One of the more heinous things Natural Childbirth Advocates do is blame mothers for poor outcomes. The latest tragedy is no exception. Every news article, every facebook thread, every blog post where it’s mentioned, brings them out, chastizing the grieving parents for not doing enough research.
But why wait for a tragedy? Carla Hartley, owner and instructor extraordinaire at Ancient Art Midwifery Institute (training a lot of those CPMs!) tells her clients up front that they shouldn’t ask about malpractice insurance, because nothing she does is her fault!
Not to beat a dead horse, but this attitude is ALL OVER THE WEB:
And I could post these every day until next year; this is the prevailing attitude NCBers seem to have about homebirth. It’s “as safe or safer than hospital birth,” but when something goes wrong, YOU are responsible for it. If your midwife forgets her birth bag, monitors the baby by listening to your belly with her naked ear, performs gloveless vaginal exams in an attempt to determine if the baby still has a heartbeat after your water breaks, thinks that telling you to stop bleeding is an effective way to end a postpartum hemorrhage, and then brags about it on the internet, it is YOUR responsibility to recognize something is not quite right there in the throes of labor or potential hemorrhage and demand a transfer. (BTW, don’t bother deleting that page; if you haven’t guessed, it’s all capped). I know, I know… but not every midwife provides such a stunning display of her incompetency for the world to read. The mom in the story probably had no idea she’d hired such a flake before it all went down.
My question is, just HOW are women supposed to do their proverbial homework? Look up their midwife’s license with the state? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHA. HAHA. HA. HA. Many states don’t offer licensing, and even those that do *cough* Oregon *cough* have precious little information easily accessible. Most midwives don’t bother with malpractice insurance (see Carla above), so there’s no way to look up malpractice suits, because lawyers just won’t take the cases without money involved. Oh, I know. They can ask the midwife! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHA. HAHA. HA.
I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly honest midwives out there who will tell the truth, but I’m also sure that there are not only those who will lie outright — as evidenced above — but also justify it by telling themselves it doesn’t count, because that baby would have died in the hospital, too.
There really is no way for a woman to be sure that the midwife she’s chosen is a competent, caring provider. So maybe this blame is really because these loss mothers haven’t “educated” themselves enough about pregnancy? Maybe we should require everyone who wants to have a child become a CNM or OB — or at the very least a CPM – first. That way, when they’re in the midst of transition, they’ll know if something is wrong, right?
NO. NO. NO. And NO, again. If this is really the case, why do midwives even exist? The expectation is that you are hiring someone for their knowledge and expertise, not because you want to pay $4,000 for some idiot to sit around and tell you what a great job you’re doing.
One final note before I go and dunk my head in a bucket of ice water. I don’t blame any mother who experiences a terrible outcome for choosing an idiot for a midwife or for choosing homebirth when she shouldn’t have. The world of pregnancy and childbirth is chock full of books telling women that if they don’t birth a certain way, they aren’t thinking; blogs telling them that OBs are out to birthrape them and give them a c-section just to make more money; Certified Childbirth Educators telling them that hospitals will force pitocin and an epidural on them, and giving them outdated information about interventions; and their friends all telling them that hospitals will force feed their infant formula and ruin their breastfeeding relationship, causing their child to be dumber than everyone else’s. There has been a wall purposely created between women and medical care providers, and for some women, that’s hard to get over. Here we have a thread on mothering.com where 40 different women said they would have no problem with hiring an illegal (not just unlicensed, ILLEGAL) midwife, some of them even preferring a midwife who flouts the law.
They even talk about how it’s better because then they can do the very things that lead to these tragedies! More than likely, all of these women and their babies are perfectly fine, so the natural birth community celebrates them and their choices. But for those who make the exact same choices with tragic consequences? Well, they should have done their homework.