Homebirth death watch


Another month, another sad round up of homebirth deaths.

It’s only the 23rd of the month, but I’ve already been informed of 2 separate homebirth deaths.

One took place in Michigan. It was the “standard” homebirth death: 42 weeks gestation, careless monitoring, followed by inability to locate the fetal heart rate, followed by the frantic trip to the hospital, followed by ultrasound confirmation of the death of the baby. The mother gave birth shortly thereafter, but the baby was already dead.

Almost certainly this baby would be alive today if the mother had chosen hospital birth instead of a homebirth midwife.

The second death took place after a labor followed avidly in the a HBAC support administered by Meg Heket who runs the website Whole Woman, among others.

In June 2011, Heket described herself thus:

I am an Australian woman who had an hba2c and a stillbirth, 10 months ago. I read a lot about what’s happening in the US and think it’s important for women and midwives there to realise that THIS IS A WORLD WIDE ISSUE. It’s not just women and midwives in the US that are being hounded.

At present my own private midwife is being investigated on the most absurd of charges. I won’t detail them here due to privacy issues, but believe me when I say they’re completely inane. From what I gather, many of the complaints against midwives stem from transferring to a hospital. This upsets me a great deal because what I see is that when a woman and her midwife decide that it is appropriate to use medical technology, and transfer in a timely fashion, the midwife is reported FOR DOING HER JOB WELL.

We must stand together, around the world, to bring about real and lasting change. Change that benefits, women, babies, midwives, and society as a whole. Heal birth, heal the earth.

Apparently having let her own baby die at homebirth, she wants to encourage other women to do create their own tragedies.

The mother in question was attempting a UBA3C (unassisted homebirth after 3 C-sections).

It’s not as though she didn’t understand that babies can die. She had already lost 1 infant to SIDS and had multiple miscarriages. Several years ago she posted this video on YouTube to raise awareness of infant and pregnancy loss.

TR infant loss

What happened?

Birth Story of Garlen **Trigger warning: Loss, trauma**

I went into labor late Wednesday (4/1/15) night… Thursday my water broke, and I had a small leak, not the huge gush. I stayed hydrated to help replenish fluids. Contractions continued, and we monitored movement and when baby wasn’t moving much, we’d use the doppler to find baby’s heartbeat.

She labored on and off with rupture membranes for FIVE DAYS!

Around 5 am on Tuesday, I had been in and out of sleep from hard contractions, and I realized I hadn’t felt the baby move for a few hours. I got the doppler…and we couldn’t find their heartbeat. We came into the hospital. They confirmed with an ultrasound baby had passed… The attending said he would let me attempt a vaginal birth…

…They called another ultrasound, and found he was breech and the new attending doctor was not comfortable with me continuing …

They couldn’t give me any pain relief, so they started prepping me for a c-section under general. While the doctor was out, she came up with an idea of attempting vaginal delivery under the general and if it didn’t work, then they would go ahead with the c-section. Before the gases knocked me out, they were still trying to have me push in the OR.

She had labored on and off with ruptured membranes and a breech baby for FIVE DAYS!

I was in recovery when I woke up and they told me I had avoided the c-section. I had mostly superficial tearing. Nothing seemed terribly amiss until I got back to my room. They noticed a lot more blood than they expected. They started looking for bleeding tears, but none seemed to be enough to cause such significant bleeding. They soon realized it was coming from my uterus. Although my placenta had detached and they’d done a curettage after he was born, I had four small pieces of retained placenta. They had to perform another curettage without my having pain meds, otherwise they were going to have to perform a hysterectomy. Luckily they got the retained placental pieces out, and the bleeding resolved.

After they monitored me a little longer, I got to meet my son. (We hadn’t done any ultrasounds, so we were team green.) Garlen … was born sleeping at 3:43 pm on April 7, 2015. He was 9 lbs 3 oz and 21 inches long. He has a full head of black hair and daddy’s olive complexion.

Initially the mother insisted that the homebirth had nothing to do with the baby’s death; she believed that it was related to a blood clotting issue that she learned about at the hospital. However, the pathology report showed the baby had died of infection, not surprising considering that she had ruptured membranes for 5 days.

Almost certainly this baby would be alive today if the mother had chosen hospital birth. Instead she was so desperate to have a baby transit her vagina that she put his life on the line and lost it.

That’s two entirely preventable homebirth deaths this month SO FAR.

There is another potential tragedy unfolding in the HBAC support group. A woman attempting an HBA4C (yet, 4 previous C-sections!) has been laboring for the past 36 hours. She has ruptured membranes and noticed meconium. She went to the hospital, but left when they advised her to have a C-section.


Hopefully, she will ultimately go back to the hospital and everything will be fine.

I’ll keep you posted.