It is widely known that the United States’ has a maternal health crisis on its hands; maternal and newborn health outcomes are abysmal. A 2022 report by the March of Dimes found that 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in an area with almost no access to obstetric providers or birth centers. To properly address our poor outcomes and shortage of providers, we must grow midwifery. At present, the United States has one of the lowest rates of Midwives per 1,000 births (source).
An article recently published on Stat, explains why we need more Midwives to get more Midwives. There are not nearly enough Midwives practicing full-scope Midwifery in the United States to train more Midwives.
But only 12% of births in the U.S. are attended by midwives, meaning that clinical placements are very hard to find — even for students of universities that are attached to a hospital. For that reason, “we can’t just open the floodgates and accept [more students] even if someone gave us all the money in the world,” said Audrey Lyndon. assistant dean of clinical research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
We also have a huge problem of not having nearly enough diversity in Midwifery so that many different clients cannot find a Midwife/Midwifery practice where they feel most comfortable.
The [Midwifery] workforce continues to be not only small, but racially homogenous: More than 90% of midwives are white (source)
Barrier #1: Midwives Need to Train Midwifery Students
The Midwives of New Jersey almost always have a Midwifery student working with us, but we receive additional applications every single week from potential students that we cannot even begin to accommodate. As Midwives of New Jersey grows into 3 distinct practices- MNJ North, MNJ East and MNJ Homebirth-we WILL be able to train more students but it will still not begin to meet the need that exists for Midwifery clinical sites. We appreciate our clientele accepting our students’ involvement in their care. We do believe the students add an element of energy and enthusiasm to our practice that we hope our patients can appreciate.
The Midwifery programs cannot grow because of the limited places for their students to learn how to be Midwives. Sure, they could be trained by nurse-practitioners or OB/GYN’s, but the Art of Midwifery would not be part of their training. Midwives need to train Midwives.
I have been a Midwife for 30 years and I still routinely practice using Midwifery wisdom taught to me by my Midwifery clinical faculty at UMDNJ. – Lisa Lederer
Barrier #2 – Certified Midwives Are Unable to Practice in NJ Hospitals
The Midwives of New Jersey hired Yenniffer Moreno Lugo with the understanding that she could practice fully within our practice which offers hospital, birth center and home births. In December 2020, the Board of Medicine issued a waiver allowing Certified Midwives, who have the same education as nurse Midwives except they are not nurses, to have the same authority to practice as Certified Nurse Midwives in licensed facilities in New Jersey. Despite this waiver, Morristown Medical Center decided unilaterally that the waiver was only for the pandemic and no longer applies. They will not grant hospital privileges to Yenniffer even though she worked exclusively in a hospital in NYC prior to coming to MNJ. Yenniffer has been able to work with us because we offer out-of-hospital births but it is not ideal.
…pursuing careers as midwives potentially puts a large financial burden on students from underrepresented groups who are so desperately needed to work in the communities experiencing the worst toll of maternal mortality and morbidity.
Because people becoming Certified Midwives do not have the expense or delay of nursing school, their education is more expedient and less costly. We can have qualified Midwives working in New Jersey to improve birth outcomes MUCH more quickly if the hospitals in New Jersey including Morristown Medical Center embrace CM’s. Read more about how NJ hospitals are preventing great access to Midwifery Care here.
Be Part of the Solution-Support Midwifery Education!
Donate to Melanated Midwives
When you donate to Melanated Midwives, you help fund scholarships for Melanated Student Midwives, you provide resources and education to Melanated Mommas and you fight for the right of Melanated birthing people to have culturally competent care.
Sign our Petition to Help Certified Midwives Gain their Lawful Right to be Credentialed in NJ Hospitals
Certified Midwives are unable to practice in most New Jersey hospitals due to a misunderstanding of their credential and to antiquated bylaws. The CM credential requires the same education and board certification as CNM’s and is recognized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as equal to Certified Nurse Midwives (Source).
Additionally, in December of 2021, upon Nurture NJ’s recommendation 5.11.1 (Source), the Department of Health signed a waiver recognizing the practice of CM’s in NJ – giving them the same practice authority as CNM’s in licensed facilities in the State (Source).
Midwifery is associated with better birth outcomes, increased patient satisfaction and is cost effective. Yet despite the clear benefits of Midwifery care, New Jersey hospitals’ refusal to recognize the CM credential as identical to CNM is creating significant barriers to accessing Midwifery care.
I support the Midwives of New Jersey request for the support of the NJ Department of Health to help Certified Midwives gain their lawful right to be credentialed in NJ hospitals.