Maria King, CNM Extraordinaire!
I am starting to interview midwives all over the country about their practices and tips they have for aspiring midwives. Maria King, CNM founder of The Natural Birth Place in San Bernardino, California is a perfect example of a fighter for normal birth options! She has been a Certified Nurse Midwife since 1995. She started out in United Kingdom, moved to Florida and then California where she was told midwives have more autonomy.
It was so lovely to talk with her and gather all the wisdom and inspiration I could from a driven woman! Maria has seen how much better maternity care can be from working with families in Europe. “Care in United States is complete opposite (of United Kingdom),” Maria explained. “It was a cultural shell shock from lies and disrespect women are given here.”
Maria started The Natural Birth Place four years ago to give families a normal birth experience outside of the hospital setting. “I didn’t like driving in a car, so the birth center model of care made more sense to me.” She has worked for seventeen years to get hospital privileges and access to continued care for transfers. “I am stubborn and don’t take no for an answer.” If we only had more determined and driven midwives like Maria, the United States medical driven health care system would have a run for its money to keep maternity care dominance from midwives!
It’s truly amazing how hard Maria works to serve the families in her community. She has multiple jobs so that she doesn’t have to take an income from her practice. She struggles like many other practices do with insurance reimbursement, insurance credentialing processes, and getting overhead budgets to make sense. She is so positive and looks at these things as barriers to overcome like everything else she has been doing.
Maria offers full scope midwifery (she offers newborn care and breastfeeding support) to the families she serves. Her group partners are midwifery students that “hung around” after training. She is currently working on the CABC accreditation process and getting more access for insurance payments. Most of our discussion focused on the challenges that midwives have with getting paid our worth! “An insurance plan will easily pay $50,000 for hospital birth, but not $4,000 for birth center delivery.” Many of her clients do prenatal care at the birth center and transfer to a hospital practice for birth due to insurance reimbursement barriers.
I wish we had more Maria’s starting private practices and resisting the temptation of the “easy way” of working for someone else and truly living your life’s passion. Maria ended our call with some great tips to other midwives. “Advice I can give new midwives considering to start a birth center are: have a side income while you are starting your practice in the beginning, get insurance contracts going before starting care, set up business entity and legal documents before seeing clients, and offer diverse services like breastfeeding support and gynecological care.”
Other tips that Maria shared were fostering regular communication among the staff, ensuring business partners have regular meetings about finances, business decisions, and strategic planning, and creating a salary model for the midwives (plus providing a bonus system at the end of the year to split the remaining profits.)
Maria King, CNM founder of The Natural Birth Place is a shining example of midwives all over the country creating options for families that are more of a challenge to get started, but so worth it in the end. As midwives, we are here to serve families and should inspire each other to push for better options. At Midwifery Business Consultation, we can help you with tools, templates, resources, and guidance in getting your midwifery business foundation set up correctly. Midwifery private practices are possible with support, determination, and passion for normal birth options!