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!

  • demodocus

    I doubt I’ll ever understand such an interest in one’s “birth experience.” It’s just an experience and yes, some are better than others, but I’d much rather have a nice ice cream parlor experience, with my kids.

  • Libby Ann Best

    I recently read an article that says that placenta acreta is caused by lazy doctors who sew up a woman incorrectly after a C-section. Basically, a woman has multiple layers in her stomach and I read that many doctors sew all the layers up as one rather than respecting the layers. Is there any truth to this? Are doctors harming women by doing sloppy jobs of stitching them up?

    • PeggySue

      Ummm, I am going to hazard a guess and say no. There would be a lot more complications than placenta accreta if doctors were this “lazy.”

    • swbarnes2

      Uhh, the stomach is a totally different organ. Unless you eat a baby sandwich, there is no baby in your stomach.

    • MaineJen

      LOL. I am quite sure a trained surgeon knows all about skin/tissue layers…

    • AnnaPDE

      Here’s a step by step photo series for a C-section. Have a look – doing all this in one layer would be pretty much impossible to do, let alone to go unnoticed if someone tried.
      https://www.ogmagazine.org.au/18/4-18/caesarean-section-step-step/

      • Libby Ann Best

        Thanks for the graphic illustration.

        • AnnaPDE

          While a bit graphic, I do find that seeing things in actual detailed photos takes a lot away from the scare factor of medicine. And more importantly, seeing stuff as it is really helps puts claims in perspective and helps in forming an informed opinion. Knowledge is power.

  • Lisa Hayes
  • Amazed

    OT: Amazing Niece No2 is due in May. Today, SIL had a bout of sudden, sharp pains so she headed off to the best public maternity hospital, trying not to panic, to find there a young obstetrician who was on his own for the very first time. It was his first OB day. SIL suspects that he panicked as well because she was panicked and the equipment kind of refused to work properly. Fortunately, there was another one and the guy checked her 3, you got this right, three times to make sure that everything was OK and the baby has just turned. Sounds a little leaning on the side of safe. Not that SIL minded. In fact, her comment was, “God, I thought something very bad was happening, I imagined all kind of scenarios… There are people who do this voluntarily just to turn the baby?” Mind you, she’s a woman who wanted a second vaginal birth since her first one went smoothly. She had been hoping that AN2 would turn on her own but she simply wasn’t prepared to be in this much pain. The way people picture it, it’s so easy.

    Kudos for that young OB. May he enjoy a long and productive career in his chosen field.

    • demodocus

      Poor guy must’ve been pretty terrified, even if he did have an MD

      Congrats on the imminent doubling of amazingness

      • Amazed

        He must have been. PLUS, he insisted that no matter that the printer was kind of slow, he was OBLIGED to give her the results in written form, just in case, you know, he had done something wrong, so he kept her waiting for a few more minutes but he observed the STANDARD OF CARE! Unlike some other non-medical “professionals” who write notes on flying papers.

        Thank you! Amazingness is indeed doubling. As we’re all quaranitined off, my SIL keeps trying to put Amazing Niece No1 to bed in some decent time but the kid wants to keep reading so… I expect that she’ll emerge from there as a fully-fledged Professor.

  • 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.

          • Mel

            So that was probably the jump cut for the on-the-floor portion.

            My son coded when he was around 10 days old. It was Spawn’s first time pooping and he pushed his abdominal muscles so hard that the ventilator couldn’t inflate his lungs and he might have moved his ET tube slightly as well.

            I was still sore and beat-up as hell from his birth so when I heard the nurses call a code I knew I needed to get out of the way – and to get the recliner positioned right next to the ventilator out of the way for the incoming respiratory techs – but I could barely move myself. Thankfully, my very strong husband was right behind me so I barked at hm to move the recliner to right in front of the privacy screen and shuffled as fast as I could to get out of the way.

            That may have taken 10 seconds. I had tunnel vision from the stress and the sheer physical effort. When I flopped into the recliner, I realized that there were something like 20 medical professionals surrounding my son. I counted 2 neonatologists; 2 neonatal nurse practitioners; five respiratory techs; and a small army of nurses. Because Spawn just needed a quick fix on his tube – and passing out took care of the whole “Hey, I can voluntarily shove all the air out of my chest!” thing – Spawn went from an APGAR of 2 (heartbeat over 100 when I handed him back to the nurse, but gray, floppy and unresponsive) to 10 in less than 5 minutes.

            There were so many people there that I had my very own RN to keep me breathing and an extra neonatologist to tell me what was going on with Spawn.

          • PeggySue

            How terrifying though. Even with all the right disciplines present.

          • Mel

            I think that one incident aged me around 5 years, honestly. I mostly just tried to breathe and not be overwhelmed by anxiety.

          • mabelcruet

            Horribly frightening for any parent, and I’m so glad he’s doing well now (how old is he now?). NICU staff run drills regularly on every conceivable problem, and they all get assigned roles so that no-one gets in anyone else’s way and everybody has specific jobs to do. It looks like chaos and confusion, it’s anything but.

          • Mel

            Honestly, it seemed quite organized – and very quiet. They had been trained on the importance of keeping the small baby room quiet so everyone was communicating in quiet, but clear voices.

            Spawn is three years old now. He’s going to school four days a week for 2 hours at a time. Spawn’s language has exploded since he started school. He went from mostly 1 word phrases to mostly 2 words phrases – but frequent sentences of two word phrases strung together. He’s starting to stand independently from the floor for upto a minute at a time; we realized what the repeated thumps we’d been hearing upstairs after bedtime were when he showed Daddy how to stand up off the edge of his mattress on the floor and fall backwards onto the mattress. He’s getting pretty good at colors and can do number order from 1-12 correctly. Spawn’s also starting to be much less tentative around strangers; he’s starting to flirt which is adorable. Most importantly, he’s happy and excited about his new skills – which is all I ever hoped for him.

          • PeggySue

            He sounds utterly irresistible.

          • mabelcruet

            Aww, that’s brilliant, lovely to hear that he’s doing so well

      • nata

        I agree it is reassuring that they had the equipment and recognized shoulder dystosia; however, some things there made birth of shoulders and resuscitation more difficult/slower. For example, someone else could have held the legs and the midwife could have attempted gentle traction on baby. Then they could have proceeded to ruben’s’, ets. It felt that they waited in mac’robert’s for too long. Also, when resuscitating baby on mom they struggled to get good airway.

        • mabelcruet

          Yes, it reminded me a little of the coroner’s report into the death of Janet Fraser’s baby. They tried to resuscitate that little one by placing her on the side of the inflatable kiddy pool where she’d been born-trying to resuscitate on mother’s abdomen isn’t far off that.

          • rational thinker

            In Janet’s case didnt they say they could not get the baby to a flat surface because the cord was not cut so the baby could not reach a flat surface.. It would not surprise me if they did not cut the cord cause a lotus birth was more important to her than giving the baby cpr.

          • mabelcruet

            Something like that, I believe. The coroner’s report also commented that the baby was slippery but no one seemed to have considered wrapping her in a towel, and they were all equally clueless. It was a perfect storm really-3 incompetents unable to deal with the problem. Yes, in a good proportion of deliveries, a midwife or obstetrician might not need to intervene and therefore might appear to have been unnecessary, but that’s a retrospective diagnosis.

          • demodocus

            The side of an inflatable pool? Don’t the professionals usually prefer a firm surface for that kind of thing?

          • mabelcruet

            Yep. It’s been 30 years since I did any clinical medicine and attempted to resuscitate anyone (other than the rubber Resusi-Annie doll at the yearly basic life support update course the hospital makes me do), and get the patient flat on their back on a firm surface is the very first step. Technically, babies could be resuscitated lying across someone’s knees but a flat firm surface is preferred. The bouncy side of a kiddy pool-not so much.

  • 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…”

        • rational thinker

          I think she has a bad case of untreated bipolar disorder, but she was brave or confident enough to openly admit thing most free birth advocates wont openly admit to for fear of what people will think or say about them. So she does give a rare insight to how these people think weather they admit it or not.

          • mabelcruet

            Possibly, but I don’t think it was bravery or confidence that allowed her to admit it, I think it was pathological inhibition and a gross lack of insight or understanding.

          • rational thinker

            You are right that was probably a bad choice of words on my part. It probably was a serious lack of inhibition mixed with her own sense of inflated self worth and illusions of grandeur.

          • mabelcruet

            Yes, definitely delusions of grandeur! She was the one who awarded herself a PhD in motherhood.

    • Libby Ann Best

      What kind of complications did you have during the second c-section?

    • Grey Sweater

      I feel exactly the same way. I’m terrified to even walk into a hospital after my first delivery, but I would not risk the health of a future human being.

  • 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.

    • PeggySue

      Dear God how awful for you. I am so sorry.

      • Grey Sweater

        Thank you for your kindness.

    • rational thinker

      “So many people congratulated me on having a “natural” birth and avoiding a c section.” I know how you feel. I was forced to have a vaginal delivery with my first. They knew how big he was and I am 5 ft tall and weighed 105 normally and I weighed 140 at end of pregnancy. I was post dates too (41+5 weeks).Long story short my son was 8 11oz and got 4th degree tears.

      • Grey Sweater

        My daughter was the same size and I had the same kind of tears. I’m sorry you went through this too and hope you were able to heal as well as possible <3

    • MaineJen

      Ugh. God. I really don’t think new moms are prepared well enough for the possibility of perineal damage. I certainly wasn’t. It took me 6 months to feel ‘normal’ again and I only had 2nd degree tears. I can’t imagine trying to care for a baby while recovering from injuries like yours…

      • rational thinker

        I was told many times about the dangers of c sections, I was told nothing about the possible damage (that I now have) from vaginal birth.

      • Grey Sweater

        It was tough but thank goddess I healed well! I find it odd no one warns new moms. It feels like vaginal birth is only presented best case scenario and c sections are presented as worst. Glad you’re back to normal!

  • 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!!)