Tips and Strategies for Safer Childbirth

pregnant woman's stomach

Written by: Where Parents Talk Staff

Published: Jul 8, 2024

By her own admission, Gina Mundy’s entry into childbirth law was somewhat accidental. Fresh out of law school, she needed a job and stumbled upon a position in a firm specializing in childbirth cases. “I didn’t even know this area existed until I was looking for jobs,” Mundy told Lianne Castelino, during an interview for Where Parents Talk.

It didn’t take long for the childbirth lawyer to recognize the critical importance of her work, especially as she was contemplating starting her own family.

The Variability in Medical Opinions

One of the most striking aspects Mundy encountered early in her career was the drastically differing opinions among medical experts.
“I would get a case in and something went wrong, meaning baby either passed away or baby was not healthy,” she recounts. “When I say not healthy, I mean permanently, not healthy, brain damaged. But then I would talk to the doctors, hey all had different opinions. And I couldn’t believe it.

In her first case, she consulted two doctors from the same hospital, each offering completely opposite views on the care provided. “One said everything was done correctly, the other criticized every aspect of the care,” Mundy explains.

This inconsistency highlighted the need for parents to seek multiple medical opinions and underscores that disagreements with a doctor don’t necessarily mean a parent is wrong. “The problems, the complications, the mistakes are literally the same ones that I have seen since February. 2003,” she says.

Common Mistakes in Childbirth

Mundy outlines several recurrent issues she has observed in childbirth cases, aiming to educate and empower parents to avoid these very pitfalls, which can in the worst cases lead to death.

ultrasound exam of pregnant mom

  1. Misuse of Pitocin: Pitocin, a synthetic oxytocin used to induce labor, is a common factor in many legal cases. While it mimics natural labor contractions, it can cause excessively strong contractions, stressing both mother and baby. Mundy stresses the importance of understanding the risks and ensuring a safe induction if Pitocin is used.
  2. Breaking the Water: The decision to break a mother’s water should be medically justified, not just a method to speed up labour. Mundy advises parents to question the necessity of this procedure, as it significantly alters the intrauterine environment.
  3. Busy Labour and Delivery Units: Overcrowded delivery units can lead to overlooked complications. Mundy emphasizes the need for parents to understand childbirth processes and advocate for themselves, ensuring they receive the necessary attention.
  4. Fetal Monitoring: The baby’s heart rate is a critical indicator of their well-being during labour. Mundy advocates for parents to learn how to interpret these heart rate patterns to ensure their baby’s health is not compromised due to oversight.

Empowering Through Knowledge

Despite the potential for fear, Mundy believes that understanding childbirth is the key to alleviating anxiety. “The only way to overcome fear is to understand something,” she says. “My book is also not about what can go wrong, but it’s about how to make sure it goes right,” describing her first work, which took more than a year to write and involved hundreds of interviews.

Mundy, coverHer book, A Parent’s Guide to a Safer Childbirth: Expecting The Best: Using The Power of Knowledge to Help You Deliver a Healthy Baby aims to  educate parents, focuses on how to ensure everything goes right rather than dwelling on what can go wrong. “If you’re a grandparent, listen,” she says. “I have three kids 19, 15, and nine, I wrote this book for my kids, because I want healthy grandkids.”

Each chapter addresses lessons learned from real cases, providing parents with the knowledge to make informed decisions and maintain effective communication with their medical team. “If parents [who are] expecting understand that grandmas who are there understand this, it gives them a heightened sense of awareness, it helps them activate their intuition, so they can make those good decisions,” says Mundy. “Because in my cases, families are so close to a healthy baby, they are one decision or minutes from a healthy baby. So understanding these common mistakes, I cannot stress enough.”

The Role of the Doctor

Choosing the right doctor is crucial. “Your doctor heads your delivery team,” she says. “And your doctor is typically not even at the hospital until you give birth, unless they pick up 12 hour shift. Having a good relationship with your doctor, having a doctor that you trust, and that you like, and that you have good communication with [is essential].”

Mundy advises parents to seek a doctor with whom they feel comfortable and can communicate openly.

childbirth scene

The Importance of a Birth Advocate

Mundy recommends having a birth advocate, such as a partner, family member, or friend, who is informed about childbirth and can monitor crucial aspects like the baby’s heart rate. This advocate can provide a second set of eyes and support, especially in busy delivery environments.

“Number one — baby advocate needs to understand the baby’s heart rate,” she says. “Number two, baby advocate must understand the common facts and issues in a legal baby case. The biggest thing that I recommend with your baby advocate is that they understand your [birth] plan. Understand that childbirth is very unpredictable. So you need to be able to pivot. Having that birth plan and preparing it, but then also going over it with your baby advocate is important.”

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