Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Assumptions about homebirth losses

Recently, I received a link about a michigan woman who had a stillborn daughter 3 years ago. The DEM encouraged her to continue on, ending up at 44 weeks. Of course, this leads to comments about how the mother should of researched her provider and educated herself. When any homebirth horror story is shared, this line is constantly thrown around, c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y!! Nothing grates my nerves more. This line is used to take the blame away from negligent midwives and to pacify advocates who think it can't happen to them. Well, guess what advocates?? You are just as likely to have YOUR baby die as we did.

What research didn't we do?? We ask our midwives about outcomes and credentials. We have references. What else are women suppose to do? They cannot look through all the midwives "patient" records. We also know is some states it will only show if there has been a sanction, no mention of who brought it up, or what happened, just what the ruling was. Faith Beltz's said something to the effect of not writing something down, nothing about a dead baby. So, since advocates know so much, can they please tell women how to research their midwives ahead of time?? How many are handing clients the names of mothers who lost babies due to their negligence?? My guess is NONE. Women are not nind readers and cannot predict that their midwive will fail them and their baby. If I had known Brenda would fail Mary like she did, I would of run away quickly.

As for educating ourselves- how didn't we do this? Oh, you may have a point. We read Ina, Jennifer, and Henci's books. We watched BOBB (not me, but I know others who have). We saw the summaries of various studies like the Johnson Davies and Netherlands which said homebirth was as safe or safer than hospitals. We learned all about pregnancy and childbirth. We ate perfectly and kept ourselves in shape. We learned why hospitals and Doctors are bad. We learned why cesareans occur. We educated ourselves just like advocates do now. We hung out on homebirth boards. So, what makes you think we were uneducated? It sounds like you are telling us that a mother is uneducated if her baby dies. How logical is that??

Now, one of the things I have noticed is you all are your own cheering section. Women are encouraged to have homebirths even in high risk situations. Instead of saying "This is high risk and you should have your baby in a hospital", women are told "Oh that's a variation of normal", "stick garlic in your vagina", "practice the brewer diet", "Gestational diabetes doesn't exist", etc. Then, if there is a bad outcome and the mother speaks out, she is automatically villianized. She listened to others who reinforced what her midwife was telling her so how is she to know that something is actually dangerous?? By educating herself?? Mind you, homebirth websites don't even tell or encourage hospital birth. Homebirth sites tell you how walking into a hospital means pitocin, an epidural, fetal distress, then a c-section. Women are conditioned to fear doctors and hospitals. Do you not see what kind of environment you, as a homebirth advocate, create?? So, then baby dies, you go on to mistreat the mother and blame her for her baby's death??

When a baby dies, it's death can be laid on the shoulders of the incompetant midwife and the advocates who encourage homebirth at no cost while telling mom lies about the medical system. Stop blaming parents. Blaming them won't make you immune, so just stop. Would you be happy if one of these mothers totally cracked and ended up in the psych ward, intensive counseling, or dead from suicide?? You are so worried about PPD from c-sections and traumatic births, but don't care if YOU push a grieving mother into having this. I can promise the mother blames herself all the time and carries that weight, even when all she did was choose a provider. Yet, you insist on making sure that weight she carries is unbearable, just to try to push your agenda. I would never dream of blaming a mom for her child's death, yet homebirth advocates do this all the time. Perhaps all of you need to take a step back and put yourself in another person's shoes for two seconds. Your ASSumptions about lack of research and lack of education have absolutely no credibility.

If you cannot handle these stories, start holding incompetent midwives accountable so they stop occurring. Stop lashing out at us. Lashing out at us doesn't make a midwife practice any differently. We aren't hurting the movement, negligent midwives are and your support of them is just the final nail in the proverbial coffin.


Areawoman said...

Right on, Bambi! Not only are they all their own cheering section, but they actively censor anyone who doesn't cheer them on. And if their comments are not removed, they are accused of spreading fear.

Dazeybells said...

Yay! Tell it like it is. Every homebirth failure I have read about the mothers educated themselves as well as they could. The home birth community needs to acknowledge that babies not only die in the hospital, but in their beloved home births as well. The phrase that really bothers me is 'It's MY birth.' It's not your birth; it is the birth of YOUR child. The baby has no say and really, who remembers their own birth.
All I ever wanted was my babies to be born healthy. That's all most women want. To put the emphasis all on how the baby gets into the world seems like a non issue as long as the baby is healthy and alive.
Homebirthers just seem so selfish to me. It's all about them. It's never about the baby inside of them.

Emily said...

So very interesting about how the ncb community creates a culture of fear. Fascinating how they talk about how we are taught to fear birth because we grow up hearing these horror stories. And they say birth is not to be feared. But they propagate an incredible fear of doctors and hospitals. What a paradox. This is a great post! I have been reading your posts via a link from Dr. Amy's blog for a while, and they are always so well thought out and so well written. Keep up the awesome work

Anonymous said...

There's an enormous double-standard at work. According to homebirth advocates, physicians and hospital-based CNMs are violating women's rights if they fail to get informed consent for every procedure or intervention, down to the tiniest hypothetical risk, yet a midwife who encourages a mother, with diabetes, to go to 44 weeks gets a pass, and it's the mother's fault for trusting her provider.

Should the mother in question have exercised more due diligence in vetting her midwife? Indubitably, but this midwife so grossly abrogated her professional responsibilities and is so clearly ethically and morally responsible for the death of the infant that it boggles the mind that anyone could possibly defend her. It requires Olympic feats of mental gymnastics.

Anonymous said...

Way to say it Bambi. How can I post this on my blog?

The Non-Monogamist said...

Go ahead and copy it with a link!

Knitted_in_the_Womb said...

So how do you handle a situation where you, as a home birth advocate, warned a woman that you thought she was not a good candidate for home birth, she went ahead with it anyway, and her baby dies?

I'm very serious about this. I'm in a frustrating position of having had 3 home births myself and being very supportive of them as a childbirth educator and doula...however one of my previous clients planned a home birth that I thought was ill advised due to her risk factors. Early in her pregnancy when she mentioned her plans to home birth I sent her an e-mail expressing my concern and telling her that I didn't think a home birth was a good idea. I didn't get a response, so I let it go--not my birth, not my choice...

She contacted me late in her pregnancy to ask about some discomforts she was having. I offered some techniques to handle them...but I did not bring up my concerns again about her home birth plans. Should I have? I pretty much just smiled and nodded when she talked about having an OB for "shadow care," but seeing a midwife for her planned home birth.

And her baby died because exactly what I was afraid would happen did happen. I felt so guilty that I didn't speak up stronger.

violinwidow said...

"you insist on making sure that weight she carries is unbearable, just to try to push your agenda." This is so cruel and if I didn't see it with my own eyes I wouldn't believe that someone could treat someone like that.

0_0 said...

When I was writing about Rhogam earlier this summer and wanted to find resources explaining to laypeople why the prenatal dose is so important and how it works, I was shocked and upset to find that a simple google search for something like "reason for prenatal rhogam" turned up pages upon pages of sites scaremongering about imaginary "risks" of the treatment, claiming you could change your blood type by drinking tea, etc. When I was pregnant, I had trouble evaluating the various claims of homebirth advocates vs mainstream medicine, and I am educated in social sciences, took stats and research methods! How much harder for someone who doesn't even know where to start comparing the numbers and the claims and the evidence. We are overwhelmed with information in our current society and it's so hard to tell what's true from what's bunk especially when you are emotionally overwhelmed.

Liz said...

great post Bambi!as usual- you hit the nail right on the head!

Guggie Daly said...

I see this a lot, too. They automatically give the benefit of the doubt to the doctor/hospital (and in so doing, the mother/parents) if the child died in a hospital setting.

But if the child died in a home birth or birth center setting, somehow it's perfectly okay to publicly attack the mother and blame her for her child's death. And incidentally the midwife/EMTs/birth centers are often accused as well.

If a baby dies in the hospital, it must have been God himself making it happen. Anywhere else and someone's head has to roll.

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