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Baby's death prompts call for new midwife requirements

One Michigan couple is attempting to launch a crusade for more stringent regulation of midwife practices after the allegedly wrongful death of their young son at an alternative birthing center. The boy, who was delivered breech, was only 13 days old when he died from injuries sustained during a difficult labor.

The couple argues that though many midwives are certified nurses or practicing midwives, others receive minimal training through their education programs. Some of these individuals have very little formal experience, which can lead to a dangerous situation for both baby and mom if something goes wrong during a delivery.

New legislation drafted by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer would change all of that by requiring specific education credentials. Additionally, the proposal contains a list of specific medical situations in which the mother and baby must be transported to the hospital for more extensive care. Whitmer says she plans to introduce the bill before the end of March.

A higher level of care may have saved the baby in this case. He was trapped for more than seven minutes in the birth canal with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. The boy was born without a heartbeat and physicians say he had irreversible brain damage. Professional OB/GYN practitioners report that they never attempt a breech birth, even in a hospital, because of the inherent health risks. The couple's attorney has said that the center failed to provide an adequate level of medical care for the baby and mother. Additionally, the staff violated standard medical procedure throughout the delivery, which definitely contributed to the baby's death.

The new legislation would provide peace of mind that a couple's midwife has been adequately educated, which would prevent unfortunate situations and increase patients' perceptions of safety. New regulations will protect both patients and practitioners from injury and legal action.

Source: WILX News, "Push for More Regulation of Midwifery," Sherene Tagharobi, March 19, 2012

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