Where is my SLO County midwife?

October 24, 2011


National Midwifery Week is celebrated during the month of October locally, nationally and globally. While the rest of the country is commemorating the exemplary services of midwives, San Luis Obispo County supported health clinics will no longer offer midwife deliveries to their pregnant moms.

Starting Nov. 1, it will be the first time in almost 20 years that I or other midwives will not be delivering the babies of women from the SLO County sponsored health clinics. Over the years I have delivered thousands of county supported health clinic babies at French Hospital Medical Center, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, and the old SLO General Hospital.

More than 11,000 midwives and their supporters commemorate National Midwifery Week. Supporters honor the dedicated midwives who offer their skills and compassion to the millions of women and families  they serve.

National Midwifery Week takes place this year at a time when our nation is searching for ways to ensure all Americans have access to high quality primary, preventive and well-woman services.  Half of our population is women who may need maternity services. All women deserve the access, availability and choice of midwifery care, especially those women who use the clinic system that are supported by state, federal, and local funding.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the SLO County Community Health Center clinics have eliminated the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) along with a team of lactation specialist services.

When the Board of Supervisor closed General Hospital and their prenatal clinics, it was expected that the Community Health Clinics (CHC) would continue to utilize these “models of care” providers as they have until now.

Quite the opposite has transpired. As of Nov. 1, one month after the rest of the country has celebrated National Midwifery Week, there will be no more midwife deliveries for the CHC clinic families.

Midwives had provided excellent prenatal care, continuity of care and safe deliveries to thousand of women in this clinic system. It will be an end of an era, and I along with the other midwives will miss serving this population sector!

Joanne Tarkington, CNM, is a member of SLO City Midwives.

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Not meaning to stir a hornet’s nest, but if the midwives are not in or very near a hospital, it can be like driving a car without insurance (as the saying goes). It’s that freak accident / unusual circumstance that is the Achilles Heel of midwifery.

Not to say that a midwife is “risky” thing, quite the opposite, but for emergencies, there’s nothing like having a fully-staffed hospital as potential insurance should the unthinkable happen. Truly, it is the main force that drives down infant-mortality rates, is it not?

rOy, you bring up valid points. Keep in mind that using the services of a certified midwife does not necessarily equate with having a home birth.

We chose the best of both worlds…having a midwife officiate in a hospital setting. That way, my desire for a natural birth w/a women midwife was fulfilled along w/assuring my husband & extended family that emergency medical care would be available if needed. (thankfully, it wasn’t)

Is it the main force? So you have data to support that position, or are you just guessing? Our mid-wife had performed nearly 3000 births in over 20 years. She could teach nearly any Dr, especially a male one, things they don’t know, but for some reason we see medical school as the only path to wisdom and experience. And also for some reason, we see a hospital as some sort of safety net, when it is no better than the fallible humans staffing it. The people involved aren’t any worse or less dedicated, but a mid-wife, like a small business owner, knows that there is no one else she can spread any potential blame onto…it’s all on her. In a hospital setting the individual is gone, and now the patient is dealing with an organization where personal responsibility is minimized instead.

Joanne, you ROCK. Thank you for writing this piece. Hopefully it will bring awareness to the need for excellent local women’s healthcare, including the availability of midwives.

Years ago you delivered 1 of my kids & you were wonderful. Another local CNM is a saint–Sandy Rodriguez. Ladies–you helped to bring a couple of my kiddos into the world & I’ll be forever grateful.

If any of the CCN readers are pregnant, I’d strongly recommend using a local midwife. Once you use their services, you’d never go back to a regular OB-GYN. (unless, of course, you have complications or a high-risk pregnancy) Having a professional, experienced, compassionate woman deliver your baby is an amazing experience.

What a sad situation. I’m with DJ, I hope this is temporary.

I have two childern and used midwives both times. The care was amazing. Midwives are with you all the way. I really hope this is a temporary situation.