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New Law Allows Home Births for Low-Income Women in California

Midwives in the state of California are now able to legally perform home births without the supervision of a doctor, thanks to a new California law. The new law gives low-income women the option of having their children delivered in their own home.

For the past 20 years, California law had required midwives to work under the supervision of a physician. However, malpractice insurance would not cover doctors who supervised births outside a hospital environment. It made it next to impossible for midwives to find a doctor willing to help, which means most midwives were performing their services outside the law.

The new law went into effect on January 1 and allows midwives to accept Medi-Cal coverage for home deliveries. They can also order ultrasounds, drugs and lab tests. There are limits to their services, however, under the new law. They are not authorized to provide care for women who are carrying twins or breech babies. If any of their clients have complications, they are required to send them to a physician for care.

The law is welcome news for many low-income and other women who wish to have their children born at home. In California, about 18 percent of out-of-hospital births were sent to hospitals for care, and about 8 percent resulted in C-section deliveries. But midwives point out that the average for women who go to a hospital for delivery and end up having a C-section is 33 percent.

The new law appears to be bringing midwives and doctors closer together while also providing a legal and safe alternative to low-income women for having their children born at home.

For for more information about the California Association of Midwives, visit:

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