This petition is sponsored by the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance and the Massachusetts Friends of Midwives.
Home births are growing in popularity and are on the rise in Massachusetts, and yet there are no state licensing requirements nor is there regulatory oversight for midwives practicing in out-of-hospital settings. This bill, "An Act Relative to Certified Professional Midwives," HB 2008 and SB 1081, co-sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and Senator Richard Moore, will create state oversight of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), experts in out-of-hospital care.
According to the CDC, home births in Massachusetts grew by 34% between 2004 and 2009. This bill helps ensure accountability and a consistent high standard of practice for all midwives in Massachusetts. The bill will help make available the full range of midwifery care and access as defined by the World Health Organization by improving the ability of families across the Commonwealth to safely take advantage of their right to choose the type and location of their maternity care.
At present, the Commonwealth regulates only Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs). There is no state oversight of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who provide out-of-hospital care to approximately 500 women and their families across the state each calendar year, a number that is growing annually. CPMs are authorized to practice in 27 states, with legislation currently pending in 10 more.
A 2005 study in the British Medical Journal shows that low-risk women who gave birth under the care of Certified Professional Midwives had outcomes equal to those of low-risk women who gave birth in the hospital, but with far fewer costly interventions, including a rate of cesarean surgeries one-fifth that of comparable women. In addition, babies born to women under the care of CPMs experience significantly lower rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, two of the primary contributing factors to the high costs associated with long-term care.
Certified Professional Midwives CPMs are the only midwives in the United States required to undergo specialized clinical training in the provision of out-of-hospital maternity care. The CPM credential is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the same agency that accredits the certification for nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. There are approximately 2,000 CPMs in the United States, with a growth trend of 10% per annum.
This bill would not give CPMs prescriptive authority, nor would it mandate insurance reimbursement.