The Dead Baby Talk: a.k.a America’s Impeccably Shitty Bedside Manner

When you are pregnant and go past the 39 week period in your term, I have learned something rather disturbing: Hospitals in America will begin to give the expecting mother frightening propaganda-themed discussions about dead babies, to guilt them into inducing. What the hell?

Let me step back a few steps and explain what I mean…

As a male who has relied on hospital care whenever I’ve fallen ill, I never really put much credence into the idea that natural childbirth is a viable method of, well, childbirth. You see all these representations on the big and small screen about how birthing a child is the absolute worst. Heck, from everything I’ve seen in popular culture, I’ve started to convince myself that having an alien burst out of your chest is less painful — at least it only lasts a few minutes and not hours on end, amirite ladies?!

But leave it to my lovely wife, whose determination to live a natural lifestyle is quite commendable, for showing me there are always other methods to whatever madness I am swimming in. Stomach ache? There’s an essential oil for that. Heck, there’s apparently an essential oil for everything! Who knew rubbing something called “Thieves” on the bottom of my feet would help get rid of a cold? I swear, it sounds dumb. But I just did it a day ago and I feel fine now. Weird shit.

This brings me to the notion of pursuing natural childbirth in the American medical system. Long story short: It’s way more expensive to take on this feat at a birthing center, and since we have medical insurance, we’re going to do this at Kaiser. It’s a bit more challenging. But our hypnosis classes, along with the simple fact that my wife and I are the types of people who do research and educate ourselves on things we tend not to know, have (I think) prepared us for this thing.

That brings me to dead babies.

I get that the general public as a whole doesn’t do research, they don’t dig into what makes things tick, and seem to, for the most part, take anything a doctor says to them as the end-all-be-all truth. After all, I’m talking about hospitals and doctors — a place and people who have been put here to save lives and cure illnesses. But what I don’t get is this: If you are a pregnant woman in your last trimester and decide to head in for your scheduled appointment, why would it go through a nurse’s head to state that there’s a high probability the woman will give birth to a dead baby if they continue to wait to do this naturally?

I get it. There’s a large part of the population who, seconds after hearing this, would hop on the table say, “Stick me, Doc. I’m ready!” But, when you bring in your birth plan and state time and again that you’re opting to go the natural route, negating the option of a c-section or induction (which is a pretty invasive procedure involving a gloved hand with a little hook blade going up in the lady to tear the membranes and I’m getting light-headed just explaining this), well look out!

As we’ve learned here, first-and-foremost, hospitals are out to cover their asses. Yes, the staff we’ve come across have been caring, for the most part. But there’s this whole liability thing that comes into play when you partake in this whole medical system our country provides. It’s why the birth center we looked into would’ve been an out-of-pocket thing if we chose to go that route. In turn, being at Kaiser will have its pros and cons. The facility is state-of-the-art. And from what I can tell, the place has a good reputation. (Remind me to tell you all about the time I almost died at Kaiser when I was nine.)

But there’s still this antiquated methodology that the doctors, nurses and midwives live by. If you’re in our shoes and decide to educate yourselves on the human body and the way pregnancy works, then look out. By week 39 and 40, they’ll be champing at the bit to break the woman’s waters (apparently there is more than one water). And that can be uncomfortable, and even lead to complications with the unborn baby. I’ve heard tell that the gloved hook-bladed finger trick of “sweeping membranes” can even scratch the baby and leave a scar and oh fuck I’m getting light-headed again.

Why am I writing all this? Well, we are three days past the due date and getting ready to head to Kaiser for another checkup. And my wife is already getting a bit stressed about the dead baby speech. Technically, a woman can go 42 weeks in their term and that’s absolutely normal. But, to Kaiser, this once again becomes a liability issue. And if they don’t advise the patient on the dangers that come with waiting, they may be frightened that we’d sue if we actually had a dead baby.

But we’re not stupid people. And thrusting the fear of birthing a stillborn zombie offspring onto us is a bit mortifying and slightly insulting.

Look, I get it. We’re not doing the “normal, natural thing” by opting to have a “normal, natural childbirth.” The reactions I get from people when I tell them we’re doing it naturally has ranged from convulsions to fits of rage to people simply backing away saying, “So brave. So brave.”

In order for the general public to shift their perspectives on birthing out a baby, the medical community needs to do the same. Until then, stop with all the horror stories, please. I didn’t ask for them. And I have enough in my own personal catalog. I don’t need to add yours to the slush pile.


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