Birth Choices Under Assault in North Carolina, 7 Midwives Shut Down Overnight

The state of North Carolina is one of only 5 in the nation that requires certified nurse midwives to practice under a physician who signs their license in order to deliver babies. Last week the doctor who worked with 7 of the state’s 11 homebirth midwives notified them that he would no longer certify their licenses, effective immediately. One doctor shut down 4 midwifery practices over night, leaving dozens of women, some very near their due dates, scrambling for alternative care.

Update: Temporary Victory for North Carolina Midwives and Expecting Mothers

Take Action: Expand Birth Options for Women in North Carolina

Expectant mothers at center of midwifery dispute – ABC Channel 11 News Video

For a variety of reasons, including the historically hostile relationships between obstetricians and midwives and liability concerns, few doctors in North Carolina are willing to certify midwives that work outside their direct supervision. Consequently few midwives are able to operate outside of a hospital or birthing center setting and therefore attend home births.

The doctor initially told the midwives that the N.C. Medical Board will no longer allow him to oversee nurse midwives outside his own practice, but the board disputes that assertion, saying that they’ve made no such decision about this doctor or any other in the state. To date, the reasons for the doctor’s actions aren’t clear and neither the consequences for the clients of 7 affected midwives. Many obstetricians won’t accept new patients late in pregnancy so many of these expecting mama’s may simply turn up at a hospital and seek to be admitted.

Rebekah Hawes of Durham who she had her 1-year-old son at home after giving birth to her 4-year-old in a Georgia told the News Observer: “I would not consider any other option than a home birth with Carrboro Midwifery. I am a low-risk mother, and it is safe for me to deliver at home. Our choices should not be taken away from us.”

Outraged patients and others have been flooding the North Carolina Board of Medicine with calls, emails, and faxes, but advocates of home birth in North Carolina say the real solution is autonomy for certified nurse midwives.

Take Action: Expand Birth Options for Women in North Carolina

North Carolina House Bill 522 and Senate Bill 662 would provide legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) and increase access to Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) that provide homebirth. Planned home birth that is attended by a midwife can be as safe, or perhaps safer, than planned hospital birth with a dramatic reduction in cesarean section, and other potentially harmful interventions, at a fraction of the cost. The best and safest environment for homebirth women and their babies is one in which midwives, both CPM, and CNM, and local doctors and hospitals can collaborate and work together enabling consultations and smooth transfers of care.

Related Reading/Story Update: Temporary Victory for North Carolina Midwives and Expecting Mothers

Home birth photo by Flickr user amcdawes


Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago

that is ridiculous! women should have EVERY option there is! I personally would never have anything but a home birth (presuming, of course, that I have low risk pregnancy).

Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

Women deserve the full range of birthing options available to them, and NOBODY should take any of them away! I can see the hospital as the logical choice for high-risk pregnancies and deliveries, but if you're a low-risk pregnancy and want to deliver at home with the aid of a midwife, then by all means you should be able to! Statistics bear out the facts-home births are just as safe as, if not SAFER than, hospital births for low-risk women, and many women would far rather be in the comfort and privacy of their own homes than in an impersonal hospital bed surrounded by strangers and tethered to technology! Midwives are more hands-on and technology-OFF, and they view pregnancy and childbirth as the NATURAL processes they are instead of a disaster waiting to happen the way that hospitals do!

Sharon S.
Sharon S5 years ago

Yes, it is all about CONTROL, not about safety concerns. Most likely the midwives were doing a better job than this particular doctor & word was getting around town.

Hannah Short
Hannah Short5 years ago

Note to self dont move to north Carolina when pregnant. i want a midwife and i refuse to give birth in a hospital if I'm living in a place that does not give me that option I'm moving, i dont care how much i love my home, i dont care how much family i have, i dont care what the weather is, I'm moving.

Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

Again, men don’t want to give up their power. They have to be in charge of a woman’s body from birth to death, and every step in between.
I’ve worked in a hospital setting where there were both doctors and midwives. I have to tell you that the doctors were cold and uncaring. The midwives truly cared about the women and the babies, and the majority of women requested midwife care over male obstetricians.

ROLF P5 years ago

Think we need to come to terms with the fact that it is usually not the people that make bad laws but politicians that think they are smarter than the rest of us. So don't vote for people with agendas that differ from the peoples wishes. Just ask your self why do these people run for office in the first place, because they want the world to run on their morals and convictions. Problem solved!

Geraldine Ley
Geraldine Ley5 years ago

Sounds like pure greed on the part of the doctor to me.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon5 years ago

Please everyone, can we stop the remarks about "Well, what can you expect from North Carolina?" or ".....from Arizona?" or ".....from the South?" or ".....from Wisconsin?" or from any one state or area or the other?

No area of the US holds the patent on bad law or extreme positions. No area of the country has 100% agreement from its population about any of the bad acts and bad thinking that are reported about their state.

Stick to the actual issues involved. Criticize those individuals whose thinking and actions deserve it.

Patti R.
Patti Ruocco5 years ago

Well, what can you expect from North Carolina lately? If it were so dangerous, why is okay in so many other places?? It is not about safety--it is about control and the cost of insurance to cover them---

Thomas R.
Thomas Risinger5 years ago

I don't live in NC, so I don't feel it ethical for me to sign this petition. However I do think that the doctor's only motivation was too gain those patients for himself, desiring the additional income. That was a very inconsiderate move, and the doctor is the one who should lose the license!