Recipe for a natural childbirth advocate

Yesterday a typical NCB commenter parachuted in to share her wisdom with us. She treated us to the usual parade of goofy “scientific” claims, errors in basic logic and ad hominem attacks. Then she topped it off with the NCB icing on the cake:

i attribute this to my lack of anxiety and the fact i felt very safe and comfortable. being in my home with my two midwives and husband was exactly what i needed in order to relax and give birth without fear.

This is a classic example of “magical thinking,” the belief that one’s thoughts have the power to influence outcomes, and it is unfortunately endemic among homebirth and NCB advocates.

Magical thinking is a form of immature cognitive reasoning. It is typically associated with young children who believe that their “bad” thoughts can cause bad things to happen. That’s why young children may blame themselves when a parent dies. They believe that previous angry thoughts about the parent have the power to actually hurt the parent.

Magical thinking is very common among NCB advocates. Using a similar form of immature cognitive reasoning, NCB advocates actually believe that their positive thoughts have the power to make their labor better, shorter, easier, safer, etc.

In its most ridiculous incarnation, birth affirmations, the immature and magical nature of the “reasoning” is obvious. The idea that “fear” causes childbirth pain and complications is just a less inane version of magical thinking. Even for some believers in NCB the claim “my thoughts have the power to make my labor uncomplicated” sounds silly. So they resort to what seems reasonable to them: “my lack of fear has the power to make my labor uncomplicated.” It’s just a different form of the same immature reasoning, that thoughts have the power to control outcomes.

Interestingly, while NCB advocates believe passionately, as passionately as any three year old, that their thoughts have the power to affect outcomes, they use this belief to different effect. Small children typically employ magical thinking to blame themselves erroneously for bad outcomes. NCB advocates, in contrast, employ magical thinking to take credit erroneously for good outcomes.

Extending the analogy of magical thinking as “icing on the cake,” we can come up with a “recipe” for the typical NCB advocate.


2 parts ignorance of basic science

1 part inability to reason logically


3 parts ad hominem attacks (e.g. “Dr. Amy is mean to me”)

and bake for 9 months.

Cool and frost liberally with magical thinking.

Voila! An NCB advocate.

Recipe variation: Increase ignorance of basic science to 3 parts to create a homebirth advocate.


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