Another day, another bunch of lies from the Midwives Alliance of North America


Hey, MANA, how long do you think lying about homebirth deaths is going to work? Don’t you think women are going to notice the growing pile of tiny dead bodies? Do you really think you can continue to mislead American women as you have done in the past?

The latest mendacity from MANA is this piece of junk, Understanding Outliers In Home Birth Research.

It is written by Wendy Gordon, CPM, a member of the MANA Division of Research.

You may remember Wendy Gordon, CPM, LM, MPH, Assistant Professor, Bastyr University Dept of Midwifery (and placenta encapsulation specialist!). She’s been arguing with me in print for years, and she hasn’t been correct yet.

What’s Wendy up to now (besides withholding the death rates of the 27,000 homebirths in MANA’s own database)?

Wendy is upset that a recent study showed that homebirth increases the stillbirth rate by 1000%. I wrote about the paper when it first appeared online ahead of print in June.

The authors found:

Home births (RR 10.55) and births in free-standing birth centers (RR 3.56) attended by midwives had a significantly higher risk of a 5-minute Apgar score of zero (p<.0001) than hospital births attended by physicians or midwives. Home births (RR 3.80) and births in free-standing birth centers attended by midwives (RR 1.88) had a significantly higher risk of neonatal seizures or serious neurologic dysfunction (p<.0001) than hospital births attended by physicians or midwives. (my emphasis)

What does Wendy have to say? You guessed it, she advises homebirth advocates to ignore the new paper. The heart of her argument is this:

This research, which claims to be the largest study of its kind, relies on data from birth certificates (known as “vital records”). What we know about using information drawn from birth certificates is that they are pretty good for capturing information about things like mother’s age and whether she is carrying twins. They are not very accurate when it comes to rare outcomes like very low Apgar scores, seizures, or deaths (Northam & Knapp, 2006).

Too bad for Wendy that the Northam & Knapp article, says the OPPOSITE!

Birthweight, Apgar score, and delivery method agreed 91.9% to 100%. The high-percent agreement supports the reliability of those variables …

So the heart of Gordon’s argument is a bald faced lie. And Gordon referenced the lie with a citation that showed the opposite of what she claimed it showed.

In order to discredit the study that shows a nearly 1000% increase in stillbirth, Wendy Gordon and MANA apparently feel they have no choice but to deceive their followers, since telling the truth would require accepting the validity of the paper. Homebirth kills babies. MANA knows it; their OWN data tells them so.

So, homebirth advocates, I have some questions for you:

How can you trust that homebirth is safe when those you look to to inform you about the scientific literature lie about?

How can you trust that homebirth is safe when the organization that represents homebirth midwives is hiding their own death rates?

How can you trust that homebirth is safe when the most comprehensive study ever done of homebirth (and analyzed by a midwife) found that PLANNED homebirth with a LICENSED midwife has a death rate approximately 800% higher than comparable risk hospital birth, and even MANA can’t figure out how to criticize it?

The ONLY people who think homebirth is safe are those who make money from it. Everyone else, including the authors of the paper that showed a 1000% increase in stillbirths at homebirth, knows better.


Correction: In Gordon’s piece, DOR stands for Division of Research, not Director of Research. Therefore, Wendy is a member of the DOR, not the director. I’ve changed the text to reflect that.