A Maryland jury made history by awarding Enso Martinez and Rebecca Fielding $55 million dollars but there are no winners in this tragedy. Enso Martinez Jr. has irreversible brain damage and Johns Hopkins Hospital will spend resources that could be used for research for direct patient care, to defend their care of Fielding.
Home birth in the U.S. has increased by 20% in part, because of Ricki Lakes documentary, The Business of Being Born. Women want to have their babies at home despite the admonishment and warnings from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. To all pregnant moms who want to have their babies at home, I get it. I truly do. You want a comfortable intimate environment to have what you deem is a natural event without unnecessary intervention. You want to be like the celebrities who have had successful home deliveries. But heres the problem: your home is not equipped to deal with emergencies and they DO occur. Just ask celebrity mom Christine Turlington Burns, who experienced a postpartum hemorrhage and had to be rushed to the hospital in order to save her life. Obstetrics is a specialty of the unexpected. You MUST be prepared for emergencies.
Fielding entered Johns Hopkins Hospital because the baby was stuck. The midwife couldnt delivery more than likely because either the baby was too large or she couldnt manage a shoulder dystocia. According a blogger, Dr. Amy Tuteur, Midwife Evelyn Muhlhans license was suspended because of five homebirth disasters including Fieldings delivery.
An ambulance brought Fielding to a hospital where she allegedly waits for over 2 hours for blood test results. A c. section is delayed. A baby has brain damage. Take home message?
1. Know your midwifes professional record. Does she have malpractice suits? Has she been sanctioned by the state medical board for negligence?
2. Meet your midwifes ob-gyn back-up. The Smart Mothers Guide to a Better Pregnancy discusses this in detail. At the first sign of trouble, Muhlhan should have contacted her ob backup. If she did have one, she was begging for trouble.
3. Have a PERSONAL copy of your prenatal chart with you and your back-up hospital or birthing center should have a copy as well. This is standard prenatal procedures. Having a homebirth doesnt change that. Your prenatal record contains all of the important information including blood type and blood count. No one, I repeat NO ONE, is going to bring you into the operating room without knowing your blood type unless you are hemorrhaging to death. Had Fielding had a copy of her prenatal record, she might not have encountered the delay.
If youre going to have a homebirth, then please take the necessary precautions. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.