Monday, April 7, 2014

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean



You are reading Part 4 of my MANA study series. Click to view:

MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

****

For today's post I am discussing VBAC, HBAC and the MANA study outcomes for HBACs. Let's first lay out the different acronyms:

VBAC -- Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

HBAC -- Home Birth After Cesarean

TOLAC -- Trial Of Labor After Cesarean

ERCD -- Elective Repeat Cesarean Delivery

RCS -- Repeat Cesarean Section

TOLAC refers to all women who have had a previous cesarean section (or more than one) who attempt a vaginal birth. The outcome for TOLAC may be vaginal birth (VBAC) or it may be repeat cesarean section. TOLAC therefore includes outcomes for both.

ERCD refers to all women who decided to forgo an attempt at vaginal birth. ERCD is a bit of a deceiving term. While a cesarean section in this group is labeled as “elective” it also includes women who medically needed cesarean sections for reasons aside from having a previous cesarean section (which would mean it is not actually an elective cesarean section). Because women with chronic illnesses, or other such medical contraindications for TOLAC, are lumped into the ERCD group, the risks of ERCD tend to be overestimated.


**** 

I'm briefly going to discuss various aspects surrounding VBAC before discussing the startling increased risk for babies born at home to mothers attempting a HBAC.


Why VBAC?

Because cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery, with risks that increase with each cesarean section (6), an attempt to have a VBAC is an option many women consider. When TOLAC ends in vaginal birth, it is associated with the least amount of complications.(4) According to ACOG, "Most women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low-transverse incision are candidates for and should be counseled about VBAC and offered TOLAC."(4)


Vaginal Delivery Rate for TOLAC

According to ACOG, 60-80% of women who attempt a VBAC will deliver their baby vaginally.(4) A study by Guise J-M, et al. has it narrowed down further, stating that 74% of women attempting VBAC will deliver vaginally.(2)


Risk of Uterine Rupture

The risk of uterine rupture is often the primary concern for women with a previous cesarean section. The rate of uterine rupture for a woman with one or more prior cesarean sections is 0.5% to 2%.(3) For a woman with one low transverse scar who spontaneously goes into labor on her own has a risk closer to 0.5% of uterine rupture (0.5% = 5 per 1000 = 1 per 200).(2, 3)

The uterine rupture risk of “1 in 200” is the statistic most commonly quoted but as you can see, it is not all-encompassing. Not every woman facing an attempted VBAC or HBAC will have a 1 in 200 chance of uterine rupture, rather the 1 in 200 chance of uterine rupture is the lower threshold. While induction may increase risk of rupture, it is not true that use of induction agents is the only thing that may increase risk of rupture. Location of scar noticeably impacts the risk of uterine rupture. (4) Other factors, such as number of previous cesarean sections, gestational age and size of fetus, may affect the likelihood to rupture though the data is insufficient. (3) As ACOG recommends, “Assessment of individual risks and the likelihood of VBAC is, therefore, important in determining who are appropriate candidates for TOLAC.” (4)


Determining Uterine Rupture and Taking Action

"As stated in a prior VBAC evidence report, and echoed in studies contained in this report, there is no single sign for the occurrence of uterine rupture; however, fetal heart tracing abnormalities, particularly fetal bradycardia (reported in 33 to 100 percent of all studies) is the most frequently reported sign of uterine rupture. Other signs reported in uterine rupture studies in descending order are maternal vaginal bleeding, maternal pain, and uterine contraction disturbances." - Guise J-M, et al. (2)

It makes sense then, considering fetal heart tracing abnormalities are the most frequently reported sign of uterine rupture, that it is recommended for women who are attempting VBAC to have continuous electronic fetal monitoring (cEFM) (4, 5) -- as opposed to intermittent electronic fetal monitoring (iEFM) or using a non-tracing monitoring device such as a handheld Doppler or fetoscope. It is rare (or perhaps completely unheard of) for cEFM or iEFM to be used at a home birth.

"Delivery of the fetus within 10-37 minutes of uterine rupture is necessary to prevent serious fetal morbidity and mortality." -Nahum GG, et al.(3) (my emphasis) The studies that assessed time from uterine rupture to delivery used fetal bradycardias as the sign of uterine rupture. Other studies have shown that even when cesarean sections take place under 18 minutes after prolonged decelerations have been identified, serious neonatal morbidity occurred, such as HIE.(2, 3) 

Decision-to-incision time is therefore critically important to consider for mothers attempting an HBAC (which is true for any woman attempting an out-of-hospital birth). Keep in mind, a hospital must do its own monitoring/assessment before performing a cesarean section. Getting dressed, out of the house and into a car (or waiting for an ambulance), travel time (traffic considerations where applicable), and hospital protocol will all affect how long it can take a mother to have a cesarean section.


Comparing Rates: VBAC versus ERCD

The mortality rates (for babies) are as follows: 

Hospital TOLAC mortality rate2 = 1.3/1000 

Hospital ERCD mortality rate2 = 0.5/1000 

As you can see, the risk to the baby is significantly greater for those attempting VBAC. However, a mother with a previous cesarean section has more to consider. Mortality risk is higher for the baby, but what about risks for the mother’s health? According to ACOG, "at an individual level VBAC is associated with decreased maternal morbidity and a decreased risk of complications in future pregnancies." (4) The maternal mortality risks are as follows:

Hospital TOLAC maternal mortality rate2 = 3.8/100,000 

Hospital ERCD maternal mortality rate2 = 13.4/100,000

Since maternal deaths are so rare, they are measured per 100,000, whereas infant deaths are measured per 1,000. The risk of death for a baby born to a mother attempting a VBAC is an increase of 0.08%; the risk of death for a mother who attempts a VBAC is a decrease of 0.0096%. In other words, there are approximately an additional 9-10 deaths per 100,000 for women who choose ERCD and there are approximately an additional 80 deaths per 100,000 for babies whose mothers choose VBAC in a hospital setting.

For maternal complications for term deliveries, there was no evidence for statistical difference in rates for hysterectomy rates, blood transfusion rates and infection rates for TOLAC vs ERCD. (2) However, these risks (and others), increase with each cesarean section.(6)

For complications and morbidity for term babies (premature babies are likelier to face neonatal complications, i.e. respiratory issues, which is why we are looking at term babies only) born to mothers with a previous cesarean section, the evidence is lacking due to multiple factors (i.e. differing or lack of definitions). Studies suggest that ERCD increases TTN (transient tachypnea of the newborn) and TOLAC increases HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) but the quality and amount of data we currently have is not sufficient.(2) For babies needing bag and mask ventilation, the difference is statistically significant:

Hospital TOLAC infants requiring bag-and-mask ventilation2 = 54/1000 

Hospital ERCD infants requiring bag-and-mask ventilation2 = 25/1000 

Please note: There are other possible complications for both babies and mothers, however, due to various factors, it is hard to nail down precise risk levels, especially for term deliveries. In general, the risks of TOLAC primarily affect the baby; the risks of ERCD primarily affect the mother. 

Remember, “TOLAC” includes women who attempted VBAC that ended with a vaginal delivery and also those who needed repeat cesarean sections. TOLAC that ends with repeat cesarean delivery is more likely to cause complications than ERCD; TOLAC that ends in vaginal delivery is less likely to cause complications than ERCD. (4)


Repeat Cesarean Sections and Future Pregnancies

A primary concern for repeat cesarean sections is the potential impact on future pregnancies. With each cesarean section, the risks increase. According to Silver RM, et al., "The risks of placenta accreta, cystotomy, bowel injury, ureteral injury, and ileus, the need for postoperative ventilation, intensive care unit admission, hysterectomy, and blood transfusion requiring 4 or more units, and the duration of operative time and hospital stay significantly increased with increasing number of cesarean deliveries." (6) These risks should not be taken lightly as certain complications, such as placenta accreta, can have life-threatening consequences. Because of the increase risk to women who have had cesarean sections, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recently published a joint paper to emphasize the importance of working to safely reducing the primary cesarean rate.


Comparing Rates: Home versus Hospital 

Finally, let's discuss risk between home and hospital for women who have had a previous cesarean section. We are looking at total mortality rates for each: intrapartum (during labor and delivery) + early neonatal (live birth through the first 6 days) + late neonatal (days 7 through 27):

MANA study TOLAC mortality rate1 = 4.75/1000 

Hospital TOLAC mortality rate2 = 1.3/1000 

Hospital ERCD mortality rate2 = 0.5/1000 

As you can see, the risk of death for attempted HBACs for babies has a nearly four-fold increase compared to VBACs attempted in a hospital; HBACs are nine and a half times more likely to end in death of a baby compared to ERCD.

There were 1052 HBAC babies in the MANA study and 5 of those babies died. According to the hospital rates, 2 babies at most should have died in the MANA study. In other words, at least 3 babies in the home birth group died preventable deaths. 

Some of the studies used for the hospital mortality rates actually include antepartum stillbirths (when a baby dies before the onset of labor). If we look at intrapartum mortality rates only (death during labor and delivery), in the MANA study there were 3 deaths out of 1052 that occurred after the onset of labor but before delivery, compared to the hospital TOLAC mortality rate which is 0.1-0.4/1000. Which means, comparing home TOLAC to hospital TOLAC, a baby is 7 to 27 times more likely to die at home. 

13% of the women who were attempting HBACs in the MANA study had repeat cesarean sections (approximately 136 women). We, unfortunately, do not know if any - or how many - of these women had uterine ruptures because the authors don’t provide any information on whether uterine rupture was the cause. The omission of this critical piece of information is a serious flaw because many women considering HBAC are concerned specifically with uterine rupture.

Coincidentally, the MANA study infant mortality rate for HBAC mothers is consistent with the risk of uterine rupture (5 babies out of 1052 died in the MANA study; risk of uterine rupture is 5 per 1000). It is possible that all 5 deaths were due, directly or indirectly, to uterine rupture. If the mother/parents of those 5 babies declined an autopsy to confirm exact cause of death, it would be listed as "unknown." If an autopsy was performed on any of the 5 babies, it may have been listed as something else as the direct cause of death - for example, uterine rupture could have caused the placenta to detach from the uterine wall and therefore, cause of death could technically be listed as "placental abruption" even though the uterine rupture was the underlying cause of death.

The MANA study authors also neglected to specify neonatal morbidity for high risk pregnancies. We have no idea how many HBAC attempts in the MANA study ended with babies who had respiratory issues, NICU stays, hypoxic events, or other neonatal complications. This is another serious flaw. HBAC-related neonatal morbidity is important for women to consider when deciding between locations.


My Thoughts… 

Because of the increase risks associated with cesarean section (especially multiple cesarean sections), if I were faced with deciding between attempting VBAC or choosing RCS, I feel I would lean toward attempting a VBAC. I would absolutely do so in a hospital and would want cEFM. I would want to have a frank, honest conversation with my care provider regarding my personal risk factors - which of course may change throughout the course of pregnancy. I also would want to discuss our hospital policies, procedures and capabilities.

This is no surprise to regular readers to hear that I would not consider HBAC. It saddens me greatly to hear that some women feel forced into choosing between HBAC or ERCD because of VBAC bans at certain hospitals. I can only hope that in time, with the good fight that many are fighting, more hospitals will lift their bans on VBACs. Our care as pregnant women should be recommended on an individual level, with careful consideration.


Discussion

I thought it would be interesting and enlightening to discuss benefits and risks in a Q&A with two women, bringing two different perspectives. First, I'd like to introduce the women who participated in the discussion with me: Anna Gregory* and Barbara Herrera. Barb is a CPM/LM (Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Midwife), Monitrice, Doula, and blogger at The Navelgazing Midwife. Barbara is an HBAC supporter and when she was a practicing midwife, she attended HBACs. Anna is an HBAC mother and former HBAC supporter. Her first baby was born via cesarean section due to breech presentation. For the birth of her second child, she hired an HBAC-experienced certified nurse midwife (CNM). Tragically, her birth ended in uterine rupture, hospital transfer, repeat cesarean and a stillborn baby.

As I said, two different perspectives.

Our conversation took place over the course of a few days. This is not the full conversation as I, of course, needed to trim it down. There are breaks in the conversation (where I wrote an asterisk), when conversations dwindled for a moment (I think you’ll understand why). Here we go…

Dani: “Let's start off with benefits of VBAC.... when a VBAC attempt ends with vaginal delivery, it is associated with the least amount of complications. What are other potential benefits from VBAC (physical health, mental health or otherwise)?

Anna: “I know one big draw for me was that having another (young) child at home, I really wanted a faster recovery so I could still pick her up and snuggle so that she didn't feel supplanted by the new arrival. I didn't want to be away from her for any length of time, either. I wanted to deliver naturally, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I had a horrible c-section experience with my first and I thought HBAC would be better for my baby and for me than an RCS. And also, with a VBAC/HBAC, I hoped I would have more control over the birthing process and be able to bond immediately with my baby instead of being separated during recovery like I had been with my daughter.”

Barb: “Emotionally, some women feel resolved about their previous cesareans. They feel a sense of closure about it. There are physical benefits, the healing time is less (unless there is extensive tearing, which I have seen twice in VBACs). One of the things I'm working on right now is how important is "the experience"... and whether that should have a place in deciding where and how to deliver. The decision to VBAC and HBAC is driven much of the time by emotions.”

Dani: For those who do pursue VBAC/HBAC, what do you think consists of good support (before, during and after birth)?

Anna: “Having a discussion about the options rather than just assuming one way is better - or not - is important. Honest discussion of the benefits and risks for both modes of delivery. Statistics are objective - I get it - but I always say that 0.5% sounds minuscule whereas 1 in 200 does not.  Subsuming yourself in VBAC “success” stories online does not help a mom make good decisions and can compound a sense of failure if it doesn’t work out.

I think OBs need to explain why they need to monitor VBAC labors so carefully in terms of explaining how hard it is to detect rupture. It’s hard to look at a list of “this is what MUST be done” if you’re trying for a VBAC, instead of offering an explanation.  I would also suggest asking the doctor about his or her experience with rupture and also whether there is a staffed OR open 24/7 in the hospital and sufficient blood supplies in event of a rupture.”

Barb: “I think finding a provider who is sympathetic to a VBAC mom is important. That's a given with home birth midwives and most CNMs. A provider that believes in VBAC is essential. How many women get the bait and switch in the last few weeks? A good support from family is crucial, too, especially the partner.”

Anna: “And I think all providers should walk clients through a VBAC risk form gently, without just giving it to them to read and sign. It's the whole idea of what "informed consent" really means. Being open to questions and making sure the mother has the right questions in mind.”

Barb: “The Informed Consent isn't as big of a deal to most women. They don't WANT to know the down and dirty as much as they want the "joyous" aspects. That's in my experience, anyway.”

Anna: “That was me, Barb. I signed that form without reading it and taking it seriously because I knew the form to be "just a tool of scaremongering." I wish I had read it. I wish I had absorbed that it said there was more risk associated with homebirth than hospital birth. I wish I didn't have the whole line of "birth is risky anywhere" running through my head.”

Barb: “Would you have believed your midwife had she said homebirth was more dangerous? Or would you have stuck to your VBAC desires as the ultimate goal?”

Anna: “I wish she had known - and told me - that I did have various risk factors - under 24 months between deliveries, single layer of sutures and a 9lb baby - and I wish she’d told me that a VBAC in a hospital setting would, therefore, probably be wiser.  I wish she had told me there might not be time to transport in event of a rupture. I would have taken her advice seriously. By her own admission my midwife finds it very hard to say “no” to a woman wanting an HBAC – although after my rupture she was no longer willing to attend HBAC deliveries. When my OB identified my first baby was breech I was upset by it, but I never questioned the need for a section. It made sense to me. I never understood that statistically, repeat cesarean section was safer for babies. And I knew I was only going to have 2 children.”

Barb: “I would think it's common knowledge about repeat cesarean section being safer, even than TOLAC. But I might be wrong. So, how do we get women to pay attention to the Informed Consent without them thinking it's scaremongering? That seems like an important question. How do we bridge the reality with the wishes?”

Anna: “I do not think, Barb, that the vast majority of women who choose TOLAC know that the mortality rate for babies is higher for VBACs than it is for repeat cesarean section.
I think Dani's point in this post about monitoring is important - for example. I didn't know it would be so hard to detect rupture. Increased risk of rupture factors, too, those should be discussed - macrosomia, singles sutures (possibly), time between c-sections, etc. -- based on one study my various risk factors actually gave me a 5.6% chance of rupture (9lb 2oz babe, 22 months between sections, single suture closure, over 40 weeks gestation). My midwife thought my baby was about the same as our first child (7.5lbs). If I'd had a late ultrasound we probably would have known he was bigger and that would likely have changed my choice. I also didn't know my placenta was right where my scar was. My midwife told me her only regret was that she didn't arrange for an OB consult after she discovered I'd had single sutures.

And I did not understand that 15 minutes to the hospital would likely mean they wouldn't be able to section me in time. I thought if something went wrong - we'd transfer fast, I'd have a section and all would be well.” 

Barb: “Yes, transport time needs to be discussed more.”

Dani: “Agreed. Transport time and a very clear plan for transfer should be laid out. What do you both think constitutes a midwife as being experienced and competent for being the primary midwife for HBAC moms?”

Anna: “I think that second question is easier for me, because I know what my criteria were. I looked for 1. a CNM, 2. a CNM with hospital experience, 3. someone who had a good record of transferring at the first sign of trouble and 4. someone who'd attended several HBACs before. In retrospect, I wish I had also asked her what the signs of rupture were and whether she had ever seen one.”

Barb: “I think if a midwife is aware that she needs to do more fetal heart tone (FHTs) listening and can verbalize what the signs of uterine rupture are, she can be a decent midwife to attend an HBAC. Thing is, many HBAC moms don't want to be treated any different than other moms. Listening to FHTs a lot might hamper their experience.”

Anna: “My midwife did listen after every contraction. The contraction before I ruptured was 133 - next contraction was a 60.”

Barb: “Wow... did she call 911 right then? Or did she change your position a couple times.”

Anna: “Yes - 911 immediately. Then I started vomiting violently and my contractions completely stopped.”

Barb (looking at Anna’s records from her birth): “Wow... a note that you only lived 10 min away from the hospital.”

Anna: “Yes.”

Dani: “From when the 911 call was made to delivery, how much time passed?”

Anna: “It took me 25 minutes to get there with me yelling at EMS the whole way. Our son died before we reached the hospital. When the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat, there was little urgency to do a section - they still didn't know I had ruptured until my BP tanked. Initially - believe it or not - they talked about inducing to try for a vaginal birth. They took forever to start an IV. And later a spinal wouldn't take - the OB thinks it was probably due to the blood loss.”

Dani: “I cannot imagine what you were thinking during the transfer time.”

Anna: “I wasn't thinking, I was screaming. And there was nothing they could do to get him out.”

*

Dani: “When TOLAC becomes a repeat cesarean section, or worse, uterine rupture, how is that for women to emotionally cope with? These are important things to consider as well, I’d think, so women don’t feel blindsided or alone if they are in the (approximately) 25% that end up with repeat cesarean.”

Barb: “Then women crash! They feel doubly bad about their bodies and their experiences.”

Anna:  “It's so heartbreaking to me to see moms on VBAC support boards come back and say they're traumatized because of a failed VBAC attempt to that they don't feel they can bond with their baby. And I also see, time and time again, women who do have a VBAC and expect SUCH a better experience that they're then deeply disappointed and depressed - that may be from the complications of a vaginal birth - tearing for example - or that they expected delivering a baby to be so much easier physically and mentally than a c-section when - frankly - giving birth and taking care of a newborn can be just plain hard one way or another.

At the moment, when someone googles "uterine rupture" or goes to a VBAC support forum she most likely will only see positive stories that are very real - or dry, medical technicalities that might sound a bit scary but are de-humanized. The rupture moms rarely share their stories. They're embarrassed, they feel like failures and when they do speak out they're often told they're fearmongering.”

Barb: “Do women with uterine rupture feel defective? (In general.)”

Anna: “Yes. The worst feeling in the world is that your own body let you down. Again, particularly if you're imbued with the idea to "trust birth" and trust your body. My inability to birth my baby killed him. He was perfect. And I felt him crawl up out of my uterus. There was nothing at all I could do to comfort him as I felt him struggling.”

Barb: “I am so, so sorry. I can't imagine your pain.”

Dani: “I’m so sorry, Anna. I’m so, so sorry.”

*

Dani: “Barb, Anna’s midwife added a brief comment and I’d like to hear your thoughts on what she said: "It's a tough one because you want women to have a choice and so many practices are not attending VBACs any longer which leaves many women "forced" into having a repeat section. However, ACOG has recently updated their recommendations for labor and hopefully, as an organization, they will continue to support VBAC as a safer choice for women rather than a repeat cesarean section. I am a firm believer in a women's choice but as Anna knows - I'll never attend another HBAC again. Just isn't worth the risk to the baby or the woman should the uterus rupture. "

Barb: “I've often said, "Midwives are a product of our experiences" - I can imagine why she would never attend another HBAC again, but there is the issue of informed consent and a woman's choice to birth how and where she wants to. So we have to make it the safest for her wherever she chooses to birth. I've also said, "How informed is informed consent?" Meaning, does a woman really know what she's getting into when she signs the IC form? We like to think so, but we hear about the regrets afterwards, the women saying they didn't really understand what was being said (Anna said that herself). I don't know how to make sure women know what the risks are while allowing them autonomy to choose how and where to birth. Is it scaremongering to drill in the risks?”

Dani: “I think we all agree that attempting VBAC in a hospital setting is a reasonable, safe option and hopefully, a woman wanting a VBAC isn't faced with a hospital ban. What are your thoughts on hospital bans?”

Anna: “If a hospital isn't equipped to handle VBAC (ie. a 24/7 staffed OR) they should be allowed a VBAC ban. I hate that option might be taken off the table for women who want to VBAC but our onus should be on making sure that doesn't have to happen - particularly in rural areas and OBs should be able to collaborate to facilitate care in a VBAC “friendly” hospital.”

Barb: “I think VBAC bans are bad news for women because that pressures them to birth out of hospital, if not even unassisted. Of course, the ideal is to have all hospitals 24-hour ready for complications, but a uterine rupture isn't any different than a cord prolapse or postpartum hemorrhage when it comes to needing immediate care and they don't ban all women from birthing in smaller hospitals. Yes, there are two patients at play, but I think if they are able to handle most emergencies, they should be able to do VBACs as well. Expecting women to travel for a VBAC isn't fair. I think if you want to give Informed Consent about the abilities of the hospitals, that's fine, but out and out bans? I disagree.”

Dani: “I agree with Barb. I don't like the idea of bans and I, too, fear it pushes women away from hospitals into riskier situations. I don't like the idea of anything like that being banned.... not home birth, not hospital VBACs, not elective 38 week inductions, etc... I don't have to agree or support the choices of all women but I think they deserve the options. Those options, though, should come with very clear informed consent.
The relationship between a home birth midwife and client is very different than the typical care provider / patient relationship. It is much more intimate. Home birth mothers trust their midwives implicitly. This is why ethics for midwives should trump philosophy – and that isn’t always the case. Typically, a woman chooses home birth because she sees it as a reasonable, safe choice -- even for high risk situations or "variations of normal." She wants to avoid unnecessary interventions but is not opposed to necessary interventions. If a home birth midwife insists on a transfer or referral or intervention, the client is more than likely going to heed the advice of the midwife. Of course there are some that would refuse hospital at all costs.... but that’s not the norm… home birth mothers are typically women wanting an alternative, but still safe choice. Women who, in the end, would do anything for their baby to arrive healthy and safe.

Clearly, with HBAC, it’s absolutely not just as safe as hospital birth and women deserve to know this. Hospital data and home birth anecdotes were all we had until now (because of the MANA study). And now we know that HBAC has a very significant increase risk for babies.

Barb, if you could write a conclusion here, what would it be?”

Barb: “Informed Consent has to change. The truths about uterine rupture need to be highlighted and understood so women can make choices that are based on fact instead of rumor and hearsay. I agree that home birth midwives have a greater burden with telling women about the risks, especially since they are greater in home births anyway. Women do trust their home birth midwives implicitly and that trust needs to be balanced with the midwife not being afraid to tell the client the truth about risks. When a midwife is afraid of "pulling the dead baby card," bad things happen. We've seen that over and over. A midwife sometimes has to say things that are scary or that the client doesn't want to hear, but she needs to do it anyway. I would also concur about women telling their uterine rupture birth stories needing compassion not ostracization. They are telling a birth story! They deserve to be heard, not shuffled off into the dark corners of the Internet. I intend to offer a place for women to speak their truths without recrimination. I hope it's healing for them to be in a place of light.

Thank you, Danielle, for writing this. I hope it's also a healing piece for the uterine rupture women. Even though I've never seen a VBAC uterine rupture, I am listening to these stories and am much more aware of what can happen to women during TOLAC attempting VBAC/HBAC. I am still pro-HBAC, but am much more cautious about it than I was. It must be done with true Informed Consent, not the minimal consent so often offered now. I hope when that happens, women can make the decision that is best for them and their babies. I also hope that hospitals will become more VBAC-friendly so women don’t feel compelled to deliver at home or unassisted. Yes, it's important to remember the possibilities of uterine rupture, but allowing a woman to birth as naturally as possible in the hospital, even if she has to have continuous fetal monitoring, would go a long way to helping women feel comfortable in there. Women deserve to have their "experience" honored as much as their safety. When there is balance, we might actually find the place where women's needs are being met just as much as protecting the lives of both mother and baby. Both are equally important.”

Anna: “”Thank you, Barb.”

Dani: “Very well said, Barb. Anna, what about you? How would you conclude this? And also, what would you say to a mother considering HBAC?”

Anna: “I think this would be the place where I would urge some kindness: if a rupture mom is brave enough to share her story, please know that she is not doing it as a fearmongerer, she's doing it as a woman who sees the need to balance the stories of "healing VBACs" with those that are traumatic: both happen. We're so guilty of being defensive and jumping to conclusions instead of listening and expressing sympathy. I support VBAC in an appropriate hospital environment and I hope hospitals and OBs continue along the track I see, more and more, of supporting VBAC. But a woman who chooses to weigh the risks and opts for ERCD shouldn't have her choice belittled. A woman who ruptures and returns to a support board to tell her story shouldn't be told that just because she was on the wrong side of the statistics, that her story is sad but doesn't deserve to be told as much as VBAC success stories. She shouldn't be told "I'm sorry for your loss, but maybe the best place for you to share your story is a baby loss forum - we're a VBAC support group, not a VBAC loss group."

To mothers considering HBAC, I'd say I understand why you think it might be a lovely thing to do, but here's the harsh reality: HBAC is an enormous gamble. And the stakes are about as high as you can imagine. A hospital OR will be too far away if you're one of the unlucky ones, and you and your family will live with your choice to homebirth forever. You will ask yourself every day if that birth experience you craved, killed your baby, or left him brain damaged. There is no recovery from that. Talk to your provider about your desire for a VBAC. Give them a chance to work with you on your birth experience. Understand that there is something much worse than hospital VBAC or an ERCS, and that something worse could be death. Is it really worth it?”

*



If you'd like to read Anna's full story and read the stories of other moms bravely sharing their uterine rupture stories, please visit the blog: Navelgazing Midwife

****

In order to provide the most accurate information possible to my readers, I asked for my piece to be reviewed. I want to extend a special thank you to Dr. Martha Reilly, MD and Professor Brooke Orosz, PhD for taking the time to do so. I appreciate your time and expertise very much!

Thank you, Barb Herrera, for your time, honesty and genuine desire to be a part of this. Thank you, also, for offering up your blog as a safe space for women who have experienced uterine rupture to share their stories... they deserve to be told by the mothers and deserve to be heard by all of us!

Thank you, Anna. Thank you for being so brave and for sharing your story. I know what you do – all the hard work – to honor your son and to help protect other mothers from enduring the heartbreak you and your family have endured. You are amazing and I am honored to call you my friend.




__________________________________________________
References

1. Cheyney, M., Bovbjerg, M., Everson, C., Gordon, W., Hannibal, D. and Vedam, S. (2014), "Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009." Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 59: 17–27. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12172 (Click Here)

2. Guise J-M, Eden K, Emeis C, Denman MA, Marshall N, Fu R, Janik R, Nygren P, Walker M, McDonagh M. "Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: New Insights." Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No.191. (Prepared by the Oregon Health & Science University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2007-10057-I). AHRQ Publication No. 10-E003. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. March 2010. (Click Here)

3. Nahum GG, et al. "Uterine Rupture in Pregnancy." Medscape. July 2012. (Click Here)

4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Vaginal birth after previous cesarean delivery." Practice Bulletin No. 115. Obstet Gynecol 2010;116:450–63. (Click Here)

5. Bailey RE. "Intrapartum Fetal Monitoring." Am Fam Physician. 2009 Dec 15;80(12):1388-1396. (Click Here)

6. Silver RM, et al. "Maternal Morbidity Associated With Multiple Repeat Cesarean Deliveries" Obstetrics & Gynecology. June 2006. Volume 107, Issue 6, pp 1226-1232. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000219750.79480.84 (Click Here)



MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean


*The name Anna Gregory is a pseudonym in order to protect the identity of this mother for career-related reasons.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Drew Me To Home Birth And What Turned Me Away, Part 1




So how did I go from home birth lover to where I am now? I gave a short version in my first blog post but I shared the full scoop recently with a group of friends and felt encouraged to share it on my blog. Though it makes me nervous to do so as it is personal and I'm discussing people (without names) that once meant a lot to me, people that still hold a special place in my heart. And it's hard and well, it was heartbreaking, really. To go through. But..... you never know who might relate.

So first, I just want to say that “where I am now” is not a home birth hater. I am not anti-home birth at all. I think home birth is a wonderful option, actually. I think we are lucky to live in a country where we have many, many options for having a baby. The issue for us pregnant women here in the US is what is figuring out what options are safe, which are safer, and what options are dangerous. I do not agree at all with home birth in America being labeled “safe” as it stands now. So while home birth may sometimes be a safe option for women here in our country, as a whole it is not. 

Now that I have that out of the way… I’ll get to it… here's my story...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jamie Bernstein Got It Wrong

I'm going to switch gears for a moment from discussing the MANA study to something else. Well, sort of.

I thought about writing this post earlier this month but ended up changing my mind. So instead, I've been spending (too much of) my free time, trying to fight for what (I believe) is right in comment sections where this issue has been discussed. That has proved to be far too exhausting and frustrating..... so instead of pulling my hair out over this issue, over and over again, I am just going to write the darn post.

What am I referring to here? That would be the two blog posts written by Jamie Bernstein for Grounded Parents. I will link to the blog posts, only because I am legally required to do so since I am using quotes from the posts -- but not because I want to send any traffic to that site. Because I don't.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

You are reading Part 3 of my MANA study series. Click to view:

MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

****

Now it's time to put together what we know and figure out the total mortality rates. This is intrapartum mortality plus neonatal mortality. It's important to look at the total mortality as it really gives more complete picture.

As I have done with the previous two posts, I'm going to compare numbers a few different ways. I'll use the same information I did for intrapartum and neonatal comparisons plus I am adding in one more study, the CPM 2000 study, for total mortality comparisons. I'll explain why when I get there. So here they are again:

1. The MANA study - planned home births with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CPMs, LMs and LDMs (Certified Professional Midwives, Licensed Midwives and Licensed Direct-Entry Midwives)

2. The Birth Center study - planned births in CABC-accredited birth centers with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives)

3. The CPM 2000 study - planned home births with a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife)

4. USA hospitals - births in hospitals in the USA


ALL RATES DISCUSSED BELOW EXCLUDE ALL LETHAL ANOMALIES. The exception is the hospital group. Excluded from the hospital group are congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities from the hospital group. This may not include all lethal anomalies, as some may be labeled as something else, like cardiac disease, for example.


****

First, let's compare the MANA study to the Birth Center study.

Total Mortality Rates, all risk:

MANA study = 2.06/1000

Birth Center study = 0.87/1000

For every 10,000 babies born at home, 20-21 babies will die. 

For every 10,000 babies born at a CABC accredited birth center, 8-9 babies will die.

As I mentioned previously, a part of this increase is due to the fact that the MANA study has more high risk pregnancies than in the Birth Center study. Let's compare low risk only.

Total Mortality Rates, low risk:

MANA study = 1.62/1000

Birth Center study = 0.87/1000

A home birth is just shy of two times more likely to end in death of a baby.

For every 10,000 babies born at home to low risk mothers, 16-17 babies will die.

For every 10,000 babies born at a CABC accredited birth center, 8-9 babies will die.

What does this comparison show us?
1. It shows the increase risk to babies born out of a hospital to high risk mothers
2. It shows the increase risk to babies born out of a hospital under the care of a non-nurse midwife

(as I explained above, majority of the midwives in the MANA study are non-nurse midwives; majority of the midwives in the Birth Center study are nurse midwives)

****

Now I will compare the MANA study to the CPM 2000 study. Why am I doing this? Because one of the defenses I have seen many, many times now is that home birth advocates are trying to blame the unlicensed midwives that took part in the MANA study for most or all of the bad outcomes. There are 971 births that were under the care of unlicensed midwives in the MANA study. So I am comparing the MANA study to the CPM 2000 study to see if that may potentially be the issue. Here are the outcomes:

Total Mortality Rates, all risk:

MANA study = 2.06/1000

CPM 2000 study = 2.0/1000



Total Mortality Rates, low risk:

MANA study = 1.62/1000

CPM 2000 study = 1.7/1000

As you can see, the mortality rates are nearly identical. 100% of the outcomes in the CPM 2000 study are Certified Professional Midwives. Are unlicensed midwives solely to blame for the bad outcomes in the MANA study? Or can we compare both the MANA study and the CPM 2000 study to the outcomes of the Birth Center study and conclude out-of-hospital births with non-nurse midwives substantially increase the risk of death for a baby? That's how it looks to me but you are free to interpret it however you'd like.

****

Finally, I will compare the MANA study outcomes to hospital outcomes. Since I used two different cohorts for hospital births, I will compare both.

Please note: The hospital CNM group is mostly low risk women; the hospital MD group is low risk and high risk. MD refers not only to OB/GYNs but high risk pregnancy specialists, such as perinatologists and even other medical doctors who may deliver babies, even on rare occasions (such as ER doctors).

This first comparison has the hospital cohort that is a closer match to the MANA study cohort. I defined it in my post regarding neonatal mortality rates.

Total Mortality Rates:

MANA study = 2.06/1000

MANA study, low risk only = 1.62/1000

Hospital CNMs = 0.35/1000 to 0.55/1000

Hospital MDs = 0.43/1000 to 0.63/1000

Even compared to the hospital MD group - which has a higher percentage of high risk pregnancies than the MANA study - the risk is 3 to 5 times greater at home that the baby will not survive.


This next comparison has the hospital cohort that is much, much broader which gives MANA the advantage, as the MANA study includes an all-around much lower risk group of women in this comparison.

Total Mortality Rates:

MANA study = 2.06/1000

MANA study, low risk only = 1.62/1000

Hospital CNMs = 0.38/1000 to 0.58/1000

Hospital MDs = 0.52/1000 to 0.72/1000

Comparing all risk home births to all risk hospital births, a baby is 1.5 to 4 times more likely to die at home. Comparing low risk home births to mostly low risk hospital births, a baby is 3 to 4 times more likely to die at home.

Again, these figures give MANA the advantage as it includes a higher risk group of women for the hospital outcomes:

For every 10,000 babies born at home, 20-21 babies will die. 

For every 10,000 babies born at home to low risk mothers, 16-17 babies will die.

For every 10,000 babies born to mostly low risk mothers in a hospital, 3-6 babies will die.

For every 10,000 babies born to women of all risk in a hospital, 5-8 babies will die. 

I am going to make one final comparison, using the most recent figures I just outlined (with the hospital cohort that gives MANA the advantage with the lower risk group of women). I am going to compare hospital CNM outcomes to MANA study outcomes for all risk. I am doing so for three reasons:

1. The hospital CNM numbers are not strictly limited to low risk outcomes, like the MANA study low risk outcomes are. There is no way to completely filter out all high risk pregnancy outcomes from hospital data. While it is unlikely that any breech births or twins births are included in the hospital CNM outcomes, it is possible. Regardless, hospital CNMs care for mostly low risk women, but they do not care for only low risk women.

2. This shows why it is necessary for women to take proper screening measures to ensure a mother is low risk for out of hospital births. If she is high risk she should either switch to a hospital CNM or MD where proper monitoring/care for her high risk pregnancy can continue as it should to ensure the safest outcome for mother and baby. If a mother's low risk status is assumed and not confirmed with the necessary/recommended screening measures, she may actually be high risk but may think she is low risk.

3. If your home birth midwife brushes off your high risk pregnancy and/or refers to it as a "variation of normal," you are taking a big risk and you need to be aware of the odds.

Total Mortality Rates:

MANA study, all risks = 2.06/1000

Hospital CNMs, all risks = 0.38/1000 to 0.58/1000

This means a baby is 3 to 6 times more likely to die at home. That is an additional 15-18 babies per 10,000 that die at home under the care of a midwife that would have lived had they been born in a hospital under the care of a CNM.



****

Conclusion: 
There currently are over 30,000 home births every year in the USA. This means, for women who are truly (confirmed) low risk, each year at least 31-41 babies die at home births that would have lived had they been born in a hospital. For high risk women, each year at least 29-34 babies die at home births that would have lived had they been born in a hospital.

The safest place of birth for a baby is in a hospital. For babies born outside of the hospital, it is important that their mothers be low risk (throughout pregnancy and during labor/delivery) and that the attendant be a Certified Nurse Midwife who practices under the guidelines set forth by CABC-accredited birth centers.



References:

1. MANA study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12172/full

2. Birth Center study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12003/full

3. CPM 2000 study: http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7505/1416

4. USA hospital neonatal mortality rates: http://wonder.cdc.gov/

5. There are two sources I have used for hospital intrapartum mortality rates:

    a. 0.3/1000 is from The World Health Organization:
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241563206_eng.pdf
(see Table 7.1 on page 21)

    b. 0.1/1000 to 0.3/1000 is from Judith Rooks:
Here are screen shots of a public, online discussion between Judith Rooks, CNM, MPH and Wendy Gordon, CPM, MPH.



As you can see, Wendy Gordon - one of the authors of the MANA study - did not dispute the rates provided by Judith Rooks. Neither Judith Rooks nor Wendy Gordon commented again after that. Eventually the thread - posted on the public Facebook page of an outspoken home birth advocate (The Feminist Breeder) - was deleted by the page admin.

****


MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean


Friday, March 7, 2014

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

You are reading Part 2 of my MANA study series. Click to view:

MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

****

Neonatal refers to the newborn period of life, specifically the first month. Neonatal mortality rate refers to the death of a baby any time after live birth and through the first 27 days. If a baby dies prior to labor or prior to birth, the baby will not be included in the neonatal mortality rate. Only babies born alive but die some time in those first full 27 days are included in the neonatal mortality rate.

Neonatal mortality rates can be broken up into early neonatal (death in the first week) and late neonatal (death after the first week but before the 28th day). I will be looking at TOTAL neonatal mortality rates, which is simply early neonatal mortality plus late neonatal mortality.

The overall neonatal mortality rate for the United States is 4/1000 (4 deaths for every 1000 live births -- which is the same neonatal mortality rate as Canada). This rate is includes all gestational ages (including extreme prematurity), all risks, all complications, lethal anomalies, etc. For obvious reasons, this is not the correct comparison to the MANA study neonatal mortality rate.

Just as I did for the comparison of intrapartum mortality rates, I am going to compare the neonatal mortality rates from 3 different data sets:

1. The MANA study - planned home births with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CPMs, LMs and LDMs (Certified Professional Midwives, Licensed Midwives and Licensed Direct-Entry Midwives)

2. The Birth Center study - planned births in CABC-accredited birth centers with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives)

3. USA hospitals - births in hospitals in the USA


First, let's look at comparing MANA to the Birth Center study.

Here are the neonatal mortality rates, both rates are excluding anomalies:

MANA study = 0.77/1000

Birth Center study = 0.40/1000

That is an increase risk for babies born at home of just shy of two times. Small yes, but per 10,000 it is an additional 3-4 babies that die at home births during the neonatal period.

****

Now, let's compare to hospitals using the CDC Wonder Database. Since it is impossible to get an exact comparison group for hospital births, I will use different hospital groups for the comparison: one that is as close of a match as I can get to the MANA study, and one that is broader. I will define each of them below.

In the first comparison, I will try to match the MANA study as close as possible. So the search results will be based off of the following criteria:

Years 2004-2009 (same as the MANA study)
White Women (92.3% of women in the MANA study were white)
Singles and Twins (small percent were twins in the MANA study, the rest were singletons)
37 Weeks and Above (97.5% of women in the MANA study were 37 weeks and above)
Birth weight of 2500 grams or more (99.2% of babies in the MANA study were 2500 grams & up)
Excluding most lethal anomalies*

*Excluded are congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities from the hospital group. This may not include all lethal anomalies, as some may be labeled as something else, like cardiac disease, for example.

My search includes everything else... all ages (maternal), all education levels, all marital statuses, etc.

2004-2006:

2007-2009:


Neonatal mortality rates for hospitals based on this search criteria are:
Medical Doctor = 0.33/1000
Certified Nurse Midwife = 0.25/1000

Please note: The hospital CNM group is mostly low risk women; the hospital MD group is low risk and high risk. MD refers not only to OB/GYNs but high risk pregnancy specialists, such as perinatologists and even other medical doctors who may deliver babies, even on rare occasions (such as ER doctors).

Comparing this similar hospital group to the MANA study and we have the following for neonatal mortality rates:

MANA study = 0.77/1000

Hospital CNMs = 0.25/1000

Hospital MDs = 0.33/1000

MANA study rate is 3 times greater than the hospital CNM rate and 2 times greater than the hospital MD group. Per 10,000 it is an additional 5-6 babies that die at home births during the neonatal period, compared to the hospital CNM group; compared to the hospital MD group, per 10,000 it is an additional 4-5 babies that die at home births during the neonatal period.

****

CDC neonatal mortality data is very accurate, despite what MANA and Citizens for Midwifery have claimed (I will get to that in another post). However, birth certificate data isn't perfect. We are potentially sacrificing the high accuracy the more search criteria we use. So that is why I will do another comparison with hardly any criteria selected.

The rates below are based on the following:

Years 2004-2009
Birth weight of 2500 grams or more
Excluding most lethal anomalies*

*Excluded are congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities from the hospital group. This may not include all lethal anomalies, as some may be labeled as something else, like cardiac disease, for example.

My search includes everything else... all races, all ages (maternal), all gestational ages, all singles and multiples, all education levels, all marital statuses, etc.

2004-2006:

2007-2009:


Neonatal mortality rates for hospitals based on this search criteria are:
Medical Doctor = 0.42/1000
Certified Nurse Midwife = 0.28/1000

Please note: As I stated above, the hospital CNM group is mostly low risk women; the hospital MD group is low risk and high risk. MD refers not only to OB/GYNs but high risk pregnancy specialists, such as perinatologists and even other medical doctors who may deliver babies, even on rare occasions (such as ER doctors).

Comparing this similar hospital group to the MANA study and we have the following for neonatal mortality rates:

MANA study = 0.77/1000

Hospital CNMs = 0.28/1000

Hospital MDs = 0.42/1000

MANA study rate is just shy of 3 times greater than the hospital CNM rate and just shy of 2 times greater than the hospital MD group. Per 10,000 it is an additional 4-5 babies that die at home births during the neonatal period, compared to the hospital CNM group; compared to the hospital MD group, per 10,000 it is an additional 3-4 babies that die at home births during the neonatal period.

Again we are seeing an increase to babies born at home compared to hospitals, even when we are looking at a much higher risk hospital group for comparison.

****

At least 5 babies from the MANA study that died during the neonatal period were due to hypoxia or ischemia. This basically means those babies were deprived of oxygen at some point. I cannot help but wonder how many of these 5 cases (and potentially more) were due to lack of proper monitoring during labor, especially during second stage (pushing).

For a look at the intrapartum mortality rates, click here.

Up next, I will put it all together and we can look at the total mortality rates.


References:

1. MANA study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12172/full

2. Birth Center study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12003/full

3. USA Hospitals: http://wonder.cdc.gov/

****


MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

You are reading Part 1 of my MANA study series. Click to view:

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

****

I have already dedicated two other posts to the MANA study. But I'm going to break it down even further.

Things I will be discussing in this series:

What are the mortality rates and how do they compare?
How accurate is the data from the CDC?
Can we compare the mortality rates from the CDC to the MANA study?

If you have any suggestions for things to add to this discussion, feel free to suggest!

Intrapartum mortality rates are up first.

****

"Intrapartum" means during labor and delivery. Intrapartum mortality then refers to death of a baby during labor and delivery. This means the baby was confirmed to be alive at the onset of labor but was born still.

As I have written before, the authors of the MANA study did not provide a single comparison number for mortality rates in their study. Even for the studies they reference in the discussion, they did not list any mortality rates other than their own.

I am going to compare the mortality rates from 3 different data sets:

1. The MANA study - planned home births with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CPMs, LMs and LDMs (Certified Professional Midwives, Licensed Midwives and Licensed Direct-Entry Midwives)

2. The Birth Center study - planned births in CABC-accredited birth centers with a midwife in the USA, attended mostly by CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives)

3. USA hospitals - births in hospitals in the USA


Let's get started.


Here are the intrapartum mortality rates:

1. MANA study = 1.30/1000

2. Birth Center study = 0.47/1000

3. USA Hospitals = 0.1/1000 to 0.3/1000


Please notethe hospital rate is for any gestational age, any and all risk -- extreme prematurity, no prenatal care, any and all risks and complications, etc.

As you can see, the risk of death for the baby during labor and delivery is significantly higher in the MANA study. The MANA study rate is 3 times higher than the Birth Center rate; the MANA study rate is 4 to 13 times higher than the USA hospital rate.

Part of the reason the intrapartum mortality rates are higher in the MANA study compared to the Birth Center study is because the home births in the MANA study include some high risk pregnancies, where majority of high risk pregnancies in the Birth Center study were risked out.

The intrapartum deaths due to high risk pregnancies in the MANA study are as follows:

BREECH = 3 deaths
VBAC = 3 deaths
TWINS = 1 death
GESTATIONAL DIABETES MELLITUS = 2 deaths
PREECLEMPSIA = 1 death

The VBAC, breech and twins births were planned. However, I can't help but wonder if the GDM and PRE-E deaths were known/planned. It is absolutely possible that the GDM mothers were never screened for GDM and/or that symptoms for the complications were either ignored or missed by the midwife. It is absolutely possible that symptoms for pre-e were ignored or missed by the midwife. If the symptoms were ignored or missed for these high risk pregnancies, then it does not make sense to exclude them. However, for the sake of giving MANA the benefit of the doubt, all high risk pregnancy related intrapartum deaths are excluded for the rate below.

Here are the intrapartum mortality rates for low risk women (the MANA rate is the only one that changes):

1. MANA study = 0.85/1000

2. Birth Center study = 0.47/1000

3. USA Hospitals = 0.1/1000 to 0.3/1000


Please note: as I mentioned previously, the hospital rate is for all gestational ages, all risk factors and complications. For intrapartum mortality rates for full term, low risk women in hospitals, it is likely closer to 0.1/1000 or even lower than that.

Again, as you can see, the risk of death of a baby during labor and delivery at home is still significantly higher even for low risk women.

Another way to look at this information, is simply moving the decimal over to look at rates per 10,000 instead of per 1,000.

MANA study = 13/10,000

MANA study low risk women = 8.5/10,000

Birth Center study = 4.7/10,000

USA Hospitals = 1/10,000 to 3/10,000

Meaning:

For every 10,0000 babies born at home, 13 babies will die during labor and delivery.

For every 10,000 babies born at home to low risk women, 8-9 babies will die during labor and delivery.

For every 10,000 babies born at a CABC accredited birth cennter, 4-5 babies will die during labor and delivery.

For every 10,000 babies born in hospitals including all gestational ages and all risks, 1-3 babies will die during labor and delivery.


Please notein order for women considering home birth to be certain of their low risk status, they should take all screening measures and have all necessary monitoring through pregnancy and through labor/delivery to ensure she is actually low risk and remains low risk up until the baby is born.


References:

1. MANA study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12172/full

2. Birth Center study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12003/full

3. There are two sources I have used for hospital intrapartum mortality rates:

    a. 0.3/1000 is from The World Health Organization:
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241563206_eng.pdf
(see Table 7.1 on page 21)

    b. 0.1/1000 to 0.3/1000 is from Judith Rooks:
Here are screen shots of a public, online discussion between Judith Rooks, CNM, MPH and Wendy Gordon, CPM, MPH.



As you can see, Wendy Gordon - one of the authors of the MANA study - did not dispute the rates provided by Judith Rooks. Neither Judith Rooks nor Wendy Gordon commented again after that. Eventually the thread - posted on the public Facebook page of an outspoken home birth advocate (The Feminist Breeder) - was deleted by the page admin.

****


MANA Study Part 1: Intrapartum Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 2: Neonatal Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 3: Total Mortality Rates

MANA Study Part 4: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...