Tag Archives: accountability

Does your midwife have blood on her hands?

Many home birth midwives have the nerve to crowd source their patient care decisions online, and in one known case a child died as a result. Gavin Michael died after Jan Tritten, editor of the trade magazine Midwifery Today (and a former midwife herself), helped another midwife (Christy Collins CPM) crowdsource a post dates baby with zero amniotic fluid.

The thread was captured online and saved to a word document, but its contents are not found by search engines. I thought I would do the world a favor and put the name and location of each person complacent in this death up on this blog, where prospective clients can find it and perhaps question these women about their role in Gavin Michael’s death. This is also an opportunity for anyone listed to take responsibility for their role.  If you want to search this post press control and the F key at the same time and type your midwife’s name. I’m doing my best to only post information I can trace directly back to the facebook thread but I’m only human, so if you notice a mistake feel free to leave a comment and I will investigate/issue retractions as needed. I am posting their pictures in case any of them decide to change their name or go by a different name- its common in the home birth industry to do so in order to evade responsibility.

First up is the midwife that sent the question, Christy Collins CPM (who was prosecuted in California and then moved to Nevada in order to avoid regulation)

.christy collins cpm

I would list Jan Tritten but she is no longer practicing (thank god).

The first comment on facebook encouraging Christy to forgo medical intervention is from Wanda Smith, LDEM CPM from Virginia. Here is her comment and photo:

wanda smith virginia cpm“absolutely no experience with “0″ fluid, but have had two go quite over with very low fluid (under 5), one was 18 days over, quite uneventful home birth, and one was 19 days over with heavy mec and true knot, that did give a us a little trouble, but she stilled birthed vaginally”

From what I can tell this is all illegal for licensed midwives in the state of Virginia. You can find her info at Gentle Birth Roanoke. WANDA SMITH, you have blood on your hands. You played with your patient’s life and instead of counting yourself lucky for having live babies and mothers you encouraged another midwife to play your game. Shame on you for bragging about risking patients lives and well being.

Next is Sharon Schlicher, Oklahoma “tradional” Midwife. She routinely posts from a facebook account for Thomas McGregor but signs all her posts and all of them appear to be the same person. Here is her advice for the family of the (now deceased) baby in clear medical danger:

I caught a baby with zero amniotic fluid years ago before routine ultrasounds. She did have membranes that HAD to be broken, they were incredibly tough, that’s how I know she had zero water. Birth was uneventful but baby had a major birth defect and was referred to children’s hospital for eval and surgery. Sharon Schlicher, Oklahoma Midwife

Sharon Schlicher oklahoma

She works at Spirit Within Homebirth Services. They do not have website however so she may not be working under that company name for long.

Christy Fiscer, lay midwife, of Ivins Utah had this to say:

Fluid level readings can, and often are highly inaccurate at this point… yet often used now as indication for intervention. Can you FEEL fluid during palpation, or does baby have a “plastic wrapped” feel?

Just had a friend diagnosed with ZERO fluid, yet somehow had plenty when SROM took place less than 2 days later.

cristy fiscer utah

When I was looking for her picture I found a post of hers asking other midwives advice on attending high risk out of hospital births. She learned nothing from participating in this preventable tragedy. She works at Birthkeeper midwifery in utah. Shame on you for not recommending immediate transport and monitoring of a baby experiencing medically emergent issues.

Del Balgas, California based Lm Cpm proves that the certification process for non-nurse midwives is useless. Look at her comment about the emergency:

 I had this happen not low fluid no fluid . Where did it go?

del balgas cpm california

Why should she be allowed to deliver babies if she doesn’t know where amniotic fluid “goes”? I am glad she was honest enough to admit that she didn’t know any answers, but I wish she were honest enough with herself about her qualifications to stop delivering babies.

She is able to practice in California and Arizona.

Alison Reid, a midwife from Australia, said this:

There is evidence to say that AFIs are often inaccurate. Is the baby moving well? Can the outline of the baby be seen clearly (which can mean little liquor)? Could the mother be leaking fluid and unaware (it happens). If baby is happy, get her to take precautions against infection and wait. I would listen to the mother.

Listening to the mother wouldn’t work because the mother was relying on her midwife, who was relying on facebook of all places for advice. Alison works at Brisbane Midwife in Australia.

alison reid

A doula named Erika Laquer had a lot of suggestions (none of which included getting real medical attention):

Try a very good acupuncturist and midwife-friendly massage therapist and refer in a day or 2.

The baby didn’t make it that long. Doulas are not medically trained at all.

erika laquer midwife MA

Erika provides doula services in western Massachusetts under the company name Better Beginnings for Birth.

Zuki Abbot-Zamora is a birth guru who works out of Boulder, Colorado. Her advice?

I would respect leaving things alone, and just because you cannot ‘see’ fluid does not mean there is none. I have seen babies come with as little as a tsp of fluids and be just fine.

Zuki sells a book and seems to let people give birth on her property by word of mouth but doesn’t advertise her services in a conventional sense.

zuki abbott-zamora guru colorado

Celesta Rinnisi, a midwife from San Diego, simply said “cell salts”. I don’t know what those are but I know its not a hospital, and that is what the baby and mother desperately needed.

celesta rinnisi midwife california

Celesta owns A Celebration of Birth and Life, a birth center. 

Mary Bernabe is a CPM that delivers babies in the pacific north west. Here is her advice:

Leave her be. I’ve had 3 bbs like that and all were just fine. Didn’t know till the birth though. All 3 were out of water births so I know for sure there was no fluid. Bbs did great and so did moms. Placentas were normal and healthy looking. She’ll go into labor when it’s time.

this is unfortunately the best picture I could find of her:

mary bernabe oregon

she seems to only serve extremely religious christian clients and has no website.

Kathy L Mcrae was (is?) a doula in Michigan. Her advice?

Has she tried stevia to possibly increase the fluid?

kathy mcrae doula

Jennifer Holshoe, Grand Rapids ICAN chapter leader and childbirth educator suggested homeopathy:

try a 1m dose of Natrum Muriaticum homeopathic to balance fluid levels. I have seen it work with one dose

She uses tumblr to get clients in Michigan.

Sherri Holley is a midwife and a natural childbirth activist out of Dallas, Oregon. Like an above poster she lacked basic knowledge about the physiology of pregnancy, and suggested to use homeopathy (‘nat. mur’ is shorthand for a supplement):

there has to be some water or her baby would get baby out. If there was no water, the cord would have been compromised and would have gone into fetal distress. I agree with the Nat. Mur.

These women had the opportunity to urge for emergent intervention but lacked the knowledge (or perhaps caring) to do so. Would your midwife have done the same thing, if this had been your baby? You wouldn’t know until after it had happened, and crowdsourcing is the norm for midwives, not the exception.


midwives threaten a loss parent because an unrelated blogger talked about his loss

A new low. WeMidwives has threatened to report a loss parent to their employer. Did he say something horrible that his employer would care about? Was he threatening or inappropriate? Nope!

In fact, they are reacting in such a way because a totally different person, blogger Dr Amy Tuteur wrote about his loss.

Shame on all of you.

Following In Dr. Biter’s footsteps

A North Carolina physician is being investigated after having presided over 3 home birth fatalities.

In a statement issued through his attorney Friday, Dr. John David Hayes also said families of the babies have continued to support him.

Of course they do, most people choose birth providers specifically because they trust them. It is terrifying to think that someone you trusted hurt you unnecessarily. The article actually notes that the information came from an unnamed source and that details of the deaths will never be released. Someone saw a pattern and spoke up out of concern for other people, and I commend them for doing so. The fear of repercussion or being ignored is very daunting when deciding to report other people for misconduct.

Dr Hayes expects to be cleared of wrongdoing. I do not expect that for him. Most obstetricians lose one full term baby that was otherwise expected to live in their entire careers, and he has lost 3 in 10 years. At least that is if you believe that he was only taking low-risk patients, which seems to be the only possible way for him to excuse taking a patient for home birth to begin with. His arguments are nonsensical in some portions of the article:

“I expect that after a thorough and impartial investigation, all of my home birth practices will be found to be within the standard of care for an obstetrician in North Carolina,” he said.

Home birth is not the standard of care for any obstetrician. The standard of care for obstetrics involves having ready access to blood transfusions and an operating room, something no home birth can offer without an unacceptably long transfer period. That is why ACOG and virtually every obstetrician discourages out of hospital birth for patients. Most pediatricians discourage home birth as well, on the basis of having treated so many brain damaged patients who were hurt by their parent’s decision to home birth.

However, as Dr Hayes and a few notable exceptions prove (Dr. Biter, and non-OBGYNs Aviva Romm, Dr Sears, and the late Marsden Wagner) an adequate education is not always enough to protect doctors from believing in quackery.

For those who are unaware, Dr Biter is another male OB who was dead set on home birth and insisted on its safety. Unlike dr Hayes, Dr Biters patients did complain in the form of a lawsuit. Dr Biter ultimately surrendered his medical license in light of the fact that he botched a home birth and killed someone’s child. He later decided to open a birth center as a non-physician, until social media pressure caused it to close. Dr Biter has also been the subject of sexual complaints, having taken advantage of the dr-patient relationship in order to obtain sexual favors from his patients. He is very scummy.

Many people who are aware of the debate about malpractice reform know that a minority of doctors are usually responsible for the majority of malpractice claims. When your doctor swims against the current in their speciality it is very difficult to know if it is because they are ahead of their time or because they are quacks. This I know for sure- there are far more doctors who succumbed to quackery than those who were ahead of their time. Be careful.

Midwife kills mother and baby: has moved overseas and is still practising

I found a report of a out-of-hospital death in New Zealand. A mother with multiple risk factors was attempting a water birth when she collapsed. The baby and the mother both died as a result. The coroner has pointed out that the deaths could have been prevented at multiple points in the care being given, but that the midwife’s training and experience was inadequate for her to even recognize what happened.

The typical building blocks of a charlatan are present:

When giving evidence for the coroner’s inquest, the [midwife] came across as “confident, capable, intelligent and articulate”, the findings said. “If she had a fault it was an overweening confidence in her own ability.”

The court heard she was “very well regarded” and had worked hard to re-establish her professional reputation.

The midwife who was lead maternity carer has moved overseas and is still practising.

Is this your midwife? You’ll never know. There is a permanent supression order that bars the press from mentioning her name. Having killed a few people doesn’t seem to have dampened her enthusiasm for delivering babies. After all, she is a confident person.

The other midwives in New Zealand are not using the coroner’s recommendations about midwifery education to prevent the next tragedy, instead they are digging themselves in deeper by dismissing his criticisms altogether.

[The coroners]’ comments came after his provisional findings were sent to the Midwifery Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand College of Midwives.

[The coroner] slammed remarks made by Karen Guilliland from the New Zealand College of Midwives who accused the court of relying on ill-informed medical opinion.

Similarly, [the coroner] said although the Midwifery Council of New Zealand criticised his findings, they did not provide an alternative explanation for the “errors of judgement and failures to follow proper midwifery practice that occurred in this case”.

It is the same story I have seen all over, midwives have a craven disregard for the deaths of people at home births. They cannot accept responsibility or a change in their natural child birth dogma, so they simply reject any information that could be used to help future cases. This is the opposite of a profession.

name changes for negligent midwives

The skeptical OB has an article up about negligent midwives changing their names as to deceive their customers.

It happened to me, too. Ester Werbach now goes by “Nueve Lunas Maternity” on the internet. The Utah Midwive’s Association is well aware of it, and my complaints of sexual misconduct, and continue to support my abuser. They don’t care.

These types of actions also make it impossible for women to research their care provider. If you have a health care provider that has killed negligently, had their license suspended, or otherwise been reprimanded their patients have a right to know. Midwives rob women of the opportunity to know what they are getting into.

My original blog is back up

It has the story of my experience at a birth center with lay midwives. There was a CNM at one of the checks and she was professional.

There is also a lot of information about how little the natural child birth community did in response to my complaints. I literally complained of sexual misconduct and no one who could do something about this felt the need to do anything. They want to sweep my story under the rug instead of dealing with it. They don’t want people to know what they will tolerate from other midwives. I thought that what I went through was the worst thing, but then I began to read about how women who lost their babies to negligence go through the same thing. Midwives support each other so much more than the people who get hurt by their natural childbirth ideology.

The blog was down because of an attempt at mediation with better birth of utah, but it looks like its not going to happen. 

What happened to me has made me stronger. It has made me an advocate for change. I know for a fact that my shame on better birth blog and my safer midwifery utah blog are making midwives fear that their scam will be exposed to the public. I have emboldened public officials to take a stand against unlicensed midwifery, and for that I will likely be taken to court for defamation. I’m willing to fight in order to tell my story.

Thank you to everyone who has shown me support.

UK midwives insult a father whose son died from negligence

I point out the difference in training between nurse midwives and lay midwives often, and there is a difference in that nurse midwives have more training and more accountability. I would say that on average there is a big difference in practices and attitude as well, but of course there are horror stories about CNMs just like any other profession. The common thread seems to be Natural Child Birth (NCB) advocacy.

Here is one such story from the UK, where there have been many problems because of midwives pushing vaginal birth no matter what, and otherwise discouraging any intervention during births. The father who lost his son to negligence is treated like an inconvenience, as an unimportant voice, in the natural birth debate. We should be listening to those who paid the price for ideology based decisions. That is the only way to learn from the past.