Midwives seek licensing in Illinois

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 10/25 2013 09:24AM

Updated 10/28 2013 11:10AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers were back in session this week, but one of the bills they overlooked is the Home Birth Safety Act.

"The two previous years to me getting pregnant, we knew, my husband and I knew nine families, young, healthy families and eight of them were C-sections,” said Larissa Blais.

Blais has heard several horror stories about childbirths in hospitals. Topping her list of concerns? C-sections.

"It should be reserved for emergencies and I was hesitant to believe that eight young, healthy women all had an emergency, at many different hospitals. It just seemed a little bit too convenient,” said Blais.

So she started doing her homework and decided natural childbirth was the best method for her and her family during her last two pregnancies.

But that was in Ohio, where Certified Professional Midwives are licensed and easy to find, whereas here in Illinois, they're not and they often work underground, leaving Blais with few options.

"I should have the choice, as any other woman here in the state of Illinois, to choose when, how, where, my provider etc.,” said Blais.

Rachel Wickersham is fighting to get the Home Birth Safety Act passed in Illinois.

"We need to pass a licensure law to allow the women who are out there right now, filling in the gaps and taking care of these families, we want to provide guidance for them, regulation, access to the things that make homebirth safe,” said Wickersham.

But many medical professionals are opposed to this, saying midwives' medical training isn't extensive enough. Still, Blais says, in her experience, home births are safer for infants and mothers.

"There are other states that have done this, and there are no ill effects,” said Blais.

Three out of five neighboring states allow licensure for certified professional midwives. Those include Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana. CPM’s should not be confused with Certified Nurse Midwives.

Illinois' public health officials are learning more women die from childbirth or complications during pregnancy than reported, with about 80-deaths a year. 60% of these maternal deaths go unreported.

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