Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 5 Most Underreported Birth Stories of 2007

Following the lead of’s “Top 10 Most Underreported Stories of 2007” I thought we could take a look at our country’s top 5 most underreported birth stories of 2007. So, here it is:

Top 5 Most Underreported Birth Stories of 2007

A year-end review brought to you by

5. An Orlando mother goes into hospital to give birth and leaves without her arms or legs.


The birth for this mother was smooth. It’s what happened afterwards that left her unable to hold or care for her newborn. Claudia Mejia went into a hospital to give birth but when she left the hospital, her arms and legs stayed behind. She is now a quadruple amputee and the hospital refuses to tell her why. She was told she had streptococcus and toxic shock syndrome but the hospital will not tell her how she contracted them. It is unlikely Ms. Mejia would have contracted the illnesses had her baby been born at home.

4. A Florida woman dies following induction of labor.


Caroline Wiren was a young, healthy mother who was excited by the upcoming birth of her child. She touched his head, told her mother to tell the baby that she loved him, and then she was gone. Mrs. Wiren had her labor induced just seven days past her baby’s due date, even though it is common for a woman’s first child to be born as much as two weeks after the given due date.

According to, one possible complication of induction of labor is amniotic-fluid embolism, which can lead to death.

3. 3. Two New Jersey women die just days apart following their cesarean surgeries.

Two young, healthy mothers entered a hospital in New Jersey to give birth to their babies. Both had cesareans and both were dead within days. The mothers leave behind two beautiful, absolutely healthy baby girls. This raises the question: then why the surgery?

2. The most updated birth data from the CDC shows that the cesarean rate in the United States has risen to 31.1%.


This latest number (from 2006) represents a 10.4% increase from ten years ago, and a 3% increase from the previous year. The report also indicates that the percentage of low birthweight babies and preterm babies is on the rise. Consumer Reports names the cesarean as one of the 10 most overused tests and treatments (

For more information on cesarean awareness and prevention, please visit

1. United States ranks among lowest of developed nations in terms of newborn death rates. (

According to Save the Children researchers, infants in the United States are more than three times as likely to die within their first 24 hours as infants in born in Japan. The United States has the second highest IMR (infant mortality rate) in the developed world. Latvia is the only developed country with a higher IMR than the U.S.

New Year's Resolution #1


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Common drugs given to women in labor

Common drugs given to women in labor

(all information below may be found at


  • Limited human data.
  • Use of the drug during labor may cause sinusoidal fetal heart pattern without fetal hypoxia or neonatal adverse effects.
  • Prolonged use of the drug may cause neonatal withdrawal symptoms.
  • (

Demerol (Meperidine)

  • Crosses the placenta.
  • Maternal addiction causes neonatal withdrawal.
  • No adequate data in first trimester exposure but reported association with inguinal hermia, polydactyly and hypospadias.
  • Causes neonatal respiratory depression if used in labor.
  • Because of slow elimination of the drug from the neonate, impaired behavioral response and EEG changes may persist for several days.
  • (

Cytotec and Pitocin (used for induction of labor)


  • Positive evidence of human fetal risk exists.
  • Potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks (e.g. life threatening situations or serious illness).
  • Studies in animals and/or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities.
  • Fetal risk involved in use of drug, clearly outweighs potential benefit.
  • Contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant. Don’t use.
  • Not teratogenic, mutagenic or toxic in animals.
  • Contraindicated in pregnancy because it induces abortion.
  • Following unsuccessful first trimester abortion, it is teratogenic producing limb, digital, skull defects, gastroschisis, bilateral palsy of cranial nerves (moebius sequence) and cleft lip and palate. Alll the anomalies were attributed to misoprostol-induced fetal vascular disruption.


  • Contraindicated during pregnancy because it causes abortion.
  • It can cause fetal bradycardia, neonatal retinal hemorrhage and neonatal jaundice.
  • If administered to hypertensive patients or in excessive amounts it can cause tetanic contractions resulting in abruptio placenta, and fetal trauma including cardiac arrythmia, intracranial hemorrhage and asphyxia.


  • Crosses human placenta rapidly.
  • No adequate data in first trimester exposure but reported association with inguinal hernia after anytime use during pregnancy.
  • Chronic maternal use of the drug causes neonatal withdrawal and respiratory depression.

fentanyl and sufentanil, ropivacaine (Naropin) or lidocaine (Xylocaine) (most common drugs put in the epidural)


  • Can cause loss of fetal heart rate variability without hypoxia.
  • With epidural fentanyl, neonatal respiratory depression may occur.

ropivacaine (Naropin):

  • Not teratogenic in animals.
  • Crosses human placenta.
  • No adequate human data, but use of this agent for analgesia during labor and delivery may result in maternal hypotension, fetal hypotension, bradycardia, tachycardia and fetal distress and neonatal cardiovascular and neurologic effects, jaundice, respiratory depression, fever, tachypnea and vomiting.

lidocaine (Xylocaine)

· No adequate and well-controlled studies done on pregnant women.

nalbuphine (Nubain)

  • Not teratogenic in animals.
  • Crosses human placenta.
  • No adequate data in 1st trimester of human pregnancy, but no association with congenital anomalies has been reported.
  • Chronic use of the drug in pregnancy can cause neonatal with drawal.
  • Use of Nalbuphine in labor may cause fetal distress, sinusoidal fetal heart rate pattern with variable decelerations, neonatal respiratory depression.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not Just Another Way to Give Birth

WARNING! There are some very graphic pictures in this slide show. If it bothers you, then please feel free to turn away. Know, though, that those of us pictured here (myself included) can never turn away from our pain and our grief. Our fear. Our loss.

Your Pelvis Is Too Small

Have you ever been told by a doctor that your pelvis is too small to give birth vaginally? Did you labor with your baby, only to be told you have CPD and would need a cesarean in order to get your baby out?

CPD stands for cephelopelvic disproportion. In true cases, this means that the pelvis is too small for a baby to pass through. True CPD can only be diagnosed after a trial of labor because women's bodies are amazing, and the pelvis stretches and opens to allow passage of the baby through. Also, babies' bodies are amazing, and their heads mold to make this passage easier.

As you will see in the video below, CPD may also stand for "care provider doesn'tknowwhathe'stalkingabout". Each woman you will meet in this video was told she had CPD and would never be able to give birth vaginally. Each of them went on to give birth vaginally, most times to a baby much larger than the one their doctors said would never fit through their pelvises.

It Happens

It happens every day. Somewhere. To someone. To a mama. To a baby. To women. To a family. To a nation. We can't ignore it and we have to change it.

Woman burned during c-section

A Bakersfield woman goes to a local hospital to give birth, but catches on fire during delivery. The woman says it happened at San Joaquin Community Hospital last year. To make matters worse she says neither the hospital nor the doctor will take responsibility for what happened.

Two New Jersey women die after their c-sections

In March, the staff, students and parents of Avon Elementary School threw a surprise baby shower for teachers Valerie Scythes and Melissa Farah.

Mere weeks later, both young women were dead.

They died, 15 days apart, after delivering by cesarean section at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, Gloucester County. They left behind healthy infants - Isabella Rose Scythes and Grace Melissa Farah.

**my note: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a cesarean rate of 10-15%. New Jersey’s cesarean rate is 37%.**

American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

"The United States has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn mortality rate is higher than any of those countries," said the annual State of the World's Mothers report.

Infant mortality rate, US: 6.78 (CDC)

Infant mortality rate, Cuba 5.8 (

C-section complications

Bleeding After C-Section

C-Section Scar

Postpartum Depression After C-Section

Infection After Cesarean Section

Wound Breakdown After Cesarean Section

Nerve Injury After Cesarean Section

Medication Risk and Cesarean Section

Uterine Rupture After Cesarean Section

Bladder Injury Following a Cesarean Section

Organ Injury With Cesarean Section

Adhesions and C-Sections

Blood Clots Following a C-Section

Delayed Bowel Function Following a C-Section

Bowel Injury After C-Section

Fetal Injury During a C-Section

Urinary Tract Infection and C-Section

Hear the Hurt

Feel the Failure

See the Scar (graphic)

*Then* tell me "it doesn't matter".

Monday, December 10, 2007

How Dare You?

How Dare You?

by vbacwarrior

You said to me:

You're putting the life of yourself, of your child at risk—
How dare you?
What if he dies what if you choke what if they slip—
How dare you?
A selfish thought, and childish to birth at home—
How dare you?
To take responsibility for this child as if he was your own
How dare you?
And oh by the way, you hate that they cut you?—
How dare you?
So you share with me thinking I'll care what they do—
How dare you?

What I heard you say:

You know what you're doing; you know that you're right—
I'm scared of you
You protect your baby and you're prepared to fight—
I'm scared of you
I'd rather not feel it, wake me up when they're through—
I'm scared of you
You really know so much more than I do—
I'm scared of you
If I sign my name on this paper here, they say—
I'm scared of you
Baby's fine, I'll be safe, I give my responsibility away—
I'm scared of you

What do you want from me? What am I supposed to do?
If you want me to say I'm wrong, or scared, or weak, or okay

To learn more about cesarean prevention, please visit

To Ignore Someone Like Me

To learn more about cesarean prevention, please visit

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Breathtaking Film Trailer

I just wanted to share this absolutely breathtaking film trailer.

To learn more about cesarean prevention, please visit

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Am Not a Womb Pod!

I have been rather outspoken about birth and cesareans over the last year and I've been met with some harsh criticism, blind ignorance and some very tough, very important questions. I believe those who criticize the loudest are very scared. They don't want to believe that they misplaced their trust, were lied to and possibly made terrible decisions about their pregnancies and births of their babies. "After all," a woman sighs as she painfully limps around her home, trying to nurse both a newborn baby and an ugly, fresh gash on her abdomen, "all that matters is," she winces, "a healthy baby."

Those who blindly follow the seductively deceptive tune of the obstetric pied piper simply hear the music and follow. They don't know where they're headed and they don't care. "My doctor said…" "my doctor won't allow…" "my doctor wants…" Wake up, ladies! You're being lead over a drug-induced cliff and awaiting you at the bottom are slicing rocks and jagged scalpels, not healthy babies and mothers.

Finally, there are those women who ask, "why is it so important how a baby is born? Why does it matter?" This is an excellent question and I have hope for the women who ask it. Just by asking why means a woman is open to more than one answer—possibly answers she wasn't expecting or answers she's uncomfortable with.

Yet, how a baby comes into this world does matter. If a laboring woman enters a hospital, has needles and wires plugged into her with beeping machines to tell her how she's doing, then is strapped to the bed and numbed… what has she become? This once beautiful, powerful, ancient and timeless woman has been reduced to nothing more than an artificial womb. That's frightening, and it's exactly what's happening in modern maternity care around the world. Women are being relegated to the demeaning and insulting task of being living "womb pods".

I will not be a womb pod, and I will keep talking, writing, screaming if necessary, until all womb pods have been "unplugged".

To learn more about cesarean prevention, please visit

How I Got Here

This will get a little long, so if you're interested enough to read, you may want to grab a cup of tea and get comfy.

This is not intended to be a "pity party". Simply a little explanation of where I'm coming from, for those of you who've been asking hard questions of me.

In 2004 I was 23 and became pregnant with my first child, a little girl. Everything was fine for the first 5 weeks, then the 6th week, my world fell apart.

I began to have what I thought was morning sickness. It began when I woke in the morning and lasted all day. Often I couldn't even sleep because my head was hanging over the toilet. Those were the good days, the ones where I could camp out in the bathroom with my head on the cool toilet. On the bad days, I couldn't make it off the living room floor and had to simply turn my head to vomit. Eventually though, even the vomiting wasn't that bad because there was no food in my stomach to come up, it was just a yellowish, acidic bile.

I saw several different OBs, but none of them diagnosed my problem. Even though by my 12th week I had lost 30lbs. One OB said it was just morning sickness, another said to suck on a lemon. I bought 6 lbs of lemons and pierced them, one by one, with a fork and sucked...sucked...sucked faithfully.

All during this time, my husband was away on business. When he came home he found me on the living room floor, barely able to lift my head with a towel soaked with bile next to me. He called my OB, who asked when last ate (3 days ago), drank (yesterday), and urinated (couldn't remember). The OB told my husband to take me to the emergency room.

The ER doctor FINALLY diagnosed my problem, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). It's a pregnancy disease. You can read more about it at I was given a drug called Zofran in my iv at the ER, and was able to actually eat before I even left the hospital. It's a VERY expensive drug, but our insurance was wonderful and we only had a small co-pay.
Here is the poem I wrote about my HG experience:
I am an HG survivor

I’m getting it out I’m getting it out
Rage, scream, cry, tear, punch, shout
I need you to see
Oh, just need you to see
This isn’t the way it was supposed to be
the way—
I wanted
to be
The howls, my bowels the vomit and pain
My face in the toilet again and again
Food in and food out and when it was through
Up came my insides, and—
nobody knew
Locked in my house, crushed on the floor
Still up, up it came more—more!
Why didn’t they come
there was no rescue
there was just me and the floor and the bile
and yet you
did nothing
my misery, my torture I—
broken, weak helpless
No one could have cared—
And then they cut me
Even taking the Zofran several times a day, I was getting sick 4 or 5 times a day, until my baby was "born". Shortly after I began taking the Zofran, I began smelling a stench in my house. Nobody else smelled it, but it was so strong that it made me vomit. I literally could not step foot inside my house. My husband and I spent the month of July at his grandmother's beach cottage, then he moved back to our house while I stayed with my grandmother for the month of August. At the end of August my husband borrowed an ozone machine and used it in our house, then I was able to tolerate being inside of it. Then in September we were hit with a devastating hurricane, hurricane Ivan. It was a strong category three and left our city shell-shocked. We were without power for 6 days and had to stand in line for food and water. The national guard patrolled the streets in armored vehicles at night. I was 6 months pregnant.

At the end of October, my baby was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). She wasn't growing very well. My husband and I had been planning and preparing for an unmedicated hospital birth.

However, that changed on the night of January 12, 2005. I had a regular prenatal appointment scheduled for 8 pm. My doula met me there because we had planned to go over my birth plan with the OB that night. I had the little pink and blue belts on my belly, monitoring the baby for 20 minutes, like they did at every appointment since being diagnosed with IURG. Something didn't sound right, and the OB said I should go straight to the hospital. I looked at my doula, and she said we probably should. My doula drove me to the hospital and my husband met us there. After some monitoring at the hospital, it was decided that I should have a c-section because my baby's heart rate was showing no "variability", and the mild braxton hicks contractions I was experiencing, but not feeling, were causing her some amount of stress. I think the big concern was all this coupled with the fact that she was so small.

So, that night at 8pm I was in my OBs office for a simple prenatal appointment, and at 10:27 p.m., my baby was cut from my abdomen. It was very fast. I had no time to think, no time to prepare. She was 3lbs, 10oz at 37 weeks, 1 day. She was perfectly healthy and like every other newborn in every way except she was just tiny. We both stayed in the hospital for 5 days, then we were discharged and I was sent home with a 3lb, 10oz baby to care for.

Once home, few people visited me. No one cared for me. My husband was gone all day at work. I was in extraordinary pain from the c-section. I was very depressed. I cried constantly. Still, no one cared. Breastfeeding was a disaster, but I pumped my milk for a year.

Six months after that horrifying night, I wrote this poem about my experience:


To think of myself as an animal
Led to the slaughter
Not really choosing
They stripped me
They shaved me
They shot me
Full of fear
So I'd be losing
All the feeling
But the feeling never goes
I heard 'oh you won't feel anything'
When I couldn't move my toes
First the needle
Then the knife
And they say that it's all right
They say I'll feel some tugging
But I don't, I just feel nothing
I was screened from my body
It's bloody
The baby, where's my baby
There's the baby
Could be anybody's baby
They take it away
And I'm left on the table
I want to be happy
But right now I'm not able
To see past the blood and the light
And the screen
Strapped to a table
The end of the dream
Gutted and cold
In pain and alone
Unable to speak, or to cry or
To moan
But the hate
And the anger
And the pain
Will subside
After I've grieved

I won't have the nightmares
Or wake with such fright
I'll think back and smile
On that terrible night
My wonderful baby
So tiny and pink
At that moment all I could
Of was my pain and my fear
But what about you?
So cold and so scared
So little, so new
I look in your eyes
And I know what to do
I'll weep and I'll mourn
Then I'll tuck it away
Doesn't mean it's not there
But I'll keep it at bay

So now when I think about how
My baby came into this world
I choose to think of myself as an oyster
And my beautiful baby,
the pearl.

Amazingly, around my baby's first birthday my husband and I decided we'd like another child. I became pregnant when my c-section baby was 13 months old. We found a midwife and planned a home waterbirth.

My labor began very gradually, very uneventfully. I didn't even realize it was "labor" at first, I just remember waking that first night thinking "why am I cramping so much??" and then I'd go back to sleep. This is about a week after my due date. By Wednesday, November 22nd (2006), I had my midwife, doula, the two assistants, my mother, MIL, daughter, a few sisters (I have 5) at my home, all preparing to witness this beautiful birth. I was 7 cm at 7am, and everyone "predictions" were that my baby boy would be born before dinner that night.

But my sweet little boy would not be born in the comfort of his own home. After over 50 hours of labor, 10 of those hours spent at 7 cm, the decision was made to transfer to the hospital. My baby was in a bad position. My midwife tried several things to try to help him reposition, she even tried manually pushing his head back up to he could reposition it (most PAINFUL thing I've ever experienced, and I'm speaking as a woman who's had a cesarean!). She said we could try breaking my water and doing a honey enema. I was uncomfortable having my water broken because baby's head was still so high and I was concerned about a cord prolapse, but I agreed to the honey enema. It did make the contractions get a little closer and stronger, but still no more dialation.

So my doula and I were racing around my bedroom trying to pack a bag for the hospital, so we could get there before my midwife's back up doc left. He's a great doctor and surgeon, and I know that we all felt I was going to the hospital for a repeat c-section. I was heartbroken, yelling at my uterus all the way to the hospital, telling it to just quit contracting because it was getting cut again.

By the time we got to the hospital though, I was found to be 9 cm. FINALLY! So, I labored for a bit longer, and pushed my posterior, asynclitic, nunchal handed and nunchal corded baby boy out in 45 minutes. He came very fast, the doctor wasn't even prepared. He lay on the bed between my legs and he was a whitish-gray color. I thought he was dead. The doctor rubbed his back vigorously and he had to be deep suctioned. He was fine though. Apgars were 2 and 9. I had a nasty 2nd degree tear, BUT... I'd take that over the c-section ANY day.

After the euphoria of my vbac wore off, I was depressed again. I had another small baby, at just 5lbs, 2oz at 41 weeks. Plus, his birth was so similar to my daughter's. Someone else's hands were the first to touch my baby. I didn't get to hold him right away, and he was already wiped and wrapped when i did get to see him. I didn't feel him come out. I was in a hospital and had tubes in my arms. I was pretty sad. However, he was born the evening before thanksgiving, and I was VERY thankful for my little guy!

To learn more about cesarean prevention, please visit