The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Sad or Unexpected Outcomes

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

See also:

Subsections on this page:


[Ed. This is a new section - please e-mail me resources that I might include here, especially if they are not already included in the other sections listed above.  Thanks!]

Attending a Stillbirth - discussion of technique for birth attendants - not recommended for parents because of the graphic details.

NURSING BURN-OUT VS. SELF-COMPASSION STARTS WITH ME By Catherine Kraus, RN, MSN, MA - This is a terrific reminder that midwives go through trauma, too, when their clients are having traumatic situations.  There are lots of helpful articles on this website, but this one is pretty pertinent to our work as midwives.

Stillbirths, infant deaths lead to anxiety, guilt and stress among obstetricians - "In the United States, 1.3 percent of pregnancies end in either stillbirth (losses after 20 weeks but before delivery) or infant death (deaths in the first year of life, most of which occur in the first week). On average, the typical obstetrician performing 140 deliveries a year could encounter nearly two dozen women with a miscarriage and one to two with stillbirth or infant death, the study says.

"Obstetricians want to see a healthy baby. When a fetus or baby dies, the loss can be devastating for the physician," Gold notes. "Half of the time, the medical cause of a stillbirth is unknown, but physicians still may struggle with feelings of guilt or self-blame."

Response to a Homebirth Complication or Tragedy


As a birth professional who was formerly a special education teacher and before that a physical education teacher working with the physically disabled, your plea for "answers" was a cry that resonated in my heart. When we suffer a loss we want to know why.  In fact I have a book in my loaning library  that is titled almost exactly this way....it translates (from Spanish) "Why Me? Why Us?  Why Ours?"

I hope I didn't raise your expectations too much by sharing this title....since obviously there are no answers.  I think maybe it is just helpful to not feel so alone....to know that many parents who experience sick or disabled babies are left with the lingering question of "why?" I can understand wanting to know why if you think knowing can benefit other parents and save other babies from experiencing the same outcome. I am the representative in my city for ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and we use the question "why" in order to learn and avoid making the same mistakes in subsequent pregnancies.  In your case, how would the "why" help?  Would you feel vindicated if it was because someone else made a mistake?  Would it help you in your day to day care of your baby?

Would you suffer less or feel relief knowing that it was nothing preventable?    Fortunately there are may online resources where parents can share their frustrations with one another and get invaluable assistance at dealing with the difficult realities.  I hope you find them.

i don;t think there can be any answers.What happened -- happened.

I'm sure that everyone involved did the best they could -- made the best decisions they could - and tried their utmost to help the baby. Maybe they did the "right" thing - maybe not. Maybe there WAS no right thing to do! Maybe nothing would have made any difference at all. Maybe the baby was damaged long before birth -- maybe the delay with the shoulders caused the problem -- maybe the cut cord - maybe the resuscitation - maybe something in the hospital. Nobody will ever know for sure --- but it doesn't really matter.

What happened -- whatever it was -- happened. And there was never any evil intent. Everyone was trying hard to help the baby -- everyone WANTED her to be well and safe and healthy. Everyone tried their best -- -- to the best of their ability and the best of their knowledge.

Sometimes babies are born sick. Sometimes they are born damaged. Sometimes accidents happen ... and sometimes an accident happens at birth. Sometimes a midwife or doctor is able to predict or prevent this damage and sometimes they aren't.

I don't really have much else to say.

Except I'm sorry this happened to your little girl. I know you never wanted this to happen and I know you would have done anything possible to keep it from happening. But what happened -- happened.  And all you can do is to keep loving your little girl, and keep trying to do your best for her. Loving her, holding her, taking care of her. Would you do anything different from this if she had been born healthy and caught a brain-damaging illness? Or fell out of her high-chair and something broke inside her brain?  None of us is guaranteed anything in life. Illness and accidents happen.

Agony over what happened -- wondering and worrying over details of a day long past -- just adds to the stress and unhappiness. Nobody can undo the past -- and nobody ever knows what "might" have happened if different decisions had been made. Maybe the outcome would be better - maybe it would be worse. What happened that day did happen and it is unchangeable.

The past is done. The future is unknown. Today is all we have.  Take the good and the joy you can find in each day...........that's the only thing any of us can do.

gail hart - http:

life and death and justice by alicia - reflection on a stillbirth

Disappointment with Care Providers / Doulas

This is about a woman's feelings that her doula is "disappointed in her":

Her doula, undoubtedly was sad for the mom's experience.  The mom realized that the doula personified all of her own hopes for a "natural" birth, and her guilt for "quitting."  When she got past the judgment of herself, and owned her strength in choosing the best option for herself and her baby the time - for honoring her own inner wisdom - she no longer experienced the doula as judging her.  She experienced the doula's desire to support her, and realized that the doula was holding the grief for what the mother had planned.  NOT judgment.  Only compassion.  When the mom felt compassion for herself, she could accept the doula's compassion.

I see the doula's role as being something similar to being the mother of teens:  you become the safest person to blame for all that is ill in the world.  As a care provider, I accept all stories with a grain of salt and realize that the mother is telling her truth - yet that there is no "objective" Truth.  In caring for our clients, we need to realize that we are in tremendously powerful positions.  We do the very best we can to be with her where she is, to chose our words with extreme care, and to realize that some folks are going to deposit some of their stuff on us.  That's why you don't wear silk to births!  It's frustrating, as we all want to be liked by all, but that's part of the territory.

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