Babies: Special Delivery Episode 305 / Fighting for Life

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Every day, almost 11,000 babies are born in the United States. That's one every 8-seconds. But every three-and-a-half minutes, a baby is born with complications. From the very minor to the most serious, multiple births, pre-term births, low birth weights, and a variety of birth defects affect the delivery and health of more experiences pregnancy complications. These cases require Special Delivery.

Special Delivery is a series of forty-six one-hour multi-segment documentary-style programs that will explore the drama of real-life pregnancies and the moment of delivery.

From the high-risk maternity ward at Prentice Women’s Hospital of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, this episode of Special Delivery details the stories of four women facing difficult deliveries.

Twenty one year old Deleon Bridges was admitted two days ago with pre-term labor. She’s already dilated to five centimeters but at 34 weeks, her baby may be born with breathing difficulties. This is not Deleon’s first pregnancy. Her son was born at 34 weeks and had to stay in the hospital for three weeks because he wasn’t breathing on his own. Two years later, Deleon gave birth to a daughter, Jasmine, at 36-weeks. Then, tragedy struck. Jasmine passed away when she was only 22 days old. After the death of her infant daughter, Deleon got pregnant and miscarried after four months. So this time, at 34 weeks, she’s especially anxious.

Lisa Yore’s doctor is concerned. She isn’t due for seven more weeks; but she’s started labor. Doctors have given Lisa medication to slow down her labor, because babies born at 33 weeks have underdeveloped lungs. In Lisa’s case the risk is multiplied by three. Normally a two-dose, 48-hour course of steroids would be given to help the triplet’s lungs mature…but Lisa doesn’t have 48 hours. In the next hour her body will decide if it is time for Lisa to be the mom of triplets. Lisa and her husband Garth already know that two of the babies are boys. The third, “Baby C,” will be a surprise to everyone when they finally deliver.

Twenty nine year old Kristen Stewart is expecting her second child. She’s 37 weeks pregnant, almost term, but she’s come to the hospital to see if her baby’s lungs are mature enough for immediate delivery. If his lungs are mature, doctors want to schedule Kristen for a C-section as soon as possible, because staying pregnant could kill her. Kristen has pre-eclampsia which occurs in 6 to 8 percent of all pregnancies. Its symptoms are elevated blood pressure, fluid retention and protein spillage in the urine, which could damage the kidneys. Kristen’s blood pressure has been hovering around 130 over 100 and doctors are concerned that she is at risk for stroke and seizures. The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby. Her last pregnancy resulted in an emergency C-section; something doctors want to avoid this time around.

If Kristen delivers tomorrow, she will be fine. But, if the amniocentesis shows the baby’s lungs are underdeveloped, doctors would postpone the delivery and Kristen could get worse. It’s a catch 22.

Twenty five year old Delores Clanton wasn’t scheduled to be here for another month. But, last night she was admitted to the hospital because of high blood pressure. Now she has edema. Edema is fluid retention, common in the third trimester; but severe edema could be a sign of toxemia, another name for pre-eclampsia. Doctors have decided to induce her labor, but it hasn’t been easy. Delores gave birth to a daughter five years ago by c-section. She wants to deliver this baby naturally. It’s called a VBAC, vaginal birth after C-section and it’s risky. As Delores’ pregnancy has grown, her uterus has thinned out and has become particularly vulnerable around the C-section surgical scar. The pressure from a vaginal birth could cause her fragile uterus to rupture. If her uterus ruptures, Delores could bleed extensively; she could need a hysterectomy and her baby could die.

Special Delivery is produced by LMNO Cable Group, Inc. for Discovery Health. Eric Schotz and Bob Niemack are Executive Producers.