Why One Mother Was Forced To Have a C-Section
We talk a lot about mothers focusing on their birth plans, choosing where to deliver their babies, and having the birth experience that they feel is best for them. But sometimes, that's not an accurate depiction of birth.
Although we've come along in helping women stand up for themselves during pregnancy, labor, and birth, there is still some gray area when it comes to deciding who's really in charge of having a baby.
Is it Mom or is it her doctor?
Rinat Dray found out the hard way that when it comes to empowerment in the birth process, mothers aren't always the ones in charge.
The Daily Beast reported that Dray, who had already had two previous c-sections before going into labor with her third child, was threatened by her OB to consent to another surgery. After gloving up to check her cervical dilation, the doctor, according to Dray, then removed his hand and said, “I'm not going to check you unless you sign for the c-section.”
Although she felt comfortable in her decision to pursue birth vaginally even after two c-sections, and her labor was progressing normally without any signs of distress from her or the baby, Dray was forced into having a surgery that she did not consent to. She explained that although she worked with her own doctors prior to delivery on a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), her wishes were definitely not followed when she actually went into labor.
Notes from one of the doctors on her chart read:
The woman has decisional capacity. I have decided to override her refusal to have a c-section. Her physician, Dr. Gorelik and hospital attorney, Mr. Fried, are in agreement.
Say what now? Even though the patient refused the surgery — and claims she refused it even as the surgery was being performed — her doctor decided to “override” her refusal? How is that even possible? And sadly, after the risks her doctor was so worried about, the surgery ended up harming the patient as well — her bladder was damaged during the surgery.
This case is a tough one. On one hand, as a former labor and delivery nurse, of course I have seen instances where a patient thinks she knows better than her healthcare team — even if she may not have all of the medical facts to make an informed decision, despite our best efforts. Vaginal birth after having two c-sections definitely isn't without risks — it could lead to uterine rupture, bleeding, and even death for both mom and baby. But on the other hand, a c-section also has very serious risks, and I have absolutely seen the personal biases, judgments, egos, and medical authority abused by doctors.
So who gets to make that life-or-death decision? The simple fact is I learned more often than not to trust a mother's intuition during pregnancy and labor. But how do you make that call? Who knows more? The medical professional that she has literally entrusted her and her baby's life to? Or does a woman in labor have the full ability to make the call for what's best for her and her baby?
It definitely seems a bit confusing — we tell women they have a choice about everything reproduction related in their lives — if and when they get pregnant, if they want to stay pregnant — but suddenly, birth is a different story. Suddenly, a woman doesn't always get to make the choice that she feels is best.
What do you think? Should women have the right to refuse a c-section against their doctor's recommendations?