Transcript: Tips From a Childbirth Attorney to Help Avoid Childbirth Complications
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Tips From a Childbirth Attorney to Help Avoid Childbirth Complications and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: I’m sure you will agree that it’s always valuable to have all the facts at your fingertips so you are prepared. So why should childbirth be any different? This week I’m discussing this with special guest Gina Mundy. Gina is an attorney that has specialised in childbirth cases for more than two decades.
Gina wants to share the mistakes that are made during labor and delivery with the world and has authored a book drawing on her knowledge to help parents prevent these mistakes and have a healthy baby. Gina has poured her heart and soul into her book, which took more than one year to put together with thousands of hours invested.
During our chat, you’ll hear Gina talk about her book and the following topics that are covered. The top 10 most common facts and issues in baby cases and how the drug Pitocin often plays a part. The importance of doing a birth plan to help you make better decisions, which may be necessary at a difficult, highly stressful time for mums.
The importance of having someone who is there for you during this difficult time, and able to make difficult decisions on your behalf if necessary.
And so, so much more.
Hi Gina and welcome to First Time Mum’s chat. I’m delighted to have you here today to talk about your book journey. Can you please start by telling us about yourself and your background?
Gina Mundy: Well, thank you for having me today, I’m looking forward to our talk. So I’m a mom of 3, that’s my most important job. I have a 19 year old daughter and a 15 year old daughter and a son but I’m also a child birth attorney. So, for those of you who don’t know, a child birth attorney, basically if something goes wrong during the birth of a child, whether it’s a mistake or it’s a complication, and then that results in the child being permanently injured, sometimes a baby will, you know, pass away at birth because of a mistake or complication and then in some of my really sad cases, I’ve had where mom has actually passed away during childbirth. So as the attorney, it’s my job to find out what happened, what went wrong and more importantly, what could have been done, so a healthy baby could have been born or mom could have been around to raise her baby.
So I’ve done this for over 20 years, but those questions have taken me across the country. I’m from the United States of America and more than once meeting with different doctors and nurses and midwives, basically analyzing every aspect of labor and delivery and trying to in these cases, figure out what happened.
So basically there’s a lot more to my experience, but we’ll leave it at that for now, I think that gives you a good overview. I took that experience and then I authored the book, “A Parent’s Guide to a Safer Childbirth”. So, instead of getting involved after a mistake has been made, I’m now trying to get involved before childbirth in hopes that we can prevent these mistakes and complications, because when they happen and it results in unfortunately something happening to baby or mom, it’s heartbreaking.
The hardest part of my job, is talking with the family, about the day their baby was born or the day, mom passed away, it’s heart wrenching. So you gotta remember what I do, it’s supposed to be a preventable mistake that took baby or preventable mistake that took mom, so it’s really hard. So basically I’m just doing everything I can to hopefully prevent some of these in the future.
Helen Thompson: So could that be a mistake by a doctor? Is that mainly what it is or could it be something that went wrong like eclampsia.
Gina Mundy: Absolutely, preeclampsia is definitely in my cases. So, yes, there could be something with preeclampsia and maybe there’s a mistake in how it was managed during labor or something and then maybe something happened to baby or mom, but yes, these are mistakes, the cases I’m involved with with are mistakes or complications. Basically the allegation in the cases is that something went wrong because somebody on the delivery team did something wrong.
So in my book, I wrote chapter 11. In chapter 11 they’re the top 10 most common facts and issues in a baby case. So, the number one most common factor or issue in all of these baby cases is a drug called Pitocin. Pitocin induces mom’s labor and makes her contract and when Pitocin is used, that’s typically when mistakes are made and that’s when something happens to baby. So that’s really important for moms to know because these days, a lot of moms are getting induced.
Now in the United States of America, we are supposed to be more conservative with our use of Pitocin. We don’t increase it as fast, but there’s other countries where they increase it pretty quick. When you do that, you can cause some problems. So it’s a common factor. The number one most common factor in my legal baby cases when a mistake is made.
Then I also created chapter 14, which is basically how to have a safe Pitocin induction. So it would educate mom, hey, this is what Pitocin does, this is what it does to your body. This is, probably the recommended max, I would recommend based upon the Pitocin inductions I’ve seen gone wrong. Then the chapter ends with the 14 tips on basically, over the last 20 years, with my analysis of these cases, I wrote these 14 tips, this is how you can have a safe Pitocin induction. This is what I would tell my kids if they were having a Pitocin induction.
Then when there’s other things, you got to remember labor and delivery. That can get busy at the drop of a hat. Here’s the deal. It’s not like a routine surgery center, where you have surgeries at, 9, 10, 11 in the center of the hospital. They’re staffed accordingly, according to how many surgeries they have that day. It doesn’t work like that with babies. In this world, baby’s like, okay, we’re ready and if a bunch of babies say, hey, we’re ready and believe it or not, there are busy times of the year. There’s busier times of the year when babies are born and there’s busier times of the day, believe it or not.
So you go in at that busy time and in chapter 11, that’s another issue in the cases, is that usually the labor and delivery units are very busy. The delivery teams are running hard and they’re running thin and they can’t be by your bedside maybe as much as you need them to be. So that’s why in the book, so I’m like, hey, careful, because if you have a busy labor and delivery unit, I’m like, this is what you need to know. So if it happens to you or you’re in labor and your units busy, this is what you have to know to make sure that you and baby are going to be okay and that you’re protected.
So chapter 11 is great, it’s information that is not out there, it’s not in any other pregnancy book. Then for each issue, I then give some practical guidance on, this is what you’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen during the birth of your child, and that you guys leave happy and everything’s good.
Helen Thompson: You mentioned that drug. What basically does it do to your body, Pitocin?
Gina Mundy: So it induces your labor. So basically it makes mom’s uterus contract and by making mom’s uterus contract, then the body has certain cues and then everything starts kind of kicking in, but starting to contract, it’s kind of like that first step. So then, eventually maybe those contractions will break your water. Those contractions are going to start dilating your cervix and whatnot, but you got to remember with contractions and I know this very well, but contractions when you’re contracting, that is the uterus coming down on baby. It’s like compressing the baby and it actually cuts off the oxygen to the baby for a short period of time. Listen, that is completely normal and babies are made to handle contractions, but when you’re on Pitocin and they’re increasing it too much and it’s making your body contract too much it’s decreasing that oxygen to the baby way too much.
You can actually know in labor. It’s very easy to know if baby is not tolerating the Pitocin induction or if there’s too many contractions and baby’s not happy. You can easily tell by looking at their heart rate. So remember, we all know this, baby’s inside you. So it’s hard for the doctors to come in and, you know, assess, how’s baby doing?
Well, baby’s inside you, it’s hard to tell. Now, they can look at mom and be like, oh mom looks a little swollen, mom, are you okay, how do you feel, what’s going on? Mom then communicates how she feels and they can make a diagnosis or figure out what’s going on. It’s much harder to figure out how baby’s doing.
So the number one way that they do that is by looking at the baby’s heart rate and it’s even in chapter 14. if you’re undergoing Pitocin or Pitocin induction you got to make sure you pay close attention to that baby’s heart rate and listen, I can look at a baby’s heart rate and tell you is the baby a rock star or is this baby struggling?
This is good stuff. This is good stuff that parents should know and understand. So I have a whole chapter on how to read your baby’s heart rate and listen, you just need to know enough to alert your doctor, that’s it. Let’s say the labor and delivery unit, if they’re busy, and eyes are off baby for a minute, and Pitocin’s running, and you’re watching as you contract, so your contraction goes up, that’s the bottom graph, your contraction goes up, and your baby’s heart rate goes down, that means baby doesn’t like the contractions, and we gotta get the doctor, simple as that.
I’m not telling you, hey, we got to learn how to read strips and be mini doctors. No, you just need to know how to tell if your baby’s handling, you know, contractions or whatnot. In the book, I talk about a really sad case on chapter 11 when I give an example. It’s very, very broad, it’s very general. Basically a mom came in the labor and delivery unit was packed and everybody was running really, really hard. So they put the monitor, they put the baby’s heart, they started the baby’s the heart rate and the doctor, they were good. They noticed, they didn’t really like it too much, but they were reassured enough that they’re like, okay, you’re gonna be okay, we’ll be back. Well, after they left the heart rate stopped graphing and mom and her family, they didn’t understand the importance of the heart rate.
So the busy delivery team was caring for other patients and then when somebody came back, like, oh no, the heart rate stopped graphing. The family was like, yeah, they don’t know any different and they tried to get the heart rate back and they couldn’t. They pulled in the ultrasound machine and they confirmed that on the labor and delivery unit, the baby passed away.
If the family had known what was in my book and how to understand, the book shows you how to know how your baby’s doing in labor, how to know. So that was hard, that was very, very difficult. It’s stuff like that, that if they know and they understand it’s just going to help. This is one of the biggest days of your life.
So I would say preparing for childbirth because I know everybody likes to get the nursery ready and the cute clothes and have all the talks and the names, what are we going to name the baby? I’m telling you, knowing what I know for the past 20 years and what I’ve seen, one of the most important things you can do is prepare for childbirth.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think doctors, as you say, sometimes are very rushed off their feet and they don’t have the time to explain everything to you and if you’re prepared, as you say, it definitely helps. Do you work with home births as well or is it just in a hospital?
Gina Mundy: Just hospitals. Yeah, for the most part I’m just hospitals. It’s usually the midwives that are doing home births, and it just depends if they’re insured or not. So I really just do the hospital births. So that’s probably more of my specialty.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, that case sounded really scary. So as you say, if they knew beforehand what to expect. We all know that childbirth is hard and it’s not easy, but knowing what to expect I think is good. I’ve done a lot of podcasts with mums who have said that they actually like to plan a birth program beforehand. They like to plan how they want their birth, whether they want it natural. They put everything in there and what they want and when they want it, et cetera.
Gina Mundy: Oh, yeah. So chapter 6, I highly recommend doing a birth plan all day long because you’re going to then entertain different options in your head. Yes, you have a plan. Listen, childbirth is very hard to plan for, but the act of planning, the act of thinking, the act of taking that time to go over the different possibilities. So do I want C section or do I want a natural birth? Okay, you’re going to go through both options in your head, you’re going to weigh okay, great I’d like a natural birth, but if your doctor said C section, you’ve entertained that in your head. You know what it’s about, even though that’s not what you wanted, you understand, especially if you read my book, I have a whole chapter on C sections. You’re going to understand the importance of it so you can have more streamlined communication with your delivery team and you’re going to be able to make better decisions if you have a plan and you’re ready.
That is just important because remember, in something like childbirth, you’re mentally and physically focusing on delivering your baby. So if your doctor throws a curveball at you, that element of surprise can throw you off to where it’s like you’re trying to focus and trying to say, okay, what is he saying and it’s hard to make a good decision, but when you have that plan and you’ve entertained all of these possibilities, especially after all the possibilities and everything in my book, you’re going to be ready and you’re going to be able to make those good decisions because another one of the hardest parts of my job is that when something goes wrong during labor and delivery, most of the time, the families are one decision or mere minutes from a healthy baby. So again, it’s another reason that you need to be prepared because you got to remember a lot of times doctors may give you options when you arrive to the hospital or during labor.
So, you have to weigh those options or otherwise you’re just relying on the one person, maybe the nurse or a resident or somebody, you’re just relying on one person to give you information and that’s it. If you’re doing a plan or something, another thing is you do it from the comfort of your own home. So you can jump on your phone or jump on your computer, look something up, call a friend, do whatever but when you’re in the hospital, especially if you’re heading into labor, making a plan is just huge, just huge. So yeah, that’s chapter 6, definitely make a plan.
Helen Thompson: I think also having somebody who you trust next to you as well, so that if you are in that position and you’re having a difficult birth and you can’t do it by yourself, you need somebody else to help you make that decision. That might not be a partner, it might be a doula, it might be a friend, it might just be somebody who you really trust to be there for you so that they can help you make that decision. Then you’ll have more of a support mechanism as well.
Gina Mundy: I love it. I feel like you’ve read my book because now, so you went chapter 6 on the plan, chapter 7 is something called a baby advocate and that is having somebody designated as the baby advocate and advocate for you too, whether it’s your husband, it’s mom, it’s a really good friend, it’s somebody who’s probably going to be there anyway, so why not give them a job?
So I go through, really what their role would be as a baby advocate and then at the end, I just have 5 simple things like, listen, they’re going to be there anyway, give them a job. Just like starting a new job, you need some training, so here’s some tips, here’s 5 things that your baby advocate needs to know to help advocate for you, during labor and delivery, because remember that focus, that mental and physical focus of delivering this baby and getting the baby out and just shutting your eyes and imagining that minute you hold your baby. So, that’s where you’re going to be.
So you can remember labor is the only time in life that I can ever think of that it’s okay to be in pain but it’s very painful and you want that pain to stop. It almost takes you to a different state of mind and listen, if you don’t want to feel the pain and you get an epidural, now you’re medicated. So it is important to have that person, who’s just as excited about baby as you are. They’re advocating for you, even acting sometime as a liaison between the delivery team and you. The beginning of my book is an introduction story, and it’s where my sister played the role of a baby advocate for her daughter, and it kind of goes through what she did and how she was able to speak their language and you know how she was able to communicate effectively to help get baby delivered.
So it’s a pretty cool story. Yes 100% that would be probably one of the biggest things that I would recommend as a childbirth attorney and in the book too you can see I’ve been a baby advocate remotely. Even if you have maybe somebody like a labor and delivery nurse, that’s, your aunt or something like that. I get a lot of calls because of what I do and so I’ve never stepped foot in the hospital to help somebody. All the stories in the book, they’re calling me on the phone. So, even if you just have someone that somebody can call to help, you know, that’s important too.
Initially when I wrote this, I wrote this for my kids because if something happened and it crossed my mind, I may not be around for the birth of my grandchildren, and I’m like, oh my goodness, my kids need to know what I know. I know things that most people don’t know. I mean, this is all I do.
So I started to write the book and then realized, as I’m writing, when I went from attorney to author and just trying to learn and how can we prevent these mistakes, I mean, it was just a flood, so, you know, it’s been therapy for me. This is not easy and I talk with the delivery team and the family’s being affected. It affects the attorneys. The first 3 months of writing this book, I cried as I went back and I had to go through these cases and think of the families and where they’re at now, even, sometimes 20 years later, from my very first case in February 2003 it was very difficult but eventually it gave me the clarity, cleared my head and it was like this catalyst to just boom, get this out, do everything I can in my power, so no other families have to go through this. So, it’s actually the last acknowledgement in my book, is to the families and just telling them that, listen, I’m taking not so much their stories, but the experience with them and trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
I have in this book thousands of hours. As I told you before we started, I get up at 3 am and write and I did it for 14 months. Cause I’m still a practicing attorney, I’m still a mom, I’m still a wife but when you have like a clarity and a mission, you adjust and maybe one day I’ll be back to a normal schedule.
Helen Thompson: I think now that your kids are grown up, as you said, one of them is 19, it might make it a little bit easier for you to get back to a normal schedule.
Gina Mundy: I was a working mom. So that meant my kids are really spread apart, 19, 14 and 9.
So you’ve still got a 9 year old.
Yes and he’s a boy. So he was actually in my office last night and he’s just crying. It’s like, I want my mommy and I’m like, I’m sorry, I’m telling you by Christmas, I will be normal again. So let me get this book out there. Get the family’s reading. I know that I’m starting to do the best I can.
Helen Thompson: So you’ve mentioned your book which is great. So if anybody wanted to get your book where would they find it?
Gina Mundy: The best place to go is my website. It’s GinaMundy.com and I’m sure you’ll put it in the show notes below the show.
So there’s something really important on the website. So if you go to the website and there’s a tab for expecting moms and in that tab is chapter one. Chapter one of my book is so important. It is all of the lessons that I have taken from the baby cases and their lessons that I learned, we should all learn from the families involved in the cases, they’re lessons learned from the delivery team and they’re lessons learned from the medical experts.
I can tell you, if you understand those lessons just from the baby cases and what you should know going into labor and delivery, it’s going to help you more than you know. So it’s literally so important on my website for free, download it. You don’t even have to give me your email address, I just want you to have a healthy baby and I was on a podcast talking about the baby advocate and how important that was, so then right next to that, I’m like, you know what, I’ll put the baby advocate chapter up there too, cause that one’s really important too.
So now both of those chapters are on the website and you can just take ’em, download ’em for free. I think the combination of those two, even if you don’t buy the book, will give you so much information that you need to know that it definitely will help you. I would say maybe a 20 minute read for chapter one, the other one, maybe, I don’t know, 15 minutes. So they’re quick reads that can really help a parent that’s expecting, or, you know, who else loves my book a lot, grandparents. Grandparents are going, yes, they want to protect their grandchild and it makes sense because that’s why I wrote the book was for my kids to understand and to know what I know. So it was kind of written so I have these healthy grandkids. So it’s funny, I’m seeing these grandparents kind of come and they just love the book and they’ll reach out and send nice messages or leave me a nice review, so that’s been kind of interesting too.
Helen Thompson: Oh, that’s really great. I’ve read the first couple of chapters. So can you get it on Amazon?
Gina Mundy: Yes, so you can just go on Amazon, you could just type my name in, Gina Mundy, or “A Parent’s Guide to a Safer Childbirth”.
However, this weekend, I was typing Gina Mundy and just, that’s how I always find my book and I noticed the other pregnancy books are on to me. So, they’re marketing, so if someone puts in Gina Mundy, they pop up first. So, you may have to scroll down. Don’t be afraid. Just just scroll down or put in “A Parent’s Guide to a Safer Childbirth” and it’ll come up.
It’s all over my website right when you click on it. It’s like buy the book here and it’s a direct link to where you can buy it on Amazon. So that’s probably the easiest, just head to the website and there’s some other tips in there and stuff that might be beneficial. This podcast, I have another area where all of my podcasts will be. So this podcast will be on my website along with the other ones that I’ve been on. So talking about the book and maybe some different tips that maybe we haven’t talked about.
Helen Thompson: Thank you so much, Gina, for being here. I really appreciate having you on the podcast. I mean, I could talk to you forever about this.
Gina Mundy: So thank you for having me on. You are just delightful and your podcast, I’ve been listening to your episodes, are amazing and I love how much you’re trying to help these new moms and what you’re doing is just awesome and I feel very, very honored to be a guest on your show. So thank you.
Helen Thompson: I really admire Gina’s dedication and desire to want to help mums be better prepared for the whole childbirth process and I highly recommend reading her book. As Gina stated during our chat, you can download chapter one of her book from her website without needing to provide your email address or other details, so I highly recommend doing this.
I’ve included links to Gina’s website and Instagram, as well as some earlier First Time Mum’s Chat podcast episodes, which I feel you will find beneficial, which relate to some of the topics that Gina and I discussed. This can be found at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/144.
I share each episode on the First Time Mum’s Chat Instagram page and you’ll hear me chatting live with folks I’ve interviewed from time to time. Please support me by following me and I look forward to meeting you during one of my lives.
Next week I’ll be talking with mother of two, counsellor Lisa Quinney, about the importance of taking care of yourself during the challenges of first becoming a parent and how the most challenging time of her life led to her current career. Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out next week and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favourite platform so that you get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they are live.