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Debate over non-nurse-midwives heats up

Debate over non-nurse-midwives heats up

In Illinois it is illegal for Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who do not have nursing degrees, to assist in homebirths. Nevertheless, every year about 800 women opt to have a homebirth rather than having their child in a medical setting, often using the services of a CPM.

CPMs are independent practitioners who meet the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives and often gain experience by attending births. They have not, however, had the clinical nursing training and degrees required of certified Nurse-Midwives, like those who practice in the Family Birthing Center at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

Whether non-nurse-midwives should be allowed to oversee homebirths is a heated debate in the medical community — and one that the Illinois General Assembly will tackle in January as they vote on the Home Birth Safety Act, a bill which would grant licenses to CPMs.

Many Illinois CPMs and women who want to have homebirths are pushing the bill because they believe that  women will give birth in their homes no matter what the law states, and therefore should have access to safe, licensed direct-entry midwifery services.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the bill and maintains that the field experience of CPMs (though valuable) is not a substitute for years of formal medical experience.

Chicago Tonight, WTTW’s nightly newscast, recently covered this story, interviewing sources on both sides of the debate and visiting the Nurse-Midwives at Swedish Covenant Hospital to better understand the difference between care from a CPM and a certified Nurse-Midwife.

What is your take? Should non-nurse-midwives be allowed to attend home births in Illinois?

Watch the full Chicago Tonight report, "Midwives in Illinois,” and then please join the discussion below.