As more and more women are starting to return to traditional birthing methods, the number of midwife attended births are on the rise. In response, one nonprofit is planning ahead to assure that the community has enough trained professionals to cater to increasing demand.
Welcome Home Midwifery Services, Inc. has big plans to open a new midwifery training center in Oak Park. Their mission is to reduce health disparities among low-income and underserved, improve upon and diversify the midwifery community, and provide options, quality, and sensitivity in the promotion of perinatal health for families in Central California.
As it stands, there are several logistical barriers for aspiring midwifes to gain licensing. There is currently only one accredation program in the state of California, and Currently in order to be licensed as a Licensed Midwife in the entire state of California, and just eleven in the country. For many, this means distance learning is the only possibility, which robs them of importance hands on experience in the field. The lack of training facilities could leave many people without sufficiently trained midwives.
WHMS states “As an organization providing midwifery care, it is our responsibility to provide excellence in a childbearing client’s care and education, and sensitivity to their concerns and needs. The client’s health is also their own responsibility; we expect and encourage them to communicate with us and participate in decision-making. We acknowledge the value of both traditional and alternative forms of health promotion and treatment. We will listen to our clients, and treat them and their families with respect, dignity and assurance of confidentiality.” To push back against the overmedicalization of childbirth, WHMS wants to resituate pregnancy and child delivery back in the realm of normal, healthy life events, which should be a comfortable, memorable, and joy filled experience for families.
The new freestanding community birth center is currently still in the planning stages with an estimated due date of Autumn 2020. The birth center will simulate a home-like setting which is guided by principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention, and cost effectiveness. The center will not offer pain medications (such as epidurals), surgeries or medical labor inductions. For this reason, the organization only attends to healthy pregnancies so as to not put at-risk mothers in danger.
The birth center will be staffed by Licensed Midwives, Student Midwives, Midwife Assistants, Doulas, and an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. According to their website, “there is only one accredited freestanding birth center in the greater Sacramento region. In 2015, 20,000 people were born in Sacramento County, and about 1% gave birth out-of-hospital.”
Cultural sensitivity is another component which compliments the philosophy of the birth center, which emphasis the importance of having accredited midwives from marginalized backgrounds available to serve the community. In this sense, its location in Oak Park is apropos, although the location is not 100% secured as of yet. Because of its central location, the birthing center would be accessible to more people. In addition, Oak Park suffers from a high concentration of infant mortality, with African American families disproportionally affected.
Madeleine Shernock explains, “Perinatal conditions cause close to half the infant deaths in our county, and access to the model of care a birth center provides has been proven to reduce these conditions while also reducing overall healthcare costs to individuals and to health plans. All of our board members have experience working with families on Medi-Cal in Sacramento County, and the norm (not the exception) has been that our clients are funneled into severely impacted prenatal care clinics, given 3-5 minute prenatal visits after 2+-hour waits, and often do not see the same provider twice. Many of these families are not even told which hospital to go to when they are in labor, or they are given inaccurate information about their options for place of birth. Mothers on Medi-Cal are rarely, if ever, provided resources for childbirth preparation by their prenatal care providers.”
Welcome Home Midwifery Services, Inc. has turned to crowdfunding in order to materialize this important new birthing center. For more information, please visit www.welcomehomems.org or https://www.gofundme.com/oakparkbirth