South Dakota Senate Bill Would License, Regulate Professional Midwives
A bill in the state legislature could pave the way for professional midwives in South Dakota. Senate Bill 136 passed through the Senate in a 26 to 9 vote and is headed to the House of Representatives.
Candace Dockter of Sioux Falls says she used a midwife with the birth of both of her children; Lydia at the hospital and Solomon at home.
Dockter said, “Our first birth with Lydia was a planned hospital birth and that experience gave me the desire and confidence to birth our second child at home.”
Dockter says she wanted to choose who would care for her and someone who supported the kind of birth she wanted.
“She’s going to care for you not just physically as a laboring woman, but also emotionally as you navigate that unique process of labor and also becoming a mother, especially with your first child,” said Dockter. “In the absence of risk factors, I think home is a very great option for women to give birth if they have a trained and qualified care provider, and I think this is what this bill is about.”
A bill in the legislature would certify and regulate Certified Professional Midwives through the South Dakota Department of Health, who are licensed and trained in midwifery. Currently, South Dakota allows for Certified Nurse Midwives, who are licensed and trained as Registered Nurses and in midwifery.
Doula Lisa Groon said, “What it would allow is for families to have some more options regarding their birth location and then who attends their births.”
Groon, who provides support for women before, during and after childbirth, says home births have quadrupled in the state from 2007 to 2015. She says CNM’s are helping with 56 percent of them. Groon worries that the rest are being attended by untrained family members. If the bill is approved, CPM’s could potentially help fill that void.
“It’s unfortunate when we know that families have been having births in their homes for centuries and all of a sudden it became a decision that families had to make, that they couldn’t have births in their home, if they wanted to have a trained professional present,” Groon said.
Groon says she knows that some have concerns over safety.
“This bill outlines that the midwife will explain what those risks are, explain what the training is, that that midwife has undergone, and explain what situations might be appropriate for that family if the plan needs to change,” said Groon.
Groon says 30 other states already license Certified Professional Midwives.
KDLT did reach out to both hospitals in Sioux Falls as well as the South Dakota State Medical Association. We either didn’t hear back
from them or they declined to comment on the bill.