Playing With / Death by Childbirth

Basic Trope: A woman (usually cleanly and unrealistically) dies in childbirth
  • Straight: A woman dies in childbirth.
  • Exaggerated: Every woman who gives birth dies trying.
  • Downplayed: A woman has an extremely difficult birth and is in danger of death, but she survives.
  • Justified:
    • The woman has a disease or a condition making it unlikely that she will survive childbirth.
    • The show is set in a time period before medicine and hygiene were sufficiently advanced to keep this sort of thing from happening... Or after.
    • In a Mr. Seahorse situation, the problems inherent to pregnancy and childbirth in a being that is simply not designed for it.
    • Bacteria (such as those responsible for pupureal fever) have become resistant to all known antibiotics. Infections are more common (even with hand-washing), and C-sections are out of the question because the risk of infection makes them too dangerous.
    • Women in this setting tend to be married off and become pregnant at a young age (before their pelvises and cervixes are fully developed), and/or have many closely-spaced pregnancies, putting them at a higher risk of complications.
    • Prenatal care is lacking, so problems or conditions that could lead to a riskier birth go unnoticed or untreated. In addition, medical care during childbirth may be insufficient. (For example, a setting in which women in childbirth are assisted by mothers/sisters with no medical training, or folk-healers rather than actual midwives or doctors.)
    • The woman is giving birth at home, and runs into complications, but she is unable to get to a hospital in a timely manner or at all.
    • The culture in which she lives believes that All Women Are Lustful, and therefore that suffering in childbirth is a divine punishment and not to be interfered with, or that only "bad" women get complications and die, so there's little or no medical intervention.
  • Inverted:
    • The woman lives, but the baby dies.
    • A zombie woman gives birth to a baby, and the woman comes back to life because of this.
    • The woman lives, but the father dies in an unrelated incident.
  • Gender Inverted: Bob gives birth and dies as a result.
  • Subverted:
    • It looks like she's going to die (perhaps in a show where this sort of thing is common), but she pulls through.
    • She lives, but she's badly injured (for example, she gets an obstetric fistula)
    • Antibiotics are available to treat childbirth-related infections.
    • She has a Caesarean section
  • Double Subverted:
    • ...but then she gets septicemia and dies after the fact.
    • She dies as a (direct or indirect) result of her injuries later.
    • Complications other than bacterial infections exist, and/or the infection in question is resistant to available antibiotics.
    • In this setting C-sections are not performed on the living, but performed only if the mother has died, in the hope of possibly saving the baby.
  • Parodied:
    • Having the baby causes Alice to split neatly in half, perhaps because the baby is gigantic.
    • The baby leaves his/her mom's body as if he/she were a Chest Burster.
    • The baby kills their own mother after being born.
  • Zig Zagged: The woman is about to die. Miraculously, she lives! But then she gets septicemia and is dying... but then a mage heals her! But she dies anyway because the spell failed. Then somehow she gets brought back to life...
  • Averted: No mention is made of dying in childbirth and the birth itself goes normally.
  • Enforced: "This actress is quitting the show. Have her die in childbirth!"
  • Lampshaded: "Before you ask, reader, no, this heroine's mother did not die in childbirth, although I can see why you would assume that, given how often it happens."
  • Invoked:
    • A curse is put on Alice so she'll die in childbirth.
    • The baby is stuck and/or breech
    • A man impregnates a weak ill woman to fulfill a prophecy where The Chosen One is born right before his mother dies.
  • Exploited: A man wants to witness her death out of pure hatred and decides to see her child get born because this takes place during a time where Death By Child Birth was very probable.
  • Defied:
    • A blessing is put on Alice so she's temporarily immortal when she gives birth.
    • Alice's midwife knows how to do an episiotomy or C-section and even how to minimize the risk of infection, thus saving Alice.
  • Discussed: "We aren't living in the Middle Ages, after all. With our standards of hygiene, it's unlikely that Alice will die in childbirth."
  • Conversed: "Dying in childbirth? That's supposed to be really common in shows like this, isn't it?"
  • Deconstructed: The death is portrayed realistically, with days of agony, screaming, massive blood loss, etc... Worse, with such a high childbirth fatality rate, the local population starts to stagnate, with most women unable to birth more than one or two children without dying, and even more are discouraged from wanting children by it. The birth rate declines and the death rate remains the same.
  • Reconstructed:
    • The characters know what a Death by Childbirth is like, so they take steps to prepare for it, should it happen.
    • A school for midwives is opened in the area, training nurses in how to coax a mother through childbirth safely. The death rate in childbirth declines.
    • The citizens push for a change in the laws concerning the minimum age for marriage, and for birth certificates to enforce it, so that girls don't end up giving birth in their early to mid teens, when they themselves are still growing.


Back to Death by Childbirth
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PlayingWith/DeathBychildbirth