parents

The stories that never get told: When home births go dangerously wrong.

“My baby almost died. I almost died.”

When Ashley Martin decided to have her fifth baby at home, she’d imagined “that picture perfect birth – just like all the other home birth photos showed”.

“I wanted to be that pretty momma – laughing during labor – sitting in the pool looking glamorous and happy,” she writes on her blog. “I really thought I was doing the best thing for my baby. I was told that it was safe.”

But what Ashley endured instead was a “horrifying” ordeal that almost left her and her baby boy dead.

“It was awful. Horrifying. Scary. Traumatic,” is how she describes the birth in a frank blog post on Mom to Five.

“Worst day of my life is a huge understatement,” she adds. “My baby almost died. I almost died.”

Little Zinn suffered serious complications at birth. He is now healthy, at 16 months old. (Photo: Facebook)

“I left my birth feeling broken, beaten down, cheated. I felt like no one there really cared about the most important thing: my child’s safety and well-being,” she says.

“I had concerns [during] the last month that were brushed off. I was told and taught to ‘trust birth’, ‘trust your body’, and ‘your body can’t grow a baby too big!’.

Despite having a  midwife, assistant and a student apprentice in the midwifery program present at the birth, as she told news.com.au, the birth became complicated after Ashley’s son, Zinn, was born at 9lbs 14.5oz in a brow presentation, with his neck and head slightly extended.

He also had shoulder dystocia, an obstetric emergency where the baby’s shoulders fail to deliver shortly after its head.

“It took them almost nine minutes to get him out of me,” she writes. “My baby was born lifeless and limp (and d) uring all of this – I had NO idea what was going on. I had no idea he was stuck and that this was an emergency. No one was monitoring my vitals or his. No one was trained for this type of emergency.”

ADVERTISEMENT

When emergency services were finally called after his birth, Ashley describes, “The first thing that was said, ‘There is no heart beat, I don’t hear a heart beat’.”

“He was taken from my bathroom into the ambulance when he was six minutes old. Weak pulse, still limp and lifeless, still not breathing. I didn’t know how he was until several hours later.”

while the experience didn’t turn Ashley against home birth, she is now an advocate for making home birth safer – and she wants to warn other mothers not “to make the same mistake” she did. (Note: This is a stock image.)

Sixteen months later, little Zinn is healthy and well, and his proud mother describes him as “a fireball…  a burst of crazy energy”.

And while the experience didn’t turn Ashley completely against home birth, she is now an advocate for making home birth safer — and she wants to warn other mothers not “to make the same mistake” she did.

“You may see those laughing mamas in labor at home – all those smiles at their home birth – but when things go wrong, it goes downhill REALLY quickly,” she writes on her blog. “You are not just ‘down the hall’ from an operating room. You don’t have a neonatologist in the next room. You honestly don’t have anyone qualified for an emergency next to you.”

Now her story is going viral, the mum has set up a Facebook page for mother to share stories of their own traumatic or fatal home births — and to raise awareness of the risks associated with home birth.

“After my story went viral, there was an outpouring of support and tragic stories from mothers just like me who were too afraid to speak out,” she explains on her blog.

“Traumatic births can happen in any setting. It is reality. We can not just ignore or delete the traumatic home birth stories.”

00:00 / ???