The Kentucky Home Birth Coalition kicked off a 2019 advocacy call for Owensboro on Jan. 15. Volunteer steering committee members, Mary Duke and Mary Kathryn DeLodder lead the call.
“We definitely want more participation and involvement from the folks in the Owensboro area and we hope to let you know how you can do that,” DeLodder said, referring to the support of the coalition’s grassroots effort of working to license Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) in Kentucky.
Duke, an Owensboro native, now working as a doula in the Bowling Green area, is excited and hopeful as they prepare for their third annual lobby day in Frankfort. Of all the areas in Kentucky, Duke believes Owensboro could really benefit from increased birth options, specifically from CPM’s.
“I hear from so many families from the Owensboro area that didn’t have the birth options they wanted,” Duke said.
In the 1950s, Kentucky started requiring lay midwives to have permits, which were issued until 1975. No longer issued, the coalition explained that home birth midwives, except for the few nurse-midwives who practiced in a home birth setting, were pushed underground. That has since resulted in Kentucky not having many options for home birth midwives.
“There’s no need for Kentucky to redefine what makes a home birth midwife because we already have this great national CPM credential that is already used in 33 other states and so that’s what our bill is based around,” DeLodder stated.
The key to the coalition’s efforts is to allow CPM’s in Kentucky to practice openly, practice legally and practice safely.
“Home birth is for low-risk women. It’s for healthy moms and healthy babies,” DeLodder said. “That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to have a trained midwife because you want someone who can assess and you want a midwife who is trained to spot yellow flags before they become red flags so that there can be appropriate interventions before things might become high risk.”
The Kentucky Home Birth Coalition is not anti-hospital. They want women to go to the hospital when the hospital is necessary.
“Usually, transfers are for non-emergency reasons but sometimes they are emergency and we want that to be as smooth as possible,” DeLodder said. “When the midwives can be an integrated part of the maternal care system that makes it safer. There is research and evidence showing integrating midwives into the system makes this whole process safer and that is exactly what we are trying to do by this licensure.”
According to Duke, home births are happening in Owensboro and while she agreed that it is a woman’s choice to birth anywhere and anyway she wants, she also acknowledged the safety component of home birth.
“We know that a ‘planned’ home birth with a Certified Professional Midwife is the safest route. We need to provide that,” Duke said. “We need to provide that for our families in Kentucky and specifically in Owensboro.”
Currently, families in the Owensboro area who seek care from midwives must use providers from Indiana for planned home births. Those care providers offer support, although their availability is limited and coverage area is large.
The coalition is urging members of the community to contact their legislators.
“Maybe it’s the first time they have been exposed to knowing home birth is even happening in their district,” Duke said.
Community members can go to bit.ly/findKYlegis for a listing of legislators in their district and will also find support on the Kentucky Home Birth Coalitions website and Facebook page.
“Starting Feb. 5th, our bill will get assigned to a committee. We will start having daily action alerts on our group, Kentucky Home Birth Coalition Updates group,” DeLodder said. “They (legislators) pay attention to people in their district, people who vote for them.”
Duke shared the excitement of “Lobby Day” coming up on Feb. 13.
“This is one day out of the legislative session where we try to take a really big group of representatives,” Duke said. “The reason we do this is that it gets us noticed. A lot of us are wearing babies, have kids with us, we’re there in families, we tend to have a lot of pregnant momma’s with us too. So we kind of stand out in that regard.”
DeLodder said that anyone in Kentucky can have a voice, regardless of birthing experience.
“If you have friends or family, or anyone that lives in the area that believes we need better birth options or more birth options, they can be involved,” DeLodder said.
For more information on SB84 visit: https://kentuckyhomebirthcoalition.com.