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The Word “Midwife” Should Have Meaning

Over my years in the childbirth field, I’ve seen several times when midwives have been brought up on charges of some sort after a “bad outcome” at a birth. Often the charges are “practicing medicine without a license,” but sometimes more serious criminal charges are included. One of the midwives who attended my first two homebirths and provided prenatal care for my third homebirth was one of them. My heart ached when I learned that she had been brought before the medical board after a bad outcome that was not her fault. She arrived at the client’s house, assessed the mother and baby, determined immediately that there was a problem, and transferred the mother to the hospital. I’d be willing to bet that if that mother had been planning a hospital birth she would not have gone to the hospital as soon as she did with having her midwife tell her “something is wrong, you need to go in.” (Oh, and BTW, I know what happened NOT because the midwife broke confidentiality, but because one of the nurses at the hospital blogged about what happened!)

But there have been some cases that I’ve read about with horror, and wondered how in the heck they were allowed to happen. I’ve been amazed as I’ve seen the natural childbirth community “circle the wagons” in defense of what to me seemed undefensible. Most recently a midwife is being brought up on charges of murder.

“Big names” in the natural childbirth community are rallying support for this midwife. One blogger wrote:

The reality is that if Rowan Bailey is found guilty of murder in North Carolina, then a precedent will be set that a death in a midwife attended birth was found to be WILLFUL murder of a baby.

Don’t talk to me about “But she wasn’t legal” because we all know that midwives hedge their bets on legal. They all do some small thing that is maybe crossing a line or helping someone they shouldn’t “legally” because frankly, the legal system is full of discrimination against healthy women and we all know it.

Don’t talk to me about the ramifications of fetal personhood because it’s clouding the issue here. Dwell on your thoughts of the evils of the issue after we’ve fought this case.

If you don’t send money to Rowan’s defense, if you don’t travel to show a tour de force that midwifery attendance at a birth is not willful murder, if you don’t react in some way to this case that goes beyond sitting on a couch and speculating, then don’t be surprised when it’s you and you are alone and ostracized, no matter your intentions on legal, no matter your intentions or vocation or grace.

You know, I find an odd dicotomy in all of this.

If a nurse in the hospital treats patients coldly, leaving them feel emotionally devastated, we wonder why their fellow nurses didn’t report them or stop them. When an OB consistently channels women toward cesarean who are perfectly capable of birthing vaginally we again wonder “why doesn’t someone report her? Why is he allowed to still be in practice?”

But if a person who has little to no formal medical training holds herself out as a “midwife” and a baby dies while in her care…we are expected to circle the wagons. EVERYONE PROTECT HER! NOW! DON’T DARE SAY SOMETHING NEGATIVE!

I know there are many in the natural birth community who will look in disgust at my comments. But I’m going to stick out my neck and say it.

There should be standards for what a “midwife” is. A midwife SHOULD be able to handle complications that can come up during birth, while still respecting and allowing the normal process to unfold without intervention. The consumer should know that the “midwife” she is hiring has met a certain level of competence. What if a woman wants to do birth work, but feels that this standard is violating the sanctity of birth? Well fine. Then be a “birth attendant.” But the word “midwife” should have meaning.

Posted 6 months, 1 week ago at 1:52 pm.

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Will Your New Year’s Celebration Harm Your Baby?

Keeping in mind that I drink a glass of wine MAYBE once every month (the Cranberry Wine from Sorrenti is a seasonal favorite in our house), and I’ve got some “sparkling cider” chilling in the garage to ring in the New Year with…so its not like I’m some kind of a lush…

It’s New Year’s Eve Day and so the internet is awash in what else…an article that intends to instill fear in breastfeeding mothers who just wanted to enjoy a toast to the New Year…

Mother Kills Son While Breastfeeding Him Drunk” reads the headline…which is of course eye catching.  But the story its self is full of holes. Continue Reading…

Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 6:20 pm.

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In the News: Prescription Pain Meds in Pregnancy May Cause Birth Defects

Today USA Today carried a report that the CDC has announced that certain prescription pain killers, when taken just prior to pregnancy, or during the first trimester, may double the risk of congenital heart defects in the infant.  These heart defects are often fatal in the first year of life, and if they aren’t fatal, they usually require many expensive surgeries to correct, and of course much pain and suffering for the infant.

However, the study authors noted that the risk from prescription painkillers in any one pregnancy is small.

“It’s important to acknowledge that although there is an increased risk for some types of major birth defects from an exposure to opioid analgesics, that absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest,” lead author Cheryl S. Broussard, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in the news release.

In other words… Continue Reading…

Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 9:33 pm.

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Was Joy Szabo’s birth a “victory?”

You may recall that I blogged about Joy Szabo 2 months ago.  At the time, she was pregnant, and was seeking media coverage because she had learned that the hospital closest to her, Page Hospital in Arizona, was denying her request to VBAC.  Ms. Szabo’s case was particularly troublesome because the nearest hospital to her that would “allow” VBAC was in Phoenix, a 6 hour drive from her home, and Ms. Szabo already had 2 vaginal births, so certainly would be expected to have good odds for being able to achieve her desired VBAC.  Having the cesarean would actually have put her baby and herself at a higher risk of complications than having a VBAC would.

Unfortunately, Ms. Szabo’s situation is far from unusual.  Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 1:58 am.

17 comments

Circumcision and the American Academy of Pediatrics

As you might know, the American Academy of Pediatrics is currently re-examining its policy statement on routine infant circucision.  The last two times this statement was updated, each time it stated that routine infant circumcision was not necessary.

However, this time around, a different decision might be made.  Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 12:41 am.

6 comments

More Children are Dying of the H1N1 Flu…So What Does This Mean?

Tent set up at a hospital to treat patients with flu-like symptoms

Tent set up at a hospital to treat patients with flu-like symptoms

A friend alerted me to a recent LA Times article about the H1N1 flu, and wondered what I thought of it.

I told her “The Bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow for today has enough worries of its own…so if your family does not have H1N1 today, the Bible tells you not to worry about it, right? ;-)”

As a Christian, seriously, I think that should be the bottom line.  But I’m a number cruncher too, so of course I didn’t leave it at that. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 9:41 am.

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Rallies to Support Children as Visitors in Hospitals

As you may know, I’m involved on the leadership of EmPoWeReD Birth, an advocacy group for birth in Eastern PA. In that capacity, I am writing this note, and ask you to share it.

As you may have seen recently, Lehigh Valley area hospitals, along with many hospitals across the country, have made the decision to ban all children under the age of 18 from the hospital as “visitors.” This is a “temporary” ban for flu season, but as you probably know, the flu season extends until April or May, so we are looking at a ban that could easily last 6-7 months.

To be sure, we think it is a wise practice at ANY time for anyone who is exhibiting signs of the flu to avoid visiting a hospital as a visitor.

However, the EmPoWeReD Birth leadership is concerned about this ban Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 10:41 am.

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Hospitals Ban Children from Visiting

This morning I had a prenatal appointment with a client expecting her second baby.  I already knew as I headed out the door that the hospital she was planning to birth in was restricting child visitors, but that exceptions to the rule could possibly be obtained.  I had planned to discuss this with her, because I very much believe that a new baby’s siblings should be among the first, if not THE first visitors to the baby.  I believe it is very helpful for family bonding and integration of the new baby into the family. 

During my drive to the hospital though, I heard a story on the local radio station that all of the local hospitals had decided Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 1:37 pm.

8 comments

Is ICAN Under Stating How Bad the Cesarean Epidemic is?

The work that is done by the International Cesarean Awareness Network, or “ICAN” is important and worthwhile.  My hat is off to all the women who are part of this organization.  I actually had the opportunity just this morning to be a guest at the Lehigh Valley ICAN group meeting, and am immensly pleased that someone has finally stepped forward to form a group in this area. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 6 months ago at 2:30 pm.

4 comments

Hospital Policy Pains Expectant Mother

The Lake Powell Chronicle, a newspaper in Arizona, carried an article recently highlighting the plight of a woman who has had 3 previous births–the first a vaginal birth, the second a cesarean, and the 3rd a VBAC.  Now, expecting her 4th child, she is being told that she must consent to a repeat cesarean because her local hospital (Page) has determined that it can not handle any possible emergencies that a VBAC might bring. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 6 months ago at 12:20 am.

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