Caroline Lovell, Australian Advocate of Home Birth, Dies Giving Birth at Home

The tragic death of an Australian mother of two has reignited the ongoing debate over whether home birth is really worth the risk.

Complicating matters is the fact that 36-year-old Caroline Lovell was a staunch advocate of the right of women to give birth at home. And while her first daughter Lulu arrived without complication, Lovell was rushed to the hospital last Monday following the birth of daughter Zahra at her home in Melbourne. The mom of two suffered cardiac arrest at some point after Zahra was delivered, and she died of complications from the delivery the next day.

As you might expect, much debate over the safety of home births has ensued following Lovell’s death. Earlier, she had submitted a statement during a government inquiry into the regulation of midwives, and said:

“On a personal note, I am quite shocked and ashamed that home birth will no longer be a woman’s free choice in low-risk pregnancies… Please find a solution for women and babies who home-birth after this date as their lives will be in threat without proper midwifery assistance… And as a homebirthing mother I will have no choice but to have an unassisted birth at home as this is the place I want to birth my children.”

An investigation into the death of Caroline Lovell is planned, and it may well be determined that the outcome was not related to her decision to give birth to her baby at home. Spokeswoman for Australia’s Midwives in Private Practice Joy Johnson said that Lovell’s death was “an issue about birth, not so much about home birth.”

Do you think home births represent an unnecessary risk to mother and baby?