Woman’s Preterm Baby Unlikely to Survive After Failed Free Birth

Woman’s Preterm Baby Unlikely to Survive After Failed Free Birth April 14, 2019
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A mother’s newborn is clinging to life after she attempted to deliver a premature baby at home. The woman used a Facebook group Unassisted Childbirth/Free birth to guide her through two-week long labor. Sadly, the mother updated the group to let them know her baby is unlikely to survive. If the baby dies, this will be the second death connected to the Facebook Group in the past few months. Another mother used the group to attempt a free-birth at 45 weeks, and her baby died.

In an update more than a week ago, “Stacy” posted to the group concerned about bloody discharge. She posted a photo of peach colored blood on a tissue. Worried that something could be wrong, she looked for assurance that she could not be concerned.

After she posted, a slew of mother’s commented to give her advice. Many of the women in the group told her that bloody discharge is not uncommon during labor. Additionally, the women assured her that the blood could be a good sign her labor is progressing.

While many women supported her, a few women did express some concern that she may be in trouble. A “birth worker” in the group told her to pay attention to several vital signs and track the number of pads she changes per hour. However, she reminded the mother to “follow her instinct.”

Stacy replied that her vitals were fine and she believed the blood was her “bloody show.”

According to Medical News Today, a bloody show is a thick bloody and mucous discharge that comes out of the vagina. The blood is a sign that the cervix is dilating and the body is preparing for labor. With this assurance in mind, Stacy continued on her merry way.

Later in the same thread, Stacy made a startling admission to the group. She told the women her water broke at 33 weeks gestation. According to Stacy, her water broke at church and a friend “forced” her to go to the hospital.

Only a week before, Stacy asked the group if other mothers had refused c-sections. She told the group that doctors determined her baby was in a breech position. Due to the rupture of membranes and the baby’s position, doctors wanted to perform a c-section.

A mother in the group assured her that a breech delivery at home was possible. Additionally, the mother reminded Stacy to “work with her body.”


While at the hospital, the staff gave her steroids and antibiotics. The hospital hoped to get Stacy to 34 weeks and then induce her. Fueled by advice from the group, Stacy decided she did not want a c-section. She believed that she knew better than the doctors and did not believe their “standard of care” met her individual needs.

Defiantly, Stacy signed herself out of the hospital against hospital advice. Leaving the hospital AMA not only put her at risk but her baby as well.


Now nearly two weeks later Stacy’s baby had still not been delivered. During this time, her baby remained inside her uterus at risk of developing an infection due to preterm premature rupture of membranes. Despite the risks to the fetus, Stacy remained committed to having her baby at home.

PPROM can also indicate the baby is not in the right position. After the water breaks, a baby should engage in the birth canal. If the baby is not descending, their position could be incompatible with a vaginal birth. The longer the water is broken and the baby remains the placenta can also begin detaching from the uterus putting the baby at risk.

She inquired about the safety of having a preterm infant at her home. Mothers in the group shared their stories of preterm births and babies staying in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. According to the American Pregnancy Association, babies born before 36 weeks can suffer from several health issues.

One of the most common issues in preemies are immature lungs. When a baby is born before 36 weeks, they can suffer from respiratory distress and require oxygen support to ease their breathing. If not treated, babies can suffer from pneumonia, apnea, and bradycardia.

Not only are their lungs an issue but they can also suffer from jaundice, sepsis, hypoglycemia, and struggle to maintain their body temperature. Due to these factors, preterm infants born at 35 weeks typically need to spend around 7 to 10 days in the NICU.

Despite these risks, Stacy continued her labor at home. However, a few days went by, and there were no updates from her. Members of the group began bumping the post and asking for an update.

Finally, Stacy let the women know that her daughter had been born. Sadly, the news about the birth was not good news. She said her daughter was born breech through vaginal delivery. According to the mother, she pushed her out in three minutes. However, the baby was born not breathing.

After the final update, Stacy stopped responding to the group. Her daughter remains hospitalized and likely will not survive.

Breech deliveries can have several complications. In a breech position, the baby’s bottom or feet come down the birth canal first. This means the head of the baby remains in the uterus and can have difficulty getting out. Because the baby comes out feet first, they are at risk of the umbilical cord wrapping around their neck.

The American Pregnancy Association says that most doctors recommend cesareans for babies in the breech position. Preterm infants are at greatest risks of complications in breech deliveries. A preterm infant’s head is much larger than its body.

With the body going down first through the cervix, the cervix hasn’t stretched wide enough to allow the head to come through quickly. As a result, doctors prefer to deliver the baby via cesarian to prevent injuries to the preterm infant.

There is no way to know what happened to the baby in the birth. Stacy did not say if she delivered her baby at home or in the hospital. However, we do know she refused medical care at 34 weeks by doctors to induce her labor. She allowed the baby to remain in her uterus for weeks following her water breaking.

When she started to see signs of trouble with blood in her discharge, Stacy went to a Facebook group instead of consulting a doctor.

The Facebook group that encouraged and cheered her on offered her condolences. However, the group is the same one that also cheered on a woman that attempted to deliver a 45-week-gestation baby at home. This group has a pretty poor track record for giving advice.

Today, the mother will deal with the consequences of her choice. The baby becomes another casualty of the toxic free birth movement, and the group members will learn nothing from the death.


*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis on The Non-Sequitur Channel. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.

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  • frostysnowman

    These stories make me very sad and very angry.

  • Talos2264

    Another victim of the free birth movement.

  • Lambchopsuey

    In the homeschooling group we were in, I met a woman who had three children, the latter two of whom had been “unassisted home birth” as it was called back then. And BOTH had ended up in the NICU afterwards. Yet despite that clear evidence that it was not good and was not safe, she was still gung ho about “unassisted home birth”.

    I often what’s wrong with these people.

  • WallofSleep

    “I often what’s wrong with these people.”

    Magical thinking.

  • andrea

    Hmmm, maybe hospital policy is hospital policy because the same damn thing happens to everyone. ZOMG!

  • Martin Penwald

    So, she started to worry when HER health could have been on the line?

  • LimeGecko

    Do these people simply reject the possibility than anything can possibly go wrong with a birth? That is extremely illogical. Your water breaking that early already sets you up for risk of infection if labor doesn’t progress. Breech sets you up for risk of not being able to birth vaginally. All this happening pre term is three red flags, you don’t need to attempt to give birth to a preterm baby at home, let alone a breech one. Doesn’t it ever occur to someone in this situation that the baby may need to be intubated?? Flashing spinning red flags…

  • LimeGecko

    Seriously. It’s one thing to fall for this cult thinking online, but when you’ve actually seen the results for yourself?

  • Bo

    Given the context, simply add “wonder” in there. It’s not hard to get what this person was saying.

    Obviously just a typo, which everyone falls victim to now & again, so… what’s your point? Did you really need that to feel superior? Either respond to their point or don’t, but senseless bullying is a sad waste of everyone’s time.

  • WallofSleep

    Wow, just what the friggin’ hell is wrong with you?!?!

    I mentally filled in the “wonder” part myself, and responded appropriately. As in:

    Lambchop wonders what is wrong with these people and my response is “(What is wrong with these people is) Magical thinking.”

    Couldn’t you fill in that parenthetical for yourself? It’s not that hard to get what I was saying. Couldn’t you see that I upvoted Lamb’s comment either? BTW, I’m familiar with Lamb, and have a high opinion of him/her.

    And when the hell has the phrase “magical thinking” ever been used to “schoolmarm” a typo? Seriously. It’s a widely known phrase used to describe the thought process that leads people to believe in unfounded woo.

    Maybe find someone to lend you a dollar to buy a clue before you start accusing agreeable people of bullying. Jerk.

    ETA: Also, only three comments in the last two years, and that’s one of them?


  • ginger_katz

    Where are all the right-to-lifers now?

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    To be fair, it’s not _everyone_. In fact, the chances of an adverse event is, in some respect, not very large. I mean, it might even be less than 50/50! I know that vaginal delivery of breech baby at full term has a success rate of something like 95%.

    The problem is, from the hospital perspective, 19/20 is NOT a good success rate, because that one failure means that a baby dies. And they don’t like babies dying. Baby death rates are more like 1/1000, or hopefully less than that. And if they do a c-section for a breech baby, it turns out to be more like 1/1000.

    Hospitals know that having a baby die while trying to deliver breech, when there was a perfectly fine c-section option where the baby would have lived, is not something that juries accept and it ends up costing the hospital a lot of money.

    Then again, this situation is a very pre-term baby and breech, and so the risks are even going to be higher. The hospital says, let’s get the baby out safely!

  • andrea

    Yea, probably not everyone. Still, we both know people ***really*** play with fire in the quest for individualized experience. (1 in 20 ain’t good enough for me.)

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Do these people simply reject the possibility than anything can possibly go wrong with a birth?

    Yes, that is exactly what it is. They REJECT the possibility (or, alternatively, deny it). You will hear justifications like, “My body is not a lemon” and “Women were designed to give birth” (generally it is a reference to the design of evolution).

    It’s completely a rejection of reality. If you try to provide examples of how risky things can be, it gets dismissed as those people did something wrong (ETA: See andrea’s response – including “not visualizing properly”), and these people are doing it right. And when you have people who insist that they have done it right and still have problems, they get gaslighted and shunned. Former members in goodstanding, who they all were cheering on rah, rah, rah, get attacked for reporting a negative outcome and harshing the buzz of the community.

    The amount of vitriol that they lay on those who harm the brand is really scary.

  • andrea

    Yes, there is a subculture of belief that if you get a crappy outcome, you must have not “visualized” properly. I wish I was kidding.

  • LimeGecko

    It’s just crazy. Yes, your body is designed for childbirth. But childbirth complications are also perfectly natural. Sigh.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    They don’t get that evolution means “good enough”, not “perfection.”

    Implicitly, it gets very nasty for those who have had complications or otherwise lost babies. The whole “my body is not a lemon” thing is especially bad. First of all, I got over the whole “my body functions perfectly all the time” when I got my first pair of eyeglasses in the 3rd grade. Second, just because I need glasses doesn’t mean that my body is a “lemon.” Who is sending that message? Oh wait, it’s the natural birth crowd. Doctors surely don’t consider having to wear glasses or having childbirth complications to be failure. They are both perfectly normal for humans, and they both can be addressed with medical intervention. No, it is those natural birth promoters who think that getting a c-section means your body has failed and is therefore defective.

    The craziest ones, IMO, are the women who go through extensive effort via IVF to get pregnant, and then insist on having a natural (even home) birth to “prove their body can do it.” It seems to me that ship sailed long ago when your body, which you insist “can do it,” couldn’t get pregnant in the first place. I can’t believe someone would sacrifice all that effort to get pregnant to the altar of “prove my body is not a failure.”

  • andrea

    So much this.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    (1 in 20 ain’t good enough for me.)

    And it damn well shouldn’t be, given the alternative.

    There is almost nothing in life that we do that has a 5% risk of death. Even the riskiest of activities are a lot safer than that. One that I know of that meets it is climbing Mount Everest. About 5% of those who have attempted to climb Mount Everest over all of the years have died (interestingly, half of them died on the way up, and half of them died on the way down, after summitting)

    Driving in a NASCAR race has a risk of something like 1/10000 (although it is safer these days). Skydiving is considered a very risky activity, and the risk of dying is 1/300 000.

    Hell, drunk driving is widely considered very risky, yet the risk of dying on something like an 8 mile drunken drive is about 2/million (based on US DOT stats).

    Our daily risks are very, very small. The problem comes that we have so many events that those small risks combine to make a greater chance over time.

  • LimeGecko


  • AnonCar

    “Women were designed to give birth”

    Females of every species are more or less designed to give birth. That doesn’t mean that the design is always perfect. Hyenas have ridiculously high maternal death rates because their body design is actually really crappy for giving birth. The female hyenas with pups are the lucky ones.

  • otrame

    Please forgive me, and I do feel sorry for her loss, and the loss of everyone around her. It is devastating. But honestly, this is a painful and completely unnecessary example that stupidity is the only crime as far as nature is concerned*.

    And it’s not just the woman who is responsible, though surely she is the primary one. Everyone around her just stood there and let her kill (or at best seriously damage) that baby. To the extent that they encouraged her, or simply ignored how stupid she was being, they are responsible, too.

    *A paraphrase of something R. A. Heinlein said.

  • otrame

    But you can’t be wrong, after all.

    The truth is we have all, at one time or another, been stupid about something. Once it became clear that we had been stupid, most of us have said, at least to ourselves, “Well, that was stupid” and learn from it. People like the ones you are talking about, LimeGecko, can’t do that.

    The worst thing you can do to your child is pretend that you are never wrong, allowing them to think that being wrong is the worst thing there can ever be.

  • otrame

    “Giving birth is the most natural thing in the world. So is dying in childbirth.”

    I no longer remember the citation, but it was not me.

  • persephone

    The women in these groups are in it for themselves, not the child. It’s very much focused on their experience. They are definitely not focused on what would be the best method for a good outcome for the baby to be.

  • persephone

    And, yet, people gamble their life savings away.

  • PPROM is Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, and is when a mother’s water breaks before 37 weeks in pregnancy. PPROM is a factor in 40% of preterm births and affects 150,000 US pregnancies annually. The signs are watery discharge from the vagina, low or no fluid on ultrasound. Bleeding is common in PPROM. The risks are infection, maternal and/or fetal mortality, extreme premature birth, cord prolapse, stillbirth. If a woman suspects her water has broken, she must seek medical intervention. Please consider updating this article with accurate information about PPROM. http://www.aapprom.org

  • swbarnes2

    Yes. These women have tied up their worth as people with their ability to have their body perform feminine things like go through labor and breastfeed. For her to admit that her body might fail her at this would be a personal moral failure. I’m sure this woman is blaming someone, like her vaccinated neighbors who let their kids play with plastic toys, for what happened.

  • San_Ban

    Females of species that give birth are no more “designed” than any other non-domesticated species. They’re a product of evolution, and all that means is that more of their ancestors survived long enough to bear and rear young than not. In fact, human reproduction is extremely wasteful. Most of our fertilised eggs perish before becoming babies. Our young are extremely susceptible to all manner of disease and accidents and pregnancy and childbirth are life-threatening events.

  • AnonCar

    That’s pretty much what I meant with “more or less”. Successful birth happens and continues to happen with a given anatomical layout makes it an evolutionary success regardless of efficiency, development of young, or susceptibility to disease or accident.

  • al kimeea

    No, not to those afflicted with it. They’re being perfectly rational, most often with their hearts. You? You’re a mean scientismist. Or maybe believe everything you’re told. 😉

    An old friend is starting to sound like an alumnus of Quackwarts University School of Medicine, Google Campus. Their research trumps “listening to your doctor.” Antibiotics? Doesn’t believe in them or pharmaceuticals of any kind… Also caught up in the Nipsey Hustle conspiracy and something, something… chemtrails…

    It’s interesting, we went to the same schools through high-school (when our classes would have diverged) and are opposed on Germ Theory. ‘Cause, it’s only a theory…

  • al kimeea

    It was very selfish, wasn’t it.

  • Carol Greene

    Breech births are not a black and white subject.There are 3 types of breech. Which one are you talking about with your 95%? No kidding a doctors do not want to be responsible for a baby dying. Would you?!!! They are human beings after all and would have to live with that!
    The shoulder width and the mothers birth/labor and delivery history as well as the size of her pelvis are what determines whether of not a breech birth is successful. The experience of the person delivering the infant also matters.A smaller city may not have anyone trained in breech births.The risks are enormous. It is far safer to do a c-section in most cases.

    My sister inlaw was a breech birth. She is now a 55 year old mentally challenged adult because of brain damage after she got stuck and went without oxygen.. She should have been a c section.
    I have a friend that had a breech delivery and she was never the same after. The baby had to have it’s shoulder dislocated to get it out.She had a bilateral Episiotomy which led to a scar tissue issue. several surgeries over 10 years did not help. Her bladder never worked right after and she never could have sex again. She is only 29. Does the mothers sexual and other bodily functions matter? of course they do.
    I had to have a c section due to having a bicornuate uterus that does not contract and my son was a complete breech. We are both alive and healthy and living well today.
    Too many people today can’t seem to appreciate just how good we have it and lose sight of the fact they they are bringing a life into the world. It’s not a race. you are not out to prove anything to anyone.
    Your job is to get that child here safely.

  • Fiona Greig

    The end result seems to be a tad confused. Most mums to be want to deliver a healthy baby, and will work with midwife and doctor to benefit junior.

    These…er…misguided (shall we say) folk seem to say that the important factor is “i did it MY way, not the doctors’…”. Baby seems to be collateral damage.

    Selfish bstrds.

  • Sue (Yet, She Persisted) Blue

    Then, after birth, they segue into shaming women who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed.