A dead baby will ruin your birth experience every time!

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Natural childbirth advocates like to say that “there’s more to birth than a healthy baby.” Duh! No one ever said otherwise. That’s why epidurals and maternal request C-sections should be available to anyone who wants them. They’ve chosen a specific birth experience because there’s more to birth than a healthy baby; there’s pain relief and avoiding pelvic trauma among other things.

Where did this mother get the idea that the obstetrician wants to ruin her birth experience?

But a dead baby will ruin your birth experience every time.

Consider this post from a natural childbirth Facebook group:

Well, fired my doctor yesterday. I am currently 40+6.
I’m comfortable, healthy, perfectly fine. Baby is comfortable, healthy, perfectly fine.
But, according to my doctor, “at this point, it is pitocin or a c section” and I “need to just get used to the idea of pitocin”
She informed me she was stepping out to call L&D to schedule an induction, I got dressed and left.
I understand her games, and I’m not playing. She has never spoken to me this way and up until the point-made me believe she was supportive of my natural birth preferences. I have an amazing support team and doula. We are all on the same page.

Baby will come when baby is ready

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Sure the baby will come eventually; it just might be dead when it arrives. And let me assure you, a dead baby will ruin your birth experience!

Preventing dead babies is the job of every obstetrician. It is hardly a game; it’s a sacred trust.

Where did this mother get the idea that the obstetrician wants to ruin her birth experience? From natural childbirth advocates, the same people who created the cultural construct of “birth experience.”

The conceit of the contemporary natural childbirth movement is that they are recapitulating birth in nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. In nature, a good birth experience was and remains a healthy baby born to a healthy mother.

Caroline Bledsoe and Rachel Scherrer are anthropologists who study the natural childbirth movement. In the chapter The Dialectics of Disruption: Paradoxes of Nature and Professionalism in Contemporary American Childbearing they explain the cultural construct of natural childbirth:

… As childbearing became safer and more benign visions of nature arose, undesired outcomes of birth for women came to consist of a bad experience and psychological damage from missed bonding opportunities. Today, with safety taken for granted, the new goal has become in some sense the process itself: the experience of childbirth…

The mother refusing induction is taking the safety of her baby utterly for granted. She doesn’t know that every day beyond 39 weeks increases the risk of stillbirth.

Does that mean her baby is guaranteed to die? No, it means the risk of the baby dying is increased. It’s like refusing to put a baby in a car seat on a trip to the supermarket. The odds that the baby will die on the trip are small … but refusing to use a car seat makes them much higher than they would have been. The odds that this baby will die are also small, but by refusing a medically recommended induction the mother has made them much higher.

Bledsoe and Scherrer offer a critical insight into the thinking of mothers like these:

If nature is defined as whatever obstetricians do not do, then the degree to which a birth can be called natural is inversely proportional to the degree to which an obstetrician appears to play a role. The answer to why obstetricians are described with such antipathy thus lies not in the substance of what obstetricians do that is unnatural – whether the use of sharp incision. forceps, and medications that blunt sensation. or anything else- but in the fact that obstetricians represent a woman’s loss of control over the birth event.

…[I]t is not what obstetricians do that women find problematic but the fact that they are the people who step in when the woman is seen to have failed.

This mother hired her obstetrician, because she believed the obstetrician would keep her and her baby safe. But when the OB recommended induction, the mother rejected it because it embodied “failure” on her part. She failed to go into labor on her own.

Bledsoe and Scherrer understand what the mother does not:

… As we turn to the disruptions that preoccupy US middle-class women as they contemplate the birth of a child. it is vital to keep in mind both the dangers that reproduction can entail and the science that has allowed us to imagine as common sense a safe, uninterrupted, reproductive life trajectory.

Because there’s nothing like a dead baby to ruin a birth experience!

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  • nata

    https://www.facebook.com/badassmotherPage/videos/1439586282831730/ I don’t know if you have seen this, it come up on my Facebook thread.

    • mabelcruet

      It’s reassuring that the CPMs had some resuscitation equipment and were very definite about taking charge and getting the mother out of the pool immediately. But by my count there was a 6 minute delay between full delivery and the baby finally making decent respiratory efforts for himself and making a noise. The Royal College of Obstetricians in the UK advisory on shoulder dystocia indicates that if the delay between head delivery and body delivery is less than 5 minutes, which this one seems to have been, then the risk of hypoxic brain injury is very low, so hopefully this baby is doing well.

      Lastly, the McRoberts position/manoeuvre always looks really uncomfortable!

      • Mel

        I hope so. There were two jump cuts – one after the mom was moved from the pool to the floor and one while the kiddo was being resuscitated so hopefully we only missed a few seconds from the timeline – not a few minutes.

        There were also four people available and able to help the mom and baby at critical point – the midwife who recognized the shoulder dystocia/completed McRoberts; the other midwife who provided assistance on leg positioning and neonatal resus; the doula who could help the mom focus through the McRoberts and the man who got the mother out of the tub pronto. I don’t remember who helped get the mother’s other leg into the right position – but that might be 5 people total.

        That’s a lot of people – and not nearly enough at the same time if the mom had started bleeding heavily or the kiddo wasn’t as strong as an ox and went flat rather than recovered quickly.

        • mabelcruet

          Absolutely. It said in the post that she had started hemorrhaging the midwife administered pitocin whilst also working on baby. Something like this in a medical setting causes a stampede in the corridor-the delivery suites regularly have emergency drills with assigned roles for each staff member on duty so when the alarm is sounded, it’s an automatic reaction. I suspect the outcome would have been different if there was only a single midwife present. One person cannot resuscitate mother and baby singlehandedly.

  • guest

    I had two very difficult pregnancies, then traumatic labors followed by emergency c-sections. The first labor was induced. The second one, a repeat section had been scheduled but the baby came early. Complications almost killed me both times and recovery was brutal and lasted over a year each time. I had to do intensive physical therapy. I survived roughly four years of my life spent in constant pain. I ended up with PTSD and severe post-partum depression. My scenario is one of the worst that can happen with c-sections and “the cascade of medical interventions”.

    But, ya know, I don’t regret it. Because my kids were born alive, and that was my only goal.

    When I hear about people walking away from medical care and putting their child’s life at risk, I feel some empathy, I really do. I know what it is like to be terrified of having another traumatic childbirth experience. But I don’t understand their final decision. Not really.

    What is their goal, if not a healthy child?

    • rational thinker

      Sadly with a lot of these women the goal is not a healthy child, its just a bonus.

      https://www.skepticalob.com/2018/11/freebirther-a-live-baby-is-not-everybodys-goal.html

      • StephanieJR

        I’d somehow managed to block this all out. Just when you think it can’t get any more insane, it does.

      • mabelcruet

        I’d forgotten all about her. Genuinely frightening and bizarre thought patterns, dismissing the death of a baby as unimportant and trivial-she referred to the loss as ‘just a little death’. Almost as bad as Rosie Kacary’s comment about the homebirth mother she allowed to die: “I hope one day (husband) remembers that she had the lovely homebirth she wanted…”

  • Grey Sweater

    I had a “natural” birth, I guess, in that I didn’t have a c section. My ob (whom I had never met previously) mentioned a c section when baby was struggling and her head was just too big. I asked for one and my husband tried to communicate with her about it. She just mumbled to herself and yelled at me to push as hard as I could for half an hour. I tore extremely badly, was immediately taken from baby to an operating room. Given drugs I specifically asked not to be given, put under for the surgery, spent hours in the operating room alone and terrified and semi conscious. So many people congratulated me on having a “natural” birth and avoiding a c section. It took over a year to recover and there was nothing natural about the experience! Woulda loved that c section. No idea how these people think that avoiding one at all cost is some kind of victory.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I mentioned this the other day – if my sister had been induced at 40+6, my nephew would still be alive. Instead, he was still born at 41+ due to (I believe) placenta failure.

  • rational thinker

    “But, according to my doctor, “at this point, it is pitocin or a c section” The doctor is trying to do the job you hired her to do, and if she has been very supportive up until this point then she is trying to tell you that everything may not be okay if labor is put off much longer.
    I was made to go to 41+5 and I know now that had I been induced earlier I would not have had as much damage to my body, and at the young age of 17 at that. Hell what 18 year old should have to learn that when you need to sneeze you must cross your legs first. Inductions save lives and anatomy!

  • MaineJen

    Wasn’t it Janet Fraser who said her own dead baby was “less traumatic” than her birth trauma in a hospital?

    • rational thinker

      Yup, that woman just disgusts me.

      • Amazed

        She was the first subject of a SOB article that drew me here years ago. I saw that citation and I initially thought I was so tired that my brain didn’t do this translating business right. I mean, I couldn’t have read what I thought I had read, right? I read it again and my jaw dropped. She’s horrible.

    • Amazed

      BTW, a friend of mine was very disappointed that she was advised to go C-section “without any reason, just as a precaution”, as she puts it. I didn’t know her back then, so I don’t know what her doctor’s reasons were but looking at her tiny frame compared to her husband’s one, as well as the fact that her next baby was ginormous for her, I’d risk a suggestion that SIZE had something to do with it. Of course, she got that C-section because she isn’t an idiot. She was just upset, so she cried a river in recovery… and then, the woman next bed told her that they had been trying for 13 YEARS to get their kid.

      Guess who stopped crying right there? As upset as she was, she still recognized that… shades of SCALE, people!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “as a precaution” IS a reason to have a c-section! In fact, it’s the most common reason.

        The best way to address birth emergencies is to prevent them.

        • Amazed

          *I* know it. She has some survivorship bias. She’s a fan of all things natural and overall, not this different from many women who listen to their doctors even if they think THEY really, really don’t need this c-section because “the doctor gave me no medical reason!”. Because, you see, she couldn’t live with herself if something happened as a result of her not listening.

          In fact, I only know one woman who insisted that just being over 40 weeks is no reason for inducing. She almost reached 42 before she “gave up”. Guess what question the speech therapist asked when the kid was referred to him some years later?

          Hell, that makes 100%! 100% of women of my acquaintance who went over 40 weeks wish they hadn’t. Hence, EVERYONE born this late WILL experience problems. Ain’t I ready to collect and work on some homebirth stats? That’s THEIR logic, only backwards.

    • Sarah

      Yes. I don’t know what is wrong with that woman, but it’s a lot.

  • PeggySue

    I wonder what happened to the woman who wrote the post about firing her doctor. I hope she and baby are OK even as I know that, if they are, she will be reinforced in her opinion.

  • fiftyfifty1

    The Natural Childbirth cult is so screwed up. They are the ones who have decided that women have “failed” if they need or want help from an OB. This idea is nothing more than a dysfunctional frame, it’s not The Truth. In my opinion, women who access the help of an OB are kicking ass. I sure felt that way! I felt that my OB and I formed a powerful team together, keeping myself and my baby safe (and even comfortable! Take THAT Mother Nature, Evolution and Biblical curses, ha ha!!)