Australian Home Birth Advocate Dies During Home Birth

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Caroline LovellTo those who knew Caroline Lovell, the 36-year-old Australian mother was a dedicated advocate of home birth. She once lobbied the Australian government for more state support for women who wanted a home birth. But after delivering her second daughter, Caroline died due to unknown complications in Melbourne.

A few years ago, Caroline wrote on behalf of midwives urging more funding and legal protection. The Daily Mail quotes her letter as reading:

“On a personal note, I am quite shocked and ashamed that home birth will no longer be a woman’s free choice in low-risk pregnancies. As a home-birthing mother I will have no choice but to have an unassisted birth at home as this  is the place I want to birth  my children.”

But after going into labor in late January, Caroline went into cardiac arrest. She was admitted to the hospital but passed away the following day. Her newborn daughter, Zahara, survived. In addition to her newborn, she leaves behind her husband Nick and her 3-year-old daughter Lulu.  The Daily Mail reports that she happily posted a message to her massage company’s Facebook in October conveying her excitement at becoming a mother again:

“Maternity leave officially started this morning… had a beautiful last night at work and will keep you all posted on my burgeoning growth as a mother to be – second time round.”

Midwives have so far concurred that death due to home-birthing is quite rare. A chairman from The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services in the United Kingdom said that the tragedy should not discourage women from choosing a home birth. She told the publication:

“While this is very sad, it is extremely rare – almost unheard of – for women to die during home births. Research clearly shows that home births in the UK are no more dangerous than hospital births. If anything, it is safer and you are much less likely to have unnecessary medical intervention.”

It would seem that cases like Caroline’s are rare enough given that home births are on the rise in the UK (up by 54% between 2000 and 2008) as well as in the United States. At present, there is nothing to suggest that any negligence specifically related to the home birth caused Caroline’s death. A coroner is still investigating what exactly took this mother from her family.