Apr 062011

“The placenta is not really feeding your baby anymore. It could die any day now.” – OB to mother 12 days past her due date, while trying to convince her to induce.

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 April 6, 2011  Due Date, induction, OB, placenta  Add comments

  42 Responses to “"The Placenta Is Not Really Feeding Your Baby Anymore. It Could Die Any Day Now."”

  1. Yes. Because on the estimated due date that the OB gives an expectant mother, the placenta automatically shuts down and quits working. It’s amazing that all the women over the centuries who went over due didn’t end up with a dead baby or dead themselves. *facepalm*

  2. The placenta can start to decrease in function past 42 weeks, but saying it can “die any day” is simplistic at best, deceptive at worst.

    There are ways to check how the baby and placenta are doing, and IF those have troubling results, then yeah, make some plans based on those. But “just because” the magical date has passed? No thanks.

    • No, the doctor wasn’t saying the placenta could die any day. The way I parse it, the doctor was saying the placenta had *already* ceased to function and that *the baby* could die any day.

      In other words, why keep the baby in there, since the placenta isn’t even feeding the baby anymore?

      Of course, if the placenta had truly failed, the baby would already be dead. But that’s logic, not something we see posted here a lot.

      • Ahh, yes, I see what you are saying. It’s one of those phrases that can be taken different ways.

        However you take it, it’s still nonsense and not something an educated professional should be saying.


        • That’s it – he was referring to my son as ‘it’. Mind you his ‘examination’ consisted of palpating my uterus. my BP and measuring not only my FUNDAL height, but also my PHYSICAL height. That’s it. No U/S, no FHR. Must be one clever Dr if he can tell my son may die anyday now witgout even checking him O_o

  3. Damn. I knew I should have checked the expiration date!

  4. In all fairness, doesn’t this actually happen? Isn’t this one of the causes of IUGR? Educate me, O Great Birthies!

    • IUGR is rare and usually determined by restricted growth of the fetus. Seeing as the OP is 12 days paste her due date, IUGR would have been diagnosed before this, I would guess. Plus, let’s be honest, if the baby did have IUGR, the mom wouldn’t have been submitting this to this site.

      the “placenta is dying” card is frequently played in normal pregnancies in effort to get moms to induced in the doctor’s timeframe. it’s a total myth, having to do with dates alone, and not anthing having to do with the specific baby or pregnancy.

    • In a sense yes this does happen. but what the OB did was exaggerate the actual scenario. The placenta is not so much like a car or machine in the sense that it will “shut down and stop working” like a car runs out of gas. It is a gradual decrease in efficiency that if left UNCHECKED can lead to fetal demise. There are NST’s that can be done to check the flow of blood from the placenta to the baby. Check amniotic fluid (low levels would suggest the environment is becoming unstable), check fetal movement, and many other things. Worst case scenario you can even do a amnio and test the fluid for other signs that the placenta is not performing up to par.

      but to flat out say this to a mother who has not even reached 42 weeks (normal pregnancy is 38-42 weeks) is just a scare tactic and can also cause a stressful situation for mother and child.

  5. IUGR can be related to the placenta, or the cord, bad nutrition, smoking, and many other things.
    If the placenta starts to wear down at the end of pregnancy, it can be a trigger for labor to start on its own.

  6. I’m a doula and I had a client who had a ‘pressure to induce’ scenario where she said pretty much the same words to the mother. After the birth of her 7lb baby, the doctor looked at the placenta and forgot about her ‘your placenta could die’ line because she said “Oh look at this healthy placenta! Perfectly normal and healthy looking.’
    B words were said in my head.

  7. I actually did have this happen. Fetal movements became rare, I stopped growing at 35 weeks and was smaller at 36. Four weeks later when baby was born (via c-section) we discovered the placenta was 60% calcified. I had a 5lb 10oz baby and he hadn’t tolerated labor. Never knew the cause of this, but I don’t think he was “past due”. Based on early ultrasounds that was the date.
    I went on to have a successful VBAC and a 7lb 3oz baby with no complications.

    • I’m so sorry. :-(

      • im so sorry about your first birth :( and im so happy you went on to have a much better experience. But what happened to you is a little different then what the Dr. said to the mother in the OP. you have great cause to have a c section, or even be induced sooner. im so sorry you had to go through this and i hope you have recovered with your second birth! yay for beautiful happy babies in the end!! some things, you just never know why.

    • That is horrible. I am so sorry. I wish your doctor had been more proactive about checking your baby.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you.
      Hugs Mama xoxox

  8. Puh-lease. I hope the OP rolled her eyes and rolled herself outta there.

  9. Yep, have had a doctor tell a client of mine the same thing…

    Go figure… “Your placenta is dying!” Uh huh, GREAT… let’s scare the woman into not trusting her body some MORE!! :(

  10. While this can happen…it is rare…and there are always SIGNS that it is happening …cessation of measurable growth or backward growth in mother (that can’t be attributed to shift of baby’s position), slowing of fetal movements, slowing of fetal heart tones, weight loss in mother….

  11. I’m the OP – and thank you all for your comments :)
    To give more of the story – I was very young and naiive. My partner and I reluctantly attended the OB appt 12 days ‘post dates’ when we were given this ‘advice’. Unfortunately his scare tactics worked on us, and we drove to the hospital and demanded induction, as I wasn’t feeling bub move very much (dir – full term bubs don’t have a lot of room TO move).
    OB arrives at hospital that night, and inserts prostaglandin gel. He then tells me ‘This probably won’t work, so I’ll set up the synto drip in the morning, then if you haven’t had ‘it’ by lunch we’ll do a caesarean.’
    Seems my son had other ideas, and less than 5 hrs after the gel, I was nursing my healthy, 7lb 14oz boy – who came out attached to a beautiful looking placenta btw, and didn’t appear overcooked to me! Should have seen the OBs face when he walked in spouting about setting up the drip the next morning. And I hope he saw me do this :P at him!

    Thankfully I’m now much better educated, & I’m now actaully a doula.
    When attending a GP appt when pregnant with my second baby I informed her I no longer believe in due dates and ‘this child will most likely be born in September’ and she accepted that :D

    • I am another non-believer in due dates since I knew my dates with DS and the scan dates were 3 weeks off (my husband and I were geographically apart and only together 1 weekend so I was very sure of my dates) and again with this baby the scan dates are a week off, again only 1 w/e together for a whole mth so I am sure of my dates. I have told everyone a date 3 wks after my date so I have room to “breathe” but my birthworker knows my date, and says I wouldn’t be her first mother who joined the 10 mth club if I go overdue so she isn’t stressed. Contrats on your births btw.

    • I’m going to do that with my next pregnancy, whenever it might be; tell the Dr. that I don’t believe in due dates and when I believe the child will come. My 2 babies have each been two weeks “late” and very healthy. I felt a little pressed by my docs to have NSTs and ultrasounds, but no one ever told me my placenta was dying! I’m sorry yr OB scared you and glad everything worked out anyway!

    • I wasn’t tracking my fertility as closely with this pregnancy as I was with some of my previous ones, but even so I have a general idea within 1-2 days of when I ovulated.

      I’ve actually given everyone a “due date” that’s in the neighborhood of 5 days past my ovulation calculated EDD, just because 9-10-11 is a really cool and easy to remember date. I’m thinking it’s actually more likely the baby will come between 9-12 and 9-17, and with my records showing a date of 9-10-11, they won’t even start making noises about induction unless I go past 9-24. I figure since “due dates” are just a guess anyways, I can feel free to pick a date that’s realistic based on my history, and that makes me smile.

  12. My mother had 4 children and went 2 weeks overdue with all of us. Fortunately for her, this was back in the days when that was considered normal.

    • I was born three weeks “late.” My mom was not amused, but I was one of her easiest labors, and a totally normal 7lbs 8oz. She was so happy to not have to use pitocin.

      • My grandma went 4 wks overdue with her second son. My grandpa was in the military at the time so this was in a military hospital in the very early 50′s. She said no one seemed concerned about it, and induction was never suggested. He was born very big, and with peely skin, but totally healthy.

  13. Oh. My. Word. What a load of garbage. And they want us to trust them??????

    I hate when they play the dead-baby card with justifications that are unscientific and irrational.

  14. When will they learn? “EDD” is “estimated date of delivery” NOT “Expiration Date”!

  15. There is actually a risk by going too far past a due date. My dad was over a month overdue and it caused nerve damage in his ears and he’s been hard of hearing his entire life.

    • There are some risks, yes, which is why it is wise to monitor the mother and baby for any signs of trouble.

      Here’s some more anecdata: I was a month “overdue” and I have been healthy as a horse most of my life. No health problems at all!

      My sis has about 25% of her hearing in one ear, but she wasn’t overdue, she had a congenital malformation of her Eustachian tubes that caused chronic severe ear infections as an infant.

      I’m not denying that in some cases induction becomes medically less risky than waiting, but without clear medical evidence of a problem the statement quoted is manipulative and medically inaccurate.

  16. The nurses told me, when I was 3 days past my due date, that I was “SO overdue, my baby could DIE any day.” Well, SORRY, I didn’t realize babies came with expiry dates!

  17. In all fairness, that did happen with my first baby. She was only born two days past her date, but in an ultrasound, my Dr. saw that my placenta had already started to slough. Labor had to be induced within the week so that she would live. The problem was that I knew she was overdue a few weeks before my official due date but since she was my first, nobody would listen to me. The dr in question here was obviously in the wrong, but I have full confidence that my doctor simply got my date wrong by a lot, and that my placenta really was old and falling apart. Of course, the due date calculators are based on a 28 day cycle, so if you have one, then you are going to be what they say. If your cycle is longer or shorter than that, your doctor will get your date wrong. Period.

  18. So on October 8th 2011 Kim Mosny presided over a homebirth at 42+ weeks and the baby died

  19. First i was told the baby might be big as I could have GD then I was told the placenta was failing and the baby hadn’t grown so they needed to induce it to save his life. His heart started to fail and they did an emergency Csection at 34 weeks. He weighed less than 2kg and barely made it.

  20. Below is a website that sites that placentas dying or aging, is largely a false conception and comes from a lack of understanding about the organs maturity cycle. Here was the conclusion:


    A review of the available evidence indicates that the placenta does not undergo a true aging change during pregnancy. There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not: the situation in which an individual organ ages within an organism that is not aged is one which does not occur in any biological system. The persisting belief in placental aging has been based on a confusion between morphological maturation and differentiation and aging, a failure to appreciate the functional resources of the organ, and an uncritical acceptance of the overly facile concept of “placental insufficiency” as a cause of increased perinatal mortality. ”


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