After hundreds of hours of preparations (and a little meltdown) we showed up in Albany (over 3 hours away), rallied at our state capital and lobbied with our legislators in support of the Midwifery Modernization Act.
This was no small feat for us small town volunteers, but since we’re all superstars in our own right, we pulled up our tights (literally) and got our act together.
After all this is important stuff. Access to midwives is crucial for women’s health and is a basic women’s right. Midwives provide well-woman care for women throughout their lives and specialize in low-risk, normal pregnancy and childbirth. They are a crucial part of a whole health care system. Yes, we need doctors. Yes, we need childbirth educators, lactation consultants, doulas and all childbirth professionals. And YES, New York, we need midwives.
Right now as the law stands midwives are severely limited in their ability to practice due to the practice agreement requirement written into the law. New York will train midwives and license midwives, but unfortunately it is extremely difficult to practice as a midwife here.
The reasons are plentiful: lack of willing doctors, lack of doctors in rural areas, insurance companies refusing to let doctors sign and so on. Midwives are highly trained, professional and independent health care professionals who regularly consult with with all kinds of doctors when appropriate–they do not need a permission slip (from their competitors no less).
I could go on and on and on, but I’d rather do a little wrap up for my own sanity and share some pictures and finally show you the outcomes of my hard work. (I worked alongside two amazing talented volunteers, Lauren and Jeanette. Lauren is lead organizer of our local BirthNet and superstar doula and Jeanette is a trained doula, PR rock star and director of an amazing doula community in Chicago.)
You can learn more at our website FreeOurMidwives.org. I worked overtime during the holiday season in late 2009 to get that up and running so the consumers could have a virtual home base to gather and organize.
It was also the home of our photography project. I was honored to be able to take dozens and dozens of pictures of local families, mamas and babies who support our midwives. We also received photos from families all over the state.
I was able to use those photos and create these posters that lined the hall in the Capital building. I worked with Lauren and Jeanette to help create simple messages that would begin to educate people about what midwives do, who they are and why there are important. We’ve learned that most people have no idea what a midwife actually is and their perception is completely misinformed. I thought the photos and the messages worked together beautifully!
The photos were also turned into a slideshow that continuously ran all day as you first entered the main hall. I spent a zillion emails back and forth with the Capital tech support to get this rolling, because my mac would not link up with their system (gasp!). I think it was worth it because there are so many supporters who could not make it because they have young families and we were able to represent them with over one hundred pictures!
We brought the homemade rally signs we made at the event we held in March to educate and inform our local community of the statewide effort. (I can’t believe I didn’t blog about it–must have been overload!)
Despite the fact that I almost had a nervous meltdown preparing to speak at the rally I did it! Who better to speak out for the lack of access than a 30 week pregnant consumer who is devastated about her lack of access to midwifery care? I’m feeling pretty good about how it went. I haven’t done any public speaking in a few years, but it’s something I used to enjoy and would like to practice and do more. I’m thankful for the opportunity.
My absolute favorite picture of the event:
I call it the Littlest Lobbyist and can I tell you what a BIG impression the little ones made on legislators. Jeanette pitched our story in the Capital press room with her one year old in an Ergo on her back, my clients from back in February drove 3 hours with a newborn and introduced their beautiful baby to our state leaders and many, many more families came bringing their children. There was such a good vibe!
I went to two legislative visits with two midwives and Lauren. At first I was extremely nervous, but as soon as we got past the awkward handshakes and the midwives started talking all my nervousness disappeared and I remembered, “Hell, I have something to say!” All the hours we spent working on strategic messaging along with our late night tele-conferences after the kids went to bed suddenly made complete sense. Now we were pitching it to someone who could make a difference!
After some basic education we were out to explain ourselves and as one Senator’s chief of staff said, “This just makes sense.”
Yes it does!