A “beautiful and perfectly formed baby boy” died of brain injuries received during “high risk” home birth that parents were warned against.

The parents from Nimbin in northern NSW, had been given a firm warning against their plans for the father to deliver the baby without a midwife after the boy was found to be in a transverse or “sideways” position, reports 9 news.

“Their pre-existing views made them wilfully blind to the level of risk involved,” said Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame on Wednesday.

“All the medical evidence suggests that (his) death was preventable, if he had been birthed in an appropriate hospital setting.”

In her inquest findings into the baby’s February 2015 death, Ms Grahame also stressed the rights of women to decide how they will give birth.

Related article:

Tragic story of the death of a twin baby during home birth

She recommended that the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners consider developing guidelines to help GPs in advising patients who request non-hospital births.

The Northern NSW Local Health District should also consider implementing an information program for local GPs about its services for mothers wanting such births, she added.

“The death of this beautiful and perfectly formed baby boy is a terrible tragedy which has affected his family, the community from which he came and many involved in his care.”

She found that in December 2014 a local GP gave a firm warning about the birth plans, but the coroner said it was no doubt a difficult task as the parents had firmly-held views.

The father “believed that he was choosing the safer option and protecting his unborn child from the fear, dogma and illusion prevalent in the hospital system”, the coroner said.

She found a second GP, who knew of the potential for “casatrophic results”, missed an opportunity in early February 2015 to try to change the mother’s mind.

Although he believed her position was completely fixed, “it was certainly worth a try” given what was at stake.

Friends of the couple had gone to their house for the birth and one told the inquest of seeing the baby’s feet first and of attempts to help him out after he was apparently stuck.

“At no point during the labour was the ambulance called … going to the hospital wasn’t an option as they wanted a homebirth,” she said.

You can find info on Homebirth Australia – The Pregnant Woman’s Homebirth Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

UPDATE 4 November

THE FATHER has denied being told by doctors the child was in a breech position.

He told the ABC’s 7.30 that he was “shocked” when the baby started coming out sideways, reports Northern Star.

“If we knew that was going to happen, we would have had the birth in a hospital,” the father said.

Lismore paeditrician Dr Chris Ingall told 7.30 he wanted to see less homebirths in the region.

“As much as we’d like to think of [home] as somewhere nice and pleasant and easy, it’s a place where things go wrong very quickly,” he told 7.30.

However in her findings Deputy State Coroner Grahame noted that adult mothers had a right to birth at home, “even if the prevailing medical advice deems the birth ‘high risk’.”

But the nurse who first treated baby NA in Nimbin, Petria Maher, told 7.30 she believed the Coroner’s recommendations should have gone further.

She said strong recommendations from the Coroner could have discouraged potentially dangerous home births in the future.

“The unborn child just didn’t seem to have any rights, any protection. There doesn’t seem to be any law that covers the unborn child,” she said.

“Having home births in an isolated area when you’re at least half-an-hour aware from decent medical care I think is just too high risk.”

Share your comments below.

Image via shutterstock

  • for them to claim they didn’t know would mean they didn’t attend any scans and clearly not listened to any doctors. As a mother,I did everything I could to protect.my unborn babies, two high risk pregnancies ending in premature births. I did everything I was told and everythimg I researcched myself but once the doctors even suggested aomething I took their advice. Why? Because theu have thousands of hours training peiising in heathy baby births!


  • In my opinion the parents would not have heeded the 2nd Dr’s warning and gone to the hospital. Maybe he didn’t raise his voice enough.


  • So the Mother/ parents took the risk of losing their baby because of their beliefs. Basically the Coroner is saying the Doctors don’t give the expectant Mums enough information. Really !!! Some wouldn’t listen anyway. The father had no intentions of allowing hosptial treatment either. Did he give any thought that his wife could lose her life?


  • Poor family. Because of the position of the baby, they shouldn’t have taken this decision. Really sad. :-(


  • My auntie was forced to have her baby at home in the UK. In those days if it was not your first baby and it was not a high risk they asked you to have the baby at home. Her son had issues straight after birth and because there was no immediate medical attention he suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen. If he had been born in a hospital he would not have had the issues that he has.
    That was warning enough for me to want to have my kids in a hospital setting….for that just in case.

    If you have your child at home you run a risk that there will be problems. If you are willing to take that risk then go ahead. But choosing to have your child at home does not mean you will have problems. Many woman have their babies at home and are perfectly fine.


  • this is so sad, i beleive in parents having the right to chose but if you have been warned that your baby is in a dangerous position etc, you should take the drs advice, i would have died during my last labour and probably my baby too if i wasnt in hospital. sad for the family.


  • The parents obviously beleived they were doing the right thing by their child. I am sure that they did not want a still birth. As we all know belief can sometimes be dangerous.


  • I feel sorry for the baby. The parents had been given a warning about the danger. Why would they risk the life of both mother and baby?


  • I can’t imagine putting my unborn child’s life at risk


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