Protest planned, lawsuit threatened over DeKalb Medical water birth announcement
This story has been updated.
A group of pregnant mothers is planning a protest in response to DeKalb Medical’s decision temporarily to suspend water births.
A hospital spokesperson told Decaturish in a statement, “We’re conducting a review of the safety information available regarding water birth. While the review is in progress, we’ve discontinued water birth delivery, but some exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis. There are people who have pre-approved birthing plans.”
When asked what prompted the review, the spokesperson said, “We routinely review our policies and services provided at the hospital.”
In a message on Facebook, the hospital also clarified its policy on Vaginal Births after C-sections, or VBACs.
“To clarify some misinformation that is out there, DeKalb Medical’s policy on VBACs is that trial of labor after C-section (TOLAC)/Vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) is permitted for patients with ONE OR TWO previous C-sections,” the Facebook message said. “Patients with three or more previous C-sections will need to schedule a C-section. Also, there has not been a change in hospital policy regarding vaginal breech births. Please contact your obstetrician for specific information on what options they are able to provide.”
The protest is set for Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. at DeKalb Medical Center’s North Decatur campus.
The press release from the group of pregnant mothers planning their protest also claimed the hospital had imposed a “defacto ban on vaginal breech deliveries” because the hospital specifically banned popular OB-GYN Dr. Bradford Bootstaylor from performing these procedures.
The press release accused the hospital of a “bait-and-switch.”
“Current patients of the hospital were not notified of the change, which takes place immediately,” the press release said. “Women late in their pregnancies will likely be unable to switch to new hospitals or providers.”
The protest organizers have also said that intravenous fluids are now mandatory during labor.
One of the organizers, Zawn Villines, told Decaturish, “I have at least half a dozen written communications with DeKalb Medical affirming that I will not be required to have an IV or a saline lock during labor, and that I will be permitted a water birth. Five medical providers and a representative from DeKalb Medical all approved of my birth plan, which specifically stated I would be receiving a water birth and no IV. Now I am learning I might be forced to receive something that my providers say is not medically necessary, and that I feel is harmful. At 37 weeks pregnant, it is too late for me to switch providers.”
When asked if there had been a policy change regarding IVs, DeKalb Medical provided a copy of its policy:
IV access is generally recommended by our policies and practices which are designed to ensure appropriate venous access in the event that an emergency c-section must be conducted, or other appropriate care must be delivered. However, we recognize that there are legitimate personal and clinical issues which may prevent an IV from being appropriate and will work with patients to accommodate that choice when safe for the patient and baby.
The press release also implies there could be litigation over DeKalb Medical’s recent decisions.
“The group is also exploring options for quickly filing a lawsuit,” the press release says.
Bootstaylor’s office confirmed the bans, and also said the hospital banned Dr. Bootstaylor from performing a forceps delivery.
“We haven’t been notified as to why those were the bans that were placed on us,” an employee at Dr. Bootstaylor’s office said. The employee said “as of this afternoon, they’ve lifted the bans on water birth.”
The office said until the bans on these procedures are lifted, Dr. Bootstaylor will be making arrangements to perform these procedures at Emory Hospital Midtown.
DeKalb Medical’s spokesperson declined to comment on Bootstaylor’s situation.
According to the press release from the pregnant mothers, the hospital may possibly ban eating during labor.
In response to that claim, the hospital spokesperson said, “Eating in labor will be consistent with established clinical guidelines which currently support clear liquids and ice chips. Deviations from this standard practice are accommodated on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with the delivering physician, especially in low risk patients.”