Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Death of baby attended by unlicensed midwife exposes lack of qualified midwives in rural areas

The tragedy of the death of a baby whose delivery was being assisted by an unlicensed midwife in June in Washington highlights the risk of using midwives and the region's lack of such professionals, Sheila Hagar reports for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Walla Walla (Wikipedia map) has no licensed midwives, despite a population of more than 31,000 and a robust medical community.

"Gabriel Marin III was delivered stillborn June 15 at 4:15 a.m. at full term at Walla Walla General Hospital after complications arose during a home labor attended" by Oregon midwife Sherry Dress, according to the death certificate, Hagar writes. Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood "said he and others believe the infant would have lived if Dress had acted differently as she guided the labor."

"The cause of baby Gabriel’s death is listed as prolonged labor with fetal hypoxia, or inadequate oxygen," Hagar writes. "Other complications included the baby’s failure to descend through the mother’s pelvis during labor, plus too much carbon dioxide in his blood. Greenwood said the end came long after the beginning. Under Dress’ direction for most of the time, Magill labored about 55 hours at home before going to Walla Walla General Hospital for an emergency cesarean section. When the couple and Dress arrived at General Hospital, the unborn infant still had heart tones. The move to the hospital came at the insistence of Magill’s family." Greenwood told Hagar, "I think a normal midwife would have sent (Magill) to the hospital." Dress has yet to be charged with any crimes but is under investigation.

One of the problems is a lack of education about midwives, Hagar writes. When Sarah Magill and Gabe Marin hired Dress they did not know she had been barred from practicing in Washington two years earlier. "Magill said she wishes she knew before hiring Dress what she knows now about midwives and what to watch for, including if a midwife is in compliance with the law and is guided by health-care standards."

"In the U.S., two types of midwives are generally recognized under most state laws," Hagar writes. "Certified nurse midwives are trained in nursing, often at advanced practice levels, and in midwifery. They typically work in a hospital setting. Licensed direct-entry midwives, sometimes called lay midwives, train through a midwifery school, apprenticeship or self-study. They work in homes or independent birth centers." (Read more)


Anonymous said...

Sheri Dress is a wonderful midwife who has delivered more babies than Ina May Gaskin. To my knowledge, this is the first baby she has ever lost. I am curious that any hospital has anywhere near as low of a mortality rate that she does. Losing a baby in birth is terribly sad. It is only natural to direct that pain to someone or something else, possibly the midwife in attendance. Sheri may or may not have made the right choice but she is not a bad midwife, nor does she exemplify why midwives are so allegedly dangerous. Birthing has and always will have the dangers of the possible loss of both mom and baby. Tragic though it may be, this deep rooted sense of struggle gives meaning and strength to our species. I would encourage anyone doubting the capabilities and safety of their midwife to check her record against that of a prospective hospital and to rationally examine and think through what they might expect from a hospital birthing experience vs. a midwife birthing experience.

Anonymous said...

Sherry has lost more than this darling baby. She has been telling her other clients that it is not her fault, because I honestly don't think she sees it as her doing. Midwives are not dangerous; prideful midwives who mistake the signs of a distressed baby for a tired mom are dangerous. She must be stopped.

Gabriel said...

You, along with others are so ignorant. Go tell that to any parent who loses their child and look them in the eye. From just reading your comment you are just a cowardly person who wouldn't have the guts to tell that family your little statement. Its a good thing you kept your name anonymous 'cause that just proves how cowardly you are. Midwives still need medical help and there may be good midwives but people need to know the greater risk of a home birth. A midwife should be held responsible. I am guessing very few will actually accept a heavy penalty. Your little comment t says and does nothing about people who have lost their child. Tragic? is that the best word you have? Tragic? is that what you think this family feels? YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT TRAGIC FEELS!!! You are an idiot to think that this baby was the first to pass away. There have been others who passed at the hands of Sherri. Come at me with some more of your little comments because in real life you are a pathetic person who acts tough online and if you were to ever know who I am and why I am leaving this message on this article I would crush you and who ever stands in my face and tells that crap.