WHEN HOME BIRTHS GO TERRIBLY WRONG

by | August 15, 2018

Birthing at home, (home births) or in a birthing center is gaining traction, and for good reason. There is a lot less intervention, your own style of birthing, and the ability to move around, eat and feel more empowered. We advocate for home-births and women to feel empowered. Yet, in the USA. There are ‘midwives’ and then there are midwives with zero experience, nursing,  birthing and what to do in an emergency.

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE TALKS ABOUT BIRTH TRAUMA AND DEATH

The birth stories you are about to read are the women’s voices and their experience. They are advocates for homebirths, but want you to know the dangers that who you decide to be your advocate, can have a profound impact on yours and your babies life. We believe in letting all women have their voice heard, regardless of how uncomfortable the story is to hear. 

home births

Birthing at home, however, does come with its own set of risks that could have devastating outcomes. 

Ashley Martin

One mom, Ashley Martin told PopSugar

“I am NOT happy with how my home birth went. It was awful. Horrifying. Scary. Traumatic. Worst day of my life is a huge understatement.

My baby almost died. I almost died.

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I did not walk away from my birth feeling like a ‘birth warrior.’ Multiple people at my birth kept calling me that. I did not walk away feeling empowered or womanly. No one at my birth was a hero. I was not brave.

I was misled, lied too, and manipulated. Informed consent? Hah. I wish.

I left my birth feeling broken, beaten down, cheated. I felt like no one there really cared about the most important thing: my child’s safety and well-being”

What was supposed to be the happiest day of her life, nearly turned into the worst day of her life. She went on to explain, that everyone was too busy being empowered, that she should ‘trust her body’, dismissing her concerns, and that her baby wouldn’t grow a baby it wouldn’t birth. A phrase that is thrown around in home birthing communities so  often, that you nearly start to believe it. Then reality sets in, and the maternal rate of mothers only going down because of c-sections, and modern medicine creeps back in, and we realize that, yes, our bodies are more than capable of growing a baby it is not suited to push out.

Image Source: In Bloom Photography

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Home birth also ignites a dialogue about the tragic side of home birth. While most home birthers rave, even evangelizes, about their choice, for a small percentage, the fantasy becomes a nightmare. Beyond the statistics, these women’s stories often go untold. They’re not publicized by home-birth advocates, and often not discussed by doctors.

Jane H., 25, Albany, NY

Jane already had two children born in a hospital, she was well aware of the strict procedures, the rigid rules, and the policies that were more about protecting the medical staff from insurance claims, than about the patient and their birthing experience., as she explained to the Daily Beast.

For her fifth child, and soon to be third home birth of her fifth child, she felt well prepared, and a seasoned enough mother to be able to have another joyous home birth. Arranging to have her home birth attended by a Certified Nurse Midwife who had her own practiced and spent a considerable number of years in the medical industry, she felt safe in her professional care.

Yet, her joy soon turned into panic, when she went into labor, and call it mother’s intuition, knew something wasn’t right with the labor. It was simply too fast, too intense, and after a very short forty minute labor, her daughter was born.  

Then she stopped breathing.

Jane however, had an excellent care provider in her nurse midwife, who rushed mom and baby to the hospital,staying with her for the next ten days as she stayed in the neonatal unit. Teaching jane how to breastfeed a  baby who was still on a ventilator and preventing a tragic outcome.

The lesson? Homebirth is only as safe as the person who is advocating for you, listening to you, and responsive in an emergency.

Liz Paparella, 29, Austin, TX

Most parents planning for home births are not planning a funeral, but that is how some home births end.

Liz’s, who already had two home births, had her daughter at home couch in December. A perfectly beautiful little girl, weighing 8 pounds with a full head of hair. She had passed away a few moments before her birth due to a condition called Chorioamnionitis, an intra-amniotic infection (IAI) that is an inflammation of the fetal membranes (amnion and chorion) due to a bacterial infection. It typically results from bacteria ascending from the vagina into the uterus and is most often associated with prolonged labor where the baby can be deprived of oxygen. Liz says there were many signs throughout the birth that something was wrong, but feels the midwife missed all the cues.

A distinction that one could miss, is that for Liz’s two earlier births, she had a Certified Nurse Midwife, someone who has to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a graduate degree in midwifery, going on to pass the national exams in order to practice.

For her daughter, Aquilas birth, she used a certified professional midwife, just that simple word makes the world of difference in the professional training and expertise of the person with you during birth.

A Certified professional midwife just needs to pass a certificate exam, that’s it. No hospital experience, no nursing degree. Sometimes, it can be as simple as an online ‘training’, and they are the person responsible for bringing your baby into the world safely.  

As Liz’s grief deepened, and the CPM board refused to do more than just a simple slap on the wrist for her practitioner, she discovered multiple instances where babies have died because mothers didn’t know or understand the distinction between the two similar titles.

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Countless times since she died, “home-birth advocates” have told me that my daughter would probably have also died in a hospital. Funny thing is, the doctors I’ve talked to do not agree, nor the nurses.

Yes, babies do die in hospitals, too. However, I believe my daughter would have lived, had I made the choice to birth in a safer setting with a highly trained care provider. I will live with this knowledge for the rest of my life

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To have a safe homebirth, we urge you to empower yourself, not just as a woman, but with the knowledge – that if something does go wrong.  You are in the best hands possible with the most experienced person possible. 

To find a midwife in your area. Midwife.org

Emma Williams

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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Comments

12 Responses to “WHEN HOME BIRTHS GO TERRIBLY WRONG”

  1. Kenneth Parcel
    August 15th, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

    Oh man our whole experience was terrible, but luckily everyone came out without any harm.

    Without going on a super long rant, we were doing a home birth until it was determined that we had to go to the hospital (after around 18 hours of labor) due to a bone that wasn’t allowing the baby to come out. If not for that it would have been a very short birth (maybe 6 hours).

    Hospital was horrific for a number of terrible people (threats, bullying, etc) reasons, but we did manage to get our beautiful baby girl out safely.

  2. Kelsy
    August 15th, 2018 @ 8:52 pm

    I would not expect this type of one sided, fear mongering article from this publication. I will be cancelling my subscription.

  3. Marteena
    August 15th, 2018 @ 9:44 pm

    This article seems really smear-y to me. While I think it’s necessary to address the issues brought up here, I wonder why the article couldn’t have been about educating people on the best way to go about finding a good midwife and making a comprehensive birth plan that addresses potential emergencies. Vegans deal with so much smearing that I would’ve thought this publication would be above that type of thing. Honestly, I’m disappointed.

    Personally, my birth experience was in a hospital, and it was a nightmare. I don’t know that I would go the home birth route, but there’s good reason for people to make that decision, and it’s bizarre to me that a magazine like this would lean into Western medicine so hard, knowing how western doctors tend not to treat their patients as individuals in the US.

    I hope to see this publication do better, moving forward.

  4. Lauren
    August 15th, 2018 @ 11:37 pm

    I am really shocked at the unbalanced way in which this article is written. It is enough to strike fear into anybody and yet home birth can be (and often is) a far safer way to bring a child into the world than going to hospital.
    Rather than blatant fearmongering, I feel an unbiased, educational piece about how to source a qualified midwife would have been far more appropriate.
    I hope this article doesn’t put anyone off birthing at home and would urge readers to look into the facts and figures for themselves rather than being guided by this. Luckily, as vegans, I imagine most of us are not people who take things at face value and who instead do our own research to reach informed decisions.
    Anecdotally, I am currently snuggled up with my four day old baby who was born at home under the supervision of two fully qualified midwives. He was my first born and having weighed up all the evidence for and against birthing at home I knew it was absolutely the right thing for me and for my baby. Yes, I did find the whole experience empowering and beautiful and that isn’t something to be sneered at. Birth is a natural process that doesn’t always have to be medicalised.
    Very disappointed in this from Raise Vegan.

  5. Claire
    August 16th, 2018 @ 7:48 am

    Great article. I had three homebirths and didn’t know about the midwives until i read something like this. i love that you always advocate for homebirths in your group and i was starting to fear you were getting a little too down the rabbit hole of them. so i applaud you for coming forward and showing the other side. I feel like some of the other commentators want everything to be roses and pretend that there aren’t two different types of midwives here. well done raise vegan, keep up the good work on staying unbiased and giving everyone all the information!

  6. rachel
    August 16th, 2018 @ 7:57 am

    bravo raise vegan. bravo. its refreshing to see the other side. as a certified nurse midwife. it’s nice to read that someone acknowledges that there is us and then there is another type of ‘midwife’. I attend at least one homebirth a week and it fills me with so much joy, but mamas have to keep safe and birth 99% of the time is safe, but that 1% can go downhill so quickly.

  7. Erin
    August 16th, 2018 @ 8:16 am

    This article is crap. There are several issues I’ve found. One that stands out is that Chorioamniotis does not deprive the baby of oxygen. Google the definition.
    Please, Raise Vegan, publish less garbage. I really want to be a fan.
    Sincerely, a mother-baby nurse

  8. Danielle
    August 16th, 2018 @ 8:53 am

    a lot of angry people on here commenting. apparently we don’t let the women who don’t agree with us have their voices be heard….that’s point, isn’t it? these women aren’t agreeing with you, they are talking about their own traumatic experiences, but whooooaaaa.. how dare they? maybe they’d warn someone that it isn’t all sunshines and rainbows. it makes me sick that we all chant for equality, but what a lot of these commenters mean, is only ‘some women’ are allowed equality.

  9. D Hearst
    August 16th, 2018 @ 8:57 am

    I normally never comment on websites, but this is in response to Erin. You are factually wrong, that is exactly what the condition is capable of, cutting off the oxygen to the fetus. Dr. Hearst

  10. Laura Pranther
    August 16th, 2018 @ 9:09 am

    I don’t understand these angry comments? I guess we’re all coming from Instagram here. It’s basically women telling their stories, isn’t that the point? it’s not the writers point of view, it’s the women who lived the births, basically telling their birth stories. I don’t see anyone up in arms over all the other countless birth stories. If you had a great homebirth, why not ask them to do another one on different outcomes?

  11. Treva Anspach
    August 16th, 2018 @ 6:37 pm

    this article just caused me to unscubscribe. very distasteful “raising vegan”!!..ill be sure to let all the freebirthing mommas know wwhere you stand on this topic!! you don’t get our support anymore!

  12. Emma Williams
    August 16th, 2018 @ 7:09 pm

    Hello Treva,

    We’re sorry to see you go. Yet, I’m a little unsure of ‘where we stand’ comment. these are women talking about their birthing experience, and Raise Vegan advocating for homebirths and asking people to be mindful of who they choose to be their advocate. Can you elaborate?

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