Woman opted for home birth after hospital trauma, coronial inquest told

The traumatic hospital birth of a first child led a Perth woman to opt for a home birth with her second, the mother has told an inquest into her baby's death.

The woman, who cannot be identified, gave birth to a boy at home in 2010 after a 40-hour labour assisted by two midwives.

The infant died in hospital from an infection and meconium aspiration two-and-a-half hours later.

The coroner is examining why the woman was not taken to hospital during the labour and what caused the baby's infection.

In emotional testimony, the woman said she did not want to give birth in hospital because she had a traumatic experience with her first child and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

She told the inquest she wanted to "maintain my own autonomy" and to have a support team around her.

When asked if there was anything that would have caused her to have a baby in a hospital environment, she replied: "If there was a clear pressing medical need, obviously I would have."

She said she felt the labour at home had been progressing well.

"I felt the labour was progressing, albeit slowly ... I thought we were getting there," she said.

Midwife claimed hospital 'wasn't required'

A midwife has told the Perth coroner's court the woman was not transferred to hospital during a home birth because it was not felt it was required.

One of the midwifes, Sally Westbury, gave evidence at the inquest today.

She rejected suggestions she should have transferred the woman to hospital much earlier.

Ms Westbury testified she talked to the mother and a back up midwife about going to hospital because of concern about the length of time since the woman's membranes had ruptured.

However, Ms Westbury said because the mother was "afebrile" and "the baby was in good condition, it wasn't felt that was required".

She rejected suggestions that after the baby was born and the placenta had a bad smell, which indicated infection, she should have immediately transferred the woman to hospital, testifying that "observation" was the normal practice.

Ms Westbury also denied that her level of care was below what was expected, saying she "actually would do the same again".

"Babies die in hospital in exactly the same circumstances," she said.

Coroner Sarah Linton is examining the deaths of three baby boys after home births in 2010 and 2011.

The inquest is set down for six days and will hear from the babies' parents, as well as their midwives and medical staff.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kate Ellson said the purpose of the inquest was not to lay blame or suggest home births were dangerous.

She said the hearing hoped to clarify the circumstances around the deaths and try to prevent similar cases in future.