BOSTON — Midwives across Massachusetts said they are seeing an uptick in home birth inquiries from pregnant moms afraid of coronavirus exposure at hospitals and new limitations on the number of people allowed in the delivery room.
Lawmakers say there’s a renewed push to pass a bill to license certified professional midwives with five or more years experience, have home births covered by insurance and give certified professional midwives access to critical personal protective equipment.
Right now, Massachusetts is among the 15 states that does not legally recognize certified professional midwives who get their licenses from the North American Registry of Midwives.
Some midwives, like Nneka Hall, say their patients are choosing between their care team and their loved ones to be in the delivery room due to new hospital protocols.
“People are really afraid to go to a hospital right now, and frankly, fears aside, hospitals are really taxed right now,” said Sen. Rebecca Rausch, who co-authored the midwife certification bill, named An Act Relative to Out-of-Hospital Birth Access and Safety.
“She was in labor for 33 hours,” Hall said, explaining one mother’s experience. “And I kept saying, ‘Oh my goodness, if I could have been there, things would have been different.’ She would not have worn a mask the entire time she was in the hospital."
Critics say allowing midwives to practice without physician oversight is dangerous.
In a statement opposing the bill, the Massachusetts Medical Society said: “The safest location for birth is a hospital or birthing center due to the unforeseen and life-threatening crises such as severe maternal bleeding and fetal delivery problems. By providing state licensure to untrained or minimally trained midwives, the state is inserting its stamp of approval and influencing the choice of prospective mothers in an unsafe and deceptive way.”