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.

170 Responses to “Hypocrite! Midwife Sheena Byrom, who has publicly treated a loss parent viciously, edits a book about compassion”

  1. SuperGDZ
    March 23, 2015 at 5:43 am #

    Sheena Byrom’s comments to James Titcombe would be appalling even if Joshua’s death had been unpreventable. The fact that it was preventable, and that she was responding to Titcombe calling her out for being part of the problem makes it unspeakable.

    • March 23, 2015 at 9:29 am #

      Right? The fact that she hasn’t had any sort of visible fallout from that alone is just astonishing to me.

  2. Jocelyn
    March 22, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    OT: (And something I’ll definitely ask my doctor about before getting pregnant, but just wanted to ask you guys as I’m thinking about it) – Are SSRIs safe to take during pregnancy? I’m on Zoloft right now, and wondering for the future. Dr. Google’s giving me conflicting results.

    • March 22, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

      You really need to talk to your doctor about that, both SSRIs and SNRIs have been linked to adverse effects during pregnancy.

      Please, please, please don’t stop taking them cold turkey, though. Ask your prescribing doctor to start you on a slow taper to stress your body as little as possible, because the last thing anyone needs is to go through SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome.

    • CharlotteB
      March 22, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

      Obviously, ask your doctor. BUT–I took Zoloft and Wellbutrin throughout pregnancy, as well as Adderall. I double-checked this with an OB, CNMs, as well as a genetic counselor, all of whom told me that the anti-depressants, in particular, didn’t concern them. My son is extremely healthy, and was born at almost 41 weeks at a little over 7 lbs. So, pre-term labor or low birthweight weren’t issues. I did have precipitous labor though, as well as some supply issues nursing, but I have no idea if that was related to the meds or not.

      I would be interested to see the studies that show adverse effects, and what those effects are. I was unable to find anything that offered any more details than noting that there can’t be randomized, controlled studies of SSRIs during pregnancy. However, depression and/or anxiety are real, serious conditions, and for me, going for 40 weeks without my meds was NOT an option. I feel like the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that all medications are dangerous, but it’s something you have to discuss and weigh with your doctor–I really appreciated the input of the genetic counselor, as well. I wouldn’t just assume that you can’t take your meds, but I would have a serious discussion with a doctor who will take your mental health AND the health of your baby seriously.

      • March 23, 2015 at 12:02 am #

        There are a lot of adverse side-effects related to SSRIs during pregnancy, including premature labor. To be completely honest though, there’s a lot that mental health professionals DON’T know about them, and I’m saying that as someone with an obvious dog in the race.

        We learn about extremes; pregnant women who literally can’t live without psychopharmacology, and premature babies.

        It’s something I’ve always struggled with when talking to women wanting to get pregnant, and I wonder about it for myself as well. Tough questions.

    • SuperGDZ
      March 23, 2015 at 5:28 am #

      I stopped taking mine, although my obstetrician felt the risk was very low. I ultimately coped, but perhaps not as well as I could have and only with a lot of love and support from family, friends and colleagues, who gave me more of a free pass than I deserved. I’m not sure I would make the same decision again.

    • An Actual Attorney
      March 23, 2015 at 8:23 am #

      It’s important to remember that untreated depression has effects on the fetus as well. It’s always a balancing choice. As my psychiatrist pointed out to me (she’s not warm and fuzzy) – mom bleeding out on the kitchen floor from slit wrists is also really bad for the baby, and that’s where I’d be without SSNIs..

      I found this site very helpful: http://womensmentalhealth.org/ They also will do a phone consult if that is something you decide you need.

      Obvs, this isn’t an area of double blind studies — that wouldn’t be remotely ethical. But this site has a pretty comprehensive round up of the lit.

      This page will get you started: http://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/psychiatric-disorders-during-pregnancy/

      Good luck!

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 23, 2015 at 9:15 am #

      Zoloft is class C in pregnancy: animal studies suggest the potential for teratogenic issues but there are no adequate studies in humans. A withdrawal phenomenon has been documented with SSRIs, but most strongly associated with Paxil, not Zoloft. The one case control study I’ve seen showed no effect, but wasn’t a huge study and had the usual potential confounders of a case control study. The risk, if present, is probably pretty small. As An Actual Attorney points out, untreated depression in a pregnant woman is bad for a fetus–even if you can avoid the slit wrists. Depression is a stress state and stress leads to all sorts of badness. My general recommendation would be use lowest effective dose, counseling, and close monitoring by OB and psych, but I’m not your doctor and can’t speak to your specific situation, of course.

      While you’re worrying about things, depression probably has a genetic component. Given how common depression is, the genes involved probably have a pro-survival side as well, so don’t sacrifice your chance to have a baby, if you want one, out of fear of it having depression, but be aware of the possibility as the kid or kids are growing up. (I say this, BTW, as something “we” should consider, not something “you” should consider. I’ve had recurrent major depression and in fact only recently had an exacerbation.)

    • moto_librarian
      March 23, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      I took Zoloft throughout both of my pregnancies. Given my past history, it was simply too risky to go without the medication. Prior to getting pregnant, I changed from Effexor to Zoloft because the latter had a better safety profile during pregnancy. Both of my sons were born healthy.

    • Kelly
      March 23, 2015 at 10:16 am #

      I talked to my doctor and she assured me that it is ok. I am on it with this pregnancy because I am too afraid to get off as it works very well for me. I would talk to your doctor and I had looked online and from my limited medical knowledge it looks very safe.

  3. sdsures
    March 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

    “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).”

    Priceless! Just like streaming your kid’s birth live on Youtube!

    • SporkParade
      March 23, 2015 at 3:46 am #

      Aren’t these the same people who complain about L&D personnel, that they only look at the fetal monitor screen and ignore the patient? Why do they want to add another screen to the mix? I see privacy lawsuits in their future……

  4. Guesteleh
    March 21, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Trapped in the stairwell: my birth story

    So, we had a lil council of war. My midwife, correctly, figured that the baby was ROP, and suggested that I leave the tub and go climb some flights of stairs to encourage him to get into a less bullshit position. So I put on one of those assless robes and a pair of shoes and she took me to an enclosed concrete stairwell, stuck a shoe in the door so I wouldn’t get locked in, and was all “good luck!”

    So I began doing stairs. I did a whole bunch of stairs. After every two flights, I would have a horrible contraction. Eventually, this got old, so I tried the door. It did not open. This is because there were TWO sets of auto-locking doors between myself and freedom, and a shoe in only one of them. I banged. No one heard me. I did not have my phone. I climbed up a flight of stairs and banged on THAT door. No one heard me. I waited, alone, semi-nude, phoneless, contracting, picturing what it would be like to deliver my own baby in a concrete stairwell. No one came.

    Finally, I descended all the stairs until I discovered a basement access door and escaped. I found a confused and blushing young man who escorted me and carded me into a staff elevator that spat me out back on my floor. Apologies were made.

    • Trixie
      March 21, 2015 at 10:37 pm #


    • Laura
      March 22, 2015 at 12:06 am #

      Oh, you poor dear! How does this story end?!

      • Guesteleh
        March 22, 2015 at 12:26 am #

        Not my story! Just quoting it. The story ends fine, thankfully, I was just amazed by the midwife who was so warm and friendly and nice…and then dumped the patient in the stairwell and didn’t notice when she didn’t come back.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      In the midwife’s very partial defense, it sounds like she was young and inexperienced and may have simply made a mistake. A fairly serious mistake (losing a patient for several hours is, as the surgeons say, suboptimal), but she may well have learned from this experience and be ready to never repeat anything like it again. Also, I note that she did offer appropriate transition to augmentation and real pain control when it was clear that what they were doing wasn’t working and apologized for the error. So I have hopes that she’ll learn from her mistakes and do better next time.

      • Elizabeth A
        March 22, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

        I’m just… concerned about what “better” looks like in this context? More door propping? Keeping a person (ideally with a phone) with a walking L&D patient at all times? Finding a walking circuit that isn’t closed off from the ward?

        I agree that the labor was otherwise appropriately managed, though, and the mom seems to have had realistic expectations and to be pleased with the results. Look at that gummy baby grin and all.

        • Medwife
          March 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

          I’m wondering if she was on wireless telemetry whilst doing stairs? At least then if the poor woman started to vomit or push they’d have a hint.

          • Guesteleh
            March 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

            I just imagined mom getting a dizzy spell, falling down the stairs and laying in a pool of her own blood while she and baby lost oxygen. It’s just super bad idea all around to let an actively laboring mother walk stairs solo even if she has on a monitor.

          • Guesteleh
            March 22, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

            Lying, not laying. Stupid complicated English grammar.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 23, 2015 at 9:22 am #

            I don’t understand why the midwife thought it was a good idea to send her alone when she had a perfectly good, if sleeping, support person with her. Wake up the husband and at least have him walk up and down the stairs with her to keep an eye on her and catch her if she gets woozy!

      • March 22, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

        Yeah, I was just wondering why on earth she was alone for that long. I’m all about leaving people alone and letting them do their own thing but as someone who isn’t a medical professional, I open doors and shit for pregnant ladies; if I were a medical professional, one in charge of the well being of one specific pregnant lady, I would not only open her doors so hard for her but also NOT LEAVE HER ALONE WALKING UP AND DOWN STAIRS. ESPECIALLY WHEN LABORING.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          March 23, 2015 at 9:21 am #

          My guess is that the midwife was busy with other patients, didn’t realize how much time had passed, and thought “no news is good news” about the patient (not realizing that the bit about the second door or thinking through the risk of leaving a pregnant and laboring woman alone on the stairs, even if it were for a much shorter time than actually passed). That’s disturbingly easy to do, especially for a new practitioner. It was a bad idea and things could have gone extremely badly, but I don’t think it was the sort of callous indifference that the Morcombe midwives had, but more of a lack of experience and imagination.

          • March 23, 2015 at 11:38 am #

            I agree. Like a lot of midwives, this woman seemed well-meaning but bumbling and in over her head.

  5. Amy Tuteur, MD
    March 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    They are so brazen!

    • March 21, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

      I wonder if they call the grieving parents questioning them on social media trolls.

      lol I kid, of course they do.

      • Froggggggg
        March 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

        Yeah, very likely. And it’s probably just a pet hate of mine, but I find it impossible to take people seriously when they don’t even understand the definition of a troll, and use the word as a blanket term for everyone who has a differing opinion.

        Just… argh. They can’t even get *that* right.

        • March 22, 2015 at 2:49 am #

          Like when people say that their social media account was hacked.


        • Cartman36
          March 23, 2015 at 9:44 am #

          I find a lot of people in the comments section hard to take seriously. I got called a “fear mongering weirdo” and told I probably live in a bunker and wear a tinfoil hat when I pointed out in the comments of http://www.mommyish.com/2015/03/20/mom-lets-friend-breastfeed-her-baby/ that there are risks of communicable disease transmission (among other risks) when you let someone else breastfeed your baby or accept expressed breast milk from somewhere other than a licensed milk bank. My personal favorite was someone who helpfully pointed out that you have a risk of disease transmission when making the baby. ****Bangs head against keyboard!****

          • Froggggggg
            March 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

            Ha, I just went and read that. The tinfoil hat comment is pretty rich coming from an obvious lactivist, what with their big pharma/formula conspiracies. But on the whole, it was heartening to see quite a lot of comments pointing out the obvious – just feed the baby formula…!

            And yeah, the comment sections almost anywhere can be depressing & impossible to take seriously. This blog is a nice exception! 🙂

          • Cartman36
            March 24, 2015 at 9:41 am #

            I feel so at home here on SOB. 🙂

    • Trixie
      March 21, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

      Ah, Natalie Rickman. A true gem. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/sep/14/freebirthing-birth-without-medical-support-safe
      Natalie Rickman, who lives near Hexham, Northumberland, gave birth to daughter Isla on the same day in July as Kate Middleton had her son George. But while the duchess was surrounded by obstetricians and midwives, Natalie was at home with just her husband, Peter, an architectural technician, and a doula by her side. Isla was her third baby; she’d had a traumatic hospital delivery first time around, a much easier water birth the second, and says that by the time she got round to her third birth, she was “confident I could cope on my own”. Natalie didn’t spell out her plans to her midwife, but thinks she probably put two and two together. “She seemed supportive. She said things like, ‘You probably won’t even need us.'”

  6. Sue
    March 21, 2015 at 1:50 am #

    This introduction to the book is very revealing:

    • Sue
      March 21, 2015 at 1:52 am #

      And more…according to Byrom, the problem isn’t risk, it’s fear. If you’re not scared, nothing can go wrong, right?

      • Daleth
        March 21, 2015 at 8:53 am #

        That kind of doublespeak drives me INSANE! “Fear of recrimination, litigation, negative media exposure” etc.–excuse me for shouting but NONE OF THAT HAPPENS UNLESS A BABY OR MOM IS INJURED OR KILLED. No litigation, no recrimination, no unflattering articles in the media… unless someone is hurt or killed and it’s possibly your fault!

        In other words… “fear of litigation” is really “fear of hurting or killing someone.” Since of course, there’s nothing to sue you for unless your patient gets hurt!

        So how about, instead of lamenting that care providers are scared of HURTING OR KILLING BABIES, we *celebrate* the fact that they don’t want to hurt or kill anyone and therefore they practice conservatively and make decisions based on wanting everyone to stay alive and well?!?!?!

        • Melissa
          March 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

          I will say this about the fear of litigation: it is harder for someone who really wants to decline procedures (especially c-section) to do so without being “pressured” (or more kindly, asked repeatedly if they understand the situation and have truly informed consent) because of a line of cases that have held doctors liable when mother’s have declined c-sections and there have been negative results. However, this is because in those cases the mothers sued for the damaged (that they were in large part responsible for declining c-section) arguing that had not been truly apprised of the danger of the situation.

          It’s a hard situation because you have testimony from the mother stating that if she KNEW her baby would have died/been harmed that OF COURSE she would have consented to the c-section. And even if there is proof and notes that she was refusing a c-section it was only because she was not properly informed of the danger by the medical professionals. Courts are going to be wary to assume that a mother suffering a loss is lying, especially because NCB ideology is not necessarily mainstream in jurors minds and they can’t think of a reason that someone would refuse a c-section. So to try and protect themselves from litigation they make sure that the mother declining treatment is continually informed of the ongoing danger (since consent is an ongoing process and not a one time thing) so that they can try to protect themselves from litigation.

          The solution to this problem is not midwife led care, but changes within tort law in this area. In some ways the courts are very paternal by assuming that a woman who declines intervention which results in harm must not have truly understood what she was doing and making informed consent in this area much higher than in others.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

            It is paternalistic. I’m not sure if that is because of sexism (the belief that women are silly and simply can’t make their own decisions or perhaps that all mothers are by nature self-sacrificing so if she refused CS the doctor must not have explained it) or because of actual paternalism (i.e. the person on behalf of the lawsuit is a damaged child, whose interests must come first).

          • Anne
            March 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

            I find the use of “paternalism”in a negative context somewhat problematic- health care by its nature is paternalistic.
            I realise that in this comment you refer to the court’s paternalism, but there is a subtext which needs to be made explicit in any discussion of the responsibilities of the health care professional (HCP).
            The registered HCP (like a parent) has a non-deligable “duty of care”- ie a higher responsibility- than the patient (like a child).
            Before it is stacks-on and I am reminded of shared decision making etc, those who are HCPs will recognise how this looks in real life. And those who have waited for said HCPs to attend to them while these above interactions are taking place will appreciate this.
            It means spending a great deal of time gaining rapport with hostile clientele and their supporters/defenders.
            It means having to explain internationally recommended practices in minute detail, and refute conspiracy theories gleaned from those with no responsibility to provide evidence (who are often sitting in the same consulting room).
            It means knowing that in most cases, the harm you are attempting to prevent or mitigate is unlikely to eventuate, so you will appear very Henny-Penny to the patient, and their coterie. And that these tales of success against the odds will feature prominently in the lore of NCB.
            It means trying to keep a straight face while the same patients who tell you they have done their research still include “no enema” on their birth plan- or even feel it is important to request immediate skin to skin contact after birth (I can’t recall the last time I saw a newborn baby NOT given straight to the mother at a vaginal birth).
            It means knowing the waiting room is filling with annoyed pregnant women and their families, whose parking meters are expiring, and school children need collecting, and all the other inconveniences are mounting- and that you will be the one apologising and calming them when you finally get to their appointment.
            It means wondering privately if it is worth it, while knowing that there is no other way.
            Because this is your job- no-one else has to do this. The buck stops with you.
            Just like a parent.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm #


          • SporkParade
            March 22, 2015 at 4:03 am #

            I blame paternalism for many things, but I’m not sure that this is one of them. It may well just be that juries say, “But someone needs to pay to care for this poor, injured baby” or, “This poor couple lost their baby; maybe some money will cheer them up,” and find the doctor guilty in spite of the facts of the case.

          • Sarah
            March 22, 2015 at 4:17 am #

            That’s what I’d heard- part of the reason for this is a lack of provision in the US from any other source for severely disabled children. A juror might well see exactly what had happened, but faced with the reality that the truth would leave a child without suitable care, tailor their decision accordingly. I’m not in the US though so forgive me if this is wide of the mark.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 21, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

            The solution to this problem is not midwife led care, but changes within
            tort law in this area. In some ways the courts are very paternal by
            assuming that a woman who declines intervention which results in harm
            must not have truly understood what she was doing and making informed
            consent in this area much higher than in others.

            But what is the alternative? To just say, “Nah, you knew better than that…”? No way.

            And I dispute you claim that it is different in this area. There is a reason why lawnmowers have massive warning signs telling you to no stick your hand under the mower when it’s running. Somewhere, someone said, “I didn’t realize I could lose my hand if I stuck it in the moving blades.”

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

            “And I dispute you claim that it is different in this area. ”

            Well dispute away, but people who work in the field are telling you that litigation is more paternalistic in OB than in other areas. There is a reason OBs have much higher insurance costs than other medical specialists. And a warning sticker will win you some level of protection with a jury if you are a lawn mower manufacturer, but multiple, detailed, witnessed, documented, discussions and even signed refusal statements may mean nothing in the face of a mom who says she didn’t *really* understand and courtroom pictures of a severely disabled child.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 21, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

            And a warning sticker will win you some level of protection with a jury if you are a lawn mower manufacturer,

            No, it doesn’t.

            That’s why lawnmower manufacturers have had to go to things like automatic shutoffs of the blades.

            And then they do more, and more.

            It’s the same as doctors having to document, document, document. Because documenting it three times is better than documenting once.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 22, 2015 at 9:23 am #

            Yes, lawn mower manufacturers have made their product safer, along with putting on warnings. And that combo seems to have worked. Find me a case where an idiot has removed the safety mechanisms on purpose and then stuck their fingers in there on purpose despite the warning, and the jury has sided with them.

            Lawnmowers are a bit like regular medicine. When people willfully disregard medical advice, they seldom have a case. If you refuse to take your Lipitor, metoprolol and aspirin and show up with chest pain at your primary’s, and she does a EKG and tells you to get to the ER, but you refuse medical intervention and go home, she can document that and be protected.

            Contrast this with OB. You have been a contributor here long enough to remember discussions of cases where women refuse all sorts of medical recommendations during labor, up to the point of refusing CS, then have a damaged baby, and sue and WIN multimillion $ settlements, even with ample, repeated, documentation of refusal.

            Once again, Bofa, people who *work in this field* are telling you it’s different.

      • Medwife
        March 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

        I consider it my job to worry about things so the patient and family don’t have to.

        • Sue
          March 23, 2015 at 2:18 am #

          Exactly, “Medwife” – but then, you appear to be a health care professional, not just a birth junkie (luckily for your clients and their families).

  7. Amazed
    March 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    They are beyond help. I am stunned that no one from the NHS doesn’t seem to bat an eyelid. I feel I was right in thinking that Cathy Warwick was just engaging in some PR until the noise faded. Much ado about nothing, huh?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      March 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

      The midwives engage in unethical public behavior with utter impunity. It is truly chilling.

  8. Cobalt
    March 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Here’s some birth and early parenting concerns that are normal and/or natural:

    Acting to help your children to survive birth
    Acting to help your children to be healthy
    Acting to reduce risks in pregnancy
    Avoiding senseless pain
    Wanting to minimize physical damage, including to the pelvic floor
    Feeding your baby nutritious food in good quantity

    These are all a part of normal pregnancy, birth, and early parenting needs. Are these midwives protecting these interests, or their own?

    • toni
      March 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      if midwives are supposed to be ‘with woman’ shouldn’t their priorities be roughly the same as ours? the vast majority just want to get through it with a strong, healthy baby and as little suffering as necessary and don’t give a crap if the process is awarded ‘normal’ status or not. only a small minority of women are gonna be bragging about their unmedicated deliveries in the years to come – and if they do it will probably only be because someone asked – whereas we all talk about how awesome are children are and don’t need to be prompted! because the results of the birth are what we care about not the birth itself!! they’re forcing the priorities of a very select few women on everyone

    • LovleAnjel
      March 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

      They do see themselves as protecting those same things, it’s just that their framework is so shifted from the average person’s that they are working at odds to them.

      Help your child survive birth – by avoiding interventions they think are dangerous
      Help your child be healthy – by avoiding the risks of a CS in terms of lack of gut flora, increased risk of formula usage, ect
      Reduce risks in pregnancy – the risks of having those dangerous interventions
      Avoid senseless pain – they think labor pain is important, not senseless
      Minimizing physical damage to mom – like major abdominal surgery
      Feeding the baby – only breastmilk since formula is poison
      Sleep – only when you’re dead, apparently.

      If you look at this list through the eyes of NCB, these midwives are holding the same basic priorities. It’s just that their view of birth is so twisted that they are really working against it all.

  9. Amy Tuteur, MD
    March 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    It’s as if they are trying to prove my point:

    • Cartman36
      March 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      I find it so strange when people claim natural is better. Natural is a seven year old child dying of a blood infection from an impacted tooth before we had basic dental care.

      • March 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

        Yet they refuse to live in thatch huts without electricity or internet.

        • Cartman36
          March 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

          What fun would it be to have your natural birth if you don’t have electricity or WIFI to brag about it.

        • Nick Sanders
          March 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

          Interestingly, there are people who argue that we should be doing so. The irony that the place they chose to make these arguments is the internet seems totally lost on them.


          • March 20, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

            I love it. There’s a guy named Wolf J. Lupus (I think it’s a pseudonym) who believes in having sex with animals and scratching an existence in nature, yet at the same time he’s an overweight internet addict who spends every waking hour calling people fascists for being concerned with his behavior.

            Unlike Mr. Lupus and the home birth pseudoscientists, at least these culture appropriating weirdos walk the walk.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          March 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

          But thatched, built huts aren’t natural! You have to live in a cave or a tree clothes aren’t natural, and neither is soap!

          Humans have been running full speed away from nature for a very long time.

          To steal a quote (dunno who said it first) from another comments section I saw a long time ago “you know what else is Natural? Selection…

          Thanks, no. I will take all the un-natural interventions please! Pain relief, heplock, IV fluids, sutures, etc, etc

      • Mac Sherbert
        March 20, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

        People have been trying to get away from nature for thousands of years!

      • Sue
        March 21, 2015 at 1:38 am #

        How ironic to bleat on about “nature” over the internet!

        • Sarah
          March 22, 2015 at 4:31 am #

          Yeah but they have organic laptops though.

    • Roadstergal
      March 20, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

      “Rather than focus on one person’s or a few people’s genuine tragedies…”


    • March 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      “Yeah, but Hitler was an animal lover!”

    • namaste863
      March 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

      As though there aren’t already more than enough babies and mothers dying of non-preventable causes. Now we have this looney toon who would basically have us sit on our hands and watch while babies and mothers die of the preventable ones. And for what, exactly? To preserve some outdated and ridiculous notion of what constitutes “Normal?” I can’t even comprehend how anyone would consider this to be even remotely worth a human life. It’s downright disgusting.

      • Melissa
        March 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

        They are all gender essentialists. They believe that women have worth because of what they can do that men can’t (give birth and breastfeed). By making birth “easier” (you know, by making it less painful and survivable) we are taking away the thing they think makes women special. And if they were told they needed to earn respect based on their hearts and minds instead of their uterus and breasts, they would not measure up. That’s why they are obsessed with “natural”.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

          “By making birth “easier” (you know, by making it less painful and survivable) we are taking away the thing they think makes women special.”

          Naw, I don’t think this is so much that they worry that women in general will no longer be special in comparison to men. It’s that they worry that they themselves will no longer be special in comparison to other women. It’s about bragging rights I think.

          ETA: or maybe both motivations.

          • Amy M
            March 21, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

            I think it can be both. First, distinguish the women from the men, via bodily functions. Then determine which woman is BEST based on whose bodily functions work most naturally. Humans seem to naturally work out some sort of pecking order in most societies, as far as I know, but hinging it on the body being as fit as possible for the prehistoric environment, when we live in the modern environment, is just weird and pointless.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 22, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

            I think you hit the nail on the head right there.

          • NXTangl
            June 1, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

            Yes, I do believe that that’s the case. Many women seem to speak out against feminism–against their own interests, in other words. I believe that this is because they want to act girly anyway, and thus want society to acknowledge them as BETTER than other women for being good little submissive axolotl tanks, unlike those trashy girls who wear pants and acknowledge that they enjoy sex. It seems to me that this is not just classic chemophobia–it also seems like the same sort of rhetoric that people use to attack abortion, as ironic as that may seem, and seems to want a similar return to the “good” old days when women were baby factories.

        • namaste863
          March 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

          I see your point. Personally, when I look back on my life 60 years from now I hope that my resume will include things like “First Deaf woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize” (Another Deaf woman already beat me to the summit of Everest, and Marlee Matlin beat me to the Oscar for Best Actress). or “Brought down the Kim regime in North Korea” (If I’m gonna dream, might as well dream big). Or even something like “First female head coach in the NCAA or NFL.” I’m a bit puzzled when someone gives the label of “Achievement” to something like…say…”Shat out a baby on a yoga mat in a stream in the Middle of God’s Nowhere, Australia.” That’s not an achievement; it’s a dangerous, moronic stunt.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 21, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

            I like that idea. Maybe your next achievement after being the first deaf woman to win the Nobel Prize could be mentoring so many other deaf women that in 10 years the headline is “Deaf women sweep Nobels this year. Again.” Or maybe you got your Nobel in peace for bringing down the Kim regime.

          • namaste863
            March 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

            Winning the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing down the Kim Regime sounds like The. Funnest. Thing. Ever.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 23, 2015 at 9:27 am #

            If you could take the Kim Regime down peacefully and without major loss of life (i.e. no mass starvation) I think it would be a well deserved prize.

          • namaste863
            March 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

            I’ll get right on working out how to do that, The Computer Ate My Nym. I’ll put it right up there with figuring out how to keep my potted plants alive for longer than three days.

          • deafgimp
            March 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

            Hell, I’m just looking forward to the day when people with disabilities (I’m deaf and have other disabilities) aren’t considered inspiration for doing the same damn thing that every able bodied person does. That would be a huge achievement. So many people indulge in inspiration porn without even realizing they do it.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 23, 2015 at 9:29 am #

            I agree but given that Obama, a able bodied cis male in one of the most powerful positions in the world is still being patronized for being half black, I’m not holding my breath for the end of inspiration porn any time soon.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          March 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

          I wish I could like this a million times. I am not somehow more special or nurturing than my husband because I happen to have breasts and ovaries. I am not a good, unique, or even exceptional human being just because I can carry a baby inside me. Darned cool, yes. A moral good, not really.

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 20, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

      Women and babies cannot always be saved….but we should not continue in denial about the ones who could have been saved, but weren’t, because of our medical mistakes.

      and obstetricians are not gods….yet we must admit that if we had called them when we should have, they would have saved the women and babies who died under our neglectful care.

      nor is nature, broadly speaking, broken…but what does a specific woman or a specific baby care about “broadly speaking” when nature is killing them as individuals? We need to start putting individuals ahead of philosophies.

    • March 20, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

      Nature isn’t broken, no. It kills those who, through luck or ill genetics, cannot safely be born or give birth to a baby. This is nature working as intended.

      People often don’t like how nature works so we change it. It isn’t saying that nature is broken to say “hey, malaria sucks, lets do something about that” and it isn’t saying that nature is broken to say “hey, transverse lies suck, let’s do something about that” either. Humanity has always raised a middle finger towards the worst of nature working as intended.

      • Elizabeth A
        March 21, 2015 at 9:25 am #

        I had placenta previa last time I was pregnant – a random complication that could absolutely have killed me and my daughter – two people who had no underlying health problems at the time. We’re fine because no one let nature take its course. Had we not been fine, I would not want people to shrug and say that sometimes these things happen. I would want someone to investigate and see if that could have been prevented.

        In fact, I am under the impression that neither my midwives nor my OBs were particularly happy with the way things went down (I began hemorrhaging at home two weeks after being sent from hospital bed rest to home bed rest, and was brought back to the hospital by ambulance), and that my case led them to be more cautious, and to be shirtier with insurance companies who wanted them to cheap out.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle
      March 21, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Nature isn’t broken but it sure as shit is indiferrent to the survival of individual mothers and babies. How fucking stupid are these people?

  10. Eskimo
    March 20, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    On The Feminist Breeders Facebook page, Gina is trying to help an abused woman with two children get the home birth of her dreams despite being in an abusive relationship whose husband is so controlling he doesn’t even let her buy groceries. I guess the husband wants her to go to the hospital but to Gina what is more important is the home birth, not the abuse.

    She’s deleting comments tell the mother to go to the hospital so she can get help because that is patriarchal.

    Once again, home birth is more important than the safety of the mother, children and infant.

    • Medwife
      March 20, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

      Oh no! The hospital would be such a good chance for her to access help! (Aside from the obvious reasons to birth there). Everyone is screened for DV.

      • March 20, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

        Enabler Woman doesn’t care.

      • Elizabeth A
        March 21, 2015 at 9:20 am #

        I am so absolutely with you here. The hospital could really help that woman. Depending on the circumstances, a single prenatal visit could result in that woman and her children being placed in a shelter, with legal aid. I am not saying it would be easy or pleasant, but it would be progress towards improvement in their lives.

        A home containing an abuser is not a safe space to give birth in, and can’t be made into one.

        • Medwife
          March 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

          A midwife would be crazy to attend a home birth with a highly controlling partner. What if he tried to block a transfer?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

            A medwife would be crazy to attend a home birth with a highly controlling partner. What if he tried to block a transfer?


            A midwife, otoh, would consider than an asset. Look, he’s helping her achieve that lovely hb! Hell, midwives have been known to block transfer when then husband/mother were trying to do it.

          • araikwao
            March 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

            Caroline Lovell’s husband helped, too, telling her “no” when she begged him to call an ambulance..

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

            Heck, what if he attacked the midwife? Men who are violent and controlling aren’t necessarily only violent and controlling to their partners. Even if she has no interest at all in her patient’s safety, I’d think she’d be concerned about her own.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

            TBH, I’d be worried that controlling abuser, if tasked with caring for older children during the highly charged situation of labour at home might not cope well.

            Let’s say older kid melts down, mum is labouring hard, midwife has her hands full…is dad going to be able to calmly manage the situation like a grown up?

            Or is kid going to get shouted at, walloped and shut in their room?

          • Amazed
            March 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

            Were you around when a year ago we had a poster proudly claiming that she was taking her fiance to the hospital with her so he could take up the fight in her place if she gave up or somehow became irrational?

            I asked her what her big and strong fiance would do, throttle the medwife suggesting that this skyrocketing high pressure needed to be addressed? Kill the doctor before he could perform an “emergency” c-section? I was being ironic but not too much. He could have impeded a necessary treatment.

            And that was someone who supposedly was NOT in an abusive relationship. Imagine the situation at home, with a transfer needed and the knight in shining armour well-primed that he had to fight his lady’s corner.

            THEN imagine the highly controlling part. I don’t wanna.

    • March 20, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      Oye, that woman. You’ve gotta be fucking me.

    • Sue
      March 21, 2015 at 1:40 am #

      and this is Gina The Public Health Scholar???

    • Somewhereinthemiddle
      March 21, 2015 at 10:41 am #

      Right because having a home birth is going to make everything better. And people who routinely screen for abusive partners are horrible.

    • JJ
      March 21, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

      It would be great for her to go to the hospital. Then she would be exposed to more people and professionals to help and see/hear about the abuse!

      • Liz Leyden
        March 22, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

        They can also have Dad kicked off the unit if he gets violent, and hook Mom up with resources to get into a shelter (if that’s what she wants).

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      March 22, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

      Aaaaaand I’ll take “Things That Will Make Me Bang My Head On My Desk This Week” for $1000, Alex.
      *utters frustrated, futile scream*

  11. March 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Unfortunately, reviews left by readers of this site and by Dr. Amy will be removed by Amazon–not because of censorship or pro-midwifery bias, but because the reviewers clearly didn’t read the book.

    • March 20, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

      idk, they didn’t for that awful Christian child abuse book.

    • Mac Sherbert
      March 20, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

      Maybe not because they are addressing the character of the editor and not the content of the book??

      • March 20, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

        It’s still not about the book.

        • Francesca Violi
          March 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

          I think Dr.Amy’s review IS about the book, in that it points out that the book is inherently incoherent and/or not honest: as it claims to promote compassion, its’s actually about a cynical philosphy, ruthless towards its own victims – loss parents and dead babies.

  12. March 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Advocating for the best care for women and babies, would not put at its core the “protection of normal birth” – it would put at its core the protection of the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies. There is a “Roar Behind The Silence” – but from where I sit it is more in line with the roar behind the silence of anti-anti-vaxxers. There’s a silent majority of women who do not view birth as an area that should be sheltered from technological advance – a silent majority of women who view each and every unneccessary death of either a mother or her baby as nothing short of a tragedy. A silent majority of woman who view this area of care as intensely personal and in need of respect for autonomy of those medical decisions. What is done (or not done) must be between a woman and her qualified care provider and must adhere to a core set of ethics.

  13. Mel
    March 20, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Here’s my review:

    “Buy this book to prove Thurber’s maxim “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

    I lost what respect I had for Ms. Byrom after following her callous dismissal of the entire Titcombe family after their beautiful baby boy, Joshua, died after midwives failed to recognize that the amniotic fluid infection his mother was battling during labor caused a fatal form of sepsis in Joshua.

    Mr. Titcombe has tried to get Ms. Byrom to acknowledge that birth has risks. Ms. Byrom decided the compassionate response was to reply that “Getting out of bed in the morning has risks.”

    Taking advice on kindness and compassion from Ms. Byrom makes as much sense as taking advice on financial matters from Bernie Madoff.

  14. Cartman36
    March 20, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    I was just looking at the comments responding to Dr. Amy’s review of the book. The second one down, posted by Deirdre Munro, midwife, reads “Sheena Byrom is a caring, kind, compassionate, inspirational and protonic midwife, mother and friend.”

    Caring, kind, compassionate, and inspiration people don’t normally tell grieving parents that they are tired if talking about how their colleagues contributed to a baby’s needless death.

    Also, Deirdre might want to look up the definition of the word protonic.

  15. Cartman36
    March 20, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    I am sure someone on SOB has already shared
    Elie Wiesel’s quote “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” but it seems especially fitting here. How so many midwives and NCB advocates can stand by and allow such callousness and disregard for basic medical care of mothers and babies to continue is mind boggling.

  16. Guesty
    March 20, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Can you imagine a therapist at a suicide prevention conference telling the parent of a child who committed suicide, “Oh, let’s not get on that old roll again?” Or a car mechanic saying to the parents of kid whose brakes failed: “Protecting our favorite process of repairing the brakes is our core function.”

    What if an obstetrician had said, “Protecting hospital birth is our core function?”

    • momofone
      March 20, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      I am a therapist and spend a good deal of time working in the area of suicide prevention, and you are exactly right. When it happens, it is devastating, not only to family and friends, but also to therapists and other professionals involved in treatment. I am astounded by how unaffected so many of these midwives are by preventable tragedies. Our response is anything but “oh well, you win some, you lose some.”

      • JJ
        March 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

        Maybe an analogy can be made here. Imagine if there was a subset of natural mental health professionals that bragged about keeping people off meds and doing old fashioned, empowering all natural treatments. Then cover up a suicide rate 5x compared to the conventional mental health professionals but insist that it is still better and say, “well, even people on psych meds commit suicide”. Then start a page and ask for donations.

        Also, the Sisters in Chains website makes my blood boil. My midwife is on there. (My births went well but I am still angry)

    • March 20, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      One of the most important factors in being granted parole is an admittance of guilt and, especially in cases involving violence or negligence, empathy towards the victim. These people would *not* be paroled.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 20, 2015 at 11:30 am #

        1967 Parole Hearings Man: Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you’ve served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?

        Red: Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.

        1967 Parole Hearings Man: Well, it means that you’re ready to rejoin society…

        Red: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up word. A politician’s word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?

        1967 Parole Hearings Man: Well, are you?

        Red: There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.

    • Allie P
      March 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Midwives claim that IS what OBs say. Which, I feel like that just proves they’ve never actually spoken to one.

  17. Mac Sherbert
    March 20, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    This hits kind of close to home for me… A week ago a distant cousin and his wife had their first child. There were the required cute pictures and celebrations posted all over the families’ fb pages and other places. Then suddenly it was all please pray we’ve had a bump in the road baby will have to be at the hospital a couple of more days. Why?…because the baby had an infection and needed some antibiotics. The baby is now home and doing great.

    That is exactly what the story for Mr. Titcomb’s baby son should have been! It should have merely been a bump in the road. I can’t believe this father has had to fight so hard and been dismissed for demanding that his baby and others receive standard care!! It seems they want to ignore the truth, but the truth does have way of coming back around. Unfortunately, their campaign for normal birth (at all costs) will cause more tragedies and in the end people will begin to demand the medical births these midwives are against. It’s kind of like cutting off your nose..only problem is that many innocent families will be hurt before this stops.

  18. Susan
    March 20, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    “Protecting normal birth is a midwife’s core function”. Wow… Talk about nailing the problem on the head.

    Not like those evil doctors and nurses who are more concerned with saving lives than whether birth is “normal”… And what’s ultimately more normal than death? Birth… Death… All natural… Who are we to interfere ( or intervene ) when nature knows best?

    • NXTangl
      June 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

      “Not natural, in my view, sah. Not in favor of unnatural things.’
      Vetinari looked perplexed. ‘You mean, you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree?”

      Terry Pratchett,

      The Fifth Elephant

  19. The Bofa on the Sofa
    March 20, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    I wonder if they would be showing the same contempt if it were a loss mother engaging them instead of a father.

    Actually, strike that. Of course they would.

    • Allie P
      March 20, 2015 at 10:24 am #

      They absolutely would. They’d be banning them and shaming them and trying to silence them. Bury them twice, it’s standard MO.

    • Inmara
      March 20, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      They would accuse mother that she “didn’t trust birth” and therefore her child was more prone to infection or something like that. Sounds like sarcasm but it could very well be said with serious intent by such NCBers.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 20, 2015 at 10:46 am #

        I was reading an article this morning about AA


        An interesting line, which comes from AA itself

        Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.

        This is standard faith healing. You just have to believe, and if you fail, it’s because you didn’t follow the program.

        “…men and women who constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves”? Holy shit.

        I never have had much respect for AA as it is, but wow, I never realized how bad they actually were.

        • Dr Kitty
          March 20, 2015 at 11:49 am #

          12 step programmes are not the only treatment programmes available for drug and alcohol issues.
          Not that you would think that from Hollywood.

          Certainly, our local services for addiction aren’t 12 step, but are pretty successful.

          In my experience, the people who quit alcohol and drugs successfully are the ones who decide, for themselves, that not drinking or using is more important to them than drinking or using. It’s that decision which is central to their recovery, and maintaining recovery is about maintaining their motivation and desire to stay sober.

          HOW you maintain that is less important…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 20, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

            That’s actually what the article I linked is all about. The lack of any real justification for the AA 12 step approach, and how actual scientifically based approaches are much better.

            Given how it’s very hard to actually study AA because, you know, it’s anonymous and stuff, there are some big questions about the effectiveness. AA itself claims 75%, but given the statement above, it’s not clear how they are measuring that. More rigorous attempts to figure it out give answers more like 5%. However, it’s a hard thing to define and thus to measure.

          • Allie P
            March 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

            I thought that was a fascinating article, especially once it went into the much more effective treatment programs they were exploring overseas, which hadn’t been so overwhelmed by the AA model.

            Related: I also really enjoyed Acid Test, the new book about the history of psychedelic therapy for addiction and PTSD, and how some doctors are trying to bring it back.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 21, 2015 at 12:09 am #

            Having spent a fair amount of time in open AA meetings and in Al-Anon, I can’t imagine that those figures could be very accurate because they’d all be both self-reported and self-selected. There aren’t long-term studies being done in those rooms, and no one is reporting any sort of information to AA headquarters except what time meetings are and what kind of meetings (open, closed, etc) they are.
            Which, to be fair, that’s kind of how AA has to be. It is a spiritual program, not one based on numbers, and if it weren’t totally anonymous, a lot of people who might be helped by it would never go. It does work for some people; I met a lot of people in those rooms who’d almost certainly be dead if it weren’t for AA. Obviously, though, it does not work for everyone; what approach, in any sector, does?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 21, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

            Obviously, though, it does not work for everyone; what approach, in any sector, does?

            But that’s a strawman. The question is, how effective is AA compared to other treatment approaches?

            All indications are that other, actual science based approaches, help proportionately more people than AA.

            Yes, the results for AA are hard to come by because of the nature of it. However, that doesn’t mean that we can accept AA’s assertion that it is 75% successful, nor, especially, that we should accept their complete bullshit about how “the program doesn’t fail if you stick with, and some people are genetically predispositioned to fail.” That’s straight out of the faith-healing manual, and has nothing to do with a legitimate treatment.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 22, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

            That was pretty much my point: that it does work for some, if not for others (for reasons varying, I suspect, as much as the people do for whom it doesn’t work), but that even I, who saw a lot of good come of AA, would find any numbers promulgated by them dubious in the extreme because of the nature of the organization.

        • Cobalt
          March 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

          AA sees itself as 100% successful. Any relapses are failures of the patient, not failures of the treatment given to the patient.

          • FormerPhysicist
            March 20, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

            More and more like NCB-filled midwives.

          • yentavegan
            March 20, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

            AA does not identify those in recovery as patients….it is a fellowship of abusers wanting and desiring abstinence.

          • Cobalt
            March 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

            Not always. It is sometimes associated with in- or out-patient treatment centers and attendance may be court ordered. It has moved away from its beginnings, and it’s model is frequently upheld as THE WAY to manage addiction. It doesn’t work for a lot of addicts though, but that failure is seen as the addict not doing the treatment right, as opposed to it not being the right treatment. It also tends to be held like religion for those it does work for, which would be fine if it weren’t for the proselytizing.

        • yentavegan
          March 20, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

          AA works if one sticks to the program. It is not a treatment nor a medical intervention. AA is spiritual.

          • Nick Sanders
            March 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

            “It works as long as you stick to it” is true of just about any self-improvement regime that isn’t purely counterproductive. Better things to assess are if it something most people *can* stick to, what the trade-offs are for sticking with it, and what the costs are for those who don’t stick to it.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

            “Death therapy, Bob. It’s a guaranteed cure.”

          • Amy M
            March 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

            Sure–if you don’t pick up a drink, you’ll stay sober! In all seriousness my mother-in-law was an alcoholic, and she found AA helpful. I knew her for about 13 years (she died almost 2yrs ago), and when I met her she was sober. About 2yrs in, she fell off the wagon and it took her about a year to get sober again, first with a rehab center, then continuing with AA afterwards and she stayed sober for the rest of her life. I don’t know what goes on at an AA meeting, I’ve never been, but if she found it helpful, well, I’m glad she got something from it anyway.

          • yentavegan
            March 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

            alcoholics who do not stick with working the steps end up re abusing.

          • Nick Sanders
            March 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

            Did you read what I said at all?

          • Dr Kitty
            March 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

            Not necessarily.
            How can I put this politely…
            The religious aspect, the standing in a circle and talking about yourself…it’s very American.
            Culturally, as I said recently, I have stoic, laconic people who run a mile at the idea of “sharing” and certainly don’t want to talk to complete strangers about a higher power.

            My patients often go to an AA meeting when they first start thinking about getting sober, hate it and everything it stands for, and eventually come to me looking for help “but don’t suggest I go to AA doc, it’s weird”. They’re quite relieved to be offered one-to-one assessment and counselling at addiction services, with individual treatment plans.

            I’m guessing AA doesn’t count the people who turned up to a meeting, sat, quietly horrified, at the back and left as soon as possible.

            If they’re Catholic and into religion, my patients usually go to Cuan Mhuire, which is a residential rehab run by nuns…it seems to run on the principle that the best way to stop people drinking is to make them go to mass as often as possible, which works quite well while they’re there.

            I can think of more than a few alcohol dependent patients who just decided to get sober…detoxed at home with Librium…and just stayed sober.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

            I’m guessing AA doesn’t count the people who turned up to a meeting,
            sat, quietly horrified, at the back and left as soon as possible.

            Hey, they say it themselves, the program works for everyone who follows it. If it fails, it is because you didn’t follow it correctly.

            The reason it is relevant here is because it’s exactly like what NCB people say about crap like eating kale or other kinds of faith healing. Faith healing never fails, it is the person’s lack of faith that is the failure.

            That’s AA.

          • Medwife
            March 22, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

            With contraception, we figure in adherence to the typical failure rate. If poor adherence makes the typical failure rate high, we say, hmm, not such a great method after all. We don’t just say, dang it ladies, IT WORKS IF YOU WORK IT.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 22, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

            I.e. Why I suggest even the exclusive breast feeders seriously consider condoms or a progesterone only pill.
            Sure LAM can be 98% effective…but really, I think you’ll want a back up, because “can be” is not the same as “will be”.

            “It works if you work it” should be the motto of abstinence only sex education…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 21, 2015 at 12:02 am #

            I found this comment rather interesting, as it gives me a different perspective on AA/Al-Anon than I’ve had before. I’m saying this as someone who’s naturally very introverted and really doesn’t like discussing private things in public, but who was helped by getting out of my shell enough to attend Al-Anon and open AA meetings. Though I no longer attend, I did find a lot of their common-sense stuff to be helpful, as I grew up in a house with a lot of alcohol and no common sense whatsoever.
            I’ve often wondered how a more reserved society would view AA, and how (and whether) it would work in that sort of society. I’ve also thought that the twelve steps themselves have a lot of wisdom, common sense, and humanity in them, and that they could well be applied without sitting about and explaining how a person feels about them for an hour straight, but that’s not entirely kosher by AA standards. 😉 In short (ha!) I appreciated your point of view on this subject; thanks! 🙂

          • Guesteleh
            March 21, 2015 at 12:57 am #

            I live in a city with a very large Latin American population and here AA isn’t really anonymous. The groups name themselves, and they meet in stores with big AA signs and the doors are usually open so you can see the meetings in progress. There’s even one group that has an AA neon sign outside. So interesting how local culture influences AA.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 22, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

            Mmmm, that sort of thing is true of many AA groups. Actually, I never knew one that *didn’t* have some sort of nickname/what-have-you. There are definitely layers of anonymity within even AA. There are open meetings, to which anyone who is interested for any reason may come. There are also closed meetings, to which only alcoholics–of course, self-identified–are invited.
            Finally, and these meetings are NOT publicized at all…if you spend enough time around groups, you’ll find out about the existence of much more secretive chapters. There is almost always at least one comprised entirely of doctors in a decently-sized city, because they, for reasons that are obvious, can’t walk regularly into an AA meeting without risking their livelihoods, even if they have been sober for a long time.
            There’s still such a stigma here about mental illness and addiction, even when they’re managed appropriately. It’s rather sad. Honestly, I’d rather have a doctor who admits he has a problem and is taking whatever steps are necessary to handle it than one who refuses to deal with it until it becomes too much for him.

          • demodocus' spouse
            March 21, 2015 at 11:10 am #

            Not all Americans, of course. Its one thing to anonymously comment here, but I could never stand up and confess to a roomful of people. But then, us true Yankees tend to be a bit laconic about personal things too. (Yankees live in the North East and are mostly descended from colonial New Englanders) We’re cold and unfeeling, doncha know.

        • Ainsley Nicholson
          March 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

          Alcoholics Anonymous originated as a cult that targeted alcoholics for recruitment when they were most vulnerable. It hasn’t changed much since then. There is a great web site that discusses the history of AA and the cult-like aspects of its strategies:
          http://www.orange-papers.org/. This website also discusses the evidence that AA does not help people who have drinking problems, and actually makes their problems worse in a lot of cases.

          There is a scientifically proven method for changing problematic drinking behaviors, and it is summarized well here:

          • Sarah
            March 21, 2015 at 3:44 am #

            Wow, that’s really interesting.

      • KarenJJ
        March 20, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

        I was thinking they’d be more vicious and blame the victim more…

  20. Amy M
    March 20, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    It’s amazing these people can sleep at night. Would they recognize their own behavior if it was reflected back to them? I’ll use hospice care as an example. Let’s say one of these women gets cancer at some point, and gets to end-stage where there’s nothing left but hospice care. We expect hospice care workers to be compassionate and respectful, and that they should offer palliatives to make dying as painless as possible.

    What if the hospice care workers decide that death is a natural part of life after all, and people in the olden days didn’t have the benefit of morphine? Palliatives are for people who are less than, and real warriors suck it up and die like nature intended: screaming and writhing to the last. Then, when their families complain, the hospice workers say something like: “Who cares? She was just going to die anyway, and we think physiologic death is best. We didn’t want to spend any extra time or money on your wimpy-ass relative who was begging for pain relief. Why couldn’t she be like the stoic (comatose) patient in the next bed?”

    Would that be ok with these midwives?

    • March 20, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      Dying in agony builds character.

      • Nick Sanders
        March 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

        I thought Calvin’s Dad was a patent clerk, not a midwife. :p

        • March 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

          Hey, we don’t know what he does in his downtime.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

            (hee hee, “downtime” – when we were in college, my dorm neighbor was taking Psych, and the question was “What is the period called immediately after ejaculation when the man can get an erection? and one of the options was “downtime.” So that’s what we always call it now, so when you say “We don’t know what he does in his downtime” it makes me laugh)

          • March 20, 2015 at 8:42 pm #


            As a mental health professional, I’m totally ganking that.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

          According to the Calvin and Hobbes wiki, Calvin’s dad was a patent attorney.

          • Nick Sanders
            March 20, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

            Whoops, I was close.

  21. March 20, 2015 at 6:09 am #

    Rather than a total cognitive disconnect, I think there’s an insidious, eugenic rationalization towards this kind of thinking, which has been abundantly suggested but rings especially clear now.

    Simply put, parents are people with living children who were born vaginally– TRUE, NORMAL parents, anyway. If your child dies, even at the hands of incompetent midwives, they weren’t meant to live anyway and as a result of that, you just aren’t a parent.

    So yes, in their view they’re being compassionate towards parents, but only the biologically superior (and therefore deserving) ones.

    Besides, it’s easy to be dismissive of dead babies when you view them as collateral damage. They’ve devolved to the 19th century philosophy that dead babies are just going to happen and rather than dwell on it, parents should focus on making new ones because good, healthy people don’t have trouble getting knocked up anyhow.

    • Roadstergal
      March 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

      That’s an especially chilling angle given that, IIRC, minority women were massively over-represented in the preventable deaths of their babies vs the population of the hospital overall.

      • March 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

        Unfortunately, they still are.

        I was going to embed a pretty graph for you but google is bombarding me with Fox News’ and Stormfront’s horrified numbers on minority birth rates.

        I’d be curious to learn if the death rate of minority women and newborns in the UK reflect our own.

    • deafgimp
      March 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

      There’s some doctor in the UK that is saying that we should let the babies of obese patients be born vaginally instead of with c-section because we’re just creating more babies that are going to grow up obese. Having them born vaginally is natural selection at its finest.

      • March 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm #



        God. What a deplorable human being.

        • NXTangl
          June 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm #


          Argh, that’s absolutely correct from a logical standpoint looking ONLY at “reducing obesity” as an end goal, yet completely wrong when you factor in ground assumptions such as the fact that medical professionals really ought to be bound by Asimov’s First.

  22. mostlyclueless
    March 20, 2015 at 1:33 am #

    I know this is has been said many times before, but I just want to say thank you again for your tireless work. You are the loudest, strongest voice against this insanity and I am so glad you continue to speak up.

  23. moto_librarian
    March 19, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    Sheena Byrom, you and your colleagues should be ashamed of yourselves. I am stunned by your dismissive attitude towards the Titcombe family, given that their son would be alive today had it not been for the hubris and negligence of your colleagues. You show a shocking lack of self-awareness and common decency.

    Why aren’t you and your fellow midwives figuring out how to make sure that preventable deaths stop happening? Why are you incapable of practicing within scope and referring to your obstetric and pediatric colleagues when a situation becomes high-risk? Why do you worship at the altar of physiologic birth when history demonstrates that in the absence of intervention, childbirth extracts a horrible toll on women and their babies? How can you say that you are “with women” when you and your colleagues routinely demean women who ask for the pain relief that our feminist grandmothers fought for as a basic human right?

    Your job is to see women and babies through childbirth safely. If you really don’t understand that, you have no business being a midwife. Given your behavior, you definitely have no right to lecture anyone about respect, kindness, or compassion. You disgust me.

  24. Cobalt
    March 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    That poor family. Mr. Titcombe is a hero for babies, and it is just incredible how he is treated by the group who killed his son.

    Kindness, compassion, and respect! I wonder how her private dictionary defines responsibility, integrity, and competence…

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