Every woman is different. Every body is different. Every birth story is unique. Every birth, even to the same mother, varies drastically.
Out of my own three birth stories, all of them needed intervention (which unfortunately, isn’t that uncommon). During one of my babies’ births, a nurse suggested to me, “Some women have a hard time conceiving, others can’t carry a baby, and the rest have a hard time birthing the baby.” My question is WHY?
For baby #1, my homebirth was perfectly planned, yet I had to be hauled to emergency c-section at the local hospital due to the onset of HELLP syndrome (or as people have jokingly described to me as “pre-eclampsia on steroids!”). Luckily, surgeons took immediate action, and my baby was born healthy and within several weeks of postpartum, I was okay, too.
Baby #2 received prenatal Down syndrome and AVSD (Atrioventricular Septal Defect) diagnoses. While her birth resulted in a perfect VBAC scenario, at 4.5 months old she underwent open heart surgery due to the holes between the chambers of her heart, and valves that were not formed properly. Without clinical trials of those before her, our family might not know that this wondrous procedure on such a tiny being would ultimately save and prolong her life.
Finally, baby #3 was a perfect candidate for another successful VBAC. Instead, my uterus ruptured during labor. I had another emergency c-section, as well as a 9-hour surgery that saved my life. Meanwhile, my newborn was immediately placed under a whole-body cooling protocol (therapeutic hypothermia) to help relieve his HIE (Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy), a birth injury that causes brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow to the baby. Long term effects could be a plethora of issues, including cerebral palsy. For us, the clinical trials that proved this protocol effective is nothing short of a miracle! Four years later, our child is healthy and thriving.
Diversity in clinical trials is essential for improving the outcomes of mothers and their babies- prenatally, during birth, and postpartum. Women need personalized care to hopefully avoid such drastic measures, but interventions such as pediatric cardiac surgery and therapeutic hypothermia truly need to be available for possible emergencies. For our family, there won’t be any more babies, but we are eternally grateful for those medical trials that led to the interventions that were available for us.