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Letters to Boston Globe Magazine

July 24, 2011

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Family matters

I was so sorry to read of Jenifer Holloman’s loss (“Her Home-Birth Battle,” July 10). Her decision to push for midwife regulation in Massachusetts is exactly right. A home birth with a highly trained and competent midwife can be as safe as a hospital birth and should be available for women who want it. My daughter-in-law almost had a home birth with an overconfident midwife, however, who failed to catch an infection. Better education and minimum standards of preparation will prevent tragedies. Thank you to Holloman for standing up for what she believes in. I’m with her all the way.

Andrea E. Green / Ashland

The United States, despite all of its tools, tubes, drugs, chemicals, machines, caesarean operations, and doctors at birth – or maybe because of them – ranks number 46 in the world for infant mortality. What happened with Holloman and her husband is a truly tragic incident with an experienced, caring midwife. If you query just about any obstetrician in the country, you will find that he/she, too, has lost a baby despite his/her best efforts. Having spent almost four decades researching and writing about birth in this culture, having coined the term “VBAC,” having worked with many thousands of women who have had previous caesareans, and having had a home-birth VBAC myself, I know that most women are better off, and safest, seeing midwives and staying at home to birth.

Nancy Wainer, CPM / Needham

As an operating room nurse I’ve seen Murphy’s Law in action many times. Babies should have every bit of medical equipment available to them, and every parent should be grateful for its availability. Third World countries can only wish for such personnel and equipment.

Marsha Simmler, RN / Franklin

During my first pregnancy, I chose a certified nurse midwifery practice that was connected to a hospital for that extra sense of safety. My midwives were incredibly nurturing and celebratory of this growing life inside of me, and my visits were affirming and empowering. When I told my midwife in my last weeks of pregnancy I was concerned my baby wasn’t moving as much as she had been, she reassured me that the baby’s quarters were growing smaller and that there was less room to move around. Two weeks later, on my due date, my baby stopped moving forever. We don’t know why she died, but I will always wonder if my midwife had advised a simple stress test, would my daughter Natalie be celebrating her 12th birthday next month? I do not blame my midwife; I made the choice to go as “natural” as possible, and I know she was following the same philosophy. My subsequent children were born at top hospitals, medically monitored every step of the way. I believe families should be able to choose how they give birth, but they have to accept that there are consequences with each choice. Emergencies can occur at home, and a distressed baby may not make it to the hospital, whether or not a midwife is state certified. I didn’t enjoy all the medical interventions I faced, but I have two beautiful and healthy children playing next to me as I write this. Jenifer Holloman and Jason Beetz, I am so sorry for your loss.

Beth Mintz / Westborough

Write to magazine@globe.com or The Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.

  • July 24, 2011 cover
  • July 24, 2011 cover
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