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Jul 31

Wednesday, July 19th

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 was a very hot day. 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. Then we all walked into the building, ready for the final push.

A little over two years ago, I had had an interaction with CDPHE in relation to our extremely outdated regulations that lead to me calling another CO birth center to vent.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 were invited to participate, and in the end, the Coalition was comprised of; Mountain Midwifery Center, Bloomin’ Babies, 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 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 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. Mountain Midwifery Center is diligently working behind the scenes to adapt to and create these new policies. Some big changes for us; we will start accepting clients for VBAC (details to be laid out and presented in the coming weeks), the restrictions on BMI will be dropped and the restriction on clients who have had more than 5 babies is lifted. Stay tuned for more details on these and other changes.

We 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. If you would like to read more about the process from the beginning, please check out this link, with an article that has links to all the posts related to the process.