Below is the letter from Geradine Simkins, president of MANA.
I’d like to address some of the comments about the upcoming Homebirth Summit. First of all, this is an idea that has been brewing for at least two years, some might say for two decades. No one really “owns” the idea of putting together a gathering of multiple stakeholders to have a frank and productive conversation about how to best support and care for women who chose homebirth. But after lots of conversation—the decisive one being at the ACNM Homebirth Section meeting two years ago—we decided to pursue this “project” in earnest.
Many of you may be familiar with the type of process we chose. It is not unlike what Childbirth Connection chose to use when they initiated the process for creating their seminal work, “Transforming Maternity Care: A Blueprint for Action”. They convened a Vision Team of experts in the fields of maternity care and health systems, worked in specific stakeholder groups, and developed concrete solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the U.S. maternity care system. The result is a group of actionable strategies to improve maternity care quality and value.
It was not a conference; it was an invited work team. The Homebirth Summit will also not be a conference. Here are some details about the process and the participants:
- In order to get representatives to the table who are in any way involved with homebirth, 72-80 delegates have been identified to be evenly balanced across 9 stakeholder groups (listed below).
- The invitation selection process has been an iterative process with many rounds of vetting, internally and externally.
- Short lists were created by subcommittees chaired by those who knew those stakeholders.
- Each subcommittee of the MULTIDISCIPLINARY planning group went through a detailed vetting and weighing process and considered the balance of perspectives, ethnicities, gender, age, geography, and other factors.
- After serious consideration, we hired consultants from Future Search because of their success with consensus building among groups with very disparate (and often conflicting) ideas, values and principles.
- We are using Future Search Methodology, which prioritizes including participants who had authority, information, expertise, need, and resources.
- We also prioritized those who were likely to respect the process by fully engaging in the Future Search methodology and open-minded dialogue.
- The stakeholders are NOT ANY ORGANIZATION but rather are individuals who are defined as belonging in these nine stakeholder groups:
- Consumers (from a variety of perspectives)
- Consumer advocates (doulas, childbirth educators, childbirth and women’s healthcare activist)
- Home Birth midwives (CPM, CNM, LM, Amish, traditional, whatever)
- Obstetricians and OB family practice
- Collaborating MCH providers (nursing: L&D, neonatal, pediatrics; CNMs who provide backup)
- Health insurers and liability insurers
- Health policy, legislators, legal, ethics
- Research and education: Public Health, epidemiology
- Health models, systems, administrators
In this way, the WHOLE SYSTEM is at the table. Otherwise, we will not be able to seriously come to consensus.
The point is not to debate the “right or wrongness” of homebirth, or even the safety. The goal is to establish what the whole system can do to support those who choose homebirth, and provide the care, safety net, consultation, collaboration and referral necessary to make homebirth the safest and most positive experience for all involved—moms, babies, families, communities, health care workers, hospital personnel, administrators, payors, and so on.
We have been meticulous and intentional about our process. Nonetheless, not everyone will agree with our process. With only 72-81 spots to make this a functional process, not everyone will be happy with those that are selected, and specifically, if they were not selected.
I would ask you to consider that we are working very hard and with the firm intention of making the process, the event and the outcome as optimal for mothers and infants as possible, and for the benefit of midwives serving homebirth clients.
Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN
President & Interim Executive Director
Midwives Alliance of North America
275 Cemetery Rd.
Maple City, MI 49664