A baby died, a group imploded, and home VBAC proponents utterly miss the point

Combat pineapple grenade and a hand

Meg Heket is holding a pity party for herself and her friends.

Writing in Whole Woman, Heket, an unassisted birth advocate and sister of Janet Fraser (My dead baby was not as traumatic as my birth rape), addresses women she believes destroyed a large, private Facebook group of unassisted birth and homebirth advocates.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]One of THEIR administrators became distraught at the endless parade of preventable deaths.[/pullquote]

You know who you are. You’re sitting in your ivory tower laughing and high-fiving one another. You’re saying JOB WELL DONE! You think you saved a bunch of women from themselves and each other, but your greatest achievement to date is actually showcasing your cult like hysteria on the world stage.

You must seriously be unhinged to think that taking over a large, happy group and dismantling it in this way is an acceptable thing to do. Unhinged, and deluded. Who died and made you the crusaders for the world?

Those 12k women didn’t want you to save them. They wanted to be amongst friends to talk about their pregnancies and births, the good, the bad, and the varicose veins. They had that right, and you did NOT have the right to interrupt them in this narcissistic, grandstanding way…

You may think that this is a giant win for your posse, but actually it is a really convincing nail in your coffin. People everywhere, even many who supported your cause, are utterly disgusted and disillusioned by this. They don’t think you’re brave, they don’t think you saved anyone, they don’t think you had any INTENTION of saving anyone. They know exactly what you are though. You’re all thoughtless, gutless cowards. That’s what cyber-bullying is. It’s gutless and cowardly. You can hide behind your keyboard avidly typing away, never having to face up to the victims, but remember your own important memories on the internet and how easily they could vanish?

What happened?

To be honest, I don’t really know. Contrary to what many natural childbirth advocates believe, I’m not omniscient or omnipotent. I’ve been otherwise occupied publicizing my book so I was not following the drama as it unfolded in real time. I only found out about it afterward when I was publicly blamed for it.

As far as I can determine, a number of safe birth advocates (many, perhaps most, of whom are my Facebook followers) infiltrated a private group supporting unassisted homebirth, home VBAC and unassisted home VBAC. The group is notorious for the steady stream of infant deaths. There are so many deaths that I can’t keep track, but it appears that the group averages several preventable infant deaths each month. In one week last summer there were 6 (!!) deaths.

Nearly all these deaths occur because members ignore the advice of medical professionals and are encouraged to so so by group members and administrators. Babies die and their deaths are subsequently expunged or rationalized (“babies die in the hospital, too”). If all else fails, members resort to shrugging their shoulders and insisting that dead babies happen, the homebirth equivalent of “whatever!”

Earlier this week yet another baby died. In the wake of this death, an administrator of Meg’s* group made one of the infiltrators an administrator, too. She tried to ban medical advice; other administrators tried to ban her and the group imploded and has been closed.

The mother had been encouraged by group members to “rock her home VBAC waterbirth.” She was still being heartily encouraged when she started labor at 43+ weeks.

She was supported throughout her “beautiful” labor and birth by a homebirth midwife (CPM) and doula, both utterly clueless that the baby had died during labor.

The doula posted this:


Hey mamas! REALLY need some encouragement. I just attended the most beautiful n saddest birth! Mothered laboured perfectly, baby sounded healthy, heart tones strong! This was her VBAC moment!!! An hour upon delivery (Mam pushing) we started having a hard time getting a good FHT reading, got it a few times then everything sounded normal — 150’s. Got it again 2 minutes before birth, upon coming out the baby had no heart rate … And even with the amazing crew who worked on her we lost her!…

One can never forget those images of a baby born into this world and taken to another in a moment … she never took her first breast! … There was no sign of distress … just one moment here … and one moment gone …”

Not exactly. The baby almost certainly suffocated and died during the last hour of labor. She wasn’t there one moment and gone the next. She suffered for a long time, but the midwife failed to recognize the signs since there was no fetal monitor to show them.

What does Meg Heket have to say about this baby’s death? Absolutely nothing, of course. She’s far more concerned with what she believes was stolen from her than the life that was stolen from that poor baby.

Who stole Meg’s group? She and other supporters of unassisted homebirth and home VBAC have utterly missed the point of what happened. One of THEIR administrators became distraught at the endless parade of preventable deaths and sought to stop it by changing the leadership of the group, hoping to end the shockingly ignorant medical advice, the mindless cheering of dangerous stunts, and the deliberate efforts to bury dead babies twice, once in tiny coffins in the ground, and again by being expunged from the memory of the group.

I regret that the group was destroyed in the process. That is not my way. If you know anything about me at all, you know that my way is confrontation. I want to confront the lies, not censor them. That’s why I’m constantly offering to debate those that disagree with me.

Meg Heket and her colleagues may be irresponsible, but they are entitled to private support groups even when those groups are echo chambers for ignorance and dangerous medical advice. I don’t blame Heket for being angry, but, as usual, she is missing the point.

The issue is not the women who infiltrated the group. The issue is that the group is enabling preventable infant deaths, so many that even stalwart members are sickened. Yet that’s not even on the radar of Heket and her colleagues.

She ends her article with this:

To the women who love VBAC. You are not alone. You will regroup. You will find your feet, and your voices, and you will be bigger and better and stronger than ever before. Your network may be scattered, but it isn’t gone, I know this because you are working, driven by kindness, not a deranged craving for control and power, flying under the false banner of bravery and care. You are the ones who will rise from these flames…

You stole VBAC, but you wait, it will be back, and you will fade angrily, hopelessly, into insignificance.

I don’t doubt that the irresponsible VBAC group will be back, although those who opposed it will not be fading into insignificance. Their voice is growing. The irresponsibility of Heket and colleagues is being made manifest and we can hope that THEY will fade angrily, hopeless, into insignifance. When that happens there will be fewer dead babies and that can only be a good thing.


*Clarification: Although Meg has been an administrator of some VBAC groups, she was not an administrator of this particular group, just a member.