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CNN's Elizabeth Cohen on How to Fight for Vaginal Birth

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Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen sat down to discuss defensive medicine, cesarean rates and the fight for vaginal birth with Heidi Collins in the CNN Newsroom.

Cohen offers several tips on what she calls delivery room discussions:

  • Is this an emergency or do we have time to talk?
  • What would happen if we waited an hour or two?
  • Are you sure the baby is too big for me to deliver?


The segment with Cohen touched on one of the biggest problems that pregnant and laboring women face today, which is being risked out of vaginal birth—not for medical reasons, but because doctors don’t like being sued.

Click here to view the video

Cohen also discussed Joy Szabo’s recent VBAC. Joy Szabo made news for protesting Page Hospital’s VBAC ban and threat of a court-ordered cesarean. She moved five hours away to Phoenix just to have the chance to give birth vaginally in a hospital.


Related articles:

Mom fights, gets the delivery she wants (CNN)

A typo of surgical proportions (ICAN Blog)

Defensive Medicine and Internet Message Boards

VIDEO: CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen Discusses VBAC and Cesarean Section

Joy Szabo Interviewed by Ron Reagan on Air America

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

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Reader Comments (14)

Oooh, those are good questions!

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

I am tickled pink about this. High five to Elizabeth Cohen AGAIN!

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

I would change the "are you sure this baby is too big..." to "HOW are you sure..." The first is easily answered with a flat "yes" which is just the doctor's opinion; the second requires actually transmitting knowledge and revealing the doctor's reasoning. Of course, s/he may still lie/mislead/misinform ("this baby is too big because we estimate the fetal weight to be 8 lb. 7 oz....."), but at least it opens up a bit of dialogue.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Here are the answers you can typically expect to those questions:

Yes it is an emergency and if you want to take the time to talk, your baby could DIE!

We can't wait, unless you want your baby to DIE!

Yes, the baby is too big and if you try to deliver it vaginally, the baby will DIE!

Sorry, I'm a little resentful.

Its more of the same advice that counseling mothers is all that is needed to change the unnecessary dangers that women and babies are exposed to during childbirth.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenne

It totally puts the responsibility of the soon-to-be victim of defensive medicine, which I think is a shame. however, I'm still excited to see the seed planted that you can question your care provider.

December 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

I don't know. I can hear every intervention happy OB and L&D nurse in the country laugh out loud about this. Seriously, if it were only that simple. You have to understand the answers and understand how you got there to begin with.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermaria

I think it's awesome that I had a successful VBAC the same day Joy did!! And we both went past our "due date", too! Yay! Thanks Unnecesarean for all the wonderful posts helping to keep me motivated and informed during my pregnancy!

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Kelly, I am so happy for you. I just went and saw all of your pictures. Beautiful! Congratulations on your new addition.


December 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

As a nurse (although not an L&D nurse), I agree with Maria. Those delivery room questions are laughable. I rarely see calm delivery room "discussions" going on between patient and doctor when the decision for a section has been made. Seriously, how naive is Elizabeth Cohen, senior CNN medical correspondent? These questions need to be answered prenatally. The best chance to avoid a C-Section is to find a provide with a low C-Section rate. Sorry if I sound a tad cynical.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterReality Rounds

Women should skip question one, because the answer will always be "yes" and they wont get anywhere. I did not like how the article implied that women don't have the right to question things if it is an emergency. Women always have the right to question what is happening and why. Question one just hands providers an easy way out. I mean, I guess it's good that women are being told to question this stuff at all, but why start with a question that will shut all the others down? She should know if it is a true emergency by the way they are rushing her to the OR - if that is not happening then there is time to talk. And even if that is happening, she should still be able to question what is happening on the way and be a part of the decision making process.

December 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Z.
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