Push for More Regulation of Midwifery

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The "Greenhouse Birth Center" in Okemos offers soon-to-be parents a chance to have their baby their way, outside the hospital in a relaxed atmosphere.

And that's exactly why a DeWitt couple had their baby there, but less than two weeks later, he died. Now they're suing for wrongful death, and that has led to a bigger discussion about what it takes to be a midwife.

Certified nurse midwives are registered nurses, and they have hundreds of deliveries under their belt before they can practice.

According to Greenhouse's website, two of their midwives have that certification and the other two are certified practicing midwives.

But not all midwives even have to be certified, and those who are get minimal training compared to what an OB/GYN resident goes through.

"Our baby was entrapped for over seven minutes, his cord wrapped twice around his neck, born without a heart beat, and in fact...in fact...rather violently," said Sara Snyder, fighting back tears.

Sara and Jarad Snyder's son Magnus died in their arms, 13 days after he was born.

"I don't know if I have words to really describe what that's like," Sara Snyder told me.

Magnus was delivered by midwives at the Greenhouse Birth Center in Okemos.

"They knew there were severe risks before and throughout our labor and delivery, and took them without telling us they were doing so," Sara said in a news conference.

The center performed a vaginal breech delivery.

"It is a very risky delivery we don't even do in the hospital," said Dr. Maude Guerin, an OB/GYN. "From the time they delivered the body, to the time they delivered the head was seven minutes, which is way too long, and he had irreversible brain damage that caused his death."

"The loss of Magnus was clearly a preventable tragedy and occurred because of glaring violations of any acceptable standard of obstentrical care," said Brian McKeen, an attorney representing the Snyders in a wrongful death suit.

Upcoming legislation would provide licensing and oversight requirements for midwives.

"Anybody in the state of Michigan can say 'I'm a midwife.' You don't have to demonstrate any training, you don't have to go to school, you don't have to even do any deliveries," said Dr. Guerin.

"My bill would also list specific medical conditions that would require a midwife to transfer a mother to the hospital," said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, who hopes to introduce the legilation in the next week or two.

We did call the Greenhouse Birth Center, and they referred us to their attorney. We left him a message on his voicemail and with his secretary. We also e-mailed him, but as of 6 p.m. Monday when the story aired, we had not heard back. As soon as we do, we will let you know what he says about the accusations against Greenhouse.

We did talk with Citizens for Midwifery, a national organization that says it supports the licensure efforts here in Michigan.

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