ACNM-PA Holds the First Annual Midwifery Forward Conference

The Pennsylvania Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM-PA) held its first annual meeting, Midwifery Forward 2019, on March 23 and 24 at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. WHAMglobal and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation were among the sponsors. 

The event was for midwives, midwifery students, and other healthcare professionals working in women's health to come together to share experiences and to discuss best practices, challenges, and initiatives affecting the midwifery profession. Expert practitioners, including professors, lecturers, and medical doctors from around the region, presented on a variety of topics including endometriosis awareness, best practices in instances of Opiate Use Disorder, LGBTQ+ patient care, and approaches for induced education. 

Given the comparatively high and continuously rising maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the United States, particularly among African-American women, many communities across the country are strengthening the integration of midwifery into maternity care. Recognizing the need for change, WHAMglobal is identifying the root causes of maternal mortality and best practices to support and care for mothers and families through the entirety of their care. 

At Midwifery Forward 2019, Dana Perlman - the state policy chair of ACNM-PA, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), and Doctor of Nursing (DNP) - gave a brief history of the long and often volatile past of midwifery. It led into a session providing midwives the language and skills to advocate for their profession and professional interests. She challenged participants to get into small groups and practice how they would state representatives to promote the interests of midwives and the profession. 

Due to the lack of awareness about what midwives are qualified to do, how they work, and the benefits of incorporating midwifery and birthing centers into mainstream maternity care, there was a huge emphasis on dispelling myths and misconceptions about midwifery. Many people, for example, believe that midwives only deliver babies at home, or that midwives are not medically trained to a high standard.

To the contrary, several recent studies have illustrated many advantages of incorporate midwifery into maternity care. A 2018 study showed that women who get their care at birthing centers experience better outcomes than women who gave birth at maternity care homes or group prenatal care facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) study, "Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns," showed improved outcomes at birthing centers, including fewer Cesarean sections (C-sections), lower rates of preterm births, fewer low-weight babies, and lower incurred costs during birth and the following year. 

Dr. Perlman cited the CMS study, and also referred to guidance published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently supporting a more holistic approach to maternity care, including midwives. The report, "Collaboration in Practice: Implementing Team-Based Care," discusses how team-based care can achieve the "Triple Aim" of improving the experience of individuals and families, improving the health of populations, and lowering per capita costs. 

The report responds to evolving demands in maternity care and undue burdens on health care providers, including the looming shortage of obstetricians and exploding costs of healthcare. 

WHAMglobal is on a mission to advocate for midwives and to continue starting conversations about the importance of including midwifery as a key component throughout a mother's pregnancy. Understanding and educating others about midwifery will provide more engagement opportunities to advocate and spread awareness for midwives. 

For more information regarding midwifery:

Cochrane Review - Midwifery-led, continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women 

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