The midwifery model of care is based on the assumption that most pregnancies, labors, and births are normal biological processes that result in healthy outcomes for both mothers and babies. It focuses on maximizing the health and well-being of a woman and her baby, identifying and managing medical problems early on, and attending to the emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of pregnancy and birth. Despite much research showing the advantages of the midwifery model of care, fewer than 10% of births in the U.S. are attended by midwives.
Our Bodies Ourselves has long advocated for greater access to midwifery care in all birth settings. Today we continue our midwifery advocacy work, much of it in collaboration with the Bay State Birth Coalition. During 2022 we have been working together to pass legislation that will allow Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to be licensed and regulated in Massachusetts (as they are in 33 other states already) and for Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) to achieve pay equity. Neither bill advanced to a vote during the formal legislative session, but we will be advocating for a vote during the informal session that ends on 12/31/22 (bills voted upon during the informal session can pass only if there is absolutely no opposition; a single nay vote can kill any bill).
We also continue to support the capital campaign for the new Neighborhood Birth Center, Boston’s first freestanding birth center that hopes to open in 2023. This Center will provide a much-needed option and will address racial inequities in birth outcomes (now a widely recognized problem throughout the country).
OBOS has opposed any proposals to permanently close the only two freestanding birth centers currently in Eastern Mass (both are hospital-owned). Both have suspended operation temporarily during Covid, and a recent attempt by Beverly Hospital to close the North Shore Birth Center in September was reversed in August. Activists have been working hard to ensure the re-opening of the Cambridge Birth Center as well. To find out the latest information on the status of birth centers in Massachusetts, see Bay State Birth Coalition’s Action for Birth Centers.
Given the realities of this pandemic era, it is more important than ever to have good out-of-hospital birthing options for those experiencing low-risk pregnancies.