What Do You Do When Your Doctor Plays the "Dead Baby" Card?

I got a cold this week.  It went to my throat.  Then, two days ago, I lost my voice.  First I was just a little hoarse.  By the second night all I can do is whisper.

I'll tell you what.  Being silent is a game changer.  I can't raise my voice to the kids- not even when I "MEAN IT!"  My husband LOVES it when this happens.  (I have probably lost my voice at least five times in our 13 years of marriage.)  When I can't talk, we don't fight.  It takes so much energy to be heard at all that I usually don't even bother TRYING to share my opinion or thoughts.  I am more likely to just go with the flow.

We went to a party tonight and nobody could hear me so I just didn't say much.  Why bother when nobody listens?

You know what though- a lot of women (and men) feel like they have no voice when it comes to their health care and their pregnancy, birth and baby. 

I heard a sad story the other day.  A mom was birthing in a hospital.  She was scheduled for an induction at 39 weeks.  Why?  Well, her care provider's had some legitimate concerns about the baby.  I am kind of a natural birth nut (but not a doctor, mind you) and the whole thing smelled pretty ripe to me.  Pushed into an induction at 39 weeks?  Unless that is when you just naturally have your babies and the nudge of an induction will get things going, there is one way that this story usually plays out.

You guessed it: C-SECTION.

The thing is though I have heard this same story many, many times before.  I was sad but not at all surprised about the way things went.  It happens every day in almost every hospital in this country.

Mom is told that the baby is at risk.

The placenta is old, the baby is big, the baby is small, the fluid is low, the fluid is high, the due date has come, the doctor will be away, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

All those things mentioned above- they ARE real reasons to induce and get a baby out- IF that is NEEDED.

But is it?

Truth is any mother if threatened with the life of her unborn child will choose an induction or even a cesarean over a damaged or dead baby.  I love natural birth but I would throw that natural birth into the wind if that is what I had to do to have a healthy baby.  I would do it.  You would do it.

The problem though is that I have a sneaking suspicion that hundreds, thousands, even millions of babies are born too early or through an incision rather than through a vagina for no good reason.

The life of baby is threatened too often for no good reason.

How is a mom to know the difference between a REAL threat to her baby and an IMAGINED threat to her baby?

Four simple things can help you be sure that the birth you got was the birth you and your baby needed to be healthy.

1)  Choose your care provider with great care.  Probably the biggest factor in how your pregnancy and labor and birth are treated is your provider and how they view birth.  Don't just take the first person on the list or the one your neighbor down the street used.  Seriously consider the midwifery model of care.  (Certified Nurse Midwives almost always work in hospitals and many hospitals have CNM's on staff.  This isn't a guarantee but it helps.)

2)  If something your care provider says doesn't sit well then get a second opinion.  This second opinion should come from a source OUTSIDE of that same practice.  Getting an objective second opinion is probably always a good idea when it comes to surgery.  (Don't forget that when a first time mom consents to induction she DOUBLES her chance of major abdominal surgery.)

Truth be told, I have a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) who does home birth who I refer people to if they are getting the run around.  A high quality home birth midwife who is aware of real dangers but also comfortable with the normal variations of birth is a fabulous resource.  And, considering how itchy so many hospital care providers are these days- a good CPM is often a necessity if you don't want to be bulldozed.
3)  Don't be afraid to change care providers- even if it is late in your pregnancy.  I talk to too many women whose care providers are great and on board with their wishes until about 36 weeks.  Then all of a sudden they schedule an induction or a surgery or heaven knows what else.  It is harder to switch care at 36 weeks or later (I have the sneaking suspicion that some of these care provider's are being unethical and playing a nasty game of bait and switch) but it IS POSSIBLE.  And it is sometimes worth it.  In fact, changing care providers is sometimes the only way to get the healthiest birth for you and your baby.

4) Research, research, research!  Look into things yourself.  We are talking about the health of your baby and yourself.  It deserves your attention.  (And a good birth class!)

These aren't always easy things to do.  But I think it is worth it to know that you did everything you could to give yourself and your baby the best birth you could.

Don't be silenced.  You will regret it if you are.


Paala said…
Man, I hate that "dead baby" card. They played that crap on me and well, at 39 weeks I fell for it. They silenced me and it is what I regret most in my life right now, even after I had a perfect HBAC. If I could have a do over for my breech c/s, I would say, "Stand up for yourself and your baby. Eff those docs and just do what you know you can do. It is YOUR baby and YOUR birth." Keep spreading the message, Mama Birth. You rock.
Laura said…
Luckily, when my doc played the dead baby card I wasn't pregnant. I was asking for a prescription for Clomid because I was not ovulating (same as with first daughter, new doc though because insurance changed). She played the dead baby card when I mentioned I'd had a c-sec before and then she told me I needed a more aggressive fertility routine and that after I was pregnant I had to have another section. I said I preferred a VBAC and then on 2 separate occassions the doc and the office midwife played the dead baby vbac card, and actually told me, "if your baby were injured or if it died you would never be able to forgive yourself because it would have been caused by your selfishness."
So I found a new doc who gave me a prescription for clomid, not the more aggressive drug the dead baby doc said I needed, and I just had my successful VBAC--complete with a live, healthy baby and mama!
JuliPickle said…
Luckily I haven't had the dead baby card pulled on me During pregnancy or birth, but I have had it when trying out a new pediatrician after I politely told him we would not be vaccinating at that time. Longest lecture ever! I started counting after the first few and he said the words "dead baby" 9 times. He also called me stupid and abusive. Cute. Never went back obviously!
WoozleMom said…
When expecting my second baby, I went to the local OB practice that was rumored to be the most "natural-friendly" in town. (I'd had my first baby in another state. I now lived in a rural area; one hospital within an hour's drive and exactly 4 OBs that worked at that hospital, two in a partnership who traded call, and it was these two who were recommended to me.) At my very first appointment at 13 weeks, I was informed by the male doctor (his partner OB was female) that if I wasn't induced within a "few days" of my due date that "worst case scenario, your baby would likely die." He then proceeded to bully me into an unnecessary dating ultrasound (I knew my ovulation date, but he chose to badger me when he knew I was vulnerable) because I "felt big." Then he tried to move my due date up a week! NO THANKS. I fired him before I found another doctor, and eventually learned about a brand-new freestanding birth center about 45 minutes away. (I'd considered a home birth, but DE midwives are illegal in my state and I didn't feel comfortable with that. I hope to have a home birth in the future!) When I called the birth center, I told them I was 15 weeks and had fired my old OB for pulling the dead baby card on my first visit. The secretary said, "Oh no he didn't!" And I could just imagine her snapping her fingers in consternation while she did. :) I ended up having a wonderful waterbirth at 40+5 according to my dates (which my CNMs never questioned), which means that had I stuck with the first OB and gone along with him, my daughter would probably have been forced out at least 10 days too soon... *shudder*
Shoe Mama said…
I finally found a site for me and my unique situation. Granted it isn't really truley "unique", but rareish. "Specialscars.org" You are in a position to reach so many more women than I can, and I would love it if you could say something about them. I have an inverted T scar from two c-sections. Baby Bug was a natural begining of labor, mean nurse number one, stress and grossouts, lying residents, PIT, more lying residents, closing cervix, panic, and to the OR without seeing the OB on call until over the drape. Classical incision. Baby Bub has spina bifida. The membrane sac on his back that housed his spinal column was as big as he was and still intact. In an attempt for him to be born without ruptuting it, they needed as much room as possible to try and get him out. Hence, a vertical incision. We are now making plans to have baby 3, and I DON'T WANT A HOSPITAL DELIVERY!!! I understand and agree with all the goings on surrounding Baby Bub's birth. I am gratefull for the techknology that allowed us to catch the problem and take steps to give him the best chances (we were originaly going to have a home birth). But Baby Bug shouldn't have been a c-section. I will take some of the responsibility of not being as prepared as I should have been and knowing what to expect. However, that doesn't excuse the crappy nurses, disinterested OB, and overall push for medicalization of what I wanted to be a natural, unmedicated delivery. Having visited with 5+ different OB's about my current situation, I had begun to feel very dicouraged about my prospects of a natural birth. I kind of wrote off midwives as an option based on my scar. And I was nervous about attempting a vbac with an inverted T scar. The Special Scars~Special Women site has been a breath of fresh air. A beacon of hope for me if you will. I still have more work to do in finding the best option for a provider, and I know it is an uphill battle getting people to see where I am coming from and what I want (already been told I'm nuts by most of my fam and friends). But please, MamaBirth, if you could let people know about this site, just as a place for hope if you have a special scar, I would hugely appreciate it. So would the women who need it but haven't found it yet.

Shoe Mama
Shoe Mama said…
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