Mom's Tragic Death Highlights Risks of Home Births

Heartbreaking 102

baby footA story broke yesterday that will put a chill into the heart of any expectant mom. But it will likely come as a particularly unwelcome shock to those who are planning for a home birth: A young Australian woman who had been a staunch, outspoken advocate for home birth, died last week following the birth of her second child, whom she delivered at home, attended by midwives.

According to reports, 36-year-old Caroline Lovell was able to hold her newborn daughter in her arms, but was already in cardiac arrest and critical condition when paramedics arrived to transport her to the hospital for care. Lovell died the next day. Her baby, Zahra, survived. Lovell also had a 3-year-old daughter, named Lulu.

Would the same thing have happened to Lovell if she had chosen a hospital birth over a home birth? If Lovell had access to the care and equipment available to her at a full-scale medical facility when her complications set in, would she have survived? We will, of course, never know.

But it does serve as a sharp reminder that childbirth carries risks no matter where you deliver, and when complications occur, a hospital is not a bad place to be. As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted last year in a statement on planned home births, hospitals and birthing centers are the safest places to give birth: "Although the absolute risk of planned home births is low," the group advised, "published medical evidence shows it does carry a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of newborn death compared with planned hospital births."

For many of us, home births just don't seem worth the added risk -- to our babies or to ourselves. And for the growing number of women who believe the benefits of a home birth outweigh the risks? I wish them healthy, uncomplicated, safe deliveries -- and mourn together with them the loss of a woman who fought for their right to give birth as they choose. It's a loss that is not only shocking, but also just so sad.

Does Caroline Lovell's death affect your view of home births?

 

Image via limaoscarjuliet/Flickr

complications, delivery, homebirth, is it safe, labor, labor & delivery

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Lynette Lynette

She died in a HOSPITAL.  She got there.  Most likely she would have had the same outcome no matter where she birthed.  She must have had a preexsisting condition. 


I am having a low risk pregnancy, no preexisting conditions and with that I strongly believe my baby and I will be SAFER staying at home for the birth w/ the assistance of a CPM(Certified Professional Midwife).

nonmember avatar Michelle

My deepest condolences to her family.



I had my first at home 2 months ago and I'll be planning to have my next at home also, as long as its as easy and uncomplicated as my first.

loveb... lovebeingmrs

I believe the mid wife missed something

Loref... Lorefield

Before you get too defensive, try to remember the fact that if she were giving birth in hospital, she would have been monitored by nurses and a doctor the entire time. It's pretty likely that her condition would have been caught a lot sooner and she would have had a better chance of survival. Another article I read said that at first glance, it looks like she hemorraged severely giving birth. So YES, home birth can be risky. No one is saying not to do it, but don't fool yourself, and others, that there is no element of danger.

nonmember avatar Shelly

Lynette - The woman who died under the same circumstances you mention for yourself. Not that I'm saying it would happen to you, God knows no one wants anything to happen to any mom!!! What I'm saying, is she was low risk. She had home-birthed before. Yes, she MADE IT to the hospital. What if she had gone into cardiac arrest AT the hospital? Could being at a hospital prevented her from going into arrest? My sneaking suspicion, is yes. I hope this isn't a case of a woman standing by her home-birthing conviction so staunchly, she left her family without a mother. I hope she didn't refuse help earlier. If that's the case, that's even more tragedy thrown at this poor family.

katie... katiebug1313

why would you give birth at home? i had to have an emergency c-section. had i not been in a hospital, i would have died, along with my daughter.

fave82 fave82

Thank you shelley and lorefield! Nice to know someone has some sense!

Bulle... Bullet_Proof_Me

Are you also going to write an article the next time a woman dies from complications from an c-section? Or a baby dies from complications from early induction? This fear mongering needs to stop and people need to read all the research out there that shows how planned home births are often safer for both mother and child than an overly medicated birth at a hospital.

Kwiat2 Kwiat2

I simply don't feel confident in midwives. And seeing the mess I made at the hospital, I wouldn't want to have that in my house. I just don't get putting so much emphasis on the birth...it's the child that comes afterwards that's important. Most of the women I know are into home births as a sort of bragging right, to see who can be the bigger earth-mother, the tougher one because they didn't use drugs.

I have much faith in my doctors, and I wouldn't risk being far from a hospital if something did arise.

Jespren Jespren

Why would you give birth in a hospital? Don't you know how risky it is? Babies and women die in hospitals EVERY DAY...see, I can do it to.

A woman died giving birth, horribly tragic for the family. *possibly* preventable (just like some hospital deaths are *also* preventable!) had she been in a hospital, maybe, maybe not. There really isn't any monitoring they do in the hospital that a midwife doesn't. They check pulse and blood pressure too.

But a women dying while giving birth at home isn't going to 'scare' me into a hospital (in and of itself) anymore than a woman dying in a hospital would 'scare' me into a homebirth.

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