The Dangers of Out-of-Hospital Births

Having a baby is one of the sweet joys of life. To help ensure that the delivery goes well and that the child is healthy, it helps for the mother to have the best medical care possible. That means getting regular checkups with physicians and having the baby delivered by experienced health providers who are trained to handle any emergencies or problems during the delivery.

For many expectant mothers, getting the best and most modern health care is difficult. According to The Tennessean, about 93% of the state is rural. Rural is defined as a community that has less than 2,500 residents outside of an urban area or town.

The Tennessean article states that many parents in Tennessee prefer having their babies at home using midwives. Midwives – who are trained medical professionals – often “handle low-risk pregnancies and monitor the pregnancy closely, prescreening for complications. They are trained in CPR, oxygen administration, episiotomy and controlling severe bleeding in addition to other responsibilities.” Many midwives are Registered Nurses, and others have degrees in certain specialized areas, according to Healthline.

But in a rural community, they may not be able to access the tools they need if something goes wrong, as rural hospitals are closing at a rapid rate. This means that if something does go wrong, or if a midwife suspects that hospitalization may be required, the mother-to-be’s treatment could be delayed, posing critical risks to her and the child.

The dangers of out-of-hospital births

Tennessee, of course, is not the only place where rural hospital closings are putting mothers and babies at risk of injury and even death. According to an investigation by GateHouse Media and Herald-Tribune, “Babies born at home or in a freestanding birth center are twice as likely to die and suffer lifelong injuries as those delivered at a hospital. That data doesn’t count most hospital transfers, meaning the true risk is likely higher.” Reports obtained by GateHouse Media showed that “At least six infants and one mother have died in planned out-of-hospital births with midwives since October [of 2018.] An additional three infants and two mothers suffered catastrophic or potentially life-threatening injuries.”

What leads to these tragic injuries and deaths?

Some of the causes of these tragedies include:

  • Breech births where the baby got stuck in the birth canal
  • A newborn that “died in utero to a mother who was two weeks past her due date”
  • A delay in treatment

Those causes all required that the midwife consult with a physician to transfer a client to a physician who has hospital privileges.

Where and how to give birth is a deeply personal choice. We understand that for some mothers having birth at home is what they feel best doing for their children. But the numbers don’t lie: if there are no hospitals near your home and there are complications or problems with the birth, it could put your life and your child’s life at risk. If you are going to have a home birth, you need to make a birth plan with your midwife that includes what you will do if there are complications with your labor and delivery. Failure to do so could constitute negligence on behalf of the midwife.

At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our experienced Memphis birth injury lawyers understand how devastating it is to learn your child has a birth injury or tragically died during the delivery. We have obtained numerous multi-million dollar judgments and settlements in birth injury cases. We file claims against hospitals, doctors, midwives, and anyone else responsible. To speak with an experienced lawyer, call us at 901-475-7434 or contact us to schedule an appointment. We represent parents and newborns in Memphis, Jackson, and across Western Tennessee.