The time is fast approaching for this year’s iteration of that farce known as the Trust Birth Conference. I’ve written about the inanity of the conference in the past (The Let’s Pretend Birth Is Safe Conference).
When I first wrote about it in 2008, I observed:
I can’t wait. It promises an endless stream of misinformation, wishful thinking and inane pronouncements for me to write about. It is essentially a giant festival of magical thinking: if we all wish really, really hard, birth will be safe. Death in childbirth is just a failure of the imagination.
I was not disappointed. This year, however, the conference illustrates the fact that death in childbirth is a direct result of hiring a birth criminal as attendant. What is a birth criminal?
A birth criminal is a midwife who ignores the growing pile of tiny bodies, babies who died preventable deaths as a result of her direct or indirect professional actions. Lisa Barrett is hardly the only birth criminal, and hardly the only birth criminal lauded for her despicable actions.
Several well known birth criminals are speakers at this year’s conference. They include Lisa Barrett who has presided over at least FIVE preventable deaths of term babies in the past few years, Canadian birth criminal Gloria Lemay who has presided over more term homebirth deaths than anyone can count including a famous case that reached Canada’ highest court.
In that case:
After five hours of second stage labour, the child’s head emerged and no further contractions occurred. Sullivan and Lemay attempted to stimulate further contractions but were unsuccessful. Direct pressure was applied to the uterus, causing soreness to the mother’s stomach and back and some bruising. Approximately twenty minutes later, Emergency Services were called and the mother was transported to the hospital. Within two minutes of arrival, an intern delivered the baby using what the trial judge characterized as “a basic delivery technique”. The child showed no signs of life and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.
The case was dismissed on a technicality; because Lemay was so grossly inept, the child died before the body was completely born and therefore was classified as a stillbirth, not a neonatal death.
That was hardly Lemay’s first or only bout of serious legal trouble:
On January 4, 2002, BC Supreme Court Justice Blair found Lemay guilty of criminal contempt of court for attending ten births over a five-month period in defiance of the court injunction. At sentencing, the judge rejected Lemay’s lawyer’s request to impose a conditional sentence. The judge said he was not satisfied a conditional sentence would protect the safety of the public. “This is not an isolated breach but a continued series of breaches,” the judge said in his oral reasons for judgement.
Late in January of 2002, just weeks after being found guilty, Lemay managed another labour planned to be a home birth, which was later investigated by the police after the parents filed a complaint. This non-progressive labour went on for more than two days. Lemay is alleged to have performed a number of restricted acts during that time, including artificially rupturing the membranes. When meconium was apparent, Lemay is said to have stayed at home with the labouring mother for many more hours.
During sentencing the judge made note of this incident, pointing out that when the fetus became compromised Lemay failed to accompany the mother to Burnaby Hospital and told the mother not to mention Lemay’s name to hospital staff. An emergency cesarean was required…
Justice Blair also noted Lemay was previously found in contempt of court for refusing to give testimony at an inquest probing the 1994 death of a newborn in her care. The inquest found that the baby died of cardiac arrest as a result of an infection acquired during this birth attended by Lemay.
This year there is a new birth criminal on the roster, Kristi Zittle. I wrote about her in September 2008 (CPM presides over 2 separate deaths in 6 weeks).
The evidence presented at her suspension hearing is chilling. Regarding Patient A:
… Ms. Zittle did not perform a vaginal examination of Patient A until … approximately six hours after contractions began and approximately 27 hours after the spontaneous rupture of membranes, at which time Ms. Zittle incorrectly identified the presence of a nuchal hand.
Although a vaginal examination at 5:02 a.m. … revealed Patient A to be 8 centimeters dilated with the foot, thigh, and shin of the left foot presenting, Ms. Zittle … did not transfer Patient A to the hospital. Even though Ms. Zittle had never before performed a breech delivery, she opted to continue with a home delivery ..
Delivery of Patient A’s infant began at approximately 6:06 a.m., when the left foot delivered… Ms. Zittle … did not physically intervene to assist the delivery of the infant until approximately 6:35 a.m., when the pulsating umbilicus emerged and Ms. Zittle used her right hand to prevent cord compression. The infant’s buttocks emerged at 6:22 a.m. and by 6:38 a.m. the chest, only to the nipple line, had cleared the cervix. Although Ms. Zittle subsequently noted that the umbilical pulse was getting weaker and, at 6:40 a.m., documented the absence of a fetal heart rate, she did not initiate a 911 call until after the infant was born at 6:42 a.m. in a lifeless condition… Ms. Zittle immediately began performing Delee suction of the mouth, then nose, and began performing CPR, which she had never performed before on an infant.
An autopsy on Patient A’s infant revealed that the liver had ruptured, spilling 55 cc’s of blood into the abdomen, and also that the infant was positive for Group B strep infection. The Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy stated that the condition of the liver indicated that the infant had been breech for some time; that the rupture had developed over time, most likely from being pressed against Patient A’s hard pelvic floor; and that “a c-section would have been life saving in this case.”
Patient B, expecting her 3rd child:
Ms. Zittle failed to respond in a timely fashion to … the intensification [of patient’s contractions] around 10:O0 p.m. on June 9, 2008, in that she did not leave to go to Patient B’s home to attend her labor and delivery until approximately 12:34 a.m. … notwithstanding the 45-50 minute drive anticipated to Patient B’s home and the fact that Patient B was located approximately 17 miles from the nearest hospital and lacked transportation at that time…
En route to Patient B’s home, after Ms. Zittle was aware that Patient B was in the midst of a footling breech delivery, EMT personnel informed Ms. Zittle by telephone that Patient B’s infant had been delivered up to the chest but they were unable to further deliver the infant. Notwithstanding this information, Ms. Zittle instructed EMT personnel not to take Patient B to the hospital, but instead to assist Patient B in delivering her infant at home in the birthing tub. Ms. Zittle also instructed EMT personnel to wait for her arrival, estimated to be approximately 30 minutes later, before transporting Patient B to the hospital.
After transport to the emergency room by EMS, at approximately 1:37 a.m. …, Patient B delivered an infant with a distended abdomen and without respiration, color, movement, or a heartbeat, who was pronounced dead… The cause of death listed on the death certificate was umbilical cord entanglement and compression subsequent to breech delivery.
These women are hardly more than baby-butchers. Between the three of them, they have presided over the entirely preventable homebirth deaths of perhaps dozen infants or possibly more. Instead of being in jail where they belong, they are invited as honored guests at a conference that is nothing more than a festival of ignorance.
They do serve as an object lesson, however. Trusting birth leads to dead babies and, therefore, only fools and criminals trust birth.