The Black Market For Midwives

Apr 4, 2016

Trish Sherman Pfeiffer, on behalf of the Illinois Friends of Midwives, says "the black market care system that currently serves the majority of home-birthing families in this state is dangerous." She supports legislation to regulate out-of-hospital care done by Certified Professional Midwives.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Mothers and their midwives are behind an effort to bring one of Illinois' black-markets above ground.

Trish Sherman Pfeiffer of Carbondale gave birth to her oldest son in the hospital, where he ended up with an infection.

"So he actually became sick because of the hospital care," she said.

She decided to have her next child at home, with the assistance of a Certified Professional Midwife -- someone with training, but who isn't a nurse.

"We had a great experience. My second son was born at home, with no complication," she said. "He's a happy, thriving four-year-old today."

In Illinois, that is -- and was -- illegal. And, says Sherman Pfeiffer, potentially dangerous. She backs legislation to legalize, and regulate the profession.

The proposal requires a written emergency plan, and limits midwives' use to normal, healthy pregnancies.

It has the backing of a major obstetrics group; but it's opposed by the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Doctors cite concerns about training, and the lack of a requiring midwives to have a formal agreement with physicians.

"This is something we demand even of the nurse practitioners working at Walgreen's; the need for a formal collaborative agreement is far greater for health professionals who will be delivering babies at home," said Eddie Pont, MD, and chair of the ICAAP's government affairs committee.

A legislative committee will debate the plan Tuesday.