Press Releases

Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives

Contact:  Michelle Breen, Volunteer Media Coordinator   Telephone:   224-522-4784

E-Mail: [email protected]                                      

Date:   April 10, 2020

News Release

Illinois is Failing to Include Recommended Childbirth Option in COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Pregnant Women are Urging Governor J.B. Pritzger to Enact Emergency Legislation

Maternal health advocates have petitioned Governor J.B. Pritzger to grant an immediate emergency order licensing Certified Professional Midwives as set forth in HB5629 and SB3851, known as the MIDWIVES PRACTICE ACT

Both the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood recommend including home birth midwives as part of State Emergency Preparedness and Response to pandemic infections.  According to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, in the event of a pandemic, “the primary objective is to reduce the number of contacts between infected individuals and pregnant women and their newborns. When hospitals are full of infected and contagious …patients, hospitals become a site for increased risk of morbidity for mothers and their newborns.”

Numerous media outlets; including: USA Today, the Daily Beast, NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, The Guardian and NPR; report that a record number of women are seeking home birth, in response to the pandemic.

Due to our Home Birth Maternity Care Crisis, Illinois is at a loss to respond. Ali Nagib, Illinois Friends of Midwives Board Member, explains. “There are only 11 licenced home birth practices in the state. Licensed home birth practices are found in only 9 of 102 Illinois counties.”

For decades, maternal health advocates have been seeking licensure of home birth midwives, based on the Certified Professional Midwife credential, as the solution to our Home Birth Maternity Care Crisis. Last year, a legislative study committee (Home Birth Maternity Care Crisis Study Committee) unanimously recommended to license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), resulting in a bill, the Midwives Practice Act (SB3851 and HB5629)

Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are the only U.S. birth providers who receive specialized clinical training in managing out-of-hospital births as a condition of their national certification.  The educational, training and accreditation of Certified Professional Midwives is approved by the US Department of Education. Education requirements include the following topics: physiology of birth, pharmacology, prenatal exams, labor management, postnatal care, newborn care, hands-on skills, and CPMs are required to receive certification in neonatal resuscitation.

The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives is actively providing up-to-date COVID-19 specific training and information online. This training includes

  • Webinars,
  • An online community group for midwives to organize, collaborate, and share information and resources
  • Links to COVID public health resources; and
  • Links to COVID-19 published research.

Thirty-five states (including the nearby states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky) protect their citizens by setting educational standards for licensing and regulating community midwives. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has asked governors to modify laws and regulations to allow health professionals to practice across state lines. This provision is especially important for women looking for home birth providers due to our Home Birth Maternity Care Crisis.

Andrea  Bukiewicz, President, Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives, states “Not only would this emergency order enable Illinois Certified Professional Midwives to be part of our health care delivery response, it will also allow licensed Certified Professional Midwives from neighboring states to join our fight.” Bukiewicz continues, “I am especially concerned about women who are unable to find a midwife and decide to birth at home unassisted. Governor Pritzger can really make a difference by authorizing  both Illinois and out-of-state CPM’s join the All in Illinois Initiative.”