SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A new bill legitimizes midwives as an alternative birthing option for women across Illinois.

Midwives can perform at-home births for mothers who don’t want to go to a hospital. 

“For those who have lost trust in the traditional hospital setting, home births may feel more comfortable,” Senator Cristina Castro (D-Chicago) said. “And making sure those who are there to take care of them in this crucial time are certified and save is so so important.”

For over 40 years, Illinois did not have a license for midwives to operate independently. They only gave licenses to hospital affiliated nurse midwives. 

That license required a wider school set — and money — over a traditional midwife — which normally only focuses on the actual birth.

“They are caring for them prenatally, they are caring for them during the birth and they are caring for them postpartum,” Christine Sheets with Illinois Friends of Midwives said. “They are not caring for women who are in their 70s or they’re not caring for teenagers who are just looking for general health. They are strictly for people who are having babies.”

Midwives who operated without the proper license opened themselves up to legal issues. 

The new bill will allow midwives to work directly with hospitals to plan for all the potential medical issues that can come with a pregnancy.

“Up to now, midwives have been unable to coordinate with hospitals, doctors and pharmacies to provide these critical services for their patients,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “That’s not safe for mothers or their babies.”

The hope is that the change in law will help fill the gaps in medical coverage areas, and make the process more acccessible.

And with the legitimacy of an independent license, midwife care will be able to be covered by health insurance — just like a traditional hospital visit.

“Now we can start growing a whole crop of health care providers able to serve not only those rural areas, but the urban areas,” Sheets said.