homebirth debate blog
Can someone please tell what the deal is with that blog? I'm
doing some work on homebirhs and I was excited to see the blog and
thought 'what a great idea'. Until I realized that it wasn't a
debate at all but a tirade against anything not pro-interventionist
obstetrics. When I said something 'out of line' , I was personally
attacked and accused of endangering my child (I mentioned that I'd
had a large fetal size estimate but still had a natural birth,
which is in accordance even with ACOG guidelines as the estimate
was just under their limit). I was absolutely shocked, to say the
least. I found my words twisted, changed and out of context and
when I pointed out glaring errors, they were completely ignored. Is
this site actually rabidly anti-homebirth? Who is the blogger? Is
she really a doctor? Is her critique of Johnson and Daviss
Ahh, I see you
have run across Amy Tuteur, our very own Bill O’Reilley of
the birth world. Like him, her intent is to steamroller you; any
overlap with the facts in her rants is strictly
Some weeks ago,
someone e-mailed me asking who she was. I said that I didn’t
know, but it might be interesting to poke around on the internet
and find out. A week or so later, my correspondent got back to me.
She wrote that she could verify that Amy is a real person, but not
that Amy is an M.D., much less an obstetrician. At least, she could
find no license to practice medicine for Amy. My correspondent also
found that some of Amy’s domain names are held publicly, but
who holds the registration on homebirthdebate.com is not, which is
something that can be done at an additional fee. This raises the
question of why she would conceal the domain backer, especially
since she has not done this with the others. She has also gone to
the trouble and expense of copyrighting homebirth debate, which
denies others access to the term. My correspondent speculates that
Amy may be fronting a disinformation campaign. Blogs have become a
common tool for this sort of thing. It’s an interesting, if
somewhat paranoid, thought. If she is, an obvious suspect comes to
mind for which entity might be backing her. It is certainly one
that has deliberately spread disinformation in the past.
My advice to you
is the same as was given to me when she started posting on my
Forum: Don’t feed the dragon. I had no idea who she was at
first so I refuted her objections to a study showing that elective
cesarean surgery increased the neonatal death rate. That segued
into her criticisms of the MANA 2000 study, which I rebutted as
well. If you look at the top of the topic list, you will see a link
marked “search.” If you search this Forum’s posts
on “Tuteur,” you should turn up our exchange and see my
defense of these studies, and how I handled her. My strategy worked
well. She hasn’t been back.
Here's a bit of irony for everyone to enjoy: I found this forum
through her blog. How funny is that? She mentioned this forum in a
recent post whining about how Henci won't debate her. So at least
some good has come from her site- I now have the privilege of
communicating with THE Henci Goer! I must say, I was quite
geek-happy to find this forum.
The comment that I left on Amy's blog was something to the
effect that Henci doesn't need to debate, because she isn't so
desperate to have people believe her like Amy. Henci simply writes
from her perspective, and shares her wisdom with those of us who
want to learn from her. (Something for which I am eternally
grateful) Amy's behavior, on the other hand, reeks of
desperation and defensiveness. Henci's sage righteousness (not to
be confused with Amy's SELF-righteousness) is afforded only to
those who speak the truth.
While I know that talking to Amy is definitely a lost cause, I
must say that some of the regular contributors are actually quite
reasonable people. I have engaged in respectful, productive debate
on that site. I do so because I see the politics of birth becoming
very polarized. While it certainly can be frustrating at
times, I feel as though it's important for me to reach across the
chasm rather than just 'preaching to the choir'. My debates tend to
be more philosophical than scientific. My take is that we need to
look at WHY women want homebirths in the first place, and support
measures like the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (www.motherfriendly.org) We need
to make hospitals more, um, HOSPITABLE!
Oh but something very suspicious about that site- "Dr. Amy"
always responds to posts almost instantaneously, EVERY
single time. I have visited the site at different times on
different days and "she" is always there. Amy Tutuer may be a real
person, but the "Dr. Amy" persona is, in my opinon, clearly
more than one person. No one can be online 24/7. That,
coupled with the fact that the domain backer is concealed,
definitely tells me that something's rotten in the state of
Keep up the good work, Henci.
Thank you for those kind words. I find it delightful that you
found this Forum via her blog.
I am fascinated by your statement that "Amy Tuteur" always
responds immediately to posts. How is it possible to know this?
Arguing somewhat against the theory that Amy isn't one person is
that she seems to have a distinctive voice. Arguing for it is that
the idea of a disinformation home birth blog isn't as farfetched as
it would seem. Mothering Magazine recently outed some
supposed breastfeeding info sites that were actually being run by
I ran into her blog by an ad by Google...so someone has to be
forking out green to get her out there. I found her logic to be
very flawed. I read one of her posts that commented on the
percentage of Americans who didn't know simple facts like how much
of the Earth is covered in water, and how far away the moon is. She
used these statistics to show how "dumb" we Americans are, and then
pointed out that only because we're so dumb we would choose
homebirth. It occured to me that the VAST MAJORITY of people use
hospitals, so her logic is extreemly flawed, especially since there
is no way to prove that the people who don't know those facts are
the very people who choose homebirth.
Anyways, I wasn't impressed. I went looking for studies and for
facts that would help me decide if homebirth was a bad idea. I
didn't find any.
Being able to detect flaws in logic will never do for Tuteur's
blog. You'll do much better here.
Found this about Dr. Amy Tuteur:
From the back of her book:
"Amy B. Tuteur, M.D. has delivered thousands of babies and given
birth to three of her own. A cum laude graduate of
Harvard-Radcliffe College, she received her medical degree from
Boston University School of Medicine. Currently (1994), she is an
obstetrician/gynecologist with the Harvard Community Health Plan
and a clinical instructor in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard
Medical School. She resides in the Boston area."
Gee...I'm a scientist by schooling (B.S. Biochemistry, some
graduate course work...), and I don't know precisely what
percentage of the earth is covered in water (I think it is about
75%, is that close enough for Dr. Amy???) nor do I have the
foggiest clue how far away the moon is.
But does not knowing these things have ANY impact on my day to
day life? Not in the least. What does have an impact on
my day to day life (because I'm an Environmental, Health, and
Safety Specialist) is EPA and OSHA regulations...which I'm quite
well versed in, and I'd bet in a pop quiz on those topics I'd beat
Dr. Amy quite soundly. And really, the principles behind
these regulations have MUCH more of an inpact on working Americans
than knowing how far away the earth is from the moon or how much
water is on earth. Because...uuummm...oh, wait...I guess I'm
not helping Dr. Amy out with my job because...
...the primary function of my job is to KEEP PEOPLE OUT OF THE
Posted By n/a on 03/12/2008 12:27 AM
Found this about Dr. Amy Tuteur:
From the back of her book:
"Amy B. Tuteur, M.D. has delivered thousands of babies and given
birth to three of her own. ... Currently (1994), "
Is it just me that is scared by this thought? I
mean really...the picture of "Dr. Amy" that is posted on
her website looks like she is *at most* in her late
40's. So she'd have been graduating from medical school in
the mid-80's, and then on to her residency/internships.
Giving the benefit of the doubt, lets say that she started catching
babies in 1984--10 years before this comment about her delivering
"thousands" of babies was written. To qualify as "thousands,"
that means at least 2 thousand. So she was catching a minimum
of 200 babies a year??? That would mean she saw 14
prenatal clients (a healthy woman tends to have 14 prenatal visits
during pregnancy--even though I read an article once that said that
research showed that anything over 8 really didn't improve
maternal/fetal outcomes) and caught a baby EVERY working day
of the year (52 weeks in the year, 5 work days per week, assume
that she took 10 holidays, but no vacation or
Ummmm...did she fit GYN patients in there anywhere?
What kind of a super-human person is this woman, really?
Or...here's a thought..."Dr. Amy" has put up a fake
picture. Is the real Dr. Amy actually retirement age, and as
such, had already put in a good 30 years of catching babies
prior to writing her stupid book in 1994. And really, it is
stupid--you can read it for free on her "Ask Dr. Amy"
website. She insists that the "real work of labor" doesn't
start until pushing stage...gee, so the 33 hrs I spent in labor
with my first daughter was less "work" than the 20 minutes I spent
pushing? She writes in a very condescending tone that
indicates that she doesn't believe that her reader--an expectant
mother--can really handle language above about a 5th grade
all i know is after reading about this "dr amy" I searched in
the following places for her credentials and found that she does
not exist anywhere:
Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
harvard medical school alumni
harvard medical school facilty
Interesting, but not surprising. If you go up to my post of
8/27/2007 in this same thread, you can see what information, or
rather, lack of information, a correspondent was able to dig
This is interesting... I came across "Dr Amy" the very first
week that I found out I was pregnant, and that was also the same
time that I came across the idea of having a homebirth (or at least
a non-hospital birth) and was immediately convinced that this was
the right thing for me to do.
There was a Baltimore Citypaper front-page article on
underground homebirths in Baltimore- some performed by "illegal"
midwives and some without any birth attendant at all. In
the state of Maryland it's illegal for midwives, or any medical
professional, to attend to a birth outside of a hospital
setting. Well, the state's initials are "MD," and we are home
to John's Hopkins and a number of other big medical institutions..
so it's no wonder.
I was so intrigued by this article, which just barely outlined
the risks of hospital birth & unecessary medical interventions,
that I went online to get the article and email it to
friends. That's when I found the reader comments, where there
was a huge debate raging, and "Dr. Amy Tuteur" was at the center of
it. She was so ridiculous in her complete disregard for any
arguments against hospital birth, I found her to be a charicature
and couldn't help but laugh at anything she wrote. I think
she helped convince me that the only way I was going to give birth
was out of the hospital and away from lunatics like her!
So there it is, maybe "Dr Amy" is good for the homebirth
She's done me an inadvertent good turn as well. Several people
have posted that they found their way to the Normal Birth Forum
because of Amy's posts about me. I think you should write her a
nice note thanking her for helping you on your way to deciding to
have a home birth. ;-)
... if you can't figure out that Amy Tuteur is indeed a graduate
of Harvard University (you can find her on a reunion website for
Harvard-Radcliffe), a graduate of Boston University Med School (you
can find her on one of their websites as well), and a former
teaching member at Harvard Med School. She's said on her
website that she was a hospitalist and then retired to take care of
her 4 children. You can even find her maiden name and a
picture of her 4 children as well as personally identifying
information about the family, including where the older
ones go to high school and college (some pretty
elite schools in there -- this is not a dumb family).
To suggest that she really didn't go to Harvard suggests that
someone can't even do Google 101. It's all out there.
Disagree with her if you like, but she is who she says she is.
Dr. Amy has been debunked so many times on the internet, but she
keeps trolling looking for new people that don't know her game.
Her latest attempt: http://vbacfacts.com/2008/09/07/rebutting-dr-amys-information/
I also saw Dr. Amy pop up on Amazon book reviews....Can't remember
which book I was looking at, but there she was. More negative
I also ran across Dr. Amy's "debate" when researching different
birth options for my second child. I am very lucky to have
something most people don't have access to....my very own Harvard
trained PhD epidemiologist and biostatistician. I have had him look
at a number of her statistical claims and arguments that she has
posted on the site and he dimissed almost all of them as bad,
twisted versions of what true epidemiological or statistical
arguments would look like. This isn't to say that some of the
homebirth studies don't have their own flaws....but they are not
any where near as misleading or glaring.
Take for example her most recent posting on why one should use EFM
on ALL mothers because although it would cause 116,000 (or so) more
UNNECESSARY c-sections per millions mothers, 100 more babies would
be saved per million. According to my husband, you simply can't
extrapolate like this - it is totally unscientific. There are
studies where one specifically DESIGNS a sample to represent a
larger group but her example is pure conjecture on every level. She
also doesn't address any risks caused by 116,000 unnecessary
c-sections to either the hypothetical mothers or babies in her
I'm not going to post on her site because I have no need or desire
to get into a "debate" with her over this. I've read enough to know
how those turn out. And I'm pretty confident in my own, unbiased
information source to not need to discuss this
I have also decided not to reply, but that has been
challenging. I wonder who Dr. Amy REALLY is and who is
REALLY behind this site? When I read through the
replies, I think that some of those may be "staged".
Some of them are unreal. Something just isn't right all
around. I still visit frequently and am glad to see
that many people find their way here to Henci. I
try to tell everyone I know about this wonderful resource.
I'm glad you find the Forum a useful resource. Thanks for the
Thums up to anyone who inadvertantly causes a surge in
us doing something better for our children.(and ourselves)
I.like other prospective homebirth mums to be, went to DrAmy's site
for objective material, and ended up being called 'ignorant' (???)
and that I must get my facts right,etc etc. Constantly being
bombarded one recent evening (its all there on her site) by
pro-medic people who wanted to diss anyone with homebirth as a
It was the subject of why I know 'what happens to a mother
during pregnancy,labour and birth can have a direct effect on the
psychology of baby and mother and may cause complications'
that got me upset and finally stopped posting replies (for the
benefit of baby and me).
The ones that replied to me, stated catagorically that what
happens to the mothers mind during pregnancy,up to birth,is of no
consequence, at all. they completely dismiss that mind and body are
related,linked,work hand in hand. I even tried my best to stay
calm,focused and re-educate them (how arrogant of me huh?) by
explaining in simple terms, how, if a mother becomes
stressed,paranoid,scared, it can have such implications,they
manifest physically. They really didn't get it and started mocking
me with 'so you just think happy thoughts and you won't get
shoulder distocia, or deviated placenta etc.
They really hadn't got a clue and were so fixed on vague studies
that haven't been monitored exactly. I've read many studies and
varying results,depending upon what appropriate questions are asked
and how or IF they are answered CORRECTLY; they become confusing
and cause us to aks, but did they take A,B or C into consideration
or IS IT UP TO DATE, or are the dates relevant? List is
Until we get studies that are monitored so carefully, the
results may as well be plucked out of a hat (homebirth OR hospital
birth (I have to be fair!) But there is one thing for sure - it IS
proven that when we have a natural birth, without medical
intervention and the mother in the best possible setting,without
stress and without signs of complications,the baby and mother
recieve greater benefits physically AND psychologically. Hospitals
are beneficial, only if some problem is likely to occur, and of
course the use of the medical equipment is validated.
Stay positive,focused and keep a sense of humour! Tracy
*"Your going to get HUGE!!!"
*(Ina May Gaskin quote)
So, since we're on the topic of discussing
actual credentials, what are your credentials? What is your
BA in? Where did you graduate from? What makes you an
expert on obstetric research?
Are you a maternal-child health epidemiologist? Obstetrician? Nurse
My credentials are in my bio on the home page of my website, but if you want more details,
I have a B.A. in biology from Brandeis University; I have a library
of books and a collection of several thousand papers,
including books and papers on how to analyze and interpret medical
research; and I have been writing and speaking about what the
consensus of maternity care research establishes as best promoting
safe, healthy birth for over 20 years. That being said, my
preeminent credential is illustrated by this anecdote: Penny Simkin
was once called on the carpet by an anesthesiologist, irate that
she had written a handout listing the potential trade-offs of
epidural anesthesia when she was not a doctor (although he did not
dispute her accuracy). “What are your
credentials?” he demanded. “I can read,” she
mildly replied. So can I.
Furthermore, if you think being a clinician, even a prominent
one, makes you an expert on the research, you are sadly
mistaken. Here is a
quotation from Ralph Hale, writing on behalf of ACOG about
the dangers of VBAC:
In two percent of cases the result can be a rupture of the old
scar. If this happens, then death of the baby is almost certain and
death of the mother is probable. Even if the mother does not die,
virtually 100% will lose their child bearing ability.
In actual fact, According to a systematic
review that contained an analysis of pooled data, the VBAC
scar rupture rate is 0.5%, one-quarter the rate he alleges, 6
babies will die per every 100 scar ruptures, and the maternal death
rate associated with scar rupture was 0. According to the same
review, hysterectomy rate with planned VBAC was low--about 1 per
1000 planned VBACs--which was similar to, or lower than, rates with
planned repeat cesarean. If you want to be picky, Dr. Hale's
remarks were made in 2008, and the review was published in
2010--except that there was an earlier review, very well known,
with practically identical data published in 2003. Or take Dr. Amy
Tuteur. Some years ago, before I knew who she was, we had an
exchange on this Forum in which she argued that the Johnson
and Daviss (2005) analysis of MANA data showed that more babies
died with planned home births. I pointed out that she was comparing
neonatal mortality rates in hospital births with stillbirth
plus neonatal mortality rates in the home birth data, which was an
apples to oranges comparison. When one compared neonatal mortality
rates, the rates were the same. Anyone can make a mistake, but
to my surprise at the time, she went right on making the claim.
Now, of course, I know her better, and I'm not surprised.
All Times America/New_York
Please note that this Forum is intended to help women make informed decisions about their care. The content is not a substitute for medical advice.