Update: Another baby killed by a midwife

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Kylie posted this comment on my earlier post titled Another baby killed by a midwife:

Firstly I want to say how sorry I am for the Barlows and the grief they have suffered.

I believe my son was born 6 months ago to the same midwife from this clinic. The details are all the same, the initial carer going on sick leave and the replacement being her partner. I was apprehensive because she seemed so young, however, didn’t want to question her over her experience.

During my son’s birth my partner and I felt like she didn’t know what she was doing, for example, she had me push and then when she actually examined me afterwards realised I wasn’t even fully dilated. I seemed to answer all my own questions and it all felt quite despairing at times. Fortunately my body told me what to do, being a second birth and my son was born without complications.

If I had known about her previous birthing difficulties I would have definitely chosen somebody else.

I have no way of verifying the truth of this (no disrespect intended, Kylie), but it rings true to me and there would be little or nothing to gain from making up such a story.

Assuming that this story is true, it clearly shows a midwife who is out of her depth and exhibiting a stunning lack of knowledge and skill. This supports the widespread belief that the training of New Zealand midwives is completely inadequate for anything other than normal births (if that), and that many midwives are unwilling or unable to recognise when labour/birth is dangerous and requires specialist care.

Also, assuming that this is a true story about the same midwife, why was she delivering babies a few months after having killed one – and maimed the mother – by reason of gross incompetence? In my humble opinion her practicing certificate should have withdrawn immediately after the death of Adam Barlow (this would make it illegal for her to work as a midwife). Apparently we cannot trust those people who are supposed to police midwives and protect mothers and babies.

Note that Kylie says I was apprehensive because [the midwife] seemed so young, however, [I] didn’t want to question her over her experience. As I said in my earlier post

I do not wish to criticise Barlow, but assuming the competence of someone who has your life in their hands is dangerous. Ask someone how much experience they’ve had, and if they object to the question in any way run – don’t walk – away.

But wait, there’s more: an article on Stuff says

A midwife who initially cared for a Hamilton woman whose baby later died in a bungled delivery by a junior colleague had lost her practising certificate after being admitted to a drug and alcohol addiction clinic.

Inquiries by The Dominion Post have revealed the midwife was also the mentor of the junior midwife who later handled Linda Barlow’s delivery, which led to the death of her baby son, Adam, and nearly claimed her life.

Someone who is having problems with drugs (alcohol is a drug) is often experiencing some impairment all of the time, and obviously a person impaired by drugs is not fit to practice medicine.

This sort of thing occurs in all branches of medicine, however it does highlight one of the dangers of our present midwifery system, i.e. midwives are essentially operating autonomously. In a collegial situation, where there is extensive contact with colleagues and/or oversight, there is an opportunity for those colleagues to pick up on any issues such as misuse of drugs. Any medical person will tell you that working alone is dangerous and exhausting.

I believe that the fundamental problem here is government control of health care, because history shows that incompetent people only flourish in state-controlled situations. When you want your car fixed, you ask around and find the best mechanic: in a free market those who provide the best service thrive, and those who don’t go out of business. It should be the same in health care: just imagine being able to choose a midwife who had a qualification that you could trust (unlike the present, state-mandated qualification), and was regularly screened for personal problems that would affect her professional performance. This sounds good to me; what do you think?


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14 Responses to “ Update: Another baby killed by a midwife

  1. Another baby killed by a midwife « Mandeno Musings Says:

    [...] Click here to go to an update of this post [...]

  2. Kathie Says:

    The Death of the Barlow’s baby and the injuiries to Mrs Barlow could easily cause someone to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Do we have proof that she had a problem prior to October? People can also present to their Mentors that they are capable and able to do things on their own, but when things turn to custard they can’t manage. Junior should be mentored longer. Teachers are mentored longer than midwives!!!

    • Jachin Mandeno | MandenoMoments.com Says:

      Kathie: the Barlows’ first midwife ceased care part way through the pregnancy due to drug and alcohol problems. That’s when the junior took over (the junior was being mentored by the one who had problems).

      I agree that the mentoring of midwives is inadequate, to say the least.

  3. Kathie Says:

    My first Baby was delivered by my GP. MY GP did not do home visits and I had a C-section so could not drive. I was under hospital midwife but not from hospital I delivered from. My paperwork got lost from Hospital to Plunket so no visits for over 3 weeks. If it wasn’t for my family , I would have been a mess. He had delivered many previous births including Neices and Nephew.

    The care given to me for my 2nd child by my LMC my mid wife far outweighed the care from my GP, even to being able to ring her up after she had released me.

    My 3rd I went under my new GP with shared care – absoultely useless. Had to wait all day for appointment, then kept trying to put me on blood pressure mediation – well of course I had high blood pressure – getting there, waiting with sick people, wondering if I would get back to pick up the kids from school. Couldn’t contact her after hours. Changed to a Mid wife and she was wonderful. I was under Hospital care for delivery but she came in with the trainee midwife and got me ready for theatre even though they were not getting paid for it. Because the hospital was short staffed they even did some of the baby stuff in the theatre. The hospital experience was unbelievable. Morphine pump faulty and so was next one, not to mention the manual bed I had. Unbelievable, I was even told I could not feed my baby as I had just feed her, but I hadn’t!!!. Then the midwife had unreal expectations of me getting up atfer op walking to my bag, lifting it up to get my clothes out walking to shower and having it then walking back to room. Which is impossible. A few other thing but leave it there.!! Hospital staff need to be looked at well or more staff added on.

    • Jachin Mandeno | MandenoMoments.com Says:

      Kathie: clearly some midwives are a hazard to human life and some are wonderful. I have read comments by a doctor who believes that as the ‘older generation’ of midwives retire we’ll only have those who are inadequately trained under the present system.

      As for the hospital care, well, that’s what happens when the government runs things and the profit motive is removed (in a free market the profit motive is what causes companies to give good service). Government services are always characterised by inferior service; just compare the choice, service, and satisfaction you get at a privately run supermarket to the choice, service, and satisfaction you get at state-run hospital. A free market in services like plumbing and electricity repairs works well, and there’s no reason why a free market in services like bodily repairs can’t work well.

  4. E Says:

    I saw the most recent news about Robert and Linda having to endure the coroner’s inquest. I am so sorry for what they have had to go through, and are currently still.
    At our second son’s birth, 2 years ago, we experienced something similar to them, except with a much more favourable outcome. I had a c-section after a long second stage with our first but wanted to try for a VBAC. I was left far too long in second stage again, and when I was finally taken in for a c-section, my uterus tore from top to bottom. They stitched it up, sent me to recovery, and my husband home. However, my stitches broke and I started bleeding internally. Fortunatley my husband got back just in time to see me before I had the general anaesthetic. After nearly 4 hours of operating and 19 units of blood, they had to give me a hysterectomy to save my life. I woke up in intensive care to be told they news.
    My midwife was partly to blame for that day. I have had a massive recovery, and of course, we daily deal with the fact that our family can never be any bigger.
    Would love any thoughts about my experience?

  5. Baby Barlow inquest « Mandeno Musings Says:

    [...] my earlier posts (here and here) I wrote about the death of Adam Barlow, son of Robert and Linda Barlow, caused by a [...]

  6. Robert Says:

    You can keep up to date here and then post your thoughts on Mandeno Musings. There must be something substancial coming in the weekend papers as hardly anything has been reported and it is all horrendus heartbreaking stuff and she has said today that she would not change her practice apart from pethadine and note keeping.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Adam-Barlow/194974247185368

  7. Comment from Robert Barlow « Mandeno Musings Says:

    [...] mutilation of Linda, as well as the death of Adam. Robert has posted a comment on my post titled Update: Another baby killed by a midwife: You can keep up to date here and then post your thoughts on Mandeno Musings. There must be [...]


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