By Sabine Kortals Stein
Committed to achieving equity and social justice in Boulder County, SVP Boulder County advocates for other local nonprofits that are equally committed to these values. This month, we’re thrilled to feature the Community Roots Midwife Collective (CRMC), providing affordable access to homebirth and reproductive healthcare, countywide.
“In everything we do, our competent midwifery collective comes from a heart- and client-centered approach,” says Rachel Engel, CRMC Founder. “In collaboration with other care providers, our collective fosters a supportive and respectful community, which effectively decreases current birth and healthcare disparities.”
Indeed, the CRMC further holds dear the values of integrity, human rights, reproductive justice, and physiologic birth.
“One other reason why midwifery care is important is our low cesarean birth rate,” explains Rachel. “Our C-section rate is about 10%, compared to the national rate of 32%.”
Yet only about 3% of Boulder County families access out-of-hospital births. “The number one reason why is finances,” says Rachel. “While an at-home birth costs about $4,500 – compared to $15-30K for hospital births, depending on whether there are complications – we get only limited insurance reimbursements, and we’re not able to use Medicaid.
“So we came up with the idea to make our care more affordable for the 40-some families we serve every year, and to ensure sustainability for midwives themselves. We became a nonprofit a couple years ago and established a sliding scale, which is accessed by about 40% of our clients. And we secured funding that allows us to provide our prenatal, birth, and postpartum services for as low as $500.”
Rachel estimates that – since becoming a nonprofit – the CRMC has provided more than $100K in services. “We’ve removed barriers for a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford home birth and midwifery care,” Rachel continues. “That matters, because home births have been proven to reduce unnecessary interventions, reduce the risks of infections, and avoid of the trauma of being in a hospital environment – especially now, but even before COVID-19.
“Stress of any kind is always a risk factor in pre-term births, which midwives help to alleviate. We’re a safe haven for people.”
Adds Rachel, “We get to know our clients really well, we listen to their wishes, we share in their decision-making, and we leave the final say in parents’ hands.”
Rachel notes that Black women are four times more likely die in childbirth than white women; and that Black babies are three time more likely to die than white babies. “It’s directly related to racism,” she says. “We’re here to help overcome the biases that lead to these health disparities. We want to close the gaps, also by supporting other midwiferies that are creating training opportunities for midwives of color, and midwives representing the spectrum of demographic groups.
“When people have providers they can relate to, it results in better care, a better overall experience, and better community health outcomes.”