For women who lose babies after 20 weeks, one of the most common causes is cervical insufficiency, meaning the cervix is weakened or compromised. Now, a minimally invasive procedure is helping at-risk women deliver healthy babies.
Michael and Jamie Good have a busy household, as brothers Zach and Gabe watch over baby sister Adrianna. But getting to this point was far from easy.
"The last two babies I had, I left the hospital alone," said their mother, Jamie Good.
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She miscarried twins at 10 weeks. Then she lost two boys; one at 17 weeks and another at 20 weeks. Each loss was crushing, even for Michael, who saw his share of tragedy when he served in Iraq.
"I expect that we're in combat, we may lose somebody. And so you can mentally prepare yourself for this. This, there's nothing you could do to prepare," Michael Good said.
Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN at Mercy Medical Center, is a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine. He says, in some cases, pregnancy loss is due to cervical insufficiency.
"There are things we can potentially do that can prevent that from happening, even in their first pregnancy," Atlas said.
It's called cerclage. Doctors surgically tighten or close the cervix, before or during pregnancy. Instead of major surgery, doctors can now perform robotic cerclage, working through five small keyholes in the abdomen.
"We're going in and out of the cervix, and then we tie it down tight just like that purse string," Atlas said.
Doctors delivered Adrianna by C-section at 36 weeks, weighing six pounds, five ounces.
"This little bundle of joy was active and nursing, and just a normal baby girl," Jamie Good said.
After cerclage, the stitches remain in the body. The procedure is outpatient, and most patients can try to conceive just a few months after.