Angelica Pinkevich watches as her midwife “Anne” checks her baby’s heartbeat during a prenatal visit.

Safe at Home Part 3: On the Border

By Christine Herman/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — “Anne” and “Kate” are licensed home birth providers in Wisconsin but considered criminals in Illinois. They say home birth would be safer in Illinois if the government licensed certified professional midwives like them by helping people distinguish between trained and untrained midwives and reducing the number of unassisted home births. But opponents, who believe hospitals are the safest place for birth, say they will continue to oppose legislation for licensing them. This story was part of Christine Herman’s journalism master’s project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2014. 

Visit http://homebirthillinois.com to see more of Herman’s project. 

Listen to the third in a 3 part series

More women are choosing home birth, but in states where home birth midwives operate illegally, some women opt for an unassisted birth at home.

Safe at Home Part 2: Going it Alone

By Christine Herman/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — When Cheryl Gioja went into labor, her husband Joshua got down on his knees to “catch the baby” in the living room of their Illinois home. What he did was not a crime. But if a midwife had been there, she would have been breaking the law. Roughly 800 babies in Illinois are born at home each year. Without access to licensed providers, families resort to hiring “underground” midwives, who may or may not have adequate training.

Emily Fetterer and Kimberlie Kranich hold their new daughter, Azmi Ann.

Safe at Home Part 1: Illinois’s home birth crisis

By Christine Herman/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — Home births have increased by more than 50 percent since 2004. But in 22 states, certified professional midwives have to work outside the law to assist women in home birth. Although doctors and nurse midwives can assist home births, very few of them actually do, leaving many women without a single legal home-birth provider. Experts discuss what some activists call a home birth crisis in one such state, Illinois. This story was originally broadcast on Radio Health Journal and was part of Christine Herman’s journalism master’s project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2014. Visit http://homebirthillinois.com to see more of Herman’s project. 

Listen to the first in a 3 part series
//

Beth McKinney, 26, of Champaign breastfeeds her son, Charlie.

Breast milk drop off site to open in Champaign

By Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media — Many lactation experts say newborns can get their nutrition needs met through formula, but that breast milk is preferred because of the additional health benefits. When mothers can’t produce enough breast milk for their baby or can’t use their breast milk due to medical reasons, donated milk is available — but not enough of it, due to a nationwide shortage of pasteurized breast milk. To combat the shortage, breast milk banks across the country are trying to open more drop off sites to collect donated breast milk, including a site opening soon in Champaign. Beth McKinney has been operating a breast milk bank of sorts in her own freezer. It has only been a few months since McKinney, 26, of Champaign gave birth to her son, Charlie, and she says she produces just enough milk for her son when she’s breastfeeding.

A hospital hallway

Unmet Needs: Living with mental illness in central Illinois

Illinois Public Media’s “Unmet Needs: Living with mental illness in central Illinois” explores the causes of the gaps in care and looks at some of the ways health care providers and advocates are working to improve access. The series also explores the day-to-day challenges of living with mental illness, and what can happen if the mentally ill don’t get the help they need. According to federal labor statistics, there are more psychiatrists working in Illinois than most states, with the bulk of that service concentrated in the Chicagoland area. Mental health providers still say there are major gaps in service across Illinois, especially downstate. Those living with mental illness, or caring for family members who are, often wait six months or longer to get a first time appointment with a doctor, a waiting period that many say is unmanageable.