LOUISVILLE, Ky.- Elizabeth Regan has been a certified professional midwife for years.
She sees women like Caroline Gann, who is currently eight and half months pregnant, on a regular basis.
She had no way to get an official license from the state of Kentucky. That was until a new law went into effect last month.
“There was an element of risk obviously that I took to serve my clients but my midwife took that risk for me ten years ago tomorrow. So it was really important as I started practicing for me to give my clients what they needed even though it was risk but almost try to create the standard that we were trying to achieve in Kentucky," Regan said.
Data shows that nearly 700 hundred babies are born at home each year. Certified Nurse Midwives are licensed by the state. Only a handful in Kentucky perform home births so the options are limited.
Mary Kathryn DeLodder serves as the President of the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition.
She says for many women finding a midwife can be like trying figure out a secret handshake.
“So there's always been home births in Kentucky and so there’s long history of that. There’s always been midwives and in the 1950's Kentucky had a law that said midwives needed to have a permit from the state and so those were issued through local health departments in the 50's until about 1975. In 1975 the administrative regulations were amended to say no new permits would be issued so we still had law that you needed a permit to practice but yet there was no way to get permit," DeLodder said.
DeLodder points out many Certified Professional Midwives continue practicing.
She has given birth to three of her four children at home using a midwife.
And getting legislation has been a labor of love for her and everyone involved who made the trip Frankfort.
“We started in about 2012 working as Kentucky Home Birth Coalition but there have been groups of people working on this really since the 80's in different iterations. So since this was kind of the latest attempt for families to change the law around licensing midwives in Kentucky and so it was really a grassroots effort of families coming together contacting legislatures and continuing to go back year after year," DeLodder said.
The effort paid off especially for folks like Elizabeth who now feel like they are part of the medical community.
"It's recognition as a provider in Kentucky, the main thing it will do is regulate, there will be a regulation process and it will also legitimize our profession and help us to integrate in the larger healthcare system to be able to walk into a hospital and be able to talk to the care providers on a different level, that's the hope anyway,” Regan said.
As for Caroline she's just waiting for the big day with a certified midwife by her side she fully trusts.
It's means I'm taking care of and my child is taken care of and that I'm being paid attention too," Gann said.
The law took effect on June 27 but will still take about a year to roll out.