A recent op-ed in the New York Times took a look at the interesting topic of home births, specifically the risks involved. As the article points out, very few American women opt for home births, and those that do take a risk in doing so, both for themselves and for their child. From the perspective of standard medical practice home birth is considered to be dangerous, particularly for women prone to complications.
That being said, the research shows that one of the major factors which makes home birth so risky is the lack of training among midwives. This is not at all to say that midwives are generally incompetent, but that not all midwives are created equal. Those who receive less training present more risk for patients, particularly women at high risk of complication.
Generally speaking, midwife certification comes in two basic categories. Midwives who are designated as certified nurse midwives (C.N.M.) are held to higher standards than those designated as certified professional midwives (C.P.M.). The latter often receive little training and education in comparison and this is where the risk comes in.
At present, 28 states permit certified professional midwives to provide services. In states where certified professional midwives are not allowed to practice, one of the risks is that the practitioner makes a mistake and then fails to call for emergency help for fear of being punished. Every so often, a headline comes out with this fact pattern, and this is certainly unfortunate for everybody involved, especially the patient.
In our next post, we’ll take a brief look at how the state of New York regulates midwives, and how an experienced attorney can help those who are harmed by a negligent midwife.