Midwife suspended after delivering very early ‘surprise’ twins at home birth

Home birth twin mum

A Melbourne midwife has been suspended after she attended a home birth where the expectant mum gave birth to surprise twins at 35 weeks gestation.

“Unexpected surprises”

“Martina Gorner, from Ten Moons Homebirth Services, was suspended from practising last Thursday by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia while the investigation is conducted,” nine.com.au reports.

The birth was shared publicly on the Ten Moons Homebirth Services Facebook page, in the form of a positive birth story.

“What a homebirth. Full of unexpected surprises, literally one after the other!! Mum gave birth to her sweet little baby boy in water and then we thought the placenta was about to come… But as it turned out, there was another baby boy about to make his entrance into the world!!”

“What a super hero mum Brooke is. What an amazing birth!! The twins are identical twins and were born this morning 19/10/18 @ 08.03 & 08.07 weighing 2350 and 2200gr. Mum and babies are doing really well. Big congratulations to everyone!! 

“Mum and babies are doing really well”

With two small babies arriving pre-term, it’s hard to imagine how things could be totally peachy.

Indeed, a later amendment to the post revealed: “An ambulance was called following the birth of the twins to transfer to hospital. The twins arrived premature (at 35 weeks). One of the twins experience respiratory difficulties. Both twins were transferred by Ambulance to hospital.”

What a homebirth 🏡 full of unexpected surprises 🎁, literally one after the other!! 👱🏼‍♀️ Mum gave birth 👶🏻 to her sweet…

Posted by Ten Moons – Homebirth Services Melbourne on Friday, 19 October 2018

Debate, concern and congratulations immediately erupted in the now viral Facebook post. 

Many were shocked that this could happen and thought this twin pregnancy should have been detected much earlier. But anecdotes on the post suggested that twins can and do sneak through, even when scans are carried out.

“Twins have been known to ‘hide’ behind each other,” one woman posted. “I worked at a large tertiary hospital where we had a surprise twin, and the woman had had a scan in the MFM unit that morning!”

“My friend had scans all throughout hers and never picked up she was having twins,” someone else commented. “She was measuring small and she had her surprise twin birth at 39 weeks.”

“I had undiagnosed twins,” another mum wrote. “They were in such a position on palp one of the babies head was in the usual placement for a behind and the other was low and heartbeats were heard one at a time throughout and I only measured 2 cm ahead which is a variation of normal. When they want to stay incognito they do it very well.”


Read more about twins:


“Definitely high risk”

Others pointed out that the consequences of this no-scan pregnancy and surprise home delivery could have been devastating for this family.

“Any type of twins certainly put you at an increased risk of hypertension, preeclampsia, preterm labour, and fetal demise compared to a singleton pregnancy. The fact is that proper twin prenatal care improves outcomes,” one commenter posted.

“I am so glad this family had a lucky outcome and what a beautiful surprise!” a lovely mum wrote. “I do want to warn others however like others have that identical twin pregnancies are high risk and TTTS [twin–twin transfusion syndrome] is deadly in up to 90% of cases if not treated during the pregnancy. Weekly scans are essential. The technology is there and people should use it to save their precious babies lives! We definitely wouldn’t have had our babies here today without it.”

You can read about the different kinds of twins – and the risks associated with those pregnancies – here.

“Wake up to yourselves”

Some commenters had carried twins and urged other mums to have their scans, in case their twin experience mirrored theirs.

“Wake up to yourselves if you think scans are not vital,” one mum posted. “Had I not had a scan and realised my twins contracted Twin – Twin Syndrome, then we wouldn’t have had the option to give them a fighting chance at life with the surgery to separate their blood vessels that they were sharing. Unfortunately for us, my girls didn’t survive, but for many, this procedure saved their children’s lives!”

“Does the ‘health risk’ of having a simple scan outweigh the risk of losing your baby! This is one very lucky mother and I wish her all the best.”

“Fear mongering?”

When some wondered why on earth this mum would not have wanted a scan at all, other women chimed in with theories that they were “VERY loud and disruptive” for babies or posed other risks. (Both questionable claims.)

Many, many women defended this mum’s right to manage her pregnancy and birth in her own way and thought a simple congratulations was the only appropriate comment.

“Chill. The babies are doing fine. Too much fear around pregnancy and birth. Fear mongering is more dangerous to a mother and child than undiagnosed twins.” 

“Can’t you people just congratulate this new mama with the birth of her beautiful babies?! OMG, so much hate and judgement some of you spread … Her body, her kids, her choice.”

Stay tuned

In the meantime, the midwife in question will attend a hearing to determine if she’ll face further consequences professionally.

“The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia role is to keep the public safe and ensure practitioners are meeting the trust the public places in them,” an NMBA spokesperson told nine.com.au.

“Before a decision to take immediate action is made, a practitioner is given notice and an opportunity to show cause as to why the action is not necessary.”

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