Baby Jacob: a victim of the 39 week rule

Regular readers know that I have written several posts about the 39 week rule. It is supposed to be a ban on elective deliveries before 39 weeks, but has devolved into a ban against any deliveries before 39 weeks, with the predictable consequence of preventable perinatal deaths.

Tamara Bennett believes that the 39 week rule led to the death of her son Jacob. Tamara is mobilizing support to overturn the rule with a Facebook page, We Stand Against the 39 Week Rule; We Love Our Babies and a petition. Here is her guest post:

I would like to earnestly thank you for posting about the 39 week rule. It is a ridiculous ruling that is amassing quite the body count. I am currently fighting this ruling because my son Jacob Deinikus Flores died in utero

Jacob died due to the hospital’s failure to heed my body’s labor at 36 weeks and 5 days (he was already 7 lbs and 5 oz and according to sonography had well developed lungs, doc would have supplemented that with steroid, just to be sure) I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced, no major illnesses during the pregnancy (at least none of the ones listed in their constraining list of reasons to induce) other than being advanced maternal age. It was my doctor’s medical opinion to proceed with delivery.

I was admitted to labor and delivery and upon entering the room all of the equipment was being made ready and I was being made ready and we were waiting to hear further from the doctor. He came in and whispered to one of the nurses who look absolutely shocked, and advised me that he was directed to stop the labor and unfortunately he had to follow the hospital policy regarding 39 weeks. I was given procardia in 4 and 6 hour intervals until the labor and contractions subsided. It only took them 4 days to successfully stop all of my natural labor.

I had two incidents prior to this where they stopped the labor and that was at 28 weeks and 33 weeks. I was thankful for that. I was released to home and bedrest until I met the 39 wk mark. They continued the procardia and at first I was taking it every eight hours. I visited the ER department 3 times complaining of contractions and pain, to which they indicated I was ‘not having contractions’ that their little belt measured and sent me home but increased my dosage from every 8 hours to every 6 hours, and at the final ER visit every 4 hours. I never did trust those ‘belts’ but actually, came to find I couldn’t trust the ones putting it on me, honestly i did not feel it was tight enough to measure if I was having contractions or not. I know indeed that I was having contractions.

I also tried to tell them that as the medicine wore off somewhat, the contractions would begin again. I was ignored and constantly reminded of the 39 week rule and the Procardia increased. (Funny, why do they increase the Procardia if I was indeed not having contractions?) I had even timed my contractions that were for the first ER visit 10 minutes apart, 2nd ER visit 7 minutes apart, The third visit was 7 to 9 minutes apart. I had an appointment with my doc after the third visit and I advised him that they had increased my dosages, he decided that he would step me down from it and preferred I cut it back to every six that day and back to every eight hours the next day.

I asked what if the contractions come back, he said let them come back. He told me that this pregnancy probably won’t last throughout the weekend and advised me further to go to the ER when the contractions are 3 to 5 minutes apart as it is harder for them to stop. I did as the doctor recommended and come Sunday morning my contractions started to be 3 to 5 minutes apart the only difference is these contractions were so very painful. (I am not an educated professional but in my humble opinion, I think the contractions were much stronger because my body was fighting to go into labor and so the contractions were much worse as the medicine levels dropped, my body was still in fight mode)

I went and woke my fiance at 3 pm, as we spent a late night up and he went to take a quick nap as we awaited the contractions to come down to the 3 to 5 minute level. I finally reached that level. I was excited but in excruciating pain and I told him, it’s time to go. He got up and rushed around the apartment in the typical male panic that ensues when his woman is announcing such things. I needed to urinate and he walked me into the bathroom and waited as I did my business. I got a contraction so bad it took my breath away and I told him, I feel like I am going to faint. I did. I only remember being awoken by my fiancee and in such a world of pain I couldn’t move, I could taste blood on my lips as I fell over and face planted on the bathroom floor. He says I didn’t tell him that I was going to faint, otherwise he would have set me down on the floor, but somewhere in my brain I told him just that, (its not something we debate anymore).

Sad thing is I landed not only on my face, but my belly as well and I could not walk or move. He called 911 and we waited 25 minutes for the ambulance to show up and another 20 minutes, I showed up in the ER this time writhing and crying in pain asking to lay on my side and they told me no, They placed the monitor on me and there was no heartbeat. Yes, this is all an unfortunate accident due to placenta abruption Jacob suffocated to death in my uterus.

When they did the emergency c-section the doctor told me that Jacob somehow acted as a tamponade and upon lifting his little body under him, there was a liter of my blood. He was born at 37wks and 6 days and was 7lbs and 8.1 oz. I don’t know how well they can diagnose placenta abruption but they blamed it on the fact that I fell on my stomach with quite a bit of force as I almost bit my lip in half (the length of the lip not split it) But that is food for thought. All I can say for certain is I indeed went into labor repeatedly.

But this was all an accident that should have never even happened. Had the hospital just once relaxed their rule just once, I WOULD HAVE A BABY BOY TO ENJOY. All the visits to the hospital ER, if just once they intervened instead of heeding this ruling, I would have my son. The only fortunate thing is that this has happened to the type of person who will fight, and I don’t mean in courtrooms seeking money. I have taken it upon myself to get this ridiculous rule repealed. I came across your page one day doing my constant research of the matter. I even added on my Facebook a group called ‘WE STAND AGAINST THE 39 WEEK RULE; WE LOVE OUR BABIES.’ I am trying to educate as much as I can in regards to this ruling as uneducated as I am and it was such a relief to come across a physician, besides my own, that is against the ruling as well. I have made strides to inform people about this ruling.

I have since started a petition on change.org that will go to the Texas Department of Health, under human rights.(My son had the right to be born, and I had the right to birth him). I have two other children, both born at 38 weeks, I cant help but wonder if they’d be here with me if that rule applied 10 years ago. We can pray this doesn’t happen to another mother to be.

  • lucero

    PPPPLLLEEEEAAAASSSSEEE eliminate the 39 wkrule
    was 38wks and 6 days when the dr didn’t hear my sons heart beat after telling him weeks before that I had been having contractions day he didn’t hear my sons heart beat I was dialated to 8 cm and had no contractions

  • Chavva Harris

    I lost my own son last year in March to the 39 week law, he was measuring way ahead and met the 2 week requirement to toss out the old due date. They didn’t listen to me and blamed my labor on dehydration they stopped it and monitored me over the weekend. They sent me home they kept pushing back my C-section date and making excuses such as “he’s big because you have GD” or we don’t do C-sections on that day ect. I went into full blown labor and they couldn’t stop it I’d developed a slow leak and didn’t know about it so he was dry in there. My labor intensified fast but because he was 10 pounds 1 ounce he wasn’t budging he went into distress. The nurses were rude to me during it all saying I wasn’t in labor I wasn’t leaking yadda yadda they took 40 minutes hassling me and harassing me to finally call in a operating staff and my doctor. They lost his heart beat on the way to the OR and when they got him out he didn’t breath his lungs were packed with Malconium he wasn’t preterm he was 42 weeks they had ignored my body and me the whole time resulting in his death.they showed me not compassion in any of this. They refused to deal with me more then they had to and had me out of there as soon as possible I wasn’t even in for two nights and they never cleaned the malconium from my uterus. I was forced the very next morning to call and make arrangements to have him taken by a funeral home and later almost lost my own life due to a infection in my uterus. I’m currently 37 weeks pregnant and going to a different hospital I’ve had a labor scare all ready and they like the last hospital stalled me and refused to take her even though she’s 7 pounds 1 ounce I’m keeping my fingers crossed I don’t lose her too as they have pushed my C-section to the day before my due date and are expecting me to make it. If she dies to I swear I’m going to suicide I can’t take another death at their hands the 39 week rule is a death sentence.

    • AllieFoyle

      I’m so sorry. Please hang in there. Let your providers know how much you are struggling. You must be so frightened–I can’t believe your providers aren’t doing more to support you and allay your concerns.

    • Young CC Prof

      Talk to your doctor’s supervisor. Put it in writing that continuing the pregnancy presents an unacceptable risk to the child and to your own mental health. Demand, at a minimum, biweekly monitoring of the baby, even if you have to show up at the ER to ask for it.

    • Karen in SC

      I’m so sorry, what a devastating loss. Did you complain to the hospital? Make a complaint to the medical board? see a lawyer? Your care was unforgivably horrible and I hope this birth goes better for you.

    • georgia in co

      I am 35 weeks and 1 cm dialted and have been having contractions non stop for days at first they were 5 min apart but for the last 24 hrs they have only been 1 min apart and i went to hospital 2 times in 24 hrs and since they are not dialating me any furthur they keep sending me home. I have taken procardia and the shot to stop my contractions which of both has not worked just made me sick. And they have the 39 week rule as well. And im like obviously something iant right if i have had 1 min apart contractions for 24 hrs and u guys cant stop them. But will they do anything nope. Not until im 4 cm dialated or my water has broken. Hopefully it wont be to late by then. I feel so unlistened to

      • Young CC Prof

        I am sorry this is happening. Do you have a doctor of your own? What does she say?

        If you are having contractions strong enough to wake you up or prevent you from sleeping, and they’ve been happening continuously for days, that isn’t right. Whether you are dilating or not.

  • MirandaElizabeth

    How sad! My OB says he never recommends attempting to stop natural labor once a pregnancy has reached 36 weeks due to possible risks and I think thats probably the best policy to go by. He will not induce or do a c-section before 39 weeks unless it is an emergency, typically only for cases of pre-eclampsia or placental abruption, but he believes that baby and body know when they are ready which is why some babies come on their own before the 39 week mark.

  • Kelly

    Please, if you have not already, retain a good lawyer. You will be so glad that you did. Don’t think about the money if that makes you feel uncomfortable. Think about the power the lawyer will have in getting the laws changed. I am going to sign you petition right away.

    I said a prayer for baby Jacob and so did my husband.

    I am so sorry for your loss. No mother or father should ever have to lose a child. Let alone when it is to do medical neglect.

    Rest in peace baby Jacob. <3<3<3<3<3

  • Devora Gee

    I’m not quite sure about that one. As I’ve known many of people who have had Medicaid, including myself when falling on hard times years ago with my son years ago, that have delivered before 39 weeks. No issues whatsoever.

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