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New Rules for Michigan Midwives Promote Patient Safety

August 6, 2019

An increasing number of women are turning to midwives for maternity care in the current culture where women are wanting greater ownership of their health, particularly their pregnancy, and the outcomes of that pregnancy based on the choices they are able to make. A nurse midwife is a specialized nurse that deals with pregnancy, labor, and postpartum concerns. The midwife model differs from OB/GYN medical care in that it involves a trusting relationship between the provider and pregnant woman, who share in decision-making.  Midwives see pregnancy and labor as normal life processes, rather than a condition that needs to be managed.  Midwives may deliver babies at home or in the hospital. With the increase in midwifery services, the State of Michigan has developed new requirements and rules to ensure patient safety when under the care of a midwife.

Michigan has never required midwives to be licensed to practice in the State. However, as of August 1, 2019, nurse midwives in Michigan will be required to have a license to practice.

The new licensing policy is part of rules crafted by the Michigan Board of Licensed Midwifery established in 2017.  The 12-member board was created after a law was passed requiring the regulation of midwives. In addition to the licensure, new rules clarify definitions of “low-risk” births and have new processes for when unexpected complications arise and when a patient should be seeking other medical care.  The new rules promote the needed safety patients should receive when under the care of a midwife.

Finally, the new rules add a layer of protection for practicing midwives. In unlicensed States, midwives could be vulnerable to criminal prosecution.  The new licensure will protect them from criminal charges and consumers will have a process in which they can file a complaint if they’re unhappy with the care received.

The new licensing requirements, along with the new rules are a step in the right direction for patient safety in Michigan. It will help mothers identify qualified midwives and make sure they get appropriate additional medical care if complications arise.