Exterior view of the Nimbin Hospital . Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star
Exterior view of the Nimbin Hospital . Photo Jerad Williams / The Northern Star Jerad Williams

Father of baby who died says he wasn't warned of dangers

THE FATHER of a baby who died after an attempted "free birth" in the Nimbin area has denied being told by doctors the child was in a breech position and likely to lead to birth complications.

The death of the child in February last year was subject to a coronial investigation in September.

Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame found that the baby, which can only be named as "NA", died as a result of injuries received during and just after birth.

Ms Grahame also found the parents were clearly warned of the dangers of having a homebirth due to the sideways position of the baby, but were "unable to properly comprehend or take seriously what they had been told".

But the father of the child has told the ABC's 7.30 that he was "shocked" when the baby started coming out sideways.

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

The death of the child raised the debate over the radical style of homebirths popular in alternative circles on some parts of the Northern Rivers where no qualified midwife is present.

Based on 2014 figures, the Northern NSW Health District had the highest proportion of planned home births in NSW and the second highest for planned birth centre births.

Prominent 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."



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