Death. After a birth.

After having a rant over the following story at Kiwiblog, I have allowed a couple of days cooling off period before commenting here. ¬†The conclusions that I have arrived, at after good dose of the mantra “think, think, think”, are the same as I inferred originally. It’s a bollocks story intended to whip women with their reproductive choices.

The Melbourne Age reports  the sad story of a maternal death in childbirth. Talk about hoisting someone with their own petard. The woman was an active advocate of homebirth who subsequently died of heart failure after (shock, horror) a home birth  As yet, it is unknown if atempting a home birth contributed to her demise.  With a cursory glance it is obvious the journalist is hopelessly incorrect with the sensationalist head line and introduction:

“Mum Dies in Home Birth Tragedy.”
A mother who died while giving birth to her daughter at her Melbourne home was a strong advocate for home-births, declaring in a government submission that she would be have no choice but to have an unassisted birth at home if midwives were not legally protected.
Wrong, wrong, and more wrong. The mother did not die while giving birth to her daughter at her Melbourne home. she went into cardiac arrest during or after birth and died in hospital 24 hours later. 

That the baby was fine immediately suggests it wasn’t a botched or risky home birth. The baby generally suffers first from lack of blood supply, unless it is pumping directly from the mother as in most Placenta Praevias. ¬†It is also possible the woman had an undiagnosed heart condition that may have proved fatal even if she had birthed in¬†hospital.
Death in or after childbirth happens. This article used the irony that she previously advocated home birth in a submission supporting home birth, to whip the poor dead woman over her own choice of place to birth. I have submitted on various education issues in my time. If I were to expire in an education related incident, the two events would be totally unrelated. As this woman’s submission is unrelated to her death by cardiac arrest.

I believe this story is a kind of cheap shot journalism pioneered by women against women. Some botox filly journalist spots the irony and pulls together the resultant headline, without checking if the conclusions she has drawn hold water. Of course the blogosphere erupts into debate about the selfishness or otherwise of women to want to give birth at home away from medical intervention, should it be required.

There is a portion of society that thinks it’s madness to want to birth at home. Understandable. On the face of it, our sterile hospitals are reasonably fail-safe, and why would you take risks? However, that birth trauma and dramas that can accompany interrupted breastfeeding can occur from being in a high intervention hospital setting is well documented.
Hormones that regulate our every well being and that are responsible for the begetting in the first place,  have an enormous role to play in bonding and breast-feeding during and following birth.
The mechanisms of these hormones can be interfered with hospital processes.
Hormones schmormones you might say.  Get baby out safely. However a mother and her baby should be completely bonded for the complete safety and well-being of the infant.This is a factor that should be examined in our dreadful child abuse epidemic. There is a well-known set of twins who ended up dead because the Mother did not protect them. With a strong bond, you protect your children at all costs. NCGBMAMK.
Some women wish to birth at home, because in the ideal world it is ideal for the period following birth. It is a valid choice. I have friends who have birthed at home. Good on ’em. I couldn’t, but it is nice to know that it is done.
Like any other situation we take relevant data and personal accounts to make an informed decision for ourselves and our loin-fruit. Not necessarily the “right” decision either. Anytime, any day we make decisions based on relevant data and gut instinct, any of these could lead to “tragedy”. Usually though the tragedy of a babies death during home birth results from other factors, not from distance from an operating theatre. Error occurs in every industry. We should not go on a midwife witchhunt because of some rare individuals that choose midwifery instead of a more suited profession with less horrendous consequences.
Another more positive angle could have been inferred in this story. To my mind, it is lucky that cases like this are assisted. No-one would be there if things went wrong, if midwives were not legally protected and therefore not able to accompany woman during a home-birth. (Though presumably all women would then be good brood mares and deliver in hospitals.
This is more or less the case these days, anyway. We’re all birth in hospital “just in case” something goes wrong, “we’re in the right place”. You know, if we need to draw upon the expertise of the “Superior Caesarean Fairies”.
It may not make much of a difference to outcome, if you live within driving distance of a hospital. If something goes wrong there is generally wait time on the operating theatre equal to a 20 minute / half an hour driving time, regardless. The cases in which they have to get baby out NOW (ie within 15 minutes) are few and far between; there is plenty of warning and most women are on the antenatal ward for weeks.
In my last pregnancy I was in a situation where they had to get babies (twins) out NOW and I had been on the antenatal ward for weeks. Suddenly I was in Delivery Suite and I was looking at a litre and 1/2 of blood on the floor. That was 6pm, when they made the call for a Caesarean under general anesthetic.
Baby A (Thing One) was born at 9.13pm and Baby B (Thing 2) was born at 9.14 pm. “NOW” is generally stretched out to ensure optimum conditions for the babies birth, particularly when they are premature as mine were.
It’s not M*A*S*H boys and girls where you’re wheeled into triage, successfully operated on immediately, and leave thanking your lucky stars you were in the right place and gosh darn bless that nice Colonel Potter. It’s dirty old childbirth. Mine is one story among many, and regardless if you are for or against home birth; we and our children are here because of the vigilance that everyone employs, mother or professional.
After a short stint in the Neonatal unit, both Thing One and Thing Two were fine.

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