The mother of a baby who died during a home birth in July 2011 went against her obstetrician’s warning when she recruited controversial home birth advocate Lisa Barrett to help with the birth of twins, a coronial inquest has heard.
The Australian reports Ms Barrett had already handed in her midwifery registration when the mother “panicked” after being unable to find a private midwife to help her – and asked Ms Barrett to fly to Perth to assist.
One of the babies, known as Baby P, died at the birth.
The Australian reported that while Baby P’s death was originally considered a stillbirth, a doctor has said that if he had been born in hospital his heart may have responded more rapidly and he may have survived.
According to the ABC, the inquest heard that the mother was advised to have a caesarean section, and told that a home birth was not suitable because of the risking nature of giving birth to twins.
But she declined partly because the hospital would not let her give birth in water, with no epidural and with limited monitoring.
“I felt dread thinking about going to hospital and agreeing to major surgery,” she said. “She was my last option… I don’t think the fact she let go of her registration makes her unqualified.”
The inquest is part of an investigation by WA Coroner Sarah Linton into three West Australian homebirth-linked baby deaths, one of which involved Ms Barrett, The Australian reports.
Since Baby P’s death, Ms Barrett has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Health Practitioners Tribunal in Adelaide over her involvement in three homebirth deaths over a five-year period — and she was banned from providing birthing services by SA’s community complaints commissioner in December last year, The Australian reports.
But counsel assisting Kate Ellson said when opening the hearing on 30 September that the purpose of the inquests was not to lay blame.
“The primary purpose of each of these inquests is to clarify the circumstances in which each of the three children died,” she said.
“In doing so, this court will necessarily consider ways in which deaths like (these) can be prevented and will consider ways the current health system already operates to support home birthing, so as to ensure it continues to do so in a safe and considered way.”
Barrett, who moved to Australia with her family in 2002 from the UK, writes on her website “Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny”: “I am experienced in all types of birth and this includes birthing at home with babies in a breech position, twins and birth after caesarean.Anyone who believes they want and need this service should be entitled to get it.”
Mamamia has written in detail about Lisa Barrett’s involvement in the deaths of four babies, plus a 2012 coroner’s finding that all four of those deaths “could and should have been prevented”; You can read that post here.