Another baby dies in a Utah home birth, and the mother is a home birth midwife

Camille Sorensen Wilcox, a Utah home birth midwife, is burying one of her sons. She was pregnant with twin boys and one of them did not make it because of complications from the birth. Camille is the daughter of Vickie Sorensen, who is currently facing manslaughter charges for presiding over a DIFFERENT twin birth that also resulted in a death.

Camille was actively involved in the death at her mother’s birth center according to media reports, she made phone calls on behalf of the birth center and seems to have been there when the fatality happened, as well as this near miss with a twin that would not breathe after birth.

Why on earth would Wilcox risk her son’s life at a home birth after seeing twins die, or nearly die, at deliveries outside of the hospital? Babies that needed life saving equipment that is only available at a hospital?

Camille Wilcox, as a home birth midwife, is brainwashed into thinking that birth is “as safe as life gets”, that twin births are “a variation of normal” instead of a risk factor. A midwife has a responsibility to her patients to communicate the risk of a choice accurately, but in the case of home birth midwives they don’t even believe the risk is there, so they cannot reliably tell you about it. This is why home birth needs to be regulated. Usually when a baby dies at a home birth I see people blaming the mother, saying she was uneducated or picked the wrong midwife, but this mother is a midwife whose lineage is midwifery, whose mother delivers babies with her. This proves that no amount of “education” in home birth midwifery, or “natural child birth”, will protect children whose mothers choose to have a baby at home. Home birth midwives are a risk to the public health of newborns in Utah.

Camille was warned directly of the risks inherent in a twin pregnancy. You can see her mocking an OBGYN’s warning on facebook here:

camille wilcox obgyn

(the image reads “Ok, so I had an OB pull the “mortality rate goes up at 38 weeks” card on me this week, and I was wondering- What EXACTLY is the mortality rate for di/di twins before 38 weeks, and after? Gail Hart?) 

Gail Hart is another midwife. I am sure that the Midwifery Community assured her that she was fine to have a baby at home, because that’s what midwives do even in the face of unquestionable danger, like these midwives (including a Utah midwife) did in another case that ALSO lead to a fatality.

Now the family is asking for funds to bury their child. Like most home birth disasters an emergency transport was required but did not stave off the inevitable.

camille wilcox transportation cost

On a related note, Vickie Sorensen is still committed to delivering babies. Her trial was postponed until January, and she made this announcement (AFTER the death of her grandson in a home birth in June, mind you):

vickie sorensen still working

I have reached out to the Utah Midwive’s Organization for a statement about the appropriateness of twin births being attended at home but I’m not optimistic about getting a response. From all outward appearances this looks very bad for midwifery because babies are dying left and right in home births and no one wants to be responsible for it. This underscores just how little deaths affect practice standards. If a baby dies from a practice in a hospital and the hospital is alerted, the hospital changes the policy. Midwives just ignore when the data shows they are causing death or injury and double down on their beliefs. Statistics show that home birth will be a victim of its own popularity- the more babies born at home, the more babies will die in completely preventable ways, spurring change. If people band together and become politically active perhaps that can be avoided and home birth fatalities can be prevented by legislation. Each death is a life shattered, a baby dying in agony, siblings who will never meet their brother or sister, empty arms of parents and broken heart. Preventing even one death is a worthy cause. If you feel moved to do something about the state of home birth in Utah please use the action guide at the top of the page.

Vickie Sorensen and Camille Wilcox learned nothing from the death they presided over

The title of this post is a bold statement to make,  I know. How could someone preside over a preventable death and not change their practices? I can’t pretend to know the mental gymnastics needed to justify the practices at Pathway to Wellness birth suites. I have very good evidence that Vickie Sorensen and Camille Wilcox learned nothing from taking on a twin birth with additional risk factors, because they took on another twin birth with additional risk factors after that poor baby lost its life at the path to wellness birth suite (its called a birth suite because legally its not a birth center).

This birth story is told enthusiastically by the mother as a ‘success’, when to just about anyone else its clear that the midwives agreeing to take this case on nearly cost a baby their life. Its pretty horrifying. Here is the way the mom found Pathway To Wellness:

 I contact the midwives at the Pathway to Wellness Center. I sent them an email and asked if they would be willing to deliver twins. I also asked them if I could be supported with gestational diabetes and at the age of 41. I was so happy the day that I heard back from Camille, one of the midwives at the center, when she said “YES”- they could deliver twins, and that they don’t consider my age or the diabetes a risk because older women usually take better care of their health and I didn’t need medication to regulate the diabetes.

Wrong, wrong wrong.

Risks of pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy are numerous and requires a lot of monitoring– monitoring direct entry midwives are not able to provide.

Risks of advanced maternal age (meaning over 35) are quite similar to the risks for pre-existing diabetes, so it would not be unreasonable to think that each risk factors could exasperate the other.

If a mother is actually informed of the risks of such a pregnancy and decides to do it out of hospital anyway, then I support her right to choose out of hospital birth. But this case illustrates the problem with home birth and informed consent quite vividly- the midwives don’t believe that there is any significant risk, so they by definition cannot inform the patient of the risk. The only condition I have seen midwives reject uniformly is complete placenta previa, where the placenta grows over the cervix. Literally everything else has been fair game for them.

I don’t mean to imply the view that this was a good idea for an out of hospital birth is rare among Utah midwives, its actually quite common for direct entry midwives nationally. Trade magazines such as Midwifery Today declare that twins are just a variation of normal, along with a lot of stories of midwives delivering twins at home intended to support the view that this is entirely safe.

Anyway, one of the twins in the may 2014 delivery was very close to dying:

Mr. Alexander took us all by surprise by being born first. No wonder the midwives had had a hard time finding his heart beat during labor. He was moving down, down, down to be the first born! He was so sweet and innocent that I just laugh every time I think about holding him that first time, thinking it was Megan- but so obvious that he was not Megan.

Losing heart tones on a twin is an emergency, not a funny story. They did not know which twin was coming out first either, another total failure on their part when it comes to monitoring. Things get even worse when:

Again, another surprise! Giselle said, “I have a foot!” Megan’s feet were down and coming through the birth canal. The little girl must have turned around right after Alex was born! Giselle continued to help Megan with a now breech delivery… one foot, two feet…I reached behind me and felt little baby feet kicking in the water… legs, chest, one arm, then two arms were out. John could see that Megan stopped kicking and that her body was floating in the water with no movement.

There are a few breech presentations, feet first  is called a footling breech. It is the most dangerous breech presentation. I have an emergency childbirth guide for military OBGYNs that explains how and why footling breech births are the absolute worst presentation with a ‘significant’ increase in risk for complications and death.

Unbelievably, it gets even worse:

 When Megan was completely out of the water, she wasn’t able to breathe. The midwives held her white, limp body and started calling her name. She was given a breath through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and they tried to stimulate her with pats and calling her name. Megan took one gasp and then stopped breathing again. They checked her heart and it was still beating. The cord was cut and the team rushed Megan into the other room and onto the crib so they could continue the resuscitation work.

John and the midwives continued to stimulate her, give her mouth-to-mouth breaths and also used some cayenne solution on her chest to get her respiratory system jump started. After about 4 minutes, Megan was breathing successfully on her own.

We found out later that the two placentas were fused together. When Alex was born, the placentas detached. By the time Megan was born, just 14 minutes after Alex, Megan’s placenta had completely shut down.

No one called 911 at any point during this, but they did pour pepper on a baby to try and get it to breathe. They are lucky that their child did not die, but there may have been some damage done by the lack of oxygen. The mother continues:

 We think Megan missed out on about a minute of oxygen from being delivered to her via the placenta. (fyi- newborns that miss around 20 minutes of oxygen may start to experience brain damage.)

Not sure why they think she only missed one minute of oxygen. They do not use electronic fetal monitoring so everyone has to guess about how long the baby went without oxygen.I don’t know who told her a baby can hold its breath for 20 minutes without brain damage (probably her clueless midwives), but they were lying to her. Every source I could find said 5 minutes before hypoxia sets in, even Ina May Gaskin  says so and she is the big name in home birth midwives. All the other indicators of hypoxic brain injury require hospital equipment to detect, and a lot of the time these brain injuries do not become apparent until years after the birth. There is no way of knowing if that tiny baby came out of this unscathed without following up in several years.

The mom is happy because she thinks she received great care. Her babies weren’t dead, although they came much closer to death than they ever needed to, and were attended by incompetent practitioners who think that sprinkling pepper on a baby is a better idea than calling 911 when they aren’t breathing.

I realize the birth story I linked to may soon disappear once it reflects poorly on the midwifery community (a story about a near dead breech birth was removed after I reported on it before), so I have saved this one in its entirety on my computer just in case. I hope the prosecution for the VIckie Sorensen case is paying attention- this additional birth shows a craven disregard for the life of newborns and mothers on Vickie Sorensen’s part. Delivering one dead twin wasn’t enough to discourage her from taking on twins again. Most people try to learn from their mistakes, especially when they are costly to others, but this mother-daughter midwife team seems to think that its normal or acceptable to ignore what they have been responsible for (when the outcome is bad, anyway). Regular people would be tormented by even possibly having played a role in a newborn death, these midwives are so unconcerned about it that they decided to risk it again.