Maryland Passes Bill to Increase Access to Home Birth Midwives

Baltimore, MD: Tomorrow in Maryland Governor Hogan will sign a bill that will license and legalize Certified Professional Midwives, specialists in out of hospital birth. The bill is the result of a growing movement of women and families that are calling for greater access to midwifery care at home and in birth centers. Maryland will become the 29th state to license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in response to the growing demand for out-of-hospital care providers nationwide.

The rate of out-of-hospital birth increased nationwide by almost 60% between 2004 and 2012, according to CDC data. Despite the growing demand, ongoing restrictions on midwifery care options limit the ability to decide where, how and with whom to give birth. With the passage of this bill, Maryland joins other states in beginning to open up greater reproductive choice during pregnancy and birth. 

Alexa Richardson, President of the Association of Independent Midwives of Maryland (AIMM) which has been working to pass Maryland’s bill, says that “Midwifery care at home marks a dramatic departure from the hospital birth experience. In spite of the barriers, more and more women are choosing to birth in settings that offer low rates of intervention and greater autonomy during birth.” 

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Ariana Kelly and state Senator Mac Middleton, sets specific standards for professional education, scope and transfer, and will allow for increased collaboration by midwives with physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. Advocates say it will facilitate safer and more transparent care for women and families who choose home birth. 

However, Maryland still has work to do to ensure safety and access for all women and families during the birthing process. Out-of-hospital birth is still not covered by most medical insurance plans and remains too costly for many who desire this kind of care.  Additionally, women desiring home births who have had previous cesareans are barred from Certified Professional Midwife care in this bill.   

The advocacy groups in Maryland will pursue further legislation to ensure access to out-of-hospital birthing care to those with previous cesareans and for families who cannot pay out of pocket for medical care.