Why is Dr. Neel Shah giving legitimacy to midwives with blood on their hands?


The adulation must be truly head turning.

I can’t otherwise explain why Neel Shah, MD, who ought to be completely cognizant of both the scientific literature and the history of people he supports, is giving legitimacy to midwives with blood on their hands and self-serving nonsense in their heads.

Advocates of “normal” birth have been waiting for years for a respected obstetrician to legitimize their deadly ideology and Dr. Shah is making their dreams come true without a thought for the many mothers and babies who have suffered at their hands.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Dr. Shah is making their dreams come true without a thought for the many mothers and babies who have suffered at their hands.[/pullquote]

First we learn that Dr. Shah is taking part in the for profit venture Birthpedia a website that features advocates of pseudoscience and poor practice, including Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent, Brad Bootstaylor, Barbara Harper and a chiropractor, among others.

Dr Gena Bofshever has an infectous personality to go along with her thorough chiropractic skills to help women who want to get pregnant by making the organs in their body easier to talk with their brain. (my emphasis)

Dr. Shah wasn’t merely one of the contributors; he featured prominently in their promotional materials:

“Imagine having a Harvard OBGYN answer your specific question/concern for only $8 a month. We are changing how providers and patients intake information about birth where any pregnant woman can get answers by qualified professionals” – Co-Founder Justine Tullier

After I wrote on my Facebook page about Dr. Shah’s association with quackery, the Birthpedia information on Dr. Shah and the other contributors disappeared from the internet. Hopefully Dr. Shah was unaware that he was associating with quacks and charlatans and reconsidered his involvement.

Several days ago, Dr. Shah tweeted his excitement at a forthcoming meeting of Sheena Byrom, a leader in UK midwifery.

Byrom is the poster child for moral depravity in the face of preventable infant deaths. She has the unmitigated gall to defend the unethical behavior of midwives in privileging process over outcome by arguing that it is more important to preserve “normal birth” than human life.

Despite dozens of preventable perinatal and maternal deaths at the hands of UK midwives, despite the fact that liability payments now account for fully 20% of UK midwifery spending, despite multiple investigations detailing poor midwifery practice and strenuous attempts to hide it by midwives lying to investigators and regulators bodies, Byrom insists on Normal birth – a moral and ethical imperative:

Yes, there needs to be learning from incidents, and development where needed. But blaming one professional group, or a particular type of birth, does little to improve any situation.

Actually, insisting that a professional group take responsibility for their own deadly mistakes does A LOT to improve any situation.

But that’s not the worst of Bryom’s behavior. She has become well known for publicly tormenting a father who lost his son in the Morecambe Bay midwifery scandal.

Now comes news that Dr. Shah is headlining Normal Birth 2018.


Of course Dr. Shah may have no idea what he’s getting into. It wouldn’t be the first time.

He certainly had no idea about homebirth when he wrote about it in the New England Journal of Medicine, A NICE Delivery — The Cross-Atlantic Divide over Treatment Intensity in Childbirth, and for a companion piece Are hospitals the safest place for healthy women to have babies? An obstetrician thinks twice on The Conversation.

Dr. Shah appeared entirely unaware of the two most important issues in American homebirth.

1. In contrast to the UK where there is only one type of midwife, highly educated and highly trained, in the US there are two types of midwives: certified nurse midwives (CNM), the best educated, best trained midwives in the world, and a second, inferior class of midwife, certified professional midwives (CPM), who lack the education and training of midwives in every other industrialized country.

2. There is a large and growing body of research that demonstrates that home birth with an American home birth midwife has a death rate 3-9 times higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

Dr. Shah is one of the plenary speakers at Normal Birth 2018. Others include Melissa Cheyney, anthropology professor and homebirth midwife and Soo Down, midwifery professor and promoter of goofy, quack midwifery theory.

Does Dr. Shah know that Melissa Cheyney has single-handedly done more to hide the growing toll of tiny bodies of babies who succumb to American homebirth than anyone else? She has lied, denied, decried and defied efforts to inform the public of the hideous death toll at homebirth.

Does he care that Cheyney, in her role as the Chair of the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery, steadfastly REFUSED to release the homebirth mortality rates in her possession for fear that regulatory authorities might wish to investigate the death rate and discipline the midwives involved in the deaths. In the face of that refusal state of Oregon subsequently hired Judith Rooks, CNM, MPH, a known supporter of homebirth, to calculate the Oregon homebirth death rate in 2012. Rooks found that the death rate at the hands of LICENSED homebirth midwives was 800% higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

Is Dr. Shah aware of Soo Downe’s midwifery “philosophy”? Downe, like many quacks, won’t accept the existing scientific evidence and invokes quantum mechanics, a concept she knows nothing about, to rationalize her refusal to accept copious evidence on the dangers of promoting “normal” birth.

The implication of the new subatomic physics was that certainty was replaced by probability, or the notion of tendencies rather than absolutes: ‘we can never predict an atomic event with certainty; we can only predict the likelihood of its happening’… This directly contradicts the mechanistic model we explored above, and it implies that a subject such as normal birth needs to be looked at as a whole rather than its parts…”

Prof. Downe has managed a stupidity trifecta: she used the wrong theory, from the wrong field, wrongly interpreted to reach the ideologically predetermined result.

Dr. Shah, these women are not your friends. More importantly, they are not the friends of babies and mothers, too many of whom have died at their hands or as a result of their beliefs.

Do you really want to legimitize midwives with blood on their hands?