Increase in home births even though many midwives in Minnesota are not licensed

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According to a report from the CDC’s national center for health statistics, there were more than 50,000 home births in the United States in 2021 which is an increase of 12% over the year before the highest level since at least 1990.

In Minnesota, traditional midwifery licensing is voluntary meaning a midwife can practice legally without licensing, something experts are now saying should be reviewed.

This and other myths surrounding at home births is leaving many wondering if it is safe having babies at home. We spoke to two board certified midwives based in Duluth and two Minnesota women who chose to have at home birth using board certified midwives.

Catherine Kroll is a mom based in St. Cloud Minnesota and she tells us why she opted for at home birth instead of the conventional hospital birthing style.

“I had started going through the hospital originally up until my 20 weeks actually, and I wasn’t loving the care that I was getting personally. I wanted that personal close interaction. I wanted that really, I guess, wholesome feel. And I felt like at the hospital I was just kind of a number passing through”

Also, Kait Reinl a mom based in Duluth Minnesota gives her reasons.

“So originally it was far less risky to go to a hospital, but now the hospitals became these epicenters of the pandemic, it really kind of changed your perspective of risk. But I also just didn’t really have a good understanding until I went through the process of working with a midwife, then I knew that midwives are trained medical professionals. And when you have a low risk pregnancy, it’s a safe option as well, you know, having personalized care and things like that. And those are huge benefits, you know, that I would certainly recommend to anybody.”

Here is what Catherine had to say on what other families should consider before opting for at home birth.

“I wouldn’t suggest that every woman just oh yeah, go out and do a home birth. You know, I loved my experience. It was overall great, it was a great experience and it was what I was looking for. But I think each individual just needs to do the research and understand the risks, the pros and the cons really.”

Now talking to experts, Monica Liddle is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Midwife at Advent Midwifery in Duluth, Minnesota. She says most women would qualify if they decide to opt for at home birth.  

“Midwives that practice out of hospital are working with women who have low risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. So 85 to 90% of the women in the United States who are pregnant have normal, healthy pregnancies and midwives are caring for them out of the hospital.”

Since there is no law mandating midwives to be licensed in other to practices in Minnesota Monica strongly advice folks to employ the service of a certified midwife.

“There’s a standard of care that exists in the United States for certified professional midwives. And there’s a care that exists here in Minnesota that helps women to know that if they get a certified professional midwife, a licensed midwife in Minnesota, that that care provider is going to have a level of education and understanding about the pros and cons and the risks and benefits of having their babies at home, how to deal with complications that arise, how to assess whether actually being at home is a safe idea, good idea, or if we need to transfer to the hospital, either prenatal or intra partum, that sort of thing.

Tavniah Betts is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Midwife also at Advent Midwifery in Duluth, Minnesota. She talks about misconceptions about her work

“There are a lot of countries where midwives are still the basic entry point of care for low risk women. So I think the misconceptions for midwifery are very much contextualized in the United States because there hasn’t been a broad support for midwifery historically. We had many different populations coming into the United States, all with their own traditions of childbearing. And there wasn’t a cohesive midwifery profession that developed. And so when childbirth kind of shifted to the hospital, midwives became to be seen as incompetent providers, even though they were providing the majority of care for their communities”

She also gave her advice to families looking to take this option.

“I think that if people are considering homebirth as an option, it’s important for them to understand that it is a very comprehensive model of care. We go over risk assessment ongoing throughout pregnancy. We develop an emergency plan to talk about if we need to transfer to the hospital where we go, how we get there, who we consult with. So it’s not a shot in the dark.”

Across America Minnesota and Utah are the only states where licensing for midwifery practice is optional. Other states requires it and some do not license home birth midwives at all.