03132019CM1141 rSPRINGFIELD — To address the scarcity of legal home birth providers, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed a resolution last week creating a committee tasked with finding evidence-based solutions to the home birth maternity care crisis in Illinois.

“More women are choosing to give birth at home for a variety of reasons,” Martinez said. “They should not have to choose between going against their personal beliefs or having a safe birth.”

The number of women choosing to give birth at home has grown over the past decade, with home births increasing 50 percent in Illinois between 2007 and 2014.

While the number of home births is expanding, the number of licensed providers to attend them is shrinking. Illinois currently only has fewer than 10 recognized home-birth practices in Illinois, located in only six of the state’s 102 counties.

Illinois used to license community midwives but ceased issuing those licenses in 1972. Thirty-three other states currently license community midwives, including Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.

Because of this scarcity of care, half of all babies born at home in Illinois are born with either no skilled assistance or under the care of underground community midwives who may or may not be licensed.

These unlicensed midwives do not have access to life-saving oxygen and anti-hemorrhage medications and also have no means of legally completing newborn congenital heart disease screenings, hearing screenings and metabolic screening tests, and no means of legally filing accurate birth certificate information.

“Studies show that, for low-risk women, giving birth at home is just as safe as giving birth in a hospital,” Martinez said. “We must ensure that women and babies are able to have a safe delivery with access to necessary medicine, no matter where they choose to give birth.”

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