New York Families Lobby for Midwives

by flowers on April 13, 2010 · 30 comments

We did it!

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!

Poster1
Poster2
Poster3

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!

Slideshow

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!)

Rally Signs

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.

Speech

My absolute favorite picture of the event:

Littlest Lobbyist

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!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa April 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Yes it does! Looks like you guys did a great job. :)

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Nicki April 14, 2010 at 6:01 am

Way to go!!
.-= Nicki´s last blog ..Saturday Night =-.

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Jo @ Parenting Poppy April 14, 2010 at 7:46 am

I didn’t realize you were so intimately involved in the organization of the whole thing – awesome! Poppy and I were just consumers who showed up for the day :)
.-= Jo @ Parenting Poppy´s last blog ..Soon, I Promise =-.

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flowers April 14, 2010 at 7:52 am

I sort of *fell* into it and being pregnant and affected by it first hand was a huge motivation for me. Plus, I think I’m addicted to working along side amazing women and learning new skills! A great balance to everyday life.

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renee @ FIMBY April 14, 2010 at 8:15 am

Did you do the photography for those posters? Those are amazing, whoever did them. And all the work you did to pull this together. No wonder your blog has been quiet these days. I am not a New Yorker, nor am I having babies any more but thank you Hillary. Thank you for working so hard to advocate for something so important for women everywhere. I am so thankful for the midwifery care I received for my three children. Blessings on these last few weeks of your pregnancy. Can’t wait to see this little bundle “in person”.

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flowers April 14, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks Renee (although I gasped when you said “these last few weeks of my pregnancy”. The denial is just starting to fade ;)

I did take those photos and put the posters together. It was a little harrowing last minute b/c I am so not a graphic designer, but with a little template help I think they came out great!

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renee @ FIMBY April 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

I guess you do have a 9-10 weeks left, I was thinking for some reason it was more 4-5 weeks. But in the grand scheme of things that’s not very much either way. I’ll let you breath easier.. you have time, lots of time (wink).
Also, those posters rock!! You are very talented. Printing and developing scare me to death.

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flowers April 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

deep breath. yes 10 weeks is a lot, right? lol.

You know printing now scares me to death b/c I couldn’t believe how different they looked printed. I mean completely different than my computer screen. I’m so used to editing purely for digital viewing and this was real eye opening. They were much darker than I thought. Taking a picture of them actually lightened them up.

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renee @ FIMBY April 14, 2010 at 11:10 am

Tell me about it! I have done a lot of trial and error with printing and spent $$ testing different labs to get it done right. I’ve finally settled on the lab, color settings and monitor settings that work for me but it’s not a simple process.

We’ve bought a monitor calibrator and everything and it still scares the heck out of me. I’ve stopped developing photos for the time being because the technology is so daunting for me, in spite of all the research I’ve done!

I like using Color Inc labs by the way.

I’m such a perfectionist that getting photos back that don’t look how I intended them to is very disappointing and discouraging. I’d love to have someone hold my hand through this learning curve and tell me exactly how to do it right.

Laurie April 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

Thanks for all your hard work, Hillary!!!!
.-= Laurie´s last blog ..Lobby Day and its Awesomeness =-.

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flowers April 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Laurie! It was great seeing you guys there–sorry we didn’t get to talk more. I can’t wait to catch up and here how your visits went and chat about birth stuff :)

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flowers April 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

(@renee) Eh, I know. Some months back I decided it was time to start making prints. I thought I’d frame some for the house and I printed one of my favorite flower pics in an 8 x10–it came back so terrible. It almost felt embarrassed. It’s still tucked away and never to be seen!

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Amber April 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hooray and well done! I hope that your state legislators take the message to heart.
.-= Amber´s last blog ..Bicycle Dreams =-.

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Maria April 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Way to go! Such important work and sounds like it went very well.

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Abby @ New Urban Habitat April 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Wow, you’re so inspiring. I’m so thankful for home birth and for my two wonderful midwives. Thank you for your dedication and hard work on behalf of women.
.-= Abby @ New Urban Habitat´s last blog ..The Future of Green Jobs =-.

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Abby @ New Urban Habitat April 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

P.S. … Your link for FreeOurMidwives.org didn’t work for me.
.-= Abby @ New Urban Habitat´s last blog ..The Future of Green Jobs =-.

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flowers April 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

Thanks Abby!

(I fixed the link :)

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exhale. return to center. April 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

woo-hoo!!!!! congratulations!!!
.-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..(more) april events + announcements =-.

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Stacy (Mama-Om) April 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

This post is so full of energy, love, dedication, connection, celebration, and hope that I am nearly bursting from it all!!

Way to go!

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exhale. return to center. April 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

just coming back to bask in this wonderful victory some more!!!!

great work my friend!!!
.-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..(more) april events + announcements =-.

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Kate April 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

Hillary….I’m just overwhelmed and moved to tears! I can’t even begin to express how proud and impressed I am with you!
I would have LOVED to hear your speech, knowing how eloquent, passionate, and inspiring you are!!!

This has been a banner morning for me ~ first reading about LJ being interviewed for a paper and on the radio, Erin being front-page news in her community, and now reading this about you….I’m speechless!!! And sooo, soooo, infinitely satisfied to see all this unfolding.

Congrats to you and that very special babe you’re carrying!!!!
I love you!
.-= Kate´s last blog ..My Everyday Magic 4/15/2010 =-.

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LJ April 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

Great work, dear friend! I’m so glad you are following your heart and doing what you feel needs to be done! What a gift to you, your children and your community! We need more people like you out there doing great things! I’m so happy for you!!!
.-= LJ´s last blog ..Cooperation =-.

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Leah April 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

That is so incredible! Good for all of you! I got a little jolt of pride seeing you up there at the podium too :D And that last photo is definitely a sweet one <3

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flowers April 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Leah–I love that you said that, because hells yeah should feel prideful! It’s because of the tremendous sense of fantastically, amazing women in my life that I had the courage to do that. Seriously, I lean on my tribe of powerful women so much!

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Gillian April 17, 2010 at 1:47 am

It looks like a great event. I hope your voices are heard.

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Devon April 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Amazing!!!! Go you guys!!!!
.-= Devon´s last blog ..Love Socks for Kids! (I think) =-.

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Youngiee April 21, 2010 at 11:44 am

Good job, mama, good job! <3

(I love your blog, btw!) xo
.-= Youngiee´s last blog ..Burning Chair, Man! =-.

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flowers April 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thanks Youngiee! Glad to have you here :)

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