pregnancy

Lisa was a believer in freebirthing. Then she lost her baby.

This is the story of a freebirthing mother and a baby called Journey Moon.

As revealed by The Daily Beast, the mother, “Lisa”, is a 29-year-old woman living off the grid with her husband in the Californian desert.

The “free-spirited, natural” Lisa had stumbled across the freebirthing community online and decided that was the way she wanted to go for her baby. She wanted to give birth with no one there except her husband, in their remote desert home.

Lisa’s contractions started on October 2. Three days later she posted in a Facebook group called the Free Birth Society about the pain she was going through. The other members of the group encouraged her to keep going.

“You’re a legend,” wrote one. “It will happen.”

It was another three days before Lisa’s waters finally broke, but the fluid was a strange colour. She hadn’t been able to urinate for days.

Lisa finally decided it was time to go to hospital. The doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. After Lisa pushed for several hours, doctors called for a vacuum and an anaesthesiologist.

“Journey Moon was born a sleeping angel on Oct. 7 at 8 lbs 13 oz,” Lisa wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “She passed due to a massive urinary tract infection I had… I’m lying in the hospital writing this and get to go home tomorrow. We will be having Journey cremated.”

Anti-freebirthers who had joined the Facebook group were horrified to read Lisa’s comments. She told The Daily Beast that some contacted her directly, calling her a “baby killer”.

“What should have been a time of grieving and mourning alone with my family was now a time of defending myself from evil people and their horrible words,” she said.

Lisa’s story was picked up by bloggers, including Katie Paulson, who wrote a post about it.

As Paulson explained, she herself had gone through an “incredibly complicated” birth. Her son was lodged sideways in the birth canal and had to be pulled out with forceps. Throughout the labour, doctors gave her antibiotics in case she had the infection Strep B – and as it turned out, she did.

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“Imagine my surprise when today I get screenshots from a reader that mimic my birth, but instead of a positive outcome, the mother gave birth to a dead baby,” she wrote.

“She exposed her baby to a treatable infection. Ultimately her selfishness to have an unassisted birth killed a baby that could have survived.”

In Australia, deaths resulting from freebirths have also made the news. A baby born at home near Nimbin in February 2015 suffered brain injuries, and his life support was turned off days later. He had been lying sideways in the womb, and doctors had advised a hospital birth. A coronial inquiry found he might have survived if he had been born in a hospital.

Meanwhile, in 2009, homebirth advocate Janet Fraser gave birth to a girl, Roisin, with only her partner and friend present. The coroner later ruled that Roisin had died because the partner and friend couldn’t deal with the complications of a cord entanglement.

In Australia, less than one per cent of births are planned home births, according to the Royal Australian and NZ College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The college recommends that women who give birth at home should have an obstetrician or a qualified midwife present, and should also make a booking at a hospital.

In the days after Journey Moon’s death, her mother shared more of her story with the other members of the Free Birth Society. She explained that she kept her daughter by her side in her hospital bed for two days.

“Holding her, talking to her and bonding with her has been so healing,” she wrote. “I know I’m not finished grieving but I feel like I’m at a place of acceptance. I can say goodbye.

“We’ve tasked Journey with the special journey to usher in her future little brothers and sisters to us when the time comes and that they will always know of their big sister.

“Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it. I am sure we shall never forget Journey Moon, or this first parting that there was among us.”

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