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North Carolina in-home birth ends in tragic loss

Over the years, the trend for expecting mothers to opt to deliver their babies in the comfort of their own home has grown. Many states, including North Carolina, require in-home midwives to be registered nurses and undergo state certification to practice in-home birth. While proponents of in-home birth have legitimate reasons to tout their cause, real dangers exist, such as birth injuries, for those who choose this option under the supervision of unlicensed individuals. Such is the case, for a North Carolina family whose medical providers' negligence led to the wrongful death of their child during birth.

What was supposed to be a day filled with happiness became filled with sadness as a couple lost their child at the hands of two women supervising the in-home birth. As the mother's labor progressed, complications arose and the baby died. Tragically, this was the fourth verified newborn to have died during a home delivery in the state during 2011.

At this time, there are only about 300 licensed midwives in North Carolina. Neither of the women had a license to practice as a midwife in North Carolina. One of the women claimed to be in the home as a certified message therapist acting as a "doula," a non-medical in-home birth provider. A pending medical examiner's report will determine if the two women are responsible for the baby's death.

The most alarming aspect of this case is that it appears as though the expecting parents were misled into believing that the women, acting as licensed providers, had the proper qualifications to deal with any sort of complications or trauma that can come with childbirth. Furthermore, there is no way for those considering in-home birth to know whether or not those that supervise the births have necessary certification. This has many medical professionals promoting new legislature that would require midwives to have registered credentials.

Parents expecting a newborn baby only want the best for their baby. For some, having their child in their own home is the best way to welcome the newest member of their family into the world. Yet when a birth occurs outside of a hospital, certain risks that exist can be minimized if proper steps are taken. Those choosing to give birth in their home must be assured that the home birthing assistant they choose is truly qualified to provide the best care possible.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Report awaited on baby's death," Ann Doss Helms and Karen Garloch, Dec. 30, 2011

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