On Sunday, March 13, the Maine Association of Certified Professional Midwives will host a fundraiser featuring a silent auction and a screening of the film “Microbirth.”
“Microbirth,” a 60-minute documentary “investigating the latest scientific research about the microscopic events happening during childbirth,” considers the health of children based on these microscopic events and premiered in 2014, according to the movie’s website.
The fundraiser is being held to raise money to pay lobbyists advocating on behalf of the Maine Association of Certified Professional Midwives and help the organization navigate the legislative process. The MACPM introduced LD 690, An Act to Ensure the Safety of Home Birth, to the Maine Legislature. On Jan. 26 it was tabled, but if it becomes state law, it will establish criteria for licensing Maine’s midwives.
The event is scheduled to take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Colonial Theater in Belfast. Cost of admission is $15 at the door and free to children. A silent auction also will take place, featuring home energy audits, arborist services, birth services, yoga classes and more. Many of the items being auctioned have been provided by previous clients of the MACPM, who support the effort to license midwives in Maine.
Daniels explained that the fundraising efforts to pay the lobbyists, Moose Ridge Associates, are important this time around, especially after a similar bill, LD 1827, An Act To License Certified Professional Midwives To Promote Greater Public Safety and Access failed in 2007.
“We’ve been working on this particular effort to have a successful licensure bill passed for more than a year,” Ellie Daniels, president of the MACPM said. Daniels has been a midwife for 36 years and has seen significant change in the number of women opting for home births throughout that time.
According to the CDC, “after 14 years of decline, the percentage of home births rose by 29 percent from 2004 to 2009, to the point where it is at the highest level since data on this item began to be collected in 1989.”
“We’ve been engaged with a lobbying firm, which is quite necessarily to know how to make the right connections. We have their expertise to help us understand what the legislative process is and how to navigate it,” Daniels said.
“When we came to the legislature in 2007, we were very earnest and put in a good attempt, but we didn’t have the support of the Maine Medical Association or the support of the Maine Chapter of [The American College of] Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” she added.
This time, the MACPM has garnered that support along with the backing of Sen. Amy Volk, according to Daniels.
Currently midwives operate legally in the state of Maine without a license because such a license isn’t available. The MACPM hopes this bill will change that.
“Midwifery relies heavily on community standards and guidelines to provide care,” Mellissa Pulsifer, a student member of MACPM and student midwife who helped organize the event, explained.
“This is a public safety issue. Licensure in the state of Maine happens for all professions where the public safety is concerned. Massage therapists, even hairdressers are licensed,” Daniels said. Because licensure of midwives is not required, “that means that anybody, whether they have a certification of not, can call themselves a midwife,” Daniels said.
The bill has been carefully constructed to ensure that certain groups who have practiced traditionally in their communities, such as Amish or Mennonite people, are exempt.
“The bill would not make it illegal for those people to practice. There is an exemption for those people. But for those of us who are practicing midwifery as a profession, it would require licensure in addition to certification,” she said.
Midwifery deals with pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, and Pulsifer explained that midwives offer a very holistic system of care and give women the power to choose how they want to approach their care. The MACPM hopes this bill will become law to ensure the safety of women who choose to use a midwife.
“It’s about public safety,” Daniels said.