Cone of silence comes down over voodoo antenatal classes

Hospital bosses were warned about a childbirth educator’s controversial and dangerous teachings 10 years ago, but it appears nothing was done.

Antenatal teacher Adith Stoneman is being investigated after it was revealed she was teaching “old wives tales” to expectant mums, including advising women to use castor oil for induction, at publicly-funded classes at Waitakere Hospital in west Auckland.

It has now emerged other parents were alarmed by her non-scientific approach, which has strengthened calls for greater regulation of the childbirth education industry.

Auckland mother Jenni Hunter said she complained to Waitemata DHB in 2006 after Stoneman told her class that immunisations were linked to autism and Vitamin K caused cancer in children.

“I would assume for many of the women this was their only source of information and she was pedalling old wives tales and things that were out-dated and incorrect.”

Scientific evidence shows vitamin K and immunisations are a safe way to prevent life-threatening diseases in babies and children.

Women were also made to feel like they had potentially harmed their baby if they required medical intervention during childbirth, she said.

Hunter said: “I felt like she was going to say at anytime ‘if you have any form of intervention you have failed as a woman and a mother’.

“If someone listened to her uncritically and had a caesarean, you would be left feeling overwhelmed, shamed and disappointed.”

Hunter met with three hospital staff at the time of her complaint and shared notes taken during the lessons, but said she never heard back.

The Waitemata DHB confirmed Hunter’s complaint was taken very seriously, however, there are no records of what the outcome was.

Hunter has joined calls for an overhaul of the way childbirth lessons are run.

“I want to know that all antenatal classes are checked so they provide balanced, evidence-based, practical information.”

Last week, a maternity health campaigner called for a national evidence-based curriculum, auditing of childbirth lessons and a single advice source for expectant parents.

Health minister Jonathan Coleman has refused repeated requests for comment.

There are no requirements for an antenatal teachers to have a childbirth education qualification. Individual district health boards were ultimately responsible for complaints about antenatal classes.

Auckland mother Shabnam Dastgheib said she dropped out of Stoneman’s class after one lesson because it was opinion rather than evidence based.

Six other parents also reported on social media they had serious concerns about Stoneman’s teachings, at least one of which dropped out of her class.

However, two parents said Stoneman’s classes helped prepare them for labour and parenthood.

Waitemata DHB could not comment on whether Stoneman was undergoing disciplinary action or still teaching childbirth classes.

When it comes to the childbirth “industry”, there is a unspoken reality that women know better and are beyond criticism.  And this creates the culture of fear that allows incompetent operators to continue  much longer than they should.  As in this instance, the person that raises genuine and repeated concerns is allowed to continue for years.

Parents have shared their own bizarre lessons from childbirth classes across the country on social media.

* “We should only have our baby in an environment we felt comfortable having sex in.”

* “We were told medical intervention pretty much meant that you had done something wrong.”

* “A c-section was the worst that could happen to our baby.”

* “Pain relief blocked the ‘love hormone’ from mother to child. Lucky I disregarded that when I went into hospital as I ended up having an emergency c-section.”

* “Talking about [caesareans] would be bringing on the negative side of birth.”

* “Rather than doing an internal exam of a woman’s cervix, a midwife should tell how far along she is by the look on her face.”

* “[Give] your baby untested remedies … ‘the [baby’s] body would take what it needs and excrete the rest’.”

* “You fail as a mother if you can’t breastfeed … [and] that natural birth is the only way.”

* “Don’t get induced, don’t have an epidural, don’t have a c-section … unfortunately [I] had to have all the above and felt like I had failed.”

This is nothing more than birth voodoo classes.

Time to get some standards imposed.


– Sunday Star Times


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  • Vlad

    This is a product of the male and doctor hating law introduced as one of Helen Clarks’ few legacies. It effectively removed doctors from the childbirth process and gave an impossible advantage to less qualified women as midwives.

    It has effectively removed GPs and medical experts from the birth process

    At the fringes it has allowed ignorant zealots into this area of medicine, but the most important outcome is that it has reduced the quality of care available to women around childbirth, all for a misguided feminist principle.

    Thank goodness my children were born under the care of scientifically trained professionals.

    • biscuit barrel

      The problem is letting midwives qualify without being nurses first, and now they can do the courses mostly by correspondence.

      Its people choice to go for a GP or midwife or even obstetrician, are you against giving new mums a choice ?

      “When you find out you are pregnant you should choose a lead maternity carer as early as possible. This is very important for your health and for your baby. Most women choose a midwife but you may wish to choose a specialist doctor (an obstetrician). In some places a general practitioner (a GP) who has been specially trained to care for pregnant women may be available.”

      • GPs who do obstetrics are considerably rarer than rocking-horse manure. Specialist Obstetricians will cost you an arm and a leg. So, unless you are very wealthy, or don’t mind hopping, you have no choice but a midwife. And almost all the older ones, who trained as nurses and then specialized in midwifery, have, understandably, retired.

        • Vlad

          All of this as a result of the the Labour Government man and science hating legislation, and for no other reason.

      • All public hospitals are required to provide access to independent midwives to their premises, The access agreement is prescribed by government gazette and is called a s.88 agreement. Hasn’t been updated by National and was last reviewed ten years ago. The form specifically prevents Hospital employees from challenging or questioning the clinical care provided by the LMC. Only if the LMC formally requests to hand over treatment can hospital clinical staff intervene.

  • nathanmills

    We had her for antenatal classes for our first born. Insane, and took herself VERY seriously. Still remember her tearing strips off some poor bugger who dared ask what formula he should use. We nicknamed her the nipple Nazi and never went back. We passed on feedback to the hospital to the effect that she was off putting and weird, looks like nothing much happened with it

  • cows4me

    “We should only have our baby in an environment we felt comfortable in having sex in”, cool, it’s back to the kitchen table then.

    • STAG

      the good sofa’s, the ones we dont let the fawns sit on.

  • And to think, in the old days, we used to burn these people at the stake. Assuming they didn’t escape on their broomsticks…

  • Phenandra

    The terrifying thing is that the teachers are almost certainly practicing midwives.

    Time for the government to grow a pair and regulate. Women’s and babies’ lives are being risked by this sort of retarded advice.

    • SlightlyStrange

      Not always. Our Childbirth Educator was just enthusiastic, but with no medical training, just some CBE training thing.
      Which was fine, but she was very scaremongering about intervention during labour and birth.

  • Dog Breath

    During the Labour phase for my daughters birth our first midwife nurse arrived starting her shift and apologised for being late from a witches meeting where it was her turn to read tea leaves. She started talking all sorts of mumbo jumbo which was overheard by the ward matron who came into the room to ask if the midwife was causing trouble. Wife and I said we found it amusing and it was OK. Did not matter the Matron removed the witch midwife from her ward and she had only done an hour of her shift. Never saw the witch midwife nurse ever again. Always wondered what ever happened to her.

  • DangerMice

    Most CBE’s are *not* midwives. It is a 2 year diploma course to be properly qualified as a childbirth educator. It involves both theory and practical work.

    CBE’s are not medical professionals, that is what your LMC is for.

  • The anti-medical infects the midwifery profession as well. Lecturers at the polytechs actively dissuade students from working in hospitals. A influential core consistently advocate that hospitals are not appropriate places to give birth, and midwives who have the ‘true calling’ would not want to work there. It is a significant issue not only for mothers who have complications but also their training program fails to provide training that aligns with working in a secondary health care environment.