home birth

Don’t Call This 16-Year Old’s Tragically Ended Hidden Pregnancy A “Botched Home Birth”

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shutterstock_116601217I had both of my babies via planned c-section. Even before finding out I would need a c-section with my first pregnancy I never would have considered home birth- the idea of it makes me nervous and I don’t live close enough to a hospital to feel comfortable if something were to go wrong. I am definitely one who prefers the reassurance of nurses everywhere and an OR close by for the worst case scenario.

That said, I know many amazing and responsible mothers who chose home birth and were highly informed about their decision. They did a ton of research and involved trained professionals who assisted them in bringing their baby into the world safely and on their terms. It may not be my cup of tea but I will still defend these mothers in the face of a stupid Daily Mail headline calling a 16-year old’s hidden pregnancy and subsequent birth a “botched home birth”.

This headline is so misleading once you read the details. At this point, it is not believed that the girl’s parents had any idea she was pregnant and authorities believe the baby was born at their home, in secret, and buried in the backyard. I am writing this post not to investigate the particulars of this situation but to point out the absurdity of using the term “home birth” to describe this unfortunate incident. This is absolutely not a “home birth”. This is a scared teenage girl trying to hide the evidence of her pregnancy from her parents until she can figure out her next move. Unfortunately, she never had the chance as coroners have determined that the infant died of blood loss after her cord had been cut too close to her body. It is not yet known if the teen mom cut the cord herself or had someone helping her but either way, I take offense on behalf of home birthing mothers everywhere that this is being referred to as a home birth to sensationalize this sad event. This appears to be a case of a frightened and confused young woman who clearly felt she had no other options.

It is hard enough for women who choose home birth to convince their loved ones that what they are doing is safe and well-researched without headlines like this creating fear where there shouldn’t be any. To me, calling it a “home birth” means it was a deliberate decision made by parents who planned for every potential outcome and put contingencies in place to deal with the worst case scenarios. Just having a baby at home does not mean it was a “home birth”. I have the feeling that wherever this young girl was when she went into labor would have been where she gave birth as long as she could do so in secret. That does not equal a home birth in the real sense of the term.

Every time there is a negative story in the news describing a home birth gone wrong it makes it more difficult for the many thousands of women who are planning a supervised home birth to convince their friends and family that what they are doing is safe. I can understand a headline like this where it actually was the case and that should absolutely be in the news- it may have been the fault of a mid-wife who did not decide quickly enough to head to the hospital when things were going badly. Or it may be the fault of the parents if they chose to have an unsupported home birth without the aide of mid-wives or doulas. It is just plain irresponsible to call a teen girl giving birth in secret and her child dying as the result  a “botched home birth”. All it really was is a hidden teen pregnancy that turned into a tragic botched birth that just happened to be at home.

(Image: kvasilev/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post’s author, Valerie Williams, on Twitter or via e-mail at [email protected]