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Death by Childbirth

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"The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel," D. Chiesura (crop)

"There was fiddling and dancing, on the day the babe was born
But poor Queen Jane, beloved, lay cold as the stone."
— "The Death of Queen Jane", Child ballad #170

Parental Abandonment occurs with an overwhelming frequency in fiction. On top of that, an overwhelming number of victims lose their mothers during childbirth. So sad, so tragic, so heart-wrenching...such a goldmine of a plot device. Nothing impossible about it, but the statistics are ridiculously high, especially for any industrialized nations (although, as Jane Austen observed, it was used ridiculously often even before modern medicine).

May be used to set up a tense family situation where the father or older siblings unreasonably blame the youngest for "murdering their mother" and turn him/her into The Un-Favourite. Other times, the dead woman's father and/or mother may accuse her (now widowed) husband of killing her. The new widower may or may not agree with his father-in-law.

In fact, the use of it as a plot device might be Older Than Feudalism, since unless his mother died in childbirth, the protagonist could be burdened with at least six younger siblings.

Notably, in fiction the mother might not stand a chance of living through the childbirth owing to the nature of the child's father being something other than human — more so if the “gestation” involved a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong and/or if the baby is a Fetus Terrible that follows a Chestburster-style of birth.

The dead mother may become The Lost Lenore for the father, the child her last gift to him. Her death may also be considered a Heroic Sacrifice, with the woman being praised for her strength and valor.

Can double as Sex Signals Death for a particularly Anvilicious Aesop. Often used in Fan Fiction for shows where Parental Abandonment is never explained. Very often a Truth in Television for at least 70% of the world's population (particularly those parts of the world where modern medicine is not readily accessible). According to the UNFPA in 2005, while the lifetime risk of maternal death for people in 'developed regions' is 1 in 7300, the average worldwide is 1 in 92, rising as high as 1 in 22 women for Sub-Saharan Africa (source). Note that the per pregnancy risk is lower since many of these cultures also have high birth rates since they also tend to have high infant mortality rates.

Incidentally, dying in childbirth is not pretty at all. Many such stories have a beautiful death that just results in the mother kissing her weeping husband and soon-to-be-motherless baby goodbye. Writers often forget about the screaming, the bleeding, the fever, and the way that this agony could go on for days, and such writers either don't know this or just can't stomach it. It should be noted that some deaths in childbirth are pretty fast — a woman with uterine atony can hemorrhage to death in minutes without emergency medical intervention, but that's a lot of blood.

May be a set up for the Wicked Stepmother, Promotion to Parent or Missing Mom. If the baby dies in the womb, it's a Tragic Stillbirth. If someone other than the mother or baby dies, it's Birth-Death Juxtaposition. Compare Born from a Dead Woman for when the baby is recovered alive after the death of the mother.

This is far less common for stories set in modern times, as medical advancements make dying during childbirth extremely uncommon. However, this still may apply in stories with settings that lack such conveniences.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Another Kouchi's mother dies this way, though it turns out that she was actually a casualty of the curse placed on the class her younger sister was currently in.
  • Tamako Kaneda’s from Battle Club mother died in childbirth of a severe heart defect.
  • In Berserk, Guts was found by Sys and Gambino under a hanged corpse, umbilical cord still attached. The exact chain of events is fuzzy.
    • Death by Childbirth is so frequent that it's easier to just say who averts the trope: Casca. Because of Plot Armor. Because reasons.
  • Happens to Rin and Yukio's mother Yuri in Blue Exorcist, in the middle of a forest, on top of a large flower. May be justified in that she had no doctor or midwife to help her.
  • Kana and Jun Ushiro's mother in Bokurano. The elder sibling blames and abuses the younger for it. In a twist, the readers find out that Mrs. Ushiro was not Jun's mother, just his aunt (and in the manga, they weren't related at all, she was just the wife of his birth mom's teacher). His biological mom is actually Captain Misumi Tanaka, the local Action Girl. And she also dies, though not through childbirth.
  • In Captain Tsubasa Rising Sun, Gakuto Igawa's girlfriend died like this. He's had to raise their surviving child, Risa, pretty much alone from then on.
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, the only sure way to sire a werewolf child is for the father to be in werewolf form when the deed is done. The ensuing pregnancy is extremely taxing on the mother, and more often than not kills her. Akira's mother is wheelchair-bound as a result of the birth of his younger brother.
  • Parodied in Dragon Half, where we learn that Princess Vina's mother Venus, a slime who had drunk People Potion to turn herself human so she could marry the king, survived the birth but was so shocked and ashamed to find that her daughter was born a slime like her that she died right then and there!
  • In Elfen Lied, Kurama's wife Hiromi dies shortly after the birth of their daughter, Mariko, due to a Caesarian Section complication. Justified in that Hiromi was said to have been sickly all her life, couldn't conceive naturally, and couldn't give birth without a C-Section. She could have survived had Kurama not startled her by revealing he intended to kill baby!Mariko since she was a diclonius; her reaction was understandable, if suicidal.
  • Holland's mother died this way in Eureka Seven.
  • Fairy Tail subverts this Played for Drama. Makarov's mother Rita is believed to have died by childbirth after having him. What actually happened was Mavis' death curse activating for the first time from her experiencing the pure joy and happiness of watching the birth of the son of one of her True Companions and killing Rita while she held her hand. Realizing that Zeref wasn't lying after all about what her immortality really entailed caused her to have a Freak Out and run away from the guild, and this led to a whole host of events that made things get so much worse for her, Zeref, and the world as a whole.
  • Happened to Tamahome's mother in Fushigi Yuugi, when she was giving birth to her youngest child, Yuiren. Tamahome is especially protective of her.
  • Gundam:
    • Garma Zabi's mother supposedly died in childbirth in the original series. This may be justified by first generation space colonists having poor health due to excessive exposure to cosmic radiation & microgravity.
    • According to the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing manga Episode Zero, Quatre Raberba Winner's mother Quatrina died giving birth to him, determined to both have a child by natural ways and give his father a son after his last twenty-nine test-tube children were all girls, though she knew beforehand that it would cost her her life since her body was not fit for bearing children. For all the girls, she'd used artificial wombs instead.
      • In fact, when Zayeed Winner asked the dying Quatrina "He's born healthy, but now you're going to die... Was it worth it?", she replied, "I wanted to be the mother of your children!"... and those were her last words.
  • In Hajime no Ippo, Takeshi Sendoh's grandmother explains to Fujii's assistant Mari Iizuka that her daughter-in-law died shortly after giving birth to him. It's not clear if Mrs. Sendoh died as a direct consequence of giving birth or it was just a coincidence, though.
  • In Heat Guy J, this is implied to have been the fate of Clair Leonelli's mother. Interestingly, although his father was abusive, there's no reason to think his mother's death had anything to do with it.
  • Tsubasa Shibahime's mother in His and Her Circumstances. It becomes kind of a plot point when her father gets married again and, since Tsubasa had been a Daddy's Girl from birth, it takes her a while to accept her new mother figure. (Who also was the nurse who took care of her after an accident.)
  • Occurs in Immortal Rain, it's... not pretty.
  • Played with in the third Inuyasha movie Swords of an Honorable Ruler: Though Inuyasha's mother Lady Izayoi does die in the process of giving birth to Inuyasha, it's mostly due to Takemaru stabbing her with a spear. Thanks to Tenseiga, she gets better.
  • Kimagure Orange Road: Akemi, Kyosuke and the twins' mother, died shortly after the girls were born.
  • Mined for all of its drama in Kodocha, with Akito Hayama's mother Koharu. His father Fuyuki buried himself in his work and ignored his children in his grief, and the emotionally-scarred Natsumi abused Akito atrociously because she blamed him for both their mother's death and their father's neglect. Sana learns about this, pulls a small Batman Gambit to fix their home life, and it works.
    • This is also touched in the sort-of sequel, Deep Clear. Sana and Akito are married and she's pregnant, but it's not an easy pregnancy for her and Akito is terrified since he fears Sana will die as Koharu did. This puts their relationship in quite a lot of trouble, but with the help of Shuri, they work past it.
  • In Lady!!, Lynn's half-sister Sarah's mother Frances is implied to have fallen victim to this, as she died shortly after Sarah was born.
  • This is a big part of Henri's backstory in Marginal Prince, even though the anime itself doesn't really focus on it. The website for the game the series is based on elaborates on it and lists it as a reason for the bad relationship between Henri and his father (who blames his son for it). The anime only hints at it when it's revealed that Henri isn't very keen on the topic of his parents. He also doesn't seem to like his birthday.
  • Naruto:
    • The Fourth Kazekage (leader of the Hidden Sand Village in the Land of Winds) had been attempting to father a child who would be able to contain Shukaku, with Temari and Kankuro being incompatible. Gaara was a match and the Shukaku was sealed while he was in the womb, but Gaara was born extremely premature as a result. Karura was already very weakened by the childbirth itself, and she soon died.
    • Sakumo Hatake's beloved wife died when she gave birth to their son Kakashi, whom Sakumo tried to raise as well as he could until he had to commit seppuku a few years later.
  • One Piece revealed that this is how Ace's birth mother Portgas D. Rouge died, after holding him in for twenty months to protect him and hide the identity of his father... who is none other than Gold Roger himself.
  • The manga of Pet Shop of Horrors has Christopher falling mute upon learning from an angry cousin that he "killed his own mom." This, too, is justified in a Dream Sequence held by his older brother, who talks with his mother, about her advanced age and poor health to begin with.
  • In Prétear, we have Himeno's mother in the manga. Thing is, Kaoru hid it from Himeno herself, and it was her stepmother Natsue who told her.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Tomoe explains to Kenshin that her mother died when she gave birth to her much younger brother Enishi, whom she practically raised.
  • This is what happened, in the backstory of Secret of Cerulean Sand, to the mothers of Jane Buxton and her half-brother William.
  • In the Alternate Universe Street Fighter Alpha: Generations OAV, it's said that a young woman named Sayaka (who was a friend of Akuma and Gokuen, and implied to be the niece of their master Gotetsu) died like this. Her child survived, however, and grew into either the local Nice Girl Fuuka or series protagonist Ryu, with other pieces of evidence leaning more towards the latter. And the father? Akuma.
  • Comes up in backstory in a few works made by Studio Gonzo, among them Last Exile (Lavie's mother) and Romeo × Juliet (Tybalt's mother).
  • Tail of the Moon: Usagi's mother dies because the baby had grown too big in her stomach, and since C-sections hadn't been around...
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Gauche Suede's mother, Sylvette, dies giving birth to his sister, who is also named Sylvette — he named her after his mother.
    • Niche's mother didn't survive childbirth either, probably due to complications such as her own poor health at the time, giving birth to twins, and that her children were not normal humans.
  • Ichico Nemuri of Undead Unluck suffers from prolonged Sleep Deprivation as a result of being the Negator Unsleep. The toll this takes on her health leads to her eventually dying in childbirth, unable to take the stress involved.
  • This was how Marik Ishtar's mother died in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • YuYu Hakusho had an unnamed human woman whom Raizen fell in love with. She died of childbirth and, several generations later from that child, led to Yusuke.


    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • In the second Atari Force series, Martin Champion's wife Lydia Perez dies while giving birth to their son Christopher, whom Dr. Lucas Orion (the physician present) thought Martin blamed for the mother's death, but as it turned out, it was actually the Dark Destroyer that killed her.
  • Giant-Size Avengers #1 reveals that the Golden Age super-heroine Miss America had died this way.
  • In Billy Majestic's Humpty Dumpty, an egg-shaped Half-Human Hybrid is conceived when a redneck named Pervis Brakk rapes an alien woman. Humpty Dumpty's mother does not survive giving birth.
  • In the DC Universe, the mother of Cameron Mahkent, the Icicle, froze to death giving birth to him—not unlike the goddess Izanami.
  • In a Flash Back story in ElfQuest, Eyes High dies from blood loss shortly after giving birth to Skywise, after losing her lifemate and almost being sacrificed by a human tribe, all due to a prank by two of the tribe's boys that went horribly wrong.
  • As Vincent Frankenstein in The Frankenstein Monster tries to put his scientific ambitions into work with The Monster, his wife gives birth to his child and dies in the process. His maid, dismayed by the fact that he put his work before his wife, kills him for his oversight.
  • This is one of the reasons Dupli-Kate and her twin brother Multi-Paul in Invincible have their multiplying powers. A bizarre curse on their family doomed their father to have so many children that he would be driven insane. Since their mother died in childbirth and he never remarried, it seemed like the curse would be averted. The curse got creative and gave Kate and Paul their powers, and their father did indeed go insane trying to handle the bizarre situation.
  • In the Little Victory universe, the birth of supers, at least those of 'Pantheon Class' power, is accompanied by a burst of power that not only kills the mother but anybody else in the near vicinity.
  • This is part of the origin of the Johann "Red Skull" Schmidt, his mother died giving birth to him and his father hatefully tried to murder him right there and then until stopped by the attending doctor. With that kind of beginning, Schmidt only sank further.
  • Maria Hill, former head of S.H.I.E.L.D., was born "on a day when the mercury was frozen at 44 below. Her mother didn't make it out of the hospital and her father never forgave her."
  • In Smax it's eventually revealed that Smax's mother died this way. She was raped by an ogre, who kept her in his cave and beat her, meaning she was in no condition to give birth when she did. She was tough. She might've survived the birth... if she didn't have twins.
  • Inverted in Strikeforce: Morituri with Aline "Blackthorn" Pagrovna. As a subject of the Morituri Process, she should die within a year after acquiring super-powers. Instead, her pregnancy keeps her alive for several months afterward, and she dies soon after the baby is born.
  • In the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continuity, Casey Jones' first wife Gabrielle dies due to complications while giving birth to her daughter, Shadow.
  • A pair of What If? stories dealt with the ramifications of the Fantastic Four's Invisible Girl dying in childbirth — v.1 #42 with Franklin's birth, and v.2 #30 with her second child, who in canon was stillborn (along with an alternate story in which both Sue and the baby lived).
  • Wonder Woman: Amazonia mentions Queen Mary Alberta dying giving birth. Turns out her husband King Jack killed her himself due to believing she served her purpose after giving him a child.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Fairy tales are fond of leaving children vulnerable to the Wicked Stepmother this way. Snow White may be the best known (once The Brothers Grimm bowdlerized to make the villainess the stepmother rather than the mother), but many others, such as "The Juniper Tree" invoke it. The English fairy tale "Tattercoats" (collected by Joseph Jacobs) has the heroine left vulnerable by her mother's death because her grandfather then blames her for it.
  • Tanith Lee's novel-length version of Snow White, White as Snow, leaves the mother as the villainess but her fate is much like the original story other than the fact that she didn't use a spell to age, she just aged naturally while her daughter was missing and presumed dead. Being virtually unknown to her daughter even when they lived together helped. It's a thing. Her short story version, "Red as Blood", leaves the stepmother in place but Snow White herself is a vampire and the witch queen uses white magic and religious items to destroy her.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge:
    • Princess Melpomene died giving birth to Sonata Dusk.
    • In the prequel story, Godzilla: New Era, Asuka Shinoda's death was shown in great detail and played realistically. She went into labor prematurely, forcing her to give birth in an old shed instead of a hospital with only her husband Yuji and the zoologist Elsie Chapman helping her. After giving birth to her daughter Io, Asuka held on for a while but died before the paramedics could arrive via helicopter. Elsie speculated that her premature birth and death was because of radiation poisoning after a close encounter with Godzilla Senior. This motivated Yuji to research methods to counteract radiation poisoning.
  • Children of an Elder God (Cthulhu Mythos & Neon Genesis Evangelion): Asuka's mother Kyoko voluntereed to get a fetus altered with alien DNA implanted in her womb. However, the experiment was a disaster, and she died when she gave birth.
  • Eyes on Me (Steven Universe Massive Multiplayer Crossover): Rose dies from preeclampsia complications at the age of 24 while having Steven.
  • Fate: Kill (Akame ga Kill! & Fate/stay night): It is briefly mentioned Selka's mother died giving birth to her.

Disney Animated Canon

Dragon Age

  • There's some concern of this happening to a few characters during the course of the AU series Skyhold Academy Yearbook. (Given the nature of the stories, the outcome is pretty easy to guess.)


  • The Seer and His Butterfly:
    • Sara had died giving birth to Mirabel, a fact they knew would happen years before it happened when Bruno had an involuntary vision of it. By the time she finds out she was pregnant, Sera had already made peace with it.
    • Defied with Mirabel. When Mirabel becomes pregnant, Bruno becomes so worried that history would repeat itself that he has a vision. Not only does he find out that she'll pull through just fine, he finds out that she's having twins.

Fusion Fic

Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire

  • Discussed in Safe Anchorage. Both Theon and Jeyne are rightfully terrified of her dying in childbirth, since giving birth in Westeros is dangerous enough for adult women, much less her.


  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The mother of Zmeyevich twins suffered a decline in health over the pregnancy and died giving birth to them, with the implication that Nadezhda will go the same way when her own Zmeyevich is born.

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi / The Untamed

  • An Acceptable Arrangement features Hou Yue dying this way.
  • Nirejseki's fic Children of the Forge states that anyone unlucky enough to carry a child of the forge ends up dying while giving birth to it, usually while being ripped apart from the inside. Nie Mingjue, however, averts this.
  • What Could Have Been narrowly averts this with Jiang Yanli. It looks so dire for a while that Jin Zixuan keeps constant vigil by her bedside and Wen Qing must be brought in.

Harry Potter

The Husky and His White Cat Shizun: Erha He Ta De Bai Mao Shizun

  • In catharsis, Chu Wanning bleeds to death when he miscarries in his sixth month of pregnancy — it's strongly implied living in utter deprivation was responsible. Even if his soul is reincarnated three years before his demise, he's still traumatized and desperately tries to avoid conceiving again, first by fleeing his husband's attention then by consuming contraceptive tea when said husband starts to have regular sex with him.

Legally Blonde

The Legend of Zelda

  • In Their Bond the previous Zelda died giving birth to the current Zelda. After she died, Impa had to cut her open because her daughter was tangled up in her own umbilical cord.

My Little Pony

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • In The Second Try the audience is led to believe that Asuka died giving birth to Aki, even though it's a Foregone Conclusion that she survives. She did pass out as a result of blood loss and the strain of giving birth at 16 though.

Sonic the Hedgehog

  • Implied in Single Parents Night. Vanilla's health was poor and she knew she likely wouldn't live long. She died around the time of Cream's birth (and, even then, Cream was almost 2 months premature).

Star vs. the Forces of Evil

  • Queens of Mewni: Sky the Weaver died a few days after giving birth to Moon due to a combination of this trope (complications arose due to Sky's diminutive stature having adverse effects on her pregnancy) and Death by Despair (she had just lost her husband a couple months before giving birth, and that had already taken a toll on her heath). She lived long enough to name her younger sister Comet regent over her other sister.

Super Mario Bros.

  • Subverted in My Pain, My Thrill. Peach ends up pregnant by Bowser but no one knew it until Peach went into labor. However, Peach falls into a coma before the birth because her body wasn't made to give birth to a turtle. Her son, Bowser Jr, is born unusually small and was born alive, unlike full koopas who hatch from eggs. Bowser keeps the birth from Peach out of fear, causing her to believe Bowser found another lover after she mysteriously fell ill. It isn't until Jr is three that Peach learns what really happened.

Thomas & Friends

Touhou Project

  • In the Gensokyo 20XX series, this almost happened to Ran when she gave birth to An due to unsaid pregnancy complications, making that narrowly averted, however, she was ill for some time afterwards. She gets better, though.

The Wicked Years

  • Justified in Verdigris. Melena died shortly after giving birth to her firstborn Elphaba, but not from the birth itself. She had been bitten by a zombie and began turning moments after Elphaba's birth.

Warrior Cats

  • Better Bones AU: Onestar's mother, Larksplash, dies giving birth to him, and all of his siblings die as well. This is how he gets the name Onekit, as a somewhat untranslatable In-Universe allusion to him being completely alone and the only thing left.


  • The Child of Love: Through the story, the cast discovers Asuka may die when she gives birth due to Gendo’s tinkering with her daughter's DNA and they try to find ways to prevent Asuka's death. At the final chapter Shinji and other characters think for a moment she has passed away.
  • One of the author's notes of Golden Dawn: Lost Sunrise reveals that Woodfur's mate died when giving birth to their kittens, Snowcloud and Tigertail.
  • In the Neon Genesis Evangelion/The Familiar of Zero Crossover fic Points of Familiarity, at some point in the fic's backstory, this happened to Asuka. The same theme is carried over to the fic's more comedic rewrite Surrogate of Zero, and is touched upon a little more.
  • In the Darkwing Duck fanfiction series Negaverse Chronicles, this is what happened to Quackerjack's mom.
  • In the Night at the Museum Prequel, Child of Moonlight, this happens to Inhapi, Kahmunrah's mother and one of Merenkahre's wives. Shepsheret views him as her son anyway and vice versa.
  • According to one of the Kill la Kill AU fanfics, Ragyou almost died as she was giving birth to Satsuki due to unknown pregnancy/birth complications. It was also noted that said complications could have killed Satsuki, too.
  • In The Monstrous Company of Thorin Oakenshield, this happened to Thorin's sister Dîs, which serves as the explanation why she is not in the story even though they are all female and that wouldn't have been a hindrance.
  • In Transformers Animated: Megatron's Heir, this was the fate of Starscream's mother.
  • Let the World Smile: Subverted with Zelda. She doesn't know much about her deceased mother, so she wonders if her mother died in childbirth, like what happens in stories. Her mother actually killed herself upon realizing her only child was a girl.
  • Dead Men Tell Tales: One of the deceased people Coleta meets on the day she first met Hector is "a woman lost to childbirth".
  • In After the Fall of Giants, Gosunkugi learns that this fate will befall his future wife Miyo and tries to kill himself to prevent it from happening.
  • Downplayed with Hinata's mother in Son of the Sannin. Complications with Hanabi's birth led to an infection that went misdiagnosed for several years and left her suffering from chronic illness. It almost ended up killing her, but Tsunade was able to cure her and she made a full recovery (with the exception of her being rendered infertile from the damage that had already occured).
  • This is discussed between sisters Elsa and Anna in An Arm and a Leg. It's dangerous for Elsa to become pregnant. She likely won't survive and even the baby itself might not. It's recommended that Elsa not have kids but, being the queen, Elsa needs a heir of her own.
  • Chasing the Rainbow: It's mentioned that ponies rarely conceive and many of these foals die in childbirth. In the latter case, the mothers usually die as well. Baby Nightglow vaguely remembers a mare named Acorn who died in childbirth.
  • In Shazam! fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, giving birth two genetically-enhanced children taxed Doctor Sivana's first wife's body. She never recovered from her second pregnancy, and she died within two months of her daughter's birth.
    How their father had managed to manufacture them, he had never been certain. He had reportedly given their mother a shot of something, with her concession, that would produce magnificent physical specimens in their offspring. Mom had agreed to it. After all, who doesn't want beautiful children? But Magnificus' birth had taxed her, and she never quite recovered from bearing Beautia. Within two months of the girl's birth, their mother was dead.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Alien featured really bloody alien births. Quite different than the other examples, but still fits the trope.
  • Inverted in Angus: While the title character was being born, his father had a fatal heart attack.
  • Babylon A.D.: Aurora dies giving birth to a pair of twins because she was designed not to live past delivery. Toorop is left to raise the children at his restored home in upstate New York.
  • Blade's mother was dying when she was giving birth to him in Blade. It didn't help matters that she'd been bitten by a vampire just beforehand, and had thus lost a lot of blood.
  • In Blade Runner 2049, Rachael died giving birth in the backstory.
  • The title character's mother in Boy (2010) died when his younger brother was born. This soon led to Alamein (the dad) abandoning the kids. The younger brother, Rocky, later thought he had killed his mother from an overload of his "powers", which was just in his head.
  • In Chanthaly, this is how Chanthaly's mother died. Since she had a heart-based disease that made her rather weak at the time she gave birth to Chanthaly... yeah, it didn't really end well for her.
  • Class Of Nuke Em High Part III The Good The Bad And The Subhumanoid: Near the start of the movie, Victoria gives birth to Dick, and then Adlai. She then dies.
  • Sarah in The Craft lost her mother this way, but instead of her father blaming her, she blames herself, and at one point Attempted Suicide because of it.
  • Primarily responsible for the title character's abandonment in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • The protagonist's mother in Deconstructing Harry.
  • Jeriba Shigan dies giving birth in Enemy Mine. It's made clearer in the source novella that the sexless, self-fertilizing Dracs normally bear several children, but something has gone wrong with poor Jerry.
  • A variant overlapping with Traumatic C-Section can be seen in Evolution (2015); because the "sea-women" have largely self-taught themselves how to perform caesareans through watching videos and trial and error, the human boys they use as incubators for their offspring have a good chance of being killed when their "daughters" are extracted. The film opens with protagonist Nicolas finding one such unfortunate, and a boy named Victor dies in "delivery" around the midway point.
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, this happened to the mother of Leta Lestrange and Yusef Kama.
  • The 1974 Giallo film Five Women For The Killer begins with the protagonist learning that his wife has died in childbirth. It's later revealed that the doctor deliberately murdered her during the delivery.
  • The beginning of The Fly II involves Veronica 'Ronnie' Quaife dying in childbirth while the Corrupt Corporate Executive does nothing to stop it because he wants to steal her mutant manfly-baby.
  • Discussed Trope in The Forgotten Frontier, a 1931 documentary about nurses ministering to the desperately poor mountain folk of Appalachia. The film points out that more women have died in childbirth in America than men have died in wars. Later, a desperate farmer has to leave his twin babies with the nurses after his wife dies in childbirth, and thus isn't around to nurse.
  • Joey burns in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.
  • This trope takes out Mr. Chips' wife in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, along with their unborn child.
  • Jack & Sarah has two Sarahs in it, the mother who dies in childbirth, and the daughter named after her. It's mainly a romantic comedy about the father recovering and hooking up with the American nanny, though.
  • In the movie Jersey Girl. Kevin Smith had the mother die before ever casting the film. (That was sorta the point of the story, how he'd react if his wife died and he had to raise his daughter alone.) This is also inverted, as it was not the actual childbirth that killed her, but a brain aneurysm that ruptured during the process. Any kind of excessive physical strain or exertion would have done the trick or enough time for it to get bigger and hemorrhage on its own.
  • Happened in the backstory to Belinda's mother in Johnny Belinda. Belinda's father resents her for it.
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: Rahul's wife, Tina, dies giving birth to their daughter. She names her Anjali, after Rahul's estranged friend whose unrequited love for him Tina knows, but Rahul is oblivious about.
  • In Lars and the Real Girl, Lars' mother dies while giving birth to him. This leads Lars to believe he was responsible for her death and he becomes a shy hermit who lives in a shed as a result.
  • Jake's fate in The Mortuary Collection. Somewhat more likely than usual when giving birth to a huge, mutant baby through one's penis. Arguably Laser-Guided Karma since he was an avid practitioner of Contraception Deception (which was how he got pregnant in the first place), and had almost certainly caused one or more of his sixty-seven victims to face the risk of this, as all pregnancy does.
  • Mythica: Marek's mother died while giving birth to her.
  • A variant appears in the comedy/thriller North Sea Hijack, in which Roger Moore's character (in explaining his dislike of women) says, "Both my parents died tragically in childbirth."
  • In One Foot in Hell, Mitch Barrett's wife Ellie and their unborn child die as a result of complications of childbirth when three small-minded townsfolk delay Mitch returning with vital medicine.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Lawrence Nolan's wife died giving birth to their only child, Gary.
  • Ofelia's half-brother kills his mother in Pan's Labyrinth — foreshadowed as Carmen starts the movie with a very difficult pregnancy, is increasingly fragile as the movie goes on, and eventually suffers a hemorrhage with only Ofelia there to look for help. By that point she's bedridden, and when she finally goes into labor, she's hanging by a thread. The cruel part is that she could have survived with some help, but her new husband Captain Vidal refuses to allow the doctor to do it. He figures it's a waste of medicine, since their baby is a boy and that's all that matters to him.
  • Australian film Peaches does this in a rather gruesome way. The main character's mother is actually decapitated in a car accident, meaning she was born from a headless body.
  • Powder: The title character's mother goes into labor after being struck by lightning, and subsequently dies giving birth to him. This leads his father to abandon him (Powder being albino, which is implied to be a side effect of the strike, is also probably a factor).
  • Used at the start of The Red Violin, and partially justified and foreshadowed: Anna worries that her age will create complications during the birth.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Padmé dies within minutes of giving birth to Luke and Leia since "she's lost the will to live", though the (albeit now non-canonical) junior novelization outright states that she sustained lethal tracheal injuries from the force choke given to her by Anakin — which the med droids failed to pick up on due to being programmed by non-humanoids who had basically zero contact with humans (or humanoid species).
  • In the backstory of Secondhand Lions, Hub's wife, Jasmine, died this way, also taking their child with her.
  • In Silent Tongue, Awbonnie died in childbirth before the film begins and the child died with her.
  • Played with in Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Lilliana (the mother) was already dying from a wound in her chest when Lilli was born. She instructed Frederich to cut the baby out of her because it was the only way to make sure Lilli didn't die with her.
  • Song of the Sea: While it’s unclear if this was the case with Bronagh, her disappearance/death is treated as such by her husband Conor, who mourns her, and her son Ben, who blames his little sister Saoirse, until he learns the truth.
  • The Space Between Us: Astronaut Sarah Elliot dies from eclampsia immediately after giving birth to the first baby born on Mars.
  • Species II, in which the human-looking offspring of the male alien age so quickly in the womb that they burst their way out.
  • This is one of the things Pasteur is trying to stop in The Story of Louis Pasteur. Turns out all those women who died of "childbed fever" would have lived if doctors had been in the habit of washing their hands and sterilizing their instruments.
  • Sudden Impact: Chief Jannings' wife died while giving birth to their son Albert.
  • Happens to Audrey in Tales from the Hood 2, although her death is a trifle more...explosive than most examples of this trope. Be warned if your midwife starts hanging plastic sheeting around your bed...
  • Terror at Black Falls: Manuel Avila's mother died giving birth to him. His father Juan accepts this, saying it's God's way for parents to die and leave children to take their place. He's devastated when Manuel dies childless.
  • 1938 short film "That Mothers Might Live" focuses on this, specifically on Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis and his efforts to stop "childbed fever" in 1840s Vienna. His efforts to get doctors to wash their hands before delivering babies lead to him getting chucked into an insane asylum, where he died.
  • In the Tremors franchise, this is the fate that awaits any fertile Graboid that doesn't die from some other cause, first: their bodies generate partheonogenetic offspring called Shriekers that eat their way out of the parent.
  • In Le Visiteur du Futur, Alice's mother died when she was born. Alice attempts to travel back in time and save her mother.
  • In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Viktor briefly mentions that his wife Ilona died giving birth to Sonja.
  • In Whale Rider, Pai's mother dies in labor as well as her twin brother.
  • The Woman in Black begins with a sort of flashback to the main character marrying his beloved, then a short skip to his wife dying after giving birth to their son Joseph. Roughly three years later, he's still not over it.
  • In Zig Zag (2002), this is one explanation for what happened to ZigZag's mother, although even ZigZag doesn't know for sure.

  • Yeerks in Animorphs, due to Bizarre Alien Biology, always die in the act of reproduction. Three Yeerks join together and then split into hundreds of offspring.
  • Almost happens to Anne twice in the Anne of Green Gables series. Once, with her first child, in which the baby died as a result of being premature. And once that was only revealed in backstory, while giving birth to her sixth child and youngest son, Shirley.
  • Charles Beauregard, the protagonist of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula and a recurring character in his Diogenes Club series, is haunted by the death of his wife Pamela in childbirth. The child, their first, also died.
  • In Robin McKinley's Beauty and her "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", the heroines are motherless because their mother died in childbirth; in both cases, the baby also died. The author used this trope again in The Hero and the Crown, combining it with Death by Despair — Aerin's mother was said to have "turned her face to the wall and died," upon giving birth to a girl instead of a boy.
  • Appears to have been the case with the Kid in Blood Meridian.
  • The Books of Ember: Lina's mother died giving birth to her little sister Poppy two years prior to the events of the series. Their father had died of illness a few months before, resulting in the girls being cared for by their grandmother.
  • Breaking Dawn: Bella dies during her extremely difficult labour, but she doesn't die die. She survives Renesmee's birth... by being turned into a vampire.
  • A Brother's Price mentions this. One of the Wakefield sisters died giving birth to a stillborn son.
  • In Carry On, This is implied with the fate of Lucy Salisbury, the girlfriend of The Mage and the mother of Simon. She had magical complications from her boyfriend’s interference with her pregnancy, and she died shortly after Simon was born.
  • V. C. Andrews novel The Casteel Series:
    • Heaven's mother Leigh died giving birth to her. This causes Luke, Leigh's husband, to resent Heaven for "killing" the woman he loved. The circumstances of her conception (Leigh was raped by her stepfather) don't help much, either.
    • Also the fate of Gabriel(le) Landry in the Landry series, and Lillian's mother in the Cutler series. The Cutler series also contains a subversion: Jed Booth pretends that his wife Georgia died as a result of complications from Charlotte's birth when Georgia really died from stomach cancer several days previously. This is to hide the fact that Charlotte is Lillian's daughter and the result of Jed raping her.
    • This is a plot point in Daughter of Darkness, where Lorelei discovers that she and all her "adoptive" sisters are her father's biological children — he impregnates his daughters, they die in childbirth, and the babies grow up to be beautiful young women who lure new victims to the house for him (he is a vampire.)
  • The Cat Who... Series:
    • In Book 9 (The Cat Who Went Underground), the mother of the book's killer died giving birth to her second daughter.
    • In Book 25 (The Cat Who Brought Down the House), as revealed by Thornton Haggis, Milo Thackeray's first wife died giving birth to twins, Thelma and Thurston, the former of whom plays a major role in the book.
  • In Charlotte's Web, Charlotte's Death by Newbery Medal is a variation on this, as she dies two days after making her egg sac and laying her 514 eggs. It doubles as death from old age since this is the natural end of a female barn spider's life cycle.
  • In the Child Ballad "Willie's Lady", Willie's mother, a rank witch, has cursed her daughter-in-law to do this.
  • Dear America: In Cannons At Dawn, the protagonist Abby and her mother and siblings go to stay with her mother's cousin Deborah after their house burns down. When they get there, they learn that she died in childbirth the past Christmas, along with her baby. The father is obviously still in mourning, despite having remarried for the sake of his surviving children.
    • This happened to Eva, a cousin of Julie Weiss before the events of One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping. She had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Her parents had offered to help get an underground abortion, but she insisted upon raising the child herself. Eva ended up dying giving birth to a baby who only lived a few days.
  • The Bone Wars: Julian's mother didn't survive his delivery, and while no one goes as far as to treat him in a Maternal Death? Blame the Child! way, he observes that his father and the rest of the household talk about 1861 as the year his mother died more than as the year he was born.
  • Charles Dickens:
    • Oliver Twist, Oliver's mother Agnes Fleming dies after giving birth to him, as the end to a huge Break the Cutie process.
    • David Copperfield:
      • Strongly implied, but not exactly stated, in the case both of David's mother Clara, after she gives birth to David's unnamed baby half-brother, and of his first wife Dora. This parallel is probably meant to emphasize the similarities between the two characters, and in both cases the baby dies, too. These two examples are more realistic than many, as neither woman dies immediately after the birth, but both decline slowly over the next several weeks, similar to the Real Life example of Jane Seymour.
    • In some adaptations of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's deceased younger sister Fan and/or his mother suffered this, which could explain the implied distant relationship between young Ebenezer and his father. The Alastair Sim film includes the heart-wrenching scene of Fan's death. The book, however, does not mention the circumstances surrounding the death of either. A scene where Fred's wife knows an old favorite tune of Fan's suggests that she survived into Fred's childhood; and Fan's existence in the first place implies that if Scrooge's mother did die giving birth to him, his father must have remarried, which would make Fan his half-sister, though adaptations in which Scrooge's mother died in childbirth tend to make Fan Scrooge's elder sister instead of his younger.
  • Quite possibly because Witches also act as Midwives, this is a rare occurrence in Discworld. In Sourcery, Coin's mother dies of a heart attack while giving birth to him. Lady Sybil Vimes comes close to dying in Night Watch, and Rincewind's mother is said (in defiance of all logic) to have run away before he was born. There's also a point at the start of Carpe Jugulum where Granny Weatherwax has to make the difficult decision of saving either the newborn baby or the mother after the mother got kicked by their cow and went into labor from that, but she can't save both.
  • The book series Dragonriders of Pern includes seven births: One is normal, two aren't described (but we know they didn't kill the mothers, as they do appear later), two almost kill the mothers, and two do kill the mothers. Fewer than half are "normal"
    • Lord Fax effectively raped Lady Gemma into premature labor, with the intention of killing her in childbirth. He's then goaded into renouncing Ruatha in favor of her issue, giving Lessa the opportunity to arrange a duel in which he's killed. To Lessa's chagrin, Gemma does give live birth despite dying, and the resulting boy, Jaxom, becomes crucial to Pern's future.
    • This was the fate of Larna, the mother of weyrleader F'lar. This fact is not revealed until toward the end of the series, when The Masterharper of Pern shows the life story of Masterharper Robinton and fills in many story gaps. (F'lar's father, F'lon, was the Masterharper's best boyhood friend.)
    • F'lon mentions that his own mother died giving birth to him.
    • Lessa, F'lar's Weyrmate and Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr, almost died giving birth to their only son F'lessan. It's implied that the complications from the difficult birth combined with the toll that frequent trips between have on human physiology have made her infertile. F'lar was so terrified by Lessa's brush with death that he actually doesn't want Lessa to get pregnant again.
  • Dragonvarld: The women whom Grald selected to bear half-dragon children he's fathered all die during or shortly after birth, because of the strain this causes.
  • Harry's mother in The Dresden Files, although it is later revealed that this was the result of a curse. A bad luck curse, to be specific. It was the usual medical nastiness that actually did her in; the curse just brought that on.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah, the death of Paul Atreides' Fremen wife and legal concubine Chani is the gravity point for half the book, before it actually happened. She dies during the birth of their second and third children, Leto Atreides II (not to be confused with Leto II, their unfortunate older brother, who was killed in a Harkonnen raid) and Ghanima. Chani's death is known to Paul and others via prescience (Face-dancers actively try to profit from this, by offering Paul the chance/compromise/ devil's bargain to clone Chani, which he just barely manages to refuse). This death is caused, or at the very least escalated, by the fact that Princess Irulan (Paul's legal wife, daughter of the deposed emperor, and Bene Gesserit, to name just a few) has been feeding Chani contraceptives for some 12 years for rather obvious political reasons (and because the Bene Gesserit did not want their millennia-long genetic project getting contaminated by the wildcard that was Chani's bloodline, and would have liked to ensure that Paul had children with someone more suitable, like Irulan, whom they could manipulate). According to Paul, Chani's death during childbirth was far less painful and cruel compared to her possible future fates had she survived.
  • In Jean M Auel's Earth's Children series, Thonolan goes mad with grief after he loses his wife Jetamio to childbirth, along with their son. He eventually dies trying to take back a kill stolen by a lion, nearly taking his brother with him.
  • Mentioned in the Elenium trilogy when the knights are discussing How We Got Here. One of them explains that protagonist Sparhawk's father arranged for King Aldreas of Elenia to marry a princess from a neighboring country, and she died giving birth to Princess Ehlana, who is now Queen.
  • The Elric Saga: The last empress of Melniboné "died bringing her sole thin-blooded issue into the world", as if Elric's Doom Magnet sundae needed that cherry on top.
  • In The Eyes of The Dragon, a short fantasy novel by Stephen King, Queen Sasha survives a relatively difficult first birth. The second birth is extremely easy — until the midwife, on orders from court magician and Big Bad Flagg, makes a small incision that causes the queen to bleed to death, unknown to anyone. The fact that she was a Universally Beloved Leader only strengthens the second son, Thomas, in his belief that nobody in the kingdom likes him for anything but "throne insurance."
  • The fate of a main character in Ann Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. The father was her own father, no less.
  • Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms ends with the protagonist Frederic Henry's lover Catherine dying in childbirth. The child is stillborn.
  • A variation occurs in Angela Johnson's The First Part Last: Nia suffers from eclampsia while giving birth to her daughter Feather, leaving her in an irreversible coma.
  • In The Folk Keeper, Lady Rona, Lord Merton's first wife, died in childbirth; the baby died as well.
  • The Forgotten Beasts of Eld: Sybel's mother died right after giving birth to her, with the implication it was because of this.
  • General Stantnor's wife from Garrett, P.I.: Old Tin Sorrows succumbed to this trope shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Jennifer. Subverted in that the insanely jealous General had actually engineered her demise, drugging her with an anti-coagulant and blaming the "mistake" on her physician.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, this is how Gaunt's mother died (and half of why he was an orphan, necessary for being a commissar.)
  • Ghost Girl (2021): Zee's mother died giving birth to her.
    • In Ghostmaker Corbec recounts how his mother had nearly died in childbirth and how Dorden, as a young medic, had saved her.
  • In The Golgotha Series, all women who give birth to half-Angel children, Nephilim, die in childbirth.
  • Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind dies after a miscarriage. Giving birth to her first child already almost killed her.
  • In Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Mr Chipping's wife dies in childbirth. "They had died on the same day, the mother and the child just born."
  • Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, in Harry Potter. It's noted that she could have saved herself with magic, but after her husband left her she basically wanted to die, leaving Voldemort to be raised at a Muggle orphanage.
  • Barney's mother in The Haunting died having him. He's convinced that he killed her and that everyone knows it.
  • The The Host (2008)'s soul's reproduction system is a suicidal process for the Mother.
  • Household Gods: A Roman mother Nicole meets dies in childbirth, due to a complication the so-called physician unwittingly makes worse through infecting her during his examination. Nicole can only watch helplessly, and much of the tragedy is due to the fact it's caused by his ignorance (though he's a good physician by the standards then- it's just no one knew any better).
  • I Am Mordred: Mordred discovers that his foster mother died this way.
  • The Island of Sheep: Haraldsen's beloved wife died giving birth to their daughter Anna. Haraldsen treasures Anna all the more because they only have each other.
  • The protagonist of Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil dies this way.
  • Journey to Chaos: Kasile's mother died giving birth to her, which is why she feels to pressured to excel as a queen. She doesn't have any siblings, so there is no backup if she fails.
  • Jurgis' wife Ona dies this way in The Jungle while giving birth to her second child. The child also dies.
  • In Kingdoms Of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner, the famously lovely fairy queen Nel has a very brief affair with a human actor and becomes pregnant with twins. Since fairies are smaller and more delicate than humans, the birth is extremely traumatic, and she is already dying by the time the second twin is born.
  • Done with the main character Amir in The Kite Runner. However, his dad doesn't blame him for it at all.
  • Dean Koontz uses this several times:
    • From The Corner Of His Eye takes it to ridiculous levels of tragedy. The lovely strict Catholic teenage girl gets horribly raped by the antagonist — who thinks they're role-playing — and hides the pregnancy from her family until she gets a brain aneurysm from all the wrapping up her stomach and dies horribly, giving birth to a kid who gets adopted by her sister in a show of bottomless compassion. And that's just the beginning...
    • Life Expectancy: Natalie Beezo dies giving birth, and Maddie Tock has a close call. When Konrad Beezo, on learning his wife died, murders the attending doctor in a psychotic rage, the nurse, not wanting two children to grow up with that as a dad but unable to hide that the birth succeeded, takes one of the twins and swaps it out for Maddie Tock's stillborn child. Beezo leaves with one son, and the other becomes Jimmy Tock.
    • Lightning: Laura's birth is fatal to mother Janet. Laura herself has a very difficult delivery with her own child, and will not be able to have another.
  • In Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey, it is revealed that Queen Jehanne died giving birth to a daughter.
  • The Laundry Files: In Chapter Six of The Labyrinth Index, at the birth of Yarisol'mun:
    Yarisol'mun: “Papa get—got—loose in slave pens [...] [...] Mama died in childbirth."
  • In The Last Letter Home, the final book of Vilhelm Moberg's "Emigrants" suite, Kristina has a miscarriage and is told by a doctor that if she ever gets pregnant again it will lead to her death. A few months later she dies from another miscarriage.
  • A variation mentioned in passing in Les Misérables: Jean Valjean's mother died soon after his birth of a "milk fever": an old term for mastitis, a complication of milk production for breastfeeding. Since his father also died in a work accident, this explains why he was raised by his older sister.
  • Lives of the Mayfair Witches: Most women who sleep with a male Taltos end up like this, either when they violently miscarry or when the child (who grows to the size of an adult within hours) tears its way out of their womb. Ow, ow, ow.
  • Mrs. Richard F. Schiller of Lolita dies in childbirth. Of course, it's not until the end of the book that we learn that she is actually the title character. This is also mentioned to befall Humbert's first wife, Valeria, after she leaves him.
  • In The Long Earth, this is eventually revealed to have happened to Joshua Valiente's mother.
  • In Malediction Trilogy this is what happens to all female trolls suffering from bleeding affliction (troll version of hemophilia). Basically, they are unable to stop the bleeding following childbirth or miscarriage. The baby usually also dies. This is what's happened to Penelope, wife of Prince Tristan's friend Marc.
  • The fate of the Karand girls impregnated by their demon prince in The Malloreon. The resulting Fetus Terrible is large enough that vaginal birth is flat-out impossible. Polgara ends up drenched with blood when she tries to midwife one of these girls; Garion suggests that the demon infant may be trying to cut its way out of the womb in an inside-out Caesarian.
  • In Mermaid's Song, Elan's adopted mother Maadu is a few days away from giving birth, so Elan searches for effron, a rare plant that can help a mermaid survive childbirth. But when she arrives at the caverns with the effron, Maadu's biological daughter Tsui thinks it's poison, rips it up, and scatters it on the currents. Elan can't find more before Maadu goes into labor. She and her child both die.
  • In Midnight's Children, Wee Willie Winkie's wife Vanita bleeds out after birthing Saleem because the understaffed hospital is too busy fussing over Ahmed's broken toe.
  • The title character in Astrid Lindgren's Mio My Mio was placed at an orphanage as a baby after his mother died at childbirth. This was common practice in Lindgren's native Sweden in the early 20th century, due to the idea that a man couldn't raise children without the help of a woman. Mio's adoptive parents wanted a girl, but there were only boys available, making him an unwanted adopted child. Lucky for Mio, his real father has been searching for him ever since his birth, and finally finds him and brings him home to the Land of Faraway, where the father is king. The book gives a beautiful description of parent and child being separated when the child is an infant and reunited later, likely inspired by the fact that Lindgren herself had to place her firstborn child in foster care during his first years of life.
  • Paul Sheldon in Misery had wanted to kill off the title character of his romance novel series through childbirth so he can stop writing that series, but Annie Wilkes had other ideas and demanded a Retcon at shotgun-point.
  • The Monster Garden: Frankie's mother died giving birth to her. She was mostly raised first by her aunt Mary, and later by the housekeeper Mrs Drake.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, Kat's mother died this way. Her sisters took Promotion to Parent. Also Sir Neville and Mr. Collingwood's mother; when Mr. Collingwood tells her that Sir Neville blames him for it, Kat points out that her sisters don't; it's just proof that he's a bad brother.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: Guy Rosewood's mother died giving birth to him.
  • Murder on the Orient Express: in backstory, learning of Daisy's death sent her mother, Sonia Armstrong, into premature labor. Neither she nor the new baby survived. This apparently pushed the bereaved husband and father to suicide.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, Daphne's mother dies giving birth. Her father's reaction to this is part of the reason for her being stuck on the island, and her dealing with it is a part of the plot, dealt with in a very touching scene.
  • Navigating Early: Early's mother died in childbirth after he was born premature, hence his name.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, Devona Kanti's mother died in childbirth. This is apparently typical when human mothers give birth to Dhampyr babies.
  • In Nightside: Hex and the City, Merlin reveals that he'd torn his way out of his mother's womb in his haste to be born. As she was part of a Dark Age Satanic cult and trying to produce the Antichrist, it's hard to work up much sympathy for her demise.
  • Done for horror in Graham Masterton's Night Warrior series' first book. A case of Death by Childbirth draws the attention of Ashapola. Turns out the devil, Yaomauitl (Asmodeus) is loose and reproducing, with his disgusting spermocytes growing into demon eels while inside his victim before gnawing their way out of her belly and he intends to seduce his way into an army of demons on Earth. So Ashapola creates a new generation of Night Warriors to recapture Yaomauitl.
  • Gothic novels in Jane Austen's time used it with such abandon that she actually lampshades its absence in Northanger Abbey:
    "She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on — lived to have six children more — to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself."
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Ashes of Honor, Tybalt tells Toby about his first human love, who died in childbirth, with the child dying as well.
  • Mothers of both Damien Thorn Sr. and Jr.. For extra delicacy, the former's mother was a jackal and he didn't have a navel. Work it out.
  • Oliver Twisted: Disturbingly subverted (or double subverted) with Oliver's mother. She successfully gives birth to Oliver, but dies from poisoning herself to halt a woe-begotten bite from turning her completely.
  • Used in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Little Remedios, Colonel Aureliano Buendía's teenaged wife, dies when her already risky pregnancy with twins takes a turn for the worse. Later, Amaranta Úrsula perishes after she gives birth to the last Aureliano... the son of her nephew and lover Aureliano Babilonia Buendía.
  • Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy universally plays it straight and justifies it with the fact that natural childbirth consists of the mother fissioning into four children. It's Played for Drama often enough, but mostly it's just accepted as a fact of life.
    Yalda: I wish I could have met [my mother].
    Vito: That's like wishing you could fly.
  • In The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne wishes this fate on Jane Seymour when it's clear that Henry VIII has chosen her as a favorite.
  • In Out of the Dust, Billie Jo's mother dies giving birth to a baby who lives for only a few hours. However, both of them would have most likely survived if only they hadn't been burned so badly a few weeks prior in a freak accident; the birth was just the straw that broke the camel's back for Billie Jo's mother, and the extent of the mother's injuries likely impaired the baby's development, resulting in him dying as well.
  • Swedish writer Simona Ahrnstedt gives us two examples in her debut novel Överenskommelser. The first one is a straight one, where the female protagonist Beatrice explains that her mother died in childbirth (her baby sister died too). The second example is a downplayed or subverted one: Beatrice's cousin Sofia suffers from eclampsia, becomes very ill, but survives.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that this was the fate of Dorian Gray's mother.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: Tom's wife in the first chapter (after the prologue, that is).
  • This comes up several times in The Priory of the Orange Tree. Several Berethnet queens have died in childbirth, and fear of going the same way is one reason Queen Sabran keeps putting off her Mandatory Motherhood. Cleolind, the wife of Saint Galian Berethnet, was entombed in Inys after dying in childbed, although in the South she's said to have died a different way and been buried in her homeland. The "Cleolind" married to Galian was actually his adopted mother, Kalyba the Enchantress. She nearly died delivering the first Sabran and her resulting weakness left her unable to maintain the hypnotic spell she'd used on Galian, leading to her banishment and his suicide.
  • Happens to several different women in The Red Tent. Justified, as the story is set during the Bronze Age.
  • In Outcast of Redwall, Bluefen dies after giving birth to Veil Sixclaw, the title character.
  • The Ring: Mai Takano dies giving birth to a Sadako Yamamura clone.
  • In The Roman Mysteries Flavia Gemina's mother died giving birth to her younger twin brothers. Also, in The Slavegirl of Jerusalem, the older sister of one of the main characters dies giving birth to twins.
  • Sabriel opens with the protagonist Sabriel's mother dying giving birth to her.
  • Sanctuary: Henrietta Casswell, a centuries-old ghost, died this way. She watched her son grow up in the house where she died.
  • This is how Anna and Caleb's mother died in Sarah Plain And Tall:
    Mama died the next morning [after he was born]. That was the worst thing about Caleb. "Isn't he beautiful, Anna?" Her last words to me.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden: Technically, Lilias Craven died from falling out of a tree. The fall also triggered early labor, and Lilias was barely able to give birth to Colin right before she died.
  • The dragon Linn Dombegh in Seraphina dies giving birth in her human form to a human-dragon hybrid child, the eponymous Seraphina. It was especially traumatic for her husband Claude, as he had no idea she was a dragon beforehand, and one marker of a transformed dragon is their silver blood...
  • Subverted in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Kit Snicket dies not as a result of childbirth, but because of the Medusoid Mycelium, the cure for which she refuses to consume because of its effects on unborn children.
  • In The Shadow of the Wind, Julian Carax, author of the eponymous book, has a Despair Event Horizon after his lover dies in childbirth (the child dies also). He never knew that the reason her family allowed her to die was that she was his sister.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Calidar, Josarian's wife, died while giving birth to their baby (who died in the process as well). He mourns them throughout the first book and it's part of his motivation for leading a rebellion, with nothing to lose now.
  • In The Silmarillion Míriel, mother of Anti-Hero Fëanor, dies in childbirth. While this does not make him The Unfavorite with his father, his passionate spirit is blamed for her death by the Noldor Elves. This contributes to his Inferiority Superiority Complex, and later violent actions. Missing mothers are a common theme in Tolkien's Legendarium, probably due to his own experience of losing his mother at a young age (she entered a diabetic coma when he was only about 10, though she only died of it several years later). This, however, is the only example of a major character's mother dying in childbirth. Fëanor's birth did not cause physical complications but spiritual ones; he took so much of Míriel's living spirit that she had none left and passed away during her postpartum convalescence.
  • Gun That Sings dies soon after Snow White is born in Six-Gun Snow White.
  • Skin Hunger begins with the boy Micah looking for a magician to save his mother from this fate. Turns out the magician is a fraud, who lets the mother die without doing anything at all to prevent it and almost lets the baby die, too. Micah is the one who saves his baby sister's life, cuddling her to keep her warm, while his father grows cold and distant as a result of the mother's death.
  • In John Moore's Slay And Rescue, mothers of both Prince Charming and the three female protagonists died in childbirth. Lampshaded:
    Princess Aurora: Is childbirth as dangerous as all that?
    Princess Ann: [The wizard] Mandelbaum says it's because royal families can afford physicians and the very best medical care. Consequently, they die like flies.
  • Sleeping Beauties: This fate befalls Tiffany while giving birth to her son Andy, due to a number of factors working against her. First, they are in ''Our Place'' with no professional hospitals. Second, she's an ex-junkie. Third, the baby is a breech birth and has to be turned around inside Tiffany's womb first. And finally, the women helping her are forced to use a knife to give the baby enough room.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: It's mentioned as being a concern because Westeros's technology is at a medieval level and it's fairly realistic. Surprisingly common for the more important characters.
    • Daenerys Targaryen's mother, Queen Rhaella, died after giving birth to her. It's justified by Rhaella already having suffered multiple miscarriages and still-births, being well into middle age, and this being noted as a particularly difficult birth. Dany was born as the royal family was fleeing from "usurper" Robert Baratheon's assassins.
    • Tyrion Lannister's deformities led to complications in labor and his mother Joanna died as a result, causing his father and sister to blame him for the death.
    • Tywin Lannister's mother, Jeyne Marbrand, died of postpartum complications a month after giving birth to her fifth child, Gerion.
    • Alys Stackspear, the first wife of Joanna Lannister's father, Jason, died giving birth to Joanna's half-brother, Damon.
    • It is hinted that Lyanna Stark might have died in childbirth. The bloody bed in Ned's fever dreams in A Game of Thrones is used to refer to a childbirth bed elsewhere in the books. Of course, this comes up in certain theories about Jon Snow's parents ( specifically, that Lyanna is his mother and Prince Rhaegar is his father) and his Secret Legacy.
    • Catelyn and Lysa's mother Minisa Whent died this way, giving birth to the last Tully sibling, who died shortly after.
    • In A Storm of Swords, Dalla, Mance Rayder's wife, dies giving birth to her baby. In the middle of a battle, no less.
    • Among past Targaryens and related families:
      • Jeyne Westerling, one of Maegor I's black brides, died giving birth to a deformed child.
      • Alyssa Velaryon died giving birth to her last child, Jocelyn Baratheon. She was 47 years old, making her a very old mother by Westerosi standards. The maesters diagnosed that she was never going to recover anyway, but they could save her baby through Caesarean section (a fatal procedure for any mother in the medieval setting). Her husband consented.
      • Daella Targaryen survived giving birth to her only child, Aemma Arryn, but soon developed a terrible fever and eventually died. Her mother, Alysanne, blamed her being married off at an early age for causing this.
      • Daella's sister Alyssa also died shortly after giving birth to her third child, Aegon. Unfortunately, unlike Aemma, Aegon didn't live to his first nameday.
      • Aemma herself suffered this fate, dying after giving birth to her third child, who only survived for a day.
      • Laena Velaryon, Aemma's first cousin once removed, died three days after giving birth to her third child (seen a pattern?), a malformed lizard monstrosity much like the one born by Daenerys.
      • Aegon IV's wife and sister, Naerys, died in childbirth. Since the child's name is not recorded, it likely died as well.
      • Serenei of Lys, one of Aegon IV's mistresses, died giving birth to Shiera Seastar, the last of the Great Bastards.
    • Walder Frey's eldest son Stevron lost his third wife, Marsella Waynwood, when she gave birth to their son, Walton (father of Fair Walda). Maegelle, Stevron's daughter with his second wife and sister of Aegon "Jinglebell", also died in childbed. Another Frey who endured this trope is Tyana Wylde, wife of Walder's third son, Aenys.
    • Balon Greyjoy's stepmother, Lady Piper, died giving birth to a stillborn daughter.
    • Jon Arryn lost his first wife, Jeyne Royce, when she died giving birth to a stillborn daughter. Jon's younger sister, Alys, also died shortly after giving birth to her ninth child, Jasper Waynwood.
    • Floris Baratheon, wife of the Hand of the King during Aegon III's reign, Thaddeus Rowan, died in childbirth, leaving Thaddeus in a black state.
    • Ned Stark's great-grandfather Willam was previously married to Lyanne Glover, who died giving birth to a son, Brandon. Brandon ended up dying prematurely, and Willam took another wife, Melantha Blackwood, from whom the current Starks are descended.
    • Cregan Stark's first wife, Arra Norrey, died giving birth to his son and heir, Rickon.
  • Alanna and Thom's mother in Song of the Lioness died giving birth to them. Their father was angry that despite her having the Gift, the magic wasn't enough to save her, and thus he forbids his children to ever use magic. Her death is implied to have also caused her husband to neglect his two children.
  • The Sorrows of Satan: Geoffrey's mother died giving birth to him.
  • The Speed of Sound: Eddie's mother, Michelle, bled to death during an emergency C-section. It was three days before his father was willing to hold him.
  • In the young adult novel Steps In Time, Evan's grandmother recalls that this was the fate of her own mother; Gram had two younger sisters who were twins, and then an even younger brother named Jack. She remarks that her mother was never the same after the twins were born, and she then died giving birth to Jack, who died himself as a young man. "His birth killed my mother and his death killed my father."
  • Stinger: Cody's mother died when he was born, leaving his dad a depressed alcoholic.
  • In The Stone Dance of the Chameleon, Carnelian's mother died giving birth to him.
  • Storyteller: The queen died shortly after giving birth to her fourth child, Yoss.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land has an example that's even darker than usual: Mike is the product of an illegitimate liaison, and when his mother died in childbirth, his mother's husband killed first the father and then himself.
  • It happens to a Mister Seahorse at the end of Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard also, due to post-operative infection from the C-section.
  • The Kantri in Tales of Kolmar have tremendous clawed hands with very limited dexterity. It's mentioned that consequently when a child is turned the wrong way in the womb the results are disastrous — a birth sister might reach in to try and turn the baby, but usually, mother and child both die. This situation comes up in Song In The Silence; fortunately there's a human on hand who has no claws and delivers the child with no harm to either, though she's horribly burned and nearly dies herself.
  • "Talma Gordon": Isabel, the first wife of Captain Gordon and mother of Jeannette and Talma, died at the birth of her third child.
  • In the novella A Taste of Honey, Aqib's mother died giving birth to him. Aqib respects his father for treating him no different from his older siblings even though he was the cause of Master Sadiqi's beloved wife's death.
  • In C. S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces, a retelling of Psyche and Cupid, the death of Psyche's mother in childbirth opens the way to Orual's being her mother figure. Rather much so.
  • Prue Ramsay dies in childbirth in To the Lighthouse.
  • Unnatural Issue begins with Richard Whitestone returning home mere hours after his wife Rebecca dies giving birth to their daughter Susanne. He is so upset that he gives orders that he does not want to ever set eyes on his daughter, leaving her to be brought up by the servants, and becomes a morbid recluse and shut-in.
  • In Violeta, Violeta's daughter Nieves reports to the hospital after her water breaks, complaining of a strong headache. Her blood pressure spikes and she goes into convulsions. Only a C-section manages to save her baby, but nothing can be done to save her. Violeta ends up raising little Camilo.
  • In War and Peace, the little princess dies giving birth to Prince Andrei's only son.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, after Inquisitor Stele attacked Rafen's mind to drive him to suicide, Rafen remembers all the deaths in his life. It starts with his mother, dead in childbirth. (Presumably from his younger brother Arkio, though it could be another child, or even Rafen, with Arkio as a half-brother.)
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In the first series, Silverstream dies while giving birth to her kits, causing much grief for her mate and the medicine cat who failed to save her.
    • Mudfur's mate Brightsky also dies during the birth in Crookedstar's Promise, thus leading him to become a medicine cat.
  • The War World series has a lot of this, as childbirth is even more difficult on thin-aired Haven than on Earth, and breeding is an important theme of the series.
  • In The Whitby Witches trilogy by Robin Jarvis, the goblin-like aufwaders have been all but wiped out by a curse which causes any female aufwader who becomes pregnant to fall fatally ill (all the blood in their veins turns to brine), usually within the first three months of conception. Even those who carry a pregnancy to term do so in vain, as the child almost invariably dies with its mother. The only exception to this rule is a young female named Nelda who, after becoming the only aufwader born since the laying of the curse to survive birth, later gives birth to the first baby born after the curse is lifted.
  • In the book Wicked, Elphaba's mother dies after giving birth to the girls' younger brother, Shell. In the play, she dies while giving birth to her younger sister Nessarose, thanks to severe birth defects and poisoning.
  • Luke Phoenix from the Wild Orchid books lost his mom to death by childbirth when he was seven. His brother Martin survived, but was deprived of oxygen and developed cerebral palsy.
  • The Wild Way Home: Hartboy's ma gave birth to his sister Mothgirl, then fell ill. Hartboy gave her the deertooth around his neck in the hopes that it would protect her, but she died anyway. Hartboy fled into the forest, starting the plot.
  • Cathy I in Wuthering Heights dies just after giving birth to Cathy II, having been severely weakened by Brain Fever, though this isn't played for Gothic family romance laughs. Interestingly, Wuthering Heights was (famously) not written by a man, but rather a motherless woman herself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Wilson's first girlfriend on 7th Heaven was given the Sex Signals Death approach in Back Story, just so he could be a dramatic Single Teen Dad character.
  • In the Angel episode "Lullaby", Darla the vampire dies during Connor's birth; but in a twist, it is because she stakes herself, allowing Connor to live since she was physically incapable of delivering a child.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1987) has three horrifying cases of this:
    • Vincent's foster brother Devin's mother died in childbirth with Father attending. This leads Father to not acknowledge Devin as his son until adulthood, though Father claims that was because he didn't want to seem to favor his 'real' son. He is genuinely dismayed when Vincent points out he's gone to the opposite extreme.
    • And of course Catherine herself has a rather heartbreaking (indirect) death by childbirth in that she is held prisoner throughout her pregnancy with Jacob and murdered shortly after without ever even holding her son. She lives just long enough to tell Vincent about their baby. Of course, considering the execs at the time, this could be an instance of Sex Signals Death.
    • Vincent himself killed his natural mother. Father admits this through a very pained confession that the brutal fashion of his birth almost caused Father to kill Vincent at birth, but he relented.
  • Bones seems to like using this to explain the absence of minor characters' mothers. In "The Doctor in the Den," Dr. Welton (Cam's ex-fiancé)'s wife died giving birth to their daughter Michelle (whom Cam then adopts following his death), and in "The Puzzlemaster in the Pit," the victim had given up his child for adoption in college because his girlfriend died during childbirth and he couldn't care for a child alone.
  • Carnival Row: Sophie Longerbane's her mother died giving birth to her. This made her father overprotective of her as a result.
  • Rare villainous example: In the Criminal Minds episode "A Thousand Words", the wife/accomplice of a serial kidnapper and rapist died this way after her murderous spouse committed suicide, leaving her with only his latest chained-up victim to help when she went into bloody labor.
  • Dickinson: Sue tells Austin her mother died having her, and she's deathly afraid of the same happening with her giving birth.
  • One episode of Dollhouse features a man whose wife had recently died giving birth to their son. He hired the Dollhouse to imprint Echo with his wife's personality, feeling like he couldn't bond with the baby himself under the circumstances. Things fall apart, of course, and in the end, he realizes how bad an idea it was.
  • In the third series of Downton Abbey, Sybil dies of eclampsia shortly after giving birth to her daughter.
  • Dr. Greene's frantic attempts to avert this trope were heart-wrenchingly portrayed in "Love's Labor Lost", an Emmy-winning episode of ER. Also almost played out with Carol, who nearly bled to death following the birth of her twins.
  • The Farscape episode "Incubator" reveals that Scorpius's mother died giving birth to him. Justified by the fact that she'd been raped by a Scarran as part of a breeding program that had killed ninety other Sebacean females in a pretty similar manner.
  • Quite common in the Game of Thrones universe, being a medieval fantasy world:
    • Game of Thrones: Daenerys and Tyrion's mothers both died after giving birth to them. Tywin and Cersei loathe Tyrion, and regard him as some sort of murderer, because of this. Jon Snow's mother Lyanna Stark dies after giving birth to him, as it turns out in The Winds of Winter.
    • House of the Dragon: Both Queen Aemma Targaryen and Laena Velaryon end up at surefire risk of this when trying to birth due to their child's abnormal fetal position (Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower meanwhile have no such issue and give birth to multiple children each). Aemma dies of blood loss from a Traumatic C-Section peformed in order to save her child (in vain) and Laena ends up asking a Mercy Kill by fire to her dragon Vhagar.
  • Chuck Bass' mother from Gossip Girl (2007) died giving birth to him, the reason for his father's dislike of him. Except she didn't. It's a long story and explained in a rather convoluted way to boot.
  • Gossip Girl (2021): Julien and Zoya's mother Marion died while giving birth to Zoya as a result of her lupus. Zoya still feels guilty about it, even though this was hardly her fault, as Julien tells her.
  • In the Haven episode "Ball and Chain", Beatrice Mitchell's grandmother died giving birth to her mother.
  • A dog dies this way in the Here Come the Brides episode "A Crying Need." This causes the women to worry that the same fate will befall them, so Jason goes to San Francisco to find a doctor.
  • In the sequel of Heroes, Heroes Reborn, this is the fate of Claire. She became pregnant and went into labor the day of the Odessa bombing. Unfortunately, an eclipse caused by Phoebe Frady also took away her healing factor and the delivery process killed her.
  • Played straight in one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Justified as the mother had placenta previa, a condition which prevented a safe vaginal delivery, which is a thing that can happen even with modern medicine. She had been scheduled for a c-section and would have most likely been okay if that had gone as planned, but instead she was kidnapped and ended up going into labor while she was being held prisoner. Stabler and Fin find her still alive, and are thus able to save her baby, but the damage to the mother is too severe and she dies.
    • Mentioned in another episode, though the unlikeliness of it is referenced. It turns out not to be the case.
      Melinda Warner: Like mother, like daughter, I've got no obvious cause of death on either.
      Olivia Benson: Are you thinking they might have died in childbirth?
      Melinda Warner: You rarely see it nowadays...
    • And averted in another episode when Stabler's wife Kathy is on Cliché Road heading to Trope Avenue, having been involved in a car accident along with Olivia. She gives birth to a baby boy in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, then loses blood pressure and consciousness as the screen fades to black... only to have her wide awake and recovering fully when Stabler arrives at the hospital.
    • This is part of the backstory for Merrit Rook, the antagonist in "Authority". His wife had a placental abruption during labor that the doctor missed, and she and the baby both died. Merrit came to blame himself because he had seen that something was wrong but chose to defer to the doctor.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The actual cause of death of Nancy Olesen's biological mother. For years, Nancy, a young Nellie Olesen-lookalike orphan with severe behavioral problems, had claimed she was abandoned by her mother; but her adoptive mother (the evil Mrs. Olesen, of all people) helps Nancy come to terms with the fate of her birth mother.
    • Several other episodes dealt with pre-eclampsia and birth-related complications. Two examples are the Season 7 episodes "A Faraway Cry" (Caroline Ingalls tends to a childhood friend who begins having complications with her pregnancy) and "Dark Sage" (the town's new doctor, who is black, is the only medical professional in the area who can perform a Caesarian section to save the mother's life, thereby averting the trope).
    • Dr. Baker's announcement of the birth of Nellie's daughter is interrupted when Caroline suddenly shrieks, “Dr. Baker! Come quick!” He bolts upstairs. Reasoning that something has gone wrong, Nellie's husband, parents, and in-laws quickly cycle through extreme emotions. Horror and grief that the new baby must have been stillborn — to celebration upon hearing a baby cry — and back to horror and grief again at the thought that Nellie must have fallen victim to this trope. Averted after all. Caroline had called for Dr. Baker so urgently because Nellie was unexpectedly delivering a son also.
  • Lost:
  • In Merlin (1998), Merlin's mother Elissa dies in childbirth. It is revealed shortly after that Queen Mab could probably have saved her if she wanted to, but she chose not to, because "She'd served her purpose."
  • Arthur's mother in Merlin (2008) died in childbirth, after Uther makes a deal with Nimueh so she (the mother) can conceive since the magic of the Old Religion demands a life for a life. It is left deliberately ambiguous whether Nimueh knew Arthur's mother would be the one to die/ensured it happened, and was counting on it (being beautiful, powerful, and ambitious, she would have been well-placed to exploit his grief and become Queen). Whatever was intended, Uther unleashed a vicious Roaring Rampage of Revenge against magic as a whole, committing outright genocide. It's implied in one episode that he knew and this was a Never My Fault reaction in his grief — though while this information supposedly comes from the spirit of Arthur's mother, that spirit was raised by Morgause, who was manipulating Arthur.
  • In episode 13 of Mimpi Metropolitan, Bambang tells Melani that his mother died giving birth to him (hence we only ever see his father). It gets a Call-Back later when Melani figures out Bambang's birthday from seeing his mother's tombstone.
  • Outlander:
    • After Geneva Dunsany uses a Sexual Extortion to force Jamie to have sex with her, she becomes pregnant and then dies a Karmic Death giving birth.
    • Jamie's mother Ellen died in childbirth.
  • The Outpost: Janzo relates that his mother died giving birth to him along with his sister, and Talon expresses her sympathy for this.
  • In the Chilean telenovela Papi Ricky, male lead Ricky tells his daughter Alicia that her mom Catalina died in childbirth, but this isn't true since she ran away few after her birth. Catalina actually returns later, as a Broken Bird and with Laser-Guided Amnesia. She finds young Alicia and befriends her, but for a long time, they don't about their bond. Also, in the Grand Finale, Ricky's main love interest and Alicia's ex-teacher, later adoptive mother Colomba dies after giving birth to Alicia's half-brother.
    • In a book by Michael Medved, he writes that he had interviewed TV writers about the huge number of runaway mothers and/or mothers dead in childbirth. At least one writer told him that TV writers simply don't like mothers! ("Symbolically killing my ex-wife", one guy told him.)
  • In the pilot episode of Quantum Leap, "Genesis", Sam saves a woman who died in childbirth in the original history.
  • In The Pretender, Brigitte died shortly after Baby Parker was born while she was on the run, something she knew would happen.
  • One episode of Smallville has Lex Luthor having a dream about what would happen if he chose to be the good guy. Everything looked rosy until his dream wife Lana died giving birth to their second kid. So Lex decided not to be the good guy.
  • Station Eleven: Terry/Deborah and Jeevan successfully deliver over a dozen babies with only the supplies from a department store, but one mother, Rose, has a difficult birth. The baby (implied to be Traveling Symphony member Alexandra) survives; Rose doesn't.
  • Supernatural: Human women who give birth to nephalim, the hybrid children of humans and angels, cannot survive the birth. This happens to Kelly Kline when she gives birth to her son, Jack.
  • Taken: In "Acid Tests", Leo tells Sam Crawford that his daughter Nadine died in childbirth with her Half-Human Hybrid twin sons Larry and Lester.
  • In The Future Is Wild, death by childbirth is the natural end of the life cycle of the Bumblebeetle, a species of beetle that lives in the Rainshadow Desert on the supercontinent of Pangea 2, 200 million years in the future. Once a Bumblebeetle finds a suitable and vacant Flish (flying fish descendant) carcass, the Bumblebeetle breaks its abdomen apart to release the larvae, maggot-like creatures called Grimworms. It does this so the Grimworms can get out of the sun and crawl inside the carcass to begin eating it straight-away. It dies shortly after this task, completing its sole purpose.
  • Tipping the Velvet (2002): Little Cyril's mother died giving birth to him. As a result, Ralph and Florence adopted him.
  • Henry VIII's third wife Jane Seymour, when portrayed onscreen. In reality, although technically it was the birth that killed her, she didn't actually die until almost two weeks later and was well enough to host a party after the christening (which, per tradition, neither she nor Henry attended). However, most cinematic and televisual adaptations have her die giving birth because it's more dramatic than the historical truth. Arguably averted in The Tudors, which follows the real-life example.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "A Message from Charity", Charity Payne's mother died while giving birth to her.
    • In "Her Pilgrim Soul", Nola Granville died in childbirth in March 1943 after she had a miscarriage caused by the malformation in her uterus.
  • The secondary antagonist in The Umbrella Academy (2019), Leonard Peabody, was born as Harold Jenkins, and his mother died giving birth to him on the same day as all the Academy member. The death apparently drives his father to become an abusive alcoholic, leading to a messy end, and Harold trying to get revenge on the Academy through Vanya.
  • In Van Helsing (2016), minor character Kit dies after a very complicated birth.
  • In the third season of The Walking Dead (2010), Lori goes into labor in the middle of a walker attack and begins bleeding heavily. As she had previously done with Carl, she is forced to give birth via C-section... and as might be imagined, C-section with a hunting knife in the basement of an abandoned prison doesn't end well for the mother.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Tigraine, Rand's mother, died within moments of giving birth to him as she had been mortally wounded shortly beforehand.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess is a rare example of the trope being played somewhat for laughs, with Meg's father.
    "My father died in childbirth."
    "Your father died in childbirth?"
    "He got drunk and fell off the roof while I was being born."

  • The Tim McGraw song "Don't Take the Girl" ends with the girl in question "fading fast" after a difficult childbirth. Her fate is left hanging, with the protagonist praying to God to take him instead. (However, in the video, a young woman joins the main protagonist and his daughter; the woman is presumed to be "the girl" sung about all along, meaning she survived the childbirth and has recovered.)
  • The song "Light of Day Day of Darkness" by the doom metal band Green Carnation has both the death of the woman and the child in childbirth as a constant theme:
    Through Crimson eye, And shattered lie, Behold the sacrifice, Of innocent life
  • Threatened in "Willie's Lady". His mother, a rank witch, has enchanted his wife so she will never give birth, having been in labor for days. (Fortunately, Willie figures out how to undo the spell.)
    Of her young bairn she'll neer be lighter,
    Nor in her bower to shine the brighter.
    But she shall die and turn to clay,
    And you shall wed another May.
  • In "Leesom Brand", the lovers try to elope, but she goes into labor in the woods and dies with the baby.
  • In "Sheath and Knife", to conceal Brother–Sister Incest, the brother takes his sister to the woods to give birth, and she and the baby die.
  • In "The Death of Queen Jane", the queen is dying in childbirth and must implore them to perform a Caesarian section to save the baby. This would ensure her own death, but she succeeds.
  • In some variants of "Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter", the woman dies in childbirth, and the father must leave the living baby behind in the hopes that the woman's father will get a nurse for it. He does.
  • "The Rake's Song" involves a young woman who dies in the process of giving birth to her fourth child. Tragic, right? Think again. The narrator considers her death a blessing and then proceeds to murder the rest of his children.
    Ugly Myfanwy died on delivery, mercifully taking her mother along.
  • Stevie Wright's "Evie (part 3)"
  • Live's song "Lightning Crashes" is about a woman who dies in childbirth, her daughter being adopted afterward.
  • "May" by James Durbin:
    During birth I got my daughter, Jesus took away my May.
  • The Music Video for Nickelback's "Lullaby", but the song is really about suicide.
  • Van der Graaf Generator's "Killer" has an indirect example: the killer fish eats its mother as soon as it's born.
  • Helen Reddy's "Keep On Singing" tells the story of a child raised by a single father. The opening lines: "I don't remember Mama. She died when I was born."
  • "A Beginning from an End" by Jan and Dean initially describes a girl who reminds the narrator of an ex-girlfriend who suddenly left him. A spoken interlude a la "Dead Man's Curve" then reveals that the ex-girlfriend actually died in the hospital while giving birth to the girl who was described earlier in the song.
  • Anaïs Mitchell: The wife in "Shepherd" dies while giving birth to her child, who also does not survive.
  • The backstory (as revealed in liner notes) of the album The Lost Christmas Eve by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is that the unnamed protagonist hates Christmas because his adored wife died giving birth to their only child on Christmas Eve. He gave his son up for adoption and has been a solitary curmudgeon ever since; the events of the album lead to an unexpected reunion.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob, dies giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. However, being both the youngest and Rachel's son actually makes Benjamin favored by his father, who becomes especially protective once Rachel's other son, Joseph, "dies."
    • On a sadder note, Phinehas' wife dies while she gives birth to her son Ichabod (meaning "lacking glory"), whom she names that because the glory of the Lord has departed from Israel when the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in a battle where her husband was killed along with his brother Hophni.
    • David's wife Michal is noted to have not had a child "until the day of her death." The Talmud (Sanhedrin 21a) notes a tradition that she was the same person as Eglah, a wife who is mentioned as having a son, and explains the discrepancy by saying that she died the day he was born.
  • Japanese Mythology: Izanami, Shinto mother goddess, died giving birth to the fire god Kagutsuchi. Her husband Izanagi was so infuriated, he killed the newborn child (although its blood gave way to create numerous deities, such as Take-Mikazuchi). He tried rescuing his wife from the land of the dead, but she could not return to him and was now a deity of death, because of Izanagi fleeing from her and the ikusa and shikome she sent after him. She vowed to kill 500 people each day in the mortal world, to which Izanagi said he'd give life to 1500.
  • Classical Mythology: In the Cyprian version of her myth, Ariadne dies while giving birth to Theseus' children (usually twin sons). Unlike in the more familiar version, where Theseus abandons her on Naxos, in this version he brings her ashore during a storm because her pregnancy is causing her unbearable seasickness, but then the storm sweeps him out to sea, and she dies in childbirth before he can come back for her.
  • Buddhism: Gautama Buddha's mother, Maya, died of childbirth complications a week after giving birth to him. He was subsequently raised by her sister, Prajapati, who became his father's second wife.

  • The backstory for WHO dunnit (1995) reveals that Trixie's mother died while giving birth to her.

  • In the Robert Frost poem "Maple," the title character's mother died shortly after her birth, living only long enough to give her her distinctive name.
  • Rudyard Kipling, in "The Female of the Species", cites the risk of dying while bearing a child as the reason that women are more dangerous than men. A woman, who risks a painful death every time she gives birth, will not accept the things that might distract a man from putting down a foe.

  • The Gamer's Alliance: Viirsa gives birth to Kaisa and dies in her lover Hector's arms after being fatally wounded in the aftermath of the infiltration of Myridia during the Great War.
  • Survival of the Fittest: The mother of the Fiametta triplets version 4, which sets up most of the trio's future emotional issues.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, there are rules for childbirth and midwifery. A woman's chance of dying in each birth is about one in five, though a good midwife provides for a substantially better chance. Incidentally, a Hermetic maga who has any interest in the subject can more-or-less ensure a trouble-free birth, though doing this for a noble family may be illegal depending on local Hermetic politics.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In Dark Sun, muls are dwarf-human hybrids with incredible stamina and hardiness, making them exceptional workers and gladiators. Unfortunately, the "unnatural child" is a difficult pregnancy, as it takes a full 12 months to carry to term, and according to 2nd Edition, a human mother only has a 16% chance of surviving both the pregnancy and childbirth, while a dwarven mother fares slightly better with 36% odds of survival. Between this and the fact that muls' conception are usually ordered by slaveowners, the hybrids tend to be resented by their parents.
    • The Weathermay-Foxgrove sisters, successors to Van Richten as Ravenloft's most widely-read occult scholars, lost their mother to this trope. Probably justified: even today, twin births are always considered high-risk, and medical care even in Mordent is 17th-century at best.
  • Is explicitly stated to be impossible for female Chosen in Exalted. The infant may die, but not the mother. This is probably a specific design feature for the Dragon-Blooded, who must pass their power on genetically; the Celestial Exalts are just that tough. A certain amount of risk enters the equation if the Exalt gives birth too often (every five years is considered the minimum safe period), but the chances are still very slim.
  • Can happen in F.A.T.A.L., although this can easily be because the Fetus Terrible is a sentient, raptophilic military fork just like its father.
  • According to the Pathfinder supplement Blood of Fiends, this is why "Motherless" is a canonical slang term for qlippoth — descended tieflings.
  • Women in the Pendragon RPG have an extremely high chance of suffering this; it's actually the most common cause of death, at least for female PCs. The system is also fairly misogynistic, reflecting many 'medieval values,' so childbirth is pretty much a female PC's main duty unless they're very inventive with their character. At least one such PC made it her life's goal to avoid getting married and pregnant, just to avoid this.
  • The birth of a werefox in the Kitsune supplement for the Old World of Darkness almost always causes this... sort of. For mystical reasons that are never completely explained, the birth of a Kitsune requires sacrifice, so a non-Kitsune parent of a Kitsune has a 90% chance of dying when the child is born. Yes, this happens to fathers as well as mothers.
  • In a bit more metaphorical example of this trope, the creation of Slaanesh in Warhammer 40,000 destroyed the Eldar civilization.

  • Appears in the musical Kristina, based on Vilhelm Moberg's "Emigrants" suite. Though in this case, it is a miscarriage that leads to the death of Kristina.
  • In the musical adaptation of Matilda, this was the ultimate fate of the Acrobat (i.e. Miss Honey's mother). During a dangerous stunt, which she and her husband had wanted to call off due to her pregnancy but which her evil sister Miss Trunchbull forced them to perform anyway, she took a terrible fall and broke nearly every bone in her body. She survived long enough to bring her baby to term, but when she gave birth, "the effort was too great."
  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream, the disputed page boy's mother died in childbirth, which is why Titania's raising him.
  • In Our Town, the final scene of the play is about Emily looking back on the town and her life after she dies in childbirth.
  • Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pelléas et Mélisandemuch better known as an operatic adaption by Claude Debussy. The fey beauty Mélisande dies giving birth to a tiny child, as the Older and Wiser King Arkel laments that "now the child must live in her place: it's the poor little one's turn".
  • Richard Wagner's operatic tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelung has this in store for Sieglinde, who dies as she gives birth to the hero Siegfried, her incestuous child with her already dead twin brother Siegmund. Her sort-of "midwife", the dwarf Mime, takes baby Siegfried in.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, giving birth to a Half-Ogre child almost always results in the death of the human mother. This adds an extra dimension of horror to the breeding program you discover later in the game.
  • Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's mother from Assassin's Creed.
  • In BioShock Infinite, when Booker mentions his dead wife, Elizabeth asks how she died, and Booker tersely replies that it was while she was giving birth, with both of them unaware that Elizabeth is the daughter to whom his wife was giving birth when she died.
  • In the adventure game Bad Mojo, protagonist Roger Samms' mother died giving birth to him, and he grew up with his father resenting him for it. In what is far from a coincidence, his landlord Eddie's late wife died giving birth to their son...
  • In the survival horror game Camp Sunshine, this is how the mother of the game's main antagonist, Isaac Illerman, died about two decades before the game takes place.
  • Dragon Age, being a medieval setting, has multiple examples.
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • The assassin Zevran's mother died giving birth to him and he was raised in a whorehouse before being sold to the Crows. Zevran seems to blame himself for her death, referring to her as his "first victim." One of the unique gifts the player can give him (for quite a few approval points) is a pair of Dalish gloves similar to the ones his mother left behind.
      • Alistair's mother died giving birth to him, too. For extra points, he was the illegitimate son of the king, and his half-sister Goldanna blames him for their mother's death (and just about everything else). She's a lovely person. Word of God says that this actually isn't true and that Alistair's mother is really an elven Grey Warden named Fiona, who's still alive; her relationship with Alistair's father is part of the tie-in novel The Calling. If you play Dragon Age: Inquisition, you meet her and she hints at her relationship to Alistair.
      • Seen — well, sort of — in the backstory of the Dalish Warden's origin. Mahariel's father was killed while their mother was pregnant; she basically lost the will to live and survived only long enough to give birth to her child, whom she surrendered to the care of a friend before wandering off into the woods to succumb to Death by Despair.
      • If, during the Redcliffe arc, the Warden fails to save the life of Arl Eamon's son Connor, the ending slides reveal that Eamon and his wife Isolde later have a second child, a daughter. Isolde dies in childbirth; Eamon names the girl Rowan, after his late sister.
  • Dragon Quest V: Subverted. The first cutscene shows the hero's mother getting sick right after delivering her son. Then the game skips several years ahead, and she is nowhere to be seen. The player is let believe she died by childbirth until it is revealed she was kidnapped by the villains.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this is the backstory of twins Sissel and Britte in Rorikstead. Their mother died shortly after their birth, which is indicated to be part of the reason that their father horribly abuses them.
  • Fallout 3 starts with the Player Character's birth, leading to his/her mother's death.
  • In the backstory of Fallout: New Vegas: Honest Hearts, the survivalist Randall Clark lost his second wife and unborn son to a breech birth.
  • A rather unusual variant occurs in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water: giving birth to a half-ghost Shadowborn severely reduces the mother's lifespan down to a few years. This is what Miku's fate will be since her daughter's a Shadowborn, and it's even hinted that she's Dead All Along, despite her reunion with Miu, in one of the endings.
  • Used in couple of Final Fantasy games.
    • In the added backstory in the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy IV, Cecil's mother died giving birth to him. For Cecil's elder brother Theodor, her death combined with Kluya's death just shortly earlier is what allows Zemus to gain control of Theodor and turn him into Golbez.
    • This is part of Gau's backstory in Final Fantasy VI. His mother's death is what caused his father to go mad and leave him in the Veldt. The Japanese and the retranslated versions also stated that Edgar and Sabin's mother died giving birth to them. And then there's Relm's mother.
    • This is the official explanation of what happened to Sephiroth's mother "Jenova" in Final Fantasy VII. Besides that, his actual, human mother Lucrecia Crescent tried to kill herself shortly after he was born and ended up vanishing from the public eye. The way it was translated originally made it sound a lot like she died in childbirth and the player actually met her ghost later on; Lucrecia is actually trapped in a Fate Worse than Death, having frozen herself in a Crystal Prison since she has Jenova cells that won't let her die and feels horribly guilty for her part in Seph's truly screwed up origins.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII Squall's mother Raine died in childbirth and he was sent to the orphanage.
    • Aire's mother, the Queen of Horne, died this way in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. The party eventually goes back in time and prevents it by bringing her real husband back to care for her. He'd been turned into a parrot and replaced by a demon in the original timeline.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • In the Adventure Game Adaptation Expansion of Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, one character's life is chillingly and clinically summed up, one event at a time. The first is "You were a Cesarean. Your mother died on the operating table. You went to live with your grandparents."
  • In Into the Open Sky Darien's mother died giving birth to him.
  • The King of Fighters fans widely believe that Iori Yagami's birth mother died in childbirth as a consequence of the Orochi curse. It has neither been confirmed nor jossed in canon, but since the aforementioned Orochi curse is incredibly strong and very painful on the members of the Yagami clans, it's a fairly understandable assumption.
  • King's Heir: Rise to the Throne: The Prince's wife, Rose, died giving birth to their first and only son.
  • Psycho Mantis' Freudian Excuse in Metal Gear Solid is that his mother died in childbirth, prompting his father to blame him for her death. When his Psychic Powers developed, he read his father's mind and saw how much his father hated him. He was overwhelmed, blacked out, and woke up hideously scarred with his hometown in flames.
  • Commonly assumed to be the case with Marowak and Cubone in Pokémon based on the latter's Pokédex entry.
    • Can lead to a Mind Screw if the trainer decides to breed their Marowak. How can the Cubone be wearing its dead mother's skull if its mother is still very much alive?
  • Prayer of the Faithless: As the story is told, Serra's birth had "complications", and the attending doctor could only save the mother or the child, and her mother "begged the doc to save Serra. As long as Serra lived, that's all that mattered."
  • It’s mentioned in passing that John Marston from Red Dead Redemption’s mother died giving birth to him.
  • Silent Hill 3 has an utterly bizarre example that technically fits the trope, involving the demon Fetus Terrible in Heather's womb which will kill her when it's born, and actually does kill Claudia after she eats it (it's a long story).
    • It's worth mentioning that if you don't figure out what to do to cause this scene, then Heather will suffer the consequences.
  • Sword and Fairy 7 has an unusual, time-delayed, magic-induced version for both parents. A child of two Deities will absorb spiritual energy of their parents, who will eventually die from it. For this reason procreation is forbidden for Deities, who are otherwise biologically immortal. A child, who was born in violation of the law, serves as the game's Living MacGuffin.
  • Team Fortress 2: This is part of RED and BLU founders Redmond and Blutarch's as well as their brother Gray's backstory. Their mother Bette dies in childbirth, with her husband, Zepheniah, dismissing it as her "finally having done something right". His business partner, Barnabas Hale, however, starts sobbing when he hears the news.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: As Nagare in the cutscene that gives her third quest:
    My mother died when I was born, so Father is the only real family I have. I just... wish he'd be around more, talk to me more.
  • Utawarerumono: Yuzuha dies either in childbirth or shortly afterward, leaving behind Hakuoro's daughter, Kuon. This is unsurprising, given her chronically poor health, but she desperately wanted to leave behind proof that she had lived. Kuon goes on to become a major protagonist in the next two games.
  • Rebecca dies this way in The Walking Dead: Season 2. While Rebecca doesn't die immediately, as most other examples of this trope, it's still what ultimately kills her. The group's decision to press on through a blizzard the morning after she gives birth makes Rebecca die of exhaustion, and then she's shot in the head by either Clementine or Kenny during a Mexican Standoff as she starts to turn into a zombie.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch this is the fate of the player character, Edith Finch.
  • Yes, Your Grace: One of the danger spots for Queen Aurelea's life during the plot is a ritual that is supposed to help her fourth child be a boy. If the Player Character, who is the child's father, doesn't complete his part properly, Aurelea will effectively die while giving birth.
  • In Yuletide Legends 3: Who Framed Santa Claus? The Krampus hates Christmas because his wife died on Christmas Eve while giving birth to his son Peter.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kano's mother in AIR.
  • Nagisa in CLANNAD dies from giving birth to her and Tomoya's daughter Ushio, due to her illness making the birth too much for her body to handle. Luckily for her, she recovers at the end of the anime and survives the birth in the visual novel's True End.
  • Lainie from Daughter for Dessert died while giving birth to Amanda, leaving the protagonist to raise her alone.
  • Invoked in Spirit Hunter: NG; after the Urashima Woman gave birth, her midwife deliberately killed her and stole her baby, driven by envy at not being able to conceive herself.
  • Narrowly averted in Kakeru's route of 10 Days with My Devil. The protagonist's sister Makoto has had weak health for most of her life; complications with her pregnancy end up requiring an emergency C-section, and Makoto and the baby both nearly die on the operating table, but pull through with the help of Kakeru's power over life energy.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Beatrice Castiglioni, Kinzo's beloved mistress, died this way after giving birth to their daughter, Beatrice II. This officially warped Kinzo into the insane old man we know and love, but what's worse is that he eventually raped Beatrice II under the self-delusion that she was her mother's reincarnation, making her pregnant.
  • Can potentially happen in Yume Miru Kusuri. Both of Mizuki Kirimiya's endings involve Teen Pregnancy; while her Happy Ending has her and Kouichi reunited and raising their daughter together, the Unhappy one has her disappearing and dying of this.

  • 180 Angel: Lady Wrath - Xavier, Paymon, Thammuz, and Lilith's mother- died while giving birth to Lilith because her magic was transferred to Lilith.
  • The end of Anders Loves Maria reveals that Maria dies giving birth to her daughter, who becomes her Dead Guy Junior.
  • Chesska, Anthony's wife from Archipelago, dies in childbirth. This is implied to have permanently embittered Anthony, as later his colleagues remember him as cold, ruthless, and unlikable. After Death of Personality caused by Ocean Madness and a failed Demonic Possession, Blitz, the new inhabitant of Anthony's body starts to cry at the birth of Deliza and Mikel's child and has no idea why. He later has a vivid dream from which he wakes up shaken and confused, also not having a clue as to what any of it meant. Turns out that dream was a memory of Chesska. When their child, Clair, is introduced, Blitz has no idea who she is either.
  • In Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast, Beauty thinks her mother's health was damaged by her birth, eventually leading to her death from a fever they both caught when Beauty was about five. However, she actually went to the Beast's castle and made a magical contract sacrificing her life to save Beauty's, but because she wasn't mortal, to begin with, she didn't die but became a part of the castle's magic.
  • It's heavily implied that Sam's mother died from complications after childbirth in Cheer! but Sam's father insists that she's not to blame.
  • In Dragon Mango, Blossom died in childbirth, perhaps because the baby was half-oni.
  • Thump Sharpley's mother in Everyday Heroes died during childbirth. Thump had to be rescued by C-section but sustained a small amount of brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
  • Surma and Atimony Carver from Gunnerkrigg Court are a variant. Surma was a Half-Human Hybrid of human and fire elemental, and when she had a child — Antimony — her "fire" passed into that child. As Antimony grew, she gradually sapped Surma's life force to fuel her own, eventually leading to Surma's death.
  • Im All Out Of Health has Ninenya's mother dying giving birth to her.
  • Kevin & Kell:
  • Little Nuns: It's heavily implied that Froggy Nun's mother died giving birth to her.
  • Discussed in Sleepless Domain, but never actually occurs. In chapter ten, Heartful Punch tells Undine about her mother. HP says her mom died shortly after she was born and, as a side effect of her mother being an active Magical Girl at the time, her powers left her and went into HP. Because of this, Undine hesitantly asks if HP's mom passed away in labor. HP assures Undine that was not the case.
  • The comic Thirty and A Half Minutes depicts a woman about to die while giving birth to her child. The Grim Reaper takes pity on the woman and extends her life by thirty and a half minutes so she can deliver the baby and be with her child for a while before dying. The comic actually explains why, despite the modern setting, this is happening: as the Grim Reaper prepares to take her, he picks up her chart, which is labeled "Cardiomyopathy" — she has a weak heart.
  • Unsounded:
    • Duane and Lemuel were raised by their father and grandfather after their mother died of complications giving birth to Lemuel. Lem's guilt for this manifests in nightmares in which people blame him for killing his mother as a child.
    • Karl brings up the fact that women die in childbirth all the time when discussing how he's going to kill his wife once he's secured a noble title through marrying her.

    Web Videos 
  • If Disney Cartoons Were Historically Accurate: The princess gleefully sings about how after getting married, she fully expects to die shortly after giving birth to a son and providing her husband with an heir.
  • The Nostalgia Critic lampshades this trope in his review of The Swan Princess.
    Nostalgia Critic: [as the king, holding newborn Odette up to the people] "Here's to the assumption that her mother died in biiiiirth!"
  • Out With Dad: Rose's mom died while giving birth to her, as it triggered an undiagnosed heart condition.
  • In Retarded Animal Babies, Puppy's mother died giving birth to him (he was the last puppy out of a huge litter). His father Sean Connery (yes, really) immediately accuses him of murdering her. Puppy had suppressed this memory for years and didn't take it well at all when it resurfaced. Hamster assumes this is Puppy's Freudian Excuse for his Extreme Omnisexual behavior — he lacked a maternal role model growing up. It's so pitiful that even the woman he was harassing earlier doesn't have the heart to have him thrown out of the bar.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: Rainbow Dash's mom died giving birth to Dash. As we find out in "The Cheesen One", she had an extremely unhealthy diet, which caused her to have a heart attack during birth.
  • A video produced by UNICEF (with music by R.L. Grime) uses this trope to draw attention to the possible consequences of child marriage in Chad (and elsewhere), as many young girls in such situations die in childbirth because their bodies just aren't ready for it. It can be viewed here.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Moral Orel episode "Dumb," this is what resident bully Joe initially believes happened to his biological mother, as this is what his elderly, Alzheimer's-stricken father told him. It's ultimately subverted: turns out Joe's mother is actually the very much alive Nurse Bendy, and she was only thirteen years old when Joe's (much older) father impregnated her. When Joe finds out the truth, he beats his dad to a pulp.
  • A Robot Chicken sketch based on Hey Arnold! has Arnold feeling upset on Mother's Day because he never got to meet Stella, his mother. A flashback shows Stella dying after giving birth to Arnold and Miles having also died due to falling out a window while trying to catch the newborn Arnold when he popped out.
    Arnold: Turns out dads can die in childbirth, too.
  • The Sofia the First series finale "Forever Royal" also shows this. King Roland's first wife Queen Lorelei was unable to conceive children. He then used the wishing well first seen in "When You Wish Upon A Well" so that she could conceive children; this led to the births of Amber and James. Unfortunately, she ended up dying, deeply saddening him.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The series provides a fantastic variant: apparently, Rose Quartz "gave up her physical form" to bring her half-human son, Steven, into the world. The exact details of this have not yet been explained, but it has been mentioned that Rose's sacrifice was necessary to pass her gem to her son and that she technically still exists as part of the gem half of his biology. Rose did this willingly and knowingly, effectively making this an example of (G-rated) Suicide by Childbirth.
    • In "Change Your Mind" when White Diamond removes Steven's gem, it's confirmed that his mother is completely dead and gone. The Fanon that she would re-form if the gem were removed from Steven is debunked: Steven's gem half is Rose's current form and her consciousness is sublimated into his.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: As narrated in a flashback during the twenty-fifth episode, the goddess of fertility Chimalma perishes upon having given birth to the child she conceived with Mixcoatl after the end of their war. Mixcoatl entrusted the child's education and raising to his grandparents.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Native Son", a flashback reveals the Queen of Thundera died giving birth to the crown prince Lion-O. For her toddler son Tygra, whom she and her king Claudius adopted after struggling to have a child, Lion-O's Royal Blood ensured that he lost both his mother and his chance at the throne at the same time.
  • The protagonists of The Twins of Destiny, Jules and Julie, were born at the same moment of the same day in the same city and were raised together after their respective mothers died giving birth to them.
  • This happens to Princess Sara's mother in Wildfire, a series made by Hanna-Barbera in 1986. It even all but says so right at the beginning of the Title Theme Tune:
    "Once upon a dream / I think I lived inside a fairy tale / When someone brave was lost..."