Third North Carolina homebirth death so far this year

The homebirth deaths just keep on coming.

There have been 3 deaths (and one brain damaged baby) in the state of North Carolina so far this year.

The first death, and the brain damaged baby, occurred at the hands of the infamous Amy Medwin, CPM (Homebirth advocates ignore baby, rally for midwife).

You might think that this would be an opportunity for soul searching in the North Carolina homebirth community, but you’d be wrong. The North Carolina Friends of Midwives and the Charlotte chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) view this as an opportunity to promote the interests of CPMs. No one knows whether the baby will live or die, but homebirth advocates have already “moved on” to the really important issue, the fate of the midwife.

In fact, though Medwin presided over the death of one baby in January, and the brain injury of another in February, AND been arrested and found guilty of practicing midwifery without a license in North Carolina, there has been no effort in the North Carolina midwifery community to even investigate Medwin’s conduct let alone address it. They held a rally on her behalf instead.

The second death occurred in May. Prior to the homebirth VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 C-sections), the mother wrote:

… I told DH that we’d be having no more babies unless I was able to plan a homebirth for the next one. I’m full-term with baby #3 and hoping to have an awesome HBA2C story in the next month! No matter how the birth turns out, I appreciate having a care provider who understands that each pregnant mother is an individual who is capable of researching and making her own decisions about “HER” body and child…

The mother got “HER” homebirth, with al midwife:

The mother began labor spontaneously at 41 1/2 weeks, labored for 24 hours and apparently delivered vaginally the day before yesterday.. The baby was born not breathing. Subsequent evaluation revealed meconium aspiration and catastrophic brain damage due to lack of oxygen. The decision was made to take the baby off life support.

Now comes word of a third death, this time at the hands of yet another midwife practicing illegally in North Carolina.

The mother is a diabetic (not gestational) who labored at home and ultimately transferred to the hospital after pushing for many hours. The baby was born by C-section, asphyxiated and brain dead, as well as suffering from overwhelming group B strep sepsis. The baby was taken off life support the next day.

Here’s what I’m wondering. If Russ Fawcett and the North Carolina Friends of Midwives hold a rally to support the midwife involved in the first homebirth death of the year and petition the State Legislature to license midwives like her, what do they do for the midwife involved in the third homebirth death? Send her on an all expenses paid vacation to the Bahamas? Petition the state of North Carolina to erect a statue in her honor?

Obviously it would be too much to ask to them to stop supporting legalization of a second, inferior class of midwife, with less education and training than any other midwives in the industrialized world, even as the evidence of their incompetence continues to mount.

  • Want a choice.

    This may already be a comment somewhere down the line, but if you OBs would support CPMs they would not be afraid of legal repercussions of transferring to a hospital (SOONER, rather than later, and WITH the mother), and therefore may have really beautiful statistics, but as of now they do have those fears, so they cannot accompany a laboring woman in distress to a hospital and inform the physician about what is going on with the woman and baby, IF THERE WERE SUPPORT and legality, the statistics would be much better for CPMs.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      You know what would work even better? Choosing only midwives who attain the internationally agreed standards for real midwives. The problem is not that there are legal repercussions for the uneducated clowns who call themselves homebirth “midwives.” The problem is that women hire uneducated clowns who call themselves homebirth “midwives.”

    • Elizabeth A

      Physicians can’t (ethically or practically) support CPMs unless CPMs are competent providers of care, who adhere to meaningful professional standards.

    • Ash

      Oregon licenses CPMs and look how “beautiful” their outcomes are.

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/03/oregon-releases-official-homebirth-death-rates-and-they-are-hideous.html

      Also, if you imply that CPMs save their own hides and not transfer a woman who needs medical care, who exactly is in the wrong here? The CPMs, who would rather put women in danger because they are too ashamed to present their “credentials” to a hospital or the hospital which accepts the woman into their care?