Coroner: "Free Birth" Delivery Led to Baby's Death
An Australian coroner has found a lack of professional medical care contributed to the 2009 death of the newborn baby of "free birth" advocate Janet Fraser.
Fraser gave birth to her third child without the help of a nurse or midwife in an inflatable pool set up in the family's study. Only her partner and a friend were present.
Yesterday, NSW Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell determined that the baby (named Roisin) died moments after birth due to a "hypoxic episode," which was probably caused by the cord being tangled around her neck during delivery.
"Essentially she trusted in the assistance of two unqualified people," Mitchell told reporters. "There was no consultation with, let alone attendance by, any midwife, nurse or medical practitioner and none of those present at the birth had any current qualifications in CPR."
"As it was, her mother chose to rely on her own socio-political views about birthing and Roisin's chance of life was deferred to that decision," he continued.
Fraser gave birth to her first child via a caesarian delivery that she referred to as "birth rape." Her second child was born unassisted at home, but Fraser was rushed to hospital immediately after the birth with a uterine hemorrhage.
The ruling highlights the ongoing debate surrounding home births. Proponents say that hospitals rush through the delivery process and recommend Caesarian sections more frequently than necessary. They also argue that bringing a baby into a cold, sterile environment while hooked up to machines can be a traumatic experience for both the mother and her baby. But critics argue that in the event of a complication, homes do not have the life-saving equipment and doctors that are found in delivery wards.
Do you know anyone how opted for a home birth?