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The "dead baby card"

Posted Jan 15 2011 11:26am

Have you ever had this happen to you? A provider is pushing an intervention or test on to you when you're pregnant, and brings up the "you don't want your baby to die?" or "your baby could die if we don't do ___."

I have had that happen to me. As a 29 year old L&D RN, pregnant with my 3rd baby, I was refusing the GBS screen at my 37 week prenatal visit with one of the CNMs in the practice I was going to. I had my own reasons for refusing the screen, and I informed the midwife of this, and pointed out the futility of even doing the test. (I'm allergic to several antibiotics, including the ones used to treat GBS in labor. The remaining antibiotics that could be used I would refuse, due to my own personal and genetic history concerns related to the side effects of the antibiotic.)

There I was - an L&D RN of all people - and the CNM played the dead baby card with me for refusing to do the GBS test. I point blank said to her: "do NOT play the dead baby card. I know my rights to refusing testing, and I know the signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for with a potentially GBS-septic neonate."

I was planning a hospital birth, with no interventions (didn't need any of them), no IV, and an early discharge to home. I honestly would have had a homebirth if my health insurance would have at least paid for part of a homebirth. Unfortunately, the insurance would only pay for a hospital birth. Financially, it was just not going to happen about a homebirth.

Looking back on my birth, I was able to give birth precipitously, with no interventions other than minimal fetal monitoring. I had absolutely no complications with her birth, and no complications in the postpartum period. I went home in 24 hours (would have gone home sooner if the darn pediatrician had actually rounded early in the morning!).

I'd like to also note, that before anyone jumps on me about refusing GBS testing, I ended up allowing it to be done at my 38 week prenatal visit, with another midwife, who actually understood my rationale for not testing. She knew I was going to refuse any antibiotic coverage due to my severe drug allergies, and the last drugs left (vanco or gent) I would have refused. It would have not been in my system long enough anyway, due to my history of rapid birthing. (I gave birth maybe an hour after arriving at the L&D unit.)

Oh, and all of that fuss and dead baby card talk? I was GBS negative at the 38 week visit. So it was all a moot argument. (See the screaming Mimi in the above picture - healthy 6 lb 9 oz baby girl, just minutes after her birth.)

(On the topic of refusing testing, I also refused the 3 hr glucose tolerance test after my 1 hr test was slightly elevated. I checked my own random blood glucose levels, and was very strictly following a diabetic diet throughout the pregnancy. I also refused the erythromycin ointment in the baby's eyes after the birth. I'm also the "annoying" woman who refused to let her baby go to the nursery and insisted on non-separation of mother and baby after the birth.)
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