Homebirth 2012: death toll and more


Thinking about homebirth?

Think again.

All the women below thought homebirth was a great idea, their bodies were “made to birth” and they were “educated” and their midwives were competent. They were wrong, and you might be wrong, too.

Is this fear-mongering? Damn straight it is! Only a fool doesn’t fear and respect the risk of death in childbirth.

It’s time for my annual review of homebirth, and this year the death toll is higher than ever before. I’m not sure if it’s because the death toll from homebirth, already triple that of comparable risk hospital birth, has risen further, or because homebirth tragedies receive more publicity, but both the news and my email inbox were filled with an extraordinary number of homebirth deaths.

Below are 23 cases of neonatal death at homebirth, plus one case of profound neonatal brain injury. Every single one of the deaths was preventable in a hospital setting. There were also 2 maternal deaths; at least one and probably both were preventable in the hospital setting.

These are just the highlights. There were additional cases of homebirth resulting in profoundly brain injured newborns that aren’t mentioned in this review.

Neonatal deaths

Another homebirth horror story
Unassisted birth of a single footling breech. Baby born dead

A medical student learns about homebirth
Mother attempting homebirth transferred to hospital and refused medical interventions. After ultimately agreeing to a C-section, baby was born profoundly brain injured and died.

I would do it all again … even knowing the outcome
Mother “cherishes” the attempted homebirth of a single footling breech, despite the cord prolapse that led to the baby’s death.

Just watched a newborn die in front of my eyes.”
EMT called to a homebirth when midwife could not resuscitate the baby. The baby died in front of his eyes.

Multiple homebirth deaths, endless regrets
1. Fetal distress, transfer to the hospital, baby dead.
2. Fetal distress, transfer to the hospital, baby dead.
3. Baby born severely compromised, ultimately died
4. Shoulder dystocia resulted in a dead baby.
5. Florence’s homebirth was “perfect,” except, perhaps, for the part where she died.

Denial: for homebirth advocates it’s not just a river in Egypt
Fetal distress not diagnosed by midwife; baby unexpectedly born dead.

This week in homebirth deaths
1. Homebirth; baby died of sepsis.
2. Hemorrhage during labor; baby died.
3. Baby died 2 days after homebirth.

Dr. Biter presides over a homebirth death
Prolonged labor, chorioamnionitis, baby dead already dead when mother transferred to the hospital.

Third homebirth death in North Carolina
Four days of labor, mother transferred to the hospital, baby dead.

Ever more homebirth deaths
1. Mother and midwife ignored the fact that the baby turned blue in the hours following birth; baby died of overwhelming sepsis the next day.
2. Fetal distress, transfer to the hospital, baby born dead.

Jailed midwife yet another example of why the CPM credential must be abolished
Mother and baby transferred to the hospital 6 days after homebirth. Baby had bleeding in the brain and retinas. Mother had a major infection because the placenta had not yet been delivered.

It was an awesome experience … too bad the baby died
Mother still believes her experience was “awesome” even though the baby was born unresponsive and ultimately died.

Yes, it is your fault that your baby died at homebirth
Midwife failed to diagnose fetal distress. Baby unexpectedly born dead.

Latest in homebirth deaths plus a near miss
1. Baby died after delivery from the breech position by a midwife whose license had been suspended.
2. Baby died of overwhelming Group B strep sepsis.

Two more homebirth deaths
1. Attempted VBAC at home, uterine rupture, baby died.
2. Fetal distress, transfer to the hospital, baby already dead.

Maternal deaths

In Australia: No choice?
In England: Mother bleeds to death at homebirth, but at least she had “a really lovely spontaneous birth”

Homebirth in the scientific literature

Two new studies show increased risk of death and serious complications at homebirth
Cochrane Review on homebirth is a piece of garbage
Cochrane Review, already noted for childbirth reviews riddled with statistical errors, claims that homebirth is safe based on one study of 11 women.

Homebirth in the news

The death toll of California homebirth
First rally for homebirth safety
Idaho midwives responsible for 3 neonatal deaths pay $5 million for a fourth disaster
Brilliant series on the dangers of homebirth
No wonder Colorado homebirth midwives hid their 2010 death statistics
Homebirth in the Daily Beast
Coroner: Homebirth deaths at Lisa Barrett’s hands were entirely preventable

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