Statements of Support

Friends of the Big Push for Midwives Campaign

From its beginning, the Big Push has received a great deal of support from a number of individuals who are visible in the media. We are very grateful for these voices that help to amplify our message.

In addition, we are so very humbled by the testimonials we receive from the incredibly hard-working volunteer advocates in our PushStates. These are the most dedicated folks we’ve ever met. The sacrifices they are making today are so their children and grandchildren have the freedom to select legal Certified Professional Midwives tomorrow.

Thank You So Much!

Carrie-Anne Moss

Carrie-Anne Moss

“I have had two babies using the care of a midwife, the first was delivered (by the midwife) in a hospital setting. The second baby was delivered in our home. With both experiences, the midwife made the pregnancy experience and birth so honored and beautiful.

“The Midwives Model of Care is unlike using traditional obstetric care, in that it is family-centered and focuses strongly on the mother’s wellbeing as an important factor in a good birth outcome. I still treasure memories of the meetings I had throughout both pregnancies, where the midwife would take whatever time was needed to accurately and sensitively monitor my babies’ growth.

“I have no such memories about my Obstetrician appointments, thorough as they were. And in the case of our home-birth, the Obstetrician was not involved at all in the end.

“I believe midwifery care is an important healthcare option for families to have access to. Whether they attend a birth at home or in a hospital, midwives bring a special and unique tradition of family-centered care to the experience of having a baby and it would be wrong to stop them from helping American families.”

Yours sincerely,
Carrie-Anne Moss

 

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN Executive Producer Ricki Lake (left) with Director Abby Epstein. Photo Credit: Paulo Netto / Red Envelope Entertainment

“When I decided to give birth to my second child at home under the care of a professional midwife, I faced a lot of criticism and skepticism from family and friends. Most of the people around me had a perception of childbirth as a risky medical procedure and thought that I was taking a chance by giving birth in my home, instead of at the local hospital. But after extensive research and a previous hospital birth with my first child, I knew that homebirth with a trained midwife was not only safe, but potentially safer than giving birth in a hospital.

“I knew that I was giving my child a gift by allowing him to come into the world gently, in our bathtub, with his mother in control of the birth. I knew that I was receiving the best prenatal care available and that it was costing me a few thousand dollars, instead of the thousands and thousands of dollars involved in most hospital births.

“This was not just a privilege that I could enjoy as a celebrity — this was excellent, cost-efficient healthcare that all women should have access to. My homebirth was the most empowering and transformative moment in my life. Afterward, I knew that I had a responsibility to educate other women about their options in childbirth so I produced a feature documentary called, ‘The Business of Being Born,’ which examines the system of maternity care in the United States.

“The Big Push for Midwives Campaign comes at a time when we realize we must increase access to U.S. maternity care, decrease maternity care costs, and improve our nation’s birth outcomes. The campaign will facilitate this by achieving licensure for ALL Certified Professional Midwives in ALL states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The campaign will highlight the importance of family healthcare choices, and will defend the ability of CPMs to provide legal and safe prenatal, birth and postpartum care to families in every state.

“Our film approaches the subject from multiple angles, but one thing that director Abby Epstein and I clearly determined during our research and filming is that there must be options other than hospital birth for healthy, low-risk mothers. There are huge misperceptions about the safety of CPMs in this country. The maternity care system in our hospitals is woefully restrictive and unable to cater to the healthcare needs of families who would like to birth their children in a natural, intimate environment that gives them a role in the decision-making.

“I sincerely hope that U.S. state lawmakers do not deny parents a basic human right by restricting how their children can come into the world. I also hope that policy makers recognize midwifery as a serious, social-service profession that deserves licensing, public support and admiration.”

Ricki Lake, Producer,
“The Business of Being Born” and “More Business of Being Born”

  • ILLINOIS

“As volunteer leaders in the Illinois movement to license Certified Professional Midwives, we are pleased with the recent Big Push for Midwives Campaign.

“Illinois is in the midst of a home birth maternity care crisis. Licensed home birth practices are found in only 4 of 102 counties. The extreme shortage of qualified providers has created an underground, unregulated and poorly integrated system of maternity care thus placing pregnant women and babies at risk. The movement addressing the needs of these mothers and babies is lead by an all-volunteer grassroots organization, known as the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery. The Board of the Coalition for Illinois Midwifery is dedicated to assuring access to a licensed maternity care provider for each and every woman who chooses to deliver her baby at home.

“Since 2007, the Illinois movement has benefited from the activities of the Big Push Campaign. We have especially benefited from the efforts to coordinate communications. The campaign has brought together a network of state-level leaders across the country. We now participate in daily communications with this network. Even more importantly, Big Push facilitates communications between the network and leadership in the public health community, such as Our Bodies Ourselves (formerly the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective) and the American College of Nurse Midwives.

“Furthermore, Illinois leaders are grateful for the coordinated and successful national press campaign of the campaign.  The entire country is benefiting from the well-timed news releases rich with scientific evidence. The Big Push for Midwives campaign has done an outstanding job educating the public about the inherent shortcomings of underground maternity care and how licensing home birth midwives based on the Certified Professional Midwife credential is the logical solution to this problem.”

—Michelle S. Breen, MHS  |  Former Acting President, Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
—Colette Bernhard  |  Former Legislative Chair, Coalition for Illinois Midwifery

*****

“Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.’  This is the very principle, I believe, the Big Push organization is built upon. They have given voice and involvement to all women who are seeking access to midwifery care within their communities.

“Most importantly to women who sit on the margins of society and who don’t always have a voice in this struggle for reproductive rights, the Big Push has managed the feat of remaining inclusive, active, and relevant as we collectively push for CPM licensing throughout the nation.”

—Lakeesha J. Harris, Illinois  |  State Representative and Reproductive Rights Activist, International Center for Traditional Childbirth (ICTC)

  • MISSOURI

“Those of us advocating on behalf of midwifery have often looked at each other in dismay and said, ‘Where’s our big sister to say something back to the big guys—ACOG and the AMA??‘

“Well, now we have her. The Big Push for Midwives is our ‘big sister’ on the ground and wherever we need her! Time and time again, the Big Push for Midwives has come to our aid, putting together press releases and media lists at a moment’s notice, pulling together a team of pro bono attorneys to write a legal brief for our State Supreme Court case, and consulting with those of us on the ground at the Capitol at 2 a.m.

“I believe that we owe a portion of our recent success to their talented team who has advanced us professionally in so many ways, when it comes to media relations, messaging, and legal issues. I wouldn’t ever want to be without them again!”

—Mary Ueland, Missouri  |  Former Grassroots Coordinator, Friends of Missouri Midwives  |  Former Legislative Chair, Missouri Midwives Association

  • NORTH CAROLINA

“Like most men, I began fathering with the conventional thinking on childbirth, namely, that it is a little like flying an airplane in the early 1900’s—that any birth you walked away from was a good birth. Owing to the leadership of my wife, I grew to know that planned home birth is a perfectly fine decision, and I have observed her over the years as she has evolved into a Certified Professional Midwife.

“Several years ago I developed a feeling that women and families who choose to birth at home are unfairly oppressed. I got angry from hearing the stories and observing the adversaries’ rhetoric. I began exploring these issues and volunteered to support the effort to advocate for and educate about midwifery care in North Carolina.

“I was fortunate to find the Birth Policy network not long before the formation of the NBPC and the Big Push for Midwives Campaign. In a short period of time I was schooled on all of the concepts related to midwifery licensure and regulation.

“The formation of the Big Push campaign resulted in the development of some terrific lobbying tools targeted at legislators. It transformed a loose collection of advocates into a formidable presence. It has served me, and the North Carolina Friends of Midwives, as a foundation of strength and guidance.

“Whenever the adversaries publish some ill-conceived message along the lines of ‘women who choose home births are a bunch of self-centered competitive mothers,’ I know they will soon blush at their words as the next masterfully crafted response from the Big Push is released.

“Whenever we are confronted by the North Carolina Medical Society and their hardball bullying tactics, I know there is the strength of the entire PushNation behind our efforts. As a direct result of the support from the Big Push for Midwives Campaign, the North Carolina Friends of Midwives is one of the most significant entities promoting midwifery and the Midwives Model of Care in North Carolina.

“It can get lonely when being right is just not enough, and I am thankful that my state colleagues and I are not alone. Indeed, I feel as if there is an army just waiting to be unleashed in support of the battalion running up the hill at the North Carolinian Front.”

—Russ Fawcett, North Carolina |  Vice President, North Carolina Friends of Midwives  |  Nuclear Engineer and Engineering Manager  |  Spouse to Lisa, CPM  |  Father of five (three born at home)

  • PENNSYLVANIA

“As a fledging statewide midwifery organization, existing within a complicated political and legal landscape in Pennsylvania, the Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania (MAP) relies on the expertise, resources and insights of the Big Push to help us strategize about how to proceed in our effort to advocate for CPMs and to increase access to the Midwives Model of Care for Pennsylvania families.

“Whether seeking legal counsel on a major court ruling and its impact on midwives in the Commonwealth, needing access to the best, most accurate and well-presented supporting resources for making the case for midwives, asking for assistance with media contacts and coverage, or just calling out for overall moral support and encouragement, the Big Push Steering Committee and other members of the effort, have proved a valuable, responsive, creative and positive force in supporting our efforts.

“When a last minute opportunity to meet with a key government official presented itself, we had little time to prepare. A call for help was put out to the Big Push steering committee and within hours we had a multitude of ideas, resources and potential strategies with which to arm ourselves for the meeting, as well as a list of experts the Governor’s Office could consult with for more info. The meeting was a big success and that strong first impression of our organization is sure to prove valuable and essential as we move forward to educate the public and primary stakeholders!

“For the first time in 20 years, Pennsylvania midwives believe we can win the battle for direct-entry midwives, and the creation and development of the Big Push is what turned the tide and helped us build momentum and realize that now is the time that change can occur.

“The community of midwives, consumers and activists that has grown through the Big Push has synergistically amassed a collective wisdom and energy that has become so much larger than anything any of us could have done alone in our own states, and allowed us to build from each others victories and mistakes and to avoid repetition of effort or recreating the wheel over and over again. For the first time in this country, we are a force to be reckoned with and when Big Medicine is the force we are up against, it is no wonder it takes the power of a Big Push to fight back for the rights, needs and safety of birthing families and birth professionals!

“Thank you Big Push!”

—Christy Santoro, Pennsylvania |  Co-Chair, Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania

  • CANADA

“As researchers who have been active in the field of research of direct entry midwifery and home birth in North America for two decades, we have been most impressed with the recent development of, the work done by, and those involved in the ‘Big Push for Midwives.’  We had the chance to meet and interact with many of key players in 2007 at the Big Push weekend session in Chicago, and have had continued involvement since then.

“In 2005, we published the largest prospective epidemiologic study of home birth with direct entry midwives ever done, in the British Medical Journal. It involved systematic collection of detailed data on over 5,000 home births from the 400 Certified Professional Midwifes (CPMs) practicing in the year 2000 in the United States.1 The study found that the safety for mothers and babies of planned home birth with a CPM was similar to that of a low-risk hospital birth, but with much lower medical intervention rates.

“As Canadians we have seen the legalization of direct-entry midwifery and home birth in all 10 Canadian provinces over the last 15 years. More than 95 percent of Canadian women now have the choice of complete coverage for midwifery care paid for entirely by our universal not-for-profit health care system. We are extremely encouraged to see and impressed by the Big Push actions being pursued to push for advocacy of direct entry midwifery in the half of the states in the union that still lack it.

“We think that funding the Big Push grant application would be a wise and prudent investment in the health of future mothers and babies in the U.S.”

—Betty-Anne Daviss, M.A., R.M.  |  Research Midwife and Adjunct Professor, Pauline Jewett School of Women’s Studies
Carleton University Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
—Kenneth C. Johnson, Ph.D.  |  Senior Epidemiologist/ Research Scientist, Evidence and Risk Assessment Division,
Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada, Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0K9

References
1 Johnson K.C., Daviss B.A. “Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America.” BMJ 2005; 330(7505):1416.

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