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Midwife banned for a decade after endangering infants

Midwife and home birth provider Martina Gorner has been banned for 10 years after she endangered the lives of three mothers and their babies.

Expectant parents need to educate themselves beyond Instagram, a Victorian tribunal has warned as it banned a midwife for a decade for endangering the lives of four babies.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the behaviour of Martina Gorner, the director of home birth provider Ten Moons, was "substantially below the standards of the profession".

It heard in 2016, Gorner was working with a woman who wanted to have a vaginal birth after going through Caesarean sections for her first three children.

Gorner warned her the hospital would use "scare tactics" to discourage her and said she should not undergo any growth ultrasounds or extra blood tests.

The woman was admitted into hospital at 41 weeks' pregnant because her baby's movements had reduced, but she discharged herself on Gorner's advice.

One baby transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital was diagnosed with a significant disability.

She returned to hospital a week later, again with concerns over her baby's lack of movement.

Hospital staff told the woman her baby was "not looking good" and their heart rate was low so she should have an immediate Caesarean otherwise the baby could die in utero.

Gorner continued to refuse the hospital staff's advice, saying the baby had just gone to sleep and the woman should just "wait and see".

The woman eventually underwent a Caesarean nine hours after being admitted into hospital.

Her baby needed to be intubated and transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital, where they were later diagnosed with a significant disability.

In a statement to the tribunal, the woman said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the dangerous birth.

"I remember on the day feeling a sense of indecision ... because I trusted (Gorner) wholeheartedly and she was saying that the baby's OK," the woman said.

Gorner was also found to have provided sub-standard care to two mothers and their babies in 2018.

In one of the cases, Gorner failed to recognise the woman was having twins and was not present when she first went into active labour at home.

Both babies were born prematurely and one of the infants was struggling to breathe but Gorner only called an ambulance 30 minutes after the birth.

The baby had to be on respiratory support in hospital for five days.

The third mother also gave birth at home on Gorner's advice and against doctor's orders.

She ended up being rushed to hospital because her baby was in poor condition and required resuscitation.

Gorner surrendered her nursing and midwifery registrations in 2019 but she continued to work in Victoria as a non-registered person.

She was reported to the Health Complaints Commissioner in 2021 and the regulatory body found there was a "clear link" between the insufficient care she provided and the death of a baby.

Gorner was permanently prohibited from providing health services in Australia and she moved to Germany in 2021.

The tribunal this month found Gorner still had no remorse for her actions, which should serve as a warning for the community.

"In a world of influencers and self-appointed wellbeing experts, we encourage prospective parents to educate themselves about pregnancy and childbirth by reference to both science and modern approaches to midwifery," the judgment said.

"That requires time and effort which cannot be substituted with following someone on Instagram."

The tribunal disqualified Gorner from registering as a practitioner for 10 years.


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