How many dead babies does it take to convince a homebirth advocate?

You might think a nurse would know better. But evidently not and her infant daughter paid with her life.

… She told me the stories of her home birth experiences with her other 3 children and how she absolutely LOVED the labor experience. Anna knew we would all think she was absolutely insane for saying that, but didn’t care. She really is a free spirit and speaks her mind. She was studying to become a midwife herself and did not have much longer to go before she graduated.

Anna had a midwife. She had been found to colonized with group B strep. She had received a prescription for penicillin but it is not clear whether this was oral penicillin or the IV antibiotics that are needed during labor.

… Anna’s water broke at 9pm. She labored through the night at home… The next day she continued to labor and her midwife came to her house in the late afternoon. The midwife brought with her, the Doppler monitor to assess the babies heart rate. It was at that moment that they discovered the heart rate to be in the 60’s (normal fetal heart rates are about 120-160). This was alarming and Anna quickly got herself onto our unit. There they discovered that yes, the baby’s heart rate was in the 60’s. Without a way to know how long this had been going on they quickly got Anna admitted and began interventions to get the baby’s heart rate back to normal. It did return to normal for a while, but dropped again and would not come up. They rushed Anna back for a c-section in desperate attempts to save the baby’s life.

Anna had had ruptured membranes for more than 18 hours and it appears that she did not have IV antibiotics. She had labored for those 18 hours without checking the baby’s heart rate and by the time it was checked, the baby was having deep bradycardias (abnormally slow heart rate). She transferred to the hospital immediately, and, as we know, homebirth advocates think that is all that is needed to save a baby’s life. Evidently not.

As they cut into her uterus they quickly discovered the meconium the baby had passed as a result of being very stressed out, along with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck twice). They finally got the baby out (IT’S A GIRL) and passed her off to the resuscitation team… [S]he’d aspirated (breathed in) a lot of the meconium. Slowly her condition began to deteriorate… Dr’s and nurses struggled to save this baby girl’s life. They got her stable enough to be able to transport to another facility [for] more intensive care…

Within 12hrs of her arrival at the other facility. Anna lost her sweet baby girl. A result of sepsis and DIC, her sweet angel baby was gone forever.

This appears to be an entirely preventable death. While the mother was reveling in her freedom to labor in her own home, her baby was being ravaged by group B strep, AND asphyxiating because of a tight nuchal cord. Despite an expeditious transfer to the hospital, an emergency C-section, and expert neonatal resuscitation, the baby died.

As Anna’s friend, also a nurse, points out:

… I want everyone out there to know that you just don’t know what can happen at any given moment, and even if you live 5 minutes from the hospital, things can still go very very wrong and not turn out ok. Even with all of her knowledge as a RN working in L&D and a midwife in training, Anna could not stop this tragedy from happening.

Even among the tiny group of superstars in the homebirth movement, at least 3 have forfeited their babies’ lives in exchange for their philosophy. Laura Shanley, Janet Fraser and Ina May Gaskin let their babies die rather than seek medical care. And all continue to promote the philosophy that killed their own babies, staunchly insisting that their philosophy won’t kill yours.

How many babies have to die at homebirth before homebirth advocates wake up to the reality that homebirth kills babies?