Wanting to Induce, Hospital Sends Police to "Overdue" Pregnant Mother

Good thing this wasn't me... I would have had plenty of police visits as our local Virginia hospital started heavily pushing induction at 36 weeks. I never went back after the dominoes started falling (those leading to the ubiquitous 'domino effect' of U.S. hospital birth) and continued with our planned homebirth, which began in our baby's own perfect timing at 44 weeks, 1 day. For more on why 'due dates' are fictitious, see these articles:

Why Pregnancy Due Dates are Inaccurate

The Lie of the Estimated Due Date

By Kate Sikora
for Sydney, Australia's The Daily Telegraph

news image pregnant 20100116

Rochelle Allan, with husband Daniel Jones

A HOSPITAL that wants a mother to have her baby induced sent police to her home after she failed to keep an appointment yesterday.

Rochelle Allan, who is reluctant to be induced even though her baby is 12 days overdue, was told by the hospital they intended to go ahead with the procedure when she came in.

But after speaking to her midwife following a visit to the hospital the day before, and being assured her baby was fine, she decided not to attend the hospital the next day.

Now Ms Allan is furious after the two police officers arrived on her doorstep after they were called by Bathurst Hospital.

Wanting a home birth, Ms Allan, 24, has been under the care of a private midwife and had been attending the hospital daily to monitor the baby's health.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the police officers at my door," Ms Allan said.

"They told me they had been asked by the hospital to check on my welfare because I had not attended.

"The hospital knew I did not want to be induced and they gave me no medical reason why I should be."

Throughout her pregnancy, Ms Allan and her partner Daniel Jones have been regularly attending the hospital's antenatal clinic for mandatory tests and scans to monitor the baby's progress. A hospital spokeswoman confirmed police were sent to Ms Allan's house to conduct a "welfare check".

The spokeswoman said doctors were worried about the mother as she had previously complied with all appointments.

Ms Allan said that she had decided on having a home birth after a "horrific experience" at the same hospital two years ago when their son Bailey was born.

"I was induced and I spent 48 hours in labour," she said.

"I don't want to go through with that again."

Ms Allan is not against medical intervention and said she would not hesitate to deliver at the hospital if her baby's life was threatened.

"If they had told me that my baby was in danger then I would have the baby in hospital," she said.

"But they could give me no reason and all the tests show that there are no problems."

By late yesterday, Ms Allan had started labor at home and was in the care of her midwife.

This afternoon (AEDT), Ms Allan received an apology from The Greater Western Area Health Service for the unexpected police visit, saying they just wanted to check she was alright.

"We are sorry if it caused her any distress but our intention was to check on her welfare," area health spokeswoman Sue-Anne Redmond told ABC Radio today.

The health service denied it was trying to pressure Ms Allan into being induced.

Hannah Darlene from the Australian College of Midwives said calling on police to check on patients was not "common practice".

"It doesn't sound like someone who was shunning care in any way and under those circumstances it's certainly not common practice," Ms Darlene told ABC radio.

The incident comes as the debate over the safety of home births continues, with the Federal Government under pressure to change the law to allow midwives insurance if they attend a home birth.

Homebirths Australia secretary Justine Caines said the case demonstrated how women "are too often treated during pregnancy and birth very poorly".

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Ted Weaver said women were usually induced 14 days after their due date.

"If the mum did not want to be induced after 14 days then you would conduct extra tests," he said.

"The reason people get worried about going overdue is because there's a slight chance that the baby could die suddenly in utero for no reason."


  1. Wow, Dr. Momma, 44 weeks???
    I went 42 weeks 2 days because I believe my due dates were wrong and did not feel my baby's life was in danger.
    I only slightly regret being induced, bc I had hoped for an unmedicated birth, and the pitocin was really painful.
    I wish there were not so many fear tactics used to pressure pregnant women.
    We are scared into believing that ALL babies must be born in hospitals, and that is just not true.
    Thanks for sharing this article- good for that Mom for standing up for herself.
    I'm from Virginia, BTW!

  2. I would really like more information on the very last quote in your post--where is it from, and what info is used to back it up? After going through the Braley Method course and having a successful natural birth I feel pretty versed in natural birthing, but have never heard of that! Dr. Bradley discusses a case where the mom was pregnant for an entire year before the baby came all on their own. just wondering what research that quote was based on! thanks! :)

  3. Having had four late babies, the topic of induction is all too personal for me. I really really hate the fear that is so freely dispensed by the medical community, in my opinion, not just regarding late births but pregnancy and birth in general. I wish we could find a way to conduct ourselves where safety did not have to equal great anxiety over every possible thing that could go wrong, which seems to be the focus of modern medicine.

  4. Megan - you'll have to clarify which quote you are questioning.

    I believe you mean this one, "The reason people get worried about going overdue is because there's a slight chance that the baby could die suddenly in utero for no reason."

    It was stated by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president, Dr Ted Weaver (an OB).

    I am NOT familiar with research demonstrating that there is a higher rate of spontaneous death of infants inutero at 40-44 weeks as compared to 36-39 weeks.

    There is always the chance of 'spontaneous' death inutero -- in fact, 50% of conceptions that take place do NOT end in live birth (and most of these are naturally terminated within the first 30 days before a woman knows she is pregnant).

    So I cannot back up or qualify Dr. Weaver's statement -- partially because I do not believe it is based in accurate statistics.

  5. Thanks Dr. Momma! that's exactly what I was questioning and from the research I've read I agree with your take on it whole- heartedly. :)

  6. I was induced two days after my first sons EDD. I still believe that it was too soon. I feel that I should have been more vocal with this, instead of just going with what everyone said.

  7. I had my baby at a birthing center. The pediatrician we were going to use told me to call her after the birth to set up an appointment. I did, but because it was a weekend and she wasn't available, she told me to take my baby to a hospital for a colleague to evaluate my baby (she wanted the baby seen in 24 hours). When I got to the hospital, they admitted my baby in NICU and kept telling me that I didn't have prenatal care and that "I should have had my baby in the hospital." They said my daughter "may have an infection" and that they wanted to keep her "just in case." When I said no, they threatened to call CPS on me. I was scared, so I just went along with what they wanted to do. My baby was in there for 3 days. All the tests were negative but they gave her antibiotics "just in case," kept criticizing going to a birthing center. She was fine, no fever, eating great (breastfeeding) and pooping/peeing normally. They wanted to keep her longer, but when I told them I was afraid I wouldn't be able to afford it, they let her go. I defintely feel like the hospital punished me for where I gave birth.

    1. That should almost be a discrimination law suit.

  8. A slight chance the baby could die in utero for no reason...

    Um, which could happen at ANY week of the pregnancy?

    And if it's for no reason, than how can it be for the reason of post-date?


  9. I love your website.

    I disagree with the implied conclusion of this article, however. From the topic I thought the hospital sent police to drag the woman to the hospital to induce, when in fact they just wanted to check if she's ok.

    Is that so hard to understand? Your patient is over 40 weeks pregnant and always showed up on appointments. When she failed to show, wouldn't you start wondering if something happened to her? Maybe she was home alone and fell down the stairs or slipped in the kitchen? I wish my doctor were this caring.

    I'm guessing after this conundrum the hospital will no longer check on their patients no matter what the circumstance is. If the patient is home alone and unconscious, well, too bad. Is that what we want?

  10. I do agree with the above comment. If the office staff was worried about her and thought she might need some help, then they did the right thing. I might do the same in their situation. And we would all be thanking the policemen like crazy if this woman was desperately in need of their help. And would we be so harsh on the hospital staff then, for going the extra mile?

    My mother in law is a nurse and she worries so much sometimes when people don't show. Because she cares whole-heartedly not because she is pushy. And why didn't this woman just have the common sense to give them a phone call and explain her reason for not coming to the appointment? Not all hospital staff have hidden agendas... some really do care, some really do have a heart of gold.

    One of my mother in-law's favorite patient's (pediatrics') was not at her appointment. They called her caregiver (her grandmother) and there was no answer. Of course my mom was worried but felt it was out of her hands. She read in the news paper a few days later that the little girl's grandmother had had a seizure while holding the 9 month old, fell over on her, and smothered the little girl to death. I am sure my mother and her co-workers wish a police officer had been sent that day.

    1. I would agree with the above two articles. However I have worked in the medical field for over 15 years and I see first hand all the time how mothers are pressured, guilted and downright bullied into "going along with the program". I've seen so many incidences where if the mother is reluctant, they scare the father and the woman's parents who are there for the delivery to talk her into an induction or c-section. Do you have any idea the increased risk a mother is up against with those "all too common" proceedures?
      I'm sorry, but I don't believe for a moment they were concerned and that was reason for the 'welfare check'. They would not spend the time to just "follow up" with a paient who was overdue and didn't show for an appointment. They would CALL her, maybe, but send Police? That is not routine. It was a clear pressure tactic especially since they knew she was to birth at home. It was a huge step to force her into their facility to birth. Do you have any idea how much they can charge for an induced birth? It's quite the money maker. Not to mention, I hear the talk and know the spite the common medical worker feels over women who choose to birth without drugs or in their own homes... having a woman not choose their facily is like spit in the eye and I believe they were going to do their best not to let her "get away" with it.
      You would all be surprised at how the medical staff talks/feels about patients who inconvenience them.

  11. While it is nice to think the hospital were being cautious and caring, the mother was having a home birth and had an attending midwife. She was only going through the hospital for the regular testing and scans. So If she didn't turn up, maybe she was in labour, at home with her attending IM. I would not like the be in labour at home and have the police knocking on my door. The hospital should not have sent anyone. A phone call would have been fine. I booked into the local hospital in case of transfer and one of the midwives picked up the phone to call me. This could have been dealt with that way.
    I think if it was the hospital staff being careful, they were being too careful. They had seen her 24 hours prior with no problems.
    I would take it as being a bit bullying personally. I would much rather a phone call for a welfare check instead of having the police turn up like I'd done something wrong.

  12. There are other natural ways to get a womans body to go into labor. Acupuncture and Maya Abdominal Massage are two ways. For more info on Maya Massage go to ArvigoTherapy.com They have practitioners in most States. I've practice Maya on 4 first time moms 38 or 40 weeks pregnant #1 went into labor 3 days later and gave birth 7 days before her due date at home #2 went into labor 3.5 days later and gave birth 3 days past her due date #3 went into labor 4 days past her due date/ it was a posterior baby and was a more difficult birth #4 came to see me 4 days past her due date and went into labor 14 hours later and gave birth 29 hours after I treated her in a hospital without interventions. It works, it feels good and it potentially speeds labor and delivery!

  13. I dont understand why hospitals are so fast to induce. I have had 1 spontaneous labour at 37w0d, but I have had 2 inductions, at 37w2d and 36w4d. The first was because my husband was being deployed to Afghanistan and there was no way I would have coped in labour on my own. I made the choice for that one, and I stand by it. But the second was because of MY health. I was very unwell during the pregnancy and everything got suddenly worse at 36 weeks. It was my endocrinologist, not my Ob, that decided on the induction. I am glad he did. That said, it is not something that anyone should consider lightly, nor should it be GIVEN lightly. The restriction in your movement really hinders your ability to labour effectively. Ever tried having a shower in labour, without getting a cannula wet? Its seriously hard work! IF I ever have another baby (3 is enough at this point), I hope that my health is stable enough to have another spontaneous labour. At home. But, one out of those wishes would be enough for me.

  14. The hospital was paranoid they were going to lose the extra fee for induction. For crying out loud! 42-44 week terms are as common as going to the bathroom! This is why it is good to never have them involved in the first place. Sending the police? Oh! perhaps that is how the devil likes to induce labor these days by getting a pregnant woman so upset that there could be problems and they can then say: "we told her labor induction was necessary"! But such is the nature of Guardian-Ward relationships and such are they that subject themselves to them.

  15. Chelsea:2o yrs old this was my 1st child. They induced me because I did 4 days, I repeat 4 days active labor. I was fine tho. Not in to much pain, pretty ok, for the fact I couldnt sleep I was fine. the baby was good.
    And then the last time I went to the hospital they addmited me to a room and gave me pitocin. It was horrible. It made me excessivly vomit. every contraction I was throwing up, I couldnt eat anything because of the medication when I was barely eating or sleeping for 4 days. Yet me and my daughter were perfect, neither of us had any anxiety or pain, until the pitocin came. then she was forced to come out. She got stuck in my birthing canal with one arm folded by her head and they pushed her back in to rotate her (so so painfull) she ended up having joint problems in her shoulder because they forced her to come out then pushed her back in. She also had a low body temp because they made her come so quickly, they put her on my bare chest to warm her(such a sweet experience tho) neither of us were sick before or after, just during the induction. I had such a better birthing plan for my daughter. I mean seriously I had been active labor 4 days and they tell me, we are going to give you something to help move the baby along. I said ok, big mistake. ( and my daughters EDD was june 14 wasnt born till the 22.) she didnt want to come out that day either she wasnt ready, she was taking her well deserved time. I wish I would have let her take more time, yet I was glad to finally hold her.

  16. One of my friends was a young mom and told the doc she wanted to go the two weeks, they didn't listen to her because she was young and "didn't know anything" so she was induced five days past her "due date." Sure enough her child was five pounds and ended up in the NICU because they took her before she was done cooking. I hate "modern medicine" sometimes.



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