Forget the scorching temperatures; the picketers outside the New Hanover Regional Medical Center were heated up about no longer having midwives at their service.
“We should have the right to choose whether we have a doctor or a midwife,” said Cheryl Newman.
Leila Garriss added, “In order to make a choice you have to have the option.”
Last week, Carolina OB/GYN announced it was discontinuing the service of its two certified nurse midwives; two of only three in Wilmington. They said it is because of what they call “operational requirements.”
“I just had him two months ago with the midwives there and I chose them because of that and honestly, I wouldn’t be the same person right now,” said Gaby Merediz. “I wouldn’t have had the same birth that I wanted if it wasn’t for the midwife program.”
The picketers not only hope to raise awareness about the lack of midwives in the area, but they also hope to start an open dialogue with New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Hospital policy requires an obstetrician to be on hospital grounds when a midwife is delivering a baby. “This basically puts an undue burden on the doctors that hire the midwives,” said protest organizer Sylvia Santaballa.
Some picketers said that policy limits midwives’ ability to practice, and possibly deters practices from hiring them. For the women who are due any day now, they’re just hoping the one midwife who is being phased out of Carolina OB/GYN will be available.
“It’s sad to not have the comfort of the midwife, which was what my whole goal was with this pregnancy; to have less intervention and more reliance on myself and my midwife,” said Sara Herbert.
Midwives deliver about four percent of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s 4,000 births each year. While that may not sound like a lot, it means everything to the people who choose to use them.