Midwives should not deal with home births alone, coroner says

Mayo inquest finds stillborn infant died by misadventure


The burden of responsibility on midwives when assisting at home births is too great for them to be on their own, a Coroner said today.

Coroner John O’Dwyer called for changes to ensure that no midwives deal single-handedly with home deliveries.

Mr O’Dwyer also recommended that the ambulance service should be notified whenever a home birth is planned in case an emergency develops.

The coroner made his recommendations at the conclusion of an inquest in Castlebar, Co Mayo into the death of baby Kai David Williams Henaghan in May 2011.

The infant was stillborn at Mayo General Hospital after a planned home birth was abandoned when the foetal heartbeat began to diminish.

The midwife involved was Christina Engel from Ballinrobe who worked in New Zealand both as a tutor and working midwife for many years before returning to work in Mayo.

At the conclusion of the two day inquest today in Castlebar, Mr O’Dwyer returned a verdict of misadventure.

Expressing his deepest sympathy with the infant’s parents, Sarah Williams and Emmett Henaghan, the coroner said he hoped that lessons could be learned from the tragedy.

Mr O’Dwyer added that the distance of a home birth from the local maternity hospital should be factored in whenever home deliveries are planned.