How homebirth midwives respond to a baby’s death

Interracial Medical Business Team Meeting in Boardroom

If you needed any more evidence that homebirth midwives (CPMs, LMs, DEMs) are not medical professionals, compare the way that they respond to the death of a term baby with the way that real medical professionals respond.

For doctors and certified nurse midwives (CNMs) there would be a lot of soul searching both informal and official. At a minimum, the case would be presented at weekly Grand Rounds and discussed with the entire department. The obstetricians and CNMs involved would most likely be required to meet with the head of the Obstetrics department to explain what happened and to determine how to prevent it from ever happening again. There might be grief counseling for the nurses, midwives and physicians and there would be teaching conferences arranged to reinforce safety procedures.

Contrast that to the response of the midwives involved in the debacle of crowd sourcing a life and death situation on Facebook while a baby was literally dying. Christy Collins, CPM was the midwife caring for the patient, and Jan Tritten, Editor of Midwifery Today, crowd sourced the case on Facebook and provided real time follow up on the death of the baby. The mother was 2 1/2 weeks over her due date, and ultrasound revealed that there was no longer any amniotic fluid, a sign of severe fetal compromise and impending death. The appropriate treatment was to induce this mother as soon as possible, and, at the first sign that the baby was not tolerating labor, to proceed to an emergency C-section.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the asinine comments of the homebirth midwives who were discussing the case on Facebook. Stevia? Accupuncture?

Let’s look at how these midwives and the homebirth community as a whole responded to the preventable death of a baby.


1. Violating patient privacy by sharing details on Facebook




2, Lying. I asked Christy on her own Facebook page whether she was the primary midwife in the case. She responded by deleting my question, deleting the entire area on her Facebook page where people can ask questions, and she sent me a Facebook message:

No, I’m not, but enough details had been passed around to select midwives to realize it was not what got created on Jan’s page, and it was NOT Jan. Someone needed to say something …


3. In an unspeakably insensitive and witless move, linking to an idiotic poem (??!!) implying that there is no danger to a baby in a pregnancy that goes overdue.


Home Sweet Birth poem

This is the poem:

Pregnant Pause

My baby’s not a library book,
So he’s not overdue.
My baby won’t take too long to cook
‘Cause he’s not veggie stew.

My baby’s not an elephant.
And I am not fit to burst.
The time and date aren’t relevant –
We’re blessed with days, not cursed.

My baby can’t read dates yet
Because he’s very new.
There’s no cause to fuss and fret
If he doesn’t come on cue.

So stop your worry.
Stop your asking.
There’s no hurry.
We’re just relaxing
In this golden pregnant time,
This pause… just his and mine.

Now, you leave us be…
We are just fine.

~Rachel Pritchard

Collins linked to this only 4 days after the baby died, possibly even before the baby was buried.


4. Sending a letter simultaneously admitting guilt and attempting to blame the mother.

Instead of … telling you to “be prepared that the perinatologist doing the NST is likely to tell you that your baby could die if he doesn’t come out;” those should have been MY words. You might have been really pissed at me for pushing you into a corner where you felt you didn’t have a choice, but … I wouldn’t care… I am angry at myself for being the midwife who tried to be as firm but gentle as possible when advising to go in when I could’ve waved the dead baby flag …

I blame me. I would rather have you hate me for pushing you harder into a bad birth experience … so you could hold a live baby instead.


How about Jan Tritten, the midwifery clown who thought the appropriate response to a baby showing every sign of imminent death was to discuss it with the other midwife clowns who are her Facebook friends?

5. Tritten deleted her Facebook post and all the responses. But the Internet never forgets and you can download and read the whole thing here:

Tritten thread


6. Tritten disappeared. She has been conspicuous by her absence. She is apparently hoping that she can ride out this disaster by ignoring it. She did surface to say that she is “praying for me” even though I am Satan.


Waechter 2


7. Tritten has offered no apology for her grossly unethical, unprofessional behavior.

How about the wider midwifery community?

8. With the exception of one homebirth midwife, there has been absolute silence from the midwifery community. Indeed one might call it a conspiracy of silence. Homebirth websites have refused to discuss the tragedy and have deleted posts and comments from those who have tried to discuss the tragedy.

9. Professional homebirth organizations, including Midwifery Today and the Midwives Alliance of North America have refused comment despite being bombarded by Facebook messages and Tweets.


The bottom line is that the homebirth community, both the midwives who were involved, and the organizations and individuals who promote homebirth have invoked standard operating procedure: Bury the baby in the ground and then bury the fact that he ever existed so no midwife will be held accountable for the death, and no American women will learn that homebirth midwives are ignorant, incompetent fools who let babies die preventable deaths.

But this time, we’re not going to let homebirth midwives bury a baby twice. We are not going to let Christy Collins and Jan Tritten avoid accountability. We have started a petition drive (557 signatures so far), a Facebook page for the Not Buried Twice campaign, and one particularly brilliant commentor devised the perfect Twitter hashtag #notburiedtwice.

Next step?

Convince skeptic bloggers, mommy bloggers and mainstream websites like Salon and Slate, that babies who die at the hands of homebirth midwives are worthy of their concern.