Plans for a high-risk home birth, after which the baby died, were not acted on due to a lack of community service staff, a coronial inquest in Lismore has heard.
The inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of a baby born near Lismore in February 2015.
The court heard the parents planned to deliver the child themselves, despite the foetus lying in a transverse, or sideways, position.
Counsel assisting the deputy coroner, Sasha Harding, said in her opening statement the couple’s GP outlined his concerns but they were ignored.
A report was made to the Child Wellbeing Unit, and the matter referred to Lismore Community Services.
The court heard that due to the number of referrals received from the Child Protection Helpline, the centre was unable to allocate 75 per cent of matters classified as being “risk of serious harm”.
The baby’s parents have both denied planning a home birth, despite not making arrangements to have the child delivered at any local hospitals, the court also heard.
The baby was blue, flaccid: nurse
The baby had a pulse but was not breathing when he was born.
He was taken to Nimbin Hospital and initially seen by registered nurse Petria Maher.
The court heard Ms Maher approached the car and found the baby lying between his parents, who were having a conversation about the placenta.
A quote from Ms Maher’s statement was read to the court:
“No one was giving the baby resuscitation or attending to the baby whatsoever when I first spoke to them all,” she said.
“The baby was pale, blue, flaccid, apnoic [not breathing or moving].
“The baby was not wrapped in anything and was cold to touch.”
The little boy was given ventilatory support and transferred to Lismore Base Hospital, then the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital intensive care nursery.
Life support was turned off three days after the birth.
Babies in that position should be delivered by caesarean
The court heard an expert report by obstetrician and gynaecologist Doctor John Mutton classified the birth as an incomplete breech presentation.
Dr Mutton said babies in such a position should always be delivered by caesarean section.
The baby’s parents will give evidence later this week as the inquiry continues.
The inquest is due to hear from at least a dozen witnesses with another four on standby.
They include a police investigator, medical staff from the hospital and those involved in the home birth.
The deputy coroner has issued a non-publication order covering any names or images that might identify the family.
She is also considering a solicitor’s application to appear on behalf of a group known as Human Rights in Childbirth.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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