Hypocrite! Midwife Sheena Byrom, who has publicly treated a loss parent viciously, edits a book about compassion

sheena byrom silence copy

Talk about hypocrisy!

UK midwife Sheena Byrom, whom I’ve called out for viciousness in the past, has edited a new book The Roar Behind the Silence: Why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care

The UK is experiencing a crisis in midwifery. The recently released Morecambe Bay Report decried a midwifery culture which allowed 11 babies and 1 mother to die preventable deaths at the hands of midwives and then participated in a cover up.

All showed evidence of the same problems of poor clinical competence, insufficient recognition of risk, inappropriate pursuit of normal childbirth and failures of team-working,” Kirkup said. (my emphasis)

These failures were compounded by a culture of silence in which midwives protected each other rather than mothers and babies.

James Titcombe is one of the loss parents who has tirelessly fought for justice for his son Joshua; the baby died of a treatable infection when midwives refused to call a pediatrician despite pleas from his parents that he was obviously ill.

Sheena Byrom has publicly treated James Titcombe with unspeakable contempt.

Byrom and colleagues were having a public Twitter confab on the use of social media during and after birth (just like nature intended, no doubt). Byrom tweeted that hospital policies appeared to be dictated by risk and “all this talk about risk. Not comfortable with it.”

James entered the Twitter stream to point out that childbirth is indeed quite dangerous. He should know. His son died as a result of an infection acquired during birth.

A chilling response from Byrom and colleagues followed:

Sheena Byrom 1

Highlights include:

oh James-don’t let’s get on that roll again …


getting out of bed in the morning has risks

Yes, James, how could you be so tiresome, always going on about the risks of childbirth and the babies who die as a result? Sheena is so over that.

Byrom ought to be ashamed of herself for the derisive way that she dismissed the father of a baby who died as a result of midwifery incompetence. But that would involve kindness, compassion and respect, something in woefully short supply among UK midwives.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find that Byrom has edited a book about kindness, compassion and respect in maternity care.

Apparently, what she means is kindness, compassion and respect for those who agree with her and vicious, disrespectful neglect of anyone else who dares criticize Byrom and her colleagues.

I left a comment on the Amazon UK website.

Bryom review comment 1

Nearly twenty colleagues, as well as Byrom herself, rushed to her defense in comments on my review.

No one denied the truth of the allegations that she had treated a loss parent contemptuously. How could they? The proof exists in black and white.

No one offered a defense of Byrom’s disrespectful comments to Mr. Titcombe. How could they? There is no defense for that type of behavior.

No one suggested that she retract her comments and offer Mr. Titcombe a public apology. Of course not. That would mean a UK midwife taking responsibility for her own actions.

Instead they offered her their unqualified support … in the exact same way that the midwives who let babies and mothers die at Morecambe Bay offered each other unqualified support.

I left a follow up comment:

Byrom review comment 2

The fact that Byrom’s colleagues defend her is just another example of the problem. Her treatment of a loss parent was, and continues to be, hideous. No one, including Byrom herself has claimed that the cruel, disrespectful statements I quoted are untrue. She said them and she meant them and assumed that no one of any importance would notice.

A culture where midwives protect each other while they let babies die or speak cruelly and disrespectfully to parents who don’t agree with them is an unacceptable culture. UK midwives need to hold each other to account. That’s what ethical professionals do. Byrom should apologize to Mr. Titcombe and should be kind, compassionate and respectful to ALL parents, not just the ones who agree with her views on childbirth. Otherwise there will continue to be tragedies like the horror at Morecambe Bay.

I realize that in the scheme of UK midwifery I am an unimportant critic across the pond, but I can’t let Ms. Byrom’s hideous treatment of Mr. Titcombe go unchallenged. I feel compelled to call attention to the babies and mothers that UK midwives have tried to bury twice, first in coffins in the ground and then by refusing to learn from their deaths or be held accountable.

Ms. Byrom and her colleagues have apparently learned NOTHING from multiple tragedies.

A post about Midwifery reflections on the Kirkup report could best be summarized as “mistakes were made but not by us.”

Ms. Byrom’s response shows that she is part of the problem, not part of the solution:

Protecting normal birth is a midwife’s core function …

No! Protecting MOTHERS and BABIES is a midwife’s core function. Privileging process over outcome is unethical and immoral. It is just this attitude that led to the deaths at Morecambe Bay and the years of effort to cover up those deaths.

Unless and until midwives like Sheena Byrom acknowledge their complicity in a dysfunctional midwifery culture in which midwives place their interests above the health and lives of mothers and babies, innocents will continue to die.

How about it, Ms. Byrom? Will you please publicly apologize to Mr. Titcombe and acknowledge that your contemptuous treatment has no place in contemporary midwifery?

I’ll be waiting.