Latest in homebirth deaths plus a near miss

Are homebirth deaths rare? It certainly doesn’t seem like it. We have been discussing the homebirth death of one baby  that occurred last month, but in the past few weeks 3 other homebirth deaths were being discussed, as well as a spectacular near miss.

1. A CPM practicing despite a revoked/suspended license presided over the death of a breech baby.
According to The Hudson Reporter:

The 31-year-old woman appeared in Central Judicial Processing court in Jersey City on Friday. She lives in Warren County, according to NJ.com.

According to the story, she was charged with being involved with the practice of medicine while her midwifery license was suspended or revoked.

It is not known for sure whether the child was stillborn or died after birth. An autopsy is being conducted.

The child was a breech birth, according to the story.

2. Another blogger takes responsibility for her decision but believes that group B strep sepsis is not to blame for her daughter’s death.

I still blame myself for the death of my baby. I can’t help but think back over all of the things I could have done differently. I think any parent would go through this but, with me, there ARE people who have blamed me and this makes it worse. My baby was born infected with Group B Strep (GBS). I planned to have her at home under the care of Certified Practicing Midwife (CPM). I also saw a family practice doc regularly for blood work, etc. I understand that having babies out- of- hospital is somewhat rare and controversial in the US but, for someone who is willing to take responsibility for her health and well- being and is willing to educate herself and find a qualified and competent midwife, the outcome is actually as good- if not better than- an in- hospital birth. I must emphasize that one’s midwife MUST be qualified and competent (more on this in another post). She didn’t die from GBS, though, no one knows why she died. She should have recovered from GBS- the doctors expected that she would- but she didn’t. Her newborn metabolic screen came back wacky and she had severe kidney and a heart issue. No one knew why- it was a mystery…

To the mother, those issues may seem unrelated but sepsis can result in shut down of organs like the kidneys and heart.

3. A 38 week stillbirth occurred which may or may not be related to the prenatal care provided by a homebirth midwife.

4. An obstetrician realizes just how incredibly close his newborn daughter came to death at homebirth.

I found the post because the author, Alaska obstetrician Glen Elrod, mentioned me:

…. Yes, I had read the Wax study about homebirth and ACOGs stance on homebirth and the Skeptical OB’s blog trashing homebirth, but I had read countless articles that picked apart the Wax data and called into question the methods and results, showing the flaws and pointing to that homebirth truly was safe…

His daughter was born safely at home, but after the birth, Elrod realized that they had barely dodged disaster and death.

… HOLY SHIT!!! I was mortified to say the least. The placenta! OMG, the placenta. It was the scariest looking placenta I ever remember seeing.

Velamentous insertion. The vessels of the cord start dividing in the membranes. Big, honking vessels unprotected and vulnerable. Plus, a vessel running through the membranes. Anything could have happened…

Anything, meaning unexpected catastrophic hemorrhage and death of the baby in short order, long before there is time for an ambulance to arrive, let alone transfer the mother to the hospital. I wonder if Dr. Elrod is quite so enamored of homebirth now, knowing how close he came to losing his own child.

These 4 cases, plus that of baby Aisley that I posted on Friday demonstrate why homebirth increases the risk of perinatal death. In all 5 cases, the mother was low risk. Yet one had midwives who failed to recognize that the baby died during labor; another lost a breech baby presumably to a trapped head; a third lost a baby to group B strep sepsis; a fourth had an unexplained stillbirth, and a fifth had a rare placental condition (vasa previa) that could easily have led to the death of the baby.

Nearly every study ever done on homebirth actually shows that it increases the risk of perinatal death, and that’s typically homebirth involving only very low risk women. In actual practice, homebirth has hideous perinatal mortality rates as the experience of Colorado, Oregon, and North Carolina midwives shows.

Even MANA (the Midwives Alliance of North America) is hiding their own death rates because they are so high. In addition, they appear to believe that their own followers are gullible enough to be tricked with the same pathetic excuses over and over again.

As recently as yesterday, when I asked on Twitter why MANA is hiding their death rates, they replied with the perpetual inane excuse that they will be publishing it in a peer reviewed journal in mid-2013. As I recall, they have made that promise before. First they were going to publish the death rates in 2009 when the MANA statistics results had been analyzed. Then they stopped mentioning it altogether. When pressed, primarily by me, they announced that they were never going to publish the death rates since it would make midwives look bad, but would share them with “approved” researchers. Now, in response to increasing pressure, they claim that they will publish them next year. You’d have to be a fool to believe that this was anything other than their typical stalling tactics.

Homebirth increases the risk of perinatal death. Even MANA knows it and the seemingly endless parade of homebirth deaths reported on the Web or in news accounts merely confirms it.

  • Channan

    I went to Dr. Elrod’s practice for my 6th child. When i first whet to Dr. Elrods office i met with his wife who every patient must met with before the first appointment, she was pushing home birth. I made it very clear it was not an option as I am highrisk and typically need patocin, iv antibotics and iv pain control (I never used an epidural before this delivery). I had a hard time getting appointments. when i did i was not treated with any kind of respect except when i saw Dr. Elrod, he did listen to my concerns not sure they were taken seriously though. there was little to no communication between the Dr.’s I was a patient of Dr. Wayman who is another Dr. in his office. Rarely did i get to see her or even the same Dr. as the week before which i tried to do due to lack of communication. such as Dr. Elrod wanting weekly ultrasounds and Dr. Waymen not, Elrod wanting kick counts once a week and Waymen wanting the twice a week i couldn’t keep up with what i was sapost to be doing each week because it changed each week depending on who was available to see me that appointment. My concerns were ignored. I had untreated infections for weeks and when they did finally get them to treat the infections it took days to get them to send the scripts in. I have a history with all my children of Kidney infections and they have caused preterm labor with most of my other children. The worst infection this time was in Dec.2013 i had a fever over a 103 f possibly higher at some points during the 2 days it took my husband to get the fever down, i was shaking i could not stop, and screaming i was cold i had a winter hat, gloves coat and 2 blankets on me. i was having contractions every 7 to 10 min. i called the office and was told by a nurse it was the holidays and they didn’t have time to see me so to call back after the first of the year! Luckily this time i was diabetic and on May 5th my son failed his kick count for Dr. Elrod and he sent me for an ultrasound and then on to the birthing center at the hospital. I never thought i would use lucky and diabetic in the same sentance. A stroke of luck for me Dr. Waymen was out of town and another office was caring for her patients. they said Dr. Waymen wanted to induce in the morning for natural birth as scheduled the week before. The fill in Dr. (who just happens to have delivered my 5th child and her office’s midwife delivered my 1st and 3rd children) told me the cord was wrapped around my son’s neck 3 times and showed us on an ultrasound. I requested an emergency c-section (all my other children were natural) i also have an unmanipulative cervix which almost killed my 5th child. all the factors considered the Dr. agreed to do it. I ended up having 2 ob-gyn to deliver my son, both of them and his Dr. all said i made the right decision they do not believe he would have made it threw a natural birth based on his head size 85% they believe he would have gotten stuck, the cord was wrapped so tightly they had to cut it to get him out, and the cord fell apart every time they pulled on it. all the Dr.s said they have never seen a cord like his. I am so grateful the Dr.s at Dr. Elrod’s practice we’re unavailible I do not think i would have came home with an incredible baby boy.

  • Samantha

    Wow. This is terrible. Elrod is an AMAZING obstetrician. I wouldn’t trust any other OB!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Really? I had heard that he lost his privileges in the wake of one or possibly two homebirth deaths. How many babies have to die before you can no longer be considered amazing?

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