The cult of homebirth kills babies; 5 deaths in the last few weeks

Homebirth reaper

In many respects, American homebirth is a cult. There is an extensive misinformation campaign promising spiritual benefits; the widespread deleting and banning in homebirth groups means that women are trapped in echo chambers; deaths and disasters are hidden; and women are encourage to ever more dangerous births by a chorus of “supporters” who disavow responsibity when a baby dies. That goes double for the cult of unassisted birth (no midwife).

Encouraged by a private Facebook group to avoid medical care and disregard doctors? Please think again.

That’s why so many babies die at homebirth.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about 7 homebirth deaths  in one week, one the result of undiagnosed congenital anomalies that might or might not have been treatable in a hospital. There have been at least an additional five homebirth deaths since:

1. Baby Girl Penelope. The mother was planning a UBA2C (unassisted birth after 2 C-sections). She went past 40 weeks (by her own estimation) and ruptured membranes at 43 weeks.

Right through nearly 44 weeks, multiple people encouraged her including Ruth Rodley. You may remember Ruth as the group administrator who callously dismissed the 7 dead homebirth babies in one week as “hickups.”

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At 44 weeks she noticed decreased fetal movement. At the hospital the baby was found to be dead.

Penelope’s mother was receiving support from at least two groups run by homebirth advocates … until her baby died. Then she was accused of being a “troll” and making up her story.

2. Baby Girl Miranda Ruby. She died during an attempted UBAC. Her mother had a history of 3 previous successful VBACs. This time her uterus ruptured and her baby died. She is blaming the castor oil. It happened 7/26 in addition to the previous 7 deaths that I wrote about occurring during that week.

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I have so much regret and shame. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly known this would happen I beat myself up about it all over again. I can never have more babies myself no not that anyone could replace our beautiful Miranda Ruby.

In the wake of Miranda Ruby’s death, she received the following expressions of “support:” One commentor told her that it was her decision to take castor oil that caused her uterus to rupture and killed her baby; another commentor insisted that there was probably something wrong with the baby that would have killed her later anyway. Both are terrific examples of the way that denial keeps homebirth advocates from learning anything from even the most disastrous outcome.

3. A baby died in UC attempt in Winston NC. Seen in a local homebirth group. No further details are available at this time.

4. Baby Girl. Her mother runs a Facebook group called Rewilding Mama. She had no prenatal care. Water broke at 37 weeks on 8/30, and the baby was born 2 or 3 days later. She died the next day. The mother is being investigated by Child Protective Services.

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I am devastated. I lost my sweet daughter after a little less than 24 hours… I am being investigated for my daughter’s death and my son has been placed in foster care.

5. Baby boy. Mother was planning HBA3C. She was 42.2 and the perinatologist had recommended to delivery weeks before; she stopped going to appointments. She was being encouraged by a small VBA3C Facebook group. The mother noticed decreased movement and went in; the baby was dead and the mother opted for repeat C-section.

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There was also a case of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE, brain damage) as a result of attempted homebirth.

Baby Jarrett. Attempted homebirth in Georgia with cord prolapse and oxygen deprivation. The baby was transferred to Tallahassee for cooling therapy. Parents were told that prognosis was grim and permanent brain damage (HIE) would likely result.

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Thinking about homebirth? Encouraged by a private Facebook group to avoid medical care and disregard doctors? Please think again. I really don’t want to write about you and your dead or brain damaged baby in future installments of homebirth deaths.

  • i think my comment went in the spam filter. there was a recent death in utah as well, a home birth midwife (camille sorensen wilcox) lost one of her twin boys. they started a go fund me to try to pay for funeral expenses.

  • I didn’t think you were still tracking these or I would have emailed you the latest in my state. Well, here is a death I wrote about… Vickie Sorensen, killer midwife going on trial this year, lost her grandson in a home birth. Vickie’s daughter, the mother of the deceased, is *also* a homebirth midwife.

    https://safermidwiferyutah.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/another-baby-dies-in-a-utah-home-birth-and-the-mother-is-a-home-birth-midwife/

    she lost one of two twin boys. Vickie is on trial for losing a baby (and almost a mother) in a twin birth. it is a weird coincidence.

    a report came out in our state showing a 2.3x increase in deaths for home birth babies. the midwives are doing a (predictable) campaign of damage control and silence instead of trying to make things safer for anyone. Sorry to hear so many other babies were hurt recently. its a shame. so needless.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Wow. I’d say it’s poetic justice, except there are actual innocent lives at stake.

      • natxlaw

        Wow, that’s pretty cold. Especially for a medical professional. You mind telling us where you practice?

  • ThatsMyName

    The last one is heartbreaking for me, and so scary to read. I nearly had a cord prolapse with one of my pregnancies. Luckily, I was in the hospital and on continuous fetal monitoring. My nurses were able to see that the baby’s heart rate was not okay, call in an OB who suggested an immediate c-section and an anesthesiologist to get me quickly knocked out for it, and to get that baby out. The cord was compressed, but hadn’t fully prolapsed (I think I’m using those terms right, but maybe not…). Even so, my baby was not breathing immediately (but started to quickly with help, and is now doing great).

    I do not think harshly of women who have home births or feel that they are bad people, and my heart breaks for the mothers and babies in this post, but after that experience I would never ever choose to give birth outside of a hospital. I’ve been told this was basically just a random accident, and not due to anything I did or anything wrong with me or the baby. The cord just ended up in the wrong place (between baby and cervix, ready to come out first had my water broken). The thought that, had we been out of the hospital, my baby could have died or been seriously injured due to a totally random accident that we couldn’t predict or control for makes me want to throw up. I am so glad we had an entire team to support us and save the day.

  • areawomanpdx

    Aside from the other comments, this study took place in the Netherlands where the midwives are university educated providers with extremely strict transfer criteria and a system which supports quick transfers. The results, such as they are, cannot be translated in any way to him with in the United States, where the vast majority of homebirth midwives have little to no didactic education and very little oversight. For example, see this comparison of Dutch home birth criteria to the ridiculous standards Oregon midwives have devised for themselves: http://oregonmidwifeinfo.com/laws/

  • Liana

    Low risk women with planned home birth at the onset of labour have lower rates of referral from primary to secondary care during labour, augmentation, medical pain relief, operative delivery, postpartum haemorrhage, and episiotomy than those with planned hospital birth

    Studies so far have been too small to compare severe acute maternal morbidity between planned home birth and planned hospital birth among low risk women

    Low risk women in primary care with planned home birth at the onset of labour had a lower rate of severe acute maternal morbidity, postpartum haemorrhage, and manual removal of placenta than those with planned hospital birth

    These differences were statistically significant for parous women

    There was no evidence that planned home birth among low risk women leads to an increased risk of severe adverse maternal outcomes in a maternity care system with well trained midwives and a good referral and transportation system

    http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f3263

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Are you basing your statements entirely on the BMJ article? You’re talking about “studies” but you’ve only linked to a single study.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        That is the way with all science deniers. They find one study that shows what they already believe and they think that is scientific.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Time to break out the if Google was a guy gif again!

          • Renee Martin

            this is great!

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Well, kind of says what they believe. It actually contains a lot of caveats and an awful lot of results with no statistical significance.

    • Angharad

      I don’t consider medical pain relief an adverse outcome. For me, and lots of other women, it’s a feature, not a bug.

      • Dr Kitty

        One of these things is not like the others, one of these things isn’t the same…

    • FortyMegabytes

      Before you put too much faith in that “study”, read this:

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/06/no-new-dutch-study-does-not-show-that-homebirth-is-safe.html

      The study essentially says, “If we ignore all the negative outcomes, than home birth is safer!”

    • Megan

      What about the outcomes for the babies at homebirths, eg neonatal morbidity and mortality? Your cited study only discussed maternal morbidity (and conveniently ignores maternal mortality). Do the babies not matter?

    • areawomanpdx

      Aside from the other comments, this study took place in the Netherlands where the midwives are university educated providers with extremely strict transfer criteria and a system which supports quick transfers. The results, such as they are, cannot be translated in any way to home birth in the United States, where the vast majority of homebirth midwives have little to no didactic education and very little oversight. For example, see this comparison of Dutch home birth criteria to the ridiculous standards Oregon midwives have devised for themselves: http://oregonmidwifeinfo.com/laws/

      • Sarah

        And the Netherlands is tiny with very good road links throughout.

    • yugaya

      You got a reply already why the results of htis study are not applicable to homebirth in USA. I’m only gonna ask if you are familiar at all with perinatal mortaliy in the NEtherlands and the reformed, even stricter risking out regulation that was implemented in 2010 when the homebirth death rates were determined to be unacceptable?

    • Sarah

      Oh look, we’ve got one who thinks less medical pain relief is a good thing.

      • JJ

        Yeah. I had my first baby at home. He was posterior and the MW knew it ahead of time but did not want to tell me. I WISH I could have had an epidural. I was in so much pain that I could not move to get into the car to get an epidural. Where is the data set of women who wanted pain relief but could not access it!? Less access to pain relief is not a win for women. We need a choice! Can you imagine if there were other areas of medicine that thought lack of pain relief was a positive? Lower rates of pain relief for vasectomies? Root canals?

        • Sarah

          Ah, I had a posterior baby too. But no epidural, not through choice. Stung a bit. My cohort are, as you point out, not well researched. Because we’re inconvenient for everyone. It looks bad for hospitals that lots of women who want pain relief are being denied it, and NCBers aren’t interested because they don’t want to consider the possibility that we might have poorer outcomes than women who experienced the same complications and had epidurals.

          • Megan

            My daughter also turned posterior (and asynclitic) during labor and we could not get an epidural to work after two separate tries. It is truly excruciating. I will never understand why avoiding an epidural is considered a good thing. Some women really need it and want it.

          • CognitiveDissonaceHurts

            I had four, count ’em four, posterior births without epidural because I was brainwashed by the NCB cult. And yes, excruciating torturous pain only begins to describe the way it felt. If I had to do it over again, it would be epidurals every time.

        • Mishimoo

          Burns! Just breathe right through them. Pain is just an indicator of proper nerve function. (Yes, I managed to scald myself again.)

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I usually get through minor burns without pharmacologic aid by swearing my way through them*. (Burn self) “Bleep! Bleep! Bleep! That was stupid. Bleep! Bleep!” The Mythbusters’ data suggest that swearing helps with pain too. Maybe we should implement the “potty mouth protocol” to help women in early labor with mild to moderate pain who desire avoidance of pharmacologic pain relief.

            *While simultaneously treating the underlying condition, aka putting cold water on the burn.

          • Who?

            Like lamaze for burns?

            Except if you do something useful ie run cold water, then that takes it out of lamaze territory.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Like Lamaze, only with swearing instead of breath control and treatment of the problem causing the pain. As an added bonus, the “swear your way through labor” also gives you an excuse later on. “Oh, dear, of course I don’t think you’re a ridiculous baboon with an ego problem and small…parts. I only said that as part of my pain control regimen.” See how fast men who pressure their wives to avoid pain meds come around if they have to share the pain, even if only emotionally.

          • SporkParade

            I hear Lamaze is good for dental procedures.

          • Who?

            Maybe I’ll get my daughter to try it for her broken arm. Best to be well out of range before I suggest it though, getting between her and the actual painkillers might not be the best idea at the moment.

          • Mishimoo

            That’s my preferred treatment option for minor burns too. Seems to be effective for the cooling period of more serious burns as well as the travel to medical attention. It is also good for summoning assistance – “F!!” *crash* – my husband was there in seconds. It might be worth investigating for use in labour, but I suspect that it will fall under the “Proof of lack of bonding” and used as a reason for pain.

          • Who?

            I’m not sure you and hot liquids or steam should be allowed in proximity to each other. There seems to be an improper relationship (certainly unhealthy) going on.

            Hope it is healing up well.

          • Mishimoo

            That was the suggestion in A&E because its nearly a year since my last scald! My brother is joking about building an exoskeleton for me. Thankfully this one is not as bad nor as extensive. I’ll find out how its healing on Saturday, since the dressings/protocol are different to last time. Still bad enough that I was offered fentanyl and it really drove home the difference between NCB proponents and decent medical care.

          • Who?

            What a shame-the exoskeleton may not be an entirely bad idea.

            My daughter broke her arm yesterday-touch footie gone wrong-and she was propped up in A&E on the morphine inside 10 minutes from walking in the front door. They topped it up before the xray and again before the cast. And sent her home with a fistful of drugs and a script.

            Still so sore for her but it would be so much more horrible without-and it was clearly an expectation that her pain would be treated and also that everything would be done to minimise it-minimal and gentle handling, propped up on pillows, kept cosy. It’s hard to think of people crying out for pain relief and not getting it.

          • Mishimoo

            Oh no! Hope she heals up quickly and well. Its great that they did everything they could to make her as comfortable as possible.

            And yes, exactly. Its still hard nearly 3 years on to think of my best friend asking to be transferred to L&D from the birth center (literally across the hall in that hospital) for decent pain relief and being told “Just a few more minutes…” for hours.

        • Hilary

          I’m curious whether women who oppose epidurals ever take tylenol for menstrual cramps.

        • Kimberley Gordon

          Well said.

    • MaineJen

      Those who have a home birth *cannot* have any of those things, even if they need them.

      And, would you care to address outcomes for the babies?

    • Sue

      Liana says:
      “There was no evidence that planned home birth among low risk women leads to an increased risk of severe adverse maternal outcomes in a maternity care system with well trained midwives and a good referral and transportation system”

      which only leaves a 3X excess neonatal mortality and unreported excess neonatal morbidity in good systems, and a significant excess of dead mothers AND babies in unregulated systems with high-risk women delivering at home. What’s to worry about?

      • Kimberley Gordon

        You are kidding right???

  • TS

    While all these cases are tragic – NONE of them are representative of responsible, planned home birth with a qualified birth professional (midwife). No childbirth professional in their right mind would advocate for unassisted homebirth without professional support or a back-up transfer plan (if required). None of these women would meet the criteria for a good candidate for home birth either. Please stop this witch hunt and demonisation of home birth. It is ridiculous and completely without basis in evidence-based research. Just look at the home birth outcomes in the following countries – Denmark, UK, New Zealand – all have relatively high home birth rates (home birth in these countries is also normalised and a widely accepted birth option by MAINSTREAM maternity health care providers including obstetricians and hospitals who have midwife-run homebirth programs). The research outcomes are conclusive and compelling. Low risk women giving birth at home being cared for by a qualified professional have outcomes as good – if not better – than low risk women giving birth in hospital.
    Your agenda is dangerous – not home birth.

    • SporkParade

      You must be new here. That is the point of this website – babies are dying because women are choosing to give birth at home with barely trained, extremely unqualified lay midwives, who are not prohibited from practicing midwifery in most states in the US. They are doing so based on lies and fearmongering by these self-stylized “midwives,” including the belief that being high risk doesn’t preclude giving birth at home.
      By the way, you may want to peruse further to learn about your heroes, the UK midwives. The UK spends 11x as much on malpractice per live birth as the US does, due in large part to the stranglehold midwives hold on maternity care, where they fail to refer to OBs, whom they view as competition, instead valuing “normal birth” over patient safety.
      As for New Zealand, I would be terrified to give birth there. I’ve heard too many stories of midwives conning women out of pain relief.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Remarkably selective list of countries. I notice that you didn’t include the Netherlands. This was smart of you as there have been several papers demonstrating worse outcomes for home birth and midwife care in general in the Netherlands. As for the UK, even making assumptions in favor of home birth and underpowering the study, a recent study demonstrated that low risk primagravs do worse at home.

      • moto_librarian

        New Zealand has plenty of problems too. TS should take a look at AIM (Action to Improve Maternity Services).

    • manabanana

      The issue is – well, one of the issues – that we don’t have a system that promotes responsible, planned home birth with qualified midwives.

      We have a homebirth system of care that is dominated by CPMs – whose training, skills and clinical reasoning skills vary widely. CPMs are not legal and regulated in every state – and in those states where they are legal and licensed – things like breech, VBAC and twins are not always prohibited.

      There will always be an increased risk of mortality and morbidity in an out-of-hospital setting due to the nature of the distance from outside the hospital to inside the hospital. I disagree that a population of women who are low risk will have ‘outcomes as good – if not better – than lowr risk women giving birth in the hospital.” I haven’t seen any data to support this claim, and the logistics of OOH birth make this seem unlikely.

      I’m a rare bird here in that I don’t believe homebirth should be outlawed or whatever people call for here – I do think low-risk women with a trained, skilled midwife might be reasonable with a plan for an out-of-hospital birth. I would never, ever make the claim that it is safer. There is still a risk – and I believe that risk is proportional to the distance someone is from an equipped OR, blood products and skilled nursing and medical staff. Low – risk women need to be informed of these risks prior to accepting the terms of giving birth outside of a hospital OB unit.

      • Roadstergal

        “I’m a rare bird here in that I don’t believe homebirth should be outlawed or whatever people call for here ”

        I don’t know if anyone on this board is in favor of making homebirth illegal. We just want the risks clearly articulated and acknowledged to women considering HB, and we don’t think someone taking an unnecessary risk with her baby deserves to have that choice praised and supported by all and sundry. Very different from making it illegal.

        It _should_ be illegal to practice medicine with substandard training (CPM).

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I don’t know if anyone on this board is in favor of making homebirth illegal.

          I’ve pointed out many times that it is pretty much impossible to make it “illegal.” How does that work?

          • Renee Martin

            No one knows, because NOT ONE PERSON HERE is for making UC or HB illegal!

      • RMY

        I think home birth should be legal. I think it should be discouraged strongly with facts that accurately display the pros and cons. I think practitioners of home birth should be required to be insured the same as doctors. That would have the side effects of making home birth more in line with other medical choices with regards to informed consent and patient protection, but would also make it more expensive and likely rarer, as malpractice insurance isn’t cheap.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      NONE of them are representative of responsible, planned home birth with a qualified birth professional (midwife).

      Here’s the problem: if the homebirths that were being done were actually “responsible, planned home birth(s) with a qualified birth professional” we wouldn’t be having this discussion. However, that’s NOT what’s happening. In the US, for example, far and away the vast majority of home births are attended by CPMs, who are not in any sense qualified birth professionals (they wouldn’t be qualified in any other 1st world country). Given that you are all about responsible home birth with qualified professionals, you would agree that home birth with CPMs must be unacceptable, right? Great, then we agree.

      And even UK midwives, who you list as exemplars, have recently been shown to have created a culture that is costing babies their lives. It’s not even home birth, it’s birth center midwives, and they are not acting responsibly. Clearly you would agree that such actions are unacceptable, right? Good, we agree again.

      The problem is not being big old unfair meanies to those poor midwives. It’s that the so-called “responsible” midwives have failed to hold the whackaloons responsible for their bad actions.

      THEY are dangerous. The ones who cause all the problems, and the ones who sit back and accommodate and apologize for them.
      Until the home birth culture changes to become one of responsible care with qualified practitioners everywhere, it will be a problem.

      As I said, IF home births were actually being done responsibly with qualified practitioners, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So join with us and INSIST upon that standards.

      • Renee Martin

        Oh silly ol BOFA! Wanting to use the stats and info that comes from the reality of HB in America! You’re so silly! We aren’t talking about reality here, just the utopia where HB is wonderful 😉

        • Roadstergal

          Like the Birthplace study. What matters isn’t the outcomes from HB as currently practiced, it’s the sunniest subgroups!

    • Renee Martin

      Dr Amy’s agenda is to INFORM moms about the risks of HB, especially the risks that are being hidden, downplayed, or simply lied about. She wants all moms to know the differences in the types of MWs, and how-and why- other nations stats are irrelevant.

      PLEASE tell me how sharing information that is critical to making an *informed decision* is dangerous?

      If you want a HB you can come here to get better informed, then go into your HB armed with more knowledge- how is this bad again? No, really- I want an answer. How is sharing FACTUAL INFO about HB dangerous?

    • Hilary

      The point is that women who’ve had multiple c-sections and whose babies are post-term ARE being encouraged by some home birth advocates to give birth at home and even without professional assistance. Should nobody point that out or give evidence of how dangerous it is, because it makes home birth look bad?

      According to the medical community, I am not eligible for a hospital VBAC, much less at home. I have a friend who is also high risk for VBAC. Both of us have been encouraged to try for VBAC/HBAC by people (on the internet and in real life) who know our situations and risk factors. Dr. Amy isn’t making this stuff up.

    • Sue

      TS – are you not aware of the UK Birthplace study or the Australian public homebirth review?

      In the UK study, despite being in a regulated system with strict exclusion criteria and a 40% transfer rate, there was a 3X excess mortality for first-timers. Neonatal injury was not even reported.

      The Australian review, published in the BMJ, found a neonatal mortality of 2.2 per 1000 births, compared with similar-risk hospital neonatal mortality of 0.4 per 1000.

      Then there’s the Netherlands, where a review of births between 2000 and 2008 found “that giving birth in a hospital leads to substantial reductions in newborn mortality.”

      All of the references are discussed on this site, if you want to read more.

      So, we HAVE looked at the data from these systems. And, you’re right, the research outcomes ARE conclusive and compelling. But not in the way you think.

      • Nicole

        Your response got me curious. I’m a casual lurker, so I wasn’t aware of the three studies that you cited.

        UK study: yeah, good evidence that a home birth is riskier for first time mothers… but for mothers on babies 2+, no difference between home, midwife unit, or OB unit. So, not quite a resounding “home birth is dangerous, full stop.”

        Australian review: I’m not sure if I was looking at the same study as you. The one I saw found a stillbirth/ neonatal mortality rate of 1.7/ 1000 (excluding babies with fetal abnormalities that would have passed at home or hospital), not 2.2, and I didn’t see the 0.4 referenced anywhere. Either way, the one I read clearly stated “however, the sample size does not have sufficient power to draw a conclusion about safety.” So, not so helpful.

        Netherlands study: I could only read the abstract/ results… which stated “Intrapartum and neonatal death at 0-7 days was observed in 0.15% of planned home compared with 0.18% in planned hospital births (crude relative risk 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71-0.91). After case mix adjustment, the relation is reversed, showing nonsignificant increased mortality risk of home birth (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.91-1.21). In certain subgroups, additional mortality may arise at home if risk conditions emerge at birth (up to 20% increase).” Again, not the slam dunk “homebirth is dangerous” conclusion.

        Help a lady out? Do you have links or other information on these studies to show why you feel that they provide conclusive and compelling evidence that home birth is dangerous?

        I’m not trying to troll – I honestly just got curious and want to know.

  • Kq

    Since the pro life crowd is trying to co-opt this thread, I’m sharing my own story.
    You really don’t know what it’s like until you walk a mile in those agonizing shoes. I thought I was against “late term abortion” until I had one.

    https://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/what-late-term-abortion-looks-like/

    • seekingbalance

      thank you for sharing that beautiful and heartbreaking story. your love for your son comes through with every word. being a parent so often means making hard choices and doing what you truly believe is in the best interest of your child, even when others doubt and question you. you’re a brave woman. thank you for speaking out to give voice to what sometimes seems like an abstraction to those who haven’t been through it….

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Thank you for your bravery in posting this. I’m prochoice but before I got pregnant I always thought that I would never choose to have an abortion myself. But I’ve since realised that if my son had had severe congenital abnormalities (thankfully he didn’t), then I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer. Being a parent means that sometimes you have to take the hard road for the sake of your children. I’m prochoice because I have never had to consider abortion, and I figure that that gives me no right to judge anyone who is in that situation.

    • Sarah

      Thanks, that was very needed. Please don’t let the whataboutery in this thread get you down.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Thank you very much for sharing your story. It is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Dr Kitty

      Every time someone uses abortion to construct a straw man and you, very bravely, I think, share Isaac’s story, I am thankful that you do so.

      Stories like yours need to be told, because these situations are not hypothetical.
      The real people, filled with real grief and love and integrity who are faced with these heartbreaking choices are the heart of the matter, but can get lost in the rhetoric.

      Thank you again for putting yourself out there Kq.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Reading your story is always difficult but I read it anyways. Difficult because how do you weigh what you want versus what your child would want and their needs? There’s no doubt you love him and he was wantsd and you make a heart rending choice and your writing clearly shows you had his needs at the center of the defision and not your own desires to not have a handicapped kid as is so often leveled against women who make this choice. You did what you thought was right for your son, as parents often must. It’s easy to say its hard being parent but not many are faced with this level of difficulty. It’s so easy to judge when you will probably never experience it.

      I honestly don’t know what I would do in that situation. I know what I think I would do but if faced with the actual choice I don’t know if I would stick with that.

      Abortion is an intensely personal topic that has so much to do with views on life, religion or lack of, bodily autonomy, personal morality, and so forth.

      What I believe does not mean it get to shove it on everyone else. My morals are just that. Mine. I came to a conclusion that felt right for me. That doesn’t mean it’s a one size fits all.

      So while I have a lot of issues with both sides of the debate, ultimately I’m pro-choice. I’d rather have the choice available then risk a woman’s health due to restrictive legislation that may literally kill her due to something like cancer that could kill the fetus but save her life and needs to be started asap or a desperate woman who goes to an untrained person in non-sterile conditions and dies from infection that could have been prevented. And like you pointed out, you don’t know how your views will be tested until faced with that reality yourself. We shouldn’t be afraid to say we don’t have a clear cut outcome for every condition. Life isn’t so binary to has a yes/no answer to everything.

    • Megan

      This is my first time hearing of your heartbreaking story. I’m so sorry that you had to make that choice.

    • Carolina

      I remember the first time I read your story. It still moves me to tears. Keep writing and sharing.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      And I guess one more comment after reading the bile spewed at you from so called Christians.

      My mom and I talked about this at length earlier this year after she had to stop and think very hard on the matter she was confronted with.

      A friend of my mom approached her and said that his brother had asked him to help end his life. The brother had an advanced neurological disease with little quality of life. He wanted to die and where he lived it was legal and the proper combination of drugs provided to do so. He was afraid if he did it that my mom would think him a monster because of her beliefs and never speak to him again.

      She realized that no, he is not a monster but a brother who wanted to help even if it hurt him. A selfless act that would leave deep wounds but would set his brother free as he requested.. He is a gay man and she already loved him as a brother without judging him for that despite the judgement it brought on her as well. A good man doesn’t have to be a straight man. The brother was asking him to do this out of trust. Even if she didn’t believe in doctor assisted suicide she told him that her morals are hers and not his. She chose those morals and she cannot apply them to him because he has not made the same covenants with God that she had. He didn’t make that choice and it should always be a choice. Forcing them on him doesn’t make it right. She told him she couldn’t assist him with it but to do what he felt was right and she would be there afterwards if he needed a shoulder to cry on or just didn’t want to be alone

      The difference is the covenants that those in a religion willingly enter in to and believe in. A covenant is an agreement between an -individual- and God. A covenant cannot be forced onto someone. It has to be a person’s choice to make the change and live that agreement. If someone hasn’t entered that covenant then how can we expect them to follow it without that connection? It’s like asking someone who speaks and writes only Spanish to write an entire essay about classic English literature in English and then getting angry and berating them and screaming at them for not being able to do it. It’s a ridiculous expectation.

      The ones screaming hellfire and damnation certainly haven’t adopted the higher laws of the New Testament. Love thy neighbour as I (Christ) have loved you. Christ loved his apostles, wept with those mourning Lazarus, served the blind man on the Sabbath, forgave and did not berate the woman caught in adultery and refused to stone her. So many lessons that are simply glossed over that good Christians should be learning from. Giving comfort to someone doesn’t do anything to jeopardize anyone’s afterlife and only costs a little time. If one believes in eternity, then what is a few hours in that time frame to mourn with those who mourn as Christ commanded his followers to do?

      You deserve compassion no matter where you are on Sunday or what you believe. You acted out of the love you felt for your child and what would be best for his potential lifetime. And unlike my mom’s friend and his brother, you couldn’t ask him what he wanted any more than he could communicate it to you.

    • Renee Martin

      Thank you for once again sharing what was a difficult and distressing part of your life. I too am tired of womens bodies being policed.

    • Roadstergal

      Every time I read your post, it makes me so sad and so angry. I’m so sorry that this had to happen to you, but I’m so glad you’ve been blessed (speaking as a fellow atheist) with a son who can fully enjoy what life has to offer, and that you’re giving him every opportunity to.

    • Hilary

      I read your story when you posted this reply 3 days ago and have been thinking about it since then. I am so sorry for your loss, so sorry that you had to make this heartbreaking decision and I sense real bravery and love in your choice.

      To me, though, this is not a women’s rights/pro-choice issue but a disability rights/euthanasia issue and my comment is from the perspective of a disability activist. It wasn’t that you didn’t want to be pregnant or didn’t want a child. It wasn’t really (correct me if I’m wrong) about control of your body. Your reasons for ending your son’s life would have been the same, it seems to me, if he had already been born.

      So the question I have is – should we be able to decide for another person whether or not their life is worth living? Personally, I don’t think anyone should decide that for someone else. But as someone who has been involved in the day-to-day life of people with severe disabilities and witnessed the intense suffering and injustice of their lives, and has read more than one first-person account from parents who made the opposite choice from you and later felt – at least at times – that their decision to keep their child may have been selfish or cruel, I have no romantic delusions. I don’t know what the “right” decision is. In a way, I think it’s an intolerable responsibility to place on a parent, to have to make that decision for their child.

      On a personal note, I thought I would never ever even for a second consider abortion for myself, until I was told in my second trimester that my baby might have cancer. Fortunately it turned out to be a non-lethal birth defect and I did not have to make that decision. But for the two weeks that I lived with the possibility of him having cancer, I did think about it, with great terror and uncertainty.

      Peace to you.

  • anotheramy

    Baby #5 of this post is especially sad to me. If she was seeing a perinatologist, that means she was high risk, and strangers on the internet encouraged her to ignore her doctor’s advice through scare tactics and misinformation. How dare uneducated internet strangers think they know more than a perinatologist!

    • Renee Martin

      I bet that peri is also hurt by this, and probably is wondering right now what they could have dome differently.

  • Trixie

    Thank you, Dr. Amy, for writing about these. I cannot imagine you enjoy it. Someone has to remember these babies. Someone has to hold these women who encourage dangerous choices to account.

  • Who?

    Baby Jarrett’s story is the nightmare. All going well, then all to hell, in moments. Moments.

    And that can happen to anyone. No reason, no warning. No hope.

    The others were slow motion train crashes-would the train hit the obstacle, or would the obstacle move in time? You don’t know until it happens.

    But this one. Unbearable and unfathomable.

    • mostlyclueless

      Exactly. The other ones, maybe you could make the argument that a skilled attendant would have prevented the tragedy. But not that time.

      • Azuran

        Well, you could also make the argument that if she had been in a hospital when the cord prolapsed, the c-section would have been made much sooner. Perhaps the outcome would be better. But it’s not clear how much time passed between the water breaking and the prolapse. Maybe it would have happened in the car on the way to the hospital.

        • Who?

          I might be showing my ignorance in that comment.

          What I meant to say is that there is no way of knowing the cord is going to prolapse (or is there?). But for each of the others, there were clear risk factors that made the mothers’ choices more dangerous.

          Presumably you can have a wonderful healthy pregnancy and a prolapsed cord. And if a prolapsed cord happens, the best outcome is to get baby out fast, and the best place for that is hospital.

          Baby Jarrett had no chance at home, given the prolapse. Perhaps in hospital he would have had a better chance.

          • Anne

            Cord prolapse is more likely with a poorly fitting presenting part (breech, esp footling; unstable lie) or a high head in a cephalic presentation. It is one of the factors checked in late pregnancy visits to identify those women who are at higher risk for cord prolapse, and advise accordingly.
            Competent labour caregivers will assess presentation abdominally early in labour. And will always listen to a fetal heart directly after membrane rupture.

          • Who?

            Thankyou for that.

            So who knows how Jarrett would have gone in different circumstances, but in hospital there would have been some options, at least. And perhaps someone would have noticed and known what to recommend if he was at risk before the prolapse.

            For some reason I find his story particularly difficult.

    • Dr Kitty

      When my mother was a medical student in the 70s in Africa they occasionally had women with cord prolapse arrive at the hospital.

      Traditional birth attendants knew enough to manually lift the presenting part off the cord, put the woman in the back of a truck and drive to a hospital, often hours away, on dirt roads.

      Very, very occasionally the baby made it.

      Would telling the women who avoid hospital because of anxiety about VEs that in the worst case scenario, if they have a cord prolapse at home, they are going to have someone pushing the baby off the cord until they get to hospital change their minds do you think?

      • Who?

        Ouch.

        I did wonder if such a thing was possible, and can only imagine how horrible it is to go through. Agony seems like a too small word to describe it. I had an anterior lip with number 1 and the pain of having that sorted was extraordinary. But it was at least over quickly, and done during a contraction. What your mum describes would be horrific, and potentially not successful on top. Surely anyone who had ever had an unmedicated labour would get it? And how exhausting for the presenting part holder, since I don’t imagine swapping is possible or desirable.

        We had a gorgeous irish midwife, who had spent many years-decades, really-in Africa as a nun, deliver number 1 in the UK. I really thought there was nothing she couldn’t deal with, with all that experience. And she never hesitated to call in the doctors. The arrogance of these homebirth midwives is extraordinary.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        When I think about cord prolapse, I think about my wife’s old college roommate, who had a cord prolapse when she was sitting in the doctor’s office at her 26 week appointment.

        Her baby survived, and is now a delightful 14 year old girl.

        26 weeks is hard enough, but coupled with a prolapse. Isn’t modern medicine wonderful!

      • yugaya

        Quack midwifes of America are bringing 70’s Africa birth stories (and deaths) to 21st century industrialized world. Your comment reminded me I read this the other day:

        ” in 2002, during what was supposed to be a routine birth, the mother’s uterus ruptured and the umbilical cord preceded the baby, an exceedingly dangerous condition known as cord prolapse. Brock drove to the hospital with her hands still cupped inside the mother. The baby died”.

        “Routine” birth was a high risk HBAC btw.

        http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/9/alabama-midwivesbannedfromathomedeliveries.html

        • Roadstergal

          “It’s supersimple to have a birth outside of a hospital, but that’s not the culture we live,” she said. “They teach you that birth is scary and dangerous. It’s not. It’s natural. It’s the way our bodies work. We were made to do it.”

          If it’s so supersimple and natural, why did you drive three hours to have a midwife present, Ella?

          • yugaya

            ““It’s supersimple to have a birth outside of a hospital, but that’s not the culture we live,” she said. “They teach you that birth is scary and dangerous. It’s not. It’s natural. It’s the way our bodies work. We were made to do it.”

            Would she call a car that is guaranteed to fail and kill 1 out of every 100 people who take it for a spin something that was “made to do it”? Or would she be teaching people exactly how dangerous it is and how to make sure we all minimize the chances of dying behind the wheel of such a lousy model?

            That’s how deadly her ideal “natural” childbirth is.

          • Roadstergal

            If your birth plan makes drunk driving look safe, I really can’t get behind it.

  • Karen in SC

    Please share this blog and /or this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRhkZKUNyMY

  • Liz Leyden

    Back in May, a baby in my state delivered at home by a naturopath ended up transferred to the hospital with respiratory distress. He ended up dying of strep pneumonia 7 hours after birth. Last month, the state stripped the naturopath of the ability to care for women in childbirth.
    https://www.sec.state.vt.us/media/702338/Robens-Angela-DOCKET-2015318.pdf

    • Who?

      Surely ‘stripped the naturopath of the right…’-he clearly did not have the ability to begin with.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Damn it. That document is infuriating. The fake doctor says that the out of hospital standard of care for GBS is different than ACOG because, essentially, the standard of care is out of their scope of practice. Fucking hell. If you can’t follow the rules, then just change the rules!

    • Amy M

      Liked for the state intervening.

    • Trixie

      Holy hell, this is sickening. I can’t believe it.

    • Sarah

      Good!

  • Gilly

    More babies die due to abortion than homebirth. If a women can choose to terminate her pregnancy because it is her body her choice, why do you think you can tell her how to birth her baby…whatever the possible outcome?

    • moto_librarian

      I don’t care where a woman decides to give birth, but I do care that she is given accurate information about the risks associated with out of hospital birth. There is an entire industry built upon this perfect birth fantasy. Encouraging a woman to HBAC, particularly after multiple c-sections, is incredibly reckless and dangerous.

    • Fallow

      If you can’t tell the difference between the abortion of a pre-viable fetus of an unwanted pregnancy, and the completely unnecessary suffering death of a much-wanted full-term baby…. you have cognitive or psychiatric problems that need to be addressed.

      • Clare

        Pre viable fetus of unwanted pregnancy is just words. In Canada you can abort a fully formed baby up to 9 months, did you know that?! Wanted or unwanted doesn’t make it any less fully formed. It is the womans’ rights that makes the difference. Don’t bully the homebirth Mom if you wouldn’t bully the abortion Mom. My body my choice. Don’t think a Mom is uneducated because she chooses a homebirth. We all make the choice we think is best.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Where the hell did you get that bullshit about Canada?

          I mean just googling “Can I get a full term abortion in Canada” brings up all you need to know. Which is that, no, Canada is not electively aborting full term fetuses. From a cursory look at the first five results I’m getting that the latest is 24 weeks.

          And at a certain point the mother should have made a choice. I can understand the delay tactics used to deny women abortions that are in their 25th week an abortion when they came in originally in their 24th by less honest facilities being an exception but if you’re 38 weeks along and then suddenly decide parenthood and pregnancy aren’t for you, why not just adopt out at that point? The hard part of growing the human being is already done and that’s usually what an abortion is supposed to halt, yes? Pregnancy care itself is quite an expense and if I’m reading right most abortions are from poor women who already have children that can barely afford to keep the ones they have sheltered and fed and don’t have access to reliable birth control.

          Seriously… Wtf kind of argument is this?

          • Haelmoon

            There are legal standards and there are medical ethics standards. Legally, there are no restrictions on abortion in Canada. However, most medical providers us 24 weeks as the cut-off for terminations of pregnancy. The few cases I have been involved with about that gestational age were the results of non-lethal, but severe brain anomalies that were diagnosed late – parents would have chosen a termination sooner had we had the information for them sooner. I have had one women travel to the US to have a late termination (27 weeks) becuase of a late pregnancy diagnosis (sexual assualt, denial and significant mental health issues), but that is the exception.
            Women planning a homebirth a perfectly entitled to do so, but they must have proper information against the risk. I don’t think we are trying to bully homebirth months – rather force homebirth providers to acknowledge the risk and stop lying about it. That is very different then what happens in terminations. The consult is long and detailed, and they are not presured in to making a decision. There are lots of cases of women planning homebirths who were “encouraged” to forgo testing to they would remain “low-risk”. There is no informed consent in that picture.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            That makes sense as it looks like extenuating circumstances are usually involved. I have a hard time picturing a doctor just killing a full term fetus and dumping it in the specimen collection box all hunkey dory without a though. I’m sure it isn’t a picnic for the doctor that has to perform the procedure either. Probably not a good day for anyone involved.

            And as you mentioned, licensed and educated medical workers have a code of ethics they follow with a responsibility to give accurate risk aseesement to the patient.

            Midwives, as far as I’ve observed, don’t have any ethics and responsibility to realistic risks. It’s all about what they can get out of the next person that walks through their door whether it’s the birth high, the money, or both.

            A person can give birth where she wants but that doesn’t eliminate the consequences of that choice. And unfortunately the research trickling out shows the consequences have a high chance of being devastating in one way or another.

        • MaineJen

          There goes the strawman argument of the cruel mother who decides at 9 months pregnant that she doesn’t want the baby any more. This is a fantasy. The people seeking abortions after the age of viability are the people who are carrying children with a fatal defect, or are facing death themselves if they continue the pregnancy. These are the women whose choice you want to take away. Don’t try to pretend this is black and white. Don’t drag an unrelated issue in here. And don’t equate a safe and legal abortion performed by a doctor with a home birth with an unqualified attendant where the mother doesn’t even know the risks she’s taking.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            And if people think the mothers that terminate their child due to defects or a risk of their own death don’t care and don’t feel then I know who’s really out of touch with their humanity. And it’s not the mother who chose to abort her child in this case.

            Would it be my choice? I don’t know. I haven’t been in the situation. How do you even imagine that? Who would want to? Until that happens to me, and hopefully it never does, I’m not going to assume anything about these poor women faced with what has to be one of the worst choices in the world.

        • PrimaryCareDoc
        • mostlyclueless

          I’ll tell you what. The next time a woman with a healthy 9 month old viable fetus wants to abort it, I’ll judge her too. Happy?

          • JellyCat

            You cannot abort a healthy formed fetus in Canada.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Yeah, I’m totally ready to judge the crap out of the woman who goes through 9 months of pregnancy and then decides at week 40+1 to have an abortion, even though neither she nor the fetus have any health issues…if I could only find her. She’s so elusive. Only shows up in “pro-life” fantasies. Sort of like Fiorina’s disappearing “Planned Parenthood video”.

        • Azuran

          You know what else is legal in Canada? Amputation. Yet you don’t see doctor cutting off limbs just because people ask them to.
          That’s because medicine is mostly regulated by ethical guideline, medical guideline and standard of practice. Not by law. Medicine is too vast, with too many grey area and changing way too fast for the law to decide on what can or cannot be done.
          You want to know why we have not made full term abortion illegal? Look up Savita Halappanavar. That’s what happens when we let the law decide what Doctors can or cannot do to save their patient.

          • Sarah

            Doctors won’t cut off limbs on request, but we could have Certified Professional Amputators.

        • Allie

          This tidbit about Canada keeps getting repeated and it isn’t true. It varies by province between 12 and 20 weeks, and in no province is the abortion of a 9 month fetus legal. Attempting to abort at that stage would be a Criminal Code offense, and after about 22-24 weeks, the remains of a deceased fetus must be disposed of as human remains. Sadly, I know this having attended funerals for a friends two late-stage pregnancy losses.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Want to know where you really can and sometimes have to abort a fully formed, healthy 9 month fetus? Somalia. The Congo. Any place where there aren’t enough resources and trained personnel to perform a c-section when the fetus is hopelessly stuck during birth. I might have had one myself if my (abortion providing) OB hadn’t been there to do a c-section in time to save us both. Really glad none of your “pro-life” friends killed him or drove him out of business.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      I’m going to take the chance that this isn’t a Poe attempt… Also going to try to stay as apolitical as possible on this.

      Abortions in all states as far as I know and many countries do not allow abortions after a certain gestational age, usually when a fetus could be considered to have more than a 50% chance of being viable if I’m remembering correctly. Some exceptions are made for birth defects, life of the mothers and so on that couldn’t have been addressed in the usual abortion time frame.

      There’s not a lot in common with an embryo or early fetus that still sparks considerable debate on if it’s alive/conscious/can feel pain/feel fear and so on to a full term baby that can survive outside the womb with minimal assistance and most assuredly can feel pain and at least rudimentary fear.

      Also I could be daft, but I’m reasonably sure that mothers having a home birth aren’t trying to terminate the life of their child and infact a live and healthy child is very much wanted.

      Apples and oranges, at least in what I see.

    • RMY

      The problem is that when a woman goes in for an abortion, she is agreeing to the outcome. There’s no fb group out there telling pregnant college women that an abortion will pause that pregnancy. Home birth has a community that spread misinformation and it’s providers very in quality and accountability. An abortion doctor who lies to patients can be reported and lose his or her right to practice medicine anywhere. A midwife can just move to a more lax state.

    • Who?

      You’re right, of course. If a mother wants to risk the life and safety of her unborn child (and, incidentally herself) at homebirth, she can do that.

      And as long as she understands that death or serious disabiltiy for her and the baby is far more likely at homebirth, that’s all fine.

    • Valerie

      Simple- you can tell somebody what you think they should do (and what the majority of reasonable people would do, given they have accurate information) while supporting their legal right to do otherwise.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        It’s the whole free speech argument just search and replaced “free speech” with “give birth.”

        Yes you are free to say what you want standing on a public side walk. I’m also free to say you’re an idiot and, no, threatening me with a slander or libel lawsuit doesn’t work that way.

        Free speech is for every U.S. citizen, not just the “enlightened non-sheeple” of fringe interwebz sites.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Pop quiz. What’s the difference between a first trimester unwanted fetus and a 40 week wanted baby?

      • mostlyclueless

        Probably nothing, that’s why everyone who miscarries at home had a home birth right?

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        One can catch polio and the other helped prevent polio? *shot*

    • Spamamander

      No “babies” die in abortions. Embryos and fetuses, yes.

    • MJ

      Wrong analogy. Should people with no medical training be able to take money to perform abortions at home? Should those people be able to avoid any kind of restitution if the woman dies or suffers permanent injury? Should those people be able to advertise their services and tell women that they will be more at peace with their abortion if they do it at home?
      No one here is arguing with a woman’s legal right to choose home birth. The energy on this page is directed at the unskilled providers and advocates who ‘support’ that choice with substandard care and no accountability.

      • Who?

        Exactly.

        Home abortionists are one of the scourges that making abortion legal has hopefully consigned to history.

        I’d be much happier with home birth if providers had to jump through the same hoops as abortion services providers-be regulated, have required information to share, and all the rest of it.

        But somehow I doubt the people advocating choice as a rationale for homebirth would feel the same way. I suspect they are quite happy with homebirth mothers remaining ignorant of the real concerns.

    • Azuran

      Yea sure. The voluntary termination of an embryo/foetus in an early pregnancy and the accidental death of a wanted full term baby are totally the same thing. Absolutely no difference between the two.

      Sure, you can chose wherever you want to give birth. But you should be made fully aware of the risk and accept whatever the outcome is.

      Also, well, since apparently abortion and birth are the same thing. I guess we should no be telling women how to have an abortion either. It’s their body so it’s their choice. If they want to give themselves abortion with clothes hanger, by punching themselves in the belly or by taking home made natural abortion tea or whatever, they totally should do it.
      Hey, over 20% of pregnancy end up with a spontaneous abortion. Abortion is natural. Our bodies know how to do it. Let’s stop medicalising abortion!!!!!

    • Kq
      • MaineJen

        That last picture. I’m so sorry.

    • Sarah

      Why do you think Dr Amy is telling women how to give birth?

    • Erin

      There is world of difference between telling women what exactly what they should do and wanting them to have all the facts to make decisions they don’t regret. Having had a discussion with a Midwifery Manager recently regarding informed consent and being told that informing women about the actual risks of childbirth from tears to the procedures they may or may not need would scare them unnecessarily…. I believe 100 percent that the side of childbirth discussed on this blog needs a voice.

      My son’s arrival was traumatic albeit for reasons not particularly relating to childbirth, just an unfortunate series of events combining to recreate a previous traumatic event and so I joined a support group, looking I suppose for reassurance that my somewhat skewed views on birth etc were at least shared by others. What I found was something else entirely. Women being told that what happened to them was the fault of the medical profession, that all those nasty interventions and examinations had caused their bodies to fail them. That every woman can birth her children vaginally* and they had the wrong frame of mind last time and not surprisingly the vast majority of women were planning future births away from hospitals to avoid the “mistakes” they made last time. They use words like “robbed” and “stolen” to describe their lack of “magical” and “empowering” births and it makes me so sad because based on some of the decisions some of them seem set on making (based on dubious data), egged on by women who should know better, perhaps next time they’ll be using those same words to describe their dead child and that’s the true tragedy here.

      *I struggle with the knowledge that if I want more children, odds on they will be delivered by section but I can’t escape the facts. I seem to have the pelvis of someone three foot shorter than me and my husband’s family grow babies with big heads but I’m not sure how hyno-birthing will fix my particular issue (unless my instructor is male with a tendency to produce small headed babies).

      • araikwao

        How very paternalistic of the MW manager, whose title is supposed to suggest she is “with woman”.

    • Renee Martin

      The OP was not about abortion. But since you went there…

      WE* ALL UNDERSTAND THAT MOM HAS BODILY AUTONOMY, AND CAN CHOOSE WHATEVER MODE OF BIRTH SHE WANTS.

      WE AGREE THIS IS HER RIGHT, AND WE DO NOT SEEK TO TAKE THAT RIGHT AWAY. NO ONE HERE IS MAKING LAWS THAT PROHIBIT MOM FROM HAVING A UC OR HB.

      WE AREN’T TELLING MOMS THEY *MUST* BIRTH IN ANY PARTICULAR WAY.

      Non supporting a particular birth plan, pointing out dangers in certain situations (HBAC, vaginal breech), sharing the stats, and then sharing stories that illustrate the stats, are NOT the same as telling someone what to do.

      Just because we know that some choices are deadly, and we may even beg a mom to reconsider, this does *not* mean that we don’t think she should be allowed to do what she wants.

      * WE is used to generalize the regulars that comment here. I know there sare outliers, but I also know that most of you know exactly what I mean by WE.

  • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

    What these women don’t realize is that they will be supported by these ridiculous FB groups, until their baby dies. Then they are a troll or are told this must have been God’s will, or just blocked and deleted so the truth cannot save another baby’s life. The mother who had her son taken away by DCF because she killed her daughter, well those are the consequences of being a bad mother and making horrendous decisions that kill your baby so you can stunt birth for bragging rights. I posted under another another article about how my 2nd son was born RCS and little did we know he had a nuchal cord wrapped 3x very tightly around his neck. He had to be resuscitated and spent 4 days in the NICU. Obviously this was no fault of my own, but if I had not had the RCS and for some dumb reason decided to HBAC, he would be dead or severely brain damaged.

  • Mariana Baca

    So here is what I don’t understand. Some women opt for an HBAC (instead of VBAC or RCS at hospital) because it has a higher chance of vaginal delivery (duh — no other option) and thus they think would protect their future fertility. But, here is the thing: if something goes wrong at home, not only is the child at risk, but you are at risk for an uterine rupture which would ruin future fertility as well. And it is not like women can’t have 3 or 4 C-sections (I’ve known women with 5-6, even).

    Basically, if everything “goes right” it will go right in either place. But if things go wrong, you not only risk the current child, but future fertility as well, which they claim to want to protect. So they are getting *nothing* from their attempts, other than the stunt/bragging rights. If they end up with a C-section, there is no law stopping them from getting pregnant again. If they end up with a rupture at home, they lose both the current child and future chances at either children or birth (since they care about that).

    How can they not see that? That they are risking everything and getting nothing in return? It is such a faustian bargain.

    • MaineJen

      “…other than the stunt/bragging rights”

      Bingo.

    • araikwao

      I think there’s a “birth after uterine rupture” (or similar) group somewhere too, can you believe?

      • Liz Leyden

        I can, if the rupture was small enough. Not all uterine ruptures result in hysterectomies.

        • araikwao

          I’m aware of that, but as you can imagine, with some of these crazy stunt birth groups, it seems to promote it as something desirable (I did it and proved the docs wrong! You should too!)

    • Therese

      There are people whose bodies can’t handle more than one or two c-sections. I know two people in real life whose doctors advised them after only their second c-section that they had come very close to rupturing and that it was best to not get pregnant again. I mean, I still don’t agree with HBAC, but there is no guarantee that any particular individual will be able to have three or four c-sections.

      • Mariana Baca

        Sure, but if you are one of those people, wouldn’t you be in even *greater* risk of rupturing from a VBAC, and would want to be monitored as much as possible in your attempt?

        In understand not everyone can have 3+ C-Sections, but if you rupture you aren’t likely to have any more babies at all. If the goal is preserving fertility, go for the least severe consequences, and take it one pregnancy at a time.

        Plus, as long as you have a uterus (and presumably working ovaries), you *can* get pregnant again (even if AMA). If you had a hysterectomy from a rupture, that is it, there are no choices.

      • Dr Kitty

        My SIL was told she had a paper thin lower segment at her second CS and not to have any more kids. Her third child is 7, and the pregnancy and RCS were uneventful. Everyone in the family was holding their breath in case she went into labour.

        My mother had four CS, and was told by her OB that her fourth should be her last (little sis was transverse, so it was a T incision). My mum’s OB had previously told her that the most CS he’d done on one woman was 8, and he’d let mum know when he thought it wasn’t a good idea to have more.

        At my recent CS, I asked what the OB thought, and she told me I have very little scar tissue or adhesions and a nice thick lower segment, so while she wouldn’t recommend Irish twins, otherwise carry on.

        Most women can safely have two or three CS. Some can only have one.
        You don’t know, but not knowing the condition of your lower segment is an argument for hospital care at attempted VBAC (for good candidates) not for HBAC for all comers.

        • FormerPhysicist

          I had 3 c/s. I was told not to get pregnant again, but that had nothing to do with my uterus. My OB thought I’d be fine with 2 more c/s. The pre-eclampsia however, that would probably kill me next time.

          • FEDUP MD

            I got told the same by my OB. I’ve had two. I rolled into the OR the second time with a BP of 170/110 (I’m usually 90-100/60), a wicked headache, pitting edema in every part of my body including my abdomen, and the luck to have it happen at 39 weeks. Next time I might not make it that long, especially considering my age (36). I would adore a third kid but not so much that I want to leave my other two motherless or with a disabled mother.

      • wookie130

        This is true, and I am one such person…I was strongly advised to not become pregnant again, due to my paper-thin uterus after my second c-section.

      • Renee Martin

        There is no guarantee you will get ANY babies, let alone as many as you want.

    • Mel

      They also seem to miss an obvious point: losing a baby after a horrific home birth experience may prevent you or your spouse from being psychological able to handle another pregnancy. It’s not like if the baby dies there are no effects on the parents…

      I worry too about the effects on living sibs of the baby who died.

      Grief affects everyone.

  • Anna

    A beautiful poem I recently came across written by a woman who lost her baby:

    -Dear beauty, where’s your fancy cradle
    Decorated in purple and green?
    Where’s your cherished beloved little baby?
    What is it you remember of him?

    – Mother’s fate is a delicate torture
    And no mercy there’s under the Sun.
    On one day gates of Heaven split open
    And the Angels got hold of my son.

    In one day I grew fifty years older,
    Doesn’t help nor to talk nor to weep,
    Cause my arms are still willing to hold him
    And I hear him cry when I sleep.

    In the twilight when daylight has faded
    Don’t remember a thing anymore
    I just wander there seeking the cradle
    Of the only one I adore.

    There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING worse than the death of an innocent child. NCB advocates, burn in hell!!!

  • Gene

    It is often said that vaccines are a victim of their own success. People no longer remember the deaths and disabilities from vaccine preventable illnesses. I am rabidly (pardon the expression) pro vaccine in part because I can put a name and face to vaccine preventable illnesses.

    If you ask most women, they personally will not know a death or serious injury during to childbirth. This is in large part due to advances in obstetrics. Of my friends and family, I know of one prenatal death from placental abruption, but nothing else long lasting or serious. But if you ask me PROFESSIONALLY if I know of deaths or disabilities associated either childbirth, you’d have to have a seat as I rattle them off. And keep in mind that I’ve attended to maybe 500 births. These are parents and children whose care I’ve been involved in (though not necessarily at the birth itself), not “oh, did you hear” cases. Real children, real mothers, real people! It’s not fear mongering, it is dispationate recitation of facts.

  • Mac Sherbert

    FYI — “Just a few weeks ago I wrote about 7 homebirth deaths in one week,” – Link takes me to page not found.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    This is so heartbreaking.

    I don’t know how a midwife can look at a still, dead child and not see the loss of a person. Most of these babies already had names before a cascade of problems snuffed out their life. So many maybes that are now nevers.

    They are people, someone’s child who was wanted and waited for. And these predators prey on that overwhelming love that drives mothers to want to do everything possible to give their child the best. Because these midwivss need to feel important and control someone at their most vulnerable without risking their own life. How sick.

  • Ellen Mary

    I know that you don’t. Thank you for your work. My third baby is alive & healthy b/c of SOB.

    • Renee Martin

      ^These are the stories that need collected, and put on a website. I think its important that women see that being informed can lead to better choices, which help her haver a healthy baby (and mom, of course).

      I hear someone in the “evidence based VBAC” group say something similar to Ellen Mary^, 3-4x a week. Many HBACs avoided, many healthy babies directly due to location of birth, some near misses that still made it because of interventions (unavailable at home)- and the moms attribute their healthy babies to being fully informed (by the group and HCP). Its a great group!

      I don’t recall the numbers now, but recently an admin did a count of the evidence based group: 7-8 ruptures, no fatalities, while a similarly sized V/H/U/BAC group had near as many deaths and several cases of severely brain damaged babies.

  • Cartman36

    The picture of the baby is especially horrific. Please excuse me while I go give my son an extra big hug and thank God again for the lifesaving c-section that brought him into this world.

    • Inmara

      Damn it, I’m crying now. What twisted way of thinking brought this mother to such high risk stunt? Who was so delusional to encourage and support it?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        In the same way, I can’t even begin to read stories about the Baby Doe found in Boston. I just know that the truth behind it is so awful to be unfathomable, as I get ready to watch my 6 and 4 yos go play soccer. I just can’t imagine.

        • Amy M

          I hate hearing about that too—they did figure out who she was though, and now her mom/step-dad are being investigated.

  • MaineJen

    This is horrific.

  • Cartman36

    Every time I read another “harvest of death” post the only word that comes to mind is horrifying. Just horrifying.

    • Kathleen

      The word that comes to my mind is selfish. These women cared more about their “ideal birth” than about having a live, healthy baby. Selfish. I can’t seem to help it, no matter how much I want to have some sympathy. I would have done ANYTHING to make sure my kids were born healthy no matter what it would have cost me.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        The thing is though a lot of these women think they’re doing the best thing for their babies. Some are extremely self absorbed and vain that care about their experience more than their child’s life. Them I have very little sympathy for.

        Others, like some women on this site, were bombarded with lies and half truths in communities that tend to sway more towards the things like homeopathy, reflexology, and the like. The media doesn’t help as hospital births are still shown as sterile environments rife with problems for drama or even worse as incompetent in the name of comedy.

        Add in more media with talk show hosts and celebrities endorsing some really nutty stuff (steam cleaned vaginas?) and you’re going to have people convinced that a home birth will be the right thing for their baby! Thinking there will be less trauma and controlling how their baby enters the world instead of being at the mercy of an OB who will start cutting so “he doesn’t miss his golf game.”

        There’s a reason that this midwifery stuff is likened to a cult. It’s scary how easily they can dig their class into someone.

        • JJ

          I had 3 homebirths because I really thought (was taught) that it was the safest choice for a very low-risk patient like me. When I learned the truth that the CPMs are not qualified and the risk of death/injury is multiplied that was enough for me to happily switch to an OB for my upcoming birth. There are lots of moms like me who were told we were making the best choice. Believe me, I am enraged at the idea that I was lied to and that I could have needlessly lost one of my precious children (and they could have lost their mother). I look at them sometimes after reading these stories and tremble in my heart that I could have missed out on any of them. I told my husband if the doctor says they need to knock me out and cut me open for this baby, sign the forms and let them do it. I care most about coming home with our baby to enjoy the rest of our lives.

          • nomofear

            Amen! I had my first at a freestanding birth center for the same reasons. After finding this site and commenters during my second pregnancy, I was thrilled to request a 39th-week induction and have a guilt free epidural. And no fear.

          • JJ

            I am looking forward to the option of an epidural if I need it!

  • demodocus

    Can you actually go 44 weeks? Mom always insisted my sister was 4 weeks late, but no-one in the family really believed it. Paternal grandmother to the point where she was sure sister isn’t Dad’s kid. (Dad had developed testicular cancer and treatment began right about then. Might that explain her cancers?)

    • Megan

      You technically could though the placenta would be very old by then and the risk of stillbirth quite high.

      • Megan

        Mind you, no doctor in their right mind would let you go that long.

    • Mac Sherbert

      My MIL claims she did with one of hers way back when. I forget why, but she was unable to attend her last appointments and when she showed up in labor her doctor said “Where have you been? We’ve been worried about you?” They didn’t have a phone at the time. She says the baby was big and didn’t look or act like a newborn. In no way would she recommend someone do that now!

    • Cobalt

      One of my friends was born by cesarean (repeat) at 43 and a half weeks, 30 some years ago. Her mother’s doctor didn’t believe her dates and her first pregnancy test was a false negative (mom knew though, based on her *ahem* “opportunities” to become pregnant). Her older sibling was still on the breast, her mother had no normal menstrual cycles between the two. Ultrasound wasn’t nearly so common as it is now.

      Her mother was terrified going overdue, and her “paper thin” scar when they did finally do the section confirmed her reason to fear.

    • yugaya

      You can go to 44+4 weeks like Penelope’s mom did and if you were stuck in the killer birth groups, you would be told by a woman who supposedly went over 45 weeks not to worry about a thing.Your membranes are now ruptured for two whole weeks? No danger, that’s normal, doctors lie about risks of infection, and you can replenish everything by just keeping hydrated. See how many of us refused inductions, recommended CS, laboured at home unmonitored and all of our babies lived? There are no real risks to post term pregnancy at all. Some of those idiots like Janet Fraser will push it as far as claiming that any baby who was not born as a result of spontaneous labour is premature.

      And you would feel like Penelope’s mom felt, like the crowd cheering you on was real support and that you were doing the right thing, bringing your precious baby into this world the safest way possible. And then two days later baby dies, the online predators move onto their next victim, and the mom who listened to them with all her heart is kicked to the curb and called a troll who invented the whole thing.

    • Liz Leyden

      Apparently, my mother went 44 weeks with me. She was a first-time Mom, and it was the 1970s. Both of my parents are dead, so I can’t ask them.

      • Amy M

        Maybe she did, but back then, dating accuracy wasn’t like it is now. My MIL told me that my husband was born at 29 or 30wks gestation. However, based on his birth weight and knowing that technology was more primitive, I suspect she was further along than that. It was 1977, I don’t know how many 29 weekers survived, especially survived relatively unscathed.

    • Renee Martin

      I am sure there are outliers that do go to 44W, as well as an even more rare group- women WILLING to go 44w or more. The rarity of being willing to go so far postdates means you aren’t going to have a group full of them!

      When its an NCB group, its much more likely that they never got a dating US early on, and they often have MWs that straight up lie about it (even to the mom!)

      • demodocus

        Mom had us in the late 70s, and she may well have been mistaken on the due date. My sister wasn’t much bigger than our 39 1/2 week brother a decade later. (I was clearly early at not quite 5 pounds)

  • Amy M

    That one who is being investigated…if her baby died from a complication from homebirth, would she be held accountable? I mean, it was dangerous for her not to have prenatal care, but if the baby had (let’s say GBS like Wren) and the mother had no idea, could she be charged with something?

    Of course, they took her other child away too, so maybe she is being investigated for child neglect in general.

    Regardless, I hate hearing all these homebirth stories. I mean, Dr. Amy should keep publishing them because they need to be heard, but it sucks there are so many. I guess the homebirth community at large can’t learn from these tragedies, because that information is kept from them. I hope the mothers recognize the risks they took and go to the hospital if they have more babies.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Well, she knowingly delivered a preterm baby unassisted and did not seek medical care. In my book, that’s medical neglect.

      I also have a personal theory that there is a decent percentage of these no prenatal care/unassisted women who are actively using drugs and are avoiding care for that reason.

      • Sarah

        Yeah, failing to seek medical care for a clearly ill child is, in the UK at least, something that Social Services would potentially take an interest in. And our foster care system is creaking. That could well lead to older children being taken, particularly if they’ve also been denied necessary medical treatment. We don’t know what state of health the eldest was in.

      • An Actual Attorney

        Once the baby was born, she had a responsibility to seek medical care for it. Also, a possibility that once they showed up to investigate, other factors make them pull the older boy out immediately. Or they didn’t report the baby’s death to anyone, and a neighbor or someone called in a report, which would make authorities very suspicious.

    • Medwife

      I think there would be strong regional differences. In my part of the US, I doubt the other child would ever have been taken into custody. Home birth is too common, and the foster care system too overwhelmed, for that to happen.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      My interpretation? There is more to the story than she is divulging.

    • SporkParade

      Possibilities off the top of my head: she is being investigated for her failure to get care after the baby was born (like Ina May should have been); she chose homebirth because she is part of a religious or ideological group that believes in both homebirth and abusing children; she chose homebirth because she was afraid of being reported for something by the hospital.

  • Megan

    Ugh. I can barely read these stories without crying. I think about how close I was to being sucked in by the woo while pregnant with my daughter whom I love so so much and how she would be dead were it not for my doctor’s interventions. I think about the baby I’m carrying now and about how much I already love her. I can’t imagine even thinking about attempting a home birth or unassisted birth and risking my babies’ lives. It makes me so sick and sad. Thank you, Dr. Amy for putting a face to the grim statistics of homebirth. It is one thing to read about a 450% increased risk of neonatal death at homebirth, quite another to read about real babies with names who have paid that price. Your blog makes a difference. Even if it is hard to read these stories they need to be told.

  • moto_librarian

    It’s past time for home birth advocates to own these outcomes. Melissa Cheyney has finally stated that HBAC has an excessive perinatal mortality rate. That’s nice, but it doesn’t absolve her for sitting on this information for five years while extolling the virtues of home birth. Henci Goer is simply a monster. Anyone who could privilege giving birth vaginally over a healthy, living child is beyond contempt. Jenn Kamel needs to give up her cottage industry in promoting unsafe birth practices. She might also want to reflect on the fact that while her own child was unscathed by her decision to HBAC, her active promotion of this practice has cost the lives of many other women’s children.

    I would love to know how you three sleep at night. If I bore responsibility for these tiny coffins, I don’t know that I could live with myself.

    • manabanana

      I missed where Melissa Cheyney stated that “HBAC has an excessive perinatal mortality rate.” I think that’s being rather generous – I don’t see that she advocates against HBAC at all. Here’s she’s saying that if first time mothers are deemed low enough risk for a home birth, a VBAC mother should be, too:

      “It may not make sense, for example, to allow nulliparous births at home but restrict all VBAC mothers with any prior cesarean history, regardless of the fact that they may have had a previous vaginal birth or a prior VBAC. These women who live within an appropriate distance to a hospital, have well documented placenta positions and adequate time between births may actually be lower risk than a first time mother.”

      She still seems to be living in the land of woo and spewing the same old nonsense equating risk of OOH birth with a first time mom to a VBAC mother.

      Yes, there are increased risks for nulliparous women laboring in an OOH setting, but to equate those risks with a trauma such as uterine rupture is misleading. It lulls people into believing that VBAC is as normal as a first time mother laboring.

      I haven’t found anything coming from Missy Cheyney that indicates that she discourages HBAC, or that HBAC perinatal mortality ‘unacceptably high’ – just that women need to be informed of these risks, and midwives need to maybe have some ultrasounds done on their patients. Oh, and maybe, I dunno, stop heaping the risk-factors into a ginormous pile of poo: HBAC, Twin, Breech, PROM homebirth anyone? She kinda, sorta, indicates that all those risk factors rolled into one isn’t (maybe) very smart.

      • moto_librarian

        I’m probably being more generous than Cheyney deserves. I personally think that she’s in full ass-covering mode and that she doesn’t really care about the babies that have died.