Midwives and Home Birth

Hands holding tummy of a pregnant lady

For many mothers, midwives and home births are a very appealing alternative to a standard, hospital birth. In fact, the number of out-of-hospital births has increased by 78% between 2004 and 2014. A major reason why more mothers are opting out of traditional hospital births and pregnancy care is because they don’t trust the hospital, or think things the hospital does are unnecessary. But out of 79,727 births examined in 2012 and 2013, the ratio of deaths per capita of planned out-of-hospital births was more than double that of hospital births. If you’re considering a midwife or home birth, take these concerns into account.

Have you been injured as a result of medical malpractice? Every Indiana medical malpractice lawyer at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has experience and can help you explore your options.

Adhering to Regulations and Codes of Conduct

Even though midwives operate outside of a medical facility, they must still adhere to medical codes of conduct and government regulations. While many mothers wish for a more natural, private pregnancy and childbirth, regulations and codes are in place to ensure that all medical OBs and childbirth professionals are held accountable for the quality of their care. These policies aim to ensure safe, medically sound childbirth and pregnancy, and protect mothers and babies from medical malpractice.

Mothers should undergo regular tests and ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy to keep a close eye on how the baby is developing and detect any medical needs it might have. A midwife isn’t able to see through the belly and understand everything that is going on in the womb, so it’s important that mothers attend regular appointments at a medical facility to have ultrasounds and testing. Midwives should maintain detailed records of visits and services they perform during their care to ensure that there is a recorded history of care.

When Home Births Should Be Avoided

Some situations simply aren’t meant for home births. While a midwife might have some necessary tools and resources available during a home birth, some complications call for more. As a mother, these are signs that a home birth may not be a safe choice:

  • You have a chronic condition, like diabetes, chronic hypertension, a seizure disorder, or any other conditions that require medication.
  • You’ve had a C-section.
  • Complications have arisen during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or the baby is in a breech position.
  • The birth comes less than 37 weeks into pregnancy or after 41 weeks.

These are all conditions that might require more resources and special instruments during the birth than a home can contain.

Red Flags During Childbirth

If you’ve already experienced an out-of-hospital childbirth with a midwife and something went wrong, it’s important to understand that you have rights. In some scenarios, midwives might make a decision in an effort to provide a safer, successful childbirth, but might not follow safest practices. There are many situations in which a medical professional might need to make an on-the-spot decision to ensure safe and successful delivery; however, any decisions made should include the mother. A midwife might make these decisions without having the necessary authority, and in the event that a childbirth isn’t successfully managed, these decisions can play a role in the general outcome of the delivery itself. Some signs of concern may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The midwife performs an episiotomy (a small vaginal cut) without consent.
  • The midwife asks for any individuals present to remove themselves from the birthing area or to turn away from the birthing.
  • The midwife cannot reasonably answer questions about pregnancy or the birthing process.

While every midwife must be licensed in order to legally perform their duties and deliver babies, they often work on their own, which can provide an environment where the midwife operates on their own ideas of how childbirth should be performed. In some cases, midwives might make mistakes that lead to injured babies, mothers, or worse, because they chose not to follow legal guidelines due to their personal opinions.

Above everything, the safety or both mother and baby should be the most important factor to consider when planning and preparing a home birth. Midwives are legally certified, but aren’t always equipped to handle the job should it need extra medical attention. 

Have you been injured as a result of medical malpractice? Every Indiana medical malpractice lawyer at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has experience and can help you explore your options.