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The scoop on midwifery in Hawaii

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Aloha island mamas! (or those who hope to soon be :)  I am a midwife in Hawaii. as well as the mama of my 5 and 3 year old.  I was surfing the internet last night, googled hawaii midwife and came across this forum.  After reading quite a few posts I see that many of you have discovered that there isn't much information out there about midwifery in Hawaii.  I had the same experience when I was looking to move here from Idaho.   I couldn't find anything about midwifery in Hawaii!  Anything I did find was completely outdated.  Now that I live here I know why.... no one is on the computer much, the weather is too beautiful! 


Anyway, I did end up moving here and currently have a home birth midwifery practice on the Big Island in North Kohala (islandmamasmidwifery.com).  I also created a website for the Midwives Alliance of Hawaii (www.midwiveshawaii.com), and wanted to open this thread so that I can answer any questions you might have about birth in Hawaii.


-Dani Kennedy, CPM, LM

MAH Secretary

post #2 of 28

Thank you!

post #3 of 28

Thanks!  I'm currently studying midwifery, not for a career in midwifery, just so there is one more midwife for the low-income mamas in the Hilo/Pahoa area. A lot of  moms down here are put in a position of either go to Hilo Med or have an unassisted birth when they don't want one because they aren't able to pay midwife fees. There's Waimea, but it's a 3 hour drive. My last labor was 2 hours and I ended up going unassisted, even though I wanted a midwife.


Thanks for the resources!

post #4 of 28

Hi there!

Thank you so much for starting this thread! I am a CPM licensed in the state of Texas and my husband and I have been planning to move to Hawaii to years. I got quite discouraged though when I started reading online about the state of midwifery in Hawaii. Could you shed light on a few details for me?


1. Midwifery there is "a-legal" correct? What does that mean for you as far as obtaining and administering meds like Pitocin, Methergine, Oxygen, Erythromycin or Vitamin K?


2. On that same note, what is it like when you have to transport a client to the hospital? Are you met with hostility or welcome or somewhere in between?


3. Is it very difficult to make a living as a midwife in Hawaii? Is there an average cost for a home birth there?


4. What is the community of midwives like there? Are they a close and supportive community? Would I be welcomed as a new midwife to the community?


Thank you so much for answering these questions! I have been looking for these answers for years!






post #5 of 28

I'm not yet a midwife, but have friends that are and one friend that is a doula.


1. Yes, midwifery here is pretty much a-legal. I heard that only CNMs can practice legally. There are practicing midwives up at the hospital in Waimea. My midwife is a CPM and I'm not sure how she gets it, but she does carry some medicines. She administered anesthetics when suturing my tear at my first birth.


2. If you transfer to Hilo medical, yes, they are pretty hostile. They are quite against home birth and midwives at Hilo Medical Center. For non-emergency, most midwives transfer to Waimea, I think. It's a long drive, but the staff are more pro-midwife there.


3. Sorry, I have no idea. I do know a lot of mothers can't pay and some midwives end up taking things in trade like chickens, etc.


4. I am unsure of how the midwives are with each other, but I have heard that it's pretty catty here. A friend of mine became a practicing midwife, but quit after just one birth because she couldn't take the stress of working with the other midwives in the community. Apparently it's not that welcoming, but I only know her perspective.

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Aloha Summerdarling,


I would love to talk to you more about what it is like for CPMs here in Hawaii.  I love practicing midwifery here, and have felt very welcomed since opening my home birth practice a year ago.  I am able to make a decent living (though I work hard for it!) and feel like we are at a turning point for midwifery on the islands.  I will be ready for a midwifery partner soon, as my practice is growing quickly.  I work with another wonderful midwife who lives an hour away, but would ideally like to have a partner right in my town.  I have had great transport experiences with the hospital close to me, North Hawaii Community Hospital, and yes they are very pro-midwife.  I have not heard the same thing about Hilo or Kona, but that might be changing too!  More and more women here are saying that they want midwives, and it's a small enough place that their voices are being heard.  We need more midwives here!

post #7 of 28
Hi islandmidwife,
Thanks for the reply--I've found it has been nearly impossible for me to find someone to talk with about their experiences as a midwife in Hawaii and I appreciate you being a resource to me! My husband and I feel deeply called to the islands and plan to make the move as soon as possible; hopefully within the next year. We are undecided yet as to which island best suits our needs. Where do you practice? Do you find much difference in the climate for midwifery between the islands? We will be visiting the islands in August and then possibly again in October for the conference with Michael Odent (do you think that conference will be worth attending? Sounds pretty great to me!). Perhaps we could meet up sometime when I am there and talk in greater detail about a midwife's life in Hawaii. smile.gif

post #8 of 28


This is really interesting to read, I am a student midwife in UK and also feel drawn to midwifery in Hawaii after qualification - but fear my degree in Midwifery isnt recognised in Hawaii, the same way it isn't in USA.  Very frustrating! I am searching and searching for information on how or if I can study further to be able to move.

Oh and Michel Odent spoke at our University in February - excellent!

Many thanks!

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Aloha Summerdarling,


I look forward to possibly meeting you in the future.  I am planning on attending the Odent conference in October.  I live on the Big Island, specifically in North Kohala.  It's about 30 minutes from Waimea, which has the best hospital on the island.  I live in a pretty rural community, Hawi is a really special place.  I love it here and really love having a home birth practice!  As far as the climate of midwifery on different islands, I keep up with midwives on the other islands and it seems that we are all in the same boat... working hard for our money, but rewarded and cared for by our communities.  If you would like to talk about specific locations or islands I will get you connected with midwives and let you know more details.  Big Island is great, we could really use more midwives in Hilo and South Point.  I would love to have a partner in my area.  Also Maui and Oahu could use more CPMs too....

post #10 of 28

If your frustrated with the lack of Midwives and Evidensed Based Maternity Care in Hawaii's Hospitals, please sign this stae wide petition asking for change!!

Please let your friends know!  thank you!



post #11 of 28

Hello Islandmidwife,


I was born and raised on the BIg Island, but about 5 years ago my husband and I moved to the mainland, where we've completed school. Next year we are moving back to the Big Island where all our family is. I just became a CPM this past year. I only know one midwife on the Big Island well, and she is knew there as well, and I haven't talked to any other midwives there in quite a few years. Now that I am actually a practicing midwife, I have similar questions to what was already asked. Mostly about transfers, medications, etc. Here where I am currently practice, CPM's are legal, so transferring back to Hawaii is going to be different for me, and I am hoping to find some answers before I move. Is there a way I can contact you separately to ask these questions? Also I am trying to find any laws regarding home birth there. I had always heard it was "a-legal", but someone just told me that she had read that you must be a CNM, MD, or ND to attend a home birth there, so by default a CPM attending one would be considered illegal. I'm confused, and trying to figure it all out.


Thank you for your help!

post #12 of 28

I also have a question. If I was a License Midwife from another state, can I legally (or shall I say not illegally) attend a homebirth there?

Would I be governed by the rules of hawaii or those of the state I was licensed in?


I'm an apprentice right now, but the group of CDM's I work with would like to open a Birth Center in Hawaii (they already have 2 here in Alaska).

post #13 of 28

Are you a CNM or CPM? As I understand it, only CNMs work under the law here. A CPM would be working outside of the law and not governed by any midwifery rules, like a lay midwife. A-legal. You can get in trouble for doing it, but my midwife says that no one has. You'd have to make a huge mistake and be litigated either by the client or by the state and I haven't heard of that happening on our island, but I have only lived here for 7 years.

post #14 of 28

Aloha,  I just sent an email to Island Mamas and found your site.  I am very interested in the midwifery program also.  Although I noticed that the web site was dated 2012.  So I will email them too.  I really look forward to helping in any way that I can be of service and I am also looking forward to meeting like minded women.  It has been a very difficult up hill battle here on the island of Guam but I still have had my share of wonderful births.  The Obs. are a bit more into all the medical side and one has the highest ceaseran birth rate which most are totally unnecessary as well you know.


Well, I hope to meet everyone by the end of June.  I am so excited to be finally coming home!!!



Roni Kalani Kahu Sellmann

post #15 of 28

Aloha!   I worked for years in Honolulu for the Dept. of Public Health, Family Services, Perinatal Care and as long as we did not hear any complaints we encouraged midwifery.  Ob's did not want to practice on the 'country' islands!   So I am coming home finally after being away far too long traveling, teaching, birthing, researching, etc and I arrive June 13th in Honolulu and will come to Kona on the 17th as I want to see some long time great friends!   Except I just heard on Kapa Radio as I listen every day that in Kona there's a festival what day is it?  I missed it on the radio!


So I just thought I'd give you the scoop regarding midwifery on the outer islands.  But there is home birth going on in Ohau too!


I hope to meet you soon.  Have a wonderful day and weekend coming up.


Aloha,  Roni Kalani Kahu Sellmann


my email is   iamturiya3@gmail.com

post #16 of 28

wow, great!  I'd love to be involved!  I understand that the North Community Hospital is having a meeting on the 16th to discuss how to handle all the births since they were only planning to handle about 600 a year!  I heard that they are thinking of limiting to the women in the area only.  So it sounds like it's time to grow.  I know Martha Landt is also serious about bringing up a birthing center.   I have great grant writing skills and the MCH level has been looking for places to fund.


I arrive from Guam on the 13th of June and hope to connect with long time friends for the weekend and then fly over on the 17th.  I have a lead on a place to stay, it's small but sounds wonderfully cozy and it's a 5 minute walk to town!  Perfect for me.  I just hope she will rent it to me.  I'm trying to convince her over the internet.  I think I will have the new Mother #2 who works for  the Attorney General's office to email her to give her a reference.


I do believe you will have to license in Hawaii but I think that Dana who is the President of the Alliance will be the one to give you that information.


Ok, I am really excited and I look forward to meeting you.  In the mean time my email is   iamturiya3@gmail.com


Mahalo for listening!


Sincerely,  Roni Kalani Kahu Sellmann

post #17 of 28

I will be moving to Pahoa In less than 1 week. I am almost 2 months pregnant. I have not been to doctors and am planning on not seeing any. I want a home birth with a beautiful midwife to help assist if need be. Mainly I wish to birth unassisted. Do you know any midwives in that area that could help me out? Im on a low budget.. and so far I've found midwives for $3,000!! which is way out of my price range. 
Blessings <3 

post #18 of 28

Aloha! I am in Pahoa. $3000 is the cheapest you will find a midwife for for pay, but there is one midwife, Roxanne Estes, who takes insurance and I believe she also takes Quest which you should qualify for if you are pregnant and low-income. She runs a birth home (not a real birth center because it is too far from the hospital to legally qualify for the title) in Pahoa called Luana Gardens and you can give birth there or she will come to your home. She is a very kind woman and I like her personality though I have never used her services and do not know what kind of midwife she is. She is well-liked in the community. Here is her website: https://sites.google.com/site/easthawaiimidwifeservice/welcome


If she can't help you, let me know. 

post #19 of 28

And I also had both of my children unassisted here so if you're interested in unassisted birth, I'd be happy to meet you and talk and answer any questions or help in any way! :)

post #20 of 28

Wow, thank you so much~ <3 ~
It would be wonderful to connect with you once I get into town and settled in a bit. I would love to hear your birth stories. Thank you again mama !

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