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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hospital Intervention & The Christmas Miracle

I'm sure you've all read the story of the "Christmas Miracle mother and baby" We are all relieved to hear that both mother and baby are doing well, and many would praise the medical personnel for making this miracle happen and saving the lives of this mother and baby.

Some very good articles have come out because of the horrifying experience this family went through. The biggest points that the mainstream media (for the most part) are not reporting are the causes of this nightmare. The media are well focused on the miracle of their survival, yet they have glossed over the blatant links between the medical interventions this woman received and the scary outcome. Both inductions/pitocin and epidural anaesthetic have serious and dangerous side effects, risks that are very rarely explained to labouring mothers in "full disclosure".

As Jasmine Jafferali for The Examiner writes

Whenever a mother receives pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin which comes from the pituitary glands of mammals, the mother may have the following side effects:

  • More pain. Eighty percent of mothers reported more pain with pitocin than without
  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Fatal afibrinogenemia
  • Hypertensive episodes
  • Nausea/Vomitting
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Pelvic hematoma
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Hypertensive episodes
  • Rupture of the uterus
Read FAQ's on pitocin at

What often happens after receiving pitocin, the contractions are so intense the mother opts for the epidural. Pitocin forces the uterus to contract more and more often. Oxytocin which is released naturally from the mother in the body does the same thing, but not as intense.

Within one minute of Hermanstorfer receiving an epidural, she went to cardiac arrest. Approximately 95% of birthing mothers will opt for the epidural, here are its known side effects:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias and/or cardiac arrest
  • Nausea/vomitting/shivering
  • Severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid (less than 1% experience this)
  • Can cause labor to slow down and also make contractions weaker
  • Makes pushing more difficult and additional interventions such as Pitocin, forceps, vacuum extraction or cesarean may become necessary
  • Causes fetal heart rate to drop if mother is not repositioned periodically. Laying flat on the back forces the fetus to lay on a main artery that decreases blood flow back to the fetus

Source: American Pregnancy Association and

In her article Her Survival Was a “Christmas Miracle,” but the Disaster Was Man-Made

Henci Goer writes:

"...according to Dr. Martin, Tracy is an example of how things can go suddenly and horribly wrong for no discernable reason in a healthy woman having a normal labor. All I can say is that Dr. Martin must have slept through the class on epidural complications. Tracy’s story is the classic sequence that follows what anesthesiologists term an “unexpectedly high blockade,” meaning the anesthesiologist injected the epidural anesthetic into the wrong space and it migrated upward, paralyzing breathing muscles and in some cases, stopping the heart. High blockade happens rarely, and even more rarely does it result in full respiratory and cardiac arrest—one database analysis of 11,000 obstetric epidural blocks reported a rate of 1 in 1400 women experiencing a high block and 1 in 5500 requiring intubation, and no woman experienced cardiac arrest. It does happen, though, and I am willing to bet that high blockade and its sequelae happened to Tracy..."

It all comes down to "Full disclosure" of the real risks VS benefits of medical interventions used during the average Labour & Childbirth in North America. I have very serious doubts that many mothers would actively choose either the use of pitocin/induction or epidurals if they were truly made aware of the risks to both themselves and their babies.

For more information :

Medical Risks of Epidural Anesthesia During Childbirth
Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D. and Morgaine Mehl-Madrona