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Midwifery: Bill to renew, revise CO midwifery law to be heard today by Senate committee

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Our recent cover story, "Special Delivery," tells the tale of 36-year-old Indra Lusero, a Denver home-birth-mom-turned-lawyer who's advocating for what she sees as common-sense changes to Colorado's midwifery law. Today at 1:30 p.m., the bill to make those changes will be heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

It will actually be the second time the committee has taken up the issue. The first time, on January 19, lawmakers were receptive to several of the changes, including allowing home-birth midwives to administer IV fluids to mothers and to suture women who experience tears during childbirth. As usual, doctors, nurses and even nurse-midwives testified against the changes, arguing that home-birth midwives, also known as direct-entry midwives, don't have the proper training to do those things.

Today, the senators will hear more testimony from both sides. In addition to possibly making changes, the bill would renew the hard-won law that allows home-birth midwives to practice in Colorado. Midwifery has been legal here since 1993.

Check back to the Latest Word for more reporting about today's hearing.

More from our Follow That Story archives: "Midwives: Mom Jen Johnson's home-birth story."


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3 comments
Michael J. Simmons
Michael J. Simmons

Interesting, that you should bring up a fact on the perinatal mortality by Colorado's Direct-Entry Midwives. When our Nation alone ranks 46th in Infant and Maternal mortality rates in the world. As a Nation we have a 36% C-Section rate when the World Health Organization calls for a 15% or less. It seems to me that more effort needs to be made into educating and instructing for Direct-Entry (Home Birth) Midwives is needed as this Law will hopefully allow and due, and reduce the Medical Interventionism of the Obstetric field. After all why is it that a Surgeon is need to oversee something so inherently natural as a Birth.

Linda And Rosa
Linda And Rosa

My opinions:

Westword hasn't done its homework on Colorado's lay midwives.

It is significant that the national midwifery association is hiding its statistics on perinatal mortality. It is also reprehensible of Colorado's lay midwives to equate themselves with the excellent care given by nurse-midwives and European midwives.

The 2009 perinatal mortality rate for Colorado’s Direct-Entry Midwives (DEMs) is a shocking 11.3 deaths per 1,000 births. (This data is not in the 2010 Sunset Review, but in the October 2010 DORA Newsletter for DEMs.)

This rate is almost DOUBLE the state average of 6.3 per 1,000 (which included high risk cases), and TEN times what it should be considering that DEMs are only allowed to have low risk clients. Moreover, the statistics from 2004-2009 show the death rate is on the rise.

In addition, the 2009 transfer rate to hospitals is a disturbing 23%. Unfortunately, DORA does not keep track of injuries resulting from DEM-assisted home births. Neurological damage to infants is my fear.

The additional privileges requested in this bill will do nothing to lower the risk of perinatal death, but only increase the risk to mothers. Giving IV and prescription privileges to lay midwives is insane. IV’s can cause dangerous fluid overload — if the lay midwife can insert one with as little practice they will get. Giving Pitocin for hemorrhage also assumes that the lay midwife can determine the cause of the problem in the first place.

If a hospital OB department had the same record as Colorado DEMs, it would be closed down. Every OB-related death is well investigated, but the deaths at the hands of DEMs appear to be swept under the rug.

If legislators are to have any metric for judging public protections in regulating DEMs, it has to come down to the last available perinatal mortality rate. The reasonable response for Colorado legislators is to close down DEM practice while an independent panel of experts investigates the deaths, injuries and emergency transfers of the last five years.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Some fascinating statistics, Michael. Thanks for posting.

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