Don't Retract Pack

Experienced, Beloved Local Midwife Faces 30 Years in Prison

Exuberant joy after an empowering HBAC (homebirth after cesarean) 

The midwife community of the Mid Atlantic region is being challenged. Karen Carr, an experienced and well sought after Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who has delivered over 1200 babies in the greater DC metro area, has recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter after the tragic death of a client’s baby. Karen has helped to change the lives of more then 700 families simply by trusting the mother and birth process.

Karen Carr is a specialist in her community and serves on any level she can to help women birth the way they want or need to birth. She empowers women - allowing them to trust their bodies and the process. The personalized care that Karen offers allows her to work with clients who, for a number of reasons including presentation or financial, would have to navigate the confines of a broken medical model of care with little or no respect for their birth wishes, hopes and desires otherwise. She is an advocate for mother and baby, and will stand by a mother as long as both the mother and child are safe. Karen is a teacher that has taken on many apprentices in her tenure as a CPM. Most importantly, she is a mother and grandmother, and has personally experienced a VBAC. As a result of her advocacy, education and personal experience, her practice boasts a VBAC success rate greater then 70%, and 96% of her mothers achieve vaginal birth.

This unfortunate turn of events for the Mid Atlantic midwife community is not without a silver lining. As a result of the local support for Karen a non-profit, In Service to Women, has been founded. In Service to Women’s immediate goal is to collect donations to help with Karen’s defense fees, estimated to cost upwards of $150,000. The long term goals of this wonderful foundation include creating a resource for other midwives nationally, offering preparation and prevention workshops, and making attorneys with experience and expertise in this type of case available. Ultimately, it’s about the education and support of a very important and much needed field of expertise with the end result of helping women and families nationally achieve the births they want and deserve.

In Service to Women, on behalf of Karen Carr and midwives everywhere, is reaching out to our international community of like minded families. The costs of losing a midwife like Karen Carr are far too great to even list. She is the cornerstone of our community. If we were to lose her, midwives and clients alike don’t believe the midwife community in the Mid Atlantic would ever be able to fully recover.

At this time In Service to Women is looking for donations, large or small, to help with Karen’s legal fees. If you'd like to help, donate, or read more about Karen (as well as commentary from the families she’s touched) please visit the In Service to Women website and stay up to date on the In Service to Women Facebook page.

Our hearts, prayers, and support are with you, Karen. Thank you for all you have sacrificed and all you've done for mothers and babies in the DC area.

Jill's hot summer night waterbirth outside, with rain falling all around

"Educated, experienced, strong, caring and intuitive: Karen supported me in my daughter's beautiful but difficult birth. She was calm, collected, and knowledgeable. Years of being a midwife were reflected in her aura. Natural processes of life and death are not reasons for blame. Midwives connect, bond, and feel with their clients - they are "with woman"...and this alone should show the antithesis of the ridiculous charges." ~ Jill Chasse



  1. I experienced a difficult labor with my second baby and my own midwife was unable to be with me. A wonderful apprentice midwife was with me, one who was good enough to recognize that I needed more help than she could give. Karen came to my home straight from her own brother's funeral. Such is her dedication to birthing women and the babies.

    Karen gave me exactly the direction and support I needed with just the right balance of experience, confident authority, and love. And after helping me get my son out without transferring, she gave him two breaths when he needed a little help getting going. She is our angel. I wouldn't want to give birth without her.

    Thank you, Karen, for all that you do. xo

  2. My first child was born at Johns Hopkins Bayview. Thanks to a mistake with the epidural, I ended up having to be put to sleep and placed on a ventilator. I was petrified of having another hospital birth. Karen delivered both of my other children at home. My homebirths were beautiful, calm, and empowering, everything that my hospital birth wasn't. Thank-you Karen!

  3. A "train wreck" of a situation describes my 1st birth. So w/#2 I knew a midwife @ home was the only way...No one supported my VBAC. Because Karen had a VBAC, I felt an emotional connection. This allowed me to trust her 100%. And when I believed going to the hospital was right for me, she supported me. She told my husband to take me to a hospital that was 45 min. further than the local ones, she knew it was my best chance. I never doubted my VBAC because she kept me focused and gave me realistic options. She was my doula @ the hospital and spoke for me when I couldn't. The victory @ the end of my VBAC was because of her encouragement, support and knowledge. This breaks my heart that we have to run around like criminals. Karen put herself on the line for me and I'm forever grateful. Our voices and stories are important...let us be heard! Without Karen I shudder to think of what would of happened to me.

  4. Karen was my midwife for my second set of twins. She is a wonderfully talented and gifted midwife who certainly went out of her way to take care of me. It takes such a tremendous amount of courage and dedication to be a midwife, especially one that is not a slave to the medical system. I am so very grateful to Karen for the help she gave to me and so many other women.

  5. Karen has been a skilled and wise presence at the birth of my three children. Home birth is right that must not be taken from women and families by the legal system. Karen, you have our love and support. I must believe that justice will prevail and you will be found not guilty!

  6. Suzanne said...
    Karen Carr delivered my 3rd son, in a beautiful home water birth, June, 2004. Her calm, confident manner encouraged me to feel nurtured and protected. Our son's arrival couldn't have been any better. I am willing to step up right now to help Karen when she needs us all.

  7. Karen delivered my twin boys, and it saddens me to know that bullying this poor woman is anywhere to be found on a prosecuting attorney's agenda. Get the drugs off the streets, go after the pedophiles. Leave Karen alone.

  8. I've been thinking a lot about Karen in these last couple of days, and my favorite memory of her emerged. After 35 hours of labor, the sun was coming up on the day my son would be born. My husband was taking a much needed nap and Karen was with me through contractions. She rubbed my back and talked me through each one, but then when it was over she would run to her phone and start making calls to cancel all the appts she had that day, because my baby was coming and another mom was also in labor elsewhere in the city. She would be talking on the phone and I would wave my arm; she'd say "hold on!" to the phone, run to my side, help me through the contraction, make sure I was ok, then return to the phone to keep rescheduling. it was hilarious, watching her juggle it all, but also seeing how completely she could be with me when i needed it.

  9. Karen & I had a very short working relationship when I became pregnant in the early 2000's. Unfortunately, I miscarried at 13-14 weeks, but I was always confident in her care. Later on I became pregnant & had a different midwife for my primary caregiver, but Karen was her backup midwife. Many of my friends have spoken highly of her professional, competent, loving care.

  10. Karen is loving women who makes the amazing experience of child birth even more amazing. I can't believe a good hearted women that tries to help with the happiness of others is going through this!

  11. Karen attended the birth of my two youngest daughters and I recommend her to everyone. For my second birth that went on for 25 hours, I would have been facing c-section-pressure and multiple interventions if I'd been in a hospital. But I trusted my body and she trusted my body as well. My daughter's shoulders were a bit sticky at the end and her calm and firm manner helped me change positions, when I didn't think it was possible, and with her help, my daughter arrived to a room full of love. And when my next pregnancy came around, I didn't hesitate to call her again and it was another wonderful birth. I support her work and feel all women should have access to skilled midwives for a homebirth.

  12. I have tears in my eyes after reading all of these wonderful stories about Karen. I first met Karen when I was 42 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child and planning my 2nd homebirth. I was an emotional wreck, facing an induction and loss of the birth I desired. Karen had no problem taking me on as a client at 16 days past my due date. Two days later she helped bring my healthy baby boy into this world. I am so grateful to her for that. She was also my midwife for 2 more 43+ week pregnancies-- pregnancies that no doubt would have ended with inductions with a different care provider.

  13. Karen helped make the birth of our son, Austin, an incredible and magical day. Her boldness and dedication to helping families experience the wonder of natural birth should be celebrated...not punished. Thank you Karen!

  14. It is so bizarre to me that when tragic events happen in a hospital with a Dr, the medical system is behind them 100% with insurance and all sorts of support...but if something happens with a midwife at a homebirth a witch hunt occurs. Sometimes nature is cruel, and I know we all look for reasons and someone to blame. It just makes me really sad. I will be following closely as this unfolds. Karen and all the families she has helped will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Karen...

    You guided Laura...
    Very little...
    Sitting on the edge of the your chair...
    ...From the corner....
    Prepared to help if necessary...

    Screams bellowing from my depths....
    Begging you for drugs... Or death.!!
    You stood up and walked to Laura and I...
    Said "You can do this. . . You have done this before...!"
    Looking at your eyes...
    Laura on her knees...
    I push...
    " here the baby comes Rachael"...
    " push "! Laura looks at me... Hands me my child...

    Laura Burgess...
    I love you.

    Milo Milton KOLB. Born December 1 2004...
    At 7:13 am.

    I had several miscarriages... Before carrying Milo full term.
    Karen came twice a week. Sometimes more.
    Carefully watching my early contractions... Sharing along the way... I was healthy...
    To believe this...Trust my body.

    After my sons birth
    A bond between all of Us...formed...
    never forgotten.
    Karen Carr...
    recommended by a multitude of mothers for my birth...

    Know how much support you have.
    And how much love surrounds you. X

  16. I also support a woman's right to choose where they want to birth their beautiful little blessings! For most of us we are sick and tired of having the hospital risk our lives by doing one intervention after another that only leads to another and ups our risk of hemorrhage AND c-section. Quit trying to persuade us from having a knowledgeable midwife available who imo understands a woman's body a heck of a lot more than a SURGEON who was trained to handle high-risk pregnancies and typically causes most pregnancies to become high risk! All they are worried about in most cases is one thing = MONEY! Wishing you all the very best Karen. God Bless ♥

  17. This is such a sad situation. No midwife should have to go through this unless it was true neglect on their part. From the responses above I dont see that being the case at all. Midwives are there for the momma more then any OB would be. Do we know who is pressing charges? Is it the family, law, or someone else? Anyone know where I can get more information on this case? It saddens me that this is happening.

  18. Holy cow...a midwife gets charged for a baby dying, but doctors get off scot-free when it happens?
    Something's wrong here and some serious picketing needs to happen!

  19. "It is so bizarre to me that when tragic events happen in a hospital with a Dr, the medical system is behind them 100% with insurance and all sorts of support...but if something happens with a midwife at a homebirth a witch hunt occurs."

    That's exactly what I was thinking ...

  20. After an extremely disappointing experience with OBs and hospital delivery, Karen was a breath of fresh air. She took time to see me as a person, not a patient. When she attended the birth of my daughter, Sarah, she was skilled, patient, and calm. She payed close attention to where I was in the birthing process, and was ready with exactly what I needed to have a peaceful, joyful and SAFE birth.

  21. Karen is such an amazing person; she has been with us through all three of my pregnancies and I trust her with my whole heart. She has been a rock in the middle of a difficult delivery, when she herself was not feeling well. We have a knack for waking her in the middle of the night, and she cheerfully shows up when we need her. During our third child's birth, she missed the delivery to go to a first-time mother, but not before she made sure we were well taken care of by her assistants. Karen, we are praying for you, and support you 200%.

  22. Karen was not my midwife, but I have had a homebirth & I support her & women's right to choose where & with whom they birth their babies.

  23. I have no unusual birth stories to tell - my 3 homebirths were as simple as could be and I credit that to the trust I had in my body, my God and my midwife. Karen was present at the delivery of my 3 boys and I will ever be grateful to her for that. She's an amazing woman and she has my support.

  24. How sad - for the family whose baby died, for Karen, and for the community.

  25. Karen was our midwife for our son. We were a planned home birth that didn't end up panning out. She transferred us to the hospital after a long labor after calmly and professionally assessing the situation. She didn't leave us once until our son was born and safe. He was born via cesarean and she held my hand the entire time in surgery. I would have normally been terrified but having her by my side, helping us with everything from the paperwork to reminding my DH to eat was nothing short of a blessing. Karen took my son from the nurses and held him to me so I could touch him and talk to him. He stopped crying as soon as I touched him. I will never forget this moment or what she gave our family. She also let my husband know via text (she saw one of the nurses using their cell so made the concession to inform my husband, and got scolded) that he had a little boy. My poor husband was a wreck, we'd been up for nearly 60 hours since the onset of labor and his blood sugar dropped as soon as we got to the hospital. He also doesn't do hospitals, needles or blood so was incredibly grateful to have Karen there for me. I will never forget this moment. I believe I had the labor and birth I needed to have to become the mother I've become. I never, not under any circumstances, would have been allowed to labor for 60 hours with no outside pressure and exhaust all my options in any other setting. She is our angle, and we love her dearly. It breaks my heart that she is going through this but I know her belief in birth and women will carry her through this safely. We love you Karen, and you have our full support!

  26. I've seen Karen in action and personally know all the many lives she's touched and the babies she's caught. To say she is a gift from God would be an understatement. I pray for her to stay free and keep doing the work our community needs and wants.

  27. I have had 4 HBAC's with Karen. She is in our prayers and thoughts daily!

  28. Every mother she provided care for and every child she birthed should show up at her trial. That would surely show something!

  29. Karen attended my HBAC attempt with twins, presenting whom was breech. She supported me unconditionally through 24 hard hours of labor and supported my decision to transfer when my labor stalled in transition. Did I mention she drove from Baltimore to the Philadelphia suburbs to attend my birth? She offered to act as my doula at the hospital, but we declined so as not to risk her career. My not-HBAC was one of the most transcendent experiences of my life regardless of the outcome and she was an enormous part of getting me through that.

    This woman is an angel, and this is tragic. The loss of a child is always tragic, of course, but the world seems to forget that babies die in hospitals, too...

  30. I love Karen like no other person on earth. I am eternally greatful for her wisdom and experience as she assisted my husband and I with the births of our 3 children. After the birth of the third I told her I hoped to only see her at someone elses home, my hands are full ;-) as someone else shared her favorite moment with Karen I was trying to think of mine. I think it has to be during the labor with my first child. We called her early in the morning when she asked to talk to me, she told me I wasn't working hard enough for her to come yet. To call her back in an hour or two. We were surprised since we live in central pa, 2 hours away. She arrived later in the am, made sure I was ok and asked what she could make herself for breakfast. I later found out she had been up all night with a slow progressing mom. She assisted our birth then made it back to the other mom in Time, more than 2 hours driving distance away. I've often wondered if she ever sleeps. Karen is a wonderful experienced wise midwife. My prayers are with this whole messy situation for righteous resolution.