We Can’t Save Them All . . .

I am upset when I read that “babies die in hospital too”.  Why, because we grieve each and everyone of these loses. We investigate the causes, make changes to the system and highlight concern to providers if indicated.  We meet with families, multiple time, to review all of this information.  We meet to make plans for future pregnancies, not only to provide mom a good outcome next time, because it is not always possible, but to help them feel safe and empowered to try again when they are ready.

This always seems in direct contrast to what I see on the internet.  There are unfortunately many examples of fetal and neonatal deaths at the hands of untrained and under-trained care providers.  Moms are told:

“This would have happened in the hospital”

“At least you avoided interventions”

“Trust birth, it will be better next time”

And so forth.  None of this is helpful.  Moms and families deserve to know, if possible, why they lost a child.  Often times we can find a reason, but we can exclude many causes.  Furthermore, this never addresses the rarity of an intrapartum death.  Babies don’t just die in hospital while there mothers are in labour, not unless something has really gone wrong.  This would lead to a inquest of sorts to help improve the system.  But outside the hospital, it is more of a too bad, better luck next time. 

I became a high risk obstetrician, in part because I like to help people.  A friend from high school said it best.  They wanted to be a funeral home director, not because he liked death, but rather he liked to help people through a difficult process.  That is what I do, what other well trained providers do, when there is a death.  We help the family through the process, with an entire team dedicated to helping these families.  What happens when a baby dies under the care of a CPM?  Where is the support for these women?

It is true, babies do die in hospital  We had save all babies.  However, we can help moms, and that is important too.

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