Homebirth is legal in New York State, but only if you are a licensed midwife, and only if you have a practice agreement worked out with a doctor or hospital that explicitly allows the midwife to deliver at home. There are homebirth midwives who practice here in New York City, and homebirth midwives in upstate New York, but if you happen to live in or around Albany, your choices are severely limited. There are NO legal homebirth midwives in the capital region, which means that women who choose to deliver at home in that area have to keep it under wraps, and end up being cared for by midwives practicing illegally. It also means that homebirth midwives in the capital region are pretty hard to find; for many women, homebirth isn’t an option simply because they don’t even know it exists, or else they can’t find a homebirth midwife in the first place. Miriam Axel-Lute, the news editor at Metroland, a weekly alternative news source for the capital region, has written an amazing article which explores the subject in more depth. Definitely worth checking out.
And now, a lament:
The year is 2005. Studies have shown that homebirth is just as safe as hospital birth. 60% of all people born in the Netherlands are born at home, and it’s not a big deal at all. This is America, presumably the land of choice. Why…WHY…do so many midwives still have to practice illegally in this country if they want to deliver babies at home?? Why does it have to be such a struggle?? Why must midwives be viewed by doctors as threats, rather than as colleagues?
Yeah, yeah, I know there aren’t any easy answers to this, and I know that if we sat down and had a five hour conversation on the subject, we could reasonably answer all of those questions, but even so, as a future homebirth midwife, I do wonder…am I going to have to practice illegally someday? Am I going to have to live in fear for my license, my livelihood, my practice…my family? Am I going to have to spend my entire life fighting?
Sadly, I think those, too, might very well be rhetorical questions.