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Midwives can now perform home births in Alabama

Five certified professional midwives now have licenses to do home births in the state.

Posted: Jan 21, 2019 5:48 PM
Updated: Jan 21, 2019 7:34 PM

A grassroots effort helped get a midwifery bill passed in Alabama.

Now five certified professional midwives have licenses to do home births in the state. This gives expectant mothers more options for their birthing experience. Two women who worked tirelessly to help get the bill passed said they weren't sure they would ever actually see this day come. 

"I was shocked! I didn't believe it," said Sabrina Butler, midwife advocate.

That was the reaction Butler said she had when she learned certified professional midwives are now being licensed in Alabama. Advocates say it puts women in control of their birthing experience.

"To choose something that works for you religiously, culturally, budgetwise. Everything like that. It's so important," said advocate Hannah Ellis.

They also said moms-to-be are drawn to midwives because of the time and care they're able to devote to each patient. It can put women at ease if they feel overlooked by traditional medical professionals - especially women in the African-American community.

"Generational experiences with medical professionals cause people of color, black mothers, to access care later," said Butler.

After tennis star Serena Williams publicly spoke about her near death experience during birth, conversations picked up surrounding the mortality rate of black mothers. A big push was to consider midwives instead.

"Black mothers and babies are double as likely to suffer harm as white mothers and babies and even die," said Ellis.

Butler and Ellis both think midwives can help make births safer for women of color because of the education and cultural training they receive.

Midwifery had been banned in Alabama since 1976 making it illegal to practice it in the state. Women could choose home births, but they couldn't be legally attended by a midwife or other professional.

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