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Life of mother vs. Life of child, where do you draw the line?

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
I don't want to get in a debate with anyone. This is not an abortion issue. I repeat, this is not an abortion issue. Please do not making any pro-life vs. pro-choice posts in this thread. Thank you.

With that said, I have been reading these threads lately about doctors forcing women to induce at 37 weeks and uneccesary (sp?) c-sections and today I finally found time to read the article by Ina May Gaskin in mothering that talked about the woman who was birthing her breach baby naturally until the frazzled doctor put her under before she could push out the head, resulting in the death of the child. I don't know if that is the best example of what I am getting at, maybe a whole other thread topic.

Anywhoo, when I found out that I was basically being forced to induce because of being 43 weeks, I freaked out on my midwife. It finally came out after hours of discussion that I in no way was going to agree to a c-section, even if the baby was in distress. My midwife was devestated and told me that if I held my own life higher than my child's that she could no longer be my care giver. She came back to me after a couple of days, realizing that my comment was made under a lot of stress and anxiety.
I do feel this way though. I love my ds like no other love, but when he was inside of me it was different. I know he was a life then also, but I was the life that mattered most to me. I just don't believe that an unborn child is worth risking my own life. In fact, I think if it weren't for ds 1, I would rather die in birth with my baby then risk being cut into and possibly dieing from complications. Now if I decide to ttc for #2, things will be different because i have a family already to think of, but I still feel the same way. Until baby is born, the pregnant mom is who needs to be protected.

What are your thoughts on this? Also, pm me if you have had similar experiences with your mw or ob.
post #2 of 65
if the fetus has more rights than the mother then the mother is nothing more than a slave or a glorified incubator to be used and discarded as wanted.

Honestly, your opinion pretty much parallels mine.
post #3 of 65
Well, I think that if they can really only save one person the mother or the baby, the mother's life should be given greater weight. For me though, having to have a c section wouldn't qualify under this. I would absolutely have a section if my child had something like prolapsed cord or was in severe distress and needed to come out right away. I can't imagine just letting the baby die because I didn't want to risk a c section. I don't think it's that big a risk. What are the percentage of women who die during sections? I'm thinking I remember seeing those numbers and it's not very high at all. I think everyone should be able to make up their own mind about these things though and not have a law surrounding the issue.
post #4 of 65
I think if it were ME, I'd probably place greater weight on the child. Not that this is the "right" answer but just because of how extremely deeply I wanted a child (long journey for me). I would hate to bring a child into the world only to deprive her of her mother, but if I lost my child at the very end like that I probably couldn't stand to live anyway. Now if it wasn't my first child and I already had other children to consider then I would opt for my life most likely. That being said, I don't think a c-section is so risky that I'd be choosing to let myself go over the baby if I had one. I'm extremely pro-NCB and not at all interested in EVER having a c-section myself, but I do believe there's a time and a place for medical interventions which can indeed be life saving for both mom AND baby.
post #5 of 65
Well, having had a c/s (unnecessary), I obviously have a different viewpoint. In the future, I will NOT agree to a c/s for non-medical reasons (ie, postdates w/no maternal or fetal distress, labor "not progressing" w/no maternal or fetal distresss, etc). I will, however have a repeat c/s if either babe or myself is "in trouble".

BUT, it will be MY choice. My doc may consider a c/s necessary if I push for three hours again, but next time *I* will know better. As long as babe is tolerating labor, then no c/s!


OT - are you SERIOUSLY in Anthony?? I grew up (young childhood) in Medicine Lodge, and my granddad still lives there. My mom had a homebirth with my brother there in the early 80s (which still amazes me - rural KS, and she found a midwife who would attend a HB!).


Kinsey
post #6 of 65
Having had a child almost die during labour & delivery, which was a delivery that was supposed to be an emergency c-section but she & my body surprised everyone when my body decided it would dilate past 4cm and decided to come out vaginally 18minutes later, I would risk a c-section to save my baby. It is nothing but luck that she is alive today, if my dh hadn't stalled the surgeon asking him what I felt were stupidly annoying questions(especially since I'd had surgery 9months earlier) she would have been born in an elevator on the way to the OR and she would have definitly died. If my dr hadn't been standing outside the case room she would have died. In retrospect she should have been a planned c-section but I can't turn back time.

There is risk of a woman dying by complications of being pregnant. I don't see how a person could willingly die & have their child die for a chance of a complication from a surgery. What I don't understand even more is the thinking behind saying you'd let Child #1 die just so you wouldn't have a c/s, but if you were pg with #2 and you had to choose between c/s & you/baby dying that you would have the c/s so Child #1 would have a mother. If you are willing to have the risk so #1 had a mother still, why wouldn't be willing to have the risk to have #1 alive in the first place?

IMO there is a time & a place for interventions such as c-sections, a child or mother in distress is top of the list for c/s.
post #7 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two
I can't imagine just letting the baby die because I didn't want to risk a c section. I don't think it's that big a risk. What are the percentage of women who die during sections? I'm thinking I remember seeing those numbers and it's not very high at all. I think everyone should be able to make up their own mind about these things though and not have a law surrounding the issue.
Me too, but I think that goes for care providers as well. I'm not a midwife, but I don't know if I could watch a baby die because the mother wasn't willing to undergo what I felt was a reasonable intervention. But the midwife should probably be more upfront about this in the first place.

I, personally, would give my life for my unborn child (I had one stillborn, and really wish I could have done it then!) but it should certainly be the mother's decision whether or not to do so. (I suspect most doctors would save the mother before the child, actually.) But how often does it really come to an either/ or situation?
post #8 of 65
I would risk a c/s to save the life of my child. Before ds was born, I would have said that any life I was carrying, I would hold high above my own...but now that I have ds, I can't imagine leaving him without a mother. I can't imagine leaving a newborn without a Mama to nurse and love him/her. Wow, I just *DON'T* know!
post #9 of 65
Thread Starter 
Wow, reading all of your different perspectives really gives me insight into how you all are. This is great and I thank you for being so forthright.

To address CarrieMF, I don't know if I was so clear in what I wrote last night. It was late. I think I meant that I was weighing the choice between having some major medical complication from an intervention that could either kill me or leave me injured (or I could be fine, I know this) or my unborn child not make it, I would choose my own life. Yes, this is theoretical, but this does come up and women do have to make this choice. I don't have statistics and won't pretend to know how often, but it happens. After having ds #1, I would definitely have a harder decision if something arose with number two. Women still die in childbirth (usually from complications with interventions) and where would that leave my son, who knew me and then I would be gone. Dc #2 wouldn't have known me, wouldn't have lived a life outside of me yet. This is just my head going round in circles, but something I think about often. Incidentally and if you don't mind me asking, what was it that happened that now makes you say that your child's birth should have been a planned c-section? I think rarely, should any birth be a planned c-section. Birth is unpredictable, but our bodies are wise and strong. Much more so then the doctors would like us to believe.

I do think that c-sections are very risky and a lot of women die from them, or really from complications that arise because of them...sepsis, nicked bowels, loss of blood from uterus not contracting. I don't have numbers, but I will try to find some. Yes, there are exceptions. Prolapsed cord is one that I think is valid, but I still don't know what I would do in that situation. I find that from talking to women who have had emergency c-sections, many of them tend to say that it was neccessary, they know that now because doctor said...blah, blah, blah. It is almost like they are reasoning out the experience like this to be able to move on. Doctors do value the life of the child more I think, not all, but many. Just watch A Baby Story and you will see women being completely ignored after the baby arrives, or not being given any choice in the matter if a complication arises.

I know that when I ended up in the hospital for induction, many of the doctors wouldn't even introduce themselves and kept saying things that pertained only to the baby's health. I was threatened with a c-section 4 times and actually fired a doctor because he was so insensitive and cruel and told the nurse that I should shut already and take the epidural.

My heart goes out to those who have lost children to miscarriage or stillbirth. I can understand why your perspectives would be so different from mine. I don't know what I would do in those situations, but I do think I would find the will to go on, but how sad for my ds at such a young age if he had to lose his mother. If my mother had died when I was young, I don't think I could have bared it.

What it comes down to for me is that no one has the right to control my body but me. Especially no doctor and no politician and especially not a male one who has never gone through pregnancy and childbirth. The options should be there, but there should not be an underlying suggestion that birth is unnatural, therefore interventions are good. I think that if you have those options in the back of your head during your birth, then you are undermining your strength to give birth naturally.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I rarely get to discuss any sort of birth philosophy with dh or friends.
-Bianca

Kinsey43, Yes, I really live in Anthony, who is your grandad?
post #10 of 65
Bionicsquirrel
Yes doctors do put the value of the unborn ahead of the mother. After all, everyone wants a healthy baby and are willing to do anything they can to have that healthy baby the mother be damned.
post #11 of 65
I guess the problem I'd have with the choice you say you'd make (if I understood it correctly) is that you'd choose certain death to your baby vs. an increased risk (albeit slight) to your life by accepting a c-section and almost certainly guaranteeing your baby's life. Now, I'm seriously the last person who would push c-sections. I very strongly believe in a woman's ability to birth her own baby (particularly when left to do so without intervention), but if I found myself in a situation where I really believed my baby's life was in jeopardy if I didn't accept a surgical delivery, then you bet I'd be ready to consent. I'm also very educated about childbirth and would feel comfortable knowing that that was the right decision at the time because I've learned what is reasonable for labor and what warrants surgical delivery. I certainly do not put blind faith in doctors or midwifes for that matter and I personally make sure that I choose a birth attendant that I really feel I can trust.
I looked up some statistics for you since you didn't have them on hand. Here's what I found:

A cesarean section poses documented medical risks to the mother's health, including infections, hemorrhage, transfusion, injury to other organs, anesthesia complications, psychological complications, and a maternal mortality two to four times greater than that for a vaginal birth

This is from childbirth.org

Also:

The maternal mortality rate after cesarean section is currently very low, but cesarean section is more hazardous than vaginal delivery by a factor of 2-11. Maternal mortality rates of 0 in large series of cesareans have been achieved in some settings, and this suggests that careful attention to good surgical technique and postoperative care could lower mortality after cesarean even further. Infection is the most common cause of morbidity after cesarean, transfusion being second. A large number of factors modify the risk of infection, the most important being prophylactic antibiotics. There is weak evidence that women are slightly more depressed after cesarean than after vaginal delivery. On average, cesarean sections cost more than vaginal deliveries.

That is from the National Library of Medicine

And...

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services views with alarm a recent study showing that U.S. women having cesarean sections are four times more likely to die compared with women having vaginal births.1 Investigators reported a maternal death rate of 36 per 100,000 cesarean operations versus 9 per 100,000 vaginal births. This is the difference attributable to the surgery itself, not any complications that might have led to the need for surgery.

From the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.

I realize these statistics are not pro-section - neither am I in healthy circumstances. Just wanted to add some facts to the discussion.
post #12 of 65
While in labor with me, the priest came in to perform last rites on my mother because the doc on call said she wouldn't make it and it was hospital policy to save the innocent baby than the mother. No one ever suggested c section. (per my dad) We both made it fine, my dad never really recovered.

A girlfriend had a vaginal birth and died 22 hours later from an infection.
Dh's friend's wife's c section incision opened at 2 days and became infected (while still in hospital) she ended up staying for 2 weeks and needed at home care for another 2-4 weeks before they were able to close it up. (she still continued to bf!!)

I have changed how I felt in the loose the mother loose the child aspect. With my first I was all set to die and her live. With ds1 I was terrified if I died what would happen to my babes. Last time I made out my will and was prepared to die for my child. This time I am so torn. I have 4 other children to think of. But if I were to have a section, who would take care of me? Who would do all the things i would do if I was able? I don't have family closeby, nor do I have many IRL friends who would make meals, help out. I have left my DH and 4 kids alone for 4 days and see what they mean by 'we cleaned the house'.

It is a scary prospect. I have had such bad reactions to epidurals, it would have to be general anethesia. I have several prolapses, I am afraid they would want to 'fix' things while in there. If they even left my uterus. (past bleeding issues)

Would I risk a section? Probably. Could it devestate me? Yup. As much as I love this baby and am ready to welcome him/her to our lives, I do have others to think about. Namely me. What a rock and a hard place.
post #13 of 65
Thread Starter 
Love_homebirthing,
Thank you for the information, as it does show the risk. I think that this is also a c-section because of interventions vs. c-section because of real need thread. I am not trying turn circles around my point, if I really have a point. As I said before, I am very torn on this issue and many others. I do know that there is sometimes real cause for a c-sec. As I said, prolapsed cord, true incidences where the child just doesn't fit (though I think this is incredibly rare and most of the bs docs give about babies being to big is crap), I personally don't think that pre-eclampsia is a real issue, though others might disagree. We currently have a huge c-section rate in this country, not because of actually need, but because of enforcement by doctors who don't believe in women's bodies. Also because of the idiots who choose planned c-sections. Yes I think they are idiots.

If this was a real issue of life or death my choice may be different, but if it is an issue of intervention, then I stand my ground.

Mamid, I wasn't sure if you were being sarcastic, were you?

Magemom, Yes, risk comes with pregnancy and birth. Period. No matter how you go about it. But more risk comes with entering the hospital, for any reason. You are in a difficult spot because of your love for family. I would support you no matter what choice you made and I can completely relate to the "who would care for me?" statement. I think about this often. Just because we choose to become mothers does not mean we should be forgotten as people who have needs also.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Mamid, I wasn't sure if you were being sarcastic, were you?
No I wasn't. I am furious that it is that way. A previous poster wrote about her birth:
While in labor with me, the priest came in to perform last rites on my mother because the doc on call said she wouldn't make it and it was hospital policy to save the innocent baby than the mother.
The mother be damned if the unborn can be saved. Mom can live with a surgical scar and even debilitating pain if it produces a "healthy child" is the mentality - nevermind the fact that the same operation could kill her. Same reason why they did episiotomies all the time. Years ago, I read a book about an ob's experience and one woman was even sectioned without any anesthesia to save the baby. Brave woman. Stupid anesthesiologist. Wish I still had that book.
post #15 of 65
Thread Starter 
I think I read the same book. It was horrible and ITA with your post. Mom's mentality about her birth experience plays such a huge role in how she will be able to care for her child also and this should always be taken into account.
Another thing I have always wondered is why anyone who yeel that the unborn child is more important that the mother would ever subject themselves for testing in pregnancy. Things like amniocentisis make me sad because basically it is giving you an option to rid yourself of the trials of caring for a child with downs. (I don't remember the other things they test for) If that child is so important that you would risk yourself for him or her, then why bother with these tests. Will you love your child any less if they are not "perfect" by societal standards?
post #16 of 65
I feel strongly on a philosophical and intellectual basis that a woman should never be forced to undergo surgery solely to save her unborn child. Although I am actually pro-life (don't want to argue or debate, just mean to give you some perspective on my opinion), I don't feel that the fetus has rights that override the mother's rights to bodily integrity. I have studied medical ethics and reviewed much of the case law on moms being forced to have c-sections to save the baby, and most of these cases are terrible examples of doctors trying to force their *opinions* on the mom. One famous case caused the death of the mom, and the baby died also (this mom was very ill herself, the c-section definitely hastened her death but really her underlying illness caused her to die.)
Having said what I believe on an intellectual level, I have to say that on an emotional, practical level, I would have an extremely hard time understanding why a woman would not take the slight increased risks of a cesarean to save her child's life, if it were truly necessary. Prolapsed cord, or placental abruption, or placenta previa mean certain death for the baby. A cesarean is difficult to recover from, and puts mom at increased risk of complications, and a small increased risk of death, but in general in the US, most moms recover from a ceserean.
post #17 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bionicsquirrel
Love_homebirthing,
Thank you for the information, as it does show the risk. I think that this is also a c-section because of interventions vs. c-section because of real need thread. I am not trying turn circles around my point, if I really have a point. As I said before, I am very torn on this issue and many others. I do know that there is sometimes real cause for a c-sec. As I said, prolapsed cord, true incidences where the child just doesn't fit (though I think this is incredibly rare and most of the bs docs give about babies being to big is crap), I personally don't think that pre-eclampsia is a real issue, though others might disagree. We currently have a huge c-section rate in this country, not because of actually need, but because of enforcement by doctors who don't believe in women's bodies. Also because of the idiots who choose planned c-sections. Yes I think they are idiots.
ITA that there are waaaaay to many intervention c-sections (and elective ones) as opposed to "real need" sections. I believe the percent I've read sets the "real need" number down around 3% (not the 25-50% it is in many parts of this country). Obviously there is a problem with how easily the decision is made to conduct major surgery on a healthy woman having a healthy labor (well, perhaps not as healthy as it should be, depending on what interventions have been given). C-section rates tend to be around 50% in teaching hospitals - can you take a guess why that might be??? Anyway, I just wanted to say that I'm in total agreement with you that the rates are way out of hand, although I do believe that pre-e is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that needs to be treated quickly and carefully (although not automatically by c-section). Other conditions which I feel would warrant a c-section would be placenta previa, extreme bleeding, cord prolapse, and true CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion) - which is extremely rare - something like .3 to .5% of the time. I think I'm getting a little off topic so I'm going to stop writing now.
post #18 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjen
Having said what I believe on an intellectual level, I have to say that on an emotional, practical level, I would have an extremely hard time understanding why a woman would not take the slight increased risks of a cesarean to save her child's life, if it were truly necessary. Prolapsed cord, or placental abruption, or placenta previa mean certain death for the baby. A cesarean is difficult to recover from, and puts mom at increased risk of complications, and a small increased risk of death, but in general in the US, most moms recover from a ceserean.

ITA - this is exactly what I was trying to convey in my posts.
post #19 of 65
Thread Starter 
Here's the kicker question: Do you think it is wrong for me to have another child/go through another pregnancy knowing how I feel (though I am still wavering)? This is where the philosophical quandry of this thread comes back in.
For the record, I am pr0-choice, but it has little to do with the "when does life begin" theory and everything to do with the "hands off my reproductive rights" theory- better known as "U.S. out of my Uterus".
post #20 of 65
Here's the kicker question: Do you think it is wrong for me to have another child/go through another pregnancy knowing how I feel (though I am still wavering)? This is where the philosophical quandry of this thread comes back in.

Well, I continue to have children and everything works out fine. My last was 11 pounds 4 ounces so 'big baby' is not a scare tactic that works with me.

Yes for a true need I would have a section. But I would also do all I need to do to avoid an 'intervention caused' type one.
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