Affordable access to midwives’ services—and, consequently, home births and birth center deliveries—will soon get easier.
Last week, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 407 (Morrell) into law, allowing licensed midwives to provide comprehensive services to Medi-Cal patients. The new law means a greater number of low-income women can choose to use a midwife and, as a result, have access to a range of prenatal and postpartum support. Services can include nutrition assessments, breastfeeding counseling, childbirth and parenting education, and mental health services.
In addition to allowing for more provider choices to low-income women, the law should save the State money. According to the author’s comments on the bill, using a licensed midwife for a home or birth center delivery can save up to 80 percent compared to the cost of a hospital birth. Also, “Increasing the number of comprehensive perinatal Medi-Cal providers alleviates wait times and access issues within the overall perinatal health delivery system, allowing women to receive timely and personalized care.”
A California-licensed midwife is a health care practitioner who can attend to normal childbirth cases and provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care, according to the Medical Board of California (Board). In order for pregnancy and childbirth to be defined as normal, certain conditions must exist, such as a single fetus, absence of disease during pregnancy, and no pre-existing maternal disease of condition that would affect pregnancy.
For more information about midwives and their services and licensing requirements, read the article “California Midwives: Delivering Health Care at Home,” in the summer issue of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine, and visit the Board’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov.