History of Maryland Families for Safe Birth 2010-2017
Maryland Families for Safe Birth (MFSB) is a grassroots organization comprised of moms and families dedicated to ensuring access to all birth options and informed decision-making throughout the birth process.
MFSB came into being in the living rooms of moms, their partners, and midwives in Western Maryland in response to a crisis: women were seeking care provided by Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs, providers who specialize in homebirth), but these midwives were being harassed and arrested, leaving moms without the care they needed. Families were finding transfers hostile and unsafe, unable to share the care they had received prior to transfer, or having that care dismissed outright.
In 2011, we formed our organization, found a sponsor in Delegate Ariana Kelly, created a bill, and compiled a 45-page binder outlining the problems faced by Maryland women seeking the midwifery model of care. Over the next four years, we lobbied, educated legislators, held rallies, and garnered support from all over the state. We endured a number of setbacks, where rather than being passed, the original bill was re-worked, workgroups were formed, or the bill died in committee. By our third year, the homebirth midwives formed their own organization, Association of Independent Midwives of Maryland (AIMM), hired a lobbyist, and took the helm with MFSB working alongside. In 2015 we reorganized, garnered more volunteer help, and with an all-out effort on the part of many supporters, led by AIMM, Caitlin McDonough and Ashlie Bagwell from Harris, Jones and Malone, LLC, and Delegate Kelly, we were able to see a bill passed which would license CPMs, now called Direct Entry Midwives (DEMs).
We were thrilled that direct entry midwives would now have an avenue to practice legally and homebirth midwifery care would be more accessible. Due to this bill, transfers could be safer and relationships between institutional and home birth providers could be fostered. However, we also realized that this bill still limited birth choices for women. The bill prohibited DEMs from attending vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), vaginal breech, or vaginal multiples. This is significant, as many hospitals and providers offer little to no support for these options.
We are not yet finished. In fact, we are just beginning. We believe strongly in the woman-centered midwifery model of care. Regardless of their situation, women ought to be at the helm of decision making over bringing their babies into the world.
Please join us in our quest to change birth culture, making all births woman-centered and all options available based on the evidence at hand, the individual’s needs, and the reality that birth is a life-changing event for women, their babies and their families. Birth Matters.