By MAMAMIA NEWS
Between 2007 and 2013, four babies died during home births.
According to the coroner, each of these deaths was preventable. And each of them had something else in common; they were presided over by former midwife turned home birth advocate Lisa Barrett.
A home birth is a conscious decision on the part of the mother to hold a birth in a non-clinical setting, often using ‘natural childbirth’ methods in place of pain relief drugs. They are typically attended by midwifes, who specialise in this field – without any doctors or specialised medical equipment that can only be found in hospitals.
And they are only recommended for standard low-risk pregnancies – not for multiple births, breech births, births in which the mother is older or the baby is premature or overdue. And not when the mother has a history of complicated previous births requiring high level medical assistance such as a caesarean.
For the most part, homebirths occur without any drama. But sometimes they do not. These four cases were situations where things went horribly, tragically wrong.
Barrett moved to Australia with her family in 2002 from the UK and was in charge of the Ashmore maternity unit in South Australia. However, after gaining her visa, Ms Barrett began practicing home births. On her website called “Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny” Lisa Barrett (who admits she is not in fact a midwife but a ‘birth advocate’) states, “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.”
In 2012, Anthony Schapel, a South Australian coroner revealed that all four of these children’s deaths ‘could and should have been prevented’.
Meaning these babies could and should have survived had their mothers agreed to undergo a caesarian – or had they opted to give birth in a hospital as opposed to a home birth with one unregistered midwife.
At the time, Ms. Barrett informed the coroner that she had withdrawn her midwifery registration, and had opted to act only as a birth advocate. However in January of this year she was linked to a 5th homebirth death.
Following the inquest Mr. Schapel recommended stricter guidelines to stop unregistered midwives delivering babies, and higher public education into the risks of homebirth.