Mother warns of home-birth risks

Last updated 00:00 23/10/2007

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The mother of a baby who died during a home birth in Nelson says first-year midwives should not be lead maternity carers and first-time mothers should be better informed of the risks.

Lynne Jamieson, now of Queenstown, said midwives should be better trained in communicating with mothers and should also receive nursing training.

Jamieson's baby, Erik, died in July 2005 after complications during his home birth saw his heartbeat slow and stop.

A Health and Disability Commission report into the birth censured the two midwives involved – lead midwife Lana Kroll, now living in Canada, and back-up midwife Hannah Mae, who has now left the profession.

Commissioner Ron Patterson said Kroll failed to provide Jamieson with reasonable care and skill, failed to document the progress of the labour adequately and did not communicate with Jamieson when complications arose.

Paterson said Kroll's inaction in calling specialist help when she could not detect a heartbeat deprived Erik of a key opportunity to save his life.

Jamieson said new mothers should be aware their midwife may not be the one who looks after them during pregnancy and should be informed of all of the risks involved in birth.

"I got Lana Kroll, who had been practising six months, and a woman of that experience should never have been given to a 40-year-old mother – she was not experienced enough," said Jamieson.

Jamieson said she wanted midwives to be trained in baby resuscitation and emergencies.

"I had three women attending the baby but, because they were so inexperienced in emergency situations, they did not function well and could have got Erik and I to hospital sooner.

"The Midwifery Council need to look at situations like this and take them more seriously," said Jamieson.

Council chairwoman Sally Pairman said Jamieson's case was tragic but stood by the competency of the midwives who attended the birth.

"I think it's difficult to make a jump from one very tragic outcome to saying that she (Kroll) wasn't competent or that she shouldn't be able to look after a woman having a baby at home," Pairman said.

She said the council had since introduced new standards that required midwifes to annually update their skills and training, including emergency resucitation.

The council had also developed new training programmes that would required midwives to have more practical experience before they graduate.

But these have not yet been adopted by midwifery training institutions.

Pairman said it was unclear whether changes since Erik's death would have saved his life.

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"I have no idea whether that would've affected the outcome, it's a huge leap ... we don't have any idea whether the most experienced person in the world would have made a difference to that outcome."

As a 40-year-old, first-time mother Jamieson said she should have given birth in hospital but she had wanted a home birth and her midwife said it was fine.

Pairman said Jamieson's age and status as a first-time mother did not necessarily increase her risk for a home birth.

She said if there were any risks for birth, her GP should have identified them.

Pairman said Jamieson's case, although tragic, was not representative of midwifery services overall.

Jamieson said she had never heard from the Midwifery Council after Erik's death and wanted to know what it was doing to ensure a similar incident did not occur.

Jamieson recently received a letter of apology from Kroll on a letterhead suggesting she was working as a midwife in Canada.

In the letter Kroll told Jamieson she had reviewed her personal practice in light of the care she gave and had learnt a lot from her experience.

Kroll said she regretted failing to update their conversation about hospital transfer.

"Apologies aside, it will never bring Erik back," said Jamieson.

"This will be with me for the rest of my life and is the only memory we have of Erik.

- The Press

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