Cape Coral, Florida (News-Press) -- A Cape Coral woman who took a Charlotte County hospital to federal court to avoid having her fourth cesarean section delivered a boy this weekend after agreeing to deliver by C-section at Cape Coral Hospital.
Jennifer Goodall, 29, asked a federal judge this month to intercede in her dispute with Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. Goodall wanted to have a vaginal birth, but the hospital's ethics panel deemed it too risky.
Doctors also threatened to report her to the Florida Department of Children and Families if she did not agree to a C-section. The judge sided with the hospital.
Goodall went into labor Friday afternoon and, when she realized it was not progressing, was driven to the Cape Coral health center, according to her supporters.
"I welcomed my son into the world after laboring, consenting to surgery when it became apparent that it was necessary because labor was not progressing," Goodall said in a written statement posted to Facebook. "This was all I wanted to begin with. I am grateful to the medical staff at another hospital who assisted us in a safe and healthy delivery."
Goodall's case brought national attention to the issue of vaginal births after cesareans, known as VBACs, and the shortage of doctors in Southwest Florida willing to help women have the procedures.
Goodall's supporters protested Sunday outside the hospital. They have also helped to gather national attention to the issue through their #JenniferIsNotAlone campaign on Twitter and Facebook as well as a petition on change.org.
They consider Bayfront's determination as an attempted "forced" C-section and have collected more than 6,000 names for a petition urging the hospital to reconsider its C-section policies, said Megan Nickel-Martin, chapter leader of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.
"Our end game specifically with the hospital is just that this shouldn't happen again," Nickel-Martin said. "Don't do this."
Bayfront representatives would not comment about the case, citing patient confidentiality rules. But hospital spokeswoman Marti Van Veen said in a written statement Monday that Bayfront supports the right of women to have VBACs when medically appropriate.
"Each patient has unique circumstances, and we rely on the clinical judgment of the physicians who work with their patients to make sure the birth plan is safe and supports the best possible outcomes for both mother and baby," she said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists generally considers the procedures safe. But doctors say they can be risky for certain mothers, including those who have had multiple C-sections.
Goodall released a statement Saturday via Facebook:
"Thank you to everyone from around the country and the world for the outpouring of support. I welcomed my son into the world after laboring, consenting to surgery when it became apparent that it was necessary because labor was not progressing. This was all I wanted to begin with. I am grateful to the medical staff at another hospital who assisted us in a safe and healthy delivery. Now, my family's focus is on welcoming our newborn into our family with love, and on my physical and emotional recovery from the intensity of the last few days."
Women hoping to deliver children vaginally after they have already had cesarean sections — known as VBAC procedures — often have a hard time finding doctors willing to help. One Cape Coral woman took a Charlotte County hospital to federal court when it told her she must have a C-section. She lost that case and, this weekend, delivered by C-section at Cape Coral Hospital.
- 38 percent of Lee County deliveries were by cesarean last year.
- 41 percent-plus of Collier County's deliveries were C-sections
- 33 percent C-sections nationally