- Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, midwives in Maine will need to be licensed by the state and meet specified educational and data collection requirements in order to perform out-of-hospital births, the Associated Press reported.
- The new rules, aimed at making homebirths safer, follow similar licensing requirements in other states.
- The rate of nonhospital births in Maine nearly doubled from 2000 to 2013, while nationwide births at home and in birthing centers grew 29% between 2004 and 2009.
Midwives must complete an education and training program before the 2020 effective date. If the institution that provided the training is not accredited, they must obtain a “bridge certificate” to continue practicing.
The rules stem from a new state law that also prohibits midwives from delivering twins, breech babies and newborns whose mothers have previously had a caesarian section.
Maine midwife Eleanor Daniels, president of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, called the push for licensing and proof of competency “the pathway forward” for homebirth movement.
But some worry that the new requirements could cause midwives who don’t complete the training to go underground and drive women to attempt high-risk births themselves if they can’t get a midwife.
According to Midwives of Maine’s website, the average cost for an out-of-hospital birth is $2,000 to $3,500, not including lab and ultrasound fees, versus $6,000 to $11,000 for a hospital delivery and $13,000 to $16,000 for an uncomplicated C-section.
More than half of U.S. states already require midwives to be licensed, while Maryland and Rhode Island recently passed laws and Illinois is considering such legislation, Daniels told the AP.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who vetoed the legislation, predicted the licensure program would cost $130,000 in its first three years. The law, which was saved in an override vote by the legislature, was approved with no funding.