Don’t blame yourself, blame your homebirth midwife

who is to blame question

Dear Katie,

You may have seen that I wrote about you and your daughter Natalie recently. I wrote about you and Natalie because she died due to the indefensible decisions of a homebirth midwife.

I see that have now entered the emotionally wrenching stage of determining why your daughter died when she easily could have been saved. You are now blaming yourself for Natalie’s death, reasoning that if you had shared certain information, she would still be alive today.

Then I think back to 2009 when I fell on the stairs and had the worst pain of my life. I never got it checked out because falls happen. It was pretty painful for a few months. So I look up vaginal birth with broken tailbone and read what others say. Some say their doctors recommend c-sections, others say they tried vaginal and it felt like it was being broken again…

But then I think, what if this IS the answer? I grew a perfectly wonderful person inside of me, researched about home birth and took baby classes and got prepared, but I failed to mention my broken tailbone. How could I be so irresponsible? I didn’t know that was going to be an issue, but I should have known. Why wasn’t that question asked to me? Would it have been asked or found out if I did a hospital birth?

The guilt is crushing:

Other mothers on here have reasons for their stillborns like it was an infection or something they couldn’t control with their placenta or the cord. Their problems were out of their control. My problem was in my control. I would have my daughter right now if I just thought of it…

I always thought that maybe finding out the reason would give me an understanding and some peace. But if this is the reason, I only feel more guilt and sadness because it could have been prevented.

But, Katie, a previously broken tailbone is NOT why Natalie died. She died because the evidence that she was experiencing significant distress was ignored. It was ignored by the very person whom you paid to pay attention, your homebirth midwife. You are right about one thing, though. Natalie did not have to die.

Why did she die? Let’s count the many reasons, direct and indirect:

You wrote in your original post on BabyCenter:

After 6 hours of pushing, not only was I in pain and tired but she hadn’t moved and there was meconium running down my leg which indicated that she was in stress…

1. You should NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances have pushed for 6 hours anywhere, but especially outside the hospital where there was no access to emergency care. Your homebirth midwife should have transferred you to the hospital after 2-3 hours of pushing, at the most.

2. Meconium running down your leg indicated the high likelihood that Natalie was severed stressed. Your homebirth midwife ignored that very obvious sign.

3. Your homebirth midwife was either stupid or a liar. You wrote back in March:

My midwife said that these “complications” can be foreseen way in advance and can be fixed as long as the signs are noticed.

That is a lie. If a healthcare provider doesn’t tell the truth, either because she is so uneducated that she doesn’t know it, or because she deliberately wants to keep the truth from you, you should run as fast as possible in another direction.

4. Homebirth midwives are grossly undereducated and undertrained. They aren’t real midwives; they are lay people pretending to be midwives and would not be eligible for licensure in any other first world country.

So the proximate reasons why Natalie died are because you hired an unqualified provider, who either didn’t know or didn’t tell you the truth about complications, and ignored the two major complications that you experienced (vastly prolonged pushing phase, and meconium).

There are indirect reasons, too.

5. The organization that represents homebirth midwives, the Midwives Alliance of North America, is hiding their own death rates. They KNOW that homebirth kills babies, but they are doing everything in their power to make sure that American women don’t find out. But the truth is coming out anyway. On the very thread where you are blaming yourself, two other women reveal that their babies died of preventable causes at homebirth.

6. Homebirth midwives and homebirth advocates LIE about what the scientific research actually shows. There has only been ONE scientific paper in the past two decades that look specifically at the death rates at the hands of homebirth midwives (Johnson and Daviss, 2005). Although the authors claimed that it showed that homebirth with a homebirth midwife is safe, it only looks that way because of a trick. The paper actually showed that homebirth with a homebirth midwife had a nearly 3X higher rate of death.

7. You weren’t told that the CDC statistics show that homebirth with a non-nurse midwife has a death rate anywhere from 3-7X higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

8. You weren’t told that in the states that have kept the best statistics, Colorado and Oregon, homebirth had a dramatically higher death rate. In the case of Oregon, homebirth with a homebirth midwife has a death rate 800% higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

9. You spent a lot of time on BabyCenter surrounded by ignorant homebirth advocates who didn’t know these things either. For the life of me, I can’t understand why women crowd-source a life or death decision like homebirth. The women on BabyCenter are just laypeople who have limited or no knowledge of what science actually shows about homebirth. Yes, I realize that they believe that they are knowledgeable, but they know so little that they have no idea that they are basically ignorant on the topic.

Ultimately, of course, it was your decision that led to Natalie’s death, but it had nothing to do with whether you remembered the possibility that you may have had a broken tailbone in the past. It was your decision to hire an incompetent provider, a lay person pretending to be a midwife, who ignored the signs that your daughter was dying before her eyes. But, in your defense, you probably had no idea that your provider was just a lay person pretending to be a midwife, that all the existing research shows that homebirth leads to preventable deaths, or that the organization that represents providers like yours is desperately hiding what they know about the increased death rate at homebirth.

Tragically, nothing can bring Natalie back. However, there may come a time when you find that keeping someone else from enduring the preventable death of their baby may give you some comfort. In that case, there are several things that you can do.

1. For support you may wish to join the private Facebook group of homebirth loss mothers. If so, you can email me or friend me on Facebook and I will connect you with the group.

2. You can speak out every chance you get about what happened to Natalie, and how homebirth leads to preventable deaths like Natalie’s.

3. You can lobby your state legislator to restrict the practice of homebirth midwives.

4. You (and your family and friends) can sign the petition to force MANA to release the death rates of the 27,000+ homebirths in their database. I suspect that you would have thought twice about homebirth if you had known just how high the death rate at homebirth really is.

I am so sorry about what happened to Natalie and to you. The fact that it didn’t have to happen just compounds the tragedy.

70 Responses to “Don’t blame yourself, blame your homebirth midwife”

  1. mostlyclueless
    October 23, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    There are multiple stories of other homebirth deaths in the comments. Completely heartbreaking.

  2. Rachel Mills
    October 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    This is a great tone coming from Dr Amy.

    But, no. I blame myself for what almost happened to us at our failed homebirth. My lay midwives were actually pretty great – but that’s the thing – I got stupid lucky. There are such minimal standards, I just happened to have some that went above and beyond them and exercised good judgment in my case. In my own defense, I rejected two others, highly recommended, that seemed very… stunt-birthy. Thank GOD I rejected them. At least I had that much sense.

    But it is MY choice where and how I give birth, my choice who I listen to, my choice how much dissenting evidence I seek out, and it was my choice that almost killed my baby.

    My complaints are not against my particular midwives, but against the whole cultish community that lies, perpetuates the lies and then shuns, shames and screams at anyone trying to warn others or honestly present the risks. Those people are not being “supportive” and they are not wanted. They are viciously silenced, which is what happens to me when I post my warnings and tell my story. I won’t stop though. If I had heard my story when I was pregnant, I really do think it would have given me enough pause…

    Still. I didn’t look hard enough. And that is not my midwife’s fault.

  3. Meerkat
    October 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    I wonder how many babies died because their mothers were influenced by watching “Business of Being Born.”

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      October 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Quite a few. Ricki Lake has blood on her hands.

      • jemma
        October 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

        yeah 🙁 so sad to read on the board that that is what helped her decide. There’s also a post where she asks if she should have a CNM/Nurse Practitioner at her birth or a CPM – everyone is all like “omg CPM!!!” fucking hell. I imagine a NP wouldn’t have let her push for 6 hours 🙁 Those commenters have blood on their hands too

      • Something From Nothing
        October 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

        Isn’t there a ricki lake body count somewhere? And a jenny McCarthy one?

      • Meerkat
        October 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

        I have to say that as much as I hate the message of this movie, it makes an incredibly effective piece of propaganda. What I AM surprised about is that you are the only doctor who is so vocal about the lies and misinformation. Why aren’t more doctors speaking out?

    • theNormalDistribution
      October 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      I keep seeing it come up on Netflicks and I’m afraid to watch it. One can only hold in so much rage before they asplode.

  4. moto_librarian
    October 15, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    The thing that always strikes me in homebirth disasters is that the only people who take responsibility for the outcome are the parents. Not the midiwfe, not the NCB fundamentalists, and certainly not the leaders of the midwifery movement. They take absolutely no responsibility for the misinformation and outright lies that they propagate, and then turn on the parents, chastising them for “not trusting birth enough” or for “not doing their research.” The hypocrisy is stunning and infuriating.

    Katie, I am so very sorry for the loss of your daughter. The legalization of lay midwives has given the public a false sense of security. Most of them are too ignorant to ignore subtle signs of a problem, and in your case, even disregard huge red flags like a 6 hour pushing stage and mec in the waters. Blame your midwife, not yourself.

  5. Renee Martin
    October 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Anyone else notice how this is nearly identical to the death of Shahzad Sheik, Margaritas baby son? He died during a 7 day (!) labor, with 5+ hours of pushing. Her killer MWs also said that green mec that was all over, was normal! No reason to transfer. The MWs also flat out denied the transfer she begged for.

    Darby Partner and Laura Tanner, the “HB MWs” were so negligent that they didn’t even know he had died. They took a pic of him dead, crowning, with a face full of green meconium! They were proud of their work. Until he was born still…The 911 tape if horrific.

    The similarities are striking, and so very depressing.

    • Beatrix S.L
      October 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      A 7 day labor is a thing? I’m scared just thinking about that.

  6. wookie130
    October 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Katie, words really fail me after reading about the tragic and preventable loss of sweet Natalie. You trusted this midwife, and she failed you in the worst way imaginable. The very thought that you now must grieve your daughter’s death positively sickens me, and I am so sorry. You are not alone…we mourn with you in the loss of your child, and also in the losses that many other women have experienced at the hands of negligent midwives that should not even be blinking in the direction of an expectant mother. My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.

  7. Renee Martin
    October 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I’m so sorry that your MW was grossly negligent. It is NOT your fault. You did everything you thought was right, and I know you meant to do the very best for your baby. You hired a “MW” that presented herself as skilled and knowledgable. She had a license, and Im sure other moms love her- so why would you not trust her? I totally get it. I took my OBs credentials at face value as well, the most I did was a quick Google search.
    The blame should be put squarely on her shoulders,

    I also heard that she had another death previously, but has been hiding it. This is, sadly, a common occurrence. I have heard of a handful of HB deaths where mom only found out about past deaths after it was too late. One such MW, Brenda Scarpino Newport of Ohio, is on death #8!

    Please speak out. I know its hard, and it may be a long time before you can do it, but please do it. Other moms need to know about this very dangerous MW. You may save a mom from what you are going through.

  8. Still can't remember my login
    October 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    This is a lovely post Dr Amy. I can’t think of many other bloggers who would take the time to write something like this.

    And Katie, if you ever read this, I am so sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to you. Please listen to Dr Amy and please know that there are many people out there thinking of you. x

    • attitude devant
      October 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      Amen. Very eloquent, very compassionate. Thank you, Dr. Amy.

  9. Guest
    October 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I think someone should do a documentary on the ugly side of home births. There are so many that glorify it but never give any of the true statistics. They should also show what hospital birth is today, as every hospital I have delivered in has been both warm and comforting. The L & D rooms that most hospitals have today are family centered and look nothing like any of the other hospital rooms in the place. Many of these women choosing homebirth because they fear the hospitals have never even stepped into the maternity ward to see for themselves whats going on.

  10. ratiomom
    October 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Is Nathalie even aware that these posts about her story exist? Has anyone pointed this blog out to her?

    • yentavegan
      October 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      you mean Katie, right?

      • ratiomom
        October 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

        Oops my bad, I got the names mixed up. I meant the mom of course.

        • Renee Martin
          October 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

          Might wanna delete that, in case she reads it.

  11. October 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    This is so sad and infuriating all at once.
    Sad for the mother and her family (sad is not nearly a strong enough word).
    Infuriating for those of us who keep seeing this happen again and again. Women are choosing out-of-hospital care b/c they want evidence based care and they are convinced they won’t receive it in a hospital… and they have NO IDEA they aren’t getting it at home (or freestanding birth centers – same thing)!!!!! 6 hours of pushing?! Meconium? And she was *still* at home? THAT IS NOT EVIDENCE BASED CARE!!
    I’m so sorry to this mother. I am so sorry to this baby. You were duped and paid the ultimate price.

  12. yentavegan
    October 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    The story of Natalies’ birth and death will help save another mother from the unbearable grief katie and her husband are suffering.
    We who mutley stand by while a mother brags about her 36 hour labor and 6 hours of pushing must now speak up. We who need to out do eachother in our quest to one-up each other over just who had the longest most horrific labour are responsible for giving the false impression that it is a variation of normal. It is not. Ob/gyn’s do not let mothers go hours and hours with a labor failing to progress, nor do they permit pushing for 2 hours without the delivery.
    Katie did not know this because of all the clucking hens who made her believe that the pain she was experiencing was a normal rite of passage.
    And those who spread the lie that their ob/gyn rushed to do a c/sec after just 2 hours of pushing ought to be ashamed of themselves as well. Your ob/gyn did not rush you into surgery b/c letting you labor was inconvenient to his.her schedule. Labour and pushing is not supposed to be a marathon event.

    • Ob in OZ
      October 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      While I agree with you in general (and appreciate your posts), I think it is important to note that there are occassions that we will let labor go on beyond what we would normally feel comfortable and knowing full well that the extended time is unlikely to result in a spontaneous vaginal delivery. There are times we “allow” pushing for more than 2-3 hours without delivery. One reason is because if a patient declines the offer of intervention, we respect the patient’s wishes. Another is because if the baby is being properly monitored, then the risk to the baby remains small, so it can be helpful to let things go a bit longer so the patient sees the inevitablility of the situation and hopefully feels that it was their decision as much as ours as to the route of delivery. Labor management (and antenatal care) is about continuously reevaluating the patient and fetus to determine the safest approach to their ongoing care. We should have time limits in our head, but they are guidelines that remind you to either do something, or have a clear, well-documented reason for why you didn’t. The most important thing is that the patient is at the hospital where we can evaluate and converse, and not at home because they think we will do something automatically based on a clock, and not their individual circumstances.

      • Something From Nothing
        October 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

        Well said.

  13. Isramommy
    October 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    My heart just aches for this mother/family. This baby’s death is devastating. I truly hope Katie somehow sees this post and finds some degree of comfort from it. What a heartbreaking, horrible, unnecessary tragedy.

  14. Mel
    October 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Dear Katie,

    Guilt is a normal part of grieving.

    If your baby had died of other causes, you would still feel guilty. I’ve had teenagers crying in my classroom after a baby died of a cord accident. They blame themselves for not noticing that the baby was moving less or that they didn’t want the pregnancy at first.
    Did that cause the baby’s death – No! Did it cause guilt? Yes.

    My brother died of septic shock caused by a compromised immune system due to an undiagnosed birth defect. He was running a high fever and they called their pediatrician. The pediatrician told them that a bad viral bug was going around and to give him Tylenol to bring the fever down. My brother stopped breathing an hour later and the doctors weren’t able to bring him back.
    Did my parents cause my brother’s death? No. Did they feel guilty? Yes. Did our pediatrician cause my brother’s death. No. (He was well within medical guidelines. Even my parents agree with that. We’d all run high fevers before and been ok….) Did the pediatrician feel guilty? Yes.

    Your baby died when her distress was ignored by a midwife. Did you cause her death? No. Do you feel guilty? Yes. Did the midwife cause her death? Yes. Unlike our pediatrician, she blatantly ignored basic rules of childbirth safety. Does she feel guilty? I don’t know, but she’s the only person in this tragedy that has reason to feel guilty.

  15. The Computer Ate My Nym
    October 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    OBs, correct me if I’m wrong here, but it seems to me that the major issue with someone who broke her sacrum and delivery would be that the delivery would be extremely painful rather than that the break would make it harder on the fetus. Is there any increased risk of fetal distress after fracture of the sacrum? Maybe if it healed badly and got in the way of the fetus trying to exit the pelvis?

    • Mel
      October 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      I’ve broken/sprained/hurt my tailbone several times. The last time was right before my yearly gynecological exam. Since I was very aware of my sore tail during the pelvic exam, I asked her if it would cause problems if I had a baby later on. She said that the only problem that she could think of was a higher risk of breaking or dislocating it again during labor. I asked if that could hurt the baby. Her response “In baby vs. tailbone, the baby wins, the tailbone breaks and mom gets the pain.”

    • Ob in OZ
      October 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      You have it right. Usually no problem at all. Occassionally pain for mom (more than usual only the individual can say), but that is what epidurals are for. Rarely does it heal in such a way as to prevent a vaginal birth, and you would not know this without trying (clinical exams are not predictive enough of whether a baby will fit or not). Not convinced like Mel’s Gyn that a fetus will break your tailbone every time if it needs to, but if forceps are applied then yes (the expression is steel vs skin, steel will win (maybe not baby or mom, though)). Unfortunately for patient above, she will be encouraged to blame herself in order to avoid blaming those actually responsible (the midwife and the homebirth movement).

  16. amazonmom
    October 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Katie, I’m so sorry. You thought you could trust the midwife, and she ended up to be untrustworthy. Your Natalie won’t be forgotten.

  17. R T
    October 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    This is so sad. I can’t believe she pushed for 6 hours and no one thought to get her to a hospital in half that time!

  18. Guest
    October 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Dear Katie, I’m so sorry about Natalie. It sounds as though the grief is really terrible right now. My own experience of loss was that understanding what happened, asking the hard questions, being clear about where my responsibility began and ended was part of accepting and moving on. It is not an easy process. Please know that every parent — every single last one — has made decisions that could have resulted in death or serious harm to their kids. Even if your journey leads you to conclude that you wish you had made some choices differently, that still is just terrible luck. You did the best you knew how at the time. That’s all anyone can ask. You are no less fierce, devoted, loving, deserving than any other mother. I will be keeping you in my heart for beautiful things to come.

  19. GiddyUpGo123
    October 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Every time I read a story like this, my heart breaks. Like most of the people who come here I can’t understand why anyone would think that the education that CPMs receive is even marginally adequate for something as dangerous as childbirth. Personally, I would not take a job where I had even 1/10th as much responsibility as you have when delivering someone’s child, because I know if I made the wrong call I’d never be able to live with myself. I have huge respect for OBs and other doctors because they are willing to take this responsibility, they take it *very* seriously, and they know everything there is to know about childbirth and childbirth complications before they even begin practicing. So it just boggles my mind that a lay person who knows next to nothing about childbirth thinks she can hire herself out as a midwife, risk the lives of her clients and their infants and then dust off her hands and say “oh well” when something like this happens.

    I had no idea, personally, that a previously broken tailbone can cause complications in childbirth, and that’s just one of about a million things I don’t know about childbirth. Even if this was the “cause” of her daughter’s death, this mom is in no way responsible for failing to mention it to her midwife. She didn’t go to medical school and can’t be expected to know every little potential complication in advance. That’s her provider’s job, not hers.

    • Antigonos CNM
      October 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      Sometimes the coccyx fractures in labor. I have never seen a case where it obstructed labor. It can move quite a bit, actually.

      • GiddyUpGo123
        October 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

        I’m not surprised to hear that, actually. I broke my tailbone snowboarding in 2003 and no one ever asked me about it before I gave birth to my son in 2005. It certainly wasn’t an issue for me and if it did have the potential to be a problem I guess I’m surprised that my OB wouldn’t have asked me about it. I know quite a few people who have had similar injuries (mostly from snowboarding!) so it must be a fairly common injury …

        • fiftyfifty1
          October 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

          It is a common, common injury. A history of a broken tailbone does not slow or obstruct labor.

      • OBPI Mama
        October 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

        I know mine fractured when the midwife pulled my son out (shoulder dystocia). I felt it break the instant he was freed. His shoulders were stuck in my pelvis though and not the tailbone… Hmmm.

        • Squillo
          October 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

          Mine certainly got either broken or otherwise badly damaged during my son’s birth (he was OP then a SD). I couldn’t sit comfortably for about a year. It had no discernible effect on my subsequent labor.

          • Spiderpigmom
            October 15, 2013 at 1:48 am #

            Same thing happened to me (except the pain lasted for something like 3-4 months, not a year, but it was truly excruciating for a couple of months). Not fun.

        • Amy M
          October 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

          A friend of mine ended up with a broken tailbone during the birth of her son. She is a tiny tiny woman, and I think her son was not ideally positioned.

    • anion
      October 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      It sounded to me like the tailbone issue–if there was one–didn’t even come into play, because the baby wasn’t actually engaged in the birth canal. I could be mistaken/misinterpreting.

    • Ob in OZ
      October 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      I really appreciate what you are saying. One of Dr Amy’s earlier posts at the ACOG convention rang so true. Most of us Drs and hospital -employed midwives are devastated when a mom or baby are seriously injured or die, even when after extensive and detailed review there was nothing else that could have been done differently. I will still walk a way thinking yes, but what if… So I don’t understand how people so unqualified would dare take on such responsibility. I remember thinking back when I made my decision how great it would be to deliver babies because it’s mostly healthy moms, the results mostly are good and people are happy to see the Doctor. PLus you’re not dealing with their brain or heart as that stuff scared the crap out of me. Didn’t really think it through as all we have is the babies heartbeat to make life or death decisions on a daily basis. Intimidating at times, but wouldn’t want to be anything else. It is a great privilege.

      • GiddyUpGo123
        October 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

        “Extensive and detailed review” are the key words here … I am always struck by the contrast between a hospital tragedy and a homebirth tragedy. When this sort of thing happens in a hospital, there is always an extensive and detailed review. When it happens at home, there is a ticker tape parade for the midwife responsible, and people have bake sales to “support” her. There isn’t any accountability at all. It really is like they just don’t give a sh*t.

        • October 15, 2013 at 11:49 am #

          The midwife organizations in utah are lazy as hell about doing any reviews. I have had to bother them over and over again to do ANYTHING about the illegal behavior I endured at the hands of DEMs. I only found the midwives organization by sending random emails to midwives whose email addresses were online. WTF is that? I wait a few weeks before checking my email to see the progress and every time I have to email them saying “what is going on?” in order for anything to happen. It was the same case with complaining to the birth center owner. DEM’s obviously do not care, at all. Seriously. The last email from the midwives college was like “what do you suggest they do better?” like I filled out a customer satisfaction survey instead of a serious problem occurring with the standard of care at the clinic. Their lack of giving a shit is plain for everyone to see.

  20. LovleAnjel
    October 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm #


    I am so sorry for the loss of your precious girl.

    I had a similar issue – I had severe tailbone pain but never had it checked out (it’s not like they can put a cast on it). I’m pretty sure it was at least fractured. I forgot to mention it to my provider, and they never asked. My labor was prolonged, and my daughter became stuck in the pushing phase.

    The difference? I was in a hospital with properly trained providers. My OB called for a CS (far later than I was happy with – I wanted one much earlier) and my baby girl was saved. Was it the tailbone? My pelvic arch was too small? She was heading out at a funky angle? I don’t know, and I’m not sure it matters. She needed help. Your daughter also needed help, and your provider was so poorly trained and steeped in a natural birth above all ideology that she allowed your daughter to die. You had no way of knowing she was like that – deaths are hidden and ignored, and people lie (even on legal paperwork!) to keep mothers in the dark. You were a victim of an unscrupulous provider who was supported by a broken culture that values silence and lies over children’s and mother’s lives.

    It was not your fault. It was never your fault.

    • Ob in OZ
      October 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      You have it exactly right.

  21. October 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    This post is incredible – it highlights a very real problem that is being faced by pregnant mothers – a massive amount of misinformation that has the power to kill.

  22. Karen in SC
    October 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    This is a great post. Period.

  23. Squillo
    October 14, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    There is something else Katie should do, although the chances are that it won’t make any difference: she should file a complaint with NARM, if the midwife was a CPM, and certainly with the state licensing board.

    I would also see if there is any possibility of a civil lawsuit, although I suspect there won’t be any attorney willing to take a contingency case if the midwife has no med-mal.

    She should pursue every possible avenue to keep this midwife from killing another family’s baby.

    • Marie Smith
      October 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      A friend in California was able to successfully sue her midwife after the death of her baby (and loss of her uterus). People should not give up on this option just because the midwife might not carry insurance. Some do. And if there was a real risk of lawsuits, it would become too expensive for bad midwives to operate.

      • October 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

        Maybe she could try to sue the state for letting a DEM attend her birth and cause the death. I would donate money to that cause and (best case scenario) a precedent would be set.

        • Renee Martin
          October 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

          There IS a family suing Oregon, the HB MW, and the BC, after her baby was severely brain damaged, and left with HIE /now CP. He cannot walk, talk, or anything.

          The case is going forward next month, I think. Last I heard the BC was closed- not because it wasn’t busy, because it was successful, but likely to hide assets. Another seriously negligent MI BC, Greenhouse, closed, and all the MWs declared bankruptcy so they wouldn’t have to pay out for the negligent death! They purposely don’t carry malpractice so they are less likely to be successfully sued……

          Lay MWs know ALL about hiding assets, they even have a book about beating/preventing lawsuits like these (hint: there is zero about improving care. it’s all how to gain trust, manipulate and lie.) Its online- “From Calling to Courtroom”. It is a disgusting piece of work, and parts are written by known killers.

    • October 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      So she’s already lost her baby, and now should risk losing her financial security in order to pursue accountability? Suing is great – but unrealistic in cases like this, and that is something that needs to change. I think if more midwives were sued and lost everything, that that would be a far greater (and faster) motivator for them to carry malpractice insurance than waiting for legislative change to require them to do so.

      • Squillo
        October 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

        No. I don’t think she should risk her financial security. I do think if there were an attorney willing to take the case on a contingency basis, it could be worth pursuing.

        • October 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

          Lawyers like to get paid – 30% of 0$ recovered is still 0$ – we can’t expect them to work for free. There needs to be some other way of providing access to justice to women harmed by theses crooks.

          • October 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

            In short – she’ll have a hard time finding a lawyer to take the case as the business aspects to it are not attractive (a lot of work with little chance of recovery of fees).

          • Squillo
            October 14, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

            Sure. Attorneys should be paid, and you’re absolutely right that there should be some other way to provide access to justice. I don’t know enough med-mal attorneys to know how likely it is, but I do know plenty of attorneys in other areas who do pro-bono work in cases they think have merit. That was what I was getting at, but as you say, it’s probably pie in the sky. I suppose I was thinking of Abel’s mother and her suit.

    • October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      I don’t like using the word ‘should’ when telling a woman how to deal with the loss of her baby. She ‘should’ do what makes sense to her.

      That said, I was abused by a midwife and its been hellish to see the lack of action when I try to get anything done about it. I am lucky enough to have the time and resources to get through trying to get something done about the abuse. Most women do not. It adds insult to injury to get turned down over and over and over again by lawyers, licensing boards, etc. I support whatever she chooses in the wake of this preventable tragedy.

      • Squillo
        October 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

        Fair enough, but what happens when no one is willing to report dangerous providers? They keep right on practicing.

  24. anion
    October 14, 2013 at 11:51 am #


    You were lied to and misled. Your midwife’s care was so inadequate that even I, a layperson, know enough to know you should have been transferred to the hospital hours before you were–and don’t forget, even with meconium running down your leg(!), your midwife STILL insisted everything was fine and you didn’t need to go to the hospital.

    Yes, you made the decision to attempt homebirth, but you were lied to in order to convince you to make that decision, and you were lied to throughout your pregnancy by someone who had no business presenting herself as a medical professional of any stripe, and who provided shockingly, grossly negligent care; care which bordered on–if it didn’t tip into–abuse.

    My heart bleeds for you and your beautiful baby. I know nothing I can say can make you feel better, but I too urge you to get into that homebirth loss group.

    And I urge the other mothers in that thread who lost babies due to homebirth to do the same.

  25. Tired Momma
    October 14, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Besides, it was not Katie’s responsibity to tell the “midwife” about the tailbone issue. It was the “midwife’s responsibity to found out. She should have taken a detailed history on Katie. I really doubt if this was done.

    • Dr Kitty
      October 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Let’s take the example of a patient with a cough.
      It is MY job to ask if they have shortness of breath, haemoptysis, chest pain, night sweats, weight loss or swollen lymph nodes.

      It is ME that is responsible if I don’t ascertain that info, not them for not volunteering it.
      I am expected to know the very rare but serious things, and check for them. The patient isn’t.

      If the MW didn’t specifically ask about a history of pelvic trauma, how are you supposed to know to report it?

      Not your fault, it wasn’t your job to know.

  26. Monica
    October 14, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    You are absolutely not to blame. We put our faith in people that we believe to have more experience and training than we have. Sadly your midwife misrepresented herself as someone who would know if your baby was in distress. So even though you chose to hire her you did so without all of the information because it’s intentionally hidden from you. Under no circumstances could any other care provider hide this information from potential clients and the fact that homebirth midwives do this to women is abhorrent. I hope you find some sort of peace. Natalie is a beautiful baby with a beautiful name and she will live on in you.

  27. DaisyGrrl
    October 14, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    What a great post. The tone is perfect and provides some real positive steps for Katie to take to help her heal.

    Katie, if you read this, please consider what Dr. Amy is saying. Natalie’s death was a tragedy that should never have happened. You placed your trust in a woman who shouldn’t be allowed to be responsible for a pet rock, let alone something as complex and dangerous and miraculous as birth, and your daughter paid the price. Join the facebook group – I’m not part of it but I’m sure that the people who are will be supportive since they know the pain you’re living.

    You are in all of our thoughts and I wish you and your family healing in the months ahead.

  28. OBPI Mama
    October 14, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Katie, I made the decision to have a homebirth with a midwife who ignored all the signs that my son was going to get stuck. He almost died because of it, but didn’t. He suffers from a lifelong birth injury instead. I understand guilt. It can feel like a crushing weight. It can be illogical. It is so painful. Just know you are not alone. And Dr. Amy is right… helping others can help you as you grieve. While I did not grieve the life of my son, I grieved the loss of a “typical” life for him… only when I began reaching out to those who walked similar paths and trying to help others did I begin to heal. Please, please, please take Dr. Amy up on her offer to find a homebirth loss support group. I am so sorry for your loss. We grieve with you.

  29. kumquatwriter
    October 14, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    I’m so sorry you lost your daughter. Nobody here wants to blame or attack you or any other loss mom – not when many of us have lost babies, some because of homebirth, some (like me) for other reasons. None of us who have tiny graves in our history want to hurt other grieving Moms. I cried over Natalie; lots of us did. The anguish is so raw, I know I felt it so strongly I could barely read your initial post.

    Homebirth midwifery in America is truly like a cult (something I also have personal experience with.). I’m so, so sorry that you and your daughter paid the price for their inexcusable agenda.

  30. violinwidow
    October 14, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    The mother’s blog is the saddest thing I’ve ever read, and her midwife LIED and wrote down VE’ s refused on her labor record.

  31. auntbea
    October 14, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    To pre-empt the parachuters: Even if Natalie’s mom made a mistake that led to Natalie’s death, NO ONE here thinks she deserved to have her baby die for that mistake. Parents make worse mistakes all the time, and most of us (somehow) still get to come out the other side with healthy adult children. Natalie’s mom was unlucky and paid way too high a price for it. More importantly, NO ONE here is happy that Natalie died. We are horrified and angry, not gleeful, that our point about the dangerousness of homebirth with a DEM has once again been confirmed.

    • KarenJJ
      October 14, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Parents make mistakes. My toddler was in his stroller and rolled onto the road at a busy intersection the other day while I was busy trying to unravel fishing wire that was strung across a bike path. We got a shock and someone beeped to get my attention but it could have been so much worse. I’m kicking myself for my lapse in attention and judgement. It could have easily gone the other way. As it was I got a bit of a scare (he thought it was great fun) and my preschooler gave me a proper telling off but we were OK. I know better then that, nobody lied to me and it still could have ended in tragedy.

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