You Should Have Done Your Homework!!

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.

24 thoughts on “You Should Have Done Your Homework!!

  1. This is the worst kind of manipulation and emotional blackmail. They tell you to get informed, and when you ask questions they get angry at you. And reject you as a client.They have the perfect set-up though, they can do anything they want and can’t be held accountable. And they rely on birth junkies to do the advertising for them. Like BWF and her ilk. It’s midwives like these that bring everyone down,that make all midwives look bad, incompetent and freakin’ loonytunes! I hesitate to be so absolute about this but I am really beginning to think that anything less than a CNM should be illegal in all states, if only to avoid the russian roulette of finding someone who won’t fuck it all up.

  2. Yep, this post about sums it up! Women are supposed to “do their research,” but in NCB world, that means read a bunch of crap that’s not backed up by evidence from the NCB echo chamber.
    I think the NCB movement is a great example of the rampant anti-intellectualism found in our culture today. Many people have no respect for the value of the years of education that OBs and CNMs receive. Google University is seen as just as good. When things work out well, NCBers smugly decide it’s because they were so “educated,” when really, they aren’t educated at all – just lucky.

  3. I really don’t support CNMs for home birth either. The crazy bitch from BOBB was a CNM. The whole system needs an overhaul. Home birth with CNMs with hospital privelages? Maybe. Rogue CNMs that fancy themselves mavericks? Not so much.

  4. As someone who hired a CPM for a planned homebirth (she never showed up, funny enough…), and then later transferred, I can say without a doubt that the only people qualified to handle childbirth are real medical professionals: MDs and CNMs. The lay midwives lure in the more cautious “clients” by making claims about their safety and their “good relationship” with some local hospital. What you are never able to find out (until it’s too late) is that this “relationship” of theirs just means that they bring you to the ER, and hang around as your doula if you’re lucky. They are not friends with the staff– the staff is familiar with the midwives, but they hate them because they have to clean up the disasters in their wake. Sometimes the patient suffers because of this contempt, but I have to say I can’t really fault the doctors and nurses for having a kind of compassion fatigue for all the homebirth clients that come streaming into the ER with these incompetent boob “midwives” thrusting their versions of “medical records and patient charts” in their faces. It’s such a farce. UGH. And then of course comes the mother-blame from the midwives. “Well didn’t you want to be responsible for your life and your choices? Didn’t you do your research?” Well yes. Yes I did. Clearly, though, the “midwife” didn’t, and too many of us have to find that out the hard way.

    • My midwife tried this one. I thought she was uniquely nuts but then online heard a number of other women share that their midwives tried the same line, so it must be a thing that’s being taught somewhere or by someone. There seems to be a primitive belief that blood is like tears and is a way of expressing some kind of emotion and so like you can pull yourself together and stop crying, you can pull yourself together and just will the bleeding to stop. And if you don’t, you just have a bad attitude and a lesson to learn, apparently.

      Just imagine if real professionals took this attitude. “Stop having a seizure, jeez, just tell yourself to stop!”

  5. OK so let me get this straight…I need to “do my homework” if I want a safe midwife. My hands are tied. I actually AM someone who always has cared a lot about safety and risk, even when I planned my homebirth. But let’s go through the steps of figuring out if my homebirth midwife is OK;

    1. Credentials. She has a CPM and is also licensed by the state. I didn’t know at the time just how little that meant. Am I also supposed to make like I am applying to midwifery school and lurk around the websites for their schools or call their admissions offices to find out EXACTLY what they train in? And even if I do that, will I get a realistic, accurate picture or an idealized one?

    2. Check her track record with the state. Well she has no pending disciplinary actions against her. Too bad it doesn’t list prior ones, or complaints that have not been resolved, or mortality/morbidity that is suspicious but hasn’t triggered a complaint from the clients or…

    3. Check her reputation online. MDC shuts down any thread that is “negative” about a midwife. It’s written into their UA. It’s the biggest game in town. I can ask around other forums but it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. Negative reviews on Yelp and Citysearch get flagged for removal by the business owners. If I do find a woman who is willing to publicly share with me her negative experience with my midwife we have to worry that the midwife is going to crash the conversation and nicey-rage at both of us for daring to question her, as that seems to happen a lot.

    4. Ask her directly if she’s killed any patients recently or anything like that. HAHAHAHAHA. She knows damn well she can say whatever she wants and I have NO way to check if that’s true. And then she might be offended too. Awkward. I’ll for sure get a lecture about trusting birth, then.

    So basically there’s no way to get that information. It exists, somewhere, but a woman looking for it will not be able to access it. Meanwhile, I can see precise safety details about my doctor and his or her hospital, and the office manager nurse can even tell me my specific specialist’s success stats for a risky procedure he’s advised me to undergo. Ahh I think I’ll go with them.

    • Exactly. How do you know how the midwife actually practices? I used a CPM with my fourth birth and she engaged in several dangerous or negligent or just strange practices, but I didn’t know about any of them until I was in labor or had delivered the baby. Everything I heard about her before hand was great. Afterwards, when I expressed some hesitation about her care then others chimed in with their own concerns. I only mentioned it in certain circles.

  6. THIS is why HB MWs are so dangerous. There is no way to check up on them in most places, and nothing stops them from practicing with a trail of bodies behind them! They can kill, lie about it, and go on like nothing happened.

    One CPM in Austin TX killed a baby with her ignorant actions- pure negligence! There was a hearing, which found her negligent. The outcome? She was told to find another CPM to talk to about the problem that killed the baby so she would know more. Thats it! She smiled and winked her way through the whole hearing, as the people on the board were her friends, which is typical in a system based on “apprenticeship” training. I read the transcript, it was horrible!

    But when I interviewed her I didn’t know this, and she sure didn’t tell me. Turns out, after she was found guilty of causing a death by negligence, she went ahead and opened her very own birth center. No problems, no restrictions. Did you hear me- she killed because of negligence so gross that even other CPMs agreed, but nothing happened to her, and she was able to open up a successful birth center shortly afterwards. For any other profession, a negligent death hurts their career, but not a non CNM MW! It may even help their career, since their supporters go to bat for them, and vilify the parents, bringing the MW new customers.

    This MW is Faith Beltz, of the Centre Vida birth center. I interviewed her, and she seemed great. Knowledgable, reasonable, honest. Not overblown with weird practices, but clinical yet caring. Her birth center is nice, comfortable, and attractive. She has a little paper required by the state, with stats, the number of births attended, CPR and such. BUT No numbers on deaths, morbidities, complaints, or transfers. Those she gets to make up. Everyone in the community loves her, so if I hadn’t thought to Google her after stumbling on the moms story, I wouldn’t have known about this death. I only found out because the family is very outspoken (and they have been harassed because of this), which led me to look her up.

    Here in TX, you CAN look up complaints, which is better than most places. IF someone files one. IF you know where to look, and IF you know you need too! But who would think that the state would allow someone like this to practice? Oh, she has had 100 births, for is one death, and she was also at another death, but wasn’t the primary MW.

    Sadly, for sharing the info that eventually warned me about this MW, the family has suffered both a loss of a much wanted child after what started as a low risk birth, and the loss of a community. The NCB community has not just ostracized them, but has gone out of their way to be cruel. One look at the comments on their blog and you can see it. And this is one of the dirty little secrets of the NCB community- you talk against a MW, even if they killed your baby, if you question their beliefs, you are a pariah. It is disgusting.

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