Mamas on Bedrest: Common Sense Isn’t Very Common

September 24th, 2012

My dear friend Renee has a saying that is so apt, “Common sense isn’t very common”.

The first time she said this, we both busted out in laughter and shook our heads at whatever crazy occurrence had just transpired. Since that time, I have said to myself time and time again regarding various occurrences, “Common sense isn’t very common.”

But when I see the lack of common sense in medicine and science it really gives me pause. I recently got a MedScape alert in my e-mail inbox entitled, “Prenatal Diagnosis: What About the Mother?”, and it was a short video commentary by Jack Rychik, MD, Director of the Fetal Heart Program at the Cardiac Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Rychik was explaining how medicine has progressed to where we can now make diagnoses of congenital heart abnormalities in fetuses as early as 14-16 weeks.  In his video he states,

“Making the diagnosis of congenital heart disease before birth provides multiple benefits. We can offer education to families. We can, most importantly, make a plan. When these babies come to term and they are ready for delivery, medication, care, and management can be offered to optimize the overall outcome for these patients.”

Dr. Rychik goes on to say.

“What we have appreciated of late is that, by offering these fetal echocardiography services and making a diagnosis [of congenital heart disease], we create a potential for maternal stress. In essence, these are mothers who have been given this diagnosis in their fetus but then there are months that elapse before actual management takes place. This is a period of time with potential for significant stress.”

At the risk of seeming snide, can we all give a collective, “Duh!” How can one not realize that if you tell a mother that there is something wrong with her child, she is going to be upset? How can one not realize that if you tell a pregnant mama that there is something wrong (and as serious as a congenital heart abnormality) with her unborn child, that she’s going to be upset? When I read his statement, “we have appreciated of late…” Really?? You’re just getting this?? Once again, common sense isn’t very common.

I am as appreciative as the next person of the advances that have been made in science and technology that enable advances in diagnosis and treatment in medicine. But I am even more concerned that medicine and science have forgotten that for all their ease of knowledge and function, technology and science are being used on and for people. Medicine and science are not just fascinating and interesting disciplines. At their core, and I am speaking specifically about medicine here, they are about improving the human condition. Medicine is (or should be) about making people feel better, easing their pain and restoring them to a state of good health. This should always be the guiding principle whether we are talking about improving the lifestyle of a diabetic, improving mobility and function in a paraplegic or making an early diagnosis and treatment plan for a pregnant mama and her unborn baby. To forget the human element in favor of medical science is a travesty. We cannot lose the human element to medicine.

When I first started Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, I was (and continue to be) adamant that the focus be on mamas. So often with obstetrics and pregnancy the focus shifts to the baby and mamas seem to be relegated to ‘gestational carriers’. While I don’t believe that any obstetrician or women’s health care provider ever intends for this to happen, many mamas begin to feel secondary within their pregnancies and this becomes even more pronounced when the pregnancy becomes high risk.

The goal with Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond has always been to be a support and resource for mamas. For mamas locally, that can mean home visits to perform personal care services such as grocery shopping, running errands, light housekeeping, etc… For mamas online, that means support via answering questions, social interaction, workshops and webinars and teleseminars.  Having had 2 high risk pregnancies, I know what it feels like to be spoken of in the third person or to have the baby and pregnancy made tantamount with you feeling as if you’re “just there”. We know that you are doing the absolute best that you can and our goal is to provide as many tools and resources as possible so that you can continue your pregnancy as far along as possible.

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