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.