A Maryland jury made history by awarding Enso Martinez and Rebecca Fielding $55 million dollars but there are no winners in this tragedy. Enso Martinez Jr. has irreversible brain damage and Johns Hopkins Hospital will spend resources that could be used for research for direct patient care, to defend their care of Fielding.
Home birth in the U.S. has increased by 20% in part, because of Ricki Lake’s documentary, The Business of Being Born. Women want to have their babies at home despite the admonishment and warnings from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
I will never forget the patient or the day it happened. Assigned to my residency team, we had watched her vigilantly because she was 39 years old and pregnant with her first baby. Although she spoke no English the love that she had for the miracle growing inside of her could be understood in any language.
She had begun to have premature contractions at 33 weeks and we were trying to prolong her pregnancy for just a little bit longer to allow the lungs to develop. For approximately one week, we monitored her blood, her temperature and fetal movement. One of her tests ultimately indicated that she was developing an infection so we decided to induce her. We would then transfer the baby to the special care nursery where, under the watchful eyes of the neonatologists, he would continue to grow. My team was not on call that night although, in retrospect, I wished the heck that we were. We signed out the patient to the on-call team before we left. We gave them explicit instructions on how often to monitor the patient and discussed her complicated history. She was having, what we, in obstetrics called, a “precious baby” meaning that an older woman was having her first child. When we went home that evening, the baby was alive. When we returned the next morning, it was dead.
The contradictions of life can be maddening. On one hand, we have the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-yearold girl who is brain dead on a mechanical ventilator that her family fought to maintain and on the other hand, there is Marlise Munoz, a 33 year-old mother of a 15 month old son, who collapsed on her kitchen floor from what appeared to be a blood clot to the lungs back in November. Munoz, according to her husband and family, never wanted to be on life support but the state of Texas ordered it when they discovered that she was 14-weeks pregnant. Should state law override the wishes of a patient because of her pregnancy?
Most women look forward to having a baby but no one wants to feel pain. In recent years, having a baby in a pool of water has become a popular trend because it allegedly reduces the need for pain
meds and anesthesia however not so fast, says both obstetricians and pediatricians. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
have issued a formal opinion (Committee Opinion #594 April 2014) that does not support “immersion” (aka underwater) births because of its associated complications while a mother is pushing to
deliver her baby. The “pushing” part of childbirth is also known as “second stage labor.”
Why is this important? Because there are presently 143 birthing centers in the U.S. that offer underwater births to pregnant women. In fact, 1% of all births in the United Kingdom are immersion. While some research claims that these births are safe, experts think otherwise and state that the number of women studied was too small to detect rare but potentially harmful outcomes.
The Washington Post recently published a story about
mammoth retailer Wal-mart’s new policy that allows pregnant women more options so that they can continue to work even late into their pregnancy. While this change of policy is a moral and
economic victory for pregnant Wal-mart employees, it did not come without a fight.
In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,797 pregnancy-related complaints from women who represented all walks of life from a cashier to corporate executives who felt that they were discriminated against by their employers solely on the grounds of being pregnant. According to the National Women’s Law Center, almost 9 out of 10 women worked into their last two months of pregnancy which carries an increased risk of complications. Rather than allow the pregnant employees to change positions, work less hours or sit in a chair, many find themselves terminated or asked to take a temporary leave of absence that often times becomes permanent. Many are forced to use their Family Medical Leave time before having the baby and must rush back because they’ve run out of time.
Blood clots are sneaky, deadly and unfortunately occur more frequently in pregnant women – especially after they have had a baby. In a non-pregnant woman, blood clots are good because they keep us from bleeding to death after we cut our finger or scrape our knees. However during pregnancy, the body produces many blood clots (a condition known as hypercoaguability) which increase the risk of having a stroke, blood clots in the leg (deep venous thrombosis, aka DVT) which could travel to the lungs and cause death. Pregnant women are five times more likely to develop a blood clot than a non-pregnant woman and there is a greater chance that this will occur after the baby is born as opposed to before.
Being told that your body will never be able to reproduce is beyond painful – I’ve been there. But should procreation become a business at any cost?
In a recent New York Times article, we are introduced to a gay couple from Portugal who became parents through surrogacy because it was illegal in their country. According to the article, the United States is one of the few countries that allow paid surrogacy.
Erica Morales’ last Facebook message was dated January 15th and simply said, “Prayers please. 5 o’clock C Section.” Now, she speaks from Heaven.
Erica was 36 year old and wanted to become a mother after marrying her soul mate, Carols, in 2007. She worked at the University of Phoenix and was also a real estate agent. Carlos worked in manufacturing. Like millions of other couples, they desired a family but encountered stumbling blocks. Through infertility treatments, their dream came true. Erica became pregnant with four babies.
When a woman becomes pregnant, we immediately think happy thoughts: a new addition to the family, a new grandchild, the baby shower, what colors to paint the nursery and of course, the
challenging role of becoming a parent. We make the assumption that everything will be okay during the pregnancy but sometimes it’s not. Complications can occur during the pregnancy, during labor
and even after the baby is born.
The human body is a fascinating creation and it speaks to us if we have the wisdom to listen. The ability to recognize the “language” of the body can save our lives, especially during pregnancy. What are the symptoms that pregnant women need to recognize?
Those words were articulated by Lieutenant Brian Tobin, chief investigator of the death of 27 year old Jennifer Snyder. Snyder was a pregnant veterinarian technician who was murdered by the
father of her baby – a married veterinarian, Dr. n on March 16, 2011.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; an uncomfortable topic and certainly not one that pregnant women would rather not discuss. But you must – because homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States.
The tragic death of Jennifer inspired filmmaker Tracy Schott to produce a documentary called Finding Jenn’s Voice. Fate connected Tracy and I because of a blog I had written called 7 Reasons Why Pregnancy Becomes a Deadly Affair. At the time I wrote it, I had no idea that homicide was the number one cause of maternal death. Before the production of Finding Jenn’s Voice, most of my colleagues didn’t know as well.
May is Pre-eclampsia Month, a time to empower all women about the dangers of this very deadly disease. It has claimed the lives of many women, including the grandmother of Vanessa Williams.
Although it has been described as far back as the days of Hippocrates, we still don’t have a cure in the 21st century.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that involves high blood pressure, swollen feet or ankles and protein in a pregnant woman. It can occur anytime after 20 weeks but usually develops in the third trimester and affects up to 7.5% of pregnant women worldwide. Why is it so dangerous? Because the blood pressure can reach such high levels that a woman can have a seizure or a stroke and die. It can also reoccur for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born, is frequently and regretfully often misdiagnosed. How is it treated? By delivering the baby and therein lies the dilemma. Sometimes it occurs so early that some healthcare providers will either miss the diagnosis or are hesitant to deliver the baby because of its prematurity. The baby has to be delivered because the placenta is abnormal and must be removed.
It’s an obstetrician’s worst nightmare and it continues to happen on a daily basis. The story of Michal Lura Friedman brings tears to my eyes. After 7 years of trying, the 44 year old songwriter finally became pregnant –with twins. Her husband, Jay Snyder, a free-lance voice-over artist, describes the 9 months of Friedman’s pregnancy as pure bliss. However towards the end, her blood pressure became elevated so she was scheduled to have a C. Section the day after Thanksgiving.