Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Idiocy from Gloria Lemay

Step right up for a heaping dose of homebirth advocacy ignorance from Gloria Lemay, a lay midwife with no formal training who is infamous for presiding over a number of homebirth deaths.

This letter was posted on MDC in response to a Good Morning America segment on unassisted homebirth.
"The baby could be born in a breach position, or with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. The mother could suffer from significant tearing or from a maternal hemorrhage and bleed to death in as little as five minutes."

Dear Women, the above quote is by a physician who was interviewed by Good Morning America for a program about Unassisted Birth on Jan 8, 2008.

... This is a very horrifying comment for a dr to make and, for anyone who doesn't really know birth, it could be enough to send them running for the hospital.

First of all, yes, it's possible to hemorrhage and bleed to death quickly in birth IF YOU HAVE A SURGICAL WOUNDING. Women die from bleeding in cesareans and with episiotomies. The closest to death that I have ever seen a woman in childbirth was in a hospital birth where the ob/gyn cut an episiotomy, pulled the baby out quickly with forceps and then left the family doctor to repair the poor woman... I have never seen anything like that in a home birth setting or a hospital birth that didn't involve cutting.

Think about it, would any midwife ever go to a homebirth if it was possible for the mother to die from bleeding in five minutes? I know I wouldn't go if that could happen...

Gloria Lemay, Vancouver BC Canada
Well, clearly the first thing we should do is send Ms. Lemay on a tour of Africa and Southeast Asia so she can tell everyone to stop pretending that thousands of women die each year from hemorrhage in childbirth. And how about those women who bleed to death in minutes from placenta previa or an abruption? Don't forget about the babies who bleed to death in minutes from ruptured vasa previa. Imagine how foolish they are going to feel when they learn that Gloria Lemay says you can't bleed to death in minutes during childbirth. Oh, they can't feel foolish, can they? They're dead.

Here is a little background on Ms. Lemay. The following excerpt is taken from the judgment issued by the Supreme Court of Canada:
Sullivan and Lemay were hired by Jewel Voth to provide private pre-natal classes and to act as midwives during a home birth. Although Sullivan and Lemay had some experience with home births and had done background reading, they had no formal medical qualifications.

After five hours of second stage labour, the child's head emerged and no further contractions occurred. Sullivan and Lemay attempted to stimulate further contractions but were unsuccessful. Direct pressure was applied to the uterus, causing soreness to the mother's stomach and back and some bruising. Approximately twenty minutes later, Emergency Services were called and the mother was transported to the hospital. Within two minutes of arrival, an intern delivered the baby using what the trial judge characterized as "a basic delivery technique". The child showed no signs of life and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

Sullivan and Lemay were jointly charged with one count of criminal negligence causing death to the child of Jewel Voth contrary to s. 203 of the Criminal Code, and a second count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm to Jewel Voth contrary to s. 204. They were tried in the County Court of Vancouver and were found guilty on the first charge and were acquitted on the second charge.
Lemay has also been convicted of criminal contempt of court for practicing midwifery without appropriate training and without a license. According to the College of Midwives of British Columbia:
On January 4, 2002, BC Supreme Court Justice Blair found Lemay guilty of criminal contempt of court for attending ten births over a five-month period in defiance or the court injunction. At sentencing, the judge rejected Lemay's lawyer's request to impose a conditional sentence. The judge said he was not satisfied a conditional sentence would protect the safety of the public. "This is not an isolated breach but a continued series of breaches," the judge said in his oral reasons for judgement.

Late in January of 2002, just weeks after being found guilty, Lemay managed another labour planned to be a home birth, which was later investigated by the police after the parents filed a complaint. This non-progressive labour went on for more than two days. Lemay is alleged to have performed a number of restricted acts during that time, including artificially rupturing the membranes. When meconium was apparent, Lemay is said to have stayed at home with the labouring mother for many more hours.

During sentencing the judge made note of this incident, pointing out that when the fetus became compromised Lemay failed to accompany the mother to Burnaby Hospital and told the mother not to mention Lemay's name to hospital staff. An emergency cesarean was required.

Justice Blair indicated that this incident exacerbated Lemay's problem and was indicative of her character.

Justice Blair also noted Lemay was previously found in contempt of court for refusing to give testimony at an inquest probing the 1994 death of a newborn in her care. The inquest found that the baby died of cardiac arrest as a result of an infection acquired during this birth attended by Lemay.
Lemay, legally sanctioned for negligence in the death of two babies, and informally acknowledged to be present at other homebirth deaths (including a recent death of an MDC baby), is considered an "expert" in the homebirth community. Her inane pronouncements are what passes for "education" among homebirth advocates. The fact that she thinks she is in a position to offer "advice" to anyone is scandalous. The fact that anyone would take her "advice" is absurd.

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