On August 14 I became aware that a woman in Maryland was dropped by her OB at 8 months pregnant. She was abandoned by the practice (Simmonds and Simmonds in
Frederick) because she challenged protocols that do not necessarily improve the outcomes for women and children in childbirth. You can read the news story here.
Good news came today via Barbara Stratton, Baltimore’s ICAN Chapter Leader. The family decided to have their baby at Holy Cross Hospital (DC area), and their daughter was born via VBAC. The attending staff doula, Marialuz Castro-Johnson, received special recognition for her part in helping the family with their goal of avoiding another cesarean birth.
We live in a culture of fear that resides closer to home than most people realize. Women’s health care has been hijacked and abused for nonsensical purposes. In this case, a woman with a reasonable and prudent desire (to avoid an unnecessary repeat cesarean) was dropped by her provider for “unreasonable demands”. The idea is that if you threaten a woman late in pregnancy when emotions are high, that she’ll inevitably succumb to pressure and do what she’s told to do. It might be her body and her baby growing inside, but she has no right to demand anything with regard to how the baby will exit her body. (Plus what does it matter as long as the baby – and mother – are healthy. Does it really matter if it’s a vaginal birth or a cesarean? Bet your a$$ it does.)
I hope there will be many more stories about courageous women who demand humane care. I applaud this family for their courage and perseverance. Late pregnancy is a stressful enough time without the added aggravation from people who should be there to help you and advocate for your needs. But it’s often not that way. We the consumers are at the bottom of the healthcare foodchain. Our desires are brushed aside, ignored, and overlooked. And we foot the bill. We spend more money than just about anyone for health care, and yet our outcomes (at least with regard to childbirth) are not better.
And then what about the LAW? The Your4State article states: “According to an opinion issued in July by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, a doctor cannot force a woman to have a c-section against her will unless the baby’s health is in jeopardy, and ultimately the decision lies in the hands of the patient.” I encourage us all to find out what the law says in our home state. The VBAC path is not always easy, and we must all arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible.
Congrats to the Ecker family and thank you for sharing your story. Yours will give many women hope!