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Caroline Lovell. (Facebook)

Home birth

Midwife with bias against hospitals lets woman bleed out in birthing pool

March 25, 2016

A midwife allowed a woman in Melbourne, Australia, to bleed out in a birthing pool in her home because of a bias against medical intervention inside hospitals, a coroner has found. The midwife, Gaye Demanuele, stood by even as her patient, Caroline Lovell, “literally begged for an ambulance to be called” because she feared she was dying. Instead, Demanuele gave Lovell a homeopathic “rescue remedy” for anxiety as her body shut down due to massive blood loss. Lovell, 36, died about 12 hours after giving birth in her home on January 24, 2012.

Four months after Lovell’s death, Demanuele forfeited her registration as a midwife because she did not want to work in a system that coerced women into receiving medical treatment during birth. Despite forfeiting her registration, Demanuele continued to offer her services.

Caroline Lovell while pregnant. (Facebook)
Caroline Lovell while pregnant. (Facebook)

On Thursday, Coroner Peter White said that Lovell’s death could have been prevented, and that various acts and omissions by Demanuele “caused or substantially contributed to” her death. White has recommended the Director of Public Prosecution examine whether charges should be laid against Demanuele. Having heard that Demanuele had refused to call an ambulance at another home birth in mid-2011, an incident in which the baby died, White said the regulatory system may also have failed Lovell. White said that more needs to be done to regulate and monitor the competency of home birth midwives, and has called for the Australian government to consider banning unregistered health practitioners from taking money for attending home births.

Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.


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