Woman who ignored midwives in order to 'freebirth' at 45 weeks loses baby
She turned to the support of a Facebook group whose advice was not to have an induction.
Women are being warned not rely on advice from untrained people on Facebook groups after a woman in Hawaii lost her first baby at 45 weeks. The mum-to-be rejected the recommendations of her midwife to be induced and instead listened to other mums online.
She is one of hundreds of mums on a Facebook group called Ten Month Mamas which supports women with a long gestation who prefer to wait for labour to start naturally.
“Talk to the experts, not Facebook”
Associate Professor of Obstetrics Gino Pecoraro warned women not to rely on advice given on Facebook.
“Having the baby is too important to trust to the same source of information that tells you how Kim Kardashian applies her latest eye liner. Talk to the experts. Filter it through the lens of an education to find out what it means for you as an individual,” Professor Pecoraro said.
The mum in Hawaii posted that her midwife was concerned her placenta could be losing efficiency and encouraged her to have an induction at 43 weeks, but buoyed by the advice and support she got from the Facebook group she decided to wait and follow advice given on the group to try castor oil.
This didn’t work and the weeks stretched on. She had given herself until 45 weeks to go into labour naturally, believing the risks of induction outweighed the risks of waiting. The evening before she had planned to go to hospital her waters broke.
After ten hours she posted that contractions became so violent and unbearable that she feared she and the baby would die and then a burst of dark brown meconium and slimy fluid came gushing out. She and her husband rushed to the hospital where doctors confirmed the baby had no heartbeat. Doctors then had to give her pitocin and an epidural so she could deliver the baby.
She posted on the Facebook group during this process blaming herself and questioning if the results would have been different if she had listened to the hospital.
A choice some mums make for themselves
Australian mum of four, Stephanie, 30, who is not a member of the aforementioned Facebook group, waited beyond her due date to birth all her babies naturally without any inductions.
Her first baby was at 42 plus 2, second was 44 plus 2, third was 43 plus 6 and the fourth was 43 plus 4 days overdue.
Stephanie said she didn’t want to be induced because she’d had friends who were induced and ended up having traumatic birth experiences and caesareans. She also didn’t want her babies to be affected by the drugs used to induce labour and was concerned about the painful contractions that syntocin brings.
“I did a lot of research and researched women who had gone past 42 weeks. I researched fluid reduction and reduced movements,” she said.
“I just had a feeling like everything was okay. I trusted that I had done it before and gone overdue before,” she said of her subsequent long pregnancies.
“My friends and family were a little concerned but trusted my judgement and thought that considering I was under the care of an obstetrician everything must be alright.”
Stephanie said the night before she went into labour with her first daughter, she ate an entire bag of liquorice and then woke up in the night with diarrhoea which led to labour.
With her second daughter the obstetrician suggested induction several times but after declining it each time he stopped asking.
“I was made to feel like a burden”
“I was made to feel like a burden and that I was putting my babies at risk by refusing an induction, hence why I chose a homebirth for my last two,” she said.
She said she was having daily appointments from 41 weeks as well as monitoring.
“Close to the end I was seeing less movements and they did a scan and became panicked because there was no fluid. They sent me straight to the hospital where I was met with a team and put on a monitor. They toyed with the idea of breaking my waters but decided there was no use because there was no fluid there.
They talked about inducing me, but I wasn’t keen on it, but was going to if I had to,” Stephanie said.
After staying in the hospital, Stephanie went into spontaneous labour the next day and gave birth to her second daughter weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
“It was the longest gestation the hospital staff had ever seen,” she said.
With her third and fourth children Stephanie hired a midwife and had home births.
“She offered to do stretch and sweeps to induce labour, but I declined. Due to my history of going late she wasn’t concerned.
The last two I self-induced because I didn’t want them to go as long. I used a certain amount of castor oil on the hour every hour for four doses,” Stephanie said.
Why Induce Labour: The dangers of going too late
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gino Pecoraro, said 38 weeks is considered term.
“Traditionally we didn’t let women go beyond ten days overdue because a study showed stillbirth increased quite dramatically,” he said.
Professor Pecoraro said a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, released last year, recommended inducing women at 39 weeks to maximise the decrease in unexplained stillbirth without an increase in caesarean section rates or adverse reactions to the mother.
“Since then most obstetricians will discuss this study with women. Women still have the right to say no, but it does mean it should be a discussion that you have.
“The big thing is that the baby outgrows the ability of the placenta to sustain it. The placenta ages and gets calcification and can die. The other worry is that the baby continues to get bigger and you do have worry about getting it out,” he said.
However, Professor of Midwifery at Western Sydney University, Hannah Dahlen, said the recent study did not show a reduction in still birth by early induction, only a small reduction in caesarean rates.
She said induction is still unfavourable to most women.
She said there was an increase at 40 weeks plus 10 days, but it was not a dramatic one.
“It is not as simple as saying the rate is this at this gestation as it depends on a range of factors including maternal age and if it is the first birth.”
Being informed about the risks
However, Professor Dahlen said going over 42 weeks is one of the top three causes of perinatal mortality in home births.
Professor Pecoraro said if women did go beyond their due date it was important to keep an eye on baby’s movements, keep having at least weekly checks and tests such as heart traces and ultrasounds to look at blood flow around the cord which can give an idea of how placenta is faring.
However, he warned that there were no good tests available to say everything is alright and that tests can look at what is happening at that moment, not what might happen later.
“Women should never feel they can’t discuss things with their medical carers. Everyone is on their side. Everyone who looks after women has the woman and baby’s best interests at heart,” Professor Pecoraro said.
This article was republished with permission from KidSpot.