ROLAND, Okla. (KNWA) — New parents are sharing their story about the birth of their son at a certified midwife’s home that ended with mom and baby having to be hospitalized for three days. Suzie Bigler took to social media to let other mothers know her message — do your research before trusting someone with your life.
On May 25th Suzie Bigler and her husband Corley of Spiro, Oklahoma headed to certified Midwife Debbie Disch’s birthing center in Roland, a time in their life they now recall as a nightmare. “This is so huge and so traumatic you can’t stay quiet,” Bigler said.
Bigler says their experience started out rocky after she claims Disch advised family members leave the center during the birth, but it was the reason Bigler says they chose to go with a midwife in the first place — family.
Bigler says after several hours of pushing and being moved into different positions they found out the baby was breached, “I feel like at that point, if she would’ve just said to us, ‘I think it might be time we make a transfer before this becomes an emergency,’ I would’ve had a lot of respect for her,” Bigler said.
Bigler claims Disch later started pressing on her abdomen and decided to perform an episiotomy using a pair of scissors. Bigler says Disch told her she’d never performed one before. “Those were the scissors that were going to be used for the cord-cutting,” Corley said.
After more than 30 hours of labor, on May 27th, baby boy Spencer was born, but he wasn’t breathing. Bigler claims Disch dropped Spencer before trying to resuscitate him. “I didn’t know what else to do so I just started talking to him,” Bigler said. “After what seemed like forever, he started crying.”
Bigler says thanks to her father who is in the medical field, they were able to use a scalpel from his medical emergency kit to cut the cord. Then when Bigler stood up, she realized she was hemorrhaging. Her mother demanded they call 911 but says the midwives were against it. “In hindsight, we think they didn’t want the paramedics in their facility because the second my mom said we’re going to the hospital Debbie told Janette [Disch’s assistant] to get things out of the room,” Bigler claims.
Suzie and baby Spencer were taken to a Fort Smith hospital where they spent three days recovering.
Since then, the couple learned in 2016 Disch was fined $4,000 by the Arkansas State Board of Health for practicing without a license and was barred from getting a license in the state.
The Bigler’s say they want to share their story to stress the importance of researching people before using their services, advice licensed midwife Maria Chowdhury of Fayetteville says is crucial.
“Don’t meet with just one midwife, you want to meet with as many midwives as possible,” Chowdhury said. She advises expecting parents ask questions about the midwife’s credentials and what plans they have if an emergency were to happen. She has a series of questions to ask posted on her website here. “You’re spending the time with the midwife to get to know them personally, ‘what education do you have? Why are you a midwife?'” Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury, who’s also on the State’s Midwife Advisory Board, says some states like Arkansas require midwives to be certified. There are different types of certifications, but both include extensive hours of school and hands-on work. Other states like Oklahoma however, do not require a license. “If we want to eradicate unlicensed midwives, legalize midwifery,” Chowdhury says.
We reached out to Disch and she released this statement, “I’m sorry Suzie and her family are upset and I understand they’re wanting to have a complaint and that’s fine but there are better ways going about complaining and that’s through the proper channels, possibly even wanting to talk to me. They’ve been refusing to talk to me but I’d be happy to sit down with them and go through this.” Disch said she’s hired an attorney.