I was so sorry to read of Jenifer Holloman’s loss of her son in Catherine Elton’s Globe Magazine article (“Her Home-Birth Battle,” July 10). Her decision to push for midwife regulation in Massachusetts is exactly right! A home birth with a highly trained and competent midwife can be as safe as a hospital birth and should be available for women who want it. However, with no oversight, some midwives take dangerous risks to try to keep mothers at home. My daughter-in-law almost had a home birth with an overconfident midwife who also failed to catch an infection. The midwife told her that she should stay home after her water broke to add time, so that the baby would be “less premature.” Thank goodness my daughter-in-law went to the hospital instead, received IV antibiotics, and gave birth to a healthy, though premature, baby. When I contacted state health agencies and my state representatives to express my outrage and call for action, there was little they would do. The problem seems to be powerful insurance companies, doctors’ groups,and hospitals that fear increased liability and a loss of income. Many very experienced health care providers, in all specialties, face emergency situations that sometimes result in tragedy. In any challenging medical circumstance, it is some consolation to feel as if every intervention that could have been done was done. For midwives, better training, minimum standards of preparation, and education will broaden resources to prevent and reduce tragedies. Distance and travel time to the closest hospitals and available ambulance service should also be considered when allowing a midwife to attend a birth. If people are really serious about reducing health care costs, keeping mothers with low-risk pregnancies at home will ultimately save everyone money. Thank you to Jenifer Holloman for standing up for what she believes in. I’m with her all the way!
Andrea E. Green / Ashland
I am in no way an advocate of home births, though my daughter had a successful one three years ago. Yet hospital births can be just as uncertain and unsafe as home births. When pregnant with my first child I was allowed to go three days after my water broke; I was finally admitted when it was shown I had a fever and the baby was in distress. My second pregnancy was allowed to go three weeks past my due date until the obstetrician from a very reputable clinic in Honolulu decided that it was time to induce the birth. I was told by our pediatrician that, had the pregnancy gone longer, the baby would have started to deteriorate. It shows there can be risks wherever you choose to have a baby.
Elizabeth Miller / Eliot, Maine
The United States, despite all of its tools, tubes, drugs, chemicals, machines, caesarean operations, and doctors at birth -- or maybe because of them -- ranks number 46 in the world for infant mortality. What happened with the Hollomans is a truly tragic incident with an experienced, caring midwife. If you query just about any obstetrician in the country, you will find that he/she, too, has lost a baby despite his/her best efforts. Having spent almost four decades researching and writing about birth in this culture, having coined the term “VBAC,” having worked with many thousands of women who have had previous caesareans, and having had a home-birth VBAC many years ago myself, I know that most women are better off — and safest — seeing midwives and staying at home to birth.
Nancy Wainer, CPM / Needham
As an operating-room nurse I’ve seen Murphy’s Law in action more times than not. A number of problems can arise that leave only minutes for the medical team to act. A baby’s life is more important than parents being able to say they had an at-home delivery. Babies about to be born should have every bit of medical equipment available to them, and every parent should be grateful for its availability. They owe it to their newborn. Third World countries can only wish for such personnel and equipment.
Marsha Simmler, RN / Franklin