NY Governor Gives Moms Their Midwives

Jeanne Sager

Free Our MidwivesNew York Governor David Paterson just made expectant mothers in New York very happy.

The embattled governor swung some support his way when he signed the Midwifery Modernization Act the other day, finally allowing the state's midwives to practice without a collaborative written practice agreement (WPA).

So what's the big deal about the WPA? After all, nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants in the state have 'em.

True, but the folks at Free Our Midwives explain many doctors are reluctant to sign the agreements. And unlike some of those other practitioners, midwives are specifically trained to practice alone.

As they stood, even though a woman chose to have a midwife at her delivery, the physician was given the ultimate decision on her labor and delivery:

"The written agreement shall provide for physician consultation, collaboration, referral and emergency medical obstetrical coverage, and shall include written guidelines and protocols. The written agreement shall provide guidelines for the identification of pregnancies that are not considered normal and address the procedures to be followed. The written agreement shall also provide a mechanism for dispute resolution and shall provide that the judgment of the appropriate physician shall prevail as to whether the pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum care is normal and whether the woman is essentially healthy in the event the practice protocols do not provide otherwise."

Removing that does not mean women will get less trained practitioners. According to the American College of Nurse Midwives, all certified nurse midwives and certified midwives have earned at least a bachelor's degree, while over 80 percent hold a master's degree or higher.

Rules for certification still stand.

According to the new law:

"A licensed midwife shall have the authority, as necessary, and limited to the practice of midwifery [and subject to limitations in the written agreement] to prescribe and administer drugs, immunizing agents, diagnostic tests and devices, and to order laboratory tests, as established by the board in accordance with the commissioner's regulations. A midwife shall obtain a certificate from the department upon successfully completing a program including a pharmacology component, or its equivalent, as established by the commissioner's regulations prior to prescribing under this section."

Now for the best news of all: According to the American Pregnancy Association, using a midwife will likely result in the following:

  • Lower maternity care costs
  • Reduced mortality and morbidity related to cesarean and other interventions
  • Lower intervention rates
  • Fewer recovery complications

Will you be using a midwife?


Image via Free Our Midwives

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