Wednesday July 19th, 2017 was a very hot day, the last day in Birth Center Regulations process. You might call it the Final Chapter. The sun was out in full force and barely a cloud was in the sky. We gathered out in front of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) building prior to the start of the hearing. The final Hearing in the long process we had embarked upon to have our state Birth Center Regulations updated and renewed. The group of us, stood outside, shared hugs and wishes of support. Some of us made a circle of love, warmed by that bright sun, and had a collective breath. Then we all walked into the building, ready for the final push.
If this is the first post you are reading about this topic, I highly suggest reading Now We Wait for more information and to find links to the entire series from the very beginning.
A little over two years ago, I had had an interaction with CDPHE in relation to our extremely outdated regulations that lead to me calling another CO birth center to vent. This phone call lead to the creation of the Colorado Birth Center Coalition (CBCC). All the free-standing birth centers in our state were invited to participate, and in the end the Coalition was comprised of; Mountain Midwifery Center , Bloomin Babies Birth Center , the Birth Center of Boulder and the Denver Center for Birth and Wellness. The CBCC then elected to hire the grassroots community organizing group, Elephant Circle and their attorney, Indra Lusero to help us in the work. The story that unfolded, is long and circuitous, it required a lot of determination and fortitude. But through the commitment of a small group of dedicated and passionate folks, we were eventually here on July 19th outside the CDPHE building in the full sun and heat of summer to support the final vote on all of our work!
The hearing room was full, to standing room only, and many of the CDPHE employees commented on the fact that they normally do not have that much public presence. We were not surprised, we knew that the birth community is strong, vibrant and active. The process of the actual hearing was a typical bureaucratic, dry affair. We had been assured that the vote was simply a formality and not to worry about any problems with its passage. However, we were also aware that Women’s Health issues can often be derailed at the last minute, so we were still on guard and prepared to fight back if necessary. I am happy to share that our weapons were not needed; the metaphorical swords and shields, the extra data, research and numbers remained tucked away. The process moved smoothly and approximately 45 minutes after the Hearing started it was all over and the new Regulations were passed without any hiccups. The gathered crowd erupted in applause, I cried and the CDPHE employees remarked that they have never received applause before! The hot sun, shone down upon us, shedding light on the victory that we had fought so hard for.
The next step, is a paperwork process for the Regulations to officially be presented and signed by state government officials. We have been told that this process takes between 45-90 days. Then, all the changes can be officially implemented. So, what happens next? Each CO birth center will need to make some changes to their policies and procedures. Some changes are mandatory and others will be up to the discretion of each center. Some highlights are the possibility to offer VBAC services, the removal of a BMI restriction and the removal of a restriction on “grand multiparous women” aka folks who have had more than 5 babies. Additionally, birth center midwives can practice independently and to the full extent of our Scope of Practice as arbitrary time limits and measurements have been removed so we can use our clinical judgement based on the individual client and situation.
I would like to thank everyone involved in this process; all the members of the CBCC, Elephant Circle and our birth consumers who showed up in person and sent in their opinions and stories to CDPHE via mail and email. We would also like to thank CDPHE for their open, transparent and fair process that lead to the new regulations.
To view a copy of the new regulations, click here and scroll down to page 84.