A bill is before the Alabama legislature which would broaden the scope of midwife care.
Currently, under Alabama law, midwives may perform births and neonatal care. However, multiple restrictions exist for midwives, including numerous delivery and care procedures that they are prohibited from practicing.
HB 164, presented by Rep. Debbie Wood (R–Valley), seeks to remove the current restriction placed on midwives from being able to perform vaginal births after a mother has already had a cesarian, commonly called VBAC.
Alabama legalized the practice of midwifery in 2017. In 2018, the Alabama State Board of Midwifery (ASBM) was established, and its first licenses were issued in 2019.
The bill maintains most of the previous restrictions that were in place for midwives, including delivering multiple pregnancies, performing abortions, administering narcotics, and administering epidurals.
Midwives' ability to perform VBACs has been a significant priority, with many believing the restriction only makes it harder for mothers to make the medical choice they feel is most appropriate for them. HB164 would allow licensed midwives to perform in-home VBAC's.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, home births have been on the rise, with many mothers finding midwife care to be preferable in light of stringent hospital restrictions. But having a baby at home can be limited due to the limits placed on midwives.
According to the Alabama Birth Center (ABC), midwives offer many benefits in delivering children.
"Midwives are experts in normal birth and adept at ensuring excellent outcomes for birthers and infants," the ABC website said. "For many pregnant people, care with a midwife allows them to birth their way, safely and naturally, supported by the people they love."
Testing and apprenticeship are the processes by which midwives are accredited in Alabama, which are done through the North American Registry of Midwives.
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