A mother’s newborn is clinging to life after she attempted to deliver a premature baby at home. The woman used a Facebook group Unassisted Childbirth/Free birth to guide her through two-week long labor. Sadly, the mother updated the group to let them know her baby is unlikely to survive. If the baby dies, this will be the second death connected to the Facebook Group in the past few months. Another mother used the group to attempt a free-birth at 45 weeks, and her baby died.
In an update more than a week ago, “Stacy” posted to the group concerned about bloody discharge. She posted a photo of peach colored blood on a tissue. Worried that something could be wrong, she looked for assurance that she could not be concerned.
After she posted, a slew of mother’s commented to give her advice. Many of the women in the group told her that bloody discharge is not uncommon during labor. Additionally, the women assured her that the blood could be a good sign her labor is progressing.
While many women supported her, a few women did express some concern that she may be in trouble. A “birth worker” in the group told her to pay attention to several vital signs and track the number of pads she changes per hour. However, she reminded the mother to “follow her instinct.”
Stacy replied that her vitals were fine and she believed the blood was her “bloody show.”
According to Medical News Today, a bloody show is a thick bloody and mucous discharge that comes out of the vagina. The blood is a sign that the cervix is dilating and the body is preparing for labor. With this assurance in mind, Stacy continued on her merry way.
Later in the same thread, Stacy made a startling admission to the group. She told the women her water broke at 33 weeks gestation. According to Stacy, her water broke at church and a friend “forced” her to go to the hospital.
Only a week before, Stacy asked the group if other mothers had refused c-sections. She told the group that doctors determined her baby was in a breech position. Due to the rupture of membranes and the baby’s position, doctors wanted to perform a c-section.
A mother in the group assured her that a breech delivery at home was possible. Additionally, the mother reminded Stacy to “work with her body.”
While at the hospital, the staff gave her steroids and antibiotics. The hospital hoped to get Stacy to 34 weeks and then induce her. Fueled by advice from the group, Stacy decided she did not want a c-section. She believed that she knew better than the doctors and did not believe their “standard of care” met her individual needs.
Defiantly, Stacy signed herself out of the hospital against hospital advice. Leaving the hospital AMA not only put her at risk but her baby as well.
Now nearly two weeks later Stacy’s baby had still not been delivered. During this time, her baby remained inside her uterus at risk of developing an infection due to preterm premature rupture of membranes. Despite the risks to the fetus, Stacy remained committed to having her baby at home.
PPROM can also indicate the baby is not in the right position. After the water breaks, a baby should engage in the birth canal. If the baby is not descending, their position could be incompatible with a vaginal birth. The longer the water is broken and the baby remains the placenta can also begin detaching from the uterus putting the baby at risk.She inquired about the safety of having a preterm infant at her home. Mothers in the group shared their stories of preterm births and babies staying in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. According to the American Pregnancy Association, babies born before 36 weeks can suffer from several health issues.
One of the most common issues in preemies are immature lungs. When a baby is born before 36 weeks, they can suffer from respiratory distress and require oxygen support to ease their breathing. If not treated, babies can suffer from pneumonia, apnea, and bradycardia.
Not only are their lungs an issue but they can also suffer from jaundice, sepsis, hypoglycemia, and struggle to maintain their body temperature. Due to these factors, preterm infants born at 35 weeks typically need to spend around 7 to 10 days in the NICU.
Despite these risks, Stacy continued her labor at home. However, a few days went by, and there were no updates from her. Members of the group began bumping the post and asking for an update.
Finally, Stacy let the women know that her daughter had been born. Sadly, the news about the birth was not good news. She said her daughter was born breech through vaginal delivery. According to the mother, she pushed her out in three minutes. However, the baby was born not breathing.
After the final update, Stacy stopped responding to the group. Her daughter remains hospitalized and likely will not survive.
Breech deliveries can have several complications. In a breech position, the baby’s bottom or feet come down the birth canal first. This means the head of the baby remains in the uterus and can have difficulty getting out. Because the baby comes out feet first, they are at risk of the umbilical cord wrapping around their neck.
The American Pregnancy Association says that most doctors recommend cesareans for babies in the breech position. Preterm infants are at greatest risks of complications in breech deliveries. A preterm infant’s head is much larger than its body.
With the body going down first through the cervix, the cervix hasn’t stretched wide enough to allow the head to come through quickly. As a result, doctors prefer to deliver the baby via cesarian to prevent injuries to the preterm infant.
There is no way to know what happened to the baby in the birth. Stacy did not say if she delivered her baby at home or in the hospital. However, we do know she refused medical care at 34 weeks by doctors to induce her labor. She allowed the baby to remain in her uterus for weeks following her water breaking.
When she started to see signs of trouble with blood in her discharge, Stacy went to a Facebook group instead of consulting a doctor.
The Facebook group that encouraged and cheered her on offered her condolences. However, the group is the same one that also cheered on a woman that attempted to deliver a 45-week-gestation baby at home. This group has a pretty poor track record for giving advice.
Today, the mother will deal with the consequences of her choice. The baby becomes another casualty of the toxic free birth movement, and the group members will learn nothing from the death.
*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.
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