This week is National Midwifery Week and DHEC recognizes the exceptional work that licensed midwives and their apprentices accomplish across South Carolina. This year’s theme is “Midwives for Equity,” and highlights midwives’ belief that every person has a right to equitable, ethical, accessible and quality healthcare.
Licensed midwives provide prenatal care, primary assistance in the birthing process, initial care of the newborn and postpartum care of the mother. The midwifery model of care empowers individuals and communities, creates compassionate partnerships, and personalizes care based upon each individual’s life experiences and knowledge.
DHEC is the licensing and regulatory agency for direct-entry midwives practicing in SC, and we continue to communicate with midwives, their consumers, their supporters, and the Midwifery Advisory Council (MAC) to ensure that the community’s voices are being heard.
“I have truly never worked with a more passionate group of providers who are dedicate to making sure that the women of South Carolina continue to have alternative birthing choices,” said Charlene Bell in the Hospital Division of Healthcare Quality.
“I am proud to offer options and be a witness to how families begin to dig further into themselves, become empowered, learn their full potential, and really research what is the best in regards to maternity support, labor, birth support, and postpartum follow-up for their families,” said Lori Heffner Gibson, Chairperson of the MAC and licensed midwife.
Asking a midwife what makes the practice of midwifery an exciting, fulfilling, and inspiring career choice inevitably leads to the same answer: the expecting mothers.
“I am proud to be a midwife because I care for the most wonderful clients a provider could ask for,” said Jami Morris, licensed midwife.
Midwives balance the individual choices of each mother with the best standard of care.
“I am so grateful that I am able to give personal attention to each and every family,” states Vanessa Cangialosi, licensed midwife, who has been practicing in South Carolina for three years. “I am able to encourage families to become educated and make decisions about their care and birth that they feel most at peace with. I fully respect the pregnancy journey each family is on and promote shared decision making.”
COVID-19 and midwifery
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted midwifery throughout the state.
With the rise of infection control and prevention screenings and procedures, many midwives have experienced an increase in the number of women inquiring about midwifery care in South Carolina. COVID-19 has intensified the safeguarding of health and wellbeing of everyone under the care of midwife.
The implementation of new protective measures in response to the coronavirus has not only enabled midwives to continue having direct contact with clients, but it has also allowed midwives to still provide intimate support to expecting mothers while in personal settings.
Licensed midwives are there for clients when needed, no matter the challenges that they face.
“Every birth is a miracle and has its own individualized story,” Morris said. “Whether we are called out in a snowstorm, heavy thunderstorms, in the dark of night, or during the daytime hours, midwives are always ready to provide the care needed for their clients.”
The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to advance nurses’ and midwives’ positions in transforming healthcare.
Midwifery in SC has changed throughout the years, and the relationship between DHEC and licensed midwives has strengthened.
“I am proud to be present in the moment as we work alongside DHEC to improve our regulations for midwives to be able to work to our fullest potential and fully within our skill-set for the families who are consumers of midwifery services,” Hefner Gibson said.
DHEC has respect for our midwifery providers, and we look forward to keeping midwifery an accessible and advantageous service for expecting mothers to benefit from for years to come.
For more information regarding R.61-24, Licensed Midwives, and its current promulgation process, please feel free to contact HealthRegComm@dhec.sc.gov.