Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Letter to ACOG President Dr. Richard Waldman

Florida Friends of Midwives has added our organization's name to a list of endorsers to the following letter from the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. We encourage all who are in support of this letter to endorse it here.

Richard N. Waldman, MD
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
PO Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920

Dear Dr. Waldman:

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) supports the March 2010 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Statement on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and welcomes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) revised guidelines, Vaginal Birth After Previous Cesarean Delivery (August 2010) aimed at providing women increased access to VBAC and clearly emphasizing women's autonomy and their right to make informed decisions about how they choose to give birth. However, CIMS is concerned that ACOG's unrevised recommendation that trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) should take place in hospitals where resources for emergency cesarean are "immediately available" will continue to deter providers and hospitals from supporting this option.

The NIH found that this "immediately available" recommendation was based on consensus and expert opinion rather than strong support from high-quality evidence. The NIH also reported that this recommendation has influenced about one-third of hospitals and one-half of physicians to no longer provide care for women who want a VBAC. All women in labor face unpredictable risks that may require an emergency cesarean, not just women laboring for a VBAC. This recommendation selectively applies a higher standard of safety for women who choose a trial of labor.

CIMS urges ACOG to reassess this specific guideline and remove the current barrier to women's access to VBAC.

In addition to respecting women's autonomy, the current guidelines emphasize the need for physicians to discuss the benefits and risks of both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean early on in the pregnancy. This is a recommendation that CIMS strongly supports. The NIH identified the importance of evidence-based processes that incorporate women's values and preferences to help women with a previous cesarean make informed choices about mode of birth. Similarly, a key recommendation identified in the multi-stakeholder consensus report, Blueprint for Action: Steps Toward a High-Quality, High-Value, Maternity Care System is expanding the opportunities and capacity for a shared decision-making process and developing tools and resources to facilitate informed choices in maternity care.

In the light of these recommendations, CIMS urges ACOG to revise its patient education publications and on-line consumer resources to include comprehensive information on the benefits and risks of cesarean section and VBAC.

CIMS, whose mission is to promote the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, an evidence-based wellness model of maternity care that will improve outcomes and reduce costs, urges ACOG to reconsider the "immediately available" recommendation and update its decision-making consumer resources. We believe that ACOG can make an even greater impact on increasing VBAC, reducing cesareans, and ultimately avoiding unnecessary harms to mothers and infants.


Michelle Kendell, MBA, AAHCC
Chair, Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS)
On behalf of CIMS and the following organizational members of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS)

Co-Signed By:
Academy of Certified Birth Educators
American Association of Birth Centers
American College of Nurse-Midwives
The Big Push for Midwives
Birth Matters Virginia
Birth Network National
Birth Network of Santa Cruz
Choices in Childbirth
DONA International
International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
Lamaze International
Midwives Alliance of North America
North American Registry of Midwives
Our Bodies Ourselves
Perinatal Education Associates
Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation
toLabor: The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options and Resources
Where's My Midwife?

City of Sarasota, State of Florida Proclaim October 4-8 Licensed Midwives Week

At next week’s City Commission meeting (Monday, October 4, 6:00pm), Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner will proclaim October 4th through 8th as Sarasota Licensed Midwives Week. Mayor Kirschner’s recognition will pay tribute to the skilled, individualized care that Sarasota’s licensed midwives offer women and their families throughout the childbearing cycle. It will signify the strong contribution licensed midwives make to the health and well-being of our community's mothers and babies through appropriate care and treatment in all phases of childbirth.

The week has also been proclaimed Florida Licensed Midwives Week by the office of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, coinciding with National Midwifery Week, a time to recognize the contributions of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Certified Midwives (CMs) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) nationwide. The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) publicly announces the week with an introduction to midwifery. "The heart of midwifery care for women and newborns lies more in the nature of that care than in its specific components. Midwifery practice has a firm foundation in the critical thought process and is focused on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health, taking the best from the disciplines of midwifery, nursing, public health and medicine to provide safe, holistic care."

HISTORY OF MIDWIFERY IN FLORIDA: Midwives have a long and valued history in Florida. The state first passed legislation to license direct-entry midwives in 1931. In the 79 years since, Florida’s licensed 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. In 1992, Governor Lawton Chiles declared the first-ever Licensed Midwives Week. More women than ever before are seeking out licensed midwives for maternity care.

ABOUT MIDWIFERY IN FLORIDA: In Florida, two types of midwives are allowed to practice: Certified Nurse-Midwives and Licensed Midwives (a Florida state licensure), also known as direct-entry midwives. Throughout the state, about 11.2 percent of births are estimated to be managed by midwives, rather than by OB-GYNs. Many birth centers and midwives have reported a significant increase in business in the past year. This increase is believed to be a result of various factors, primarily a greater number of women seeking alternative birthing choices due to an unhealthy increase in caesarean sections and other unnecessary interventions that frequently occur in hospital settings. In a 2006 report on Florida Licensed Midwives, midwives had a caesarean section rate of 6.3 percent compared to a 36.64 percent statewide average in hospitals the same year.
In honor of this week, Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM), a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida, will be hosting various community events throughout the state this week and during October to celebrate the more than 110 currently practicing licensed midwives. For more information of midwifery in Florida, please visit

“We are humbled by the dedication of the mothers who worked so hard to have this week declared licensed midwifery week,” says licensed midwife Miriam Pearson-Martinez. “We hope that the events happening all over the state this week serve to raise awareness regarding the benefits of midwifery care.”

The proclamation in Sarasota will be read by Mayor Kirschner at the beginning of the City Commission meeting, Monday, October 4th, at 6:00 pm in Sarasota’s City Hall. Florida Friends of Midwives encourages all families who have benefited from the care of licensed midwives to attend this special recognition.

About Florida Friends of Midwives: Florida Friends of Midwives is a non-profit 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. For more information, please visit