In our last post, we began looking at the regulation of the midwife profession. As we noted, Minnesota actually has a rather lax approach to regulating midwifery. Licensing is voluntary for traditional midwives, which means a midwife can practice without licensing. This doesn’t mean that there is no regulation of unlicensed midwives, but that the regulation is fairly minimal.
Among licensed midwives, certified nurse midwives and licensed traditional midwives are subject to more extensive regulation than traditional midwives who remain unlicensed. Certified nurse midwives are regulated and disciplined by the Board of Nursing while licensed traditional midwives are regulated and disciplined by the Board of Medical Practice.
Under the Minnesota statute addressing regulation of licensed traditional midwives, there are a variety of practice standards to which such midwives are bound. This includes ensuring each client receives safe and appropriate care, including only accepting clients who are expected to have a normal pregnancy, labor and delivery. Licensed midwives are required to take a detailed health history to ensure a woman is a good candidate for home birth.
Another duty licensed midwives owe to their clients is to transfer them to a licensed health care provider if the woman’s condition requires medical attention beyond the midwife’s scope of expertise. Licensed traditional midwives are also supposed to prepare written plans to ensure continuity of care, maintain accurate client records, and abide by all state and local public health regulations. There are also requirements licensed traditional midwives must follow related to informed consent, scope of practice, medical consultation and birth recording.
In our next post, we’ll pick up on the issue of discipline of licensed traditional midwives and the value of working with an experienced attorney when disciplinary proceedings are initiated.