Midwives and Health Care Policy

health-policyCertified Professional Midwives:

Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) have an important role to play in improving maternity care in the United States, while helping to significantly reduce health care costs. In the U.S. where our over-use of expensive technologies and underuse of many beneficial forms of care have resulted in the most expensive maternity care system in the world with relatively poor outcomes, Certified Professional Midwives provide unique and critical access to normal physiologic birth, with its numerous benefits for mothers and newborns. CPMs are trained for and work primarily in non-institutional settings, providing care in the community, attending births in homes and midwife-owned birth centers.

Poor birth outcomes are significantly higher for women of color in the U.S., with black mothers being 4 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts, and with babies being 2.5 times more likely to die in their first year of life. American Indians and Alaska Natives have an infant death rate 60 percent higher than the rate for whites. Certified Professional Midwife care has been demonstrated to result in many few interventions, including Cesarean section, many fewer premature and low-birth-weight babies, and significantly higher rates of breastfeeding. Increasing access to CPM care holds promise for improving outcomes for all women, reducing disparities in birth outcomes for women of color, and significantly lowering health care costs.

Women in ever-greater numbers are turning to CPMs and home and birth center care to give birth to their babies. More and more women are seeking care that reflects their aspirations to give birth naturally, knowing that it profoundly benefits them and their babies. Women want to be full and respected partners in their own care, and to have the time, education, care, attention and company of a midwife they have come to know during pregnancy. CPMs provide a model of care that meets the needs and wishes of women seeking this kind of high-quality childbirth experience.

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