Mother helpless to prevent death

West Australian/May 12, 2001
By Kristen Watts

From the moment her daughter began to speak about Born in Zion principles, Maureen was concerned the family was entering dangerous territory.

Maureen, not her real name, said her eldest daughter was extremely strong-willed and once she had made up her mind that she was going to have a Zion home birth, which is unassisted, nothing could change it.

Maureen said her daughter would not have an ultrasound because she believed it would harm the baby.

After the fourth baby was born without incident, Maureen still did not feel comfortable that her daughter intended to have a fifth baby without a midwife.

She visited her daughter after being told of the fifth baby's arrival. But when Maureen arrived, she was told by a friend of her daughter that she could not see her or the baby.

"I was told I could not see her because she had not yet passed the placenta," she said. "When I did see her she looked as white as a sheet and I remember saying, "She looks half-dead'."

Maureen visited her bedridden daughter every day after the birth and pleaded with her to get medical attention. "I said to (her daughter's husband) that she had to have antibiotics, but he said, "No'," Maureen said.

When she visited a few days later, she thought her daughter had suffered a stroke. "She was slurring her words and not making any sense at all," she said.

The next day, she saw that her daughter's legs, previously covered, were twice their normal size. Maureen said she was relieved when her daughter agreed to see a midwife.

The midwife said that the woman had a dislocated pubic bone, an inflamed stomach and was exhausted from the birth. But Maureen said that after the visit by the midwife, whom she later discovered was also a Born in Zion believer, her daughter still could not walk.

During a later visit to the house, her daughter was in a deep sleep and could not be woken. "That was the last time I saw her alive," she said. She said it was not until after her daughter had died that she realised the new baby was dangerously ill.

Husband tells of shock

Simon never believed his wife could die from childbirth complications. The father of five said that when his wife first said she wanted a Zion birth he was sceptical but later warmed to the idea.

His wife was strong willed and sometimes would talk endlessly about her approval of the Balizet teachings. "When she decided on the Zion birth I was happy with the idea and I just didn't think anything could happen," he said. "It was just another baby coming out and I believed in God."

Simon, not his real name, said his partner was the perfect mother and wife. After the birth of their last baby, she never admitted to being in pain and he believed she was getting better every day. He could not believe it when he found her dead, three weeks after the birth. "I didn't know what to do, so I left it (for the night)," he said.

"I hoped it was a bad dream and that she would wake up in the morning and it would be all right. But in the morning she wasn't all right." That afternoon he told a friend and they called an ambulance. The Zion midwife who visited his wife earlier had made him feel everything was all right.

After his wife died, he did not want to risk losing any of his children and let the baby go to hospital after his mother-in-law and sister-in-law found it was very underweight.

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