The state recognizes Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), but according to Susan Petrus, a spokesperson for the coalition, it is difficult for most Alabama women to gain access to one. “They can only work in the hospital along with the obstetrician,” Petrus says. “They enter into a collaborative agreement, and it’s hard for the midwives to find doctors who want to enter into that relationship. There are no nurse midwifes in the Birmingham area. There are only about a dozen licensed and practicing in Alabama.”
Also available at the Birth Right Festival will be information regarding the Midwives Model of Care, a detailed explanation of the practice of midwifery developed by several organizations. According to this model — described at www.cfmidwifery.org — the midwife should be aware of the expectant mother’s psychological as well as physical well-being, and provide her with counseling, prenatal care, assistance during labor and delivery and postpartum support.
“You really establish a relationship of trust with the midwife,” says Petrus, who used a midwife during her second pregnancy. “It’s about educating yourself about childbirth, getting the information that you need to make informed decisions.”
One goal of the Midwives Model of Care is to reduce the use of technological interventions, such as epidurals and fetal monitoring, during pregnancies. “All interventions at the hospital carry their risks, and there are some that are very risky,” Petrus says. “This isn’t saying that medical care is never warranted, but let’s make sure it’s the best decision.” Patrus stresses that natural birth is a viable option only for women who are at low risk for complications during pregnancy. “High-risk women should rely more on the traditional method,” she says.
Admission to the festival is free, and all ages are welcome. The coalition will sell crafts and baked goods at the event, and Pink House Kindermusik will offer a drum circle beginning at 5 p.m. Homewood Park is located at 1632 Oxmoor Road. For more information, contact Petrus at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dalia Abrams at email@example.com. The coalition’s web site is www.alabamabirthcoalition.org.