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Letter: Love is not armor

Dr. Siri Fiebiger of Minneapolis writes, "Love doesn't immunize against pregnancy complications: early ruptured membranes, poor fetal growth, worsening maternal health, preterm labor. We share a

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I celebrated the positive home pregnancy test with my husband, and then broke into tears. My first delivery had been complicated, requiring neonatal intensive care for our child with consequent health issues. My obstetrical training revealed more possibilities.

I deeply knew what I have since repeated to countless patients - that ‘love is not armor.' Women cannot protect their pregnancies, their children or themselves from harm. Love doesn’t prevent losing one in 10 first trimester pregnancies. Love doesn’t lower the 4% rate of major birth defects, including those that babies don’t survive. Love doesn't immunize against pregnancy complications: early ruptured membranes, poor fetal growth, worsening maternal health, preterm labor. We share a collective exhale as a baby takes its first breath.

Love doesn’t ensure an employer’s support of the pregnancy: healthcare insurance, absences for appointments, workplace accommodations, or even continued employment.

Moreover, love doesn’t soften stress’ impact (elevated cortisol and adrenaline) on maternal and consequently baby’s health, seen in childhood diabetes and obesity rates. Unmetabolized generational stress is realized in epidemic rates of hypertensive disease and mental health challenges, affirmed by epigenetic and weathering studies.

As an obstetrician for more than 30 years, I have listened to my patients make their own heart grounded decisions. They carefully assess their unique situations, honoring their current commitments to children, partners and themselves. I have been privileged to support them whether or not they decide to continue their pregnancy - and I do so because we all deeply know that love is not armor.

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Dr. Siri Fiebiger lives in Minneapolis.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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