Friday, March 04, 2011

A Giant Step in the Wrong Direction

This ladies is exactly why we have so much trouble getting people, especially medical people to treat pregnant/birthing/post-partum women like thinking adults: It's a news story out of The Land Down Under about a mom who tragically smothered her newborn. She laid down to nurse in a side-lay position and fell asleep. When she woke her babe was cold and blue, and had probably been dead for 20 minutes. Now, I'm unsure of the machanics of that, having nursed 2 babies in a side-lay I'm not sure HOW you could smother a baby at the breast from a proper side position. But, I'm a light sleeper. I wake up (even when excessively tired) when my child's breathing changes. My husband sleeps through smoke alarms, and I've seen him fall asleep standing up. Maybe this mom was more on my husband's side of the sleep scale than mine. However it happened, baby's dead. And as tragic as that is it's not the point. Mom chose to room-in, a right we in the US at least have had to fight for. She chose to LAY DOWN and get comfortable for sleep while she was in sole charge of the baby. So what does she do?


Look people, if you want to be treated like an adult then you have to take responsiblity for your actions. If you want the right to informed consent/refusal, then you have to own the consequences of your choice. In no way, shape, or form is this the hospital's fault. And by trying to win a lawsuit this woman is also trying to set women's labor/delivery rights back whole decades, maybe even generations.
What? Should the hospital go back to forcibly removing all babies to the nursery whenever mom looks tired? Maybe moms should have to prove they have round the clock childcare help lined up for homecare before they are allowed to leave the hospital with their new bundle of joy? After all, don't you know, the baby belongs to the hospital until you can prove you are a fit parent.
I'm sorry for this woman's lost. I can't imagine how horrible it must be to think you caused your child's death, and maybe by blaming someone else she's just hoping to hold onto her sanity. But there are other people involved here too. Her husband, her lawyer, and certainly she's had at least some moments of clarity despite the guilt racked grief. What GOOD does she/they think is going to come of getting up in a sworn court of law and yelling "treat me like I'm an incompetent child because i'd just given birth!" I hope, if this woman chooses to get pregnant again, she agrees with absolutely everything the doctor, nurses, and staff want to do to her and her baby, because you can bet after this they aren't going to listen to her cries of 'i do not consent', and, frankly, can you blame them? Let's just hope the judge dismisses this monstrousity before it becomes how all hospitals view all laboring/post partum women. And let's hope some moron lawyer in the US doesn't read it!


Anonymous Suchada @ Mama Eve said...

I read this news story a few days ago and was heartbroken. First, what a tragedy.

Second, I wondered if she'd been medicated, because most mothers I know are extremely aware of their children, too. Last night I woke up at the sound of my baby crying through two closed doors and two white noise machines (not our usual MO, my husband closed the doors after I was asleep, but I digress).

While I certainly don't think a lawsuit is in order, for all the reasons you mention, I do think it's important for parents and hospitals to review co-sleeping policies. Yes, we've had to fight for rooming in (insane -- mothers and babies should be together), and we need to be able to room in.

However, if a woman is given medication, I think it should be part of the informed consent of taking the medication to outline the side effects related to sleeping/caring for baby. Then parents should decide whether they a) want the medication and b) what, if any, assistance/monitoring they need while caring for baby.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Jespren said...

I read about it from two different sources, and from what I read this *appears* to have been a normal, midwife attended birth, just on the longer side. A midwife had helped position the baby with her and said it was okay to fall asleep, so I have difficulty thinking there was anything that would contra-indicate co-sleeping. I would also think if there had been some contra-indication to co-sleeping that the hospital hadn't indicated to her it would have been noted. Because her reasoning, as noted in one of the articles, was that she had just been awake for something like 40 hours. Yes, if she had heavy sedatives in her system the hospital MIGHT be liable if they didn't warn her, but I find it difficult just because it didn't get even a passing mention.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Jespren said...

Oh, and I agree that possible side effects to all aspects of the mother/child dyad needs to be part of any medication information.

9:42 AM  

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