Monday, April 25, 2011


It is with great sadness that I share the news that our small home birth community has lost one of our own. Salt Lake City area home birth midwife Briana Blackwelder was killed in an accident on Saturday, April 24th. She was a devoted and caring midwife, an asset to our community and she will be greatly missed.

I don't think I could choose words to do Briana justice but I think Kristi Ridd-Young has done a brilliant job so I will instead share her words:

From MCU President, Kristi Ridd-Young
April 24,2011

It is with a heavy, sad heart that I share with you the death of one of MCU's most beloved. On Saturday afternoon, Brianna and her younger brother were in a car accident near Santaquin, Utah. Brianna did not survive the accident; blessedly her brother did.

Many of you who came to conferences got to experience the incredible way Briana, with her dear friend and soul sister Cathy, touched the lives of those families they cared for and in turn touched your life through the sharing of their wise women ways. From the time I met Briana years ago at a doula training until our last heart to heart a few days ago, I marveled at Briana's wisdom, intuition and serenity. How could a woman so young have accomplished and perfected that which most of us take a lifetime to learn?

I often teased Brianna that I was going to line her up with one of my sons so she could always be my daughter. . . I don't know if I'll be able to walk past her prenatal office to go to my desk without feeling her tender midwifery spirit emanating from within. From cradling the head of a newborn to holding a woman in her arms as she transitioned from pregnancy to motherhood, she truly honored that sacred space of midwifery.

There's a part of me that's a little bit angry right now; I want to stamp my foot and say, "I don't know the reason why and I'm not able to see the whole, big picture, but do you really need Brianna like we need her here?" What I do know is that Brianna loved and honored our heavenly parents. She is encircled in their arms while our arms ache for her. I know that her spirit will comfort her family and the many who are so painfully missing her. I am honored to have known her--truly a ministering angel.

The Midwives College of Utah will dedicate a scholarship fund in her memory to a young, single woman who has the vision Brianna did and can carry on the wise woman ways she taught each of us who were privileged to know her.

In contemplation of all we mean to each other,


You are welcome to share your thoughts and condolences in the comments area.

With love,
Heidi and the Utah Friends of Midwives

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UFOM at the derby!

The Salt City Derby Girls invited the Utah Friends of Midwives to create an information booth at their June 12 bout at the Salt Palace. We had a beautiful display sharing information on midwifery, home birth and the freestanding birth center in Salt Lake. Many, many people stopped by to chat with our birth representatives. Many questions were asked and answered, and many other stopped by to share how much they had loved their midwifery care. It was a great opportunity to educate the community! Thanks again to the derby girls for inviting us!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birth centers

In case you didn't know the only licensed, accredited birth center in Utah closed this year. There are still unlicensed, single-room birth centers in existence, offering families another out-of-hospital option for their births. Unfortunately, many insurance companies and Medicare do not offer reimbursement to unlicensed birth centers. Many women/families cannot financially afford to give birth in a place that their insurance won't pay for, so home births and unlicensed birth centers are out of the question for those families. Mothers relying on Medicare also no longer have any out-of-hospital choices available for their births either. What a loss for the families of Utah.

If we want to continue to improve access to midwives we need to see insurance companies policies change so that they will pay for out-of-hospital births, no matter where the location. We also need the federal government to change Medicare's policies about reimbursing out-of-hospital providers (this would likely lead to changes among private insurers).

Getting insurers to pay for out-of-hospital birth is only part of the battle. We have to continue to make sure that the laws protect midwives rights to practice. In some cases we may need to work to change laws that restrict those eliminate choices for women.

I hope the members of Utah Friends of Midwives are ready to continue the fight to maintain and improve maternity care in our state!!

For more information about the next battle that women and midwives may be facing please read the following blog post from one of our members regarding potential changes in the birth center regulations:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Message from Citizens for Midwifery

Dear Friends,

As the Senate and House are in the final weeks and days of preparing their Health Reform bills for floor debate, THIS IS THE TIME to write letters and anything else you can do to make sure your Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC, know that you want CPMs included at the federal level!

This e-mail includes three things to as soon as possible!

1. The MAMA Campaign continues working in DC to have Certified Professional Midwives included on the federal list of Medicaid Providers. Please write a brief letter to your Senators and Representatives today! They need to hear from their constituents!
Even if you think your Congress people have already decided not to vote for any health reform bill, write to them anyway about CPMs. You can find all the needed information (including sample letter language and links for finding who your representative and senators are and how to contact them) at the Take Action page of
the MAMA Campaign website

2. The National Women’s Law Center has produced a brief video “A Woman Is Not a Preexisting Condition!” that you can see at:

They have an email setup right on that page to send emails to Congress about this issue, which has a section to add your own words. This is a great opportunity to add some sentences about CPMs, birth centers, and out of hospital birth in general.
Thanks to Susan Jenkins for sending this information!

3. The Big Push for Midwives is encouraging everyone to sign their petition supporting CPMs and out-of-hospital birth. This is easy to do, and you are encouraged to forward this request to others. The petition sign-up is at: this link
Find the full text of the Big Push notice at the end of this message.

This is our chance! Let’s make sure Congress “gets it” about Certified Professional Midwives!

Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This is why we do what we do...

I thought this story from Ohio was a good reminder of why midwifery and home birth advocates need to speak out about their birth choices and educate the public about the safety of out-of-hospital births. This situation would never have happened in a country like the Netherlands where birthing at home is considered a normal way to give birth and police officers would never think that the couple was endangering their child by making that choice.

A family in the Dayton area is entangled in a criminal prosecution as a result of their homebirth. Nine weeks ago, the Levier family welcomed the second child to the world at home with the assistance of a midwife. He was born safe and sound. A few hours later, they were a bit concerned about mom so they made the decision to call 911 just to be safe.

In Montgomery County, whenever 911 is called and a child is involved, the police show up as well. The EMTs insisted that the newborn baby needed immediate medical attention (despite being perfectly happy and healthy) so mom and baby transported in the ambulance and baby was monitored for a while to confirm his good health. Meanwhile the police further investigated, taking statements from Dad and the midwife, who identified herself as a doula.

Six weeks later, the Levier family was given asummons to appear in court regarding charges of child endangerment. Both parents have been charged and arraigned. The next legal step is in late September. Their attorney hopes to have the charges dismissed, but in the meantime, they are facing the expenses of attorney’s fees for representing BOTH of them while dad’s work schedule has been drastically reduced for September....

(Read the rest of the blog entry from the Ohio Families for Safe Birth at this link. This family needs help with their legal expenses. )

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ACOG says it's OK to have more than ice chips!

Another reason to choose midwives... read on...

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 25, 2009)—Displaying a stunning lack of regard for patient autonomy, the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement this week declaring that the group
will “allow” laboring women to drink “modest amounts” of clear fluids during labor while continuing to
prohibit access to solid food.

“Once again ACOG has issued a position statement with little regard for the evidence or for the ability of
women to make decisions for themselves,” said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for
Midwives Campaign. “It’s insulting that ACOG actually believes that laboring women should be grateful
that they will now be ‘allowed’ to have more than just ice chips, when we have long known how vital
nutritional sustenance is to mothers and babies not only during pregnancy, but during labor as well.”

Hospitals routinely adopt ACOG position statements as standard policy governing the treatment of
pregnant and laboring women, despite the fact that a number of the organization’s position statements do
not acknowledge all of the risks and benefits associated with common procedures.

To read full Press Release see link below.’s_Autonomy.pdf

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Passing along birth center legislation info...

American Association of Birth Centers Legislative Alert

Senator Boxer Takes the Lead for Birth Centers in the Senate - Call you Senators to Co-sponsor!

The Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act to be introduced in the U.S. Senate within two weeks!

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will introduce the Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act in the Senate to ensure Medicaid birth center facility fee payments to states.
The Senate version will be identical to H.R. 2358 The Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act.
We need your immediate help! We want to ensure that there is bipartisan support for the bill by adding your Senators as co-sponsors.
Critical Next Step

CALL YOUR 2 U.S. SENATORS at their D.C. offices.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator OR Click here to find your Senators and their contact information.

Keep trying if you don't get through. We must make our voices heard and there are many people calling about health care reform and the energy bill.

Speak with your Senator's legislative health assistant. Be sure to get his/her name. This is critical information for Karen to follow-up with the staff.

Ask that your Senators co-sponsor The Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act being introduced by Senator Boxer. For additional information on the legislation and why it is important visit

Call or email AABC's lobbyist Karen Fennell and tell her who you talked with and any comments or additional information requested. Call Karen at 301-830-3910; Send email to
We need EVERYONE to take action and ensure that our bill is passed as soon as possible!

Jill Alliman
Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
Chair, Legislative Committee
American Association of Birth Centers