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Midwifery Controversy

OPB | July 27, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:32 p.m.

Should a woman be able to use a midwife to delivery her baby if she has previously had a caesarian section or if she is delivering a twin or breech baby? A group of Portland midwives plan to sue to keep that right.

Here’s what happened: according to the Oregonian, Heather Hermans was using a midwife for the delivery of her first child, but during labor she began to experience breathing troubles. That, combined with the fact that the baby was breech, led the midwife to call an ambulance and have Herman transported to Oregon Health & Science University. Once there, an OBGYN delivered the baby successfully by caeserian section but then filed a complaint against the midwife saying she had violated professional standards by even attempting the breech birth.

As a result, The Oregon Health Licensing Agency began investigating the actions of midwives, specifically at the Andaluz Waterbirth Center in Portland. Now the midwives are planning to sue OHSU and the Oregon Health Licensing Agency. They say their practices comply with professional standards and the investigations are a form of harassment.

Have you delivered a baby with a midwife? Should they be able to delivery babies who are breech? What about twins? Should they be able to deliver babies for women who have already had a c-section (a practice commonly known as a VBAC — Vaginal Birth After Caesarian)? As a parent (or parent-to-be), a doctor, a nurse, or a midwife yourself, what’s your experience with midwifery in what some people consider “high risk” situations?

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