The Oregon homebirth midwifery statistics, described by Judith Rooks, CNM MPH as “the most complete, accurate data of any US state on outcomes of births planned to occur in the mother’s home or an out-of-hospital birth center,” show that planned homebirth with a licensed homebirth midwife has a mortality rate 800% higher than hospital birth at term. The Colorado statistics, which the licensed homebirth midwives have been desperately trying to hide, shows that planned homebirth with a licensed midwife has a perinatal mortality rate more than 300% higher than all births, including those that are premature. Six years in a row, the CDC statistics have shown that planned homebirth with a non-nurse midwife has a mortality rate 3-7.7X higher than hospital birth. And that number actually undercounts the carnage because babies who were transferred and died in the hospital aren’t included in the homebirth group.
Why is the death rate so appallingly high?
Because licensed American homebirth midwives have absolutely no idea what they are doing or even what they are talking about.
Consider this flourish of homebirth midwifery stupidity, What Makes Birth “Safe”? by Maryn Leister, CPM. I really appreciate the ironic use of scare quotes indicating that apparently even Maryn knows that homebirth at her hands isn’t actually safe; it’s “safe.” I wish I could reprint it all, because it is difficult to believe that anyone could stuff so much mind blowing nonsense into one blog post, so I strongly encourage everyone to read the entire piece. Unfortunately, I can only offer you excerpts.
Maryn starts with the typical brainlessness that passes as “wisdom” among homebirth advocates. In answer to the question what makes birth “safe,” she declares:
To me, it’s a trick question. Because nothing makes birth safer than it already is. In its truest form, of course. The delicate dance of mom and baby, to complete a sequence that is normal and physiological. It’s already “safe”; at least, as safe as anything else that our bodies are programmed to do. Eating, sleeping, eliminating. We don’t question that these processes are “safe” for the average person. They just are. We don’t ask “what” makes them what they are.
So homebirth in nature, with its inherent neonatal mortality rate of 7% and maternal mortality rate of 1%, is “safe” and it can’t get “safer.” But it is not safe (minus the scare quotes), and it only seems safe because modern American obstetrics lowered the neonatal mortality rate by 90% and the maternal mortality rate by 99%, saving the lives of nearly 200,000 babies and 40,000 women each and every year.
Not only is Maryn’s philosophy idiotic, it is ugly, including a large dollop of social Darwinism:
The problem is the thought that birth NEEDS to be made any safer than it already is. But it’s actually not “safe” that many people are after; it’s birth being infallible.
How is this possible? How can we erase the possibility of death from birth? We cannot. They are two sides of the same coin, but this is an uncomfortable subject and not addressed by those that think other humans or special machines can save every baby and every mama. That is not real, and that is not life, unfortunately. There is an element of risk in everything we do in life; whether it’s crossing the street, or driving our car. Birth is no different.
Some babies die and they’re meant to die. That’s why it’s okay that Maryn and the homebirth midwives who advance this philosophy apparently have no obligation to save them. Saving those babies and mothers would require Maryn and her fellow clowns to actually learn something and they don’t care to be bothered with knowledge. In fact, they don’t care to be bothered with standards at all. It’s not just Maryn and her colleagues who think so; the organization that represents them, the Midwives Alliance of North America has enshrined the “no standards” policy in their statement of values and ethics:
A. We value our right to practice the art of midwifery, an ancient vocation of women.
B. We value multiple routes of midwifery education and the essential importance of apprenticeship training.
C. We value the wisdom of midwifery, an expertise that incorporates theoretical and embodied knowledge, clinical skills, deep listening, intuitive judgment, spiritual awareness and personal experience…
It is hardly a coincidence that MANA gives pride of place to freedom of the midwife, and not safety of the mother and baby. In the entire document, they mention safety only once, only vaguely and only in connection with what homebirth midwives “value,” not in connection with any ethical obligation to patients:
We value the physical, psychosocial and spiritual health, well-being and safety of every mother and baby.
Back to Maryn and her nitwittery:
And as far as the WHO is “safe”; well, I don’t think it’s any of our business to determine this for ANY woman. There is no way to quantify risk …
Well, sure, for those who don’t know basic arithmetic there is no way to quantify risk, but people who can add, subtract, multiply and divide have no trouble doing so. In fact, not only is it the business of every healthcare provider to do so, they are REQUIRED to do, because they are required to obtain informed consent. That means that they are responsible for knowing exactly what the best estimates of risk are for any set of circumstances, and for accurately transmitting that information to women. No one can make an informed decision about homebirth if they don’t have information.
Maryn ends and she began, in a wave of blistering stupidity:
Walking with women is the TRUE job of a midwife. And this walk is done differently from midwife to midwife. Ideally, all midwives would be educated, compassionate, up on current research …
Wrong again, Maryn. It’s not the ideal. It’s REQUIRED.
It’s hardly surprising that babies, too many babies, are dying preventable deaths at the hands of these midwifery clowns. It is time to abolish the CPM credential and require anyone who wishes to call herself a midwife to meet that same educational and training standards (including a 4 year university degree in midwifery and extensive in hospital training) required of midwives in ALL other industrialized countries.
Of course, Maryn and her fellow clowns would no longer be able to call themselves midwives and would no longer be able to make money by offering their services. Don’t worry, though, I have a solution for Maryn and her compatriots. If all it takes to make homebirth safe is to pretend that it’s “safe,” all they need to do to make money is pretend that they are making “money.” That way homebirth midwives can make all the “money” that they want, while well educated, well trained healthcare providers can care for babies and mothers and keep them safe.