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Update: Homebirth Still an Option in NY!

Frank Heckers

Although homebirth has been around as long as humankind, it was recently endangered in NYC by the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan this past April.

In New York State, licensed midwives were required to have a written practice agreement (WPA) with an OB/GYN, stating that the doctor would take over care of a midwife's patients in the case of an emergency. And, if you know anything about the official stance of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you might've guessed (correctly!) that there were relatively few OB/GYN's willing to sign anything in support of homebirth. So, with the closing of St. Vincent's, seven of the 13 practicing homebirth midwives in NYC were left without a signed WPA and therefore unable to legally deliver babies.

This week, New York State lawmakers passed the Midwifery Modernization Act, removing the legal requirement for a WPA, meaning that home births will once again be an option for NYC moms-to-be. As someone who chose homebirth for her second delivery last spring (following a rather traumatic first birth in an NYC hospital), I couldn't be happier for the affected midwives and all of the expectant moms who were hoping to birth at home. And don't get me wrong -- I'm all for women giving birth in a hospital if that's what they want, and I've got nothing against OB/GYN's -- but I DO get my hackles up when a safe birthing choice is taken away from me. There's no question that women with high-risk pregnancies should deliver their babies in a hospital environment where medical equipment and staff is at the ready to support them, should something go wrong. But for women like me, who have low-risk pregnancies and smart, well-trained midwives -- well, why shouldn't we be allowed to birth at home, in peace, without a doctor who has no relationship to us putting his stamp of approval on the process? Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't due with another baby during this whole debacle or I might have been tempted to go up to Albany with my midwives when I went into labor and deliver that baby in front of the legislature, just to show them how "necessary" a WPA really is.

Moms, do you agree that homebirth midwives should be able to practice without official medical back-up?