Kentucky may become the 34th state to license certified professional midwives after the State House of Representatives voted 96-1 on a bill to establish a state license.
Certified Professional Midwife is a credential developed by the North American Registry of Midwives. These midwives aren’t nurses or doctors but do have specific training, clinicals and must pass an exam in order to obtain licensure. They specialize in providing maternity care for women wanting to give birth at home and in birthing centers.
Currently 33 states recognize the licensure – most of Appalachia, including West Virginia, does not. The new Kentucky bill will recognize the licensure of about 20 CPMs that already serve Kentucky. Although the certification is recognized in neighboring states Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia, until the bill passes, practicing as a CPM in Kentucky is not legal.
Proponents for licensure argue that recognizing certification means that midwives have to maintain specific standards of care and that CPMs can help provide services to women living in rural areas without obstetric services.
Opponents argue that although most birth is “normal” birth, obstetric emergencies happen quickly and that CPMs are poorly equipped to handle worst case scenarios.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.