As Britain Advises Healthy Pregnant Women to Birth At Home, Maryland Women Struggle to Overturn Prohibition on Home Birth Care Providers

Baltimore, MD: This week, Britain announced new national health guidelines actively encouraging healthy women to birth at home, based on evidence establishing the safety of home birth over hospital birth for these mothers. This news comes as women in Maryland enter the fourth year of fighting for access to Certified Professional Midwives, who specialize in home birth. Most women in Maryland do not have access to licensed home birth providers.  

A large grassroots movement of women and families have put forth legislation for licensing midwives for the past three years. Currently, 28 states license Certified Professional Midwives. Maryland is one of six states that prohibits them. 

The President of the Association of Independent Midwives of Maryland (AIMM), Alexa Richardson, remarked that “Britain’s new guidelines indicate that the safety of home birth over hospital birth for healthy women is now well-established. Maryland women are demanding access to the same options as women in other states and in other countries.”

This January, Delegate Ariana Kelly of District 16, with the support of the AIMM andMaryland Families for Safe Birth, will introduce the Maryland Home Birth Safety Act. The bill will ensure access to and regulation of Certified Professional Midwives.

High rates of surgical interventions in hospitals are a driving force for many women seeking home birth, who are often looking to maximize their chances of having a normal birth. Maryland hospitals have a 35% cesarean section rate. A recent review of home births in the US showed a cesarean rate of 5.2% for home births, with comparable mortality rates to hospital birth for low-risk women.

Currently there are less than a dozen Certified Nurse Midwives licensed to do home birth in Maryland, most of whom are located in the DC metropolitan area. This leaves most Maryland women with no access to a home birth midwife. Certified Professional Midwives, credentialed by the North American Registry of Midwives, are the primary out-of-hospital care providers nationwide.