On Friday I wrote about the death of a baby that occurred while Jan Tritten, Editor of the homebirth “journal” Midwifery Today, crowd sourced Facebook for suggestions for management of postdates with no amniotic fluid, but unruptured membranes.
Since then nearly, there have been approximately 25,000 visits to the post, and it is being discussed on a variety of message boards, Facebook pages and Twitter streams by lay people, doctors, skeptics and pretty much anyone else but homebirth midwives themselves. 329 people have signed the petition expressing revulsion.
Let’s listen for the reaction from the professional homebirth community. Do you hear what I hear?
That’s right … NOTHING!
Where is the Midwives Alliance of North America? Shouldn’t they be promising a public investigation of Jan Tritten for possible negligence and possible malpractice, not to mention serious unprofessionalism for crowd sourcing a life or death situation in real time?
Where is Melissa Cheyney, CPM, Director of the Board of Direct Entry Midwifery of Tritten’s state of Oregon? Shouldn’t she be promising a public investigation of Jan Tritten, as well as a root cause analysis to determine how to prevent future deaths?
Where is Ricki Lake, spokesperson for all things homebirth? Ricki was out there front and center defending an obstetrician who lost his hospital privileges and subsequently his right to practice because of egregious errors in the care of patients. Why hasn’t she come to Tritten’s defense?
Where is Aviva Romm, MD who recently confided this:
I will also readily admit that there are quite a few not so great home birth midwives contributing to not so great birth outcomes. In fact, in reaction to the problems found in medicalized birth settings, there’s a bit of a midwife ‘wild west’ out there – anyone can get “the calling,” attend some births, and call herself a midwife. Caveat emptor! It’s not black and white. A poorly planned home birth or a less than competent midwife (or physician, though most home births are attended by midwives), in the rare event of a complication, can be disastrous…
Ya think? So what are you going to do, Dr. Romm, when one of your homebirth buddies lets a baby die as the results of her grossly unethical actions? Will you be publicly condemning her? How about warning women to stay away from her. Or are you just going declare “caveat emptor” and let the tiny dead bodies fall where they may?
Where are the bloggers from the Lamaze blog Science and Sensibility? Will we be treated to cries of indignation from them, calls for investigation, calls for analysis of what went wrong?
Where are the homebirth bloggers, like Birth Without Fear, Monica Bielanko of Babble, Tracey Cassels of Evolutionary Parenting, The Feminist Breeder, etc.? When will they be discussing this tragedy and trying to learn from it?
Where is Jan Tritten? According to her pathetic attempts at backpedaling, this was supposed to be an opportunity for learning. Why did she delete the case just when we could have learned the most? When will be hearing from her on just what she learned from this tragedy and what other homebirth midwives can learn as well?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that we are going to hear from all these professional homebirth advocates and organizations at the exact same time …. NEVER!
And why will we never hear them demand an investigation, release the results, and condemn the mistakes?
Because homebirth midwives don’t care about safety. They only care about homebirth midwives.
The Midwives Alliance of North America has literally ZERO safety standards. Not only do they have no safety standards, they are quite explicit about this horrific stance. As far as MANA is concerned, it is up to each homebirth midwife to decide for herself what is safe. An official stance like that only makes sense if you are a lobbying organization, working tirelessly for the economic benefit of your members. What about the life and health of mothers and babies? They can fend for themselves and “own” the decisions that led to the deaths or permanent injuries of their babies or themselves.
But all is not lost. There is a way that the rest of us can learn from this preventable tragedy.
To any women contemplating homebirth, I ask you to imagine yourself in the situation of this mother:
- In the face of imminent disaster, her midwife assures her that doing nothing is the best course.
- In the face of imminent disaster, her midwife is so clueless that she is soliciting medical advice from her Facebook friends.
- When your baby dies she insinuates that it is your fault for listening to her.
- When confronted by others about her role, she pretends that your baby, his life and death, was posted on Facebook for the edification of everyone in the known world except you.
- And then she deletes even that, to cover up her own role in his death.
- Finally, as you make funeral arrangements, the homebirth community will rally around the midwife, not you. They will never investigate her actions; they will do everything possible to protect her.
Now ask yourself:
Is this what you want for yourself and your precious baby? A woman who calls herself a midwife, though lacking the most basic education and training, who cares more about her experience than whether your baby lives or dies?
As Dr. Romm, pointed out, “anyone can get “the calling,” attend some births, and call herself a midwife.” So take Aviva’s advice, caveat emptor, and choose hospital birth. Whatever the failings of the hospital may be, at least the professionals there care about whether you and your baby live or die.