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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femal... femaleMIKE

i think that home birth is not for everyone.  I don't think it should be illegal. 

we all suffer the consequences of our action (whether its good or bad) so women should be able to make their own decisions.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

The fact of the matter is: Yes, you can have a safe, uneventful home birth. Most women do. If you choose to do a homebirth, awesome! Good luck, and I hope everything goes beautifully.

But giving birth to a baby is one of THE most traumatic things for your body to go through. Even if everything seems to go smoothly, there may be complications. Birth puts a LOT of stress on your body.

So, ultimately, the choice is yours. And yes, doctors tend to try to rush and push women into medical interventions, so you do have to really stand up for yourself in a hospital birth. There are serious risks to c-sections and inductions as well.

But, homebirthers, please don't downplay the risks. There is always a risk to giving birth - which is why so many women choose to do it with doctors around. I'm not saying DON'T do a homebirth, I'm just saying PLEASE weigh all the risks, pros, and cons before making the decision.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

RhondaVeggie - Post your statistics and your source, or don't make statements like that.

Aeris... AerisKate

I feel very lucky and blessed to have been able to give birth to both of my children with midwives in a great hospital.  For me, it was like having the best of both worlds (although I have way too much anxiety to have been able to do it at home).  I loved using the midwives who are more willing to work with the mom on a natural labor, but still be in a hospital with all possible medical care in my room should a problem arise. I know that not everybody has access to a midwifery practice that is part of a hospital system, but I sure wish everyone did! I highly recommend it. 

OneAl... OneAllergicMama

I gave birth in a hospital (my choice), was sent home two days post-partum with pneumonia (which I had prior to givng birth).  I was still so swollen from retained fluid that I walked out of the hospital barefoot, because I couldn't get shoes on.  About a week after my daughter's birth, I had a stroke and pregnancy related heart failure.  My OB swore up and down that I did not have ecclampsia and yet, I have bloodwork results and tests in hand that show otherwise. 

I just thank God everyday that I got up to pee that night and my husband came up and realized that I was having a seizure.  Too add insult to injury, that same hospital sent me home three days after I had brain surgery, directly from ICU.  

Hospitals are not always the safest place to have babies.  Look at percentages of deaths at home compared to hospitals. 

Kritika Kritika

Whatever she knew the risk and took it. I hope it was worth it.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Most homebirths are safe and most hospital births don't end up with tragic consequences as rhonda veggie seem to imply with her blanket fearmongering statement but not everyone who is adament about having a homebirth should take that risk. My friend who was a midwife told a few women that were high risk that it wasn't the ideal situation for them and they basically fired her for someone else that gave them the answer they wanted and couple of those women ended up in dire situations due to their desire to have empowering experience flopping around in their living room baby pool. I know people like to hate on OB's but I can tell you there are midwives out there that aren't qualified to water a plant let alone assist in homebirth so you have to do you research and take the good with the bad. If they tell you, you aren't the right candidate to do this, don't take offense, maybe compromise and go to a birthing center instead.

refle... reflect1light

My heart goes out to this family, but it doesn't change how I feel about having a baby... it will always be at home.

kay4kids, one statement you made stood out to me "I trust my care to them completely"... this is the problem with our maternal system now. We should never blindly trust someone else with our care. We need to be in control and make informed decisions based on our own research. It doesn't matter where you give birth, you should know why you have certain tests or not, etc. I think most important is knowing what procedures might happen during labor and why.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

So reflect1, if you had a midwife that told you it's alright to go forward with a homebirth even though your tests indicate otherwise? Just curious...

refle... reflect1light

jpfsmom I don't understand what you are asking. If I was told I was high risk and homebirth was not safe for me, first I would look at what the risks are. Some moms are told because they weigh more than they "should" they are not candidates for hb... I find that absurd. Often you here "too fat to have a baby, too skinny to have a baby" but really I think it is how healthy are you?

Personally in my 2 births, I bleed a lot. Not hemerogh, but enough that with my first my midwife was concerned. Does that make me high risk? Not in my mind. Midwives are trained in blood loss and how to stop it... and if not, I am 5 minutes to the hospital.

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