Cyprus Mail

Baby girl, delivered at home, still in critical condition

By Evie Andreou

THE BABY GIRL delivered at home early Sunday in Limassol by two women who say they are midwives is still on oxygen and in critical condition in the intensive care unit of the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia, said the head of the midwives section of the nurses and midwives association on Wednesday.

The baby, Niki Panayiotou said, is receiving oxygen through tubes that assist her breathing.

Police on Tuesday said the infant was transferred to the Limassol hospital from its parents’ home shortly after her birth, after the two women who delivered her realised she was not receiving enough oxygen and from there doctors arranged for her transfer to Nicosia.

The women were remanded on Tuesday for six days and face being charged with endangering the baby’s life.

Police have contacted Interpol to check whether the degrees they presented are genuine and are also investigating whether they are registered to practise in Cyprus.

The baby’s 36-year-old mother had opted for a natural home birth after she was reportedly told by two doctors that her only birth option was caesarean section, and she hired the two women to help her deliver her baby.

Police said she had previously delivered a baby via c-section and did not want to go through the same process again.

“Home births are not illegal. Midwives are autonomous professionals and they can deliver babies at homes, but what is important, is that they can only take place when pregnancies are low-risk and it appears that this case was not one,” Panayiotou said.

She added that women who have had c-sections can usually deliver another child naturally as long as it is at least two years after the procedure took place, but there are different reasons that may not allow this.

“The baby’s size is an important factor and in this case the baby was rather large, around four kilos,” Panayiotou said.

“Even though we support natural birth, as midwives we do not recommend home births because they are too risky. In Cyprus we do not have the proper infrastructure to support home births,” Panayiotou said.

She added that she and other colleagues have over the years received a few requests from women who would like to give birth at home, and she actually helped a woman deliver in her home in 2012, after permission from the then health minister Stavros Malas.

“I agreed to do it but only after a lot of preparation; I had with me oxygen and other equipment for emergency and I had also notified the hospital’s ambulance that I might need them,” she said.

She added that midwives in Cyprus have asked the health ministry to create natural birth rooms in all pubic hospitals so that women will have the opportunity to deliver their babies in conditions more like closer to home, rather than in surgeries.

“It is a common practice abroad; rooms have bathtubs, low lighting, and no surgical equipment in sight. It is the safest place for a woman to give birth in but they also have the necessary equipment in case of emergency,” Panayiotou said.

She attributed high percentages of c-sections in Cyprus to the medicalisation of births and to lack of midwives, whose job is to be with the pregnant woman throughout labour.

“Doctors can’t wait for 12 hours a woman to deliver, so c-sections are the easiest option. But research indicates that natural birth has many advantages for baby’s health and it also helps women have a sense of achievement,” she said.

She added that all licensed midwives that work in Cyprus are registered with the health ministry’s Cyprus nursing and midwifery council.

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