New Moms

Homebirth Advocates Endanger Babies' Lives

| by The Skeptical OB

Homebirth advocates are like celebrity pundits. TV and print pundits make predictions about elections, stock market behavior, and the expected results of international diplomacy, yet they never, ever review whether their predictions were correct. That would be embarrassing since they are often wrong. Instead they simply move on to new predictions.

Homebirth advocates go them one better. They do review their decisions and improbably declare that the wrong decisions were actually right, or right at the time, or right because it wouldn't have made any difference. It does not matter how spectacularly wrong they were; they stubbornly, pigheadedly, childishly insist that they were right.

Consider this discussion on the website of celebrity homebirth advocate Ricki Lake.

Amie writes:

Hello ladies, I am 41 + 1 today and my midwife has suggested that I see her OB for induction. I have no effacement, no dilation and the baby has not completely dropped so she feels that it is in my best interest to have a hospital birth. I have been taking orally and inserting the prime rose, walking, having lots of sex and have taken castor oil and nothing has helped. I am not comfortable with being medically induced but would rather try that then have a repeat cesarean... I still want to stay far away from an epidural but am afraid that the pitocin will make the contractions too powerful and will limit me to my bed.

Here are the replies.


... I also was overdue with my VBAC attempt (41 wks 3 days) and induced with pitocin. But my body wasnt ready, and I had another csection for failure to progress. If you and baby are fine, refuse intervention...


You may not be "41 weeks" exactly. And 40 is only an average. All of my babies were born at 41.5 weeks; dates based on ultrasound measurements in early pregnancy. I was 44 weeks according to the calendar...


... My mother was over 44 weeks when she had my sister (he first birth), she was 43 weeks when she gave birth to me and 41 weeks when she had my younger sister. So women just carry longer and it's completely natural...


... Induction itself is a slippery slope to many, many medical interventions including c-sec. It keeps your body from going through the natural chemical process that helps you handle the pain...

Trust you body, follow your intuition. I am sending you lots of "labor dust" :)


Instead of addressing the real issue, the increased risk of stillbirth as a pregnancy advances, the replies offer such gems of wisdom as 'I ignored my doctor and my baby didn't die' and 'maybe you are not really postdates.' Of course no homebirth "advice" would be complete with the immature magical thinking that is intrinsic to homebirth advocacy: 'follow your intuition.'

Amie responds:

Thank you so much for all of the info. I honestly feel like he is not ready and all of my castor oil milkshakes and walking are not helping because of that fact...

Amie's update 42+1 weeks:

Well the OB appt went well, I had an NST and an ultrasound. The fluid levels still look good and the heartbeat was beautiful... I have an appt on Thursday with the midwife and hopefully I will have some dilation by that point. Thank you for all of your encouragement, it has really helped me.

Amie's update 43 weeks:

My son Evan was still born by cesarean section... OB said that the cord had clotted and was in knots. It has been a very hard time for me as I am second guessing all the decisions I made throughout the pregnancy...


It is appropriate that Amie is second guessing her decisions since her decisions directly led to the preventable death of her baby. She was told that she was at increased risk for a stillbirth and she ignored that information.

What about the folks at Ricki Lake's website who "advised" her. They're not second guessing their "advice" at all. They appear to be delusional.


... I am glad that you know you are not to blame, and are not wasting time and energy on second-guessing your decisions.


... You did and fought for, what you knew in your heart, to be the best path and never second guess that.


... please don't blame yourself in any way, you did what any other Mom would have done!


Only among homebirth advocates is the road to death "the best path" and the choices that led to that death "what any other Mom would have done."

Here's a bit of unsolicited advice: When the baby dies after you tell someone that their baby won't die, have the decency to be embarrassed. You've already demonstrated that you were spectacularly wrong. Don't compound it by pretending, against all the evidence, that you were right.