Mother and Infant Loss in Birth: Hospital and Home. What Does This Mean For Your Birth?

by Birth Without Fear on August 26, 2011

Mother Dies in Childbirth by Cesarean

In March of this year, a Trinidad mother died during a cesarean section due to arteries being cut and the bleeding could not be stopped. She left behind now 3 children and her husband. The pregnant mother and baby were both said to be healthy prior to the surgery. You can read the full story here.

Baby Dies from Mismanagement in Hospital

There are stories of babies who suffer from injuries due to forceps, vacuums and cesarean sections. Unfortunately sometimes these things can lead to death. Like this sweet baby boy in the UK. It is too heartbreaking to write about. You can read more here.

Baby Dies in Homebirth

Many of you may remember Margarita posting the picture of her sweet baby boy on our FB page where she received support as she shared her story. Facebook removed her photo from our page. After 8 days of laboring and requesting to go to the hospital twice, her baby was born still. Her husband was overseas and the midwives were her main support. You can read her full story here.

More on cesarean sections here.

I could share many more from both sides, home and hospital, from all over the world. But I won’t.

What Does This Mean For Your Birth?

I could post nothing but baby and mother death stories due to complication in the hospital, but I don’t. I do not post home birth losses either. Not because I am trying to hide anything. First, no one has asked me to. Margarita was the first and she was welcome to share her story and I re-shared her story asking for more support for her. I won’t sit here though and post stories of widowed fathers and motherless children only due to hospital births, because while it is real, it is not the norm. To be honest, it is not the norm for hospital birth or home birth. It is the exception…for both. It does not make the loss of a mother or baby any less significant or sad. I feel all their stories should be heard if they want them to be.

How does this affect you? Make sure to educate yourself, to ask many questions and to find a provider that will LISTEN TO YOU no matter what the setting. Who will be hands off  to not cause trauma or death or to be hands on when needed to not cause trauma or death. This means that you chose the safest way for YOU to birth YOUR baby. This is why I do not tell women where to birth and why I do not promote unassisted birth, although I have had two. Educate yourself, know your choices and have the right care provider to be there to make sure you and your baby can peacefully and safely birth.

home birth death

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

mik August 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm

bravo mrs bwf :p

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Midwife{ology} August 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

With all due respect, yes babies die in hospital just as they do at home – however – the difference is the fact that:

* Babies outside the hospital die at nearly 3 times the rate of in-hospital babies of complications of the placenta, cord, and membranes. That’s things like placental abruption, nuchal cords, true knots, and so on.

* They die of respiratory issues (birth asphyxia, neonatal aspiration, hypoxia…) at four times the rate.

* Infection causes death at nearly twice the rate outside of the hospital.

* Other midwives (LM, CPM, DEM) outside the hospital have a death rate almost THREE TIMES the rate of CNMs in the hospital. And in comparing respiratory related deaths with ALL hospital births (including those attending by doctors), the rate of death for out-of-hospital births is more than four times for other midwives, and is a shocking nine-and-a-half times higher than the rate for CNMs in the hospital.

* But the most shocking number of all is the number for complications of labor and delivery. It is nearly eleven times –ELEVEN TIMES!!! — as high for babies born outside the hospital. This is the category that contains breech birth and other malpresentations.

(data comes from the CDC WONDER – years 1998-2006)

These babies aren’t dying from congenital abnormalities; they’re dying preventable deaths!!!

http://www.10centimeters.com/friday-fallacy-babies-die-in-the-hospital-too/

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Mrs. BWF August 30, 2011 at 11:45 am

Amber, can you please share the sources of your numbers (not just that blog post)? Thanks!

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Stephanie August 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

<3 <3 <3

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Sarah August 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Beautifully written!

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Bambi C August 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm

BUT it needs to be remembered that a midwife can give us all kinds of warm fuzzies and be dangerous. Women cannot find out their midwife’s record. Mine had 5 other dead babies under her belt. The one who took Liz’s daughter’s life does not tell prospective clients that she is responsible for a baby’s death. A midwife in OK had the gall to publicly berate a mother that they failed (baby ended up in the NICU). It doesn’t matter if you *THINK* she will do one thing, because you don’t know unless you end up in that predicament and she either comes to the rescue or fails.

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Mrs. BWF August 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

I agree Bambi. Not all midwifes are the same. (((hugs))) I am so sorry.

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Nicole August 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Thank you. I think you should be able to post whatever you want without being accused of pushing an agenda. After reading some comments from a few individuals about how unsafe homebirth is compared to hospital birth I have to ask those people then why our country has the highest rate of infant mortaily in hospitals than any other developed nation (and even some ‘third-world’ nations)? I know, those of you who I’m talking about probably won’t believe this statistic, but I’d be glad to show you where the studies have been published.

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MNMommyJosie August 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

Infant mortality measures deaths from birth to 1 year old – it’s not a good measure for babies who die from childbirth. Perinatal mortality is what you should look for – do you have studies on that? I would love to see them. Thanks!

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Susan Peterson August 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm

The story you linked to isn’t clear. One person there also said one of the women was a doula, not a midwife. It also doesn’t say she was in labor for 8 days. I don’t feel as if I know enough about it.

Your point is good about these stories always being the exception. I had some unassisted births also, and it felt normal and not a big issue to me. I thought I had accepted the risks, and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed anyone else for my choices. But who knows how having a baby die would have changed the way I think about these things?

Grammatical quibble: it should be “How does this affect you?” not “effect you.” To use “effect” you would have to say “What effect does this have on you?”

Susan Peterson

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Mrs. BWF August 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Susan, Margarita shared her story on our FB page, that is how I know. Thank you for your thoughts.

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Debi August 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hoping this comment is published.

Nicole – the statistic you want to look at is perinatal mortality, not infant mortality. Infant mortality is up to 1 year old, perinatal mortality is up to 28 days. No one should argue with you that our infant mortality is bad – it absolutely is. But it isn’t the right stat if we are looking to see how well women birth in a country.

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Marie August 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Really?? You are reaching here. You had to go all the way to Trinidad to find a comparable needless hospital death story.
Any death of mother and/or baby in childbirth is heartbreaking and when preventable is infuriating (as it should be). But you trying to assimilate the risks to a US mother in a hospital with proper care (be it OB, MFM, Perinatology, or CNM) to some one at home with no care (UC) or under the care of an uneducated hack (CPM) is insulting to all of these mothers and babies that have needlessly died in the US.

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Mrs. BWF August 30, 2011 at 8:37 am

Marie, would you like me to add others? I did and can add more, but what good is it going to do? You can pick apart and try to diminish the loss of a mother or baby in a hospital by picking one thing and tearing it apart, just like others could do about a loss in a homebirth. It’s a loss either way. :(

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Marlo August 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Nicole, please do show us where these “studies” have been published that show that perinatal mortality in the U.S. is higher than a third world country. Oh heck, while you’re at it, go ahead and show me the “study” that says that our neonatal and infant mortality is higher than a third world country. (And no, these are not the same thing.) Interesting that we had to go all the way to Trinidad (a “developing” nation!) to find a case of gross negligence in a hospital causing the death of the mother.

I really appreciate the acknowledgement in this piece of the fact that death is not the most common result in any setting for childbirth. It sometimes feels like people try to really vilify each “side.” I would add that it is necessary to be aware that while the risk of death is indeed low both in and out of hospital, the risk of death is *three times LOWER* in the hospital. I would like to see it be acknowledged that birth is *not* inherently safe, no matter where you do it. It can be made *safer* by birthing with a fully educated and qualified attendant like a CNM or an MD, and it is made the safest it can be by birthing within a hospital setting with one of these skilled attendants.

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Katie August 27, 2011 at 8:18 am

“I have to ask those people then why our country has the highest rate of infant mortaily (sic) in hospitals than any other developed nation”

That’s because *infant* mortality is not a measure of birth safety. Perinatal mortality is, and our (US) perinatal mortality rate is excellent. If you have studies showing otherwise, I would definitely like to see them.

You’re right, January- death isn’t the norm for hospital OR homebirth. But it is significantly more likely to occur at home, as is morbidity in general. As seen above, many women choosing homebirth don’t even understand how to measure birth safety. How on earth can they make an informed decision to homebirth or UC? How on earth can they honestly ascertain what’s “safest?”

It’s easy to claim your choice to UBA2C was the safest option when it’s over and done with and went fine. But what if it hadn’t? How is at home and alone the safest place to be when your uterus ruptures? Or you have a massive PPH? It’s like women have this misconception that if anything goes wrong, they’ll just saunter over to the hospital or call 911. But EMTs can’t piece your uterus back together in the ambulance.

I understand not wanting to focus on tragic stories. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer. At the same time, when women are wanting to do something like UBA2C, or a post-dates HBAC, and all they read are stories of sunshine and roses where everything goes lovely, don’t you think that gives them a skewed perspective? They might be able to acknowledge intellectually that something could go wrong, but nothing has the impact that a picture of a mother holding her dead child does.

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Mrs. BWF August 30, 2011 at 8:35 am

I am not worried about being a Debbie Downer as you say. Like we both agree it’s not the norm for either. Also, I do not advocate anyone chose to UC. For me it was the best option for those births and for me it was safest. I am educate and did what I felt was best. Would I UC again. I don’t know. It depends on that pregnancy and if I could find a midwife I trust. You don’t have to agree. I don’t judge how or where or with whom you would like to birth. This post had nothing to do with MY births by the way.

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Midwife{ology} August 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Mrs BWF – Is there a reason you did not post my previous comment??? To be truly informed, shouldn’t ALL opinions and options and ‘facts’ be presented??

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Mrs. BWF August 30, 2011 at 8:29 am

It was in my spam folder. Just saw it now.

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Marlo August 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm

@ Nicole, please do link to your studies.

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April September 1, 2011 at 1:04 am

How about this report? Please note that this is death rate in the first month, not the first year. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44333054/ns/health-childrens_health/?ocid=twitter

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Corra September 29, 2011 at 10:18 am

I would love it if there was a happy medium-birth centres. (we don’t have those here…)
Where medical interventions are *possible* of absolutely necessary, but not routine.

There are other risks (aside from the worst-death) in the hospital. Injury to both mom and baby (often life long) caused by unnecessary interventions, poorer breastfeeding outcomes, birth rape…
I’ve never had a good experience in a hospital, be it for a birth, or anything else. In fact, the births were the worst.

My child was injured by a student nurse (this was admitted to me by the hospital several weeks after the incident), and ended up with a collapsed lung. My perfectly healthy son ended up spending a month in nicu.

My sister was “examined” at 28 weeks with such brutal force that they broke her water, and she was forced to deliver her twins by emergency c-section. They suffered brain injury due to bleeding, as they were so early, and still in the hospital.

I was forced to miscarry in an emergency waiting room in front of the general public.
This was all at one of the supposedly “best” hospitals for children in our country.
Like hell I’ll ever give birth there again. I don’t feel safe being there even when i’m visiting.

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Mrs. BWF September 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Oh mama, I am so so sorry you and your sister had those experiences. :(

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Elizabeth August 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

My husband and I are planning a UC this time around, for baby #4. My first was an induction at 37w for suspected preeclampsia (never confirmed with any labwork, just higher BP than normal, induced same day). It was a horribly traumatic birth experience, my son was born with broken ribs and bruises all over his body, but I was just grateful to have him in my arms and “safe”. I pumped because he would not nurse. He died of unknown causes when he was 13 weeks old. It was the most gut-wrenching experience of my life, and to this day, I wonder if any of the interventions during my labor contributed to his death.
I was bullied into an induction at 38w with my second child, and had her unattended in the hospital (even my husband was gone to get breakfast) because no one believed I was close to delivery (they broke my water and started pitocin at the same time and she was born less than 2hrs later). She was poked and prodded and given fluids and phototherapy because a lab error misreported her bilirubin levels as dangerously high. Later, we found out she was fine. I thought it was a pretty crappy experience, but still, just happy to have a healthy and living baby.
With number 3, we found out at 20 weeks that he had died, and I had a D&E at the hospital (the OB said that was my only option) without ever getting to see my son. To this day, we lack closure.
Now planning a UC, many people are asking “well, don’t you CARE about your baby’s health?! Why wouldn’t you have your baby in the safest place- a hospital?” The answer is yes, I care, and that is why I am planning to welcome my son at home. I am not too prideful to go to a hospital if needed, but the illusion that hospitals only do good and no harm is not true. It is not a competition of who cares most or who is the better mother. Most of the people who criticize our decision have never held their cold, dead child in their arms and questioned every parenting decision they ever made. For us, the end result of that questioning was “we did our very best”. It wasn’t enough to keep those precious babies here on this side. We will continue to do our very best, pray over our decisions, and educate ourselves so we can give our children the best chance.

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