Childbirth is a very personal experience, and different people have different preferences in terms of comfort and trust in the process. For most women, delivery in a hospital setting is the most comfortable option, given that experienced medical professionals will be present to aide in the process and address any complications. For other women, home birth is a preferable option.
Though the number of women who opt for home birth is very low, it remains a viable choice. In 2014, a total of 649 home births were recorded, which is slightly higher than the national rate. Nationally, the popularity of home birth has increase in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, home births increased 29 percent between 2004 and 2009.
As in other states, midwives in Kentucky fall into two general categories: those who are nurses and those who are not nurses. Currently, non-nurse midwives are allowed to practice without a license from the state. There are no requirements for training and no oversight over these midwives, meaning that patients who work with them have no way of knowing whether they will receive quality care or not.
It isn’t known exactly how frequently non-nurse midwives are used in home births, but it is frequent enough that the Kentucky Home birth Coalition is apparently calling for lawmakers to license and regulate non-nurse midwives holding the credential Certified Professional Midwife. At present, there is a Senate Bill which would establish a state board of midwifery for CPM's. The bill calls for the regulation of CPM's in areas such as the use of emergency medication, complaint handling and discipline and tracking of outcomes.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue as well as the licensing of nurse midwives, and how an experienced attorney can help those who are harmed as a result of substandard midwife care.