2013: The year in homebirth deaths and disasters

Crying woman

As the end of the year approaches, it is time for the grim task of recapping the deaths and disasters from 2013. The toll of homebirth deaths and disasters, almost all presided over by homebirth midwives, is, above all, a shocking indictment of the second, inferior class of American midwives known as CPMs (certified professional midwives).

The list is much too long:

1. Thank goodness I chose homebirth for the shoulder dystocia that nearly killed my baby (UK disaster)

2. Yes the baby died, but my homebirth midwife was awesome

Another homebirth, another dead baby, another loss mother proclaiming that her midwife was really, really nice to her.

In this particular case it is not clear whether the baby would have survived had the mother been under the care of an obstetrician, since the baby may or may not have had congenital anomalies; but there is no question that the baby would have had a much better chance of surviving if her mother had had appropriate care for a postdates pregnancy and an ultrasound that had revealed any potential problems that might have been addressed in a timely fashion.

3. No, homebirth did not save your baby, either

The idea that a homebirth saved this baby’s life is ludicrous on its face. C-section is the life saving treatment for a worrisome velamentous cord insertion because it reduces the risk of perinatal death to near zero, not homebirth, which guarantees the baby’s death if the blood vessel is torn.

4. Another devastated homebirth loss mother

Another homebirth, another shoulder dystocia, another dead baby and another homebirth midwife who will never be held accountable for presiding over the preventable death of a beautiful baby girl.

5. Homebirth baby dies of virus contracted during waterbirth

An infant who died following a home waterbirth into a pool containing her mother’s virally contaminated diarrhea.

6. Actually you did lose your uterus because you chose homebirth

The basic story is very simple and the fault is very clear. She had a history of previous C-section, went against medical advice in choosing homebirth, ruptured her uterus, had her baby’s life save and her life saved by a repeat C-section and lost her uterus and wound up in the ICU on a ventilator having received multiple transfusions.

Does she take responsibility for her decision to choose high risk homebirth? Are you kidding? It’s everyone’s fault but hers.

7. 20 years of presiding over homebirth deaths

Barbara S. Parker, 55, faces three felony counts of practicing midwifery without a license. These charges stem from three August deliveries.

The first was on Aug. 2nd when Parker took a woman to an Auburn hospital when she was having trouble delivering her child. Then on Aug. 3rd Parker helped a woman deliver a baby that wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. That child later died at the hospital. Then a few days later, on Aug. 7th, Parker was helping a mother deliver twins and the second infant was only partially delivered and had to be taken through cesarean section. According to court papers, the second child did not survive.

8. Empty arms, broken heart, another homebirth death

I lost my son … in Feb 2013 at 40 weeks 2 days during delivery, the last pushes killed him official cause was cord prolapse. The hospital staff tried everything possible to revive him for 26 minutes after his birth but he never came back to us. He was 8lb’s 6oz and absolutely perfectly beautiful. I miss him, my arms ache, my heart hurts, my breasts ache every time I am around a baby …

9. Unlicensed midwife arrested for homebirth death AND for prostitution; homebirth advocates hold fundraiser

It’s almost as if homebirth advocates are trying to advertise their moral bankruptcy. They couldn’t care less how many babies die at homebirth, why they die at homebirth and who pretends to be a midwife.

I’m referring of course to the case of Rowan Bailey. She allegedly represented herself as a licensed midwife even though she uncredentialed and unlicensed. She has been jailed for allegedly presiding over an intrapartum death at homebirth … In addition, she was arrested last month for prostitution. What are other homebirth midwives doing in response? They’re raising money to “free” her, of course.

10. Another homebirth, another brain injured baby, but the midwife was awesome

How many times have we heard this story before?

Awesome homebirth midwife? Check.
Ignoring risk factors? Check.
Midwife with no idea until the moment of birth that the baby was in distress? Check.
High tech, extraordinarily expensive treatment to prevent further brain damage? Check.
Permanent brain injury? Check.

11. Homebirth kills mothers, too

My husbands cousin passed away today while giving birth. She was 24, beautiful, had just graduated with her masters in engineering, and was getting married. She was due may 15th. She went into labor today. She had a home birth and midwife. She bled to death on the way to the hospital that was 8 minutes away. Her daughter is alive…

12. Another maternal death: How the quest for the idealized birth experience continues to kill

The story is simple and straightforward. A pregnant woman was facing a C-section because all the obstetricians she consulted advised her that vaginal delivery might result in the death of one of her twins or herself. She decided to ignore their warning and gave birth at home unassisted. She died of a massive postpartum hemorrhage.

13. Mother eating her words; baby fighting for her life

I did have my twins … at home. I wrote a recent post about What would the world be like without hospitals. I had to eat my words this last week because my second baby had prolapse cord and has been in the hospital since birth fighting for her life. [She ultimately died.]

14. Sam, a victim of homebirth

Sam’s parents brought charges against the midwife in the Texas Board of Midwifery. The Board acknowledged that she had failed to immediately transfer Sam’s mother despite evidence of abruption. The punishment? Six months probated suspension.

Sam’s family, including two older sisters, took him home and loved him … and got lots of love in return.

Sam ultimately died due to aspiration. The autopsy ruled that it was directly related to his labor/birth injuries.

15. A mother looks back at her daughter’s postdates death

Our daughter was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days. She never opened her blue eyes. She never cried. She never nursed at my breast or grabbed her daddy’s finger with her chubby hand, but she was still born, and she deserves to be remembered forever.

Why was she born at 42 weeks and 3 days? Because her mother wanted to avoid another C-section after 2 previous C-sections, so she chose homebirth. [Correction: Not a homebirth death because the mother had planned to deliver in the hospital. Her baby died after two days of intermittent labor at home, before the mother went to the hospital.]

16. On the other hand, maybe the midwife is a monster

The homebirth midwife presided over a neonatal death at homebirth of a VBA3C mother in Utah, administered Cytotec to induce or augment labor, and delivered the baby using a vacuum extractor; in addition a massive postpartum hemorrhage occurred.

17. Homebirth killed my baby; I’m still in favor of it

I actually did have a midwife at my homebirth and sadly my baby died. He was born still. We couldn’t find his heartbeat and then just didn’t get him out fast enough (had to transfer to hospital and have a csec) it was an attempted vbac. Even after that situation, I am still for home birth. (just not for me) If one of my daughters decided to have a HB I would be all for it …

18. Homebirth means never having to say you’re sorry

One week ago I lost heart tones on our little girl at 9 cm. We rushed to the hospital but we weren’t on time and they did a cesarean. Because of a long labor (4 days) and not dilating (transition for 15 hrs) the dr told me I shouldn’t labor again. However, I’m planning on having another baby as soon as I can and would like a home birth.

19. You nearly killed the baby, but you think the NICU abused him?

Took castor oil at 41&2 and had contractions 2-3 min apart starting at 10 pm until I delivered the next day, Friday 7/26, at 5:15 pm. My first labor was only 12 hours, start to finish, so this really shocked us all… Delivered that way [half squat] with my midwife supporting my perenium. It is a boy! He was lifeless & they had to work to get him to pink up. He had apgars of 5/6/8 but swallowed fluid, had retractions in his abdomen, & would stop crying.

He spent several days in the NICU where the mother claims he was “traumatized.”

The NICU traumatized the baby? How about his own mother who nearly killed him for no better reason than bragging rights. She hired a midwife so incompetent that she had no idea she was about to deliver a lifeless baby. She labored at home without adequate monitoring. She let her baby spend hours nearly asphyxiating. She insisted on delivering far from the people and equipment that could have resuscitated the baby faster and possibly prevented a long NICU stay.

20. Classic homebirth screw-ups lead to yet another homebirth death

Another day, another baby who didn’t have to die at homebirth.

According to The Irish Times: “A couple who prepared for what they hoped would be an idyllic home birth by lighting candles and playing soothing sounds on their stereo ended up devastated when their baby was stillborn, an inquest heard today.”

21. Homebirth midwives: bringing third world causes of childbirth death to the first world

South Carolina has suspended the license of a free standing birth center and two of its midwives because of an intrapartum stillbirth.

22. Don’t blame yourself, blame your homebirth midwife

After 6 hours of pushing, not only was I in pain and tired but she hadn’t moved and there was meconium running down my leg which indicated that she was in stress. My midwife was still checking her heartbeat and it was a little slow. They had me lay on one side and have oxygen and that seemed to help her heart but it wasn’t helping anything else. At that time I told my midwife I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. She tried to lift my spirits and say I COULD do this but I told her I did not want the encouragement. I was tired and I didn’t want to be in pain anymore. I wanted the hospital…

By the time they opened me up, she didn’t have a heartbeat. She was covered in meconium and the umbilical cord was wrapped several times around her neck and body. They tried rescusitating her for 15 minutes but she never made it.

23. But the baby’s heartrate was fine right before it dropped nearly dead into the homebirth midwife’s hands

Yet another baby has been placed at risk of significant brain damage and possible death because the clueless homebirth midwives didn’t understand how to diagnose fetal distress.


Think homebirth is safe? So did the mothers in these 23 accounts.

Think homebirth is safe? Read the 23 stories and think again.


Be sure to read the companion piece 2013: Homebirth papers and statistics.