(CBS) — Having a baby is probably the most important event of your life, and more and more women are choosing a midwife instead of a doctor to see them through it.
But how safe is it? CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez looks at the controversy over licensing some midwives.
Emily Dickey delivered baby Rebecca at home after an earlier C-section at the hospital left a bad taste.
“There’s lights, there’s noise, there’s people coming in and out the door, strangers,” she says.
She preferred the quiet of home. Pictures on her blog show her husband offering hugs and support. But you won’t see the Certified Professional Midwife who was there because she’s not legal in Illinois.
Dickey has no regrets.
“She was always by my side. It was kind of like being with a friend, more personal,” she says.
The mother supports an effort, now languishing in the Illinois legislature, to license CPMs.
But physicians groups are opposed to such licensing, saying it’s a matter of training.
“The risk of death for the baby of a home delivery is 2 to 3 times higher than at the hospital,” says Dr. Jacques Abramowicz.
Among the potential problems, he says, is hemorrhaging.
Abramowicz says he supports certified nurse midwives because, unlike CPMs, they have college degrees and nursing licenses. Only about 1 percent of them deliver at home.
Certified nurse midwife Heidi Vyhmeister sees patients at her North Side clinic, but delivers their babies at Northwestern’s Prentiss Women’s Hospital.
If she runs into trouble during a birth, “I’ve got help,” she says.
But Rachel Dolan Wickersham, president for the Illinois Coalition of Midwifery, and a licensed CPM in Wisconsin, says statistics back up the safety of home births.
“All of the highest quality studies show that home birth is as safe, or safer, than hospital birth,” she says.
The Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2007 show 3.7 deaths out of every 1,000 births at home using a non-nurse midwife, compared to seven deaths for every 1,000 births in the hospital using a doctor.
Emily Dickey would like to see CPMs licensed in Illinois.
“You make home birth safer for women, because women do it, anyway,” she says.
Illinois has passed a bill allowing nurse midwives to deliver in offsite birthing centers, but those rules and regulations are being finalized.
Those facilities should be turning up soon.
Position statements by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Illinois State Medical Society.