Mississippi Families in the “Magnolia State” Push for More Birth Options
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)
NOT Legally Authorized to Practice in Mississippi
State Actively working on CPM Legislation
* MIDWIFERY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION
There is not such an organization in Mississippi.
Mississippi Friends of Midwives
Laura Dearman, President
–> info at msfriendsofmidwives dot org
Mississippi Friends of Midwives is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting midwifery as a safe and legal childbirth option for women and families throughout the state of Mississippi. Organized in 2010 after a bill was introduced to the Mississippi House of Representatives, which would have outlawed Direct-Entry Midwives from attending home births, Mississippi Friends of Midwives successfully gathered home birth and midwifery supporters across the state and lobbied against the bill.
In the most recent 2013 legislative session, Mississippi Friends of Midwives supported a bill to license Certified Professional Midwives. Although the 2013 “Midwife Safety Act” died in committee without being introduced or discussed, we will continue to push and lobby for licensed Certified Professional Midwives in Mississippi.
Currently, our biggest need is raising awareness and informing our citizens regarding the role of midwives during pregnancy and birth and the many benefits of licensing Certified Professional Midwives in our state. Consumer enthusiasm for pursuing licensure is very low, and we need to draw larger crowds at our capitol rallies and encourage more consumers and supporters to write, call and visit legislators.
Fundraising is an important aspect of our organization as we struggle to raise money in creative ways that brings awareness to our mission of supporting midwifery. We work on a shoestring budget that never exceeds $200. With larger donations and more consistent fundraising, we would like to hire a legislative lobbyist and fund more informational and educational events around the state. Mississippi Friends of Midwives’ Board of Directors consists of seven enthusiastic women who are hard at work educating Mississippians about midwifery care, creating a community of homebirth consumers and supporters, and advocating licensure of Certified Professional Midwives as the experts of normal birth.
Mississippi PushState Profiles:
- When did you become interested in midwifery? “I had my first baby at home in Birmingham, Alabama in 1995. I guess I was interested before then because I sought it out. My Dad was born at home in Louisville, KY in 1936. I always knew it was possible, and thought it was very cool. After I had Jacob, I just wanted to be involved in facilitating natural birth any way I could. I started doula training when he was less than a year old.”
- How long have you been involved in birth work? Midwifery? “I have been attending births as a doula since 1996, started my midwifery training in 2009 and passed the NARM exam in 2013.”
- Share a little about your journey to becoming a CPM. “I have known Martina Benson, my partner at Full Circle Midwifery in Memphis, TN, since 1997 when we both had our babies (my second, her first). She was one of my midwives for that pregnancy, but she missed the birth because she was still on maternity leave from her birth. I considered the idea of apprenticing at some point before she moved back to Germany around 2004. At that point, I just wasn’t ready. Part of it was that I didn’t want to leave my little one to go to work yet. Adam (my 3rd home born baby) was born in 2002. By the time Martina was coming back the summer of 2009, I was ready. Adam and XiXi (the daughter we adopted from China in 2005) were in school. Martina had decided to partner with Melissa Stallings, another CPM, so I started my apprenticeship with her in March 2009 before Martina arrived back in July.”
- What are your professional goals? “I just want to continue to serve women and babies. I hope I will always learn and get better at what I do, but never forget that nothing is needed to improve birth in most cases. Birth works just like it should most of the time if we are just patient.”
- What are your personal goals? “Most of my personal goals right now have to do with my kids: optimizing their education, keeping them healthy, and enjoying them. Life is good! There is not much room for improvement as far as I’m concerned.”
- Anything else you would like to share? “I love to read. I am an active member of a ladies book club. Travel is big in our family. We love going to countries we have never seen. I’m not normally political, but I do want to see a CPM law passed in Mississippi. It would make me feel a lot better practicing in my home state.”
- Why did you choose to have a home birth? “I knew from the beginning that the safest outcome for myself and my child would come from a drug and intervention-free birth. It quickly became clear to me that this would be difficult to achieve in the hospital setting, and so I decided that a home birth was the safest choice considering my low-risk status and the availability of a highly-qualified midwife in whom I could wholeheartedly place my trust.”
- Why did you choose a Certified Professional Midwife? “The CPM requirements are quite rigorous, involving much experience, training, and the passing of a difficult certification exam. CPM’s are also required to continue their training in order to remain certified. Having this credential (along with a thorough interview) gave me confidence that my midwife could handle a wide variety of complications, as well as have the wisdom to determine if the hospital would be necessary.”
- Describe a typical appointment with your midwife and the prenatal care you receive. “I was blown away with the superior prenatal care I received with my midwife. Each appointment was at least an hour, usually approaching two. Not only did she perform all of the necessary physical evaluations, but also took a deep interest in my family history, emotional state, hopes for my birth, and my overall preparedness to bring a child into the world. With the amount of time and care she invested prenatally, I would have trusted no one else to assist me in bringing my child into the world.”
- Share a little about your personal life. “I live in Jackson, MS with my husband of 5 ½ years and our two daughters Maria and Anna. We’re expecting our third child due in January. I spend most of my time being wife and mommy and dreaming about that ‘someday’ when I’ll supposedly sleep again. In my free time, I enjoy reading, sewing, and researching evidence-based birth.”