Unlike nurses and doctors, there’s no easy way for the public to track non-nurse midwives who have practiced in multiple states. Our goal was to create an accessible resource for families to research and background their providers.
To do this, we filed more than 150 public records requests for data on midwives and freestanding birth centers along with any complaint, investigation or disciplinary records in every state during the last 10 years.
Because nurse midwives also provide out-of-hospital deliveries, we decided to include these providers in our database, too.
In the end, we received more than 24,000 records on midwives and 333 records on active freestanding birth centers.
Some state agencies gave us complete records for all midwives and birth centers, including those who were inactive prior to our 10-year window. Other states directed us to their websites, which we scraped for records ourselves.
In states that don’t regulate non-nurse midwives or license birth centers, we relied on midwife associations and internet searches for information to build our database.
We used R to clean and combine the lists we obtained, and we attached any documents — inspection reports, complaints, disciplinary actions — we could find to each individual midwife or birth center in our database.
While this database is thorough, it is not without limitations. Unsurprisingly, the type of data and documents we gathered vary from state to state.
Complaint documents and investigation files are exempt from public record in many states. In others, the retention schedule for documents can be as short as one year. In South Carolina, the names of birth centers are exempt from all documents, making it impossible for the public to know which birth centers have had deficiencies or faced discipline. In New Mexico, the same applies to midwives.
Two states – Hawaii and New York – don’t distinguish between nurses and those with a nurse midwife certification, so there are no records for certified nurse midwives in those states.
Virginia gave us only records for midwives who got licensed within the last decade. Currently practicing midwives who got licensed prior to 2008 were omitted, making lists of midwives in those states incomplete. We requested the additional records from both states and are still waiting for the as of the publication of this database.
In Arkansas and California, we obtained some disciplinary documents for certified nurse midwives and non-nurse midwives that have been disciplined in the last 10 years, but not all.
Kansas has yet to provide us with a list of midwives or documents relating to complaints, investigations or discipline.
As more of our records requests are granted, we will continue to update this database. But new providers that become licensed and new disciplinary cases will not be added.
You can also download and explore our database here.
If you find something missing or something that is incorrect, let us know.