Dr. Amy is mean to me!

Ceridwen Morris thinks I am mean to her. Who is she and what is she upset about?

Ceridwen blogs for Babble.com on the group blog Being Pregnant. And Ceridwen, like others in her group, routinely makes empirical claims about pregnancy and childbirth that are flat out false. For example, yesterday she wrote a post entitled Why Midwife-Led Care Should Be The Norm. The keystone of her argument is this:

Midwife-led care is the norm in most of Western Europe where statistics for maternal and fetal health are excellent.

There’s just one teesy, weensy problem with this claim; it’s not true.

I commented:

The country that has the most comprehensive system of midwife led care is The Netherlands and it has the WORST perinatal mortality in Western Europe and poor maternal mortality as well. This has been the case for years and the Dutch government has sponsored a variety of studies to find out why Dutch perinatal mortality is so high.

A paper published in the British Medical Journal recently revealed and astounding finding: the perinatal mortality rate for LOW risk women cared for by Dutch midwives is HIGHER than the perinatal mortality rate for HIGH risk women cared for by Dutch obstetricians!

Ceridwen might have responded that (as is obvious) she was unaware of that fact; she might have promised to do more research on the issue to find out how midwife led care really affects mortality rates, but instead she said this:

… You’re mean. You scare women. I’ve read your website extensively and I wish you’d seriously find a way to be productive instead destructive. You cannot criticize the home birth community for a stubborn one-sidedness and a fact-spinning agenda when you are the epitome of that kind of bullying and manipulation. I’m sorry, I’ve been polite before but I’ve had it!! I am not interested in these polarizing debates and anyone with any sense is with me.

And this:

I never mentioned The Netherlands.

And, best of all, this:

Whatever. I’m not [changing] it.

Let’s take a step back and analyze Ceridwen’s credentials for writing about the epidemiology of midwifery care:

Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother and childbirth educator. She is co-author of It’s All Your Fault and From the Hips as well as several screenplays …

In other words, Ceridwen has no training in obstetrics, midwifery, science, statistics or epidemiology, yet she believes that she is qualified to expound on these topics. As I wrote earlier this year:

A … number of childbirth websites are run or staffed by childbirth educators, which is rather surprising, since they entirely lack the education, training, and experience to provide scientifically accurate, unbiased information…

In fact, you only need 16 HOURS of childbirth education, including indoctrination is the ideology of the certifying organization…

… [L]ess than 2 hours apiece are spent on the massive subjects of labor and birth, obstetrical tests, and C-section and VBAC. That would be fine if childbirth educators limited themselves to giving women basic familiarity with what is likely to happen during pregnancy and labor. Unfortunately, childbirth educators do not limit themselves to what they could reasonably do. Instead, they offer medical advice, criticize obstetric procedures, promote ideology above science, and proselytize for their personal preference. And for those tasks, they are entirely unqualified.

So Ceridwen is grossly unqualified to opine on the statistical “superiority” of midwifery care. But she’s also unqualified in another more fundamental way; she believes that anyone who questions the truth of her claims is being mean to her.

She’s not alone. Like many midwifery advocates, homebirth midwives and even some highly trained midwives, instead of responding to criticism of her empirical claims by defending them (or retracting them) as professionals are supposed to do, she whines that she is being treated unfairly. Her twitter feed is even more revealing on this point:

Very illuminating. She made a false statement, and I’m a “bitch” for pointing it out.

This is an example of a problem that poisons the natural childbirth blogosphere. Natural childbirth advocates believe any challenge is “mean.” They blithely write and post complete falsehoods and rather than regretting the misinformation they spread, they resent the people who point out the lies.

This phenomenon extends to those who are actual professionals of midwifery. There are few if any scientific controversies in midwifery. No one would be so “bitchy” as to point out to another midwife that her claims are false. This is also why it is impossible to expect that homebirth midwives can regulate themselves. The truth is meaningless for these people; the only thing that counts is “support.” Unless they are forced by publicity or legal authorities, they never condemn one of their own no matter how many babies die as a result of ignorance and incompetence.

Rather than addressing Ceridwen, who is frankly too immature to even understand that she is OBLIGATED to correct falsehoods in her own writing, I will address the editors of Babble:

It is time for Babble to assign a technical editor (a doctor) to vet bloggers’ material for factual accuracy. It is wrong to allow women who are have no medical (or even midwifery) qualifications to make unchecked factual claims about pregnancy and childbirth. The bloggers of Being Pregnant should be free to write about their personal experiences, their feelings and their opinions. However, when it comes to empirical facts, claims must be vetted for truthfulness. Clearly bloggers like Ceridwen Morris have no compunction about spreading absolute falsehoods and won’t even correct them when they are pointed out. Babble must accept responsibility for ensuring that its readers are receiving scientifically accurate information about pregnancy and childbirth.