Leaving your childbirth in the hands of the wrong midwife

Midwifery has a reputation of facilitating more natural, homeopathic childbirths. However, many midwives—operating legally in Michigan—actually lack the training to safely manage a childbirth.

One recent case involved a family in Romulus. The mother opted to give birth in her home, for which she sought the help of Helen Stockton—a midwife at Ann Arbor’s Mother Earth Midwifery. Stockton’s improper decision making during the childbirth cost the baby his life.

What went wrong

The baby boy was in frank breech position—a folded V-shape, with his legs and head both pointing upward and his buttocks facing the birthing canal. Such a position is highly dangerous for a delivery—and the midwife should have immediately taken the pregnant mother to the hospital.

Instead, she delivered the baby in this position—causing an otherwise healthy infant to suffer severe brain damage in the process. Three days later, the newborn passed away.

The family of the boy is suing for negligence over the wrongful death of their son. Brian McKeen is representing the family in the suit.

Preventable tragedy

Home deliveries are extremely risky. If something goes wrong, the life-saving medical resources offered in a hospital are simply not available.

In addition, it’s important to understand that the title of “midwife” is inexact. Some midwives are certified registered nurses, have Master’s degrees, work in hospitals and even train resident physicians. However, this is not the case across the board. Many midwives do not possess anything resembling this level of education or experience.

In Michigan—and many other states across the country—so-called “direct entry midwives” are unregulated. Such midwives can enter into the profession directly—without first undergoing any nursing training. Putting such a midwife in charge of a childbirth is hazardous—often resulting in serious birthing injuries including asphyxiation, brain damage and death.

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