Dead Babies

One of the jobs that we find ourselves going on (perhaps once or twice a day) is that of vaginal bleeding, in a woman who is around eight weeks pregnant. This invariably turns out being a miscarriage. Unfortunately it is normal, for foetuses which have no chance of developing into a full term baby, that the body 'rejects' the foetus. I would suppose that this stops a woman from carrying to term an infant which would not survive outside the womb.
While dealing with such patients (some of which have been trying to get pregnant for some time), I always try to be sympathetic, and explain that what is happening is not anyones 'fault', and that it is a normal happening.

Due to the amount of people who we have with this problem, and the rate at which hospitals deal with them (when working in A&E we would have about 12-18 cases of this every day) we have all become a little blasé about this. We feel some sympathy, but deep down in our hearts, we know that there is nothing we can do, and that it is a good thing that this is happening now, rather than in six months time. But none the less, we are worn down by the sheer numbers, and at the end of the day we stop caring that these women are losing babies.

I have no intention of getting into the whole abortion argument, I've seen them done, don't like them and would rather have the whole thing stay out of my worldview

I first thought that it was just me, and that as a male I wasn't best placed to pass comment – but after having a chat with some female colleagues, it seems that they feel the same way I do, that it is natural, and that it isn't worth worrying about.

But it worries me a little that I seem to have come to care so little for the little dead babies.

18 thoughts on “Dead Babies”

  1. Seems like a reasonable response – and one shared with other women in the medical world I know.I guess with the early tests available now that this can make it all the more devastating as it seems real so much earlier.

  2. “But it worries me a little that I seem to have come to care so little for the little dead babies. ” If you put all thoughts to this problem, you would be in overload, and would quickly fail, my thinking, is that nature is protecting you, so that you can fight another day to help those that you can help, to survive the pitfalls of life so that they can carry on. Just a thought form dungbeetle:

  3. Is that the real Dungbeetle?It's just that, no offence, you're getting less weird. I mean where's all the mad reminisces and the random ancient slang? And the ye's?

    I dunno, I miss it.

    -PP

  4. Cor blimey me ol china , ye doth expose the world of trials and trills of another world to us mere mortals, fighting the madness of civil [service] thinking. The above problem is one of the toughest. We now have Superior ways of kickstarting a ticker with bolt of energy, that can send thee across the street, if misused. Or install a metronome to keep the beat, but feelings and careing still run the gamit as they have dun since Adam found Eve investigating DNA or was it wot's under the fig leaf. Wot doth ye expect, from one that is losing grey cells by the second. . Hows the lower area and the penny farthing on these invigorating peachy skin moisterising days of October , at least there be no sooty hankies to wash. Dungbeetle

  5. You make a good point, and one that I forget to put in the article – that in the “old days” a woman might think that she had skipped a Period, and that the next one was just heavier than usual.I've been to a few people who have described themselves as “1 week pregnant”, which shows how quickly people diagnose themselves a pregnant.

  6. That's more like it…The whole “Baby Charlotte” die/not die thing shows that the medical profession is perhaps taking ethics more seriously than before.

    But as you say (I think), although we can extend and improve the body, we can't change feelings, although they do try with antidepressents and the like.

    And I'm crying off the bike riding because of my broken rib…maybe tomorrow…

  7. Speaking as one who has been on the other end of those ambulance journeys, albeit some time ago. The people who came to me house were kind and courteous. I didn't want them to grieve with me. At that time it was hospitals which needed to get a grip.

  8. Your timiing is a little odd.A firend of mine tried and tested herself 5 weeks pregnant, and later that week saw the doctor. She wasn't feeling too good when she did, but all he did was to check whether she was sure – because she had taken 2 home tests, that was it. That sunday, she suffered a miscarriage. Naturally she and her husband were terribly upset – firstly because this would have been their first (arguably the most terrifying point), secondly just for the loss itself. I'm happy to say that they are holding up very well. One thing that has helped was she looked up more information on miscarriages, apparently 25% of women suffer one in their first trimester, an oddly comforting fact I suppose – although there is still the loss, you know that you are not alone and that it is not because of a personal flaw. As for the doctor situation, next time she will push for tests etc if something seems wrong, cue rant against GPs being crap and not thorough following NHS result seeking.

  9. From all I've heard from people in the medical professions, the alleged lack of sympathy/empathy isn't through not caring, more a case of viewing it in more pragmatic terms. I assume that you are actually human (or at least try to be) when dealing with grieving/frightened patients (or are they called customers now?). I remember hearing that when my grandmother was in hospital in her last days, one of the other geriatric patients (a man) kept trying to climb into a (female) patient's bed. The nurses were gently getting him out and putting him back into his own, laughing and joking at the time. Surely it's partly displacement – if I don't laugh, I'll scream – and partly diffusion – if I make a big thing out of this it'll cause more trauma and problems.But one question, you may care little for the babies, but how do you view the parents?

  10. From all I've heard from people in the medical professions, the alleged lack of sympathy/empathy isn't through not caring, more a case of viewing it in more pragmatic terms. I assume that you are actually human (or at least try to be) when dealing with grieving/frightened patients (or are they called customers now?). I remember hearing that when my grandmother was in hospital in her last days, one of the other geriatric patients (a man) kept trying to climb into a (female) patient's bed. The nurses were gently getting him out and putting him back into his own, laughing and joking at the time. Surely it's partly displacement – if I don't laugh, I'll scream – and partly diffusion – if I make a big thing out of this it'll cause more trauma and problems.But one question, you may care little for the babies, but how do you view the parents? I suspect it will be with sympathy, dignity and respect.

  11. Snap. The last thing I wanted was for the health professionals to empathise, they did not know me, why should they grieve for what was only a bundle of cells to them. I wanted somebody who was professionnal, could deal with the physical side and live me to handle the rest.

  12. I have more sympathy for the parents in most cases, if only because it isn't their fault that this is happening to them, and because it is a reasonable thing to call an ambulance for. Given that most of what we go to is not deserving, it is a change to have something that warrents an ambulance – and it's not a good thing that we can help with…

  13. There's noting you can do for the foetus, and no doubt all the parent(s) want is a little simple human compassion.Not perhaps the right place, but reading this has brought back to me the wonderful compassion of an ambulance driver in Australia, immediately after the accident in which my mother was killed. (The car caught fire after the crash.)

    I was the one who stayed calm, and managed everything at the scene as much as it could be managed – although of course I was in a degree of shock – and leaving it I rode in front with the ambulance driver while his mate was in the back with my father.

    He reached out and took my hand, and held it most of the way to the hospital – no doubt breaking regulations, but that meant an enormous amount to me at that moment.

    Natalie

  14. It may or may not make you feel somewhat better but chromosomal analyses of miscarried “products of conception” (which is the accepted awful medical euphemism in the US for a miscarried or aborted fetus) shows that the vast majority have lethal gene abnormalities. Somehow the body “recognizes” many non-viable fetuses and self-aborts the pregnancy before too long.BladeDoc

  15. Having had three and possibly going onto my fourth miscarriage I can completely emphathise with what you are saying. There now seems a cruel inevitability/logic to the whole proceedure. The first time was most definately the worst, that is when you lose your pregnancy innocence. You lose the assumption that a pregnancy means you will have a baby. I'm in the process of having tests at the moment and on the whole the staff have been great. Given that I'm getting numb to the experience I can imagine how it is for the staff. Wouldn't beat yourself up about it, life is just sometimes like that.

  16. “Naturally she and her husband were terribly upset – firstly because this would have been their first (arguably the most terrifying point)”If it helps in any way we lost our first baby at two to three months, but have since gone on to raise two perfectly healthy children.

  17. You can't carry care for everyone, everytime. A calm, caring professional is what is needed at that point. I've had at least 3 pregnancies end like that, BUT not all pv bleeding ends in the loss of the baby. I bled at 8 – 10 weeks with all my pregnancies; including the one that is now a 6ft 2 goth. The one that left me angriest of all was the last; I phoned my GP to report what was happening, and went on bedrest. He phoned back, insisted I get up and carry on as normal, because if it will happen, it will happen. I went back to bed for a week, then 27 weeks later produced a slightly prem perfect baby who got behind a steering wheel for the first time last Sunday.BTW, I have needed urgent hospitallisation about 10 times while pregnant. Not once did I call a neenaw.

    Keep up the good work, and the excellent blog

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