Category Archives: vaccines

Gloria Lemay: pre-eclampsia is the mother’s fault

If you are unaware of Gloria Lemay, she was an illegal midwife in Canada who defied court injunctions that deemed her a danger to the public. She was involved in an infant death and subsequently sentenced to serve time in prison for her actions.

She still has quite a following in the world of Natural Child Birth, despite having no real qualifications and a ton of documented fuck ups to her name.

The most recent piece of idiocy can be seen on her facebook page. Here is the initial post:

gloria lemay 1

Gloria Lemay remarks that she would “love to see every baby in N America wearing this little message!” The message is “My mommy refused to induce me”. 

Some people rightly pointed out that there legitimate reasons to induce someone, such as pre-eclampsia, which can have serious health consequences (including death) if improperly managed. Here is Gloria’s reply:

gloria lemay 2“When a baby is at risk with “Pre-e” (pregnancy induced hypertension), what has been done to prevent the situation? Over and over, it has been shown that diet plays a key role.

 

The insistence that diet controls pre-eclampsia has absolutely no evidence behind it. A lot of women at the Pre Eclampsia foundation have a lot of anecdotal accounts of following the brewer diet religiously, and then ended up with the condition anyway. Some of them say they got pregnant again because they were confident they could beat pre eclampsia with diet, and in one case the mother almost died as a result. The idea that pre eclampsia is always a case of eating the “wrong” diet caused a lot of the moms on the forum to feel guilty. Lemay continues:

 

Then, if the situation is really out of control with high liver enzymes, is it a good plan to torture the woman/baby with an induction when you already have two ill patients? How is adding synthetic hormones to the situation going to help anything?

 

If you tell women that they are torturing their babies by inducing, you better have some damn good evidence. But there isn’t any. 

As for women being tortured by induction… that doesn’t seem to be what women actually say if you ask them about it.

 

 

There is a very high risk that the induction will end in c/s anyway. I would advise anyone in my own family to go straight to c/s in this situation, avoiding all the drugs, iv’s, of the induction.

 

C-sections include plenty of drugs and IV lines. I have no idea why she thinks she knows better than a physician about induction vs c/s for a case of pre-eclampsia. It is a complicated condition and the mode of delivery is chosen based on a number of different factors. Lemay talks about how horrible c-sections are all the time- perhaps she thinks a woman “deserves” a c-section for eating poorly? Its hard to know. There does seem to be a certain level of vitriol in her answer to a simple question.

 

Inductions are dangerous. Cesareans are dangerous. Ignoring sound dietary practice in pregnancy is dangerous.

 

Saying “x is dangerous” doesn’t really tell me anything about the danger. How dangerous is it? Are all three of those things equally dangerous? 

Lemay is again suggesting that mothers are to blame for eating poorly. I usually try to find a decent amount of evidence before blaming someone for a negative medical outcome. 

 

Birth is as safe as life gets. Medicine is for medical problems but it should be reserved for states of illness, not normal healthy women who have carried a baby to full term. “

 

“Birth is as safe as life gets” is bullshit. It can be pretty dangerous depending on what resources and technology you have available to you. Women still die all the time from complications of child birth, and women like Lemay are only able to ignore that because she is privileged enough to live in a place where obstetric care is very advanced and widely available. It is the same reason she can ignore the effectiveness of vaccination. 

Someone talked about how guilty this discussion made her feel, because she had been induced.

Here is Gloria Lemay’s response:

gloria lemay 3 After telling women they tortured their babies by inducing, which they obviously caused by poor diet or ignorance anyway, she decides to wash her hands of the obvious consequences of making these (extremely judgmental) statements. I don’t know how women are supposed to feel okay about torturing their babies, if they believe what Gloria Lemay has to say about it. In fact it seems pretty unethical of her to excuse people for baby torture, if she genuinely believes induction is an equivalent. 

The guilt heaped on mothers, regardless of the choices they make, is a symptom of a misogynistic society. It isn’t fair to women to add to that. 

 

The reason the #notburiedtwice campaign exists

The reason the #notburiedtwice campaign exists

I came across a link for a radio show called Progressive Parenting, which decided to discuss the Vickie Sorensen manslaughter case. They had someone from the human rights in childbirth campaign and Katie McCall of Our Sisters in Chains. These women are trying to bury the memory of the baby that died a preventable death in Utah, they are trying to make sure people do nothing in response to the deaths.

The focus of the show was how prosecution of midwives for attending preventable deaths would affect the community. There are a few major claims in the show that are questionable:

Claim #1 is that Doctors are never charged with manslaughter for killing a patient.

It took me one google to debunk that, there are many cases of physicians being charged with manslaughter when they have done something incredibly negligent. The reason that doctors or midwives are charged with manslaughter is that their negligence was so egregious that it could be considered criminal. I think it is safe to say home birth midwives are more likely to do something outrageously negligent because of their dogmatic belief system about the nature of birth combined with paranoia about being persecuted. The women on the show complain that physicians only have to worry about being sued, but are not in favor of mandatory insurance for midwives so that they too could “just” be sued in the case of a death. If midwives want to be sued instead of charged they should carry insurance. The ones with risky practices cannot secure insurance because insurance companies know the risk involved would make for a very high rate for services, and midwives cannot charge prices high enough to justify the insurance cost. Its common sense that if you do a risky job then you open yourself up to these problems, but midwives and natural childbirth advocates believe that they should be exempt from the rules that the rest of us have to play by. They want all the glory of being a physician without any of the responsibility, which leads me to the next claim.

Claim #2 is that home birth midwives are experts in vaginal birth and should be regarded as such by the medical community.

The women on the show praise Utah’s midwifery laws, despite the fact that you need no training or experience to become a home birth midwife in the state. They later refer to Utah as a ‘haven’ for midwives because the law is so lax. I don’t know how they can claim that our laws are great because they require nothing of people who want to practice home birth midwifery, but then demand that untrained or undertrained midwives be regarded as experts in childbirth. Physicians are sick and tired of cleaning up after the mistakes made by lay people and have a negative view of home birth midwives for a reason. I’ve noted before how a non-nurse midwife’s complete ignorance of electronic fetal monitoring makes them unable to detect distress patterns outside of brachycardia, and likely explains the wealth of intrapartum deaths that home birth midwives preside over that are completely unheard of in a hospital setting (the long labor, heart rate was fine, then suddenly the baby is dead story you’ve seen so many times before). The human rights in childbirth rep says that collegiality needs to be in place so that the midwife and hospital can trade info, but if you’ve read From Calling to Courtroom (the guide for home birth midwives to avoid liability) you know the standard advice to avoid liability is to make a chart in your own special code that only you understand.

Do not chart emergency medical procedures. Use a “made up” code that only YOU understand. Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you. I believe I was careful BEFORE I was prosecuted. I am even more careful now.

 

-Chapter 1 of From Calling to Courtroom

It is absolutely impossible to take information from someone in this profession seriously because there have been so many cases where home birth midwives lied to the hospital, EMTs, police, etc.

Claim #3 Anyone working with birth is bound to see a ‘bad outcome’.

Lets assume that by bad outcome they mean a newborn death, since that is the case being discussed on the show. Vickie Sorensen was a midwife for over 30 years, and has delivered ‘over 1000 babies” (according to her fundraiser page). Contrast that with an OBGYN, which would take about six years to get that number of births (delivering 140-180 or so babies a year). OBGYNs still manage to lose significantly fewer babies in the hospital despite taking on cases where newborn death can be expected.  It seems to me that if most OBGYNs were working at the same pace as home birth midwives, and could be as selective in choosing their patients, that they would be extremely unlikely to see an unexpected perinatal death. The culture of home birth has a creepy way of trying to normalize preventable newborn deaths as being unpreventable, but the numbers say something different. The vast majority of home birth deaths can be prevented.

Claim #4 There is an anti-home birth agenda that causes unmerited arrests of midwives and causes the media to falsely report information.

I’ve never actually seen a midwife be exonerated after being accused of manslaughter or homicide, so unless the agenda extends to juries its a bit hard to take seriously. A lot of evidence would need to be produced to support this claim, which is essentially a conspiracy theory to try and excuse the allegations against midwives. I’ve seen no evidence of it anywhere. It seems as though this would be a pretty low priority target, considering the minority of births are taking place out of hospitals. I’ve pointed out why I believe in the charges against VIckie Sorensen, and I talk specifics exactly because I know that these natural child birth advocates won’t. Its a manipulation tactic to keep things vague.

Claim # 5 The right of midwives to practice is about the right of women to choose when and how they give birth.

I find this incredibly dishonest and appropriative of legitimate feminist issues. This is and always has been about letting midwives do whatever they please without accountability. People who are actual feminists think that women deserve to have skilled birth attendants who can actually adequately explain risk vs benefit to them, not a bunch of anti-vaccine nutjobs who idealize the history of human child birth, despite its high mortality rate. Letting midwives get away with being unaccountable and untrained means that we are letting women fall into the trap of charlatans, and many of them are choosing home birth because of fear of hospitals or a lack of finances.

Claim# 6- if midwives have restrictions placed on them, women will have to choose between c-sections and unassisted birth.

Of course this is a false dichotomy, there is a lot of space between those two things. Many hospitals have tried to incorporate as many features of home birth as they can into birth centers attached to hospitals. You could have a vaginal unmedicated birth in a hospital.  Illegal home births attended by midwives happen all the time.

The claim here supposes that going unassisted is much worse than having a midwife, a claim that is false in many cases. Midwives have a mantra of ‘trust birth’, and it means that they are more likely to say that everything is fine when there is a real risk or a real problem happening. There have been many times where home birth midwives prevented transport or insisted it wasn’t needed while the patient knew that they needed urgent help. Midwives have a history of making things much worse than they needed to be.

six reasons you shouldn’t listen to the healthy home economist

I was linked to this article today, titled Six Reasons To Say NO to Vaccination. Its a stretch to call these ‘reasons’, but they are great examples of the kind of emotional decision making that is rampant in Natural Child Birth circles. Reason number one:

#1:   Pharmaceutical Companies Can’t Be Trusted

She goes on to list a bunch of things that pharmaceutical companies have done wrong. I agree that there are many problems with the pharmaceutical industry. That is not as evidence that vaccines are problematic.

Last time I went to Ikea I noticed a recall notice for a tea cup. Apparently it can explode if you put something too hot inside the cup.  It would not be reasonable to believe that the entire company makes dangerous products based off the recall of the cup. It would be even less reasonable to assume the entire industry was guilty by association, or that I should be fearful of teacups in general. Each claim and product can be evaluated on its own merit.

#2:   ALL Vaccines are Loaded with Chemicals and other Poisons 

Everything is a chemical. Literally. Its a meaningless descriptor in this context, so is the use of the word ‘poisons’.  She lists ingredients in vaccines, then lists a non-vaccine usage of the ingredient to prey on the fears of people who are ignorant of chemistry.  An ingredient having multiple uses does not prove that it is harmful or poisonous. She also ignores the issue of dosage- the ingredients she is describing are in extremely tiny quantities.

#3:   Fully Vaccinated Children are the Unhealthiest, Most Chronically Ill Children I Know

I don’t really care if the healthiest people I know are vaccinated or not, because it proves nothing about the truth of the matter. I care about finding tangible evidence of vaccines causing ill-health. That is why studies are performed on large numbers of people and with accountability for results and peer review- its what people do when they are interested in finding out the truth.

#4:   Other Countries Are Waking Up to the Dangers of Vaccines – 

If Other Countries jumped off a bridge, would you???

#5:   A Number of Vaccines Have Already Had Problems/Been Removed from the Market 

Again, every vaccine can be evaluated on its own merit. A problem with vaccine A does not mean vaccine B, C, D, etc have the same problem. There is a lot of black and white thinking going on in the post.

#6   You Can Always Get Vaccinated, But You Can Never Undo a Vaccination 

…but vaccines are a preventative measure, so you can’t always get vaccinated in time. There is also the fact that a lot of vaccines wear off and have to be given repeatedly to offer protection. That is a vaccine being ‘undone’ in the sense that it is no longer effective.

 

These are the same people who are constantly telling women to ignore their doctors advice, calling it ‘scare mongering’. Believing that there is a vast corporate and government conspiracy in place to sicken children for profit is seen as a legitimate fear, but contracting a preventable disease is not.  There is considerable overlap between people who are anti-vaccine and pro-natural child birth. This should be a huge red flag to anyone considering using direct entry midwives for their birth. They may believe that vaccines are poison and that they don’t need to be vaccinated (despite working around pregnant women and infants, who could be severely negatively impacted by contracting a disease like influenza or measles).  A midwife at the birth center I went to was not informed about vaccines and seemed to be against them, it was a nagging doubt that I should not have ignored.  It is further evidence that lay midwives are not medical professionals because they are ignorant of and in opposition to preventative medical care. Some will outright tell their patients not to vaccinate their children. Recommendations about vaccines are way outside the scope of practice for a direct entry midwife, so they should really stop.