I think I under stated the importance of the latest health department data that shows that out of hospital birth has more than double the mortality rate of hospital births. Not just because the owner of Better Birth of Utah (Suzanne Smith) sat in on the review of the data and managed to suppress any birth center deaths from being published, but also because Better Birth advertises themselves as a safe alternative to hospitals.
How anyone can ignore the deaths of another person’s child is hard for me to understand, and yet that is what midwives like Smith continue to do when they sell the lie that they provide services as safe as the hospital’s. If I touted a product or a service as safe and sat in on a health department study that demonstrated that my claim had actually killed children I would be thrown into a personal moral crisis over my actions. Most people would. I certainly could not continue to provide services that leave people dead when they otherwise would have lived. Imagine for a moment what it would take for Suzanne Smith to ignore what she witnessed at that health department meeting. You know now that if Better Birth tries to sell you the idea that their services are safer than hospital birth, or as safe as hospital birth, that its a knowing lie. Being unwilling to believe evidence that you’ve seen doesn’t negate the responsibility to inform your prospective customers that the evidence exists. Women deserve to know what risks they are taking before they agree to services, but as it currently stands most home birth midwives will not accept any evidence that shows out of hospital birth is inherently unsafe. If they don’t believe in that evidence they can’t adequately warn their patients about it.
Suzanne Smith is sitting in much the same place that Leigh Fransen did before she walked away from her own birthing center in South Carolina. The link posted is to her story of becoming a midwife to leaving midwifery due to the glaring ethical problems. Fransen saw the writing on the wall, and knew that it wasn’t a matter of IF people died, so much as WHEN. That’s the conclusion it is impossible to escape from when you look at the data that is now available on out of hospital birth with CPMs in attendance. Fransen co-owned the birthing center she left behind and the rest of the midwives continued on to have 3 fatalities in a year. I am saddened to know that this tragedy will be repeated over and over again across america. It could be you, it could be anyone’s child at an out of hospital birth. It doesn’t matter how careful your midwife is or how much you trust her, the problems that cause home birth fatalities are inherent to the birth setting and CPM’s inadequate training.
Babies die in hospitals too, you are probably thinking. They die less than half as often, and from causes that are not usually preventable. Babies that die in out of hospital births could have been saved, or at least that’s what the health department said in their report. Leigh Fransen put it this way:
A few years removed from the active practice of midwifery now, I find myself wondering how I allowed myself to become so convinced that having and encouraging others to have a nonhospital birth was such a good idea. I called up a friend who had two home births, the last one with me, and asked her, “If you had to buy a car seat for your baby, and one car seat had been rated by Consumer Reports as having two to three times the risk of death or profound injury compared to other car seats, would you buy that car seat?” “Of course not,” she replied. “What if it was the most beautiful, comfortable car seat in the world, really easy to carry around, easy to install, and your baby would just love sitting in it?” I continued. “No way,” she replied. “What would you say about a parent who did buy that car seat?” I asked. “I’d say they were making a poor decision.”
If your child died from a defective product you would never accept “children die in other car seats, too” as a rational explanation. You can’t when its preventable, and when its your child. It would haunt most people for the rest of their lives to know that they contributed to a death in an indirect manner, and yet lay midwives are unphased by the deaths in their communities.
If your child dies at an out of hospital birth you can expect the midwives to ignore you, ignore your empty arms and broken heart, in favor of covering up your child’s death so they can continue to make money off of others who were luckier. That’s what MANA (the lobbying group for midwives) did when they kept their mortality data secret until last year, and that is exactly what Utah midwives are attempting to do with this report. They don’t think you deserve to know. Your child won’t matter to them any more than the dead children in the health department report or the MANA stats. Why would your child matter to them more than anyone elses? The truth is that you are a customer and acting like they care is part of the job. Without out-of-hospital birth these “midwives” have no job because they aren’t qualified to work in a hospital. Their entire income is dependent on making sure women don’t know the facts.