Jessa Duggar’s (now Seewald) new baby boy is only 2 weeks old, and the dust still hasn’t settled from the reality star’s complicated home birth.
During baby Spurgeon’s home birth on Nov. 5, Jessa was rushed to the hospital after suffering a postpartum hemorrhage, and the Duggar family midwife has something to say about it.
Venessa Giron, owner of A Mommy’s Butterfly Midwifery formerly located in the Duggar’s hometown of Tontitown, Arkansas, took to Facebook to clear the record about her role in Jessa’s complicated home birth. Months ago, Giron offered some midwifery training to Jill and Jana Duggar and was, at that time, licensed as a lay midwife and certified professional midwife in Arkansas, which differs from a certified nurse midwife that requires a nursing degree. As Giron states in her Facebook post below, she had nothing to do with Jessa’s unsuccessful home birth and also questions Jessa and Jill’s decisions as poor representations of the home birthing community.
There is a grain of truth in what Giron is saying, though we can’t discount the fact that she has also allegedly been a part of some shady home birth scenarios after being deemed negligent by the Arkansas Department of Health in 2014. But the point still remains: High-profile home birth fails like Jessa’s and other tragic cases in which babies die at home make the news because they are few and far between. While these botched home births deserve our attention so that they don’t happen again, they don’t represent the collective home birthing community.
Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to what the alarmist home birth headlines are telling us, there is a safe and effective way to have a home birth. In fact, in the U.K., health officials aren’t just OKing the practice — the British National Health Service has urged healthy moms with uncomplicated pregnancies to birth at home or in a birthing center as a safer alternative to a hospital. In a 2014 study that tracked home birth safety in the U.S., published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, more than 17,000 home birth outcomes were analyzed from the Midwives Alliance of North America records, spanning from 2004 to 2009. Researchers concluded that birthing outcomes among women with planned, midwife-led home births were “excellent,” with very low intervention rates.
And that’s where we find the tip in the balance. The big difference between a home birth fail and a home birth success has to do with planning and midwife selection. That’s exactly why Jessa and Spurgeon are alive today, because her midwife knew to transfer her to a hospital when she experienced postpartum bleeding that showed no signs of stopping. In a more tragic turn of events, another young couple lost their infant son in a home birth because a poorly trained midwife didn’t recognize the signs of infection in the mother’s womb.
Choosing the right midwife for a home birth means doing your homework. CNM licensing that requires more schooling, with a certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives, is recommended over CPM licensing. Part of narrowing down the selection in a home birth midwife is checking references and public records. As we saw in Giron’s case, she had home birth negligence on her record that led to her removal from the licensed lay midwife list in the state of Arkansas. Once you’ve chosen a skilled midwife you’re comfortable with, he or she can help to create a rock-solid home birth plan — modeled after the best practice guidelines for an emergency hospital transfer as provided by the Home Birth Summit.
For most parents, home birth has become a scary topic because we only hear the scary stories in the news. But with the right balance of reality and supporting research, we can see the picture a little bit more clearly. It’s possible for home births to go south and quickly become dangerous without preparation and training. It’s also possible to have a safe and successful home birth under the care of a trained midwife.