A Near-Death Birthing Story Leads To Near-Death of Natural Birthing


Hi All,

I wanted to comment on an article in The New York Times Magazine entitled ‘A Near-Death Birthing Story’.  Lisa Belkin has started a dialogue between mothers and will publish women’s stories as Parenting Adventures called Motherload.   What I am concerned with is the fact that women may come in droves to tell their horror stories, such as the one told in this article.  It was by a healthy women, Catherine Saint Louis, who was planning to have a natural birth in the hospital, but initially thought of having it at home.  She ended up with HELLP syndrome which is basically high blood pressure and blood clotting problems, it is quite severe, and does not happen often.

Ms St Louis continues on about how she is lucky to be alive, which she is, but puts it all down to the fact that she was in the hospital!  All the comments after this article are about other womens horror stories, which proves my point that when women share negative then all the negative comes up.  How does this woman know that if she had a homebirth then she would have died??

As a midwife, it is imperitive that we know where to draw the line and call for help.  We know what is normal and we definately know when there is even the slightest warning that all is not well.  A few comments posted after this article were right on the mark, a comment by Frances Smith, states that any competent homebirth midwife or doula would have taken Ms Saint Louis’ blood pressure very early on in the proceedings, and would have immediately transported her to the hospital. Choosing to go to the hospital before she knew about her pre-eclampsia was not what saved her life – the hospital saved her life, and would have done so whether she got there on her own instincts or on her midwife’s insistance.

My main message is that this story should not scare women into having a hospital birth and to have faith in your midwife as they are trained for this event.  In every pregnancy education class, the midwfie is very clear on the early warning signs of impending problems.  Ms St Louis’ swollen ankles were the very first sign of blood pressure problems and her midwife would have known this very common fact. 

Women of the world, trust in your instincts and follow your dream, don’t let other people’s stories scare you into a place that you are not comfortable in.  Birth your baby where and however you want.  If you want to read more about staying positive during your pregnancy then I have written an article, Natural Birth – How Do You Stay Positive?   Have a read and let me know what you think.

Take care,



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