Today a woman is grieving the loss of her full-term infant that died as a result of a nearly 45-weeks gestation. The woman shared the loss in a group dedicated to homebirth and having babies stay inside the womb for ten months. Ten-month mommas believe that babies should cook as long as necessary, ignore danger signs, and take considerable risks to reach gestations over 42 weeks.
Sara started sharing her story in the group as the weeks lagged on in her pregnancy. At 43 weeks, she told the group that her midwife wanted to induce her. She did not want a hospital birth and was committed to having her child at home without assistance.
According to Sara, the midwife told her that placentas lose efficiency after 42 weeks. Concerned the baby would lose the necessary nutrients from the aging placenta, the midwife wanted to admit her to the hospital for induction at 43 weeks.
Defiantly, Sara went to the group for support and vented her frustrations. She admitted that she did not believe the midwife’s concerns. In the post, she said that the midwife was concerned the baby was getting too big, amniotic fluid levels were getting low, and the placenta was losing efficiency.
The midwife’s concerns are valid and based on scientific evidence. Babies that remain in utero longer than 42 weeks gestation have an increased risk of stillbirth. Additionally, babies 42 weeks or older become too big and make vaginal delivery challenging and increases the need of a cesarian section.
When a baby is too large, labor can become prolonged and cause fetal distress. Fetal distress during labor can cause babies to release meconium. Meconium aspiration can lead to pneumonia and death.
Prolonged labor can also cause the baby to stay inside hours after the amniotic sac breaks. Babies that remain inside the uterus for more than 24 hours after the water breaking are at risk for developing numerous infections.
Women that go overdue are not generally at risk for anything bad happening to them. They can develop life-threatening conditions. However, most of the risk lands on the baby. Therefore the 10-month-mommas do not believe there is anything wrong with keeping their babies cooking as long as possible.
Sara admitted to the group that she did not believe the midwife. She said her baby would not “outgrow her vagina.” Additionally, she said that she had never heard of a single infant dying from placental insufficiency. Finally, she said the baby had plenty of amniotic fluid.
As the weeks dragged on, she returned to the group at the start of the 44th week. At this point, Sara started to doubt herself. She felt that the baby might be in danger. However, she said that she and her husband were against using any drugs during childbirth. She wanted to continue forward with her planned free birth.
The group cheered her on and told her to stick to her plan. Many told her that they delivered healthy babies post 44 weeks. Feeling reassured, Sara continued forward with her plan. Members recommended natural ways for her to induce labor. Several instructed her to use castor oil to get things started, but she admitted to already using castor oil three times.
Castor oil has been used for years as a way to jumpstart labor. The oil is a laxative that causes the intestines and bowels to contract. A side effect of those contractions is the castor oil can make the uterus contract. Unfortunately, there is no way to only engage the uterus and not involve the intestines.
As a result, women can develop stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. If diarrhea becomes substantial, women risk becoming dehydrated. The cramping in the uterus can cause the baby’s fetal heart rate to spike and put the fetus in distress.
The same cramping that causes diarrhea can also cause painful contractions. The intense contractions in the mother can also cause distress to the baby.Additionally, castor oil passes through the placenta into the baby. The laxative can cause the fetus to release meconium. As the uterus fills with fecal waste, the fetus is at risk for swallowing the waste.
Because of her resolve to have an unmedicated unassisted birth, she was allowing herself to go until 44 weeks six days before she would go to the hospital. On the evening before she planned to go to the hospital, her water broke at home.
Again, she returned to her group for help. She wasn’t confident if she should stay at home. Members continued to cheer her on. Many suggested she trust her intuition. Sara said her contractions started but weren’t overpowering. She waited patiently for active labor to begin.
Within 10 hours of her water breaking, she said that her contractions became violent and unbearable. She screamed for relief. Suddenly she said a burst of fluid came out of her legs that were black and slimy and she feared the substance was meconium.
Not only did she have meconium oozing out of her body, but her contractions also became so violent she feared for herself and the baby. She chose to transfer for help to the hospital. By the time she and her husband arrived at the hospital, doctors confirmed the baby had no heartbeat.
Doctors confirmed the death of the infant to Sara. Despite the infant’s death, her body still could not initiate labor. Doctors gave her Pitocin and an epidural to deliver the baby.
In an update to the group, she remained confused about how the baby could have died. She couldn’t understand how everything went so terribly wrong. However, her own words from previous posts highlight all the reasons the pregnancy resulted in the babies death:
- The baby was almost five weeks overdue
- She used castor oil to initiate her labor
- The placenta lost efficiency
- Her baby’s size became problematic
- The baby likely swallowed meconium likely resulting in their death
Sara admitted to the group that her choices might have led to baby’s death. However, the group told her that she did everything right. They reminded her that some babies “just die.” Several suggested the same outcome likely would have happened at the hospital.
Unfortunately, she refused to listen to her midwife at 43 weeks. Her midwife knew that Sara was entering dangerous territory. However, her resolve to have a ‘free birth’ trumped the needs of the baby. As a result, another infant dies needlessly.
Free birth is never about the infant.
No, the birth is always about the mother.
Mothers like Sara only seek help when they fear for their lives. If only these mothers used the same energy to save the lives of their wanted babies, there would be far fewer deaths.
*Screenshots, Facebook profile, and Internet searches confirmed the validity and authenticity of the story. Screenshots not uploaded to protect the privacy of the mother.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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