Dec 202010

“Your placenta could shear off and you’d have a dead baby. Do you want a dead baby?” – Midwife to mother.

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 December 20, 2010  Midwife, placenta, pregnancy loss  Add comments

  26 Responses to “"…Do You Want A Dead Baby?"”

  1. No, I don’t.
    Before you say it, yes, it’s true, context would help understand the midwife’s motive here.
    But scaring the mother, being rude, being condescending and patronizing are never appropriate!
    So, here’s the proper way to say it, EVEN if it was a valid concern and needed to be addressed immediately.
    “There’s a concern that you are experiencing something called placenta previa, where the placenta sheers off the wall of the uterus, severing the baby’s access to oxygen and nutrients. If the placenta comes off a significant amount before the baby is born, this is almost always fatal to the baby, and dangerous to the mother, since it causes a lot of bleeding. These are the options of how we can control the situation to keep you and your baby safe and healthy. These are the pros and cons to each choice. We need to make a decision soon.”
    See? All the info, including possible death of fetus, without all the snark.
    Not so hard, really.

    • Actually it is known as Plancental Abruption. Placenta Previa is where the placenta is covering some portion of the cervix.

      Just wanted to make sure others know! :D

      • Although I agree that the definition by Sheva does seem to be of placental abruption, I could see a midwife saying this if the mother did have placenta previa…I switched to a hospital midwife/OB practice to plan a c-section when my asymptomatic previa hadn’t resolved by 34 weeks and I had the first midwife I met with trying to scare me into planning my c-section at 37 weeks with very similar reasoning: “if you go into labor/you start dilating at all the cervix will pull away from the placenta and you will start hemorrhaging and you may not get to the hospital in time to save your baby or yourself”

        • I have a friend who had this happen 2 weeks ago. Her placenta previa had not been diagnosed. She was at 37 weeks. She was driving along in her car and thought her water broke. So she called her hubby and told him to meet her at the hospital. After she hung up she realized she was hemorrhaging. She drove herself to the hospital because she thought she could get there faster than an ambulance could get to her. She and the baby nearly died from blood loss.

          All that aside, what the OPs’ midwife said was the wrong way to say it.

          • Especially since below she says there was no medical reason to expect a placental abruption!

            Any choice you make at the end of a previa pregnancy is playing the odds….what they wanted me to do was come in for an amnio at 37 weeks to check for lung maturity…if the amnio accidentally sent me into labor they would do an emergency c-section whether his lungs were ready or not. If it didn’t send me into labor they would run the quick test for lung maturity and if it came back positive they would put me on the schedule for a c-section, if it came back negative they would do the 24 hour test for lung maturity and if that came back positive they would do the c-section at 37w1d, if it came back negative they would schedule it for 38 weeks.

            I asked what the chances were of ending up with an emergency section for a baby that wasn’t ready from the amnio, what the chances were of him having breathing issues even though the test came back ‘mature’ and what the chances were of me going into labor/hemorrhaging in those 7 days if we waited…they couldn’t give me any numbers just said that was their standard of care, and from my own research I knew that I would cut my son’s chances of ending up in the NICU in half if we were able to have a scheduled section at 38 weeks instead of 37 weeks and that in some locations the standard of care is to wait till 38 weeks and just skip all the amnio junk…

            I decided to just schedule it for 38 weeks and luckily for all of us we had no issues–I never had any bleeding during my whole pregnancy,my surgery went well, and my son came out not even needing to be suctioned.

      • You’re right. I meant abruption (although some Medwives might say it at the whatever-week ultrasound they find previas at). Thanks for clarifying!

    • I wrote some of my story down below :)

  2. I expected this to be a comment from an OB about wanting a homebirth, NOT a comment from someone who’s supposed to be a homebirth advocate/supporter!! Abruptio Placentae (not placenta previa as stated above, although this can be fatal as well) can be fatal, but c’mon, don’t use guilt trip scare tactics to get your point across!!!!

  3. the words “dead baby” should never be spoken to a pregnant woman. try making your point w/out being an a**hole.

  4. We’re missing half the conversation here. Such as “Your placenta could shear off if(if you don’t do)XYZ” Was she VBACing, home birthing, or was she being pushing into a c-section?

    I’d like to hear from the OP on this one on why the midwife said the placenta could shear off.

    • apparently if you don’t get 7 ultrasounds, if you are plus size, your placenta will shear off. I was told the baby would be too small because my BP would go up in their office (not at my doctor or at home when I tested daily), and it would be too big because I obviously had GD because I threw the test up three times (but I had 40 weeks of morning sickness, so nausea was nothing new).

      I was asking why I needed ANOTHER ultrasound after so many that I wrote about below.

  5. I agree with Tara, without needing to know any other details, the use of the the words “dead baby” make this an MOSW-fitting comment. Completely unprofessional.

  6. Hair “shears off.”

    Glaciers “shear off.” Now there’s an interesting image, given the way that idiot Bruno Bettelheim used to accuse mothers of autistic kids of being “refrigerator mothers:” woman as polar ice cap. A fluctuation in climate has caused my placenta to “shear off.” Snow cones? Anybody want some snow cones? Don’t wotty about the colour, it’s okay… they’re lemon!

    Placentas abrupt. They do not “shear off.” And from what I’ve read, it’s pretty dang obvious when they do abrupt. Enough that I doubt I would need to argue with a midwife (or a suspected medwife) about the location of my emergency birth.

    There’s placenta previa, too, but low-lying placentas have been known to move out of the way of the cervical os – even in labour. It’s something to keep an eye on, but not a cause for panic.

  7. Dear Creator of,

    At the hundredth mention of “dead baby” (if it hasn’t been passed yet), there should be some kind of marking of the event. On most blogs the hundredth post would receive celebrations, but I think mourning of modern day prenatal care would be more appropriate.

    • We could do a giveaway of some sort.

      I’m a mom whose baby couldn’t be saved by doctors even with four months of advance warning. I find the “dead baby” card so offensive because they’re playing on a woman’s fears and at the same time, they’re attempting to guarantee a healthy birth/baby/mother package they in no way can.

  8. It’s the “Do you want a dead baby?” that woudl cause me to find another provider. Obviously the mother doesn’t want a dead baby so there’s no need to treat her like either an idiot or a malicious parent.

    There’s a professional way to say “That course of action would be dangerous to the baby.” In fact, I’d suggest those very words.

    BTW, I’ve heard that about rupturing the membranes in the presence of polyhydramniosis, and having known a mother who did die due to a doctor doing exactly that, the whole “placenta shears off / amniotic fluid embolism” scenario is scary and should be explained to moms who are at higher risk of it.

    But not in a condescending fashion.

    BTW, I think the proper response to that is, “Well, no, I thought you knew I wanted a live baby. I will have to find a new midwife who understands my intentions for my baby.”

  9. this was my submission, I had a dating ultrasound, and then an ultrasound early on when I had some spotting, an ultrasound when my car was rear ended (everything was fine), and then my 20 week ultrasound, and then a 22 week ultrasound cause they missed something in the 20 week one, and then a 24 week ultrasound was being booked because they still missed something. I was then told I would also need 2 more ultrasounds before baby was born, because I was plus size.

    I was asking if 7+ ultrasounds were really necessary and that was the reply.

    I could write a hundred submissions to this site, I should have changed care after my first visit, but I’m new to the USA and didn’t realize it was so easy to change providers. I expected more kind, holistic care like my friends all had with their midwives on Vancouver Island, Canada.

  10. Dear Creator of, At the hundredth mention of “dead baby” (if it hasn’t been passed yet), there should be some kind of marking of the event. On most blogs the hundredth post would receive celebrations, but I think mourning of modern day prenatal care would be more appropriate.

  11. I just think that is the most unprofessional thing ever to say to someone. As someone who works with grieving parents I grit my teeth when I hear this kind of things because it’s so rude, so unnecessary and can cause SO MUCH DAMAGE.
    So many mums I see have awful guilt about their child passing, or having a birth defect and they haven’t done anything wrong! It’s heart breaking and this so called ‘medical professional’ is just making it worse.
    She could have so easily explained gently and realistically why the doctor recommedned the ultrasounds so the mother could make an infromed choice instead of pulling the dead baby card…GRRR…so angry now!

    • at that point it was purely for sizing of the baby. They said that if I got hypertension, I’d have too small of a baby, if I got gestational diabetes (I didn’t get either), the baby would be too big. Baby turned out to be perfect size.

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