or support midwives, Happy Midwifery Week!