Another Perspective. Support for the Midwife Bill.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Boston, MA, USA

Another Perspective, Support for the Midwifery Bill with Diana Snyder

[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]

Hey Tranquility Tribe! Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Tranquility Tribe podcast. Last week, Hehe talked to Joyce Hunt-Kimball about Bill H. 1189, more recently drafted as H. 4655, about why she opposes the bill and the impact that it could have on women’s health. Today, Hehe is speaking to Diana Snyder, who is a strong supporter of the proposed bill.

Who is Diana?

Diana Snyder is a healthcare attorney who graduated from BU school of law in 2011 with a focus on the intersection of healthcare and women’s rights. After she graduated, she moved to California, where she practiced for four years. During her time in CA, a friend who worked in a hospital asked her for legal advice on forced compliance issues that she had observed in her workplace, including forced cesareans and forced inductions. This conversation with her friend inspired Diana’s passion for advocating for women who had faced moral and ethical issues at the hands of their doctors, particularly their ob-gyns. Since then, she has spent a large amount of her time using her legal skills to assist women in lawsuits against doctors who had subjected them to non-compliant care.

Diana began thinking about starting a family, but she knew that she would not be comfortable in a hospital after she had learned about the experiences of her clients. She began to start exploring the idea of home births, and after doing some research she was surprised that more women didn’t consider home births as an option. She was especially impressed by the amount of information about and access to midwife care as well as the prevalence of birth centers in California. As Diana explains, this access was largely made possible by the regulations surrounding midwifery in California.

After relocating to Massachusetts on short-notice, Diana had to restart her home birth research, and she quickly realized that the home birth landscape in MA was drastically different than that in CA. She found very little transparency, no data, and zero independent birth centers, which in turn made it difficult for her to find a midwife and a prenatal provider who would coordinate with her midwife. Frustrated by this experience, Diana joined with midwives and other lawyers to support legislation surrounding midwifery practice in Massachusetts.

What changes would Bill H. 4655 make?

At present, certified nurse midwives (CNMs) who hold a bachelors in nursing and receive a graduate degree in midwifery are the only midwives licensed in Massachusetts. Because there are no other relevant statutory laws regarding midwifery in the state, basically anyone can set up shop and call themselves a home birth midwife. This means that for individuals who work as home birth midwives in MA, there are no minimum education requirements, no minimum credentials, and no transparency or accountability, making it more difficult for consumers to find information about their home birth options. Even practitioners who have had their license or credential revoked can still practice in Massachusetts, without being required to give any information about their background to consumers.

Bill H.4655 authorizes the formation of a board of midwifery to issue licenses, handle complaints, and promote self-regulation and transparency within the home birth profession. However, the bill does not only benefit consumers; it would also provide protection for midwives. Under the current system, if a certified professional midwife (someone who completed an apprenticeship with a midwife and then sat for the certification exam) became involved in a legal battle, their lack of licensing could work against them because they would be held to the standard of other practitioners, such as nurses and doctors, who are licensed. The creation of a midwife licensing board in MA would legitimize the important work that home birth midwives do.

In order to preserve the voice of midwives in Massachusetts, the proposed licensing board would be an independent board under the Board of Public Health, just like the Boards of Medicine and Nursing. It would consist of a majority of CPMs to make sure that midwives are not outnumbered by another group that may have different interests in mind. As is standard, the board would also have at least one doctor, which is especially important for discussing safe home birth transfers. In addition, the board would have a nurse midwife to and a consumer rep to provide other important viewpoints on the topics surrounding midwifery.

By ensuring that all midwives in Massachusetts are licensed, the proposed bill would also help protect moms and babies by making it easier and safer for midwives to collaborate with prenatal and emergency providers rather than feeling forced to do their work under the table. This increased communication between midwives and other practitioners will allow women to obtain supportive prenatal care and make emergency transfers less dangerous to perform for all parties involved.

In addition to improving safety, the new bill would also increase the transparency and accessibility of home births in MA. Mandated licensure puts in place an infrastructure that will help decrease the stigma surrounding home births and allow midwives to no longer be forced to practice underground. This enables more information about home birth to be collected and circulated, making it easier for people who are considering a home birth to do as much research as they need. Furthermore, while the bill does not mandate that care from a midwife be covered by insurance (which is typical for this kind of bill), the ACA has a clause that requires insurance companies to cover care from any licensed provider. When all midwives are licensed, public state insurance will have to begin covering midwife care, which in turn will put pressure on private insurance companies to do the same. This will allow more women to be able to access care from a midwife if they choose.

As Diana explains, the proposed bill does not contain a protection clause for midwives because it is not necessary. The bill contains no bans on home births at all and because the board is made up of a majority of CPMs, there is little risk of the freedoms and views of home birth midwives being restricted.

Why now?

While this bill has been around for three decades, it has had difficulty being passed previously because many were worried that it would limit the practice of midwifery. However, many changes have been made to the bill in the hopes of helping it pass. Most recently, similar bills in other states have been analyzed to assess their pros and cons, and bill H. 4655 has been adjusted accordingly to put an infrastructure in place while avoiding any restrictions that could take away a woman’s choice for a home birth. These changes include taking the regulatory body out from under the Board of Medicine and removing all references within the bill to “normal” or “low risk” pregnancy. And these changes were made just in time - with all of the current discussion around women’s rights and freedoms in healthcare and society as a whole, it is more important than ever to ensure that women have access to a safe and supportive birthing process in whatever setting they choose.

If you are interested in getting involved or contacting Diana, visit the Bay State Birth Coalition at If you would like to learn more about the bill, you can find it by searching for H. 4655 on the MA legislature website,

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Written by our Guest Blogger, Kyra Shreeve. She is a Biochemistry, Health Policy, and Music student at Brandeis University. 

"She's so lucky, She's a Starr."

Monday, September 3, 2018

"She's so lucky, She's a Starr." 

Where my Britney fans at?! Who remembers jamming to this Britney Spears hit with a hair brush microphone in the mirror! Whew, what would I give to be back in the 90's when everything seemed simpler, amiright?

I recently had the chance to join a private event hosted by Starr Yoga Founder and Owner, Julie Starr. She is a calming and warm energy. We first met over coffee and discussed our love for yoga pants and how the same things that annoy her also get on my last nerve! Julie and I clicked instantly. She was the realness I have been looking for since moving to Boston, but without the brutal honesty and harsh deliveries.

When I first got to the studio, I noticed right away the feel. The space was beautiful, clean, and grounding.  There's the possibility for lots of natural light and sunrise sessions immediately came to mind. The entrance made it feel welcoming while the music and smell made it feel relaxing and still, but not drowsy. Julie invited me to see her Barre studio downstairs which I fell in love with and then other bloggers began to come in so it was time to get started! 

I'm a Star... in my own way. 

I'm good at a lot of things.. making friends, being funny, eating, sleeping, writing, public speaking, supporting others, pep talks, being loud, organizing... honestly the list is endless. I'm good at a lot of stuff. 

Yoga... just ain't one of 'em. Yeah, the bend like a noodle, but keep your balance with that invisible string pulling your belly button to the top of the room jazz isn't the easiest for me. BUT. I. LOVE. IT.

...and I keep going back for more, and more, and more, and more. I go to classes all over the Boston area. Some teachers I love and some teachers totally make me wish class was 4 to 5 minutes not 45 minutes if you know what I mean..

I can't get enough yoga. I always feel amazing after. I have the most prolific thoughts while I'm practicing. Sometimes I feel like a goddess and sometimes I'm reminded to laugh at myself. I'm always amazed at other people's talent, too. You know those people who are literal yoga masters and they put their mat right next to yours.. anyway. Generally, I use this time as a reset to reflect on what's going on in my life or my head at that time. Or I will use that time to completely check out and not think about anything at all except the threading the needle with precision, being a happy baby, and finding my inner warrior through the burning thighs. 

"She's an influencer..."

This is a title that I am still coming to terms with and figuring out as I go.. The first time someone said this about me I laughed and genuinely thought they were playfully mocking me. That was about 7 months ago and since then I have been invited to events, gotten recognitions, and have been found all over the world by people using various avenues because of this "influencer personality" I undoubtedly have. Who knew? I don't call myself an influencer (it's just weird ok. I'm HeHe, just HeHe), but it always blows my mind how people "find me." It's one of the most common questions I ask people. 

This was the first event that I was asked to blog about and honestly..I was a little nervous. What was I going to write about? My experience? ..that seems boring. The studio and Julie as an instructor? ..that seemed dumb and daunting task like a required college essay. The importance of yoga during pregnancy and postpartum? ..meh, it's been done before (on this blog, no less) hundreds of times. 

I decided to go.. and trust that through the process, the topic would come to me. I try to live out the same advice that I give to my clients. What I ask of clients, I try to live as closely to that as well (all considering--I'm not a parent for our newcomers or first time readers!). I have to say, I am always pleasantly surprised when I trust the process. Things don't always come in forms that I think they might or even in ways that I prefer or specifically ask for, but they always come

I already knew the message when I got there. 

That's right, I already had learned the lesson before I even walked through the doors, but I had no clue. You see, I almost bailed. Yup, I almost message Julie to tell her that after the births and overnights, I was just too exhausted to go. Then, in true HeHe fashion, guilt set in immediately. A gut wrenching feeling of letting someone down after I had put my word on it. I was raised to believe that the only thing you actually have is your word. It determines your worth in a sense. 

If you tell someone you're going to do something or be somewhere, you better do it or be there. If you say something to me and then bail, I judge and I mean I judge hard.  Here's what it boils down to: time is precious and to waste someone's time is disrespectful and rude. I would much rather someone say they weren't sure about the commitment than to commit and bail. So that was it. I had committed, come hell or high water, I was going. My ass was getting on a yoga mat at 5pm that day. I may stay in child's pose (read: nap) the whole hour, but I. WAS. GOING. (eh um.. my dad would be so proud)

After everyone arrived we began and as we introduced ourselves, I quickly realized everyone in the room as much more of a Yogi than I was and I immediately felt inferior. Thoughts like "see, you should have just napped" and "...and to think I could be freaking sleeping" and "think anyone would notice if I just stood up and scooted my mat to the very back....?" began to flood my head. After intros, we began to chat and I realized that this wasn't about the yoga. It was about the connection. I met really cool bloggers with really cool stories and genuine connection happened! So, now, thoughts like "see, you shouldn't be so antisocial, you old hermit lady" and "a nap would have messed up my overnight sleep anyway and exercise is good." Then it hit me like a ton of bricks..we hadn't even started yoga and I had already learned the lesson. 

You will never know if you don't start.

"Starting" looks different for everyone. For me, it is always getting in the car and going. If I can just get myself somewhere, I will do it. Getting there is the hardest part for me! If I had never started I would have never met the other amazing bloggers. I would have never been reminded that I need to get to yoga more often.  I would not have had the chance to see Julie truly in her flow, leading a class of women she invited in as guests, and softly grounding each of us in preparation for the upcoming week. I wouldn't have gotten an incredible yoga session that gave me the perfect release of the week before and a gentle spring board for the week ahead.

About the Studio

First, THERE'S PARKING!! For peeps not in/from Boston, this is a big deal and actually a huge influence on whether or not I attend events so I was beyond thrilled to see there was plenty of street parking around the studio. When you first walk in, there is the quaintest little waiting area with cute apparel, a few essential oil products, a bench, and a playful photo wall! I was sold already if we're being honest. 

It's a soft and warm, but uplifting feeling with tones of cream and yellows. More benches, shoe racks and hangers for bags line the wall headed to the yoga and Starr Barre studio! The Barre studio is downstairs and I fully intend on taking a Barre class in the near future! The yoga studio is a beautiful room made for 6-8, maybe 10 people. The studio has the typical yoga equipment needed for classes and yoga mats for rent for $2 if you need. 

There's a bathroom, too, which is always a plus. Again, if you're not from Boston, you might not get it, but this is worth huge brownie points. 

You are not alone. 

Here's the bottom line: You have to say yes to small things (read: taking a lot of "mini" risks) like going to events, meeting people for coffee, and following through with commitments you agreed to to get things flowing. Think of it like this: objects that are in motion will stay in motion. Once you say yes, you get started. Once you get started, you open up the flood gates for opportunities, people, and events to flow into your life. If you continue to say yes, things will continue to flow your way. 

For all my non-woo-woo people out there, it's simple probability. The more you put yourself out there the more chances flow into your life. 

No matter where you in life right, no matter what's been on your'll never know if you don't take that original risk and say yes. 

No matter what you do, just say yes.

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