The governor said the new legislation legally recognizes the work midwives perform while setting standards for education and training for those who seek to be licensed as certified professional midwives.
"It’s a victory decades in the making and one that recognizes the full worth and value of midwives in reproductive care," Pritzker said. "Most importantly, it ensures safe home births for every mother who chooses to deliver out-of-hospital – another step toward advancing health equity in communities across our state."
Currently, only midwives with nursing degrees can practice in Illinois.
The legislation states that a person must be certified by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and requires completion of an accredited postsecondary midwifery education program in order to be licensed to perform out-of-hospital births.
Those who have been accredited by NARM but have not completed the necessary education program can still be licensed if they have practiced as a certified professional midwife for more than three years and hold other certifications.
It will not allow midwives to be covered by Medicare for a while.
The bill goes into effect Oct. 1, 2022.
Experts say more women are asking for home births, especially during the pandemic.
"A lot of them are fearing going into the hospital," said Dr. Lakieta Edwards, CNM, Chicago Nurse Midwife, LLC.
Doctor Lakieta Edwards in a certified nurse midwife who applauds the new law Governor Pritzker signed. It will license and certify midwives in Illinois.
"Most importantly it ensures safe home births for every mother who chooses to deliver out of hospital, another step toward advancing health equity in communities across our state," said Governor Pritzker.
Right now, it is illegal for a midwife to assist in a home birth, unless they're a registered nurse like Edwards. But she says many do it anyway.
Issues can arise if there is a problem and the mom needs to transfered to a hospital.
"Sometimes they would accompany the patient and say that they were their doula or they would say they were a family member out of fear for just believing that the hospital staff is going to turn them in for practicing medicine without a license," explained Edwards.
The law signed at the Thompson Center lays out qualifications and education requirements for certified midwives. It's taken a while to get here, with lawmakers pushing it for decades.
"This is a good first step and I'm looking forward to making health care better for all the women, but specifically African-American women because we are dying at a higher rate," said Rep. Mary Flowers, (D) 31st District.
Now, backers of the law say those who choose home births can have one safely.