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Weighing the Risks of a Midwife Birth

A local NBC News affiliate is reporting about a Florida couple who recently reunited with the rescuers who saved the life of their newborn infant. The family decided to give birth in their home, using the services of a midwife. During the delivery, it was discovered that the baby was presenting in a breech position, with the feet entering the birth canal first. Though the midwife was reportedly able to facilitate some of the delivery, the baby became stuck towards the end. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, emergency services were contacted. Rescuers arrived on time and completed the delivery, but the baby was unconscious at birth. For more than a minute, rescuers worked to resuscitate her before she finally came to and began to cry.

Though this story ended happily, midwife assisted at-home births don’t always end in a positive manner. According to a recent article in Time magazine, the death rate among American midwives who preside over home births ranks between three and nine times higher than births occurring within a medical center or hospital. Additionally, Midwives Alliance of America reported a 450 percent increase in the risk of perinatal death among births performed at home and the rate of anoxic brain injuries is reportedly 18 times higher.

The Adequacy of Training

Midwifery and home births are championed and encouraged in many European countries, including the United Kingdom. However, a vast difference exists between the level of midwife training in America and parts of Europe. In the United Kingdom, midwives must complete a centralized training program and certification process before practicing independently. This promotes sufficient education and training.

Midwife training in the United States is generally undertaken in two ways. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) must complete a battery of training courses and examinations to earn their credentials. By comparison, Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) complete correspondence courses, often over the internet. As asserted in the Times article, CPM training pales in comparison to the training midwives receive in all other industrialized nations.

In Florida, it is a felony to practice midwifery without a valid license and the state only certifies CNMs to legally practice. While many of these professionals take extra care to ensure the safety of the mother and baby, midwives can become negligent in their duties, causing injury to a mother or infant. The added danger of a home birth is the absence of readily available emergency equipment and procedures. When emergency situations arise in a hospital setting, life saving measures are quickly available. With home births, the mother and infant may require transport to a hospital or have to wait for the arrival of emergency responders, which can result in the loss of valuable time.

Our Attorneys Can Help

Any birthing injury can prove physically, mentally and financially devastating. If you or your newborn was injured during a West Palm Beach home birth, our experienced personal injury attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associate, P.A. are here to help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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