Work for children should begin before they are born…These are the formative years, whether for their bodies, their minds or their loving hearts.” – Mary Breckinridge

Here at Deanna D Midwifery of the Tri-Cities, one of our favorite historical figures has to be Mary Carson Breckinridge. Born in 1881 in Memphis, TN, was the founder of the Frontier Nursing Service and is credited with being instrumental in the saving of the practice of midwifery in the United States of America.

In previous posts, we’ve taken the time to outline Mary’s early days as they related to her understanding of midwifery. To briefly summarize, Mary Breckinridge found a glaring need for underprivileged and rural populations in America, with specific regards to birthing care. She noted the dearth of legitimate care options available to such demographics. She studied in England to become a midwife, since no midwifery courses were available in America. Upon her return to the United States in 1925, she founded the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies which quickly turned the more commonly known Frontier Nursing Service.

The Frontier Nursing Service

The Frontier Nursing Service was funded almost entirely by Mary for the first several years of its existence. The nuts and bolts of the service included having a centralized hospital with one physician along with a host of nursing outposts that would be more accessible to folks living in the country. But because there weren’t many decent roads within the areas in question, the service features mobile horses who could travel as needed by horseback. Fast-forward five years after the founding of the Frontier Nursing Service, and FNS had reached some 1,000 rural families with midwife services. This all happened within a region that surpassed 700 square miles! No matter the weather, the nurses would travel any time of day or night to deliver babies. In 1998, Mary was posthumously recognized by the United States Postal Service with a Great Americans series postage stamp, but, as can easily be inferred, her impact on the American practice of midwifery is no small thing.

Modern Midwifery

Fast-forward several decades and you’ll find a new territory — the exciting world of licensure. Sure, for folks more concerned with services than licensure, talking about certifications, degrees, and such isn’t very engaging, so we’ll keep this portion of the post brief. Suffice it to say that Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) must validate their midwifery education in present-day America. This is accomplished in one of several ways.

  • Graduation from a midwifery education program that has been certified and accredited by Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC)
  • NARMs Portfolio Evaluation Process pathway
  • Midwifery international education
  • Midwifery licensure of a state approved by NARM
  • AMCB-certification CNM or CM
  • The NARM Written Examination

Although CPMs cannot prescribe medication, readers might find it noteworthy that only twenty-eight states accept or even license CPMs to practice. We are grateful, here at Deanna D Midwifery, that we have made our home in the wonderful state of Washington, as we are able to provide our certified midwife services in the Tri-Cities without the meddling of folks who clearly do not understand the rich tradition and value of our medium.

How We Fit In

We are a Tri-Cities midwifery that provides prenatal care as a part of our comprehensive healthcare for women. Deanna D. herself is a WHNP and a certified midwife with a wealth of experience, so her clients are assured of receiving top-line care. Our aim is to provide women of Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco with personalized care at our local prenatal care clinic, emphasizing the personal choice of our clients. We do our best to equip our clients with the tools they need to have a positive birthing experience.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on the history of midwifery, and feel free to reach out to us soon if you are in need of midwife care in the Tri-Cities.