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Midwife Commits Suicide After Baby's Death

Photo by abbybatchelderMidwife commits suicide after baby dies.

Midwife commits suicide after baby dies.

This story is a tragedy, and I almost don’t want to write about it, but of course, I have an opinion I want to share.  First, I think midwives are the most extraordinary people in the world; many are my heroes.  I am in awe of Ina May Gaskin.  Much of the world, including developed countries, depends on midwives.  Both of my children were born at home with the assistance of loving midwives, and I believe this is a safe option for any baby and mother that has received excellent prenatal care and appears healthy.  The tragedy I am about to describe could have been avoided if this advice was followed.

28-year-old Theresa Naish was a new midwife.  She tragically hung herself because she felt she was responsible for a baby boy’s death, an inquest found on Tuesday.  The Daily Mail reports:

Police forced their way into her flat in Upper Norwood, South London, in the early hours of January 28 where they found her hanging in the bathroom.  The final two internet searches on her laptop had been for ‘disbarred midwives’ and ‘ten ways to commit suicide’. Pathologists believe she probably died three or four days earlier.  Miss Naish had been registered as a midwife for a year and had graduated a few weeks before her death.

After a colleague went on break, Ms. Naish was left in charge of a birth occurring at King’s College Hospital in South London. While the baby was in utero, a balloon was placed in his throat “to help his lungs develop”.  The balloon has to be removed before birth, or he would not be able to breath.  Ms. Naish did not pass this critical information on to doctors, and thus blamed herself for the premature infant’s death.  Doctors believe the baby’s health was so poor, he would have not survived even if the balloon had been removed. Unfortunately, the midwife was not told she was not to blame, and she took her life as a result.

This sad, sad case leaves me wondering why a midwife was left in charge of a case that involved such a critically ill baby.  My experience with midwives is they will not assist in births unless everything is “normal”, whether at home or in a hospital.  I also wonder why the baby’s medical records were not readily available or the balloon was not documented on his chart for any nurse or doctor to see for themselves.  It is not as if this child’s poor health took doctors by surprise if they had inserted a balloon in the baby’s throat in utero. Certainly a midwife is not capable of such a procedure.  It’s sad the baby’s life was lost; it’s sad a midwife took her own life as a result.  There are so many ways this could have been prevented.


  1. carol maddocks says:

    I feel very sad about the situation this midwife found herself,as a nurse of some twenty five years,I am sadly not surprised by how this inexperienced midwife was treated and left to feel responsible for this little boys death. what about her team?medical, nursing,management?why did they not offer effective support,?who looks after the carers? I feel there is a duty of care issue, yet again the no blame culture that is promoted in the NHS,so lessons can be learn t from clinical incidents and why yet again is a nurse/midwife left to shoulder full responsibility?my heart felt wishes to both families.perhaps the media could help highlighting the major issues raised by this sad event,perhaps this young women death, would help other staff in the NHS and offer due respect she deserved,what a waste.

  2. I to am a 28 year old midwife, i have been qualified for 2 years and on a regular day to day basis whilst at work i come across a “huge blame culture” we spend so much time worrying about legality, doing exstensive paper work along with VERY long hours for minimal pay that the women suffer and things can get missed! We are not god we do our job because we love it! The pressure is emense, we are under staffed and over worked so when sad cases such as this arise it effects us all. I feel for this poor women family and collegues. I ask myself how many more babies, mothers and Midwives have to suffer before the government step up to the mark!!!!

  3. If I ever get pregant I would never let anyone put any balloons in the baby! YIKES! why didn’t the mom say anything? you are so right, this was preventable. I am sorry the midwife felt so self-hating about it. she could have stayed around and atoned for her mistake. I guess she might have been sued or arrested.

  4. such a tragedy. my thoughts are with the family of the dead infant and the family and friends of the deceased midwife. we’re all human, but in a strange way it’s reassuring – as someone who has a deep sense of public duty and personal responsibility – that there are people who care so profoundly to react to that kind of event in such a way, albeit most extremely.

  5. I am Theresa’s father.

    After all the things that I have looked at since my daughters death, it gives me great concern that Theresa is not alone.

    Doctors, Midwifes and Nurses are more likely to commit suicide, or have a breakdown. In Canada when a similar situation occurs, reassuring help is immediately applied.

    Something needs to be done, for our special carers – to be given care themselves.

    I hope that my daughters tragedy will shake the NHS up, and no one should suffer in silence like this. Lessons should be learnt but I doubt it though.


  6. Thomas, it means so much that you left a comment on this post. I cannot imagine the heartbreak you must feel, and you must be so proud of your daughter for becoming a midwife and caring so deeply.

  7. Thomas: I am a midwife and up to 12 months ago, was a midwifery educator. I am deeply sorry for your loss and really feel for you, your family and the family of the deceased baby.

    Unfortunately, I do believe that we as health professionals have to take a lot of the blame for incidents like this. How supportive of each other are we? How do we care for the young midwives that we work with? Personally, I still think we do a very good job of ‘eating our young’.

    And then there’s the expectations of society – so incredibly high – so unforgiving of human mistakes.

    We live in times of huge pressure. Midwives are particularly vulnerable to public scrutiny, litigation and ridicule. After nearly 30 years of being a clinical midwife, I am in the throes of hanging up my rubber gloves. I am no longer prepared to put myself in the way of events that have been described here.

  8. This is absolutely heartbreaking! My first baby was born at home with a wonderful midwife and I’m planning a second homebirth for this upcoming March. However, I can’t for the life of me understand why such a critical detail was left out of the charts??? This just breaks my heart, not only for mother and child, but for the caring midwife who was left in a terrible situation. Just awful!

  9. I was very shocked to read of this tragedy.

    Hopefully, this fine young girls death will lead to a reappraisal of the duty we all owe to the people who care for us.

  10. Thomas; I am a retired midwife,feel your pain of loosing a daughter especially at this time of year.I went through similar experience last year ,felt very lonely, unsupported by the system,had no-one to turn to except few good friends as I could not talk to anyone in case of being judged,went through suicidal thoughts every night and sobbed myself to sleep.

    I am writing this in a hope to make some sense out of it,and perhaps out there someone is listening to my pain and silent tears,I have forgiven them but cannot forget what happened.

  11. Richard Rumbelow says:

    Dear Thomas Naish, My long term partner Matthew aged 31 was a Radiographer at a NHS hospital, he was perfoming a procedure he had recently qualified in and unfortunately the patient reacted servely and died. He told me he had not been told about that this could happen in some very rare cases and he felt responsible for her death. Six days later he was late home from his shift so I started to worry and rung round friends, family and his department and decided to visit the hospital to check he wasn’t a sleep as he had done two 14hr night shifts almost back to back, within his xray department his work friend and I checked around and found a room locked without the key hanging up and asked security to open the door to find Matthew had taken his life. Now 5weeks on I feel so let down by the NHS I feel this could have been prevented with the right support. I feel mylife has now ended also but unfortunately my anguish and sorrow will be with me until we are together again.

    I do hope hope they learn from this tragedy, kind respects to you and your family,

    A very broken lost soul, Richard.

  12. I am very sorry Mr Naish for your loss. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated incident. We would expect the ‘carers to be cared for’, but in my experience (I am not on permanent staff simply nursebank and work mostly in industry), many problems are CAUSED by the people who should be caring for us. The hierachy got their positions not from being good managers necessarily, many do not have ‘management’ or ‘people skills (as in managing staff)’. I’ve seen serious bullying by supervisors and managers which reduce staff confidence and don’t allow good practise, staff are afraid to speak up for wrong doings or injustice which can reduce patient care and totally demorilise staff and there is apparently no where to go. The NHS wouldn’t survive as a business using their current skills! A brilliant midwife doesn’t necessaily make a brilliant manager – we should be nurturing and holding onto people and allowing them to be round pegs in round holes and square ones.

  13. A real tragedy,I hope such things will not happen again.

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