Hospital Threatens Pregnant Mom: Have C-Section or We’ll Call Social Services!

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Image via Flickr gregoryallen

Do a pregnant mother’s basic rights and wishes about her body and unborn child have restrictions?

tri∙al of la∙bor
noun
: the attempt to have a vaginal birth after cesarean delivery

Apparently they do.

Jennifer Goodall wanted to attempt a vaginal birth, even though she’d previously had three cesareans.

And why shouldn’t she? Many mothers desire VBACs (vaginal births after cesareans); and many women have VBACs successfully. But evidently, the Florida hospital she was scheduled to deliver at thought this made her an unfit mother.

Jennifer received a letter from the Chief Financial Officer of Bayfront Health Port Charlotte stating, “because she decided to have a trial of labor before agreeing to cesarean surgery, her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services, seek a court order to perform surgery, and to perform cesarean surgery on herwith or without [her] consent’ if she came to the hospital.”

All Jennifer wanted was to avoid another surgery, “if possible.” She wasn't demanding a vaginal birth. She just wanted to try her best to deliver her baby naturally.

According to the article, she “stressed that she would absolutely consent to a C-section if ‘there were any indication during labor that it is necessary.’” Jennifer also said:

“My decision to allow labor to proceed before consenting to a surgical intervention is based on years of research, careful consideration of the risks to me and my baby, and my family’s needs.

“All I want is to be able to go to the hospital when I’m in labor and have my medical decisions respected — and my decision is to proceed with a trial of labor and not have cesarean surgery unless some medical complication arises that makes cesarean surgery necessary for my or my baby’s health.”

A complaint was filed by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women in hopes of obtaining a temporary restraining order against the hospital, preventing the performance of a cesarean against Jennifer’s wishes.

The request was denied!!

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Federal District Judge John E. Steele reportedly said, Jennifer has no right “to compel a physician or medical facility to perform a medical procedure in the manner she wishes against their best medical judgment.”

BOTH repeat cesareans and VBACs can harm a mother and baby in a variety of ways – can a woman really not choose her birth path? Even if she willingly consents to switch paths if her plan should fail? Certainly hospitals should not be allowed to cause a pregnant mother to feel fearful for the custody of her children, simply because she desires to attempt a VBAC.

In light of this hospital's actions, Jennifer decided to change hospitals. She found doctors willing to let her try. And on July 29, 2014, she did.

Jennifer released a statement, saying, “Thank you to everyone from around the country and the world for the outpouring of support. I welcomed my son into the world after laboring, consenting to surgery when it became apparent that it was necessary because labor was not progressing. This was all I wanted to begin with. I am grateful to the medical staff at another hospital who assisted us in a safe and healthy delivery. Now, my family's focus is on welcoming our newborn into our family with love, and on my physical and emotional recovery from the intensity of the last few days.”

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Are you as baffled at this latest example of unfairness and restrictions placed on pregnant mothers? I am. I’m baffled and insulted on the subject of what a hospital can and can’t do, regarding my basic human rights and wishes as a mother.

My congrats to Jennifer! May all of us stay as strong – and well-informed – as she in our desire for children and in our pathways for bringing them into this world. 

What do you think?

Hospital Threatens Pregnant Mom: Have C-Section or We’ll Call Social Services!

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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4 comments

  1. Karen says:

    This is what I’m always afraid of: doctors becoming C-section happy because ultimately, they earn more money that way. If I am going to have a C-section, I want evidence that it is necessary.

  2. emily says:

    That is absolutely rediculious. No way is any dr. Going to tell me what to do with my body. They can suggest what’s best but in the end it’s my decision. Congrats Jennifer and good for you with sticking with ur decision and switching hospitals.

    • Lauren says:

      No, there’s no way I’d trust someone who has an education and years of experience over google. Are you all kidding?

      • Leesha says:

        Lol! If you go to a well educated doctor who is actually concerned about you and your baby, that person will tell you that vaginal birth is better for you unless you have a serious life threatening health condition. Cesareans are major surgeries that can be extremely dangerous and have worse recoveries than vaginal births. Not to mention, more expensive than vaginal births. A doctor who is supportive and experienced in performing VBACs is willing to give you the chance of having a better birthing experience and a better recovery. There are always risks in child birth no matter how you birth & not every doctor is competent. You as a patient have to do your research and shop around for a doctor who has your best interests in mind, even if you’re halfway through your pregnancy with one doctor.

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