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Go Ask Mom

Carrboro Midwifery helps moms give birth at home

Posted October 31, 2010 8:47 p.m. EDT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina has seen a "significant increase" in home births in recent years.

But those who attend home births or want them say that the state presents a significant hurdle as well.

Unlike most states in the country, North Carolina does not license certified professional midwives, who have received certification from the North American Registry of Midwives, to practice in the state. And certified nurse-midwives, who are trained as both nurses and midwives, must get a doctor's signature before they can practice legally.

Few doctors are willing to back an independent nurse-midwife. That means most nurse-midwives practice in hospitals where doctors support them. Few are legally allowed to tend to women who want to give birth at home.

One of the few certified nurse-midwives in the region who can practice is Deb O'Connell. O'Connell, the mom of three, opened Carrboro Midwifery in January and has been busy ever since. O'Connell has worked for years as a midwife and was on the faculty of UNC-Chapel Hill before opening up her practice.

O'Connell developed her passion for home births as a student attending births in the Amish community of Lancaster, Pa. Today, she says it's a safe option for women with low-risk, normal pregnancies.

O'Connell, along with Jane Gledhill, a certified nurse-midwife who recently received a doctor's support to practice, spoke with me about what nurse-midwives do and a bit about current efforts to change law in North Carolina to make it easier for midwives to practice here.

Gledhill is working with O'Connell for the next year and then plans to open up her own practice.

Learn more about what they do and the benefits of home birth in the video. And check back next Monday to meet a Raleigh mom who is due to give birth at home this month with O'Connell's help.

For more on midwives in North Carolina, check out North Carolina Physicians for Midwives, the North Carolina chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and North Carolina Midwives Alliance.