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Joy Szabo Made Some Noise about a VBAC Ban, CNN Listened


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The Szabos of Page, Arizona are gearing up for the birth of their fourth baby. Unfortunately, with three children and a family business to run, Jeff Szabo will not be able to move into an apartment in Phoenix, 350 miles away, with his wife for the last few weeks of her pregnancy.

After the widespread blog coverage following the publishing of an article in the Lake Powell Chronicle, CNN covered the story and interviewed the Szabos for a television segment.

Time was on the side of Joy Szabo. Had Joy not begun discussing her delivery early with care providers and showed up at the hospital in labor, Page Hospital’s CEO, Sandy Haryasz, would have sought a court order to force her to have her baby surgically removed.

The article, Mom won’t be forced to have c-section, appeared today on the CNN web site. The following is an excerpt:

(CNN) — Jeff Szabo was by his wife’s side when she gave birth to their son Gabriel seven years ago, and he was right there holding Joy’s hand when their younger sons Michael and Daniel were born, too.

Jeff Szabo was there when Joy gave birth to (from left) Gabriel, Michael and Daniel, but will probably miss No. 4. Joy is now eight months pregnant, but when this baby is born, her husband will most likely be more than 300 miles away.

The reason: Their local hospital in Page, Arizona, won’t deliver the Szabos’ baby vaginally as the Szabos wish, so a week or so before her November 21 due date, Joy will drive 350 miles to be near a hospital in Phoenix that will.

Their local hospital says they’ll only deliver the Szabos’ baby, another boy, via Caesarean section. Joy had her second son, Michael, by C-section. Page Hospital says it won’t do a vaginal birth after a woman has had a C-section — known as a VBAC — because it has a higher than usual risk for complications.

So Joy plans to move to Phoenix in November, while Jeff stays in Page, in far northern Arizona, to take care of their three children and run the family computer business.

“I’m so upset about this,” Jeff says. “I’ve been there in the delivery room for all the other boys and I won’t be there for this baby, and I won’t be there for Joy.”

The Szabos and a growing number of other families are facing the choice of Mom having a surgery she doesn’t want or attempting a vaginal birth at a hospital that, in most cases, would be far away.

A mother’s choice

The Szabos’ story began in 2004 when she was in labor with Michael. Complications arose and doctors at Page Hospital feared the baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen, and so they performed an emergency Caesarean section.

“I’m grateful for that C-section,” Joy says. “It saved Michael’s life.”

Two years later, Szabo had a successful, uncomplicated vaginal delivery with son Daniel at the same hospital. She assumed she could have a vaginal birth this time too, but, she says, a month ago her doctor told her Page Hospital had changed its policy and she’d have to have a C-section.

Read more…


Related Post:

Page Hospital in Arizona Threatens Woman with Court-Ordered Cesarean

Photo: Page Hospital (Credit)


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Reader Comments (13)

My favorite part is the one where ACOG says the hospital is misinterpreting their guidelines.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

@Rebecca: Yeah, that was a fun exchange. Hospital: "We're just following ACOG guidelines." ACOG: "Hey now. We've got too much heat on us already, stop acting like this is our issue."

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentera newbie doula

I admit I was a little bit disgruntled when I first saw this article, thinking, "SHEESH, this is isn't exactly a victory - she's having to travel 300 miles to give birth, at great inconvenience and expense to her and her family, because of this highly debatable policy on which administrators and providers are refusing to budge," but then I read the article, and I must say I was more pleased than I expected with the overall article.

I really appreciate that they mentioned other potential conflicts in labor practices, and mentioned Childbirth Connection: "The key is to look around for a doctor or midwife who shares your philosophy by asking questions about their induction rate, or whether they perform episiotomies routinely, according to Carol Sakala, director of programs for the Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit advocacy and education group." They also got the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices in there - nice to see in a mainstream media article! While I;m glad they mentioned the shifting policies of ACOG, I would have liked some attention paid to the risks of repeat cesarean in comparison to VBAC, and to demystifying the reality of uterine rupture risks, but hey, we can't have everything, I know.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

Just glad to see something in the mainstream media that isn't solely focused on the dangers and alarm surrounding vaginal childbirth. It is refreshing to read something that includes references to Childbirth Connection and Lamaze. I also like how the article recognizes Joy is unfairly being pushed 300 miles away without her husband just to have a normal birth. It is also awesome they include that Joy has already had a successful VBAC. It illustrates that VBACs are successful. Way to go CNN.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClarissa Jarem

Even though I've read the story a couple of times over the last couple of weeks I'm still a bit disconcerted with the nonchalant attitude the hospital has about getting a court order. I'm glad CNN covered the story - and glad that the ACOG was quoted in it. The blame shifting has begun!

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPampered Mom

What a GREAT article! They pointed out that the risk of uterine rupture is less than 1%, pointed out that Page Hospital had already performed an emergency c-section on Joy when she WASN'T having one of those "risky" VBACs, mentioned that she'd already had a successful VBAC at Page, and exposed the hospital administration for their heavy-handed tactics in threatening a court order.

I do wish they had emphasized the safety of VBAC a little more, maybe mentioned that uterine rupture is not always catastrophic, given some more info on the risks of c-sections, and highlighted March of Dimes' campaign to lower the c-section rate. But for CNN, that was AWESOME!

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I can't imagine giving birth without my husband there. I hope things work out so he can be there after all.

Was a home birth not an option?

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

I rather wish the title of the article wasn't so upbeat. I mean, yeah, she's not being forced to have a section BUT in order to do that, she's having to tear apart her family and incur untold expenses because a hospital apparently not equipped to handle an emergency section* threatened legal action. I appreciate the outlook of the article generally, but damn, this isn't really a win, imo.

I hope the father is able to make it for the birth, though, and that she has a wonderful birth.

*Which makes you wonder how they do L&D at all...

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Tara, you just reminded me of how excited I got when the BMJ study about eating in labor being safe came out. I was so excited about the media coverage that I realized I had lost track of the big picture... there hasn't been a case of a pregnant woman aspirating in decades who were anesthetized according to today's standards of anesthesia. The fact that I was getting giddy that one British journal touted the safety of eating in labor was kind of silly... it's what everyone with any common sense has known ALL ALONG.

And yet I'm still happy that CNN is getting thousands of hits on an article that mentions VBAC bans and court-ordered cesarean threats.

October 15, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

Jill: I didn't mean to be a spoilsport. I mean, it IS good in that she had another option, it just seems like a really crappy other option to have. Especially when, you know, even HER OWN OB says that a VBAC is totes cool with him. But I too first was all "yay!" when I read the headline, and then :( when I read the article. I'm really pleased that the article wasn't all "OMG AND CRAZY WOMAN WANTS TO SPLIT HER UTERUS WIDE OPEN!" though. :) Baby steps.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara
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