Since when is 37 weeks 'full term'? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I get that babies born at 37 weeks are not as likely as earlier babies to suffer respiratory problems at birth (though it's not unheard of at all), but I'm wondering why it seems that 'full term' is creeping backwards? And that it seems like I'm hearing more people impatient for babies to be born, doing natural induction stuff, etc at 37 weeks?
The information I've seen suggests that 37-week babies have more problems with breastfeeding, more severe jaundice, possibly more colic, more general neurologic immaturity.
So why is 37 weeks the new 38 weeks? Am I just behind the times?
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#2 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 12:41 PM
 
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I don't really know the answer, but have noticed the same thing. I work w/ a girl that is due 3 days before me, and she's been saying for weeks that her OB will induce her at 37 wks if she wants him to. I was like, "WHY on earth would you do that when everything is going ok?" Her answer, "my carpal tunnel!" She does have some swelling, but my goodness!

Now that I am 37w, people have started calling to ask if I'm in labor... I'm like, I hope not!
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#3 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 12:49 PM
 
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The information I've seen suggests that 37-week babies have more problems with breastfeeding, more severe jaundice, possibly more colic, more general neurologic immaturity.
Yep. My son was born at exactly 37 weeks and he had all of those problems. Our midwives told us this was very typical for "early" babies such as him. He was a totally spontaneous labor, fwiw, my water broke and contractions began and he was born 12 hours later. But he was not really ready. I thought at first I lucked out with getting done "early" but truthfully the next few weeks were extremely difficult. Next time I hope to go to at least 39-40 weeks and get a more mature baby coming out!

There've been a few articles in the medical literature in recent years talking about the issues affecting what they now call "near-term" babies, which encompasses roughly 35-37 weeks.

It blows my mind that anyone would induce for convenience that early.
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#4 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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Good morning. 36 weeks is classified as term. My OB was very against any earlier than 38 weeks. My last 2 were born at 37 and both had jaundice that required extra hospitalization and a bili blanket at home. I would fear that the dates were off and that lung maturity might be an issue. Best of luck.

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#5 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 01:05 PM
 
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I noticed that it has moved to 37 weeks when I started filling out paperwork for the new pregnancy. Was it at 37 weeks 3 years ago? If so, I didn't pay attention.

Anyways, I just wanted to chime in and say that I would never (unless medical problems existed) opt to have my baby at 37 weeks. My son was born at 36 weeks and 2 days, and it was not a fun go! My water also broke early, and he was here just 3 hours later. He had a ton of problems breastfeeding (he bit down hard the first time and didn't get the hang of it for a few weeks), he was super jaundiced (under lamps for days except for 30 minutes for feeding...I couldn't even get him to latch on in that time), and he swallowed a ton of fluid on the very short trip down (don't know if that was a factor). He was able to come home from the hospital on the fifth day, but, if I have a choice, I don't want to go through all that with the next!

He is very healthy now, nursed for over a year, and doesn't have any preemie problems. I just couldn't choose that though. Has anyone noticed that the preemie age is moving back, too. Last time I checked, Benji wasn't even considered to be a preemie birth (or maybe just barely).
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#6 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by gothnurse3 View Post
Good morning. 36 weeks is classified as term... I would fear that the dates were off and that lung maturity might be an issue.

Yeah, I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that we should recognize the difference between "probably won't need intensive care for prematurity" (like a 35-37 week near-term baby) and "fully cooked, ready to be born" (i.e. 'full term' IMO).
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#7 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 01:34 PM
 
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when I was prego with dd, I was told 38 was full term. Now everyone is saying 37 is full term.

She will be 3 in March.
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#8 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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I've always heard 37 weeks from my care providers -- my oldest is 7. In my province, you can have a mw-attended homebirth if you deliver between 37 and 42 weeks; outside of that, you need to be in the hospital. My dd was born at 37 weeks exactly; she was small due to a battledore placenta (and having a naturally short and slim mom, so genetically she's not likely to be a linebacker), but had no respiratory, jaundice, or colic problems. That's just one case, obviously. But I also didn't have an ultrasound with her, and my cycles aren't totally regular (though not totally irregular), so it's possible that the dates were off. My other two had dating ultrasounds which pushed their due dates back by a week or two, and they were born at 38 and 38.5 weeks.

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#9 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 02:03 PM
 
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I have been wondering this too..

and I also keep hearing 36 weeks is term with a twin pregnancy...

I don't get it..
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#10 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 02:57 PM
 
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For twins, 37 weeks is considered ideal, as some study was done that showed just as many problems with twins born 32-35 weeks as 38-40 weeks. Apparently as they get bigger, mom has a harder time nourishing them both (and herself) due to lack of space, lack of desire to eat, greater size pressing on cords causing lack of oxygen, etc.

With this pregnancy, I asked my doc if he would be willing to let me go 3 weeks past my due date. He nearly fell off his chair (but didn't say no - just that I would need "more monitoring").
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#11 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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My son was born at 37 weeks with all signs of being full-term and ready to come out. But I learned with this pregnancy that I ovulate very early in my cycle, so since I was counting from LMP, he was probably more like 38 weeks.
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#12 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 04:11 PM
 
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My son was born at 36w6d (dates were accurate). He was small, of course, but we left the hospital 21 hours after birth. We did have to go back to the hospital in a few days to treat his jaundice, but there were no problems other than that. This was 5.5 years ago, and he was considered term.
I read a book about twin pregnancy a couple years ago. It said that the body has some mechanism to make twins mature faster than singletons, since a woman's body can have a hard time with two babies in the last few weeks.

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#13 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 06:25 PM
 
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Since the WHO said so several years ago
A lot of UK mums have had problems with NHS trusts defining "term" as 38+1 to 40+6 and trying to avoid attending homebirths outside of this timeframe. There was a study done a few years back which suggests that the outcome for induction is much more favourable at 39 weeks as opposed to 38 or 37.

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#14 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 08:00 PM
 
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My ds was born at 38w 3d (induced) and he easily could have been in there another 3 weeks (which I felt was proven when I carried DD till 42 weeks). He had jaundice, BF problems, breathing problems and just looked like an alien.
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#15 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 09:11 PM
 
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hmm, my doctor says for girls 37 weeks is full term but for boys it is 38.5 weeks.
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#16 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 09:53 PM
 
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I've heard that 37 weeks is term since before my oldest was born. 36 weeks was considered preterm (not premature). My OB was more careful about my signs of PTL with my second since I was preterm with my first. He didn't label me high risk or anything, just took me seriously when I started having tons of contractions pretty early on.
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#17 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 09:56 PM
 
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It happened when 40weeks was past due.
Honestly, it used to be okay to be 42weeks pregnant and now they PUSH, PUSH, PUSH...

Let women be and let their bodies do what nature intended... I LOTH the medical profession.
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#18 of 30 Old 01-22-2007, 11:20 PM
 
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I think the unfortunate part of this is that some people, like my SIL, hear that 37 weeks is full-term and (first pregnancy) hit 37 weeks with the attitude of "ok, the baby is full-term, I'm totally done being pregnant, I want him out NOW", with no realization of the benefits of having him in there a little longer. Luckily, her OB made her wait until her due date for her elective induction. :
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#19 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 01:27 PM
 
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37 weeks has been considered "full term" for many years. And honestly, unless you have regular periods and know exactly when you conceived, dates are typically off.

My ds was induced at 38 weeks, after I was on complete bedrest for months due to pre-eclampsia. He was fine.

My dd was induced at 37 weeks, due to high maternal fever, fetal distress, and early labor. She was fine.

FWIW, girls lungs mature faster in the womb, than boys. I've heard doctors take that into consideration when an induction needs to happen.
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#20 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 01:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Electra375 View Post

Let women be and let their bodies do what nature intended... I LOTH the medical profession.
I respect your opinion. However, my family has suffered tragic results from birthing "naturally."

40 years ago, my Mom was pregnant with her first child. She went over due, she thinks about a month and when her body finally went into labor, she arrived at the hospital and the baby seemed fine. Unfortunately, something happened during birth and her baby girl was born stillborn.

My mother's Grandmother died at home during the birth of her 6th child.

And my mother's Aunt died during the birth of her 3rd child.

There is a family history of pre-term labor and several women in my family gave birth early (7 months) and back then, they couldn't save the babies so they passed.

I highly respect and admire women who refuse medical intervention during pregnancy. But because of my family history, and knowing that if these women in my family could've gotten medical care, they and their babies would probably still be alive. I have to err on the side of caution.
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#21 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 02:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Electra375 View Post
It happened when 40weeks was past due.
Honestly, it used to be okay to be 42weeks pregnant and now they PUSH, PUSH, PUSH...

Let women be and let their bodies do what nature intended... I LOTH the medical profession.
that's what i was going to say... it became full term with 40w1d is postdate...a friend of mine just had to fight for her ob to wait to induce until past 42 weeks! the pressure started the minute she reached 40 weeks.

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#22 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 02:29 PM
 
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I respect your opinion. However, my family has suffered tragic results from birthing "naturally."

40 years ago, my Mom was pregnant with her first child. She went over due, she thinks about a month and when her body finally went into labor, she arrived at the hospital and the baby seemed fine. Unfortunately, something happened during birth and her baby girl was born stillborn.

My mother's Grandmother died at home during the birth of her 6th child.

And my mother's Aunt died during the birth of her 3rd child.

There is a family history of pre-term labor and several women in my family gave birth early (7 months) and back then, they couldn't save the babies so they passed.

I highly respect and admire women who refuse medical intervention during pregnancy. But because of my family history, and knowing that if these women in my family could've gotten medical care, they and their babies would probably still be alive. I have to err on the side of caution.

I am very sorry for your families losses but I have to disagree with you. You don't know what caused those deaths. You even said you didn't know what caused those deaths, and the first one happened at the hospital. For all you know it could have been caused by the hospital. Today Iatrogenic deaths (basically dr caused death) is about 100,000 people a year in the US.

Preterm delivery has not decreased in years and years. Despite everything drs do the numbers have not gone down: http://phyins.com/pi/risk/minimize/preterm.html
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Because the prevalence of preterm delivery has not decreased, it is safe to say that an effective prevention program has not been established. According to studies, pregnancy risk-scoring systems, bed rest, home uterine-activity monitoring, and routine cervical examinations have not conclusively shown benefits. Additionally, the efficacy, timing, and duration of administration of antibiotics have yet to be determined.
I understand thinking that if those things happened today there is the medical profession to rush in and fix it but it rarely is so. Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth has remarkable stats on the safety of NCB.

Anyway, back to the OP....Here full term is 36-42 weeks. Today most drs see the EDD as an expiration date. The baby has to be here before then or the placenta goes bad : . So of course women are gonna be anxious and want their babies out as soon as they hit that 36/37 week mark. They feel like they are on a deadline.

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#23 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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As someone whose first pregnancy ended at 30wks, for no good reason, getting to 37+3 is a HUGE relief. But it also feels like an eternity and a half. While there are never any guarantees that babies will be perfectly healthy (plenty of 40-42 week babes still end up in the NICU for one reason or another) we're breathing quite a bit easier now that we're "full term."

So, while I don't know why the dates have changed, it's nice to know that (more than likely) we're not looking at another excruciating NICU stay.

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#24 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 03:43 PM
 
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I am very sorry for your families losses but I have to disagree with you. You don't know what caused those deaths. You even said you didn't know what caused those deaths, and the first one happened at the hospital. For all you know it could have been caused by the hospital. Today Iatrogenic deaths (basically dr caused death) is about 100,000 people a year in the US.

Preterm delivery has not decreased in years and years. Despite everything drs do the numbers have not gone down: http://phyins.com/pi/risk/minimize/preterm.html

I understand thinking that if those things happened today there is the medical profession to rush in and fix it but it rarely is so. Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth has remarkable stats on the safety of NCB.

Anyway, back to the OP....Here full term is 36-42 weeks. Today most drs see the EDD as an expiration date. The baby has to be here before then or the placenta goes bad : . So of course women are gonna be anxious and want their babies out as soon as they hit that 36/37 week mark. They feel like they are on a deadline.

I do feel like there is a better chance today because of pre-natal care, ultrasound, etc... How can you not?!

I for one had 2 high risk pregnancies and I feel very strongly that me and the babies would have died had I not been closely monitored.

In the instance of vasa previa, it's PROVEN that if women get diagnosed prenatally, and are hospitalized/bed rest and given a c-section at 35 weeks gestation, the chance of baby survival is close to 100%. With no intervention, mortality rate is 50-95%.

My mother who had the still born in the hospital, was told after delivery that there was a umbilical cord abnormality. Had she had the opportunity of ultrasound, it *might* have been detected. OR if she had not went to 42-44 weeks, it might not have endedin tradegy.

As far as pre-term delivery, I didn't read the link and I understand it still happens but my guess is that babies born preterm NOW have a better chance of survival NOW than they did years ago, with incubators, etc...

JMHO.
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#25 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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Even if there are just as many preterm births, or even more, than years ago, medical intervention in this case can absolutely save babies that would not have been able to live decades ago. While in a normal pregnancy there is usually no reason for intervention, in a preterm situtation, steroid shots can help premature babies breathe when they are born. After birth, babies born at earlier and earlier gestations and lower and lower birthweights have been able to survive with medical help. So while generally, I agree with you Full heart, on the issue of prematurity, I think tattoomom has a point.

But something else I'd like to point out is that a family history does not automatically make you a high risk person. In my case, for example, there is NO history of prematurity, and then there was me. In many cases, having had a family history of prematurity, placenta previa, or even stillbirth, has very little to do with what your pregnancies will be like, and should not be the only factor in labeling you high risk.
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#26 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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It's a risk tradeoff... The ultrasound which may have diagnosed the umbilical cord abnormality may also falsely diagnose a birth defect for which abortion is recommended. Not waiting until 42-44 weeks might have caused other issues, botched induction leading to C, possibly leading to infection/mortality what have you.

No, none of those outcomes are guaranteed. In hindsight, some babies might have benefitted from more interventions. However, who is to say that in your mother's case the risk/benefit tradeoff would be worth it? Hospitals and homes have approximately an equal number of fetal deaths, while hospitals have a far higher incidence of injury. When chances are at 1%, it's hard to be one of the 1%... but switching to a hospital would not eliminate that risk.

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#27 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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I support all you Mommas who are home birthing and those of you who are going to birth centers or hospitals.
Can we remember that we are all trying to do what is best.
I am so saddened that Moms are made to feel guilty when they don't chose home birth. I am totally PRO home birth but I wanted a midwife assisted birth center birth. I am so glad for my decision because it was right for me.
I know this is a bit OT but some of the posts on this thread seemed defensive to me. Saying you don't know why they died and all that is good discussion.
One thing I might add: there is a mom on MDC who was a VBAC postdate and felt pressured by her doctor and ended up with a c/s. She was ashamed to come on MDC and tell her story because she felt some moms would make her feel guilty for caving under the MD pressure.
All I focus on with her is that she is alive and her baby is doing well.
I support you all Mamas and wish you all the beautiful home or hospital births of your dreams.
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#28 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 04:10 PM
 
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Even if there are just as many preterm births, or even more, than years ago, medical intervention in this case can absolutely save babies that would not have been able to live decades ago. While in a normal pregnancy there is usually no reason for intervention, in a preterm situtation, steroid shots can help premature babies breathe when they are born. After birth, babies born at earlier and earlier gestations and lower and lower birthweights have been able to survive with medical help. So while generally, I agree with you Full heart, on the issue of prematurity, I think tattoomom has a point.

But something else I'd like to point out is that a family history does not automatically make you a high risk person. In my case, for example, there is NO history of prematurity, and then there was me. In many cases, having had a family history of prematurity, placenta previa, or even stillbirth, has very little to do with what your pregnancies will be like, and should not be the only factor in labeling you high risk.
Thanks for agreeing with my point on the preterm babies and their survival!

As far as my quote on me having 2 high risk pregnancies, I just wanted to clarify that it had nothing to do with my family history. My first pregnancy, I developed pre-eclampsia and was put on complete bed rest the last 2 months of pregnancy. I was induced at 38 weeks due to my blood pressure creeping high even while resting. We felt an induction was better than the alternative of blood pressure medicine that late in the pregnancy. After a very difficult vaginal birth, my ds was born with a very short cord, that was not detected in uteruo through ultrasound.

My second pregnancy was wonderful, but at 37 weeks along, I developed a very high fever (102) and went into labor & delivery. I was dilated and thinning and my bag of water was very low. The babies heartbeat was very high due to my fever and with all things considered, the doctor and I decided to go ahead with another induction. My birth went wonderfully (vaginal) and she was born within a few short hours. However, she also had an umbilical cord abnormality, I had a battledore placenta with velamentous insertion. It was NOT detected on ultrasound, either. We are very lucjy to have had a smooth labor & vaginal delivery with a cord like hers, it can be deadly.

Both my children had UCA that are in the 1% occourance rate. They are usually detected in uteruo through but mine were NOT. If I were to ever get pregnant again, I would not sleep well at night until I had a visit with a periontologist for a thorough exam and sonogram. It could save my baby's life. I truly consider my 2 miracles that they were born vaginally with no tragedies.

So, the umbilical cord abnormalities & pre-eclampia history make me high risk.
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#29 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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37 weeks has been considered "full term" for many years. And honestly, unless you have regular periods and know exactly when you conceived, dates are typically off.
I agree, and I think it's an argument in favor of caution in inducing at 38 weeks, much less 37. Of course, it sounds like in your case you had serious medical reasons for inducing that outweighed the risks. What I see as problematic is people beginning to feel that at 37 weeks, babies are "done" and can and should come out on demand thereafter. Most babies aren't done then.
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#30 of 30 Old 02-04-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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I support all you Mommas who are home birthing and those of you who are going to birth centers or hospitals.
Can we remember that we are all trying to do what is best.
I am so saddened that Moms are made to feel guilty when they don't chose home birth. I am totally PRO home birth but I wanted a midwife assisted birth center birth. I am so glad for my decision because it was right for me.
I know this is a bit OT but some of the posts on this thread seemed defensive to me. Saying you don't know why they died and all that is good discussion.
One thing I might add: there is a mom on MDC who was a VBAC postdate and felt pressured by her doctor and ended up with a c/s. She was ashamed to come on MDC and tell her story because she felt some moms would make her feel guilty for caving under the MD pressure.
All I focus on with her is that she is alive and her baby is doing well.
I support you all Mamas and wish you all the beautiful home or hospital births of your dreams.
I couldn't agree with you more!!! I know several mothers who won't come to MDC because of being judged that they aren't "crunchy" enough. Just because women may not breastfeed, co-sleep, homebirth etc... doesn't mean they aren't good mothers!

I personally co-sleep, breastfeed, etc.. but I am NOT a candidate for homebirth. I choose to use a midwife that's connected to a hospital and have a hospital birth. No reason to judge me!

I felt the heat in this thread : I wish the mother's on MDC would be more compassionate to certain women and their situations. Not everyone can be all natural, even as much as they want to be.

Some women on MDC are very judgemental, for no good reason. Until you've walked in someone's shoes, you have no idea.
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