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Who is liable if a home birth results in a birth injury?

Approximately 27,000 babies are born at home during a planned home birth every year in the United States. Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes that hospitals and birth centers are the safest place to give birth, every woman has the right to make an informed decision about her and her baby’s health.

To facilitate a safe home birth, many expectant parents hire a midwife or birth doula. If these professionals fail in their duties, however, it may result in serious injuries for the mother and baby. When so much is at stake, what can be done to make an at-home birth as safe and joyous as possible?

Who can you hire to assist in a home birth?

As part of a growing cultural movement towards naturalness, or as a result of past in-hospital trauma, many women today choose to deliver their babies at home. However, not all birth assistants are created equal. Traditionally, you have the choice between a midwife or a birth doula.

An Arizona midwife typically belongs to the state midwives association and attends a birth but is not a physician. They will either be:

  • A certified nurse midwife, or
  • A licensed midwife

These professionals aim for a low-intervention vaginal birth that is cost effective and reduces the surgical complications related to cesarean births. They are licensed through the state.

A birth doula (Greek for woman’s servant) is not a person registered through the state but is trained in home births. They aim to be a medical advocate and provide emotional support.

Birth doulas are usually either a:

  • Labor doula, or
  • Postpartum doula

Rather than coaching a woman through her delivery, a postpartum doula can run errands, clean and look after the children while the mother recovers.

What happens when a home birth goes wrong?

It is important to remember that although some of the professionals mentioned above are medically trained, they will not have access to the full spectrum of equipment and specialists if something goes wrong with a home birth. Although hospitals can be a stressful environment, a delay in emergency care can put the lives of both mother and baby at risk.

If you or someone you know suffered a tragic injury or loss during a home birth, contacting an experienced birth injuries attorney can provide you guidance regarding your options for pursuing peace of mind.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

2929 North Central Avenue Suite 700 Phoenix, AZ 85012 Phone: 602-635-7603 Fax: 602-230-8707 Phoenix Law Office Map