The hours following a C-section can be grueling, and it's not uncommon for doctors and nurses to prescribe painkillers to moms who need help managing their pain. Although this practice is routine and totally OK (C-Sections are no joke, right?), there are some risks associated with taking painkillers following a C-section. If you're about to get a C-section, you need to hear about this mom who fell asleep while breastfeeding after her C-section, and why she's suing a Portland, Oregon hospital for negligence. Romper reached out to Portland Adventist Medical Center and is awaiting a response.
On Aug. 4, a mom named Monica Thompson sued the Portland Adventist Medical Center for negligence after she accidentally suffocated her 4-day-old son, Jacob, on Aug. 6, 2012, according to The Washington Post. When the tragedy occurred, Thompson was breastfeeding Jacob under the influence of narcotic painkillers and sleep aids, medication that was prescribed to her following a routine C-section. A portion of the $8.6 million lawsuit reads, according to People:
Jacob suffocated under his mother while she was under the influence of narcotic and sleep aids. His inability to breath [sic] caused desperation and anxiety. His breathing eventually stopped. His pulse was weak or absent.
In response to the lawsuit, Portland Adventist Medical Center released the following statement to CNN:
This was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family. Adventist Medical Center is committed to providing quality, compassionate care to all of our patients. We are reviewing the claims being made and we are unable to provide any additional information at this time.
Per the complaint, a "still drowsy and groggy” Thompson didn't realize Jacob was unresponsive until an hour after she had begun breastfeeding, according to Oregon Live. When Thompson called for help, nurses issued a "code blue" for Jacob and they immediately transported him to the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Unfortunately for Thompson and her husband Graham Thompson, Jacob was taken off of life support on Aug. 12, just six days after the accident. The loss was heartbreaking for Thompson and Graham, especially since it took 12 years to conceive Jacob.
Thompson is suing Portland Adventist Medical Center because she told People she believes nurses shouldn't have left her unattended with Jacob while she was on heavy medication.
Thompson's attorney, Diego Conde, explained, according to CNN:
A hospital doesn't get to load a breastfeeding mother with narcotics and sleep aids, drop a newborn child on the same bed to breastfeed, and abandon them to their luck. It is senseless.
It's important to recognize here that Thompson and her attorney aren't shaming moms who take painkillers after a C-section or the doctors who prescribe them. Thompson's issue lies with the hospital's choice not to monitor her more closely while she breastfed Jacob under the influence of medication. A court of law has yet to determine if the hospital did anything wrong in Thompson's case, it doesn't seem same for a drowsy and very groggy mom to breastfeed her newborn child while unattended.
Furthermore, the lawsuit speaks to a growing concern about hospitals in the United States in regards to C-sections. Throughout the past few years, countless hospitals have faced lawsuits for C-section related deaths. In 2016, TV judge Glenda Hatchett's daughter-in-law, Kyira Adele Dixon, died from hemorrhaging following a routine C-section at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, according to People. Dixon's husband, Charles Johnson IV, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital because he felt doctors didn't adequately monitor Dixon. Johnson IV believes Dixon's death could have been avoided if her doctors had paid better attention to her first signs of bleeding. Although Johnson IV's situation is different than Thompson's, both of their cases suggests doctors might need to be more cautious when treating their patients. Romper reached out to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is awaiting a response.
Although Thompson and her husband Graham welcomed a baby girl into the world two years ago, the pain of losing Jacob is still fresh and the hospital's apology doesn't erase her hurt. Thompson said, according to People:
Jacob was a true miracle baby. My firstborn and only son. I am sharing our story in the hopes that no mother or family will ever have to suffer through a tragedy such as this. What happened to us could’ve easily been prevented had the nurses been doing their job. I am Jacob’s voice in making sure his life won’t be in vain.
It goes without saying the Thompsons' story is heartbreaking — no mom or parent should ever have to go through her experience. Thompson is exceptionally brave for sharing her story, and hopefully it will help new moms who might find themselves in a similar situation.