Last week we reported on the death of an infant related to a free birth in California. The story has gone viral thanks to many of our readers sharing the article on social media. Today we have updates on the infant cause of death. Additionally, we review if criminal charges can be filed in the case.
Yesterday, the mother took to Facebook to update her friends and family about her status. According to the mother, she and her partner continue to grieve the loss of their daughter, Journey Moon. Mother and father have accepted the death of their child.
Despite the glaring facts we outlined in our previous article, the mother continues to take no responsibility for the death of her child. If you need a recap of what she did not to help this child, here is a quick list:
-She had no prenatal care at all during her pregnancy. Providing her no indication if she or the baby were healthy enough for a homebirth.
-She labored for six days at home without any medical assistance
-Her water broke and was discolored with a foul smell
-She worried there was meconium in the discharge
-Her water broke and the baby remained inside her womb for more than 48 hours.
-She felt the baby stop moving on day 6, but instead of going to the hospital she took a nap.
-She only went to the hospital on day 7 when her discharge smelled like poop, and she was afraid SHE was in danger.
After she posted the update to Facebook, people flocked to her page to read. Numerous readers of ours tried to ask questions and get more details from the mother. The mother ignored and deleted most of the comments. However, one of our partners, who is fantastic at soliciting and obtaining information, extracted the details from the mother.
As you can see from the response, the mother admitted the baby died from strep B. We informed our readers in our previous article, the strep b is a common bacteria found in pregnant women. The Mayo Clinic provides details about the infection:
“Group B streptococcus (strep or GBS) is a common bacterium often carried in your intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is usually harmless in adults. In newborns, however, it can cause a serious illness known as group B strep disease.”
An infant is at increased risk of developing group B strep disease if:
The mother carries group B strep in her body
-The baby is born prematurely (earlier than 37 weeks)
-The mother’s water breaks 18 hours or more before delivery
-The mother has an infection of the placental tissues and amniotic fluid (chorioamnionitis)
-Group B strep bacteria have been detected in the mother’s urine (bacteriuria) during pregnancy (either her current pregnancy or previous pregnancies)
-The mother’s temperature is greater than 100.4 F (38 C) during labor
-The mother previously delivered an infant with group B strep disease
Complications of Group B Strep for infants can be life threatening. Infants can develop inflammation in the lungs. Babies can develop meningitis from the bacteria. Infections of the blood stream (sepsis) can also occur. Any of these complications can kill the infant.
Because Group B Strep can kill infants, pregnant women in the United States are swabbed for GBS during their pregnancy. Most OBGYN’s will test expectant mothers in their third trimester of pregnancy.
If a mother tests positive for GBS, doctors will take precautions to ensure the mother does not infect their child with the bacteria during labor. Mothers with GBS are given the IV antibiotic penicillin. If mothers are allergic to penicillin, other drugs are effective in treating the disease.
GBS exists in the vaginal flora of the mother. Most mothers that carry GBS will not have any symptoms unless they develop other infections within the body.
In the case of Free Birth Momma, she elected not to have any prenatal care for her child. She went to an appointment at eight weeks gestation, and according to our investigation, she never returned to the doctor.
Because she neglected to seek proper medical treatment for her child, she did not get screened for GBS. Without that critical information, Free Birth Momma decided to give birth at home with no assistance.
The Mayo Clinic recommends all mothers receive antibiotic treatment for GBS within 18 hours of their water breaking. Free Birth Momma’s water broke several days before she sought any assistance for the child.
Instead of seeking help from a hospital, she elected to speak with Emilee Saldaya, the founder of Free Birth Society. According to Emilee’s bio on the Free Birth Society website, she worked as a doula for several years. She gave birth last year to her child in the “wild.”Emilee does not indicate that she has any medical education or certifications that give her rights to practice medicine. However, she charges members of Free Birth Society “coaching” fees to educate and coach them through their pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery.
Free Birth Momma mentioned in the Free Birth Society Facebook group that she and Emilee spoke numerous times.
Since Emilee may have been serving in a medical role, she failed to assist the mother. Midwives that fail to help mothers seek medical assistance can be held accountable legally and civilly. We uncovered numerous stories of midwives being sentenced to prison for their negligence during deliveries.
Here are some examples:
Not only could Emilee be held responsible for her role in the death of the infant, but the mother could also be in legal trouble. We found a case in Oregon where a woman delivered twins in her home. One of the infants was stillborn, and the other child was born alive. The twins were born prematurely.
The baby that survived the birth was in respiratory distress at birth. Instead of seeking medical help for the child, the parents kept the child at home. Ultimately the child died related to medical issues associated with her prematurity. However, the child would have survived with medical intervention.
Based on the findings from the autopsy, police arrested Travis and Sarah Mitchell for the negligent homicide of their daughter. The parents pleaded guilty to the charge in summer 2018.
Free Birth Momma’s case is slightly different. Her baby never lived outside of her womb. However, she was negligent in seeking medical care for herself and the child during labor. By neglecting prenatal care for her and the baby, she put the infant at risk for death.
Since there are so few homebirth death cases prosecuted, the probability of criminal prosecution of either seems unlikely.
For now, both the mom and the Free Birth Society take no responsibility for the death of the child.
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