On April 11th, Child Protective Services was called when parents declined routine newborn medical procedures.
Dr. Daniel Cooper had the opportunity to help deliver his son.
He and his wife Simone had wanted a home birth, but after concerns about the baby could be in distress, decided instead to birth where Dr. Cooper had recently served a two year position as chief of staff, at Mercy Hospital in Folsom.
Although son Ivan was born in good health and doing fine, disputes began immediately, even as to the time of birth.
The family didn’t want eye ointment, brought their own liquid vitamin K and declined to have blood drawn. There were disagreements, but no one was yelling. It wasn’t a heated situation. Simone, who gave birth naturally after a previous cesarean, even refused ibprofren for after birth pains.
President of Mercy Hospital, Don Hudson, said “parents have the right to refuse treatment for themselves or their children. However, health care providers may be obligated to notify the appropriate authorities if refusing treatment places a child’s health in potential danger.”
Then why, after Daniel drove their healthy newborn home was CPS called?
“I am stunned that they could think he was in danger,” said Cooper.
The response has been one of outrage. “How dare they!” and “That’s why you should have your baby at home!”
I did my share of eye rolling too. Home birth does provide exceptional newborn care.
While I agree this wouldn’t have happened had they stayed at home to give birth, when medical attention might be needed, the hospital is the safest place to give birth.
What could have been done differently?
I have an idea: a birth plan.
What if they had written a birth plan and brought it to the hospital, handing one out for everyone on duty that day?
Would they have run into the same situation? If everyone knew their wishes ahead of time, rather than as a game time decision?
It’s a technique we use with our toddler. If she has a dentist appointment or an upcoming party, we tell her about it days beforehand, giving her plenty of time to process the information.
These choices are theirs to make, and no one should pester them, or god forbid go so far as calling Child Protective Services, especially when the newborn is healthy!
I am in no way insinuating that what happened was acceptable.
But I can’t help but wonder, if the couple had proactively communicated their wishes on these routine newborn care procedures - the way any doula, natural childbirth instructor or birth advocate would advise – would they have run into such friction?
Stephanie Dawn, Sacred Birth Mentor, had a more empowering hospital birth than her previous home birth! Why? She says it was because of her birth plan. Everyone in that room knew her wishes and what to expect. No surprises or arguments.
What are your thoughts? Has anyone experienced difference in treatment during hospital births when they had a birth plan vs. no birth plan? I’d love to hear from you on this subject!