200 expectant mothers left scrambling after Ascension Providence Hospital eliminates midwives

Leah Hettinga and her husband Drew are getting ready for baby Jack, working with their doulas for a natural birth.

Skilled midwives at Ascension Providence Southfield's Alternative Birthing Center have been guiding them through this process.

"We wanted to be able to have that experience of the midwives there, to support my husband, to support me, and to have them with us the whole time because I've spent this entire time getting to know each of the midwives," Leah said.

They helped ease the mind of the expectant parents.

"The midwives there have been incredible -they put our mind at ease a lot. Every visit we've had, they're professionals, they're really good at what they do," Drew said.

But at the beginning of February, the hospital's six midwives who have close to 200 expectant moms, were let go and will be done working at the end of the month.

"I was crying, and I said I don't know what I'm going to do because we're only a couple weeks out and is anybody going to take us? Our insurance -- how can we transfer with just four weeks left in my pregnancy? So, that was really scary," Leah said.

Marissa Guysky is due in April. She had her first baby naturally at the Alternative Birthing Center and was excited to deliver there once again with the midwives.

"The loss of these six women in a great setting - it was just alarming," she said. "I knew that once I got there, everything was going to happen as it should, and it did. I had the birth that I was looking for."

These moms are scrambling to find an alternative. Critics say the hospital is no longer providing important care for mothers and infants...

"In all my years as a doula I've never been an activist, but for 25 years I've worked to improve birth in my community and to see a hospital taking a giant step backwards in time. I couldn't stay silent," doula Celeste Kraft said.

Kraft says the midwifery model is proven to provide better outcomes for moms and babies, something desperately needed. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries, and the infant mortality rate is much higher as well.

"The midwifery model saves lives. It improves outcomes. It lowers the C-section rate. It lowers the preterm birth rate," Kraft said.

Ascension released a statement saying families can still utilize private practice midwives with the necessary hospital privileges, but Kraft says this is all about money and neglecting an entire segment of low-income mothers, and many women of color on Medicaid. Read the full statement from the hospital below.

"To be able to access this quality of car, regardless of your income is huge, and to take that away - honestly, it's unconscionable," she said.

A rally is planned for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. outside of Ascension Providence Hospital on Nine Mile Road in Southfield.

"We're hoping that this could still be a possibility and the decision could be reversed because this is essential healthcare for women and for babies," Leah said.

Ascension statement:

"Families that wish to utilize a private practice certified nurse midwife are welcome to include them in their birthing experience, provided they have the necessary privileges to provide such services at Ascension Providence Hospital. Private practice certified nurse midwives with appropriate privileges are welcome at any Ascension Michigan hospital that provides labor and delivery services.

"Ascension Providence Hospital continues to offer obstetric services to ensure a high-quality, safe experience for expectant parents throughout their pregnancy and the birth of their child. Moms and babies will continue to have access to the highest level of infant and obstetrical care including maternal-fetal medicine and neonatal specialty care, a level III neonatal intensive care unit, 24/7 obstetric emergency care, and more. Deliveries are performed by our highly qualified obstetric physicians, who also specialize in low-intervention births."