THE parents of a baby who died after a home birth in 2010 say Bendigo Health staff “closed the door on them”.
Three Bendigo Health staff members were yesterday cross-examined at an inquest into the death of Thomas Fremantle.
The Bendigo Coroners Court heard that negotiations between Thomas’ parents, Gary and Katrina Fremantle, and hospital staff broke down about a month before Thomas was born.
The parents chose Queensland midwife Claire Hall to oversee the birth of Thomas, which occurred at a Woodstock West farm.
He died three days later after complications.
The Fremantles said they had a distrust of hospitals, which stemmed from previous bad experiences. They believed in minimal medical intervention in birth.
The court heard that the Fremantles believed they would be turned away from Bendigo Health if they arrived at the early stages of labour.
Bendigo Health maternity support worker Monique Rosenbauer and Bendigo Health Mamta coordinator Allison Shotton said they had several conversations with the Fremantles in September 2010.
They attempted to engage them in a special midwifery caseload program called Mamta.
Women living in the Bendigo region are normally accepted into the Mamta program before 26 weeks of pregnancy.
The hospital offered Mrs Fremantle a place in the program, despite being out of the zone and far advanced in her pregnancy.
Ms Shotton said she tried to encourage the Fremantles to join the program because it closely suited their birthing philosophy.
“Mamta is consistent with Katrina’s need for minimal intervention. It is midwifery-led like homebirths.”
Mr and Mrs Fremantle said they felt Bendigo Health “closed the door on them” after they said they preferred a home birth. But Bendigo Health women and children services manager Jodie Ashworth said the hospital had provided a “serious investment of time and resources above the standard practice”.
“Two of my most experienced and time poor staff invested a number of hours in trying to engage the Fremantles,” she said.
Six more people will give evidence to Coroner John Olle at the inquest today and tomorrow.
Midwife Claire Hall, who was present at the birth, will appear via video link from Queensland at the inquest today.
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