Who’s responsible when a baby dies at freebirth?

Responsibility a cloud word on sky

The internet is buzzing with the latest story of a woman who let her baby die at a freebirth.

Freebirth is the bizarre practice of giving birth without a medical professional of any kind because “nature.” Women who choose freebirth seem to have no knowledge of childbirth; if they did, they’d know that the day of birth is the deadliest day in the entire 18 years of childhood. They have no knowledge of history; if they did, they’d know that birth attendants exist is every time, place and culture because childbirth is dangerous and attendants improve outcomes.

Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.

As is typical for freebirth, the mother was ignoring multiple risk factors that placed her baby at even higher risk:

  • The mother was 42 weeks.
  • She labored for five days.
  • She was leaking meconium.
  • The amniotic fluid had a foul smell.
  • She only sought medical help after she no longer felt the baby moving.

Her labor started on October 1.

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So the surges keep coming every day, but still no baby. Just making me more and more tired and my body ache everywhere. Nothing I could do would ease the pain but I tried so hard to stay positive.

My water broke the evening of the 4th and was discolored. Since I was 42 weeks I thought it was normal. But as the days went by it got more foul smelling and turned a sick poop color which was constantly leaking and the baby stopped moving on the 6th.

I woke on the 7th with so much pain and pouring meconium that Chris and I agreed it was time to transfer.

Not surprisingly, the baby was dead.

Or as the mother said:

Journey Moon M. was born as a sleeping angel on Oct. 7th at 8 lb. 13 oz.

That sounds much nicer than the truth that the baby died a preventable death from Group B strep infection (as per the autopsy) days before birth and macerated for days —both before and after birth — in foul smelling, infected meconium.

Whose fault it is that Journey Moon is dead? The blame lies with her mother and the members of the freebirth Facebook group that encouraged her every step of the way. As is typical with the irresponsible, narcissistic outlook of women who choose freebirth, the mother insists this was a random event.

I posted an article recounting the baby’s death on my Facebook page and another freebirth aficionado, Sarah Tuck, swooped in the berate me and my readers.

You women are so fucked up. Stop being stupid assholes and actually care about your sisters in this world.

Who is Sarah?

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I have two masters degrees and tons of experience in trauma counseling, midwifery, education, etc.

Not exactly.

Sarah is an assistant/apprentice midwife with Harvest Moon Women’s Health. She has a background in photography and education… Sarah has a Bachelors Degree in Photography/Art and a Masters Degree in Childhood Education. She began coursework the The Ancient Art Midwifery Institute in 2015. She is trained with several midwifery schools doing hands on workshops. She has worked with 6 different midwives during her past 12 months as an apprentice. She has been to mostly home-births and also birth center and hospital births as well. She is CPR and NRP certified. She is currently working with D.H. and is getting close to reaching 30 births! She is also trained as an herbalist, doula, nutrition counselor, preconception counselor, Thai Massage, and has been working in women’s health for 4 years. And she takes amazing birth photos!

Sarah is a birth photographer who actually thinks that attending courses with the clowns at Ancient Art Midwifery Institute has made her knowledgeable about childbirth.

Sarah the birth photographer is horrified that anyone would dare hold this freebirth mother to account. She fails to understand that just because a woman has a right to have a freebirth doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do or that other women should support it.

How can that be?

Free speech offers a good analogy. The first amendment guarantees the right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is required to agree with or support the substance of that speech.

Consider the 1977 case of the American Nazi party vs. Skokie, Illinois. Nazis wanted to wave swastikas and march through Skokie, a town settled by large numbers of Holocaust survivors:

[T]he necessary implication of the Supreme Court’s 1977 NSPA decision … is that a group’s request to engage in a parade or demonstration involving public display of the Nazi swastika is a symbolic form of free speech that is at least presumptively entitled to First Amendment protections. In other words, the Court’s decision implies that First Amendment protection would not be denied to use of the swastika …

But just because the First Amendment protects the right to wave a swastika flag in front of the citizens of Skokie does not mean that doing so is worthy of agreement or support. That Nazis who sought to march were evil people who didn’t care whom they hurt. They are not entitled to or worthy of respect.

Similarly a woman’s right to control her own body means that authorities cannot prevent her from having a freebirth, but that doesn’t make it a moral choice or worthy of support. It remains an ignorant, narcissistic, immoral choice that should be condemned.

In keeping with the narcissism of freebirth, Sarah insists:

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Ha! You’re just jealous because we had fucking amazing births and feel empowered enough to take you all down! Home birth is on the rise and we are not getting any more silent. Nor will we go away.

Hilarious! Sarah imagines we envy her when in truth we are disgusted by her. Home birth is on the rise? Well, yes, if you mean that it has gone from a fringe practice that leads to preventable infants deaths to a slightly more popular fringe practice that leads to preventable infant deaths.

To the extent that I feel anything at all for women who choose freebirth and their babies, I feel pity. Imagine having a mother so selfish and narcissistic that she is literally willing to risk your life for her own “empowerment.” No child deserves that.

Women who let their own babies die at freebirth have a right to do so, but that doesn’t change the fact they are responsible for their immoral choice and its deadly outcome.

  • Great share! Thank you for the post.

  • Ha Ha

    This NON-LICENSED “physician” is a shill and a liar. A very envious one. Those who disparage unassisted birthers just wish they head the courage to do it.

    • Azuran

      Oh yea sure. My grandmother sure wished she had the courage to birth at home alone and follow her natural destiny of dying at 15 from hemorrhage from placenta previa.
      My mother should also have followed suit (although she technically wouldn’t even have been alive at that point because she would have died too when her mom hemorrhaged) and let her first born die inside her from shoulder dystocia while birthing unassisted.
      And I sure wish that two years ago I had the courage to just stay home for days after my water broke until infection killed both me and my baby because my labour would just not start and she just wouldn’t fit. (even though I shouldn’t be alive, because my grandmother and mother would both have been dead before I was even conceived by now if they had the ‘courage’ to go through unattended birth)
      And right now I sure hope I find the courage to have an unassisted home birth at home with my possible placenta acreta and die from hemorrage with my son and leave my 2 years old behind.

      Please, help me find the courage to let myself die a preventable death in the confort of my home.

    • rational thinker

      There is a difference between non licensed and retired. Learn it you fucking moron. By the way she is not a shill for anyone and by claiming that she is without proof means you are the one who is lying. Birthing at home with no help is a display of an enormous ego not courage. Any woman who does this just so she can brag is a freaking monster who should not be a mother.

    • Cristina

      Why would she be envious? Personally, I save my jealousy for things that require actual skill and talent.

  • E Wood

    what is a hospital birth really? its a couple of hours out of your life, then you go home. imagine not being prepared to climb down to doing even that

  • viking116

    Plenty of women have had natural childbirth after doctors or midwives working under doctors MADE SURE EVERYTHING WAS OKAY. If by “freebirth” they mean “don’t have to be adult and pay for insurance”, not okay. Do they believe in freeraising, too? Faith healing of sick children?

  • Important and useful content for health. Freebirth is always risky for the mom. I think we take to action to stop that as soon as possible.

  • MainlyMom

    Also, the “empowering” birth story makes me want to gag. You know what my births were? Humbling. I saw my little baby and it was like seeing the face of God. Childbirth is definitely like climbing a mountain. But patting yourself on the back for making it up at the top (so empowering!) instead of turning around to look at the view and getting bowled over by the beauty of nature and feeling humbled by the scope of creation, to me, says you missed out on the best part.

    • demodocus

      I was pretty out of it with magnesium when my first was born. I remember wondering who was that little old man sprawled over my belly.

      • MainlyMom

        My second thought on seeing my first was shock that there really was a baby in there and WHAT THE HECK WAS I GOING TO DO NOW!!!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Childbirth is definitely like climbing a mountain. But patting yourself on the back for making it up at the top (so empowering!) instead of turning around to look at the view and getting bowled over by the beauty of nature and feeling humbled by the scope of creation, to me, says you missed out on the best part.

      As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter whether you hike to the top of Pike’s Peak or ride the tram to get there, the view from the top is the same either way.

    • Cristina

      I’m probably one of the few people that never read/watched anything birth related prior to doing it myself. A friend told me the childbirth classes were all about breastfeeding (which I never planned to do) and the nurses tell you what to do anyway, so I never went. I guess, in hindsight, it would have been useful to know dangerous signs/symptoms to watch for though.

      • MaineJen

        I never went to childbirth classes either. My impression (and it turned out to be correct, from what my friends told me) from the class’s description was that they were just going to try to talk me out of getting pain relief during labor, and I wanted to keep that option open for myself. I did fine without the class, and I thoroughly enjoyed my epidural too!

      • MainlyMom

        also skipped the childbirth classes. Get to manhattan for 6 mondays running? no thank you. Also, my OB’s BFF was a nurse and lamaze teacher for 20 years. I asked her for the quick run-down, and she said “get an epidural.” she said after she had kids, she quit teaching lamaze, because she realized it was a bunch of lies and childbirth hurt like hell. she also had a lot of guilt for having lied to so many women. Needless to say, I took her advice!!

  • MainlyMom

    Homebirth, at least here in Maine, is just a half-step away from unassisted childbirth. So, I do blame the homebirth movement for deaths like this, in part. They encourage the idea that left alone, birth will turn out as well (or better!) at home with less intervention. It’s not illogical to extend that thinking to birth without a (pretend) midwife.

    • MaineJen

      Yeah, it’s pretty scary. I’ve tried to look into what the outcomes have been for homebirth in Maine, but they keep those pretty well hidden. It’s like the wild west.

      • MainlyMom

        I’ve never found anyone who tracks outcomes here either. But there are only a few hospitals that have NICUs in the state, and I’ll bet it wouldn’t be hard to get some numbers. My cousin is a nurse and Maine Med and won’t say anything beyond she’d never do it after what she’s seen.

        • MaineJen

          Eek. Yeah, I checked out a few websites just for fun when I was pregnant (never seriously considered home birth), and I saw some scary stuff. Notable was the midwife group in Belfast whose proud motto was “We have two hands, and we know how to sit on them.” In other words: you get in trouble, I’ll do nothing. NO THANKS

  • Eater of Worlds

    Too bad we can’t just do the equivalent of this to these uneducated homebirthers. They think they are doing this to us.

    “I hate Illinois Nazis” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulCw7RJ5eE8

  • Jet Kin

    These kind of stories make me wonder if these women even wanted to be pregnant in the first place. When you want to be pregnant so hard it hurts, it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t get the absolute best medical care available if you do end up succeeding.

    • Lilly de Lure

      I get the impression with a lot of them that they desperately want to be pregnant and go through birth, its the tedious reality of the actual baby at the end of it that they can take or leave.

      • Jet Kin

        Very true. I guess in that case I don’t really want to be pregnant that badly. I mean morning sickness doesn’t have that much appeal. But I want the prize at the end: a healthy baby.

    • rosewater1

      I read a lot of the Mothering.com unassisted childbirth boards. From what I read there, these women-or a lot of them-100% believe that they are doing the best thing for their baby. I don’t get it, but they clearly believe this.

  • EmbraceYourInnerCroen

    OT – yet another round of Measles cases, the initial 6 cases were kids age 11 months to 4 years. 17 cases so far in Brooklyn and in Rockland county…

    https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/10/18/measles-warning-in-brooklyn-rockland-county/

    Two were hospitalized with complications of pneumonia and ear infections.

  • Who?

    If we are going to grant that adults have agency, and that adult women are able to make their own decisions, then responsibility for freebirth sits with the parent/s. If there are two, with both of them.

    Not with the irresponsible nutcases who egg them on, because we all, as adults, have choices about who we put our trust in. I’d shut down the nutcases for being lying liars who lie, but that’s an argument for another day.

  • rational thinker

    I had amazing births too. You know why they were amazing, because each birth resulted in a live healthy newborn.

    • Daleth

      Yes! I had the most amazing scheduled c-section. Half an hour after it started, I had two healthy twins. It was wonderful!

      • Griffin

        Me too! I had three wonderful elective cesareans. Each was calm and so gentle.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Dr. Tuteur,
    Reading this story makes me realize that it has been a long time since you have posted a homebirth death story. Do we have any info that homebirth deaths may be decreasing, or is this just a case of the focus of your posts having shifted?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Sadly, I continually hear about homebirth deaths. I no longer write about them routinely because they are so similar to each other.

      • fiftyfifty1

        I wish you would reconsider. The thought of these cases going without any acknowledgement is too sad and unjust. Maybe just a cumulative list along the side, maybe even as brief as “Colorado, CPM attended, 10/110/18.” If only to let the world know that someone is watching and caring.

        • Who?

          I agree with this. It’s too easy for them to slip under the radar, to the benefit of those turning a dollar, or boosting their profiles and egos, from peddling this dangerous nonsense.

          • Jet Kin

            Seconded. Or thirded (if you prefer)
            If Dr. Tuteur doesn’t shine the light on these abominable statistics, who will?

          • Lilly de Lure

            Fourthed (if that is a thing?).

          • seenthelight

            Fifthed. There’s a group that sends out a monthly accidental gun death list that is very sad to read, but very informative as well. It’s almost a poignant memorial to the lives lost to… ignorance? (Hard to come up with a good word there.)

        • Eater of Worlds

          I agree too. I follow a chronic pain blog and they have a list of all the suicides due to not getting the medication they need. These people need recognition and that their fight for life failed for reasons out of their control.

          These babies also need recognition that their fight for life failed, only it was not out of the control of their mothers to do something. And maybe a bit more information if possible so that it doesn’t look like a list honoring the choices made. “Colorado, CPM attended, mother refused medical attention or mother went to hospital too late, or baby stopped moving several days before labor, date”

  • Hannah83

    While this crazy lady labored on her own, I gave birth to my lovely daughter in a hospital less than two weeks ago – labor was induced, I had an epidural, fed the baby some formula until my milk came in. A couple hours, some more pleasant, some less and they don’t matter all that much. The little girl I love a little more every day matters. She will stay, while the memory of my “birth experience” has already started to fade. I have many strong feelings when looking at little K., but jealousy certainly is not one of them.

    • demodocus

      Congrats!

    • Jet Kin

      Sounds like an “amazing” birth experience. And the most important is you get to take home a healthy baby.

  • RudyTooty

    This popped into my FB feed this morning and I have to share. I don’t have enough words – or even the right words – to describe how much and why I HATE this video.

    It is deceptive and manipulative.

    Sure, it glorifies people working in my profession – midwifery – and it’s inclusive of midwives working in all settings – so we get that unity thing going – but this is some of the most dangerous propaganda out there. And I don’t even know how to BEGIN to explain this. I hate this video. HATE IT. And all the other ones like it.

    https://www.facebook.com/birthunscriptedtx/videos/245691912724547/?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCM0jUWIO78Y0_Zvq1PYjrgSJGQOaOZcpATCbD69Wot2Fd-rpAaTFKs21DzWtDQDhqVqfoxq7hMAE0PkVq-ehhmKgqrryiGsuQGNX8U4xtdCBVm0q7ZAgBkT1y2fb5ZTEcBXTRLZ8FxEikbIt6sn5v3hLm6Ae4ZrzV5zZDwayXXJpFuTZDB7F9wC0Jkwf7nas7EyF_DiVcwwijJ5kLiRr1e9BeMtuR8C1RpQb0X&__tn__=H-R

    • fiftyfifty1

      Yeah, how to put it into words…the carefully curated images, the soaring music, the non-existent boundaries…

  • rational thinker

    I dont think it was EVER about the baby for her.

  • rational thinker

    Watch this idiot will be having her healing homebirth in 11 months

    • Daleth

      Not likely. Letting a GBS infection and a dead baby percolate inside you for days on end causes a lot of damage. She’s lost her baby and quite likely her fertility as well.

      • rational thinker

        I hate to say this but maybe losing her fertility would be for the best. So she cannot do this to another precious life.

        • seenthelight

          She’ll probably become a doula and then a midwife herself and encourage others to do the same. The legacy will survive 🙁

  • RudyTooty

    I’m lurking on a midwifery page on FB right now where midwives are discussing the “merits” of freebirthing.

    SMH.

    That any of them find freebirthing reasonable – and yes, they have all the standard counter arguments “patriarchy! you hate women! blah blah blah” – demonstrates that a faction of midwives really believe their value is doing nothing, and hold a superstitious belief in natural birth being superior.

    There are a few who recognize the danger of freebirthing – both of the CPM and CNM variety…. but the conversation unfolding is for the most part, incredibly ignorant.

    Midwifery as it exists right now in the US does not hold practitioners to ethical or professional or science-based standards (& I’m including ALL the damn midwives in that statement).

    • demodocus

      A midwife (CNM) friend of mine just posted some nonsense about herbs, and they weren’t for dinner. Sigh.

  • Who?

    Sarah’s being delightful over on Facebook.

    I really just popped in to see if this browser (Google Chrome) will both allow captcha to decide I’m not a robot and activate the post button.

  • Anna

    I think with homebirth with a university trained midwife, accepted as a reasonable option in Australia I portion myself about 50% of blame. I dont apportion that much blame to my homebirth loss friends though. Two the midwife didnt show up, two were horrendously lied to about her risk and two others hired a criminally negligent psychopath, who they were told was the best in the business, even by an OB! I know Danielle and some of the other US homebirth loss Mums and they are smart, kind, reasonable women who truly believed they were safe with CPMs. For freebirthers I think they deserve more share of the blame. Even rabid pro-homebirthers like Dahlen, Reed, Byrom etc will admit freebirth is dangerous and has a disgustingly high death rate. People who follow obviously deranged lunatics like Emilee Sandaya, Yolande Clark, Indie Birth etc and listen to them surely assume even greater responsibility. I really cant explain how I got so brainwashed, but certainly the gorgeous photos and stories online contributed, plus the way all the bad outcomes are explained away. I cringe now at what an arrogant twat I was thinking I knew better. All the homebirth loss Mums I know feel so much guilt and shame. I will never completely forgive myself. I WANT to carry that burden actually. I feel I must.

    • RudyTooty

      Thank you for sharing this.

      I think it’s important to shine a light on how people are deceived and manipulated into believing that home birth is safe. It’s often not one thing, but many things – the photos, the stories, a group of people sharing this common interest and creating a social network (online or offline). It really creates this illusion that everything is safe, that nothing bad will ever happen to anyone in that group – despite the risks they take.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s acceptable for midwives (to themselves) to take these risks with their clients because the midwife is not the one who suffers the loss of a child. She might have to deal with some damages to her reputation, and may have to deal with some cognitive dissonance – but then she’ll often attend the next “healing, natural birth” and deny the reality of the death of a full-term newborn. It’s rare that a midwife is accountable legally or professionally – because midwifery claims it is helping women ‘take responsibility’ for their own choices.

      Probably the same with the freebirth promoters – they don’t lose their own children when they peddle their nonsense – other people do. And that’s acceptable to them.

      This is incredibly cruel and unethical.

  • Anna

    “We had fucking amazing births”, thats all it is to her, a birth. A piece of performance art in which she is her own muse.

    • kilda

      yeah, 5 days of pain while leaking foul smelling fluid, to finally deliver a dead baby. that’s fucking amazing alright, but not in the way she means. And not in a way any sane person would envy.

      • Eater of Worlds

        Hell, if my dog or cat were leaking foul smelling fluid from their vagina I would be running them to the vet. How can someone be so willingly ignorant and let this happen? She KNEW this wouldn’t be right at any time of her life while non pregnant, why did she think this ok during pregnancy? I’m not really expecting any kind of answer, either.

  • RudyTooty

    Who is responsible when a baby dies at a homebirth?

    I don’t see freebirth and homebirth with a midwife of any stripe as all that much different. A little different. Just a little.

    I know of various homebirth deaths in my local area – because CPMs continue to attend high-risk births in low-risk settings – a breech here, a ruptured TOLAC there…. they transfer to the hospital, and all of us working in these facilities are bound to protect patient privacy. We can’t say anything. So I lurk around these midwives’ facebook pages, looking for even a HINT of the “bad outcome” of an injured baby or baby death. But no. Just beautiful photos of peaceful, empowered births, artfully lit and #allthefeelz.

    Isn’t this deceptive? How could parents ever make a decision that is informed if they are inundated *only* with these false stories? That are quite visually beautiful? They are being marketed to. They are subjected to propaganda.

    They deserve to know that midwives lose babies under their care. But there is no state mandate to disclose this. CPMs are licensed – in quite a few states their licenses permit them to attend all sorts of risky births. VBAC, Twins, Breech – licensure does not prohibit these practices in all states.

    We can say it’s the parent’s responsibility, but does the state that licenses CPMs not bear some responsibility? Shouldn’t citizens who understand the risk these lax laws create fight to change them?

    I recently had a conversation with a local CPM who insisted that “there’s no liability” in her home birth practice – because the laws are set up to protect midwives. And all I could think was “Yes there is liability. It lies with the parents, and they will be the ones who suffer the consequences of your mismanagement.”

    I know this is not freebirthing… and that is in its own category of ridiculousness. But homebirth with a licensed midwife comes with its own risks – and state laws are endorsing dangerous practitioners. And that CPM I mentioned was right – there’s no liability – not for midwives. They can do whatever they want.

    • I don’t regard a CPM as a “midwife”. In fact, I don’t regard ANY direct entry form of “midwifery” as authentic midwifery, and I think it should be made as criminal as practicing medicine without a license. A pregnant woman today who wants a “midwife” and a homebirth is getting the equivalent of an auto mechanic performing cardiac surgery.

      The ONLY persons who should be allowed to use the term “midwife” should be CNMs, who are held to a high standard of [1] education, [2] standards of practice, [3] regulation as regards the parameters of patient selection and care, [4] work within a multi-disciplinary framework which includes MD backup, and, in those cases deemed suitable for homebirth, adequate emergency backup and transfer facilities. [I’ve done homebirths, and really think there’s no justification for them in the 21st century]

      Yes, I know it’s not going to happen any time soon. Indeed, 40+ years ago, this was the way the UK handled it, but they’ve regressed to a state which makes me ashamed to admit my primary qualifications are British. The United States never attained the excellent level of care I saw in the NHS of the 1970s

      • RudyTooty

        I understand what you mean when you say that you don’t regard a CPM as a “midwife.”

        I live in a state where CPMs are licensed and authorized to practice pretty much any way they want to. So whether or not some regard them as “midwives” or not…. it is legal and state-sanctioned. Our opinions don’t really matter, here.

        I can tell the CPM who lives up the road that I don’t think she’s a midwife, meanwhile she has a state license to practice, no malpractice insurance, no practice standards, and her services are reimbursed by third-party payers.

        Shrug.

        • fiftyfifty1

          And CNMs as a group sit back and allow it! I will never understand why.

          • RudyTooty

            CNMs don’t write laws, state legislators do.

            Our state ACOG chapter would like to shut down CPMs, too. They have a lot more money, a lot more members and a lot more political influence, and they can’t do it, either.

            What is your suggestion on how to de-license CPMs? I’m all ears.

          • fiftyfifty1

            One person like yourself, alone? I don’t think there is much you can accomplish. But if CNMs banded together and highlighted that CPMs have no real medical training and that they just call themselves midwives, I think that that for sure would make a difference. Sure an ACOG chapter can’t shut them down. CPMs go to legislators and say that the reason OBs don’t like them is because turf battle, misogyny etc. Legislators on the Left are swayed by the “it’s misogyny!” argument. Those on the Right learned about midwives in the Bible, so how bad can they be? Neither group grasps that there are 2 types of midwives, the real ones, and the fake ones. Now if CNMs banded together and let lawmakers know, that would be a game changer. But CNMs have decided that these charlatans are their “sisters.”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But if CNMs banded together and highlighted that CPMs have no real medical training and that they just call themselves midwives, I think that that for sure would make a difference

            The problem, however, is that CNMs HAVE “banded together,” but their position is the exact opposite of what needs to be done. As you note, “CNMs have decided that these charlatans are their ‘sisters.'” That’s why the CNM as a profession is bad.

            I know Rudy doesn’t like my angst against CNMs, because, you know, “not all CNMs are bad,” but that doesn’t change the fact that the profession has a serious problem. Yeah, she’s fighting it, and there are others that are trying, but they’re not getting anywhere, because of the serious, systematic problems that exist. There is strength in numbers, but when it comes to CNMs, the numbers go the wrong way.

        • Madtowngirl

          I don’t understand how they can have a license to practice but can get away without malpractice insurance. If I were seeking midwife care, and I knew that information, I would immediately reconsider. If I have no recourse if a “provider” fucks up during my birth, then I have no faith that they’ll act in my best interests.

          • RudyTooty

            You’d be wiser than most of their clients then.

            I think they (the midwives’ clients) really are unaware of how lawless it is, despite being legally authorized.

          • lsn

            When I first found out that Australian midwives are not covered by insurance for the birth and the hour afterwards at a homebirth I was absolutely shocked. No insurance company will cover them at a price they can afford for that time. The homebirth midwives made a lot of noise, and so a compromise was made by government that they would be indemnified for that time as long as the woman signed an informed consent acknowledging that she knew there was no insurance coverage and (in the wake of Caroline Lovell’s death) as long as the midwife followed all NHMRC best practice recommendations. I am dubious about the informed consent to be honest – I think a lot of people sign without thinking, and it’s always difficult to know whether people have understood what they were consenting to, no matter how you explain it. If I had been considering a homebirth I think the lack of insurance coverage would have made me reconsider – but obviously it doesn’t factor in for people who are seeing only the beautiful photos and ruling themselves out as being potentially at risk.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “I don’t regard a CPM as a midwife.”

        I wish more CNMs felt the way you do. Instead too many of them see CPMs as their “sisters”, including leadership within the CNM ranks. I just will never understand why more CNMs aren’t like you, willing to call out the charlatans ruining their good name.

        • RudyTooty

          I must enjoy spitting into the wind.

          There are some ridiculous calls for ‘unity’ right now among CNMs to professionally join with other US midwives – and it’s a big *hell no* vote from me.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            They’re operating under the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Very mature of them.

          • fiftyfifty1

            My god, that’s what it is! I have been saying for years that I just CAN’T understand why CNMs align themselves with CPMs, it’s incomprehensible. But it’s as simple as that, isn’t it? They do it out of animosity toward OBs!

          • RudyTooty

            Maybe. I see it more as a purity thing – they want to purify themselves by aligning themselves exclusively with other midwives… and distancing themselves from nursing and ‘mainstream’ healthcare professionals.

            They want to be pure midwives, not a nursing specialty. it’s really silly.

        • I am completely comfortable being called a “medwife”. IMO, responsible CMNs ought to adopt it formally, and embark on a PR campaign to educate pregnant women about the benefits of the authentic and professional “medwife”. We are in the 21st century, after all, not the Middle Ages.

          • Cartman36

            I got great care from the CNM I saw during my pregnancy. It was easier to get an appointment with her than with the OB and she (my CNM) knew I was going to have a RCS and didn’t try to change my mind. She also wasn’t pushy or preachy at all about how I had the baby or how I fed. She listened to my concerns about BFHI. She is an amazing provider and its an injustice that people would think some CPM that didn’t even get an undergraduate degree is her equal.

          • seenthelight

            A hospital in my hometown had a billboard campaign touting their policy of basically, your birth your way! I saw this after I’d started reading this site, and I was horrified. Horrified that I would have liked this billboard a few months prior, though with reserve because it’s still from an eeeevil hospital. Also horrified at the thought of my directing my own labor and shame at the five page birth plan I’d written before finding this site. After finding out this side of things, there’s no way I want to direct my own labor. Hook us up to these machines and let’s have a baby party!

      • Caylynn, RD, MPH

        What about direct entry midwifes who go through a university program, like the midwifes in Canada? They aren’t nurses, but they are university-educated. They practice within the health care system.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Canadian midwives meet international midwifery standards. CPMs do not.

        • RudyTooty

          The CM is the only direct-entry midwife credential in the US that has any merit – and that would be an equivalent to Canadian Registered Midwives.

          Because midwives (and all health care professionals) are licensed by each state – the ability to practice varies from state to state.

          CMs are only legally authorized to practice in a handful of states.

          I would support the CM replacing the CPMs. But that’s another whole issue that involves midwifery’s relationship to nursing and advance practice nursing. It’s a big old can of worms.

  • Mel

    *blinks at Sarah Tuck’s strange implication that the rest of us had terrible births*

    Well, I don’t remember my birth. I doubt I’m unusual in that respect. From what I’ve been told, I popped out at the very front end of a pushing contraction because I was a 29 week preemie with a transverse twin on top of me at a hospital. Um….yeah. Worked out well for me, my twin and my mom although my mom would have preferred if I had waited a few more minutes so that we were a CS instead of a spontaneous birth followed by a total breech extraction – but we’re all alive and fine so…there’s that.

    On a more practical level, I don’t know much about Dr. Amy’s experiences of birthing her children – but she has discussed the fact that her experiences led to four living children not a horrific 42 week stillbirth so….there’s that.

    I’ve only given birth once in highly medicalized setting – but the outcome was that in spite of delivering at 26 weeks while being critically ill, I’m alive and healthy and the mother of a living, thriving nearly two year old. So…there’s that.

    • Karen in SC

      There’s that, indeed!

    • demodocus

      OT: So, considering Spawn’s awesome collection of NICU outfits, are you thinking of anything cool for Halloween?

      • Mel

        The only glasses frame that fit him well are very, very round. Combined with the fact his hair grows in a forward direction without a part, the super-prominent forehead he inherited from my family, and the fact he often has a small, self-satisfied closed lip smile, we realized we created a tiny Mr. Peabody from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. I found a long sleeved white polo shirt, warm white leggings and a bright red bowtie for him. My husband is not into costumes, but he’s willing to wear a “Hi, my name is Sherman, his Adopted Boy” name tag. I’m going as the WABAC machine. I’ve been practicing my beeps. 🙂

    • Jet Kin

      My mother had a home birth in the Netherlands in 1979. Now she tells her daughter from that homebirth: Planned C/S. Trust me. It’s the way to go.
      Granted, she knows that that is also my preferred choice, if I manage to make it that far. But we run towards large babies with very large heads in our family and my mother in no way remembers the process of my birth, nor the three days of agony due to a partially retained placenta, as “amazing”. The outcome of course was “amazing” since I’m here 🙂

  • PeggySue

    What a horrible story. Poor baby. I hope the mother will consider appropriate care for future pregnancies.

    • Mel

      If she’s able to get pregnant again – and that’s a big if when you’ve had an untreated massive uterine infection for days.

      We saw decreased pregnancy rates in cows with metritis after birth – and the milkers generally recognized and started treatment in hours after birth in a normal birth without a retained placenta or anything that would feed the bacterial infection.

      This woman managed to have what the vets refer to as a crockpot birth in cows which is what happens when a cow has an unrecognized stillbirth without delivering for a few days. The calf generally comes out in pieces with a whole ton of horrifyingly smelly fluid.

      • Jet Kin

        Darwinism in action? (For the women, not the cows)

      • Empliau

        I thank you for the cow information. Keep it coming. It nurtures the teen James Herriot fan in me.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I’ve described it before, and this idiot illustrates the concept: being willing to sacrifice your baby on the altar of hime birth.

    What’s the problem with other babies dying if SHE gets the birth she wants?

  • mabelcruet

    As perinatal pathologists we’ve been discussing this sort of situation in the UK. I obviously can’t speak for all my colleagues but I think our laws here will act as some protection. It is a criminal offence to intend to act as a midwife when you aren’t qualified (it allows for emergencies which is why taxi drivers can end up delivering surprise babies). But you are legally not allowed to plan to deliver with the help of your partner only, for example. Freebirth on your own isn’t illegal as yet though. But there are changes coming and its thanks to James Titcombe and other loss parents and their frankly heroic efforts in the last few years to stand up and be the voice of stillborn babies and those babies who die because of the actions of others.

    In Uk law, stillbirth doesn’t qualify as a death, because legally life only starts once you’re born, so if you’ve never ‘lived’, you can’t die. The coroner’s role is the investigation of unexpected death, or deaths that fall into certain categories, like deaths in custody, death under anaesthetic and so on. Technically a stillbirth isn’t part of the coroner’s remit, and historically hasn’t been, because it wasn’t a death. But now there is a move to bring stillbirth into his remit and investigate those stillbirths where there are issues that need to be investigated, which is precisely what this sort of stunt birth performance would fall under. The coroner isn’t allowed to ascribe blame, but he can refer onto the crown prosecution service or the police for investigation after the inquest. In Northern Ireland, the coroner’s remit has been expanded to include ‘child destruction’, essentially the death of a stillborn baby that was brought about by the action or inaction of another. So it’s quite possible a stunt birth mother like this could face criminal charges of child destruction if it’s considered that her actions led to the death.

    • Merrie

      I think she should face charges the same as if her already born child were clearly critically ill and she avoided medical care. If she had gone to the hospital when she went into labor, like a normal person, there’s no reason to think the baby wouldn’t have been just fine. I do not understand people like this. To go through 9 months of pregnancy and take a ridiculous risk with the life of your baby. What a waste of a new human life and of 9 months of your own life and energy!

  • I think this woman should be put on trial for 1st degree murder. She deliberately and with premeditation killed her child. Her dead baby deserves justice.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Naw. First off it was her fetus, not her child, and the law looks on that different. Second, she was neglectful absolutely, but she wasn’t trying to kill the fetus. “Didn’t do anything to save a fetus =/= premeditated murder of a child.

      • Daleth

        I agree that absolute neglect isn’t enough for first-degree murder. It would probably be some type of manslaughter at most.

        Some states do recognize fetal homicide as a thing, though. And for comparison, AFAIK there’s nowhere on earth that a woman can legally get an abortion when she’s as far along as this woman was–once the baby is that close to birth, 99%+ likely to not just survive but thrive if it comes out, abortion isn’t legal; the unborn baby has some rights. Not as many as a born baby, but not as few as a fetus that’s only, like, 5 months along.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Some states do recognize fetal homicide as a thing though.”

          Oh interesting. I know that a number of states recognize fetal homicide if the fetus was killed by someone else (e.g. knife to the abdomen of a pregnant woman), but I didn’t realize there were any states that applied a fetal homicide charge to the mother.

          • Daleth

            This woman was convicted, but later her conviction was overturned:

            “On 13 July 2013 she turned up at the ER room in St Joseph hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana, bleeding from her vagina.

            The court documents allege that she initially denied that she had
            given birth but later told medical staff that she had delivered a baby
            at home but believed that it was dead. She said she put the dead body in
            a bag and placed it in a dumpster behind a local store.

            The body of a premature baby was found shortly afterwards in a dumpster at that location.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/26/indiana-woman-feticide-charge

      • I’m not saying it’s at all likely she will ever be held to account, given the legal situation. But she should be. As nasty as it sounds, I hope she’s done so much damage to herself as to be sterile, and so can’t repeat this horror to another fetus.

  • BeatriceC

    Typo alert: “…deadliest day in the entire 18 years of childbirth”, at the end of the second paragraph. Childbirth should be childhood.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks! Fixed it.

      • storkdoc

        According to the BMJ, your day of birth is the deadliest day of your life until you turn 91!!!!

        • kilda

          wow. Just wow. it’s amazing to think of that, a 90 year old has a better chance of seeing it to the end of the day alive than a newborn. And they say “trust birth.” Jeez.

  • demodocus

    No, lass, I’m not the least envious of your experiences with attendantless childbirth. Marveling at your foolishness and saddened by the harm innocent babies suffer may seem that way on the internet, but it is not the least similar.

    As for childbirth itself, I never invested that much interest in it to give a damn. It’s a means to an end. There aren’t any pictures of me laboring, but lots of my babies

    • There’s one of me. I’m playing Scrabble with my husband, because my lovely epidural took away the pain.

    • Merrie

      When I was in labor with my youngest and getting pretty close to pushing, I said to my husband “You know, we never got a picture of me at 40 weeks pregnant.” Him: “You want to take one now?” Me: “Nah.” So the last picture of me pregnant was a selfie I’d taken 3 weeks prior. Oh well.

  • sara

    The worst part of this whole story is that she went to the hospital for herself, but not the baby. SHE didn’t want to die of chorio/endometritis.

    • Sheven

      Yeah. They say they’re “educated.” They say they do their “research.” And it’s true. They show how much they know by running to the hospital as soon as their own life is in danger.

      They know perfectly well the best and safest place for them to be.

    • rational thinker

      I think she had to have known that baby was dead by day three with all the meconeum , I think she didnt want to miss out on her performance by going to hospital so she tried to stay home as long as she could so she could have bragging rights of delivering dead or alive baby with no help.She probably did only go to hospital because her own life was in danger.

  • Montserrat Blanco

    I support women’s choice and I support the right of every woman to make choices regarding her body and her baby. But I also think that what that woman did was wrong and immoral. Not illegal, but inmoral.

    I understand that on every birth and pregnancy there are different circumstances, that every woman has her preferences and that things are usually not white or black. That is why I would never condem a woman for a trial at a VBAC at a hospital without risk factors, for example, even if that would never be my personal choice. This woman is all about me me me, myself and I. She had no interest in a living baby, she just wanted to brag on her FB group. Had she gone to the hospital on the first 24 hours after her water broke she would have a live baby at home now.

    And yes, caring more about a FB group than your baby tells a lot about you as a mother.

    • Cartman36

      I agree and encouraging her despite signs of distress that are obvious to laypeople is immoral and wrong as well. I cannot imagine that she (the mother) could have posted in any other group on facebook, baby center, etc and not had people shouting from the rooftops that she needed to get to a hospital immediately.

      She had poop stained waters and a foul odor. My 5 year old would have suggested she get her butt to the hospital.

      • mabelcruet

        I don’t understand the total disconnect-she says they did their research and read everything they could get their hands on and felt prepared for anything. And yet she claims she never once read anything that suggested that infections can occur in the uterus. It’s basic maternity info, nothing esoteric. What the hell was she reading, ‘Topsy and Turvy have a baby’, suitable for 18 months to 3 year olds??

        • swbarnes2

          You can have knowledge, or you can have vanity, you can’t really have both. These parents chose vanity.

        • kilda

          unfortunately all that research they were doing was inside an echo chamber, so everything she read probably said nothing would go wrong, birth is natural, problems don’t happen if you eat right/live right/think right/trust birth. The facebook group she was in reportedly had a rule against suggesting that women seek medical care. That’s a crazy rule, since no matter what alarming developments occur, no one is allowed to say “um, that doesn’t sound good, maybe a doctor is a good idea now.”

      • MaineJen

        Seriously…in none of her “research” did she come across the information that meconium-stained, foul smelling amniotic fluid that has been leaking for days and days…MIGHT be a cause for concern??

      • rational thinker

        She reminds me of the other lady Dr. tuteur did a post about. The one with the baby that had the candy cane looking cord, after asking for advice online she eventually went to the hospital but not for the baby she left baby home and took only herself to hospital.

    • Mimc

      Yeah. I hope she reconsiders her plans to fill her home with children. At least until she learns to value her child’s health over her own misplaced pride.