Indiana has so far certified a dozen direct entry midwives who can assist in home births thanks to a new state law.
Indiana's new direct entry midwife certification is aimed more at home births and making it legal for some who were already working as midwives. Previously, only a registered nurse could practice midwifery, though most of Indiana's 187 nurse midwives work out of a hospital, the Journal Gazette reported .
"I think the certification will help," said Adams County Prosecutor Jeremy Brown. "Lots of people in our community want to be a midwife and I hope this can provide them that career. There obviously is a huge need."
Brown began looking at the issue after law enforcement expressed concern about injuries and deaths occurring at home births with unlicensed midwives. He charged two elderly Amish women in May for their role in several home births, saying the women deliver more children in the county than medical staff but in a way that violated the law.
"Enough is enough," he said. "We need to be safe."
Certified direct entry midwives must be at least 21 and meet certain educational requirements. Midwives must also complete adult and neonatal resuscitation, comply with requirements of the Certified Professional Midwife credentialing process and maintain sufficient liability insurance.
Dr. Christopher Stroud of Fort Wayne said the biggest hurdle has been that the new midwives must have a collaborating agreement with a doctor.
It can be difficult to get doctors employed by large hospital networks to sign on, so most of collaborating physicians are independent doctors, said Michelle Sanders, president of the Indiana Midwives Association.
Medical and legal professionals hope the new certification gives Indiana's expectant mothers another safe, legal option other than a hospital setting.
"Home birth will always exist but probably won't ever be a huge number," Stroud said.