How many babies died for a 5% C-section rate at homebirth?

For years, MANA (the Midwives Alliance of North America), the organization that represents homebirth midwives*, has refused to release their death rates (How do homebirth midwives handle mistakes?) But this past weekend, they had no problem publicly discussing their C-section rate. According to participants at the ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) 2011 conference, MANA officials publicly boasted of a 5% C-section rate at CPM attended homebirth.

How many babies died to “achieve” that 5% C-section rate? We don’t know, because MANA is still hiding their death rates.

In July 2008, MANA President Geradine Simkins explained the database:

Data collection includes “evaluation of all aspects of midwifery care in terms of safety, optimal maternal, fetal, and family outcomes,and cost effectiveness.

Data collection “uses a very extensive data form! ~360 questions.”

MANA estimates approximately 20,000 cases will be in the database by the end of 2008.

The data was collected ostensibly to prove the safety of homebirth, but once the data was analyzed, MANA decided to hide the results … or at least the bad results. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to speculate that an extraordinarily high number of babies die at the hands of homebirth midwives.

The public discussion at ICAN 2011 demonstrates two things: MANA is appallingly cynical in its willingness to boast about a low C-section rate while refusing to acknowledge how many dead babies CPMs left in their wake, and homebirth advocates are pathetically gullible. Conference attendees happily transmitted this MANA “achievement” on their Twitter feeds, but no one had the common sense to ask the obvious question. If MANA can release the C-section rate at homebirth, why didn’t they release the death rate to put it into context?

*American midwives who hold a post high school certificate (CPMs and LMs), as opposed to American certified nurse midwives and European, Canadian and Australia midwives who have university degrees.


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