Pregnancy isn’t a disease … but neither is a gunshot wound and both kill


I realize that homebirth advocates tend to lack basic knowledge of science, statistics and human physiology. I also realize that they are gullible and easily manipulated by others into believing they are “achieving” something by having a homebirth. That’s why they are so eager to acceept complete and utter falsehoods about childbirth. Nonetheless, there are some falsehood that are so obviously idiotic that I have trouble understanding how anyone could believe them.

Case in point, one of the beloved tropes of the homebirth and natural childbirth movements:

Pregnancy is not a disease.

Evidently this is supposed to invoke the following bit of logic:

Doctors treat disease; therefore, doctors are unnecessary in pregnancy.

There’s just one teensy, weensy problem. Doctors don’t treat “disease” per se; they treat all the human conditions that can result in death, disability, pain and loss of function. Some of those things are diseases, but many are not.

Doctors treat gunshot wounds and they are not diseases, but they can easily result in the death of the wounded person.
Doctors treat car accidents and they are not disease, but they can easily result in the death of the affected individual.
Doctors treat broken bones, and broken bones are not typically caused by disease.
Doctors treat allergic reactions, and they are not diseases.
Doctors will treat you if you are poked in the eye in an effort to save your sight, but getting poked in the eye is not a disease.
Doctors will treat you if you have severe menstrual cramps, but menstrual cramps are not a disease.
Doctors will treat you if you want to control your fertility, but fertility is not a disease.
Doctors will treat you if you want to interrupt and end a pregnancy, but pregnancy is not a disease.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. It is a matter of common knowledge that we turn to doctors for help, sometimes lifesaving help, with many things that are not diseases. Therefore, the fact that pregnancy is not a disease in no way obviates the need for doctors to be involved with it.

What do pregnancy and childbirth have in common with the list of non-diseases treated by doctors.

1. Pregnancy and childbirth routinely kill babies and mothers. Indeed, in every time place and culture, pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death of young women.
2. Childbirth routinely leads to injuries of both babies and mothers. A baby suffocating to death from shoulder dystocia does not have a disease, but it is worthy of treatment.
3. Fecal incontinence from a 3rd degree perineal tear is not a disease, but doctors know how to prevent and treat it.
4. Postdates pregnancy is not a disease, but it does kill babies.
5. Postpartum hemorrhage is not a disease, but it kills many women each year, even in first world countries.
6. Neonatal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the baby) in labor is not a disease, but it permanently injures and kills babies.
7. Labor pain is not a disease, indeed pain itself is not a disease, just the body’s response to a variety of different stimuli, but that does not mean it isn’t worthy of treatment by doctors.

Again, I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea by now. Claiming that pregnancy is not a disease and therefore should be allowed to proceed unhindered is like claiming that tripping and breaking your femur is not a disease and should be allowed to heal unhindered. In other words, it is pure nonsense.

So the next time someone advocates for natural childbirth or homebirth because “pregnancy is not a disease,” feel free to respond:

“Gunshot wounds aren’t a disease either. What’s your point?”