Unlicensed Midwife Charged After Baby Dies in Tragic Home Birth Gone Wrong

Photos of Angela Hock shared on her Instagram page
Nebraska Birth Keeper/Instagram

A woman from Omaha, Nebraska, has been charged with negligent child abuse after overseeing a home birth that resulted in the baby's death. Police are investigating what exactly happened on June 15, when Angela Hock -- who was acting as a midwife but was not licensed -- tended to the labor and delivery of a 25-year-old mother whose baby was breech.

  • According to the American Pregnancy Association, breech births occur in about 1 out of every 25 full-term deliveries.

    Although most babies will descend into the delivery position during the last few weeks of pregnancy (facing down, head first), some may settle into place with their feet or butt positioned to come out first (aka breech position). This can complicate a delivery because it deprives the baby of oxygen for a period of time while the head makes its way down the birth canal.

    There are several ways to try to correct positioning once it's diagnosed, the APA reports -- including an "external version," which involves gently pushing on the mother's abdomen to move the baby into the correct position. But in cases where breech babies can't be moved, OB/GYNs will usually opt to deliver via C-section, because a vaginal delivery would pose added risks for both the mom and the baby.

    Sadly, investigators say a series of bad decisions made after Hock believed she could still deliver the baby breech are what ultimately led to the infant's death.

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  • On Wednesday, paramedics were called to the Omaha home where Hock was found holding the partially delivered baby of Emily Noe.

    Although the bottom half of the baby was delivered, the top half (including the head) was still inside, resulting in precious minutes of oxygen deprivation.

    Once medics entered the home, Hock reportedly requested medical scissors so she could perform what the incident report describes as "an obstetrical procedure of the peritoneum" (a membrane in the abdominal cavity) to help deliver the rest of the baby.

    It didn't work.

  • Instead, Noe and her baby were rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where medics delivered the baby on their way to the ER.

    By then, however, it was clear the traumatic delivery had taken its toll.

    "The baby was limp and had no respirations or pulse," an affidavit obtained by ABC reported. "Resuscitation efforts were performed at that time. The baby was taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit upon arrival at the hospital and placed on life support."

  • Just two days later, the baby girl -- named Vera -- was taken off life support and pronounced dead.

    Doctors who cared for the infant determined that she'd been deprived of oxygen for approximately 10 to 12 minutes while Hock attempted to deliver her without medical assistance -- and those minutes caused serious and irreversible damage.

    One of the on-call OB/GYNs was Dr. Katherine Lessman, who learned more details about what happened from the baby's mother. According to ABC News, Noe told her that she'd been in labor for an agonizing 24 hours, and that Hock only realized the baby was in the wrong position a few hours before calling 911. She also ensured the mother that she was medically trained to deliver breech babies. 

  • In truth, midwives are trained in how to deal with breech deliveries, but many states do not allow them to perform them, regardless of their training.

    Making this story all the more shocking is that home births are actually illegal in Nebraska -- but even if they weren't, authorities say Hock was not a licensed midwife.

    Hock advertises her services on her website, Nebraska Birth Keeper, where she says her "journey as a birth professional" began back in 2004, when she started consulting with moms in pregnancy and birth. 

    "I began attending births as a doula in 2013, before discovering my calling to help women find their power and ancient wisdom through traditional midwifery," Hock explains in her online biography. "I’m excited and honored to be a part of each birth story. I am very passionate about all things relating to birth and women’s health. I am forever a student, continuously learning and growing in wisdom and knowledge through classes, podcasts, reading, conferences, and webinars."

    The married mother of four also describes herself as "a natural undisturbed home birth advocate" who believes that mothers were "created to birth without invention and that women possess the God-given wisdom and intuition to birth their babies free from regulation." 

    In addition, "I also believe in women making truly informed choices about their births," she notes.

  • Noe had signed an agreement with Hock and reportedly paid her between $3,000 and $4,000 for her services, according to WOWT.

    Presumably, the young mother knew nothing about the fact that Hock was unlicensed to perform midwifery duties Nebraska.

    Although Noe has not yet spoken publicly about the death of her baby, her mother, Joann Flloyd, shared her anger with WOWT.

    "I am absolutely outraged," she said. "I have a beautiful granddaughter that we just buried at Omaha National Cemetery in a tiny little casket; and my heart is broken, and my daughter's heart is broken, and my son-in-law‘s heart is broken, and we’re all heartbroken. This is a beautiful baby.”

    According to the affidavit, Lessman agreed that the tragedy could have been prevented "had appropriate medical care been provided in a timely manner." She also said "the medical steps taken by Hock were performed negligently."

    If convicted, Hock faces up to 20 years in prison. She turned herself in to authorities Tuesday and is awaiting a court hearing.