Who’s to blame when a baby dies at homebirth?

who is to blame question

A mother puts Mountain Dew in her baby’s bottles, by age 2 the child is suffering massive tooth decay. Who’s to blame?

Most of us would have no qualms about blaming the mother who put the soda in the baby’s bottles. The mother did not intend that the child’s teeth should rot, but she bears responsibility nonetheless.

There’s nothing beautiful about the preventable death of a baby.

A mother fails to put her toddler in a car seat for a trip to the grocery store. Along the way the car is hit by another driver, the baby is ejected through the windshield and dies on the pavement. Who’s to blame?

Most of us would have no qualms about blaming the mother who failed to put the child in a car seat. The mother did not intend for the toddler to die, but she bears responsibility nonetheless.

A mother decides to give birth outside the hospital despite having a history of two previous C-sections. Her uterus ruptures during labor and the baby dies. Who’s to blame?

According to homebirth advocates: no one.

Terall was hoping to have a natural birth since both of her sons were c-section births and extremely hard on her body. Terall did the research and found the perfect Birthing Center for her. They respected her birthing plan and she was confident in the facility… On her due date, 12/28, she went into labor at the center. Her contractions became more severe. In the midst of a contraction Terall felt a huge burst in her stomach…there was an excruciating pain that never went away…almost like a constant contraction. Something was severely wrong.

…[W]hen the midwife checked their son’s heartbeat there was none to be found. Terall was rushed by ambulance to the closest hospital…but it was too late. Terall’s uterus ruptured due to scars from her previous c-sections and dislodged the baby and the placenta causing their son to lose oxygen and blood flow. Terall was rushed into the operating room to stop her internal bleeding…

Who’s to blame?

The mother feels guilty:

…She said “I am so sorry. I thought I was making the right choice, I thought having you naturally in a tub, without drugs would be best. I wanted you to hear beautiful music when you entered this world. I didn’t know, sweetie….

But instead of accepting responsibility for choosing to attempt a VBAC outside of a hospital, she  blames those who performed her previous C-sections:

I didn’t know that having c sections with your brothers would come back to haunt me and ultimately kill you. I didn’t know my scar tissue was going to rupture and force you out of my womb…. Mommy didn’t know… I didn’t know. I will always love you my perfect boy. I am grateful for Love Song, Memories fade and this…these photographs will be all I will ever have of my baby.”

From the comments:

You are not to blame; it wasn’t something that you saw coming!!

And:

This was NOT your fault, it wasn’t because you choose vbac. You choose the option you thought wss safest and had the lowest risks. Please do not blame yourself for doing what you thought was best.

And:

Please do not allow the enemy to to fill your mind with lies. This is not your fault.

I shared the story on my Facebook page under the comment “Another baby who didn’t have to die” and got this in response:

Your … a piece of shit for taking this beautiful sad story and turning it into propaganda. Things happen. I feel terrible for the loss of this family. But, this ob is a shitty person who needs to have her license revoked vbac is common it has its risks just like any birth. I fully plan on vbac with my next.

There’s nothing beautiful about the preventable death of a baby whether that death occurs at homebirth or when a child is ejected through the windshield during an accident. I suspect that the same people who are counseling this mother not to blame herself because she “didn’t see it coming,” would not be so sanguine about the dead child ejected through the windshield. Obviously that mother didn’t see that coming either, but that would not have absolved her of blame.

What does it mean to blame someone for a bad health outcome?

A 2015 paper, Who can blame who for what and how in responsibility for health?, attempts to answer the question.

The concept of personal responsibility for health forms part of the political and philosophical landscape of professional health care, and yet it is poorly understood. Responsibility can be presented as a tripartite concept consisting of (1) a moral agent having (2) responsibilities understood as obligations and (3) being held responsible for them, that is being blamed in failing to meet them.

In the case of the child with rotten teeth, we believe that her mother is a moral agent who shirked the obligation of protecting the child’s teeth by putting Mountain Dew in baby bottles and should be held responsible for the massive tooth decay.

In the case of baby who died on the pavement, we believe that his mother is a moral agent who ignore her obligation of protecting the child by putting him in a car seat and should be held responsible in part for the child’s death.

What’s supposedly different about homebirth?

It can’t be that homebirth supporters believe that the mother is not a moral agent. And it can’t be because they believe the mother has no moral obligation to consider the baby’s survival; these are the same folks who experience spasms of indignation over women who don’t attend assiduously to prenatal nutrition.

It can’t be the fact that the mother never anticipated the outcome. The mother who failed to put her baby in a car seat for a trip to the grocery store never anticipated that she would be involved in an auto accident along the way.

The problem seems to occur for homebirth advocates in connecting the failure to meet obligation to responsibility for the outcome. Yes, the mother had an obligation to consider injury or death of the baby as a consequence of her choice, but, uniquely in this situation, we aren’t supposed to blame her for ignoring that obligation.

But the attempt to assert that the mother is not responsible when a baby dies at homebirth is deeply undercut by the notion that she deserves praise if the VBAC attempt is successful and the baby survives. Praise is the flip side of blame. In order for someone to be eligible for praise in the healthcare setting, they must be acknowledged to be moral agents with healthcare obligations that they have fulfilled. Therefore, they must be eligible for blame when they fail to fulfill those same obligations.

So who’s to blame when a baby dies at homebirth? The mother is to blame … no matter how desperately homebirth advocates wish to pretend otherwise.

  • Samira M.A.

    I am always surprised when I read these stories. I live in the Netherlands and I am pregnant at the moment. Here you go to the “Verloskundige” as soon as you are pregnant. A lot of physical and emotional check-ups thought-out. And I will be delivering in a “Kraamhotel” that is a delivery floor in the hospital but more like a hotel. So, if anything is wrong they just rush you one floor down. All my friends had an epidermal, I didn’t because my baby came to fast. And they also gave formula. After delivery, you get help for 8 till 10 days. They also do the check-up very day. The one thing I don’t understand in the Netherland is why so many women deliver at home with every possibility there is. Why is it that making you childbirth a pleasant and safe experience so frown up on? Love your website and have you book. Keep writing. Best Samira

  • Tigger_the_Wing

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Grief is one of those emotions we cannot plan for and which can hit us at any time and as hard as a train.

    I’ve had first trimester losses too – one was my daughter’s twin, which led to an ‘interesting’ pregnancy, to say the least. When you are looking forward to having a baby, the loss of a pregnancy, however early, is the loss of a whole future.

  • yentavegan

    Do you know how easy it is to get sucked into the cult of the alternative medicine rabbit hole? Is it beyond any one here to show some compassion for this mother and family? Midwives/birth centers dress themselves in cloaks of “standard of care” and “Professionalism”. I am certain this Birth Center had impressive looking Invoices and even had a Tax ID Number…a unsuspecting client would assume that the Birth Center is regulated/overseen/inspected/documented/insured .. safe and evidence based. I can see this happening to me, I had a VBAC after 2 c/sections and I know that I almost went with a certified nurse midwife and a birth center location. It is by the unforeseen hand of fate that this woman’s tragedy is not mine .

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Do you know how easy it is to get sucked into the cult of the alternative medicine rabbit hole?

      It’s one thing to get “sucked into the cult” of alternative medicine rabbit hole. It’s another thing to pick around with a probe until you find a hole and then jump in.

      There’s no reason to think this was due to marketing of the birth center. She has a track record of eschewing establishment medicine and education. The birth center didn’t make her anti-vax. They didn’t make her homeschool. They didn’t make her reject mainstream medicine. She had already done that. They were just there to give her a place to go.

    • guest

      I think you might be mistaken.

      A certified nurse midwife is not a lay midwife. CNMs have extensive medical training and are held accountable to a certain standard of care under law. For this reason, it is rare to find CNMs working outside of hospitals, or birth centers with hospital oversight. They usually work as support staff on hospital labor & delivery teams, or provide prenatal care for low-risk pregnancies.

      A birth center with hospital oversight, staffed by CNMs is not “alternative medicine”. It is just another branch of labor & delivery for a local hospital or clinic.

      An independent birth center staffed by lay midwives is a whole different thing.

      • guest

        To clarify, int he United States, a certified nurse midwife is a practicing nurse with more training. 95% of CNMs deliver in hospital settings. Most of the rest provide other reproductive health services in private practice, or work as health educators. The roughly 2% that attend homebirths are usually working in tandem with doctors in rural areas without hospital facilities.

        I’m not saying that CNMs who work in private birth centers don’t exist, but they are definitely a rarity.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I’m not saying that CNMs who work in private birth centers don’t exist, but they are definitely a rarity.

          However, my general view is that those CNMs that do things like this, working outside the medical system, are the “fringe” midwives, and I would not trust them any more than I would trust a CPM.

          I would say that even about most of the CNMs that are doing homebirths. Sure, some of them work with doctors in rural areas without hospitals, but those are the rarities. Most of them are just loons.

          • guest

            I was replying to yentavegan’s assertion that she was almost convinced to do a VBAC and see a CNM at a birth center.

            It just seemed like an odd statement to me. At least in my current state of residence and practice, the majority of non-hospital births are attended by midwives with no nursing background.

            Seeing a CNM for prenatal care or being attended by one during birth is not in and of itself is not unusual or part of alternative health practices. At least, not any more than getting a basic checkup from a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, which is also common now.

            Independent birth centers here struggle to find anyone with medical training who is willing to risk their license working in such a facility. After all, a masters degree in nursing ain’t cheap or easy to obtain. You’d have to be a loon to do it. The small percentage of MDs who work outside the established system offering alternative treatments also tend to be pretty unhinged.

            Lay midwives on the other hand can complete their training in a year or two and are not subject to the same kinds of liability.

            I was wondering if yentavegan had confused a CNM with a lay midwife.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “those CNMs that do things like this, working outside the medical system, are the “fringe” midwives, and I would not trust them…”

            And this, unfortunately, is why I can no longer recommend CNM care to my pregnant patients. And I really want to be able to recommend CNM care. I know many great CNMs. I was trained by some wonderful CNMs. CNMs often can spend more time with patients and many patients (especially young and low income mothers) benefit from extra time. But CNMs have failed to call out fringe practices. They don’t even call out CPMs, and they know they are nothing more than lay midwives. I will never understand why.

            90% of CNMs in a practice may be perfect, but if 1 of them harbors woo, then the whole practice is unsafe, because what if my patient goes into labor the day the loony one is on call? I can’t in good conscious put my patients in harm’s way.

        • swbarnes2

          CDC-WONDER database has counts of babies by birthplace and attendant. 94% of CNM births take place in the hospital. But at freestanding birth centers, more births are attended by CNMs than other midwives. This doesn’t directly measure the numbers of CNMs…maybe one CNM has a lot of “catches” to sign off on in the birthing centers, while the other staff watches the mother through most of her labor.

        • Daleth

          95% of CNMs deliver in hospital settings

          In PA, where a friend of mine recently gave birth, CPMs are not allowed to be licensed, so if there’s a legally operating non-hospital birthing center in PA, it is staffed by CNMs. The one my friend delivered at has some kind of agreement with a nearby hospital to transfer people there if complications develop in labor (which is what happened to my friend, who ended up needing a c-section).

          This would presumably also be the case in other states where CPMs and other lay midwives aren’t allowed to be licensed. Does anyone know from experience?

      • yentavegan

        I am not mistaken. I know of parents who have had their infant die due to the natural birth industry. The birthcenter was fully staffed by CNM’s.
        I have nothing but compassion for the parents who have been wooed, charmed, hoodwinked by the alternative/holistic back to nature birth movement. Add to that, these parents do read this blog too. They may not post comments but they are here, and I will never be part of the mindset that blames them for what happened to them. Even if they try to justify their behavior and even if they say they would do it again, I see it for the mental anguish for what it is, and for the Natural Birth industry who still feeds on their tragedy for monetary gains.

    • Sue

      It is possible to hold compassion for a family who loses a baby, while simultaneously calling out irresponsible behaviour.

      This is a blog site that discusses birth in an evidence-based way – it is perfectly appropriate to dissect the event in Dr Amy’s matter-of-fact style. It serves as a reminder for other readers that we normally expect parents to make rational decisions to protect their children, whenever it is within their power to do so. The point stands – if we expect parents to use child restraints in vehicles, why don’t we expect them to choose safe settings for childbirth?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      It’s not that easy. Over 98% of mothers don’t fall for it.

      • Namaste

        I think a great deal of it has to do with geographic area. I go back and fourth between LA and Sonoma County. Sonoma County in particular is prone to every alternative health craze and fad diet that pops into existence. Sebastopol in particular is having a bad problem with whooping cough, because, you guessed it, vaccine rates are very low (morons). Tons of people are on an organic this, gluten free that, lepton free something-or-other diet, and it’s basically moralized. God help you if you formula feed; you might as well be feeding your kid a puréed Big Mac. And everybody uses all of this stuff as virtue signaling. It isnt quite the same thing as living in…say….Omaha, Nebraska, or other places. Where woo is a lot less…..fashionable.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Sebastopol in particular is having a bad problem with whooping cough, because, you guessed it, vaccine rates are very low (morons).

          I blame the educational system.

          The teachers there aren’t very easy to understand, and whenever they talk, all it sounds like is “Wah wah…wah wah wah wah wah”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I just have to say, gang, that this is probably the funniest comment I’ve ever written here, although it is a bit subtle. But if you get it, it’s damn funny.

          • Is it a Peanuts reference?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            It is a little-known fact that the Peanuts gang lives in Sebastopol, CA

          • The Vitaphone Queen

            I know Charles M. Schulz lived there, but I thought they lived in Hennepin County, Minnesota. (Lucy once mentions being the fussbudget champion of Hennepin County.)

            On a side note, my favorite strip is August 9, 1959!

          • The Vitaphone Queen

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/859f402842ecd543c26c55ff9edc46df8bf03fcc097f921ea3ecc9067b9ac325.gif

            Sorry for the double post, but this is my favorite strip! August 9, 1959!

          • namaste

            That’s pretty much what people sound like to me when my hearing aids aren’t in.

          • Charybdis

            Miss Othmar!

          • fiftyfity1

            “But if you get it, it’s damn funny.”

            Totally got the reference. Didn’t think is was more than mildly amusing. Sorry.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          And yet, the home birth rate is only, what, 5%?

          • namaste

            Still 5 times the national average.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But still, 95% of the population doesn’t “fall for it.”

            I mean, at that level, it’s still less popular than moon landing hoaxes.

            Do you have trouble not falling for the moon landing hoax?

    • Empliau

      Okay, I’ll take your challenge. You think we have not shown compassion to someone who “got sucked into the cult of the alternative medicine rabbit hole.” Since this was almost you, I will ask: were you informed that the risk of rupture is at least 1%? And if you knew that, please tell me what in the world could have been worth a 1% risk of certain death to your child? What inducements, what douceurs, made you nearly say “There’s a 1% chance that if my uterus ruptures here (not to mention any other possible emergency – placental abruption, PPH), my child WILL die and I might, when a hospital could save us both, but I think I’ll do it.” Because I can’t imagine a siren song that would make me think this a good choice for me and my unborn child. Tell us.

      I have compassion for women who are grieving for their children. This woman is blaming her previous sections for “killing” her stillborn son. That sounds to me like the same hubris and delusion that killed poor Sybil, and it enables a cult that will kill more children. And I have no real patience ONLINE with that. I’m not going to hunt her down, though she lives not far from me, and be cruel to her. But she made a terribly stupid choice with easily understood and foreseeable risks, and Sybil died.

      • Eater of Worlds

        Heck, don’t they tell women who have had a c-section that there is a risk of this very thing happening the next time they get pregnant if they don’t go with a c-section again? My SIL was told, and she was only eligible for a VBAC under some very strict criteria. Going into labor naturally, going into labor by a certain number of weeks and it was short of 40 but I don’t remember the specific week, having a baby under a certain amount of weight, labor only lasting so long or how long she was allowed to push for, I forget which or both that she was told. She also had to have an epidural because the doctor wanted to make any emergency c-section from rupture as pre-prepared as possible. So no extra minutes spent trying for an epidural or for knocking her out and placing a trach tube for general anesthesia.

        Some of this criteria was obviously more than other providers insist on. The point being she knew there was a big serious risk, told to her by her previous doctor and told to her by her new doctor (due to moving) and she was passed on to a third doctor (same practice) who actually did do VBAC. Every single doctor reminded her of the risks. Right after her c-section as in “If there’s a next time, you can rupture….” During her healing checkups “if there’s a next time, this is what we in general need you to do to be safe. During her pregnancy “These are the rules to keep you and baby alive. If your body can’t do this safely, we’ll do it the one way we know how to keep you safe (c-section)”. This doctor informed my SIL of her risks and how her body had to respond to labor for them to feel safe, not just that it needs to, and how her baby had to respond through continuous electronic monitoring. It probably just comes across like a whole bunch of medicalized rules someone in the woo wants to avoid instead of carefully watching what her body was naturally doing, which is what people want from home midwives in the US.

      • yentavegan

        When I VBAC’d quested and even told my ob/gyn I wanted to vaginal birth this time, he did not blink an eye. He just told me not to get too fat because it would risk me out. The Go-to certified nurse midwife had just left his practice and joined up with another. I had one appointment with her to plan a VBAC but she could not take me on as a patient due to a scheduling conflict. At no time did any of these professionals speak about the risk of rupture. So at one point I had been attending ICAN meetings ( international cesarean awareness network) and they taught about the money hungry doctors just placating me but secretly planning to c/sec me any way…

        • Empliau

          It sounds like you were genuinely misinformed. The woman in this piece “did the research”. Do you think, in this day and age, that anyone doing even a modicum of research could not have known?

          I have seen, and recommend, an amazing short film by Werner Herzog about the dangers of texting and driving. He profiles several cases, with both the texters and the people who lost loved ones to said texters talking on camera. I hate the profound stupidity of texting and driving, but have compassion for the people who have done it in this movie, a compassion I don’t feel for the parents right now. (Actually, I do feel compassion for their suffering, but it is balanced with anger at them.) The difference is that the people Herzog profiles regret what they did, and take responsibility. This mother is blaming her previous sections. Nowhere does she take responsibility.
          “I didn’t know that having c sections with your brothers would come back to haunt me and ultimately kill you.” Her words.

          The father of this baby started a youcaring fund. Yes, our bad choice killed our precious Sybil, so please give us $5000!

          There are a lot of people in this world who need, and deserve, compassion. This couple is low on my list. When they face and acknowledge the truth my attitude will change. And you know what? It won’t matter. They don’t know me. And to take their choices to the internet (to raise money yet) opens them up to comment. That is the way of our world.

    • RudyTooty

      “…sucked into the cult…”

      It is a cult. Cult-ish. Cult-like.

      Religious in scope of beliefs held, cocooned among its own members.

      I will not blame mothers. Just like I don’t blame people for their religious beliefs. Loss mothers will hold that blame and immeasurable hurt for all their lives. The liability lies with the ‘professionals’ who peddle these risky services and promote the delusional idea of ‘safety’ in unsafe circumstances.

      CNMs with homebirth or OOH birth centers are the worst offenders, in my mind, because they create the illusion of a safer situation with their credentials and training.

      That *feeling* of safety and authority is what makes women make unsafe choices. “I hired a CNM. I went to a licensed and accredited birth center. They have back-up physicians.” It is not about rationality, it is about creating a feeling of trust.

      The act of agreeing to attend an out-of-hospital birth – the willingness to be physically present – is an endorsement. And is a reason I won’t attend out of hospital births. I could spew statistics all day long and say my client had ‘informed consent.’ The act of attending the birth in itself confers this feeling of safety.

      It is incredibly deceptive, and unethical. For me, the fault and blame lies with the people promoting it. Not the victims.

      • People are adults. I hold them responsible for their harmful beliefs, religious or not.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I will not blame mothers. Just like I don’t blame people for their religious beliefs

        That’s where I am different. When parents kill their kids because of their “religious” beliefs, I will just as much blame them.

        See, I don’t consider “religion” as an excuse for harming others or putting others in harm’s way. You are welcome to your own beliefs to the extent they don’t hurt others, but when they do…no. Not any more.

        Assholes like Michael Perl (“To Train Up a Child”) use religion as an excuse to whip their kids with teflon tubing. YOU might think that’s ok. I don’t, and I don’t give a shit what reason they give. Child abuse is wrong, regardless of what anyone’s religion says.

        • sdsures

          I absolutely WILL blame parents when their (woo, homebirth, anti-vax) choices kill their kids, or their blatantly stupid decisions result in preventable death (example: not making your kids wear seatbelts when they are big enough to do so safely). Religion is irrelevant.

      • Who?

        The baby is the victim here, and the older siblings who have been told one or both of them is responsible for the baby’s death.

        And really, not blame people for their beliefs? I totally get not blaming people for things over which they have no control-for instance people born into a cult who have never been exposed to anything else. Or children.

        But someone who chooses all this? For their children, who are the ones most affected and who have no power, no volition, and no choice?

        This woman I will blame for the death of her baby, because she had a choice and she did what suited her, based on nonsense.

        Just like I’d blame her for leaving a loaded gun on the table (because guns don’t kill people, people kill people) or for allowing kids to roll around in a car without appropriate restraint.

        Her life is choice. Let her own the consequences of those choices.

        • BeatriceC

          “…and the older siblings who have been told one or both of them is responsible for the baby’s death.”

          This is the part that horrifies me the most. I’m horrified at the fact a baby died, don’t get me wrong, but what she’s doing to those poor kids, I just don’t have words.

          • Who?

            I agree.

            The idea that women who make poor choices should be released from them because, you know ‘brainwashed’ is infantilising.

            There are plenty of actual infants suffering in this scenario without adding the architect of it to the list.

            I also wonder whether the free pass for religious belief or other cult-like behaviour extends to acts of violence on the broader community, or if abuse of one’s own child is a special protected category

      • swbarnes2

        Adults in the 21st century are not that sheltered unless they choose to be. Adults are responsible for what they believe. No matter how wrapped up their beliefs are with their emotions, it is the responsibility of grown-ups to disentangle that and believe what the facts show.

    • seenthelight

      Our health insurance covered the delivery of my first in a freestanding birth center. Now I know how much I didn’t know, but back then, I’d drunk the Kool-aid.

  • Tara Coombs Lohman

    When I worked in L&D, I had a labor patient who was a VBAC. Shortly after her epidural was placed and she was lying down enjoying being pain free, we lost heart tones. When I checked her, suddenly there was no cervix to be found, so I knew something bad had happened. Her doctor was on her way, but fortunately we had another doctor in the house and he came in and called for a stat section. We got her back to the OR (just down the hall, because she was smart and was at a hospital, not a birth center) in minutes, splash and slash, and baby was out. She needed a little rubbing and some oxygen, and soon she was screaming like a banshee. Mom’s uterus had ruptured and had she been at home or at a birthing center, the outcome would have been much different. I will never forget how quickly we were able to get that baby out, and what a good outcome we had just because of that.

    • Roadstergal

      My heart is racing just reading the story!

      • Tara Coombs Lohman

        It was so scary!!!! But we had a great perinatologist who just happened to be there, a wonderful CRNA, and a fantastic team. Every nurse in that unit was willing to hop to and help whenever there was an emergency. It ran like clockwork and Mom and baby were both fine. OR was just a little ways down from her room. By the time her doctor got there, the baby was out. No one expected such an outcome. It was just her second baby, previous CS but two years had gone by, planned VBAC with spontaneous labor. The doctor had said, “Go ahead and get her the epidural and I’ll head in.” I’d had VBAC patients before and would never have expected this one to rupture. But unexpected things happen and that’s why being in a hospital makes so much sense!

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Yup, which is why one doesn’t have a VBAC in a birth center even with CNMs they can’t do a crash section so you have to be transferd and even if it’s just down the street it’s probably going to be too late for the baby. My mother had placental previa and (apparently) a very scarred uterus from severe endometriosis. She hemorraged and my grandma dragged her to the car and floored it to the ER which is about 3 or 4 miles away. Ruptured uterus and massive hemorage, crash section and hysterectomy. Everyone lived and my brother is annoyingly OK, no loss of brain function, no problems. This was 1966 in the U.S.

      • Tara Coombs Lohman

        Wow!!!! So glad everyone is ok!!!

  • Dabbledash

    I think the issue is that people don’t blame others for bad outcomes resulting from taking what they consider to be ‘reasonable’ risks. (Unnecessary trips in the car, VBA1C in a hospital, etc). I think people genuinely (and wrongly) believe that HBAC falls in that category.

  • guest

    Why are homebirth advocates so focused on the moment of birth? The scented candles, the soft lighting, warm water, soothing music…

    Nobody remembers their birth. Why is this one experience held in value above all others?

    • AnnaPDE

      It’s not about the kid’s experience (or health or well-being). It’s about the bragging rights of having achieved some arbitrarily set goal to belong to the tribe that pretends to be the only good mums.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      its the mom’s memory of course, through rose tinted glasses. Like my empty nester friends telling me that someday i’ll miss having company when i use the toilet.

      • Amazed

        I certainly won’t miss hitting Amazing Niece’s head with the door when I forget that she might be there/is likely there when I, her temporary mom, am inside. I honestly think I prefer taking her in there with me. Eeek!

        I won’t, won’t, won’t miss the freaking metal bell that chipped a miniscule part of my tooth as she waved it around. My dad is to blame. Why give her metal toys?!

        • Tigger_the_Wing

          Why give her metal toys? Well, he is your Dad – perhaps it was revenge?

          (I got revenge on my eldest, a musician, by giving his eldest daughter a drum kit).

          • Amazed

            Hmm, you might be right. This is the man who knows how to work children around to get them consent to his ideas and think they were their own! Latest example: I’ll say, “AN, come here for a cuddle!” She’s say no and then she’d come – or not. He’d say, “Baby, give me your head!” and take her baby doll to sniff its head. A moment later, she’s there, pushing her head at him as well. “Baby, give me your hand!” Baby gives him a hand, AN gives him a hand as well. Last time, my mom came from the other room and tried to get her to sleep at about this time. AN stirred under the covers and we thought she was trying to escape – until she tucked her foot back under the cover and said, offended, “No fooD!” We had failed to recognize that she had been offering a foot.

            ETA: Yesterday, I finally got to know what these big boys and girls she was constantly talking about were. She was sick and into my care and I didn’t know she just wanted to go back to her daycare where she’s the youngest and tiniest. Yesterday, she got her wish and apparently was a galaxy of sunshines all day long. Oh the horrorz! UNATTACHED! Just because she wants other people than her mom – people similar to her own self.

      • Tigger_the_Wing

        If you miss having company in the bathroom, having tried two options I recommend a cat. I don’t recommend becoming so disabled that you cannot use the toilet or the shower without an assistant.

    • Mel

      I’ve told this story here before, but my son was born from an urgent 26-week C-section when I developed severe pre-e and HELLP syndrome. I hadn’t slept in at least 48 hours, had been having hot flashes and visual disturbances from magnesium sulfate, was scared snotless that he was going to die, and was trying to find the courage to deal with being awake during a surgery where massive, life-threatening bleeding was being assumed was going to happen. As an outcome of having so many failed blood draws over the last 28 hours, I had a full-blown panic attack as the anesthesiologist placed an epidural. The “loopy” drugs they gave me stopped the panic attack – and I enjoyed the first 5 minutes of the C-section – and then the waves of nausea started. Once I realized that I could barf and clear my airway, I was ok enough – but I was barfing about once every 5 minutes. (Cool fact: an epidural numbed enough of my chest – or maybe the loopy drugs – that the dry heaves didn’t hurt at all. That was really nice.)

      Then Dr. Christa said “Hey Mama. Look over here!” I turned away from my barf basin and saw my tiny little boy for the first time. He was on an NIPPV so all I could see was his tiny mouth and chin – but he was crying! Crying loudly enough that I could hear him! Seeing a tennis ball sized head with a ping-pong ball sized face make the most perfect little “Wah! Wah! Wah!” noises was the most amazing experience of my life. (Knowing Spawn a bit better now, we realize that that was baby’s very first temper tantrum. He had been happily kicking or punching my catheter every 3-5 seconds for the last hour or so – and we took his toy away from him! EVIL! He forgave everyone once he learned that he could play with cords instead.)

      I was completely captivated by him – and have continued to be for the last 13 months. I told him that I loved him, I was so glad he was safe and that he was totally worth it. He was totally worth it – and I have no regrets.

      • kilda

        see – it’s the baby that makes it an amazing experience. Not the freaking lighting and ambiance!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          see – it’s the baby that makes it an amazing experience.

          Agreed. This is why I always talk about “having a baby” as being more the issue than “childbirth.” I found having a baby to be a transformative experience, especially with our first. Before that, we were just a couple. Suddenly, we were parents. It completely changed our lives and how we thought.

          The second wasn’t quite as transformative in that way, but it still went from we had one child to two. That was mind-bogglingly amazing.

          Most importantly, that was all true whether the child was born vaginally, with or without an epidural, or by c-section, or by transporter, or through adoption. My friends adopted a baby flew to Baton Rouge, went to the hospital and got their baby there. They still went through that transformative process of not being parents to being parents. And it was amazing to them.

          It’s all about having a baby. That’s what makes this all great. Before, you didn’t have a baby. Now, you do. How awesome is that?

          • MaineJen

            The coolest thing about having a second child is…when you have your first child, you are sure you could never *possibly* love someone else as much as you love them. And then the second child is born and…wow! You *really can* love someone else just as much. It’s amazing. The love just keeps expanding, to encompass each new family member. 🙂

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Our fun with the second is that, with our first, that was all we knew. My wife and I joked that, given how different the second pregnancy was, that the child had to be either a girl OR the completely opposite of our first boy, although, at the time, we had no concept of what “the exact opposite of our first” could even mean.

            Then he was born, and we found out. Wow, talk about two kids who are not at all alike. Yep, almost as if they are complete opposites. So different, and yet so amazing in each their own way. And yeah, you love them just as much. It’s just very …. different.

          • I tell all my patients that there’s only one trick to child rearing: have #3 first.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Yup, my sister has 4 kids and she always said her first one was the practice kid, the one you fret about EVERYTHING with and the one you take all your friends and families conflicting advice about. The 3rd and 4th are (if you are lucky and they have no major health issues) a walk in the park in comparison.

            I only have one so I have nothing to compare to…

          • Roadstergal

            I remember finding a cartoon book in my parents’ bookshelf with “#1” on the left contrasted with “#4” on the right. I thought it was hilarious even at the time (I’m #4.) It was things like obsessing over the first not eating all their vegetables, and shrugging as the fourth snacks on floor polish…

          • MaineJen

            LOL. Thanks to my kids, I have learned that both WD40 and deodorant are NOT fatal if eaten in small quantities. Those people on the poison-control help line really have heard it all…

          • guest

            I had to call them when my son chewed through a glow stick. FYI – that is not fatal either.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            WD40 is not going to be a huge problem in even larger quantities. Although I would not advise testing that.

          • Mishimoo

            Small amounts of ant-rid (honey and borax) are also fine, but not recommended. Thank you #3 kiddo!

          • Merrie

            I learned from poison control that most particularly poisonous plants are bitter so it’s unlikely a kid will *want* to eat a sufficient quantity to actually harm them. Twice with eldest she grabbed a flower and stuffed it in her mouth. I would still call if it happened again, but I’m not too concerned about it.

          • Mishimoo

            If I’d had #3 first, I probably wouldn’t have had more kids! To be fair though, life got a lot easier after he started solids. He was also much easier to toilet-train than his sisters.

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            If I’d only known, I would have had my grandchildren first.

          • MaineJen

            Ours are complete opposites as well. They’ve had the same kindergarten teacher, and one of the first things she said to me was “If they didn’t look so much alike, you’d never know they were related!”

          • kilda

            hey, almost 13 years ago, my wife and I drove to NJ and adopted a 9 year old, and we went through the same transformation. And it was just as amazing to us too. We have a picture of the three of us sitting on her foster family’s front porch the weekend we met, that is just as magical to us as any birth photo could ever be. And a little sweatshirt jacket from Old Navy that to us is baby clothes.

            If we could miss the whole first 9 years and still have the amazing, life altering falling in love with our “baby” – I don’t think these people need to worry that it will all be ruined if the baby came out the wrong exit, or the lighting wasn’t soft enough.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Keep in mind that adoptive parents are an absolute problem for the natural-childbirth-over-all crowd. Read what they say, and you can see that it is extremely insulting and dismissive of adoptive parents. Although it is in a passive-aggressive way, because they won’t ever come right out and say it, but make no mistake, they think less of you.

          • kilda

            oh, I know. My experience is part of why I don’t buy into the whole attachment parenting thing. My daughter’s first 9 years could hardly have been less conducive to secure attachment – way worse things happened than not being “worn” or not enough skin to skin as a newborn. And yet she is absolutely attached to us and is doing just fine.

          • Eater of Worlds

            I am so envious. They won’t let me adopt through the system because of medication I take. I don’t have 50k to adopt privately or more for surrogacy. I wouldn’t have any issues keeping my bio children if I took the same medication.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        I love your spawn <3

        • The Vitaphone Queen

          Same here! SPAWN! SPAWN! SPAWN! 🙂

      • Amazed

        Your story sounds lovely and your Spawn, even more so!

    • guest

      I think they are trying to take an absolutely terrifying, horrible experience and make it better. They can’t mentally handle that such a traumatic experience could bring something so wonderful to their lives. My births were relatively straight forward and I was still slightly traumatized for the first few days after each. Being so powerless within my own body was very upsetting to me. I’m not talking about medical personnel or the hospital experience, just the whole “my body is completely out of my control at this moment and I have no idea what is going to happen next and I am in the most pain of my life and I really feel like I could die” feeling (even though logically I knew I would likely be fine). It was a first for me. I am happy that both births are fuzzy memories now.

    • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

      I suspect these women have very few real accomplishments or real achievements to brag about. Why else would they be desperate for bragging rights for performing a biological function?

  • Allie

    I’m not sure I agree that praise is the flipside of blame. If someone chooses to toss the dice and it all turns out okay, there’s no blame because no harm, or damage, has accrued, so someone who has a successful VBAC can be considered lucky, but not praiseworthy. Luck is the flipside of blame in this scenario.

  • Who?

    Her poor neck looks very over-extended. How is she even breathing?

  • swbarnes2

    Can’t be…she’s lying on her back!

    • LaMont
      • Eater of Worlds

        It was awesome when that study showed that laboring on your back gave better outcomes than laboring in a more upright position. It was either on hands and knees or sitting on an excercise ball. Some woo-ish “there’s more gravity affecting the baby in labor if you’re not lying down” position.

  • Empliau

    It’s time to reclaim the phrase “I didn’t know.” It does not mean:
    I was informed by qualified people with competence and expertise in the relevant field, but I didn’t want to believe them.

    Similarly, low risk. If the odds of rupture are 1%, then that is both low and high risk, from a certain point of view. If I have a raffle ticket for a nice prize, and the odds of winning are 1%, I wouldn’t stay up past my bedtime for the drawing. But if my child attends a school of 500 children, and we are informed that five children will die there today, damn straight I’m keeping my child home! When it comes to life and death, 1% is not an acceptable risk if there’s another safe choice.

  • Sheven

    “was rushed by ambulance to the closest hospital”

    NO. You don’t get to say you thought a birthing center or homebirth was best if as soon as something goes wrong you rush to the hospital.

    “Mommy didn’t know”? Mommy knew *exactly* where she should have gone–it’s where she went as soon as it was too late. She just didn’t want to go there. That’s her right, and I will never dispute it, but with rights come responsibility.

    • Empliau

      That’s part of why I really despise the chorus of I didn’t know, you couldn’t have known, no one could have known. What it means is “I didn’t believe it could happen to ME.”

      • Sheven

        Exactly. There is no chance she wasn’t informed after her first c-section and her second c-section. No chance. She didn’t want to go. That’s her decision. But don’t play dumb afterwards. Especially not when you got yourself to a hospital so competent and trained professionals could help *you* after poorly-trained midwives let your kid die.

        And you know all those people who are chiming in with, “But there’s no way you could have known,” would have been crowing about how women know better than doctors if the kid had lived.

        • It’s called denial of responsibility. She simply cannot deal with the guilt that she, in effect, murdered her baby. Because that’s exactly what happened.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I will say one thing: the fact that the Birth Center led by midwives actually agreed to do an VBA2CS really demonstrates how worthless all those “home birth is safe in the right circumtances” claims and references to Netherlands safety records really are.

            “Studies show that homebirth for someone who has successfully given birth previously with absolutely no complications is about as safe as giving birth in a hospital. Therefore, we are going to do this VBA2CS.”

            Yes, I consider her responsible, but that birth center needs to be shot and put out of its misery. That is irresponsibility at its highest level. The people who agreed to do this are evil.

          • Kim

            I was a bit puzzled by the OP, as this wasn’t a home birth, it was a birth in a birthing centre. And surely the bulk of responsibility must lie with the people running the birthing centre who told her she was making a safe choice.

            Women receive a lot of confusing messages about birth. They are told on the one hand that hospitals are the safest place to give birth for them and their baby. On the other, they are told that hospitals increase their risk of having a difficult birth with intervention and that by staying out of hospital they are much more likely to have a straightforward birth.

            Here in the UK, a woman who had had previous caesareans would not be encouraged by her obstetrician to give birth outside hospital, but she might well be encouraged to attempt a VBAC.

            I do think it’s very harsh to blame the woman in these circumstances. These choices aren’t made in a vacuum.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            These choices are not made ignorantly, either. It’s very clear in this case that she wasn’t some poor innocent victim. She shuns the establishment all the way. This is just another topic

            She decided she wasn’t going to have another CS. My guess is that she could not find a legitimate provider who would agree to a VBA2CS, and so she went shopping to find someone who would. She found them at this idiot birth center.

            Yeah, they let her do it, but all indications are that this was HER decision.

          • Amazed

            This woman was not solely a victim of natcherel culture, she was an active perpetrator. She’s a homeschooler, anti-vax, establishment-opponent. Another poster here googled her name and found that she had actively fought the law protecting children from being exposed to the viruses anti-vaxxed by choice kids may carry. This isn’t your average deluded mom, she’s a deluder herself. And with her distrust of establishment and attempts to DIY, I’ll be astounded if she did not selectively seek informations and providers that would only support her already existing views.

            The birth centre should be closed, of course, it goes without saying. They should not be doing VBACs, end of story. Ha! End of story? I wish! I can only imagine what other risky cases they accept.

          • BeatriceC

            I have sympathy for the fact that she lost a child. That is a horrible event. But it is the same kind of sympathy (though a little bit more intense) that I had when my middle kid broke his right leg when he fell of his bike riding down a very steep hill…with his left leg already in a cast. It sucked to have gotten injured, but he really did know better.

            Somewhere, deep down, this woman knew better. She chose not to believe the truth. She is not an innocent victim here, as she’s an active anti-establishment promoter.

            This is not always the case, and I do have more sympathy for some women who lose their babies at homebirth (or in non-hospital affiliated birthing centers). It’s a very individual thing. A very young woman, pregnant for the first time, who grew up in, say, Portland, OR, who hasn’t yet had the benefit of a college education, or just life experience in general, who’s being told by everybody around her that this is perfectly safe may reasonably take the word of all the older women and other “experts” around her and not feel the need to go researching in detail. That’s not an unreasonable set of decisions considering the overall circumstance, and when something terrible happens to that woman, I consider her more of a victim of ideology than a woman like the one in the OP who is an older mom, has had the benefit of many years of life experience, has had several previous children, and actively chose to go against the establishment for whatever reason she chose to do so (and since I do not know, I’m not going to make any guesses on her level of education, as just the other factors alone are enough to say she should have known better).

          • seenthelight

            And had insurance pay for the OOH birth, as mine did – you assume it must be ok if they’re paying.

        • Empliau

          And I actually find it easy to believe that she doesn’t remember being told before her first c-section – if something went wrong in labor, things can be very hazy when you’re in that much pain. But it must have been part of her prenatal care before the second CS, and probably postpartum care too.

  • aurora

    It says that “she did her research”, I don’t understand how even with a simple google search she didn’t find the risks associated with a Vbac.

    • Amazed

      She didn’t want to find them/believe them. It wasn’t even that she was this special snowflake to whom statistics did not apply. An anti-vaxxer and a homebirther – she was practically at war with establishment which supports the existence of these risks, so she poo-pooed them. Naturally!

      • CSN0116

        I wonder if she was always this fucked up or if meeting the new partner influenced it. It’s creepy how much detail there is to this story, but it says that she and her new husband/partner just got together a couple years ago. Her other two kids are from a previous relationship and he had a child from a previous relationship too.

        I just find it hard to believe that a woman previously “happy enough” to have a RCS *suddenly* bucked the system to this extent . That’s an abrupt change in ideology and I’m wondering who it was influenced by…

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I wonder if she was always this fucked up or if meeting the new partner influenced it.

          Yeah, it could be the new partner influenced it, or it could be the old partner controlled it, and objected.

        • Mel

          She might have been off on different crusades when her other boys were born, too. I have a college friend of friends who home-birthed two of her kids then nearly died from an ruptured ectopic pregnancy. There are some people who are always tilting at one windmill or another – but who don’t have the dedication or stamina to stay with a given windmill for very long.

          The lady I’m thinking of has morphed into home-schooling and living “off-grid” – but was shocked to learn that farm houses in the middle of nowhere have mice and needed input from people on how to protect the food in her pantry. My response in no particular order was “Glass and plastic food containers. A cat. Non-poison kill traps. Remove long vegetation from a swale around the foundation of the house. A ferret. Eh – skip the vegetation removal; get a mongoose. “

          • Roadstergal

            Cats are so amazing. We had a rat infestation in the garage in our old house, and nothing worked – we tried traps of humane and inhumane sorts, because we were getting desperate with the damage they were causing, and they’d just steal the bait. Then a small group of feral cats moved through our neighborhood, like the Mysterious Stranger in a spaghetti western, and we never saw or heard evidence of the rats again.

            Our adopted dogs are terriers. I saw rodent droppings in our back patio once, and let the dogs have free access to it for about a week. Never saw droppings again.

          • Mel

            I miss having indoor cats, but my husband’s allergies are too bad. We live on a farm that has feral cats. We see them lounging around in the evenings sometimes but they take off if we look in their direction for too long. My inlaws on the main farm have a blue heeler – Aussie Shepherd mix who hunts mice and rats because she thinks she’s a cat as well as a pack of semi-domesticated cats.

            I keep most of our food that mice would find attractive in Mason jars and stock up on snap traps in the fall. This fall sucked, though, because we had a female mouse get into the house who was pregnant and she birthed a litter somewhere in the house. We caught a few really small field mice, followed by one large field mouse, followed by a bunch more little ones. We also had to be a bit more creative than usual about where we put them because Spawn was mobile (ish) and far too young to understand to not play with mouse traps.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            I wonder if it shouldn’t be a cabal of cats. because cats

          • Mel

            We refer to it as a junta. Because cats. 🙂

          • Dr Kitty

            We had mice the first winter in our current house. They got in through a gap around the dryer pipe and ate the food I kept in a nearby cupboard for the wild birds.
            I took the nuclear option with traps behind the baseboards in our kitchen units (accessible to mice, not to children). Which worked- but hearing those “snap” when you’re watching TV is not pleasant and my husband (of course) doesn’t do pest-to-garbage disposal because it makes him feel sick.
            In that spring we got a cat. Which sadly means no more bird table, but does mean nice kitty.
            While I have found the very occasional headless mouse lovingly deposited on our doorstep, after he caught ONE in our kitchen when he was a kitten we haven’t had any signs of more inside and the traps remain empty and silent.

            So cats, FTW.
            But you do have to like cats.

          • Kerlyssa

            I have always had multiple cats, ever since I was a wee sprog to today. I never understood how to deal with mice, ’cause I never had to. When I started working in other people’s home, it was a very rude awakening with several close brushes with hysterics.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “There are some people who are always tilting at one windmill or another”

            I’m always interested in these people. I wonder what it’s like to be them. My parents have some of this in them, but not me. The results can be good every once in awhile, maybe even brilliantly good, but mostly it causes harm.

          • BeatriceC

            My parents live in a semi-rural area of Miami Dade county. They had horrible rat problems until after years and years, they finally decided to adopt a trio of semi-feral cats from a rescue that didn’t know quite what else to do with them. The cats stay outside, get fed a reasonable amount, and get regular vet care. In return, they keep the rodents, lizards, and snakes under control.

        • AnnaPDE

          A not insignificant number og people go off the deep end after a divorce – apparently woo lends itself for the “reinventing yourself” stage. And then a bunch get stuck there instead of dropping it when the novelty value has worn off and the new normal is established.

  • CSN0116

    I have had two successful VBAC2s (in a hospital, with multiple obstetricians present, feet from an OR, with continuous fetal monitoring).

    Let me tell you — I researched. I researched every big and little thing about it. I spent months of my life doing so to help minimize risk and understand what could happen and repercussions if it did.

    Two fucking minutes into ANY VBA2C internet search or literature review, even an informal one, WILL take you to the established risks. Period. It will take you to woo as well, but you will hit on mounds of scientific literature and horror stories to boot. I’ve personally rooted through it ALL.

    • Allie

      Choosing to try VBA2C in hospital with support/supervision of multiple OBs is a reasonable choice. Choosing to do it in a “birthing center” with poorly trained staff? A huge gamble. Nevertheless, I wish it had worked out and she was smugly boasting about her healthy baby, even though that would only encourage others.

    • MaineJen

      Less than a week??? Ack!

      …on the other hand, recovery from birth #2 was crazy-fast, compared to birth #1. Not only was birth #2 extremely fast (6 hrs), but baby #2 was a great sleeper and hardly ever cried. I actually got bored during the 2 days I was in the hospital after having her, and I was more than ready to go back to work after 6 weeks.

      Baby #1 was WAY crankier, his birth took twice as long, and by 6 weeks post partum I thought I was dying from lack of sleep+constant crying.

      • CSN0116

        I don’t deal well with adjustment, and I know it. So, to adjust to weeks off at home on one routine, and then have to readjust to work + baby and another routine… it would male me anxious and miserable. I’d rather just get right to it and adjust all at once. All 5 of my babies were easy peasy, never ate more than once a night and right back down, and we are fortunate to have in home care. For me, it worked!

      • Tigger_the_Wing

        We planned for me to be a SAHM until our children were at school, which was just as well because I couldn’t have gone straight back to work if I’d wanted to, because of complications during pregnancy and after delivery of each of the first three (I had three under three). But by the time number three was two years old, I realised that I wasn’t cut out to be unemployed, and I went back to work (part time) when she was three.

        I was running my own taxi business when the twins came along, and although I had to take several months off due to terrible, all-day ‘morning’ sickness, then the difficulty of fitting behind a steering wheel with a twin bump, and then their early arrival, I went back to working when they were three months old. Oh, and they were my longest labour by an hour, at 4 1/2 hours.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Choosing VBACS at a hospital with all the professionals and the OR seconds away is completely different from a birthing center. It is a reasonable choice, the risk of rupture is there of course but it is a trade off with mom’s risks and it is definitely much much much safer than an OOH birth. I understand that choice even if I think I would have chosen another CS in case I got a second child (not going to happen), but I understand it. Birthing center… no, just no.

    • Tigger_the_Wing

      You obviously did everything right – research into the possible complications, going to the safest possible place, and not turning down the possibility of intervention should things go south. I’m delighted it worked out so well!

      As it happened, I couldn’t have gone back to work after my first three even if I’d wanted to; because I could barely walk after the first two (symphysis pubis diastasis, emergency forceps delivery) and was back in hospital after PPH with the third (hubby said pregnancy was something I got worse at with practice).

  • Empliau

    If you google the mother’s name, you find an article from two years ago about opposition to CA SB 277. She was bitterly disappointed about there not being religious and philosophical exemptions to the recent child vaccination bill. I personally doubt that she was misinformed about the risks – my guess is, since she is an anti-vax activist (she is mentioned in the article as working for the recall of politicians who voted for 277), she believed 1.) what she wanted to believe, and 2.) that her research was equivalent to the recommendation of medical professionals.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Yep, there you go. She is NOT someone who is the victim of some alternative provider propaganda. No, she is herself a perpetrator of such. She is not unaware, she actively fights the system.

      Homeschooler, anti-vax. No, she is not being duped. She is misleading others.

      • CSN0116

        She sure does write up as pretty textbook. Ugh.

        On the bright side, thanks to her for home schooling those unvaxxed kids and keeping them out of the public school system! Good job, “momma!”

      • Amazed

        As I’ve said previously here, it always astounds me how even at this site, homebirth loss moms are treated like some kind of poor little saints without acknowledging that they might have had/probably had had part in pushing other mothers to risk their children’s lives. Brainless creatures who fell victims to an evil group. When it might be that they were part of the deadly shit well before they encountered their own tragedy. But no, poor creature was deceived. Let’s not discuss the fact that poor creature might have/probably have deceived others.

        Fortunately, over the last few years we’ve been getting rid of this patronizing attitude.

        • LaMont

          It’s like parents whose children die in accidents after finding their unsecured firearms. No one wants to lay blame, because the parents did lose a child, but IT WAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO STORE THE GUNS PROPERLY. Oy oy oy.

          • Amazed

            Basically, yes. But at least in these cases no one says that the parents had no way to know.

            I have a problem with claims like, They have been punished enough already. This isn’t a divine punishment or something. They just drew the short stick.

          • Who?

            The whole ‘punished enough’ thing makes me rage. You put someone in the way of death, and then their death is your punishment? It’s grotesque.

          • Kerlyssa

            It reminds me of the joke about how the guy who killed his parents pleads for leniency from the judge because he’s an orphan.

          • Empliau

            It happened here in California. Guy killed his wife, dismembered her and tried to get rid of her in the garbage disposal. (I guess the wood chipper was on the fritz.) Anyway, he or his lawyer argued for clemency on the ground that he missed her more than anyone else. (Read it in the LA Times before the internet age.)

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            *shudder* that woodchipper murder in Connecticut was the first one that really caught my attention. It was so grotesque.

          • Roadstergal

            I… can’t get over the logistics of trying to get rid of a body in the garbage disposal. The degree of dismemberment! The number of pieces! The volume of blood! The disposal choking on the bones!

            I mean, I’m not going to say that I’m any sort of expert on getting rid of bodies, but that sounds like absolutely the messiest and least sensible way…

          • StephanieJR

            Pigs.

          • Empliau

            Probably why he was unsuccessful. I think that’s one reason I remember the story – it must have been 20 years ago. But the grisly mental picture of trying to put parts of a human body in a garbage disposal (I don’t even risk potato peels in mine, and it makes heavy weather of chunks of limes) is hard to forget.

    • Amazed

      Why am I not surprised?

    • sdsures

      Monster mom.

    • Sarah

      That’s… interesting.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    a piece of shit for taking this beautiful sad story

    Beautiful? A baby needlessly died. There is nothing about that that is beautiful. It’s horrific.

    But to the point…I don’t like the word “blame.” Everyone wants to avoid blame. But change that to “responsible” and all of a sudden, it gets harder to dismiss it. People might want to avoid responsibility, but it’s not as acceptable.

    Instead of asking “Who’s to blame?” ask the question “Who’s responsible?” I think the answers will be very different. In the end, are they going to say, “I am not responsible for the well-being of my baby!” I mean, if I interpret a comment below correctly, this is a homeschooler. She won’t trust the public education system and has to do it herself. But now for childbirth, she puts it in the hands of the midwives? She can try, but it doesn’t work.

    I fear that you are interchanging “blame” and “responsibility” a little too carelessly I think in this post. Let’s avoid the “blame” game and talk about responsibility. Blame is something no one wants. Responsibility is something that most people claim they do want.

    • Amazed

      You’re very right that people *claim* to want responsibility. While I don’t disagree with your choice of words entirely, I don’t think it’s going to change much. Homebirthers are experts in twisting words, always to their advantage. They’re never responsible for what happened – it’s always the evil hospital or, as in this case, the two previous c-sections (let’s hope she’s going to overcome this twisted thinking. I don’t want to imagine the guilt her older sons will have to live with if she doesn’t.)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Homebirthers are experts in twisting words, always to their advantage.

        They are going to try, but more people are going to see through. As I asked, are they really going to claim that they, themselves, are not responsible for the well-being of their child?

        As I noted, this woman is so insistent on doing it herself that she homeschools. It makes it a lot harder to pass the buck when you proclaim to know better than the experts.

        Obviously, this won’t affect the zealots, but making it about responsibility instead of blame will slow down that knee-jerk denial. “How dare you blame her!”

        OK, but will they say, “How dare you hold her responsible for doing what’s right for her baby!”

        • Amazed

          Let’s hope you’re right. Still, did you go to Dr Amy’s Facebook? Literally all she said was ‘Another baby died needlessly” but the feces started flying nonetheless.

          For these people, every hint that a death needn’t have happened amounts to a battle cry and pushing blame.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            For these people, yeah, but I think we can work on our own narrative.

            Stop talking about who is to blame and talk about who is responsible. That’s my message.

          • Roadstergal

            There _is_ something about the word ‘irresponsible’ that cuts deeply.

            This mom acted irresponsibly, and her baby died.

  • A mom

    The mother does share the blame, but the real villains here are the birthing center and the midwives. An ethical birthing center should have turned her away with that history. The natural birth industry profits when mothers turn to them. The mother most likely was just terribly uninformed and bought into the hype the industry sells. I think the Mountain Dew and car seat comparisons illustrate the concept of responsibility and unintended consequences well at a theoretical level, but aren’t similar in practice. It’s common knowledge that soda is bad for teeth and that babies need to ride in car seats. It does take some level of knowledge to know when a VBAC is inappropriate.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The birth center and the midwives bear responsibility, but the mother made a choice to ignore real medical advice or not seek it in the first place. She was aware of the risk but chose to pretend that it wouldn’t happen to her.

      • A mom

        I guess I just wonder if the mom realized the advice she was getting wasn’t “real” medical advice. I think midwives have convinced a huge number of people that they are qualified medical professionals. Anyone who buys into this is uniformed and perhaps not very intelligent, but I wonder how much moral responsibility they bear. The pushback against natural birth is not as widely publicized or accepted as, say, he pushback against anitvaxxers.

        • Merrie

          Gavin Michael Brooks’s mom, Danielle, has posted a lot about how she did not realize that her midwife was a quack and she thought the midwife was a real medical provider, and she’s not the only one who’s said similar.

          • Amazed

            That’s right. But Danielle operated under the assumption that studies showed homebirth was better and safer. Much has changed since then. For starters, the MANA “study” and the Cornell study are out and they have been widely published and the MANA’s lies debunked. It is now known what the limitations of the Netherlands and the UK studies are. The pushback against Certified Pretended Midwives is now there in the open.

            Danielle just operated under very different information. Truth was harder to access then. But in 2017? Not so.

          • Merrie

            Yeah. Not that one will find out about any of that reading homebirth blogs.

          • Amazed

            Indeed. But then, we can’t say that the person who only read homebirth blogs was honestly trying to do “research”.

      • Sarah

        Would she have been? Depends what she was told I suppose. The reality is that people don’t always have the brains and know how to distinguish between what they’re being told by two lots of what look like qualified professionals. I’d like to know what this birth centre’s literature says and what they told her. We’d presumably all agree that homebirth midwives and similar often don’t give clients sufficient/accurate information for informed consent to be possible?

        It may well be that your Mountain Dew and carseat analogies both need to feature guest turns by lay people posing as trusted professionals assuring listeners that actually, not using a car seat and/or giving your baby Mountain Dew are in fact the safest options.

    • Amazed

      Yes but it’s also common knowledge that reasonable people have their babies in the hospital, as the very fact that homebirth is a very fringe choice shows.

      • A mom

        But here’s the thing. I don’t think it is common knowledge, not anymore. The natural birth industry is winning to a great extent. They’ve convinced otherwise reasonable people that natural is better.

        • Sarah

          I don’t know about winning, as I do think the pendulum is about to swing the other way, but it’s certainly shockingly pervasive. This general assumption, accepted wisdom that the reason the US maternal and infant mortality rates are so high is because of the high section rate. It’s the sort of thing that sounds quite appealing until you actually look into it- probably one of the big reasons so many posters here have their own accounts of believing the woo in the past. Which is one of the reasons this blog is so important, of course.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Well that and the fact that most people don’t pay attention to what infant mortality actually measures and that perinatal mortality is the measure they are thinking of.

          • Sarah

            Yes, and you have to pay sufficient attention to know that you don’t know. The amount of currency claims like that have in general culture, they get quoted approvingly in media articles etc. In some ways that makes people less likely to get accurate information than they would be if they knew they didn’t know, iyswim.

          • Amazed

            I’ve always found it fascinating how people can believe that the risk of giving birth away from the help you might end up needing NOW doesn’t apply to them but the risk of a c-section – oh, that’s totally what’s going to happen to them.

            I have many friends who are in the soft woo. Each of them (those who have children) has railed against c-sections and overmedicalization. Also, almost each of them accepted each and every intervention their doctors said was needed because they aren’t this far off. At the end of the day, they acknowledge that doctors know best, as appealing as fancying themselves smarter is.

            The exception I mean is a friend who went overdue, refused an induction, refused a c-section and only accepted an induction when she was well overdue. Her child now has problems that her mother says are probably birth related (suggested by the therapist seeing her). Thankfully, she isn’t held back developmentally but her speech is this of a much younger child. I don’t intend to bring the question with my friend, ever, and her mother isn’t going to do this either. The prognosis is a good one but this is so long-term. Currently, the child is generally avoided by her peers. The irony is, this mother is not even remotely woo-ish. I have no idea why she decided that natural was best in this case.

          • Sarah

            Fear?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I don’t think it is common knowledge, not anymore. The natural birth industry is winning to a great extent. They’ve convinced otherwise reasonable people that natural is better.

          Yet still, the rate of epidurals is something on the order of 60% (and locally can be a lot higher), and the c-section rate is 30%. So 30% of mothers agree to a c-sections, and of the remaining 70%, 60% are getting an epidural. That means the “unmedicated” birth is on the order of 30%. And, as Amazed points out, the homebirth rate is miniscule (half as high as the rate of moon-landing hoaxers). So a large majority of mothers have “non-natural births”

          To not be aware of that means you are either in a bubble where it is not as common, or that you deny that the things that cause everyone else to have issues will apply to you.

          For reason 1, sure there are women who are just thrown into the culture, but a lot of it deliberate. The internet makes it possible to find that community of like-minded, and create that bubble to protect you. But in that case, it your deliberate act of avoiding contradictory information that is the problem. For the latter, it’s just hubris.

          • Sarah

            Yeah the internet has been an absolute game changer wrt NCB, I think.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Not just NCB. Lots of things, and many for the good. It’s been great for gay people, or any of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other “fringe” (as in, not prevalent) groups. I mean, it’s been great for Wizard of Oz fans. Yeah, before we had the IWOC, but now we have communities and Facebook pages. It’s made us closer, and has let us interact more than ever.

            The difference is that with the Wizard of Oz communities, it doesn’t cause us to shut out the rest of the world.

        • aurora

          Yes! This. In my birth groups everyone is always asking if they should go natural because “ hospitals are filled with evil interventions and epidurals drug your babies”

          It’s scary, it is becoming the norm in certain circles. Stories like these will keep happening…

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      If you are going to be a parent you are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of your children. If you are the one carrying and giving birth to them you bear some responsibility for what happens to them during those phases of their development (if you choose to carry and bear them) If one smokes 2 or three packs a day and ones child is born full term but severely low birth-weight, then one bears some responsibility for that, if one chooses to drink excessively through ones entire pregnancy and ones child is born with FAS one bears some of the responsibility for that(access to alcohol/drug rehab for pregnant women without judgement and threats would help a lot…)

      Yes ,it takes some knowledge to know when a VBAC is inappropriate BUT most OBs are pretty clear on the reasons why you needed a CS in the first place and the reality that you will probably need one in future. As well as the fact that every person DOESN’T know everything(so maybe listen to the people who are trained to know about the subject?), I don’t fix my own gas furnace or electrical problems, because that takes education and training and if I try and make a mistake some one could die (happened in my state, guy thought there was something off about his furnace he and his kid went down stairs to “check it out” BOOOOMM – this is why you go to the people with the training)

      SO she had 2 C-sections and did not want a third, does she go to an OB or several to see if a VBAC is possible and then LISTEN if they say it is not….nope, she goes and finds someone who will tell her what she wanted to hear and then when that decision kills her baby she wants to blame the people she refused to listen to.

    • Banrion

      NO it doesn’t take special knowledge to know that VBAC outside of a hospital setting is ALWAYS inappropriate.

  • moto_librarian

    Jesus. Everything about this is awful. I sincerely hope that her living sons don’t one day learn that their mother blames their method of birth for the death of their brother: “I didn’t know that having c sections with your brothers would come back to haunt me and ultimately kill you.” That’s such an ugly burden to place on your children, and it frankly makes me ill just reading it.

    As usual, the incompetent midwives who agreed to allow her to VBAC in their birth center after 2 sections and the willfully ignorant NCB rabble who encourage these lethal stunts deserve blame as well. What a tragedy.

    • Amazed

      Makes me wonder about the reasons behind her c-sections. Were they hospital births and she went down the slope when she stayed at home, busy homeschooling them? Or were they “failed” homebirths?

  • Amazed

    As callous as this might sound, I wonder which one of her older children this mother would wish away. After all, bemoaning her c-sections is basically bemoaning the procedure that brought her two living children.

    A homeschooler who did “research” on the internet. I am not at all convinced that she has the best reasoning abilities on earth. And we do have the shining example of Kate T. who loves her “naturally” birthed son more than her unworthy c-section daughter.

  • Mel

    I have to imagine that two previous C-sections with no previous vaginal deliveries is a solid indication that a third C-section is going to be the most straightforward end to a third pregnancy.

    I also can’t imagine that an emergency transfer and C-section after a uterine rupture with a dead baby is going to be physically easier than the hardest planned C-section.

    After Spawn’s birth, I needed a wheelchair to make it up from the parking lot to his room from the anemia caused by HELLP Syndrome. I imagine this mom is dealing with similar symptoms while grieving her son.

  • Mel

    This is a very thoughtful piece about ethics. I also believe it’s far more thinking than most people who continue to advocate VBACs outside of hospitals put into their decisions.

    I think it’s simply “I wanna do that too – and no one better blame me if this totally unforseeable shit happens”.

    • cw

      Thoughtful how? Mt dew isn’t advertising It’s product as a formula replacement, no one is making money off of car seat alternatives. Personal responsibility can only be the foundation of medical ethics if patients have accurate information about the outcomes to base decisions off of. This woman was lied to. You all love to sit on your asses talking negatively about loss moms instead of doing anything productive to try and prevent this in the future, say by organizing politically to make sure home birth midwives must provide accurate statistics to prospective clients. Homebirth is legal in the USA because midwives did more than sit around blogging, that’s what it is going to take to rein it in. I’ve tried myself to organize and none of the anti home birth folks I could reach via social media are willing to do anything but talk about how dumb home birth moms are for being scammed. I’m sick of people acting like they care so much about these babies but won’t even make a phone call to their elected officials to express concern.

      • Daleth

        I called and wrote the Michigan governor’s office when he was about to have a bill on his desk to sign, urging him not to sign the bill that created a licensure system for fake midwives (CPMs). I posted about it here and several others here also contacted the office (to no avail, unfortunately).

        I agree with you that getting the laws fixed is a major part of the solution and we should work towards that. However, I also agree with Dr. Tuteur’s “blame and shame” approach, because honestly, that is remarkably effective given human psychology. It’s not just because of the law that drunk driving is now so much less common than it used to be, or that virtually all parents use car seats. It’s because it became socially unacceptable to drink and drive, and to drive your babies/little kids around without car seats.

        • Roadstergal

          So much this. Socially acceptable, if illegal, can often be less of a barrier than legal and socially unacceptable, IMO.

          The best, of course, is both of the above.

      • Amazed

        This woman had access to the right information, unlike homebirth loss moms from even five years ago. She chose to bury her head in the sand and listen to the liars. Homebirth is a fringe choice for a reason and every thinking person would think twice about why this is. Which isn’t to say that homebirth “midwives” aren’t real murderers who should be put out of practice. She wouldn’t have attempted a VBAC in a birth centre if this centre adhered to safety rules, would she?

        BTW, what makes you think you know what we do or don’t do to make changes? I mean, I had no idea what you did. Why should I?

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        What do you think this post is if not doing something to try to prevent this in the future?

      • rosewater1

        Did the doctors who did her c/s lie to her? It’s standard procedure to tell a mother when she’s consented that a c/s can impact future pregnancies and deliveries.

        Yes, the midwives who cared for her lied to her and that is despicable. If they had souls, I would imagine they are upset and horrified. However, most midwives in that situation seem more concerned with covering their own asses.

        This woman had all the information in front of her and she made a horrid, bad decision. And she paid a terrible price and so did her child.

        Yes, legislation needs to change. But it;s so hard to prosecute midwives now and legislation will take time.

        We also need to work to change the attitudes of women who think they know best.

        • Sarah

          Re your first paragraph -to be fair, I don’t remember being told this when I had my section. They probably did at some point and I do remember being told not to conceive for 2 years afterwards, but not why.

          I knew anyway, and mine was a Cat 1 emergency so not one with lots of time for talking through options, but it’s not like the only possibilities here are her previous doctors lying or her lying.

      • Mel

        Who the hell are you to assume you know what I’m willing or have done to alert elected officials?

        Guess what? I’ve talked to every damn elected official in my area – including quite a few who I was not a constituent of to try and get home birth regulated in my state – in person.

        Regulated – not made illegal. There’s a major difference between those two ideas – and I can see why “the people you can meet on social media” aren’t willing to follow you when you haven’t done basic research into what would be possible to do through the legislative process. I’m not going to weaken my position by following someone down a rabbit hole.

        And you know what? I’m not going to pretend that women who have children die in planned out-of-hospital births are naive waifs who can’t do due diligence. This woman wasn’t a first-time young mom with no life experience; she’s had two children and is running her own personal school.
        *If she’s smart enough to home school three children, she’s smart enough to realize that there’s a reason she had two previous C-sections.
        *She’s smart enough to think about what the outcome of having an emergency at an out of hospital location was.
        *She’s smart enough to think about what possible biases a health care provider might have.

        I have a great deal of sympathy for the hell she’s going through right now – but I won’t pretend she’s a complete idiot who couldn’t foresee that having a VBA2C outside of a hospital could end badly.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          his woman wasn’t a first-time young mom with no life experience; she’s had two children and is running her own personal school.

          She’s an anti-vaxxer, too.

          • Mel

            Oh, goody.

      • Who?

        It’s probably not possible, or even desirable, to make homebirth ‘illegal’. And in the land where Freedom seems to be the main game, being directive about how one’s own body should be managed isn’t going to go well.

        Ultimately, life is choice. This woman made a choice that had a very predictable outcome, that she’s now not happy about. Had baby been any class at all of okay, this mother would be preaching from the rooftops about the wonder of homebirth.

        Making the birth hobbyists more accountable would be very fine, but they have no training obligations, nothing to lose if they are sued, and can take their business down the road and start it again if they lose their reputation.

        Ideally we’d all be smart, and well resourced, and would make good decisions all day every day. Many of us feel we are in fact like that, and shit still happens.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        And then there’s me. I haven’t found the energy to shower in a week, never mind picket my governor. On the positive side, I managed to wrap all my kids’ christmas presents, even the ones from my MIL who didn’t ask Amazon to wrap them for her, and I’ve been keeping one counter fairly clean, and sweeping the floor almost daily. Baby steps. Ah, depression.
        In other words, bite me, I’m doing what very little i can manage.

        • kilda

          good for you. depression sucks.

        • Mishimoo

          You’re doing pretty damn well, depression is a mess of awfulness. Like you said: baby steps!

        • Chi

          I’d say you’re doing pretty well, all things considered.

          Take care of yourself and I hope it passes soon for you.

        • Tigger_the_Wing

          Well done!

          Seriously, I have several debilitating, progressive, disabling health conditions; absolutely none of them is half as bad as depression, which saps the life right out of a person. Baby steps are good! Wrapping the presents was an excellent move – I couldn’t even have managed that much, when I was in the depths.

          • Poogles

            “absolutely none of them is half as bad as depression, which saps the life right out of a person.”

            I suffer from persistent depressive disorder – basically, depression is my life-long companion and I can get “major depressive” episodes as well, which they term “double depression” (fun stuff).

            My husband and I have been together almost 2 decades now and, especially the first 5 or so years, he really had a hard time understanding why I had such a hard time functioning when it was bad. He came from a family that was very “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” and his dad denied depression even existed – he was trying very hard to understand, but he had no real reference point.

            Fast forward to today – for a variety of reasons, my husband now finds himself in the depths of a severe depressive episode (he is getting meds and therapy, finally). The other night he apologized to me for not “getting it” before – he couldn’t believe how exhausting every little task was (and many everyday tasks just insurmountable) and how much it had sucked every little bit of pleasure from his life. I really think it is very difficult to truly understand unless you’ve experienced it; it’s not just being *really* sad.

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            I’m so very, very sorry you have to go through that. I used to have to use CBT because I can tolerate no psych medication. I count myself very fortunate that I inherited the ovarian cancer gene, because it meant I had a total hysterectomy in my thirties, and it turned out that my depression was linked to hormones. It faded away rapidly in the years following the surgery, never to return.

            People in general do not realise how much of our daily energy intake is used by our brains, even when they are functioning properly; of the order of 20%. So, when the brain is sick, the extra energy it consumes saps what we need for other things – and that’s not counting the extra effort needed because our brains aren’t communicating efficiently with the rest of our bodies. And, given that it tends to depress our appetite, it would be surprising if depression didn’t leave us overwhelmed and exhausted.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Mine -definitely- has a hormonal component. sigh

      • yentavegan

        AMEN!!! This Mother was lied to, her pregnancy was made into a commodity and abused by the alternative medical industry. I have sympathy for her plight.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          She may have been lied to, but she had no interest in the truth in the first place.

          She is not some poor helpless victim, she is a perpetrator of nonsense on her own.

  • Roadstergal

    I can’t get over the writing in the original post. I just stumbled over this one and almost broke my nose – “Gratefully, the hospital staff worked extremely fast and caught the blood clot, stopped the bleeding and stabilized her.”

    Is this Thesaurus Writing, or are there just a set of adverbs and adjectives you’re required to have in a homebirth story?

    I know it’s a small thing in the context of a dead child, but I tend to think sloppy writing and sloppy thinking go hand in hand, and sloppy thinking has wide-ranging consequences.

    • Daleth

      I read a quote once to the effect that “writing is nature’s way of showing us how unclear our thinking is.”

  • Daleth

    If she didn’t know it was a risk, then she didn’t give informed consent to the homebirth. Home-birth midwives almost always downplay the risks. Their income depends on it.

    But to hold the midwives responsible, the grieving parents have to sue them or report them to state licensing boards. Often they don’t, not just because suing is pointless and expensive (home-birth midwives almost never carry liability insurance, and if you sue they’ll just declare bankruptcy), but because they feel like the midwife is their friend, the “sister from another mister” who has their back. Even though the midwife is directly to blame for the baby’s death. Is it something like Stockholm Syndrome that makes grieving mothers feel that way?

    • Roadstergal

      The first two births weren’t homebirths, however. Surely she must have talked to OBs at some point when she ‘did the research,’ or at least when she OKed the two previous C/Ss…

      I agree with you, though, that it is highly likely that the Birthing Center did not provide appropriate informed consent. They bear responsibility, as well. If this had happened at a hospital, there would be an investigation, some sort of root cause analysis, changes in practice – but since this was a birthing center, I’m going to assume they’re going to change nothing and learn nothing. I’d love to be proven wrong, of course.

      • Mel

        Heck, at a hospital there’s a decent chance her son would be alive. The mom would have been monitored closely (and probably in an OR with an epidural in place.) She wouldn’t have been bleeding internally while waiting for the ambulance, during the transfer and during admittance while her son suffocated and possibly bled into her.

        I think OB/GYNs on this site have mentioned before that it would take roughly 30 minutes to move the woman from admittance to being able to start the surgery – and that assumes that there’s an OR readily available and the woman is stabilized enough on admittance.

        • Daleth

          There’s more than a decent chance. The perinatal/neonatal death rate for hospital VBACs is minuscule. Unless she refused all “interventions” (in particular, continuous monitoring), her baby would almost certainly have lived.

          • Mel

            My only conditional was from the fact that I’m not certain that she could receive a VBA2C.

          • Amazed

            Do we know that she didn’t try with an OB first and was rejected as a good candidate?

          • Mel

            No idea. All that the post says is that she had two previous C-sections from sons born 8 and 5 years previous and has never had a vaginal birth. She might have been a great candidate for a VBA2C ; she might have been a horrible candidate for one.

          • Sarah

            She presumably could have attempted one in a hospital simply by turning up in labour and refusing a section at least initially, though? I know in the US you have to find a provider but I was under the impression that women attending a hospital offering obstetric services would be attended to.

          • Mel

            Yes, she could do that – but that technique requires a very, very stubborn personality that can face very visible consternation and disapproval on the part of medical professionals without straying from the plan.

            Based on the number of NCB adherents who complain about “being hassled” about their birth plan or feeling undermined by having a L&D nurse ask if they want an epidural, I suspect that one of the perks of NCB is being safely surrounded by people who parrot back exactly what you want to hear. After all, this lady was all set up for a vaginal birth that would be easier on her body than a C-section – not a crash C-section after an emergency transfer or even a vaginal birth with lots of pain, tearing and a postpartum hemorrhage.

          • Roadstergal

            Yes, isn’t one of the reasons for good outcomes at hospitals that they advise repeat C/S for poor VBAC candidates? (I mean, in addition to having monitoring and immediate access to emergency teams.)

          • Mel

            I assume so. At the risk of being obvious, OBs don’t want to be in the middle of a C-section from hell which is what a VBA2C leading to a uterine rupture is. And all of my previous assumptions are based on relatively easy access to the uterus after the rupture, but that’s not a given either. The OB might have been hacking through adhesions as well as scar tissue which would be a scary, scary situation if the baby was alive but crashing.

          • Daleth

            Yeah, I have no idea what hospital policies are with respect to VBAC vs. VBA2C. Are they treated differently? I don’t know how different the risks are.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          At the hospital the baby would be alive. A friend of mine suffered a rupture with her third baby after two uncomplicated vaginal deliveries. Her son is perfectly fine. Of course, she was at a great hospital (best in the country), with continuous fetal monitoring. It obviously involved a crash c-section and some resuscitation on the baby. It was years ago, and the kid is already at school and completely normal. So yes, at the hospital the baby would have a great chance of being alive and doing well.

          • BeatriceC

            At a hospital her baby would *almost* certainly be alive. Perinatal deaths do happen during VBACs even in large, tertiary hospitals. The difference, of course, is they happen thousands of times less frequently, and when they do happen, they are subjected to intense scrutiny to figure out what went wrong so as to prevent similar happenings in the future. A dear friend of mine, sort of an unofficially adopted daughter, lost her second baby during a VBAC attempt in a large, tertiary hospital located in one of the larger cities in the US. I won’t go into more detail than that because legal proceedings are happening, but just mentioning it to illustrate that though rare, it does happen.

      • Daleth

        Right, but in my experience (at a huge and very good university hospital) the consent process for a C/S does not include being warned that if you get pregnant again in the future and attempt to give birth vaginally, you might have a uterine rupture.

        If you ask about risks in future births they would presumably tell you that, and perhaps it’s in the fine print, but it’s not something anyone warned me about when going over the consent form, nor would I expect them to. They warn you about things that might go wrong during the procedure or as an immediate result of it (needing transfusions, etc.), not things that depend on two future conditionals (IF at some point in the future you get pregnant again, and IF you decide to attempt a VBAC…).

        Those risks get discussed when you are pregnant again and are deciding how to give birth, and if you go straight to a homebirth midwife without first discussing VBAC options with an OB, you’re probably not going to get that warning. At least, not in a legally effective way (a dismissive “oh there’s this tiny risk of this one thing but I wouldn’t worry about it” doesn’t count).

        • Mel

          I actually was warned that I would never be a VBAC candidate prior to the C-section where my son was delivered. I was having a late second trimester C-section where my OB knew she’d have to do a classic vertical incision on my uterus and so no future vaginal births for me. (Totally fine with me; my maternal relatives have uncomplicated vaginal births followed by multiple surgeries in their 40’s -70’s to repair the remainder of the pelvic floor to reverse the uterine, bladder and/or rectal prolapse.)

          I have no idea if that’s standard at the hospital I was delivered at or was just my OB or was just for me because my OB knows I like information.

          • Daleth

            Sounds like you had a good OB. I wouldn’t be surprised if the informed consent guidelines are very different for vertical incisions, though, since the risks are so much higher. Isn’t it like a 1 in 8 risk of uterine rupture?!?!?! As opposed to about 1/200 with a transverse incision.

          • BeatriceC

            When my youngest was born they told me the same thing, though after I was truly conscious again. I was awake, but so out of it that I don’t actually recall most of the details in the hour or so before his birth. I’m certain they said something about a c-section before X weeks could cause additional problems with future pregnancies, because when I do recall them telling me, I also recall thinking “but I already knew that.”

        • dawna eastman-gallo

          In 22+ years of practicing OBGYN, even the most urgent CS consent I did included the words “complications in future pregnancies” and I think that is pretty standard. I reiterate it in postop contacts too.

      • Allie

        I’m guessing “did the research” really means she searched for and found support for her already-made decision to try VBA2C in a birthing center. Then, to whatever extent the birthing center tried to provide the cons (and they may not have tried very hard), she felt she knew better.

        • Amazed

          They certainly did not try very hard, as proven by the fact that they took her as a client.

          BTW, the wording of both things is very telling. Hospitals have patients. Autonomy and all matter but at the end, they went there to be treated by professionals. Homebirth midwives and birth centres have clients. They’re there to serve their whims which are almost always financially profitable for midwives or birth centres. I do think the word “client” does not express the gravity of being in a state where you need monitoring by trained medical professionals and not paid enabling by hobbyists.

    • Steph858

      Indeed, that’s where I have a problem with the car seat and mountain dew analogies. There are no pressure groups telling mothers that the only ‘natural’ way to drive a baby around is sans car seat, or that the only ‘natural’ drink to give a toddler is mountain dew. Nobody, certainly no-one holding themselves out as some kind of health professional, would try to tell mothers that they are somehow failures for using car seats and eschewing mountain dew.

      That doesn’t change the fact that her son’s death WAS foreseeable and someone IS to blame for it; it just brings up the question as to how much blame should be placed upon the mother versus the midwives at the birthing centre.