Australia 'Miracle' baby dies after 'lotus birth' at Melbourne Hospital

00:00  07 june  2020
00:00  07 june  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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Newborn baby. © Getty Newborn baby. The birth of Harlow Eden felt like a miracle to her parents. After 13 years of trying and more than a dozen failed IVF attempts, they had her in their arms, tiny but healthy.

As Isy and Michael Laderman cuddled their daughter, a white hospital blanket pulled up to the newborn's chin, her placenta remained attached via her umbilical cord, which trailed to a salt basket nearby.

It was hoped the practice, called a lotus birth, would ease their long-awaited baby's transition into the world, boosting her immunity and helping her to be calmer, after an emergency caesarean section.

"I wanted her to have the best possible start in life," Mrs Laderman said, concerned about autoimmune issues on both sides of the family.

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Lotus birth is an old birthing process making a comeback. Lotus birth is about keeping the umbilical cord and placenta with the baby while he or she gently transitions to life outside the womb. I just earthed my first child 11/2018 and I had a full lotus birth at a hospital after an “Emergency

"What I believed at the time to be the best start for her."

Two days later, Harlow died from sepsis caused by a catastrophic infection - and those serene first hours were followed by a nightmare, as doctors fruitlessly pumped at the baby's chest, and Mrs Laderman was handed back her daughter's body, draped with wires.

The tragedy has highlighted the potential danger of lotus births, but also exposed gaps in the way the medical profession responds to what the coroner described as "alternative" requests from parents.

The coroner's finding into Harlow's death concluded the most likely site for the fatal infection was in her umbilical stump. It also declared her "most significant and severe risk factors for sepsis" were the lotus birth and vaginal seeding, where fluids from the mother's vagina are transferred to the newborn.

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After spending 83 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Melomed Hospital in Gatesville, Athlone, the infant who weighed only 410g at birth this week finally got to go home. The tiny patient's paediatrician, Dr Shukri Raban, said Siphesihle was one of the 10 smallest babies born in South Africa.

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However, key elements of the findings are disputed by the family.

They say they feel like they have been blamed for Harlow's death and argue the novelty of the lotus birth may have posed a distraction from examining the actions of medical staff at the Angliss Hospital in Upper Ferntree Gully.

An extensive birth plan had been written by the Ladermans, including their wish for a lotus birth, which sees the placenta remain attached to the baby until it naturally falls away.

According to court documents, two obstetricians who saw Mrs Laderman told her the lotus birth might be possible if there were no complications, though one of the doctors said she warned of the risk of infection from the dead tissue.

That doctor said Mrs Laderman told her she wasn't worried about infection because "she had a salt basket to put the placenta in" and the weather would not be hot.

The court was also told that the new mother rejected a hepatitis B vaccination, Vitamin K and an initial transfer to the special care nursery for Harlow, while performing vaginal seeding on an hourly basis, unbeknownst to hospital staff.

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The practice, undertaken by some women who give birth via c-section, sees the mother's vaginal fluids applied to the baby's mouth after birth in an attempt to provide them with beneficial bacteria.

But Mrs Laderman told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald via a statement that she had only performed vaginal seeding once and in most of the instances where she had declined treatment, it was because a sense of urgency was not conveyed to her.

"I am not anti-vaccinations, I was being cautious and with such a small baby I wanted to know her little body would cope. Everything was thought out and considered for decades."

The placenta was removed from Harlow with the approval of her parents shortly after she was admitted to special care for low blood sugar at 16-hours old.

When she deteriorated and was found to be grunting, pale and mottled in appearance the newborn was given antibiotics, but she died the next day, the 16th of August 2017, after she was transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital.

The coronial investigation dismissed concerns about an almost two-hour wait in administering antibiotics, finding the timing following the suspicion of sepsis was appropriate. Instead Coroner Audrey Jamieson concluded Harlow "died from sepsis, in the setting of a lotus birth".

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Lotus birth supporters counter this by saying that risk of infection is actually reduced because there is no wound at the navel. A new trend in natural birthing methods strives to ease a baby 's transition into the world by not detaching the cord and placenta immediately following birth .

Assess your baby 's health. At one and five minutes after birth , an Apgar assessment will be done to evaluate your newborn's heart rate, breathing If your baby has any immediate health problems at birth , things will happen quickly. The doctor will cut the cord, and your baby will be dried off and

In an effort to prevent further deaths, she recommended that clinical guidelines or statements be developed about lotus births and vaginal seeding by Safer Care Victoria.

Isy Laderman was 46 by the time Harlow was born and had already endured at least 13 cycles of IVF before she met a woman at a festival who said she didn't want any children herself but had decided if she should ever meet anyone who needed help, she would donate her eggs.

Mrs Laderman said coming home from hospital without Harlow was the darkest thing she had experienced.

"Walking to the bedroom past her perfectly set up nursery made me want to vomit," she said,

"I got a hat and held down the brim at each side so as to tunnel my vision so I could only see what was right in front of me on the ground."

The Ladermans have recently resumed IVF again - with the last three embryos left from Harlow's batch.

"We are committed to searching for more answers," they said.

If you, or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline, 13 11 14 or beyondblue, 1300 22 4636.

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