Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Florida Celebrates National and State Midwives Week this October

Florida Friends of Midwives is proud to join the American College of Nurse Midwives, the Midwives Association of Florida, and communities statewide in celebrating National Midwifery Week and Florida Licensed Midwives Week during the first week in October.

Midwifery Week is a chance for midwives and the women they serve to reflect on their experiences and midwifery's contributions to women's health care, including attending births and providing well-woman care. Throughout Florida, regional groups of Florida Friends of Midwives are celebrating with awareness events, social gatherings and local Mayor's proclamations.

One such proclamation will be read at the Sarasota City Commission meeting October 3rd. “Midwives make a strong contribution to the health and well-being of mothers and babies through proper care and treatment in all phases of childbirth," says Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell. “I look forward to welcoming all those involved in this important effort.”

Midwives have a long and valued history in Florida. The state first passed legislation to license direct-entry midwives in 1931, and the first Certified Nurse Midwife was licensed in Florida in 1970. Florida’s midwives have continued to tirelessly serve the families of Florida and to ensure the continued availability of safe, evidence-based birthing options for Florida’s families.

Florida Friends of Midwives celebrates midwives in Florida and throughout the world during this special week. For more information about midwifery in Florida, please visit flmidwifery.org.

ABOUT FLORIDA FRIENDS OF MIDWIVES (FFOM): Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM) is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Midwives Model of Care and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida. Florida Friends of Midwives was formed to support midwives who offer safe, cost-effective, evidence based care to Florida's Families. FFOM members are consumers and birth advocates committed to organizing the community to support midwives and to assure the continued availability of midwifery care in the State of Florida. For more information, please visit flmidwifery.org.

Friday, April 15, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Samantha McCormick of Baby Love Birth Center

Midwifery is about education and empowerment to me. Sadly, far too many women blindly follow whatever their OB/GYN tells them to do. Facebook and other online resources have significantly increased the opportunities for people to learn about alternatives to "traditional" care, but the responsibility still rests on the individual to choose to educate themselves. Popular media, movies, and TV shows continue to show birth as scary and horribly painful which serves to reinforce misconceptions about birth. It prevents many people from believing how empowering and peaceful birth can be for a prepared and educated woman. Skepticism and fear still prevent many people from considering natural childbirth.

It seems to me that interest in out-of-hospital birth is increasing, and I think the internet has a huge role in that. The old adages "a picture is worth a thousand words" and "seeing is believing" are totally true. Before the ease of viewing videos on YouTube and Facebook or Netflix, one might have read books about natural birth, but there were few options to watch a natural birth. Now anyone can find literally thousands of examples of peaceful natural births - these videos can serve to counter the negative fear-based birth images on TV and in movies.

Ricki Lake's the Business of Being Born has played a huge role in opening people's eyes to alternatives from using an OBGYN and giving birth in the hospital. We often hear from new clients that watching that film helped convince them to come to the birth center.

When a woman chooses an out-of-hospital birth, many times her friends and family are skeptical and concerned for her and the baby's safety. Showing concerned friends and families videos can often overcome their skepticism.

I have been practicing for 15 years. When I first started in a Birth Center in New Jersey, it was pretty much unheard of for the client's mom to have had a natural or out-of-hospital birth. In the past 5 years, we hear more and more that a new client's motivation was that her mom had a natural birth or wished that she had. We lost a whole generation of experience with natural childbirth when birth moved into the hospital in earnest in the 1950's.

The "hippie" movement of the late 1960's and 70's created a call for alternatives. I think we all owe pioneers Ina May Gaskin and Barbara Harper a huge debt of gratitude for rescuing the natural birth movement. They (and others I do not mean to overlook) not only learned and practiced midwifery, but they wrote about it and publicized it. For the longest time, the best way we could show natural birth was Barbara Harper's Gentle Birth Choices film. Ina May also filmed births and promoted her safe techniques for resolving shoulder dystocia, tight cord around baby's neck and breech birth, neatly countering the common concern "but what if something goes wrong?"

I also credit Michel Odent with bringing waterbirth to the US. Although water labor/birth is not for everyone, in my experience water in some form (shower/tub) makes natural birth achievable. He also promoted the idea that attendants and family should leave the mom undisturbed, following up on the work of Lamaze and Dick-Read that fear and tension increase pain.

I see midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth increasing in popularity, especially when this generation of moms’ children grow up and have kids of their own. Although there will always be those who claim out-of-hospital birth is dangerous and impossible, the proof is right there on the internet of how wrong they are.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Building Community: Footsteps for New Moms

During pregnancy and following the birth of a baby, a wide range of emotions are possible. Often there are the expected feelings of excitement and joy, along with feelings of anxiety and worry. Mothers may also feel overwhelmed, uncertain, and frustrated. Being pregnant can be difficult and caring for a newborn is challenging. Regardless of how prepared a woman is or how much she looked forward to her pregnancy and her baby's birth, the perinatal period may include some unexpected "highs" and "lows."

Footsteps for New Moms is a monthly support group sponsored by BirthGirlz, which is offered the second Monday of the month at their Design District Office. The group is facilitated by a trained therapist and operates under a peer support model.

Persistent depression during the perinatal period can have devastating consequences, not only for the women experiencing it but also for the baby, other children and family. Peer support can be a very effective form of treatment for perinatal mood disorders and can serve as the main form of support for mild cases and in combination with therapy, medication or other modalities for severe cases.

Symptoms of postpartum depression
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either being unable to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Changes in appetite, either eating too little or too much.
  • Feeling hopeless, a loss of control or great sadness.
  • Crying for no reason.
  • Having no feelings or too much concern for the baby.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.
  • Feeling little interest in daily activities.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Scary and repetitive thoughts about the safety of the baby

If you or anyone you know has the above symptoms, please encourage them to join the group and benefit from the opportunity to meet with other local women who are dealing with or have recovered from postpartum reactions and mood issues, including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress (birth trauma) and baby blues. For additional information contact Michelle Fonte of BirthGirlz at 786-704-8328.

CPM Bill Introduced: A Milestone for Mothers and Midwives!

Join the Celebration for HR 1054!

The MAMA Campaign is thrilled to announce that Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) has introduced HR 1054, the "Access to Certified Professional Midwives Act of 2011" in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I believe it's important that women are able to have the birth experience they want, regardless of where they live and how much money they make. That is why it's impo
rtant that women with Medicaid coverage have the same access to high quality, safe, and cost-effective services," Congresswoman Pingree said. The Congresswoman is known in Maine and Washington, DC as a sensitive, independent voice for social and health issues that affect families everywhere.

The Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) Campaign expresses sincerest appreciation to Congresswoman Pingree and celebrates this milestone in the history of direct-entry midwifery in the United States. MAMA is also deeply grateful to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA-7) for their support and leadership in co-sponsoring HR 1054 with Representative Pingree.

Increasing women's access to the care of CPMs will support better outcomes for mothers and babies, reduced disparities in outcomes for vulnerable populations, and provide significant cost savings for Medicaid and the health care system. We are most grateful to Representative Pingree for her vision and support for childbearing women and their families.

This is Your Milestone!
Your support, your letters to members of Congress, meetings with your legislators in Washington, DC and in-district, and all of the dollars that you have contributed to this cause have made possible the introduction of HR 1054. You should be proud of yourselves - the MAMA Campaign Steering Committee thanks you!

Now the Work Begins....
MAMA will be counting on our energy and involvement in the coming weeks and months as this train gains steam and we forge ahead to garner the support of Congress for enacting HR 1054 into law. Read more here.

Keep MAMA Going in 2011!
Help Keep MAMA Going in 2011! Florida Friends of Midwives as an organization has made contributions to the MAMA Campaign on behalf of Florida's Mothers and babies. But MAMA still needs our help! MAMA now needs the support of our grassroots - mothers and fathers, grandparents, midwives, doulas, and other advocates - to keep the momentum going. Please celebrate with MAMA - show Congress you care, too - by making your contribution today. MAMA will put your dollars to work, making a difference for mothers and babies! Together we can move mountains!

We're in need of new Board Members!

We can't believe it either, but it's been more than three years since Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM) was resurrected. As we move forward with FFOM and begin to craft a future for the group, a crucial step is ensuring we have a full and functioning Board of Directors whose job it will be to guide and shape the organization in the years to come.

First and foremost FFOM is an organization of consumers. We're in need of three new board members, and are seeking board members whose experience and involvement in the birth community has given them the skills and knowledge to play a central role in the important work of FFOM. Members of the board of directors should represent the interests of the membership of FFOM in furtherance of its mission.

Right now we are looking for three industrious and daring women to accept the following positions:
  1. Legislative Committee Chair
  2. Fundraising Committee Chair
  3. Membership Committee Chair

What do these positions do?

  • The Legislative Committee Chair gathers and facilitates the flow of information relating to legislation that affects access to midwifery in Florida, and brings those issues to the board and membership for discussion and possible action.
  • The Fundraising Committee Chair serves as a resource to our members and Regional Groups on fundraising techniques and programs and manages our annual fundraising campaign.
  • The Membership Chair is responsible for the maintenance of a current membership database, renewal of memberships, collection of dues, and initiatives to encourage new membership.

Our Board of Directors meets monthly by phone and twice annually in person.

If you know someone you would recommend or you wish to be considered as a candidate for the Board of Directors, please email us at info@flmidwifery.org.

Legislative Update - Capital Testimony

The following is a testimony that was presented jointly by Midwives Association of Florida and Florida Association of Birth Centers last week to the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. FFOM endorses this testimony and encourages your support of these allied organizations.

Good Afternoon Chairman Hudson and Members,

In this tough budget year I am glad to have the opportunity to share with you a good investment. Birth Centers are an investment that has a high PE (price per earnings) ratio. - A licensed midwife and a birth center is the perfect combination for a healthy birth outcome. The State of Florida in its wisdom has recognized the need to utilize prenatal funds more efficiently and to increase the limited availability of care providers. Families view midwifery services in a birth center as a quality, cost-effective alternative to traditional physician hospital births.

The Florida Health Finder lists over 20 free standing birth centers that are located th
roughout the state. As you are aware prenatal providers in some counties are scare.
Presently a birth center is reimbursed by Medicaid an average of $2,000 per birth. A hospital birth would cost more than double the cost. At this time Medicaid pays for 10 prenatal visits. Birth Centers promote optimum care – they encourage the pregnant woman to start prenatal care at 10 weeks and goes to 42 weeks of pregnancy. That is a total of 16 visits.

Did you know that Birth center service also offer additional free services to their clients and at no cost to the taxpayer?
  • Initial and ongoing diet evaluation and nutrition guidance. We know how important it is for the pregnant mother to be healthy during her pregnancy.
  • They offer exercise for pregnancy, birth and postpartum -a birth center offers. This could lower the incidence of post-partum depression.
  • Child Birth Classes – not only do they educate the pregnant mother what to expect during her pregnancy. Provide awareness to parents to put their baby to sleep on their back to reduce SIDS.
  • Parenting and infant care classes
  • Baby Safety Education.
  • Breastfeeding support – research shows breastfeeding reduces infant illness; babies are healthier, which saves the Medicaid dollars in visits to the physician.
  • Breastfeeding also has long-term health benefits:
  • Reduced incidence of diabetes, heart disease, childhood obesity……

And last but not least – importance of family planning and baby spacing.

All of this for $2,000.

Most birth centers use a formula of 1/3 Medicaid, 1/3 self paid and 1/3 private health insurance. Some birth centers have 50% or more Medicaid patients. A proposed 20% reduction of an average of $400.00 per patient would cripple the fiscal health of a birth center. Many would be forced not to see Medicaid patients in order to keep their door open.

We are aware of the budget climate and I hope this information will be valuable you continue to craft the budget. Let us know a good investment when we see one!

Thank you for listening and your dedication to our state and our soon to be born citizens.

TIPS: How to Contact Elected Officials

As we find ourselves in the Spring 2011 Legislative Session, it is a critically important time to contact our elected officials and make our voices for midwives heard. The following will give you some ideas on how to best get your message across to legislators during this busy time.


Identify your legislators and learn about their background, affiliations and voting record. These websites will help get you started, and our FFOM Legislative Committee can help you find more information.
Schedule a meeting with your legislators. Most legislators spend the majority of time in their home districts, as the legislative session is quite short. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with your representative or senator between sessions to foster a relationship and introduce the concerns of FFOM to him/her.

When meeting with your elected officials, bear in mind that a brief visit is all that is necessary as follow-up phone calls and letter will enhance the impact of your meeting. During your meeting, keep the following in mind:
  1. Introduce yourself – as a constituent. Thank the legislator for taking the time to meet with you. Identify yourself as a member of FFOM and share a little about our mission and the people we serve (keep it brief).
  2. State your purpose. If appropriate, be clear about what legislation you are supporting or opposing. Mention it by bill number and topic. Focus on one topic per meeting. Let the legislator know your position and why you are asking her/him to vote for that position.
  3. Let the legislator and her/his staff members know that you FFOM have information and expertise. Let them know we can be a resource to them on midwifery related issues.
  4. Give them a chance to talk about their perspective on your issue.
  5. Ask for their vote and try to get a commitment at the meeting.
  6. Let them know you plan to stay in touch.
Remember: KEEP IT BRIEF. At most, you can expect 30 minutes of their time. During session or other busy seasons, a 10 minute conversation will be the average. Follow up with a thank you letter right away.


Writing letters, particularly after an in-person visit, help to keep midwifery issues and related legislation on the table with your representatives. The more often they hear and see information from FFOM about our concerns, the more important the issue will seem. Here are some hints to make your letters well received:

1. Use the correct address and salutation (i.e., Dear Senator name, or Dear Representative name, or Dear Governor name). While the legislature is in session, send letters to Senate or House offices. Between sessions, use the local office in your area.
2. Describe the bill by popular name and by House or Senate file number, or clearly describe the issue.
3. Be brief and clear. Write about one issue per letter, and state the issue and how you want your elected official to vote in your first sentence. Letters should be no longer than one page, however longer letters may be appreciated if you have some new information on the subject.
4. Be specific. If possible, give an example of how the issue affects your district.
5. Be timely. Make sure your legislator will have sufficient time to consider your request.
6. Know your facts. Inaccurate or misleading information will hurt your credibility.
7. Be polite in your requests for support or opposition. Never express anger, make demands, or threaten defeat at the next election. You will want to have future contact with the legislator.
8. Use your own words and stationary rather than form letters or postcards. In addition, write legibly or type – your letter could be discarded if it is not easy to read.
9. Be constructive. Explain an alternative or better solution to the problem and offer to be a resource on the issue.
10. Send a note of appreciation when your elected official supports your issue. When he or she does not support your issue, explain why you think a different decision should have been made. It might make a difference the next time.


Phone calls can be used to follow-up on letters and meetings, but are often best used for immediate action requests, just prior to votes or new legislative activity. Multiple calls from multiple constituents just prior to a vote can help impress upon the legislator how important this issue is to the people s/he represents. Below are some guidelines for phone calls:

1. State your name, address and indicate that you are a constituent.
2. Give the name and House or Senate File number of the legislation, or clearly explain the issue.
3. State whether you oppose or support the legislation and how you want your legislator to vote. Include a statement on how the issue affects you personally.
4. You will usually be speaking with a secretary or aide who is checking pro or con and the call will last a very short time. Keep the phone call under five minutes unless the aide or legislator prolongs the conversation.
5. Listen to the legislator’s point of view.
6. Take down the name of the aide with whom you spoke so that you will have a contact person in case you need to contact the legislator again.
7. Thank them for their time, both on the telephone and with a note of thanks for the conversation that includes a concise summary of your opinion.
8. Do not call too often and risk becoming a nuisance.
9. Do not lie or try to talk your way around questions to which you do not know the answers. Say that you will get back to the legislator or aide, and then do so.


Email remains a controversial method of contacting your senators and representatives. Though it seems like a quick and easy way of getting your message to many officials, the use of email generators and other programs have made some offices less likely to respond to email. If you do choose to email your legislators, follow the guidelines under letter writing, and be sure to reference your address and that you are a constituent at the very beginning of your email. Those offices that filter emails often do so based on whether or not the author is a constituent.

Ultimately, FFOM recommends that you use email judiciously, relying more on the “old school” forms of communication to build the relationships that will be critical to forwarding the FFOM agenda in the coming years.


Finally, please let us know when you have contacted someone so that our team can follow up with them. Our organization represents many constituents from all over the state and some parts of the country. The more we contact different officials, the more likely we are to find representatives that are willing to lend an ear, or better yet, champion a cause.