Access to Midwives Expanded Dramatically in Del. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Access to Midwives Expanded Dramatically in Del.

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - It just got a lot easier to have an at-home birth in Delaware. A bill signed into law Tuesday gives expecting mothers much more access to midwives.

Non-nurse midwives haven't been illegal in Delaware. It has just been very difficult for many who want to to practice legally.

Non-nurse midwives could practice in Delaware if they had a collaborative agreement with a doctor, basically someone formally vouching for them.

But, with only one exception made for a midwife for the state's Amish population, the medical community refused to enter into those agreements with midwives. There were liability concerns. Now, midwives don't need the agreements.

Katie Kline, from Harrington, is pregnant with her second child and due in September. Her first delivery was supposed to be at a birth center but happened at a hospital instead.

"After that experience it really made me double down on my efforts to see home birth access expanded for mothers in Delaware," she said.

Kline says up to this point Delaware mothers wanting to use a midwife have been basically out of luck inside the state. But she feels it should be a mother's choice to have a home birth if desired.

"And luckily the legislators of the state of Delaware agreed with us."

The new law creates a Midwifery Advisory Council, which, among other things, is responsible for licensure of non-nurse midwives.

"These are midwives who have attained a national credential of certified midwife or certified professional midwife," said Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, the bill's sponsor.

Certified professional midwife is what Susan DiNatale, of Dover, is. She expects a number of expecting mothers to take advantage of this expanded option.

"And I think there will be more midwives coming here, or at least getting licensed here, who might live in neighboring states," she said.

DiNatale plans to limit her workload in Delaware to three or four pregnancies a month.

The law creates a framework for expanding midwifery, but specifics, regulations still need to be worked out. Kline hopes that process is quick.

"I'd love for this baby to be the first legal home birth in Delaware," she said.

Rep. Baumbach says Delaware's new system is in step with how other states are handling midwifery these days.

A new state law regulating Maryland midwives passed back in April and took effect last week.

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