Ina May, what’s the perinatal mortality rate for aardvarks?

Gaskin lemon logic fail

I can’t decide.

Does Ina May Gaskin really believe the crap that she spews?

Or does she simply have contempt for the intelligence of her followers?

Consider one of the the quotes for which she is best known:

Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.

What’s the purpose of this quote? Its purpose is to convince women to pay uneducated, untrained birth junkies (lay midwives, DEMs, CPMs) to attend them at birth on the theory that nothing is going to go wrong.

Does Ina May actually believe that nothing is going to go wrong? Or is she simply trying to dupe potential customers into believing it?

Let’s parse the quote:

1. Your body is not a lemon?

Ever notice that it is only natural childbirth advocates who insist that anything less than an idealized birth is a sign that a woman is defective?

I’ve read a great deal of the obstetric literature and I haven’t come across any obstetricians who even tangentially imply that a variation from ideal is a sign of a defect in the individual women. Obstetricians don’t tell women who have miscarriages that they are “lemons.” Indeed, they reassure women that miscarriages are a normal part of human reproduction and they should never blame themselves for miscarriages. They would no more think of a woman who needed a C-section as “broken” than they would think of a woman who needed an appendectomy as broken. It is only NCB advocates who try to convince women that they should be ashamed of complications and avoid that shame by pretending those complications don’t exist.

2. You are not a machine?

In find this particularly ironic since Gaskin’s implication that everyone can have an unmedicated vaginal delivery without complications suggests that she thinks that woman ARE machines that can faithfully churn out perfect children in an endless stream of perfect births. It is she who can’t acknowledge that many variations of pregnancy experiences, complications and outcomes, not medical professionals.

3. The Creator is not a careless mechanic?

So that would explain why no one ever has a miscarriage; there are no birth defects and there is no disease, right? Oops, that can’t be it.

Or maybe it is simple blasphemy, implying as it does that pregnancy complications are something that “the Creator” never intended but was too sloppy to prevent.

Or maybe it simply means that Ina May is a creationist.

4. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo?

That’s funny. Why didn’t Ina May invoke animals with which we are familiar like cows, horses, sheep, dogs and cats?

Perhaps it is because she knows that anyone with experience caring for farm animals and domestic pets knows that birth complications, dead offspring and dead mothers are quite common (horse intrapartum mortality is 13.7%; lamb neonatal mortality is 14.3%; among dogs 24.6% of litters experience at least one death), revealing her claim of perfect birth in the animal kingdom to be the lie that it is. How much better to invoke animals that are exotic so that Ina May can pretend that their births are perfect.

So what’s the perinatal mortality rate for aardvarks, Ina May? What is the complication rate for rhinocerous birth? Let me guess: you have absolutely no idea; you just figured that no one else would know, either, so they wouldn’t be able to recognize your claim for the lie that it is.

5. I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body?

Not exactly. Ina May actually recommends that you think unrealistically about your body and then pretend that the diagnosis of pregnancy complications reflects an obstetrician’s desire to insult you.

Now that we’ve parsed the quote, I have to ask:

Who believes this crap? And why?

Inquiring minds want to know.

217 Responses to “Ina May, what’s the perinatal mortality rate for aardvarks?”

  1. koffeewitch
    March 17, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    So, why didn’t Ina May mention domesticated animals? Really? Because domesticated animals have been selected bred by human beings to carry certain physical traits. Now we have animals like the French Bulldog, that are incapable of free whelping. They ONLY give birth by c-section. Wild animals have been perfected by natural selection for million years. Ancestors who could not survive birth died and did not pass on their genes. How many human women experience normal birth without drugs and intervention? Not very many. Just a handful. Why would our bodies be unable to do this? We’re not speaking of the occasional anomaly here, but in general. In general, why would human females need drastic medical intervention for a nomal physiological process? I suppose dear Dr. Tuteur would also be fine with over a third of the population needing say, colostomy bags.

    • An Actual Attorney
      March 17, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      When did evolution end?

      • koffeewitch
        March 17, 2014 at 9:42 am #

        So you’re implying that we have evolved to be unable to birth naturally?

        • koffeewitch
          March 17, 2014 at 9:46 am #

          That would mean that the c-section rate has gone up from 7% to 30% because in the past few decades women are now unable to birth?

          • FormerPhysicist
            March 17, 2014 at 9:52 am #

            What risks are you willing to take with an infant as it’s being born? What risks are you willing to take with a mother as she labors in childbirth?
            C-sections (and surgery in general) have gotten immensely safer. Natural childbirth has NOT.

            I’ll take a little scar and a few weeks recovery (not even necessarily longer than from VB) for a healthy infant. Even if is was only (only!) a 1 in 100 chance of something going really wrong.

          • Houston Mom
            March 17, 2014 at 10:41 am #

            Part of the rise is due to older first time mothers like me. All my eggs are in one basket so to speak. I was fine with the c-section after 24 hours of labor and two hours of pushing and my son not budging. It gave me a healthy, living child.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 17, 2014 at 10:52 am #

            Increasing maternal age certainly contributes, but the bigger cause is the improvement in c-section methods. Better anesthesia, better technique make the downsides of c-sections far, far less than used to be. Consequently, if you weigh the costs and benefits, the benefits are still there with lower costs, of course it’s going to become more common.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          March 17, 2014 at 9:50 am #

          No, we can state with authority that childbirth seems safe to you because of modern obstetrics, NOT evolution. Only someone who knows nothing about evolution would think that it results in perfection.

          • koffeewitch
            March 17, 2014 at 10:26 am #

            Perfection? No, I would expect occasional problems. I would not expect that a third of women would be unable to give birth without major abdominal surgery. One out of every three; this sounds reasonable to you? Considering that our maternal mortality rates are getting worse, especially for low-income women and women of color, you might want to turn your “skeptical” eye onto the hospitals.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            March 17, 2014 at 10:44 am #

            Who said that women who have C-sections are unable to give birth vaginally?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 17, 2014 at 10:50 am #

            Once again, it is the NCB crowd telling women that a c-section means that their bodies are broken.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 17, 2014 at 10:49 am #

            No, I would expect occasional problems. I would not expect that a third of women would be unable to give birth without major abdominal surgery.

            What about 1.5%? Would you be surprised that 1.5% of women (less, actually, but go with it) are unable to give birth without major abdominal surgery?

            Because that’s the REAL implication of the current c-section rate. The problem is, we don’t know which women specifically are in that 1.5%. Therefore, we cast our net out large enough to make sure that we catch them. For sure we are going to collect a large number of those that didn’t require a c-section, but given how c-sections have improved so much in their outcomes, we would rather err on the side that saves babies. Oh sure, it would be wonderful if we knew exactly which babies need to be delivered by c-section and which do not, but at the moment, we don’t have that capability. Consequently, only about 5% of the c-sections that are done are for those who could not be born by other ways, but very few want to take that chance that they are among the 5%.

            We had two c-sections with our kids. I don’t know if either of them could not have been delivered without a c-section, but I don’t care. The odds of a bad outcome with the baby were still way too high. I’m glad we had access to c-sections and didn’t need to take that risk.

          • Happy Sheep
            March 17, 2014 at 11:38 am #

            Except that those groups have far far greater issues than the care they receive in hospitals. Many low income women have no prenatal care at all, thus GD, PIH, pre-e and ecclampsia are all missed until the land on the L & D doorstep. This is a failure of society, NOT of OBGYN. Also, unfortunately, these 2 groups overlap quite a bit, which is also not a hospital failure.
            There is also the factor that less “healthy” women are able to have children through ART. As well that older women are now able to have children later in life.
            No one has addressed it, but 30% is incorrect, it is not 1 of 3 women as many of that 30% is repeat c sections. 30% of all BIRTHS are c sections, but that doesn’t correlate to 1 in 3 women

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            March 17, 2014 at 11:49 am #

            I spent yesterday and am spending today at the Harvard Medical School annual review of obstetrics. Yesterday there was a terrific review of maternal mortality and the primary problem appears to be a mismatch between the increasing number of pregnant women with serious medical complications (pre-existing cardiac disease, cancer, serious chronic illnesses) and the number of obstetric intensivists to care for them.

            If you think about it, we’ve managed to dramatically reduce perinatal mortality by creating a group of newborn intensivists (neonatologists), newborn ICUs and a system of designating hospitals by what level of care they can provide for newborns. We have nothing remotely similar for pregnant women with complex medical problems.

        • An Actual Attorney
          March 17, 2014 at 11:03 am #

          No, I was implying that evolution continues. Some combination of genes won’t result in a spontaneous vaginal birth who can go on to reproduce. I’m not willing to play eugenecist with my own kids.

    • Happy Sheep
      March 17, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      If a colostomy bag reduced the risk to my child during birth, possibly.

    • ngozi
      March 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      One reason the c-section rate has increased is because more women who need them are actually getting them, not because hospitals and OBGYNs just want to perform more sections. I know a woman who is 87 years old who remembers the vaginal breech birth she had over 50 years ago. Her baby stayed in the hospital over a month, and she was in there almost that long. My mother’s first two hospital labors in the late 60s/early 70s lasted over 120 hours together. She got her vaginal birth, but the doctors had to wonder when she was going to wake up. Forget skin-to-skin contact, she was too out of it to even hold my brother. When my aunt saw my mom after giving birth she started crying because she thought my mother was dead. C-sections (uncomplicated ones) now save women from these horrors, and yes, I feel comfortable saying horrors.

  2. Mcrae Friedman
    February 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    The WHO recommends that c-section rates stay below 10%. The average for US hospitals is over 30%. Ina May’s practice has a rate of less than 2%. Her statistics are very good and healthy.

    • MLE
      February 16, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

      Incorrect. The WHO recanted on that figure and admitted that it had no basis in evidence. Also, Ina May let her own baby die and has attended the birth of at least two babies that died needlessly that I can recall.

      • Mcrae Friedman
        February 17, 2014 at 12:01 am #

        She let her own baby die? I didn’t know that.

        • koffeewitch
          February 17, 2014 at 12:20 am #

          Ina Mae lost a baby before she was a midwife, before she moved to the Farm while on the road.

          the WHO states that there is no optimum number of c-sections but states in Monitoring emergency Obstetric care that 15% is the upper acceptable limit.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            February 17, 2014 at 12:26 am #

            She didn’t “lose” a baby. She let her baby die rather than take him to the hospital. She watched him struggle to breathe for 12 hours before he finally died, no doubt in agony.

            The WHO states there is no evidence of an optimal C-section rate. That means that there is no evidence for a 15% C-section rate.

          • koffeewitch
            February 17, 2014 at 12:46 am #

            given the risk factors, WHO has stated that having a c-section rate over 15% is “unjustifiable”.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            February 17, 2014 at 12:50 am #

            No, it hasn’t.

            Moreover, Marsden Wagner himself did a study that showed that the average C-section rate in countries with low maternal and perinatal mortality is 22%. Furthermore, low maternal and perinatal mortality is compatible with C-section rates in the 40% range.

          • koffeewitch
            February 17, 2014 at 1:24 am #

            The issue of c-sections aside, the IMG quotes refer to issues such as routine episiotomies and forceps. Her point was that women are capable of birthing in most cases without intervention. When c-sections are needed they save lives. Why is questioning *routine* interventions so threatening? Hospitals have become more like birthcenters over the years: husbands can be present, there are now bed room-like birthing rooms and rooming in..even triage done in the room not the nursery. No shaving or enemas. Many Obs are even delaying cord cutting. It sounds like cutting edge doctors are taking some notes from midwives these days. If midwives are so wrong, why are hospitals imitating them?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            February 17, 2014 at 1:46 am #

            Gaskin is a quack with blood on her hands.


          • Young CC Prof
            February 17, 2014 at 3:52 am #

            The presence of a husband, or keeping mother and baby together as much as possible, aren’t medical interventions, they are policy changes intended to make families more comfortable at hospital birth. And they really aren’t terribly new, most hospitals have been doing that for decades.

            Forceps? Do me a favor. Look up the rate of forceps deliveries over the past few decades. You see a sharp drop! Why? Because c-sections are now so safe that, when labor is obstructed, c-section is almost always the safest way to resolve it. Safest for baby and mother.

            In other words, one reason c-sections are up is that forceps are way, way down. An intervention that’s very safe for the baby and reasonably safe for the mother has replaced one that was much riskier for the baby and sometimes caused severe tears in the mother.

          • koffeewitch
            March 17, 2014 at 10:05 am #

            There were a number of doctors who used forceps routinely. This means, the forceps were NOT necessary, the doctor just liked using them (you can see this phenomenon watching birth videos today, forceps pulled out for no reason whatever). C-sections are MAJOR abdominal surgery that cause risks to the woman for the rest of her life. After 3 c-sections, my my MIL had her uterus spontaneously rupture while she was driving home from work. She wasn’t even pregnant at the time. If the midwives at the farm can deliver almost 2000 babies with a 1.5% c-section rate (and without forceps) I think that doctors could probably also do a little better in this arena. If you all want to discourage home birth, you have to improve hospitals. the vast majority of HM mothers are multis who hated their hospital experiences. My doctors wouldn’t even let me birth on my hands and knees. They didn’t KNOW HOW. Then at the baby’s crowning, a dozen students came in and started talking about their residencies and sports scores while I was pushing out my baby. They didn’t ask… they just walked in because none of them had ever seen a natural birth before! Why would I let people be in the delivery room if they know nothing about natural birth? They did nothing to help, they just impeded my progress. An illiterate midwife from a developing nation would’ve done a far better job. I birthed at a teaching hospital and they weren’t even following current ACOG standards. It’s like they were all stuck in time, ignorant of evidence -based care. And THIS is why people go to midwives. Most CPMs are passionate about their profession and are far more current with the latest evidence. Hospitals are just starting delayed cord clamping. Guess who have been doing that for decades? Someday, hospitals will allow women to birth in any position the mother chooses. Someday, hospitals will catch up to the research about post-dates instead of going by that flawed study from the 1950s. Atleast, they’ll do this if there is enough financial incentive for them.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            March 17, 2014 at 10:15 am #

            Why are you obsessed with process over outcome?

          • FormerPhysicist
            March 17, 2014 at 11:53 am #

            “none of them had ever seen a natural birth before”. Oh, BS.

  3. Mcrae Friedman
    February 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Dr amy tuteur, what is your cesarean birth rate? How many natural, unmedicated births do you attend?

    • MLE
      February 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

      She’s retired. She probably attended plenty while on active duty, but if you read a few more entries you’d know that she attended at least a couple unmedicated births of her own children. That aside, what is your point?

    • Mishimoo
      February 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

      I’d rather have someone with a high caeserean rate, because I know that they know enough and care enough to deal with complications properly.

      • Mcrae Friedman
        February 16, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

        I recommend looking into the risks associated with high cesesrean rates.

        • Mishimoo
          February 17, 2014 at 1:20 am #

          Such as? Babies that “weren’t meant to live” surviving?

  4. CaliforniaDreaming
    June 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Oh Ina…. wife of a cult leader, and promoter of such bad misinformation anyone with 2 eyes and reading comprehension over a 3rd grade level can see it.

    Why do people listen to her? Are they so ignorant of nature that they think birth works easily if doctors don’t exist? Do they not read up on history?

    She IS the perfect figurehead for the American lay MW movement- thoroughly misogynist, worshipful yet clueless of nature, and completely IGNORANT of basic anatomy and physiology. Its magical thinking all the way.

    I will give her one thing- she is a great organizer. Anyone that manages to get this many people to follow such bad ideas, then to give themselves a title (CPM, purposely misleading), is good at something. Oh yeah, CULT SPEAK. Guess she learned somethings under Staphen Gaskin, other than how to submit to his will….

  5. Courtney
    June 8, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    I’d be curious to find out which coporate infant nursing formula companies sponor this crazy woman’s OB practice, becuase as well all know, western medicine practices are unfortunately nothing more than whores for drug companies, insurance agencies and in this case, my guess would be Nestle. Amy, for all of the insults you spew forth about undeduated midwives you spout even more hateful garbage -filled facts regarding “normal” births a.ka. corporately sponsored western medical births. I have never before seen such misinformation provided to pregnant women in the form of “medical” opinion, along with a healthy dose of fear -mongering coupled with a heaping helping of shame to top things off. It’s terribly shameful, really,your unprofessional behavior and your habit of calling anyone who disagrees with you stupid is really quite ugly as well. You seem to me to be a scared angry little girl, masquerading as an MD( VERY DANGEROUS combination) with very little self-esteem( see, anyone who calls someone with an opposing view “stupid”) and an ENORMOUS chip on you shoulder brought on by your very apparent but underlying state of having your job security THREATENED by the continual presence of midwifery. Shame on you for being a fear mongering misinformation spreading hate monger when your primary role and oath is to “do no harm”. I would turn and walk right out the door of your office if I was ever presented with a physician as hateful and bitter as you are. Jealously and fear will do terrible things to a human being and you are a prime example of that,and thankfully, you old-school institutionally programmed “doctors” are going by the wayside. Elightenment,dear “Dr.” would certainly serve you well.

    • Durango
      June 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Yawn. Errors of fact, typos, random all-capped words, scare quotes and even unintentional irony. Move along…

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      Conspiracy theories are the refuge of those who are ignorant and feel powerless. Thanks for offering us a perfect example.

      • RN Nicole
        June 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

        ^ What she said. That is EXACTLY it.

      • Courtney
        June 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

        Exactly how I feel about 98% of the content on this “medical” website,so Dr. Amy, we are in agreement about what fearful ignorant people do when threatened, just not in agreement over whom those individuals may be. To respond, briefly, before giving any more of my precious time to the hate mongering and insult flinging that goes on under the guise of medical education here, I am a well educated , well versed human being, and I do not feel powerless, but I do feel disgusted. Also, I was typing my response with a toddler sitting in my lap who happens to be very interested in buttons right now, hence the errors, but while baby sleeps, Mommy types.Insults and fear mongering are the refuge of those who are ignorant and powerless and you, “Dr” are causing harm, a direct violation of your Hippocratic oath, Shame on you. Furthermore,Eddie in this case, an ad hominem attack is entirely relevant because “Dr.” Amy makes it standard practice to attack the intellects of those with differing views making her subject to the same. I don’t need to provide any “FACTS” to back up my OPINION of her, as the definition of an opinion is that which is based on the subjective, no? I also did not provide any opposing arguments against her stance on homebirth, just a reasonable and fair-minded disgust at the hate in which she engages . I never said that OB’s were threatened “financially” by American Midwives, that was an assumption you made, rather I was referring to her entire ideology around birth being “dangerous” being threatened, which as we can see, makes for a very rabidly angry Dr, with something to prove. I did however, question her motivaton for spreading such ridiculous information,especially that of breastfeeding not being that beneficial, an opinion that differs from even the AAP’s standards for infant care. Anyway, I will be taking my leave from this “discussion” and yes, Durango,sometimes people use quotation marks to convey irony or sarcasm, and sometimes people use capital letters for emphasis…Have fun spreading the fear and participating in the lynching and attempted intellectual degradation of those who would oppose you. Also, there are sometimes fatalities during childbirth in the hospitals, are there not?Children who are forever damaged by cerebral palsy or other hospital birth related injuries?Perhaps to mirror the false arguments on this website (that all homebirth is unsafe due to the small % of fatalities/injuries that occur in home birth) I should create a website dedicated to undermining and debasing the work of all OB’s since they also attend births with terrible outcomes.

        • Box of Salt
          June 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

          Courtney, you complain to Eddie that “I never said that OB’s were threatened “financially” by American Midwives, that was an assumption you made”

          Yet, you wrote: “your very apparent but underlying state of having your job security THREATENED by the continual presence of midwifery.”

          How is job security not financial? Maybe you should re-read your own argument before assuming someone is misinterpreting it.

          P.S. Paragraphs are your friend.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          June 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

          What makes you think we care about how you feel? You have no idea what you are talking about so your how you “feel” about information that doesn’t support your personal beliefs is pretty much irrelevant.

        • Eddie
          June 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

          What harm is Dr Amy possibly causing? At worst, she hurts the feelings of some people she refers to, people who most often probably have no idea this web site exists.

          You say an ad hominem attack is relevant basically because “she started it.” That doesn’t help me take you seriously.

          Do you honestly believe that childbirth is not risky? Are you so unaware of the facts that you don’t know that death in childbirth is a leading killer of women in the developing world, and was a leading killer of women worldwide before modern obstetrics?

          Dr Amy does not say that breastfeeding has no benefit, so that’s a straw man. She does say that the balance of the evidence says its value is mostly short term. And that’s what the scientific evidence says if you actually look at all of it rather than just the parts you like.

          Ah, and children damaged and killed in hospitals too. That argument further makes you look like you don’t really know what you’re talking about. In other words, Dr Amy says, “Home birth is riskier than hospital birth,” and your response is, “Babies die in the hospital too.” That’s like someone saying, “auto racing is a risky sport” and you responding in defence, “People die on normal roads too.” Why yes, yes they do. But the risk of death is lower.

          Also, please, paragraph breaks. Just hit ENTER two times every now and then. It helps.

      • Susan
        June 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

        Perfect response Dr. Amy.

    • Eddie
      June 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      The belief that all of one’s opponents are controlled and motivated by money and big corporate interests is an interesting one, but almost always baseless. If you really think that all Western medical practices are subordinate to big corporate interests, then you’re so blinded by your own ideology that there’s really not much point in even trying to dispute what you say. Your mind is closed to anything that even approaches evidence.

      Are there flaws in Western medicine? Of course. Are there flaws with midwives in America? Of course. Of those flaws of equal relevance? No. Compare the rate of harm caused by both and American midwives look much worse.

      It’s funny, this belief that in America OBs are threatened financially by midwives. If midwives increased their business by a factor of ten, most OBs would hardly notice. Not much of a financial threat there.

      And, of course, you made no attempt whatsoever to dispute anything Dr Amy said. You just let loose with the ad hominem attacks. Not very convincing.

  6. rachel
    June 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Speaking as a mother who has had hospital births and home births (all children born healthy, each experience beautiful in my memory, despite any pain)….. I have read Gaskin’s books and never have I felt under her attack for having delivered in a hospital (with epidural). I have never perceived Gaskin in this nasty way that you and so many others do, Dr.Tuteur. She is a heroine of mine. She showed me another way, that I have been very happy with thus far in my personal experience, as a consumer, as the recipient of care, as a mother.

    When I was younger, I was uneducated about the other options out there. I accepted what was given to me. Once during my first pregnancy I allowed a male doctor, whom I had never seen before or would ever see again, to perform an internal sonogram on me in the presence of my husband. This made the both of us terribly uncomfortable and honestly we felt violated, but like sheep we took what we were given. This may not be a problem for some women, but i have to be honest with myself and admit that it wasn’t right for me. We could have simply requested a female, because that was our right. Though we didn’t feel we had a say in that moment, we were very young and dumb.

    There were also people who left positive impressions during my hospital experience. I hadn’t expected to find comfort in a male nurse. My male nurse was so warm and attentive to my needs, even his energy put me at ease hanging by my side from time to time, unlike other nurses there who seemed ‘cold’ to me. I was sad when his shift was over. My contractions were strong, laying on my back I never found physical comfort in my hospital room, except when I had the epidural which vanished the pain for a while…I could laugh again, relax and catch my second wind, even if my legs were limp, numb vegetable sticks. We all laughed about my condition, and eventually it wore off right before pushing. Despite some things I would’ve liked to change, my hospital experience was not all bad. It was not that I was dissatisfied with my team at the hospital, it wasn’t anything against the people, it was just that I wanted something different.

    When I found out later that I could give birth how I wanted to, with freedom to move my body as I needed to, to find comfort in whatever position I chose, that appealed to me! I went for it. I don’t ever put women down for choosing a hospital birth, whether it was a decision made out of a lack of knowledge of alternate birthing methods or coming from a complete understanding and confidence in her doctor and team. Nevertheless, giving birth to my last child in my home was possibly the most amazing experience of my life. Never before did I experience such a lack of anxiety, such an easy opening, while giving birth.

    By reading Gaskin’s works I have never been persuaded to think differently of women who have had undergone c-sections. I don’t label them defective, and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel Gaskin feels this way about these women either. I don’t discredit women for doing what they believe is best for their health and for their families. What I respect Gaskin for is for helping me to see where I had a choice, a choice that I and many others have enjoyed the benefits of. I don’t claim that all women who have had home births have been satisfied with the results or that there have never been regrettable outcomes. I can only speak for myself and say that I feel privileged for the opportunity of coming into contact with Gaskin, and how it transformed my experience.

    I simply want to be be able to move freely when in the mist of laboring, to eat if I am hungry. I want to feel my legs and actively direct the course of my labor, rather than just endure it. I do not want to be deprived of water, or the company of a relative who wishes to help me thru it. I don’t believe some of these things are unwarranted desires or needs. It would be great if more hospitals could lend some of that freedom and flexibility to women.

    I view it as my right to have the kind of birth that I feel is necessary to my health and well-being and that of my child, and how dare any one else attempt to regulate that for me. I feel others who want to have a home birth should have access to a midwife. Gaskin has made great contribution in my opinion. Your critique of her feels juvenile to me, and is disrespectful of a person who has done good by me.

    • Eddie
      June 3, 2013 at 2:24 am #

      I have a question, and please understand this is an honest question, asked without ill intent. Why did you feel violated by a male doctor doing an internal sonogram? I honestly don’t get that. I’ve had doctors (male and female) give me a prostate exam. It’s not exactly pleasant, but it’s something they have to do for my health. I’ve been with my wife on several occasions while she had an internal sonogram, almost always with a tech she never saw again. I honestly don’t get what about the experience would be so violating. It this something you can explain?

      Also, how dare someone try to regulate who can provide medical care? I find that opinion baffling. Do you feel that doctors and dentists and lawyers and other professionals also should not be regulated?

      • Rachel
        June 3, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        Hi Eddie. It is simply my personal feeling. This is how I was raised. I just don’t feel uncomfortable with anyone, male or female, viewing or having access to my private regions. It’s been deeply engrained in me since childhood that my private area is just for me, just as urinating in privacy was taught. If I had to pee in front of crowd, I guess I would have to just do it. If you got to go, you got to go! But I would much rather go to the bathroom with a little privacy. Of course there are times when this is absolutely necessary! Such as for prenatal care, etc. Even when my midwife had to do a check (down there) on me I felt pretty uncomfortable, too, though it’s something I have had to just accept. Besides, I had developed a trust for my midwife so it wasn’t such a big deal. I can’t explain it any other way than to say I am a modest person, and there are plenty like me. You can blame it on my upbringing if you want. I feel that if a person wants a male or female gynecologist, they ought to have the right to choose if at all possible, and there should be nothing wrong with allowing a person that choice.

        For me what was violating about it is that the internal sonogram truly was not necessary. Never before and never after was I ever even offered a sonogram in this matter! I had never had a male gynecologist perform an exam on me prior to that incident either. Why should anyone assume that I would be comfortable with it….on the basis that other people are comfortable with it? In the end I don’t blame him or anyone else for the experience, as I should have just spoke up, you know? Eddie, it’s great that you never had an issue with it, with your wife. I have a friend who feels very comfortable with males performing their exams, because it is what they have always expected and I don’t see anything wrong with her choice, if that is what she is happy with. I feel that effective, compassionate, and caring attention in any kind of setting should always take into consideration the patient’s feelings which can be possibly influenced by things like their gender and cultural upbringing. There are places in the world where it is common practice to receive massages only from the same sex, let alone a pap smear. I don’t think it is too far-reaching of an idea that there are people here in America who may feel this way.

        Please don’t take my personal feelings as an insult to you or any male in the medical profession. I get that, as with your prostate exam, there are procedures for your health that simply have to be taken care of, and the individual qualified to perform them may be of either sex. I just feel that *if* there’s an option available that will give the patient more peace, why not make that known to them?

        As far as delivering a baby Eddie, no disrespect to you, but this is not something you will ever be able to understand fully. When I stated that I do not want to be regulated, I do not mean that we should all just throw it all to the wind. There is nothing baffling to me about allowing a woman to roam while giving birth, instead of keeping her back down on a bed. I’ve experienced labor this way and it was terribly uncomfortable. I had the hardest time pushing and it was the longest labor. I’ve also delivered a child sort of reclining in warm water, which was soothing. But the way that worked best for me was being able to stand. My babies came so quickly this way! I felt I could better manage the tremendous force coursing through me, and the intensity building in my pelvis. When I was stuck in bed, I felt I was being pummeled by waves. But in the position that I found most bearable, I was able to actually direct these energies. I know this all sounds probably like a lot of mumbo jumbo to you, but it was my real experience. So no, it’s not ludicrous to me in my mind to say to all of you (who wish to put regulations on me at such a critical time), “Give me space, give me freedom of movement, don’t be so quick to cut me, honor me and what I’m going thru, give me respect!” In the hospital I was immediately cut by the doctor when he came in to deliver the baby, as a standard procedure. I didn’t know better at the time that I could give birth without being cut or even tearing, which I have done in subsequent births at home at a birth centers.

        I’m not saying dentists, lawyers, teachers, and all professionals should not be regulated. I’m not saying we should throw a bunch of unqualified, inexperienced women out there and just let them start attending births. What I’m saying is that I should never be forced to give birth in a prescribed position, by anyone who thinks they know better! Labor is so intense, and can be so overwhelming, seeming almost impossible for some women to manage at the height of its course. There is a way to bring comfort and ultimate relaxation to many (not all) women, while they are going through this heavy experience. There is an opening that must take place in order for safe and quick passage of the baby. There are techniques that can facilitate this. For me, I have found the best, most conducive environment in my home! In fact, my last pregnancies I did not even have to *push* even once (with minimal pain) when it came time to deliver – the baby simply came through! I owe this ease to specific techniques taught to me by Ina May Gaskin in her book GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTH, in the chapter titled Sphincter Law. Gaskin in my opinion is not the greatest writer, and her comparison to some animals may not be taken in the right way. But don’t let that stop you from learning from her vast shared experience. I don’t claim midwifery must be perfect in every case, that every midwife is equally competent to one another, that everyone woman is equally fit to go thru with an unmedicated, natural birth (by being mentally ready, spiritually prepared or physically healthy). I’m not saying there can’t be improvements. What I’m saying is that for those of us who are deemed physically capable of going thru with it, and those of us who have the heart and will to do so, that we should not be denied. What I’m upset with is the active intent of some people to undermine the midwifery community, as if there isn’t a world of good going on. They may approach birth differently, but that is not necessarily bad. Both sides can learn from one another. There are many women who simply go to midwifery because of their experiences with the hospital setting, for whatever reason they come away unhappy. Though how many with the opposing view have taken the time to see with their own eyes how possible it is to for some women to give birth without all of the intervening? How many doctors out there have been trained in this way? How many are willing to adopt or at least try different practices to see what benefits can be derived? It’s great for me to hear from my friends who have had wonderful experiences in the hospital where they received the care they expected, and sometimes were allowed the freedoms I enjoy at home? That’s progress in my mind. From where I’m standing, there’s a lot of closed minds and biased thinking on the subject.

        • Eddie
          June 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

          First of all, thank you so much for taking my question in the way it was intended and giving such a productive answer. I now much better understand what your point was, and more importantly, what it was not.

          Everyone is entitled to be modest about private regions. Some people are more so, some people less, some not at all. One of my daughters insisted upon having a female gyn, and that’s perfectly OK. It’s completely reasonable to want a same-sex doctor.

          Regular commenters here, many of whom are nurses, have criticized how thoughtless some hospitals are in how they treat people, where care givers don’t introduce themselves, explain what they are going to do, and so on, before doing an exam. I agree with you completely in that area.

          My wife is not as outspoken as I am. This means that I watch out for her interests when I am able to. There’s a learning curve, and sometimes I am caught by surprise. I imagine you and your husband were caught by surprise with the exam that upset you. I hope if there were to be a next time, that one of you would object before the exam started. Better yet, of course, would be that no care provider would be so thoughtless as to start an exam that some people will find deeply uncomfortable without first making sure it’s OK. Many abuse survivors have posted here about how it affected their delivery experience. Doctors, hospitals, nurses, should absolutely be expected to be sensitive to this issue.

          On “regulating” … I completely misunderstood. Since you used the word “regulate” I assumed you were talking about the legal sphere of who could provide care. I now see you were talking about limiting your ability to give birth in the position and manner of your choice. I completely agree that if you want the freedom to walk (and so on) around during delivery, you should absolutely be afforded that freedom. At the hospital where my wife delivered, up until her requested epidural, she had complete freedom to move as she wanted. Afterwards, she had freedom, but not as absolute. She made an informed choice and was comfortable with the consequences. Should you give birth again, I highly recommend you interview your surrounding hospitals to find out what their practices are. Depending on where you are in the country, you’ll probably find that they are more open then than ever used to be.

          The active intent you see here, to boil it down as I see it, is this:

          1) Ensure that those choosing home birth have solid and reliable risk information, so they are making a truly informed choice. Thus, you see efforts here to counter some of the misinformation coming from the natural childbirth community. And

          2) Ensure that the midwifery community is properly trained, which in the opinion of many here means a CNM or equivalent. European and Australian midwives are the rough equivalent of a CNM. A CPM would never be allowed to practice in just about any other industrialized country.

          Really, those two points cover the intent, as I understand it, of most of what is discussed here.

          • Rachel
            June 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

            Thank you Eddie for your respectful reciprocation of my words; I can see how it would be easy to ‘misinterpret’ me as I am not the best writer nor am I expending too much time to really clarify myself. It’s all really appreciated as I am all the time witnessing the disrespect and negative tone surrounding this subject.

            Some women are complaining that the natural birthers have made them feel badly because they had c-sections, etc. I apologize to those women if they were ever made to feel that way by someone forcing their opinion on them or by someone being plain insensitive about what she may have went thru. People don’t always think before they open their mouths. And honestly, some women are so ecstatic with the positive results they had they cannot help but be passionate and verbal. Though there’s nothing inadequate in my mind about a woman who had planned to deliver naturally but couldn’t for whatever reason. Nor is there anything deplorable about a person who has placed trust in her chosen doctor and made the informed decision from the beginning to have a birth with plenty of interventions. We do what we can for our babies, what we believe is best… all good Mommies do! I don’t think myself superior to anyone who is going with her intuition, what makes her most comfortable.

            One of Ina May Gaskin’s major points is that a woman’s comfort and relaxation is of utmost importance during her labor and as a result for the baby’s safe passage. To force someone to give birth at home if they had all along felt more comfortable with a doctor would be very dangerous in my opinion, it would cause great anxiety….it would be counterproductive. Having a baby for the first time can feel like uncharted territory, it did for me. I understand the desire to have an epidural. It wasn’t my first choice to use one as I had a strong desire to do it naturally, but I’m not ashamed of my choice at that time. It brought me a lot of relief and no doubt, for many women it has. In the end I arranged things so that I would be able to have it my way; I sought a care provider who would support my conviction to have a natural birth in the future. And in that choice I am not inherently condemning women who choose otherwise. However, I will always remain outspoken about my experiences because I know there may be a few who might gain some valuable knowledge that could later be useful to them, whether they choose a hospital or home birth or something in between.

            I really feel that there are some women, including people I know personally, who are just being plain nasty towards those who have made an alternative choice. Women speaking openly about their positive experiences with natural birth and the reasoning behind their decisions are often offending people with opposing viewpoints, without ever intending to. I have read threads where women are outright bashing and ridiculing midwives and women who have chosen natural birth, lumping them all into an unfair category. A category that I would be thrown into, to assume that I am AGAINST ALL women who choose medicated deliveries, who choose doctors, who choose hospitals, that I look down upon them, that I am superior to them for my ‘right’ belief. I see the women who carry on with this juvenile talk as being very uneducated themselves and perhaps some of them wounded from their own perceived inadequacy of having not experienced the labors they’d assumed they would have. People, there is more than one way to give birth! Sometimes the outcome is not what one had desired, but we ought to remain respectful of one another. We women ought to be giving love and support to one another, and not resort to putting one another down. It’s just shameful!

            Just as the inadequacies of a midwifery practice ought to be addressed, so should the shortcomings at the hospital. There are definite positives with giving birth in the hospital, especially if you find a team that is flexible and caring of the mother’s needs!! Immediate on-site medical attention for an emergency situation is a given! That point was one I weighed heavily prior to deciding against a hospital birth. There also positives with giving birth at home that should be looked at fairly if one is going to bother with putting anyone down! One of the reasons I appreciated my home birth was because getting in a car to drive to a hospital or birth center in the midst of my labor ALWAYS was a source of great anxiety and distress to me. Giving birth at home allowed me to relax without interruption. After that, it is hard for me to imagine doing it any other way. My mother gave birth to me at home, and my grandmother gave birth to 13 at home, many of them without any assistance. Granted, my grandma was poor and she never even saw a gynecologist until her fifties, but she is alive and well at 85 years old. I don’t mean to suggest that anyone should proceed this way without caution. My experience and that of the women before me has just afforded me a different perspective I guess. I view giving birth with a seriousness and yet at the same time I possess a confidence about it that others may feel is unwarranted.

            Also, both of my midwives have been serious women. I have to respectfully disagree with you Eddie, and many others, who are adamant that a midwife is unqualified to practice if she is not a CNM. My first midwife was a CNM in San Diego, a reputable and qualified person operating the birth center there. She delivered two of my children. The midwife who attended my home birth practices here in Nevada where midwifery is unregulated, she is a DEM. I interviewed a handful before I made my final choice. The others were CNM’s and CPM’s. My final decision rested with a woman who was not certified in either way. The midwife I chose had been established in her community for decades, having had delivered hundreds of babies, practicing far longer than most of the other interviewees. She had the actual experience of successfully maneuvering some of the most unexpected and feared complications that could arise. I brought up her name to the other midwives and they had nothing bad to say about her. She is who I felt most comfortable with, most connected with. It’s she who I placed my trust in and my husband and I were happy with our decision. Call it luck, call it what you want, but we are happy. She was always very professional and knowledgable and EXPERIENCED. How many doctors could perform with the same finesse without their tools and machines? Yes, there is a place for the doctor and she/he is invaluable in emergency situations which I know is a big concern. But they are not infallible and all-knowing; if that were the case there would be no hospital deaths or traumas, but they do exist…just as they exist in home birthing. It’s my stance that midwives, with the proper training and experience, are qualified to deliver excellent and safe care to their clients!!! And I don’t believe that excludes CPM’s. And not necessarily can DEM’s be excluded either!! My DEM is highly qualified in my opinion and from what I witnessed in my close interaction with her.

            I even had a CNM tell me personally that she was not superior or more qualified to any other midwife due to the degree she had acquired, that for her it was a piece of paper. She said to me that the other women in this local community have proven themselves sufficient, that the choice should lie entirely with me and my research. I appreciated that very much.

          • Poogles
            June 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

            I realize that your felt your midwife was qualified and experienced, but I do feel the need to point out that hundreds of births over DECADES is not really experienced at all. An OB or CNM would have completed hundreds of births in a matter of weeks, not decades. There is literally no way for someone to attend that few births, spread out over that amount of time and be experienced enough, and their skills kept sharp enough.

            Also, the cervix is NOT a sphincter:

          • Eddie
            June 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

            I have to respectfully disagree with you Eddie, and many others, who are adamant that a midwife is unqualified to practice if she is not a CNM

            To clarify … my problem with midwives without a CNM is not that they are unqualified. It’s that there is no way for the average consumer to know whether or not they are qualified until something goes wrong and you find out the hard way. For a mother who is low risk where nothing goes wrong, in fact, you probably don’t need a birth attendant with medical training at all. The basic fact is, however, that birth is inherently risky. It’s the riskiest day of your whole life. And that risk is not caused by modern obstetrics!

            I’ll say again that hospitals and doctors are not perfect. There are places they need to improve. Someone else recently said in defense of home birth, “cars are risky but we don’t ban them.” No, but cars *are* heavily regulated and have safety standards that continue to be more and more stringent even into recent years.

            We expect more of our medical providers than someone who can handle a situation where nothing goes wrong. There are a number of sudden crisis situations that can and do develop during childbirth where you don’t have ten to thirty to sixty minutes to get to emergency medical care.

            How many doctors could perform with the same finesse without their tools and machines

            While I’m sure there are some … why should they have to? That’s kind of like saying, “how many accountants could handle my finances with the same finesse without their computers and calculators?” Why eschew the benefits of modern obstetrics when those benefits are indicated? This isn’t to say every woman should have an induction, epidural, and C-Section. (That would be stupid.) However, I don’t understand a willful rejection of those interventions when they are indicated. Those interventions are, in part, responsible for the United States having one of the lowest neonatal/perinatal mortality rates in the whole world (once you account for how other countries fake their numbers by excluding high-risk births, which the US does not do).

            I even had a CNM tell me personally that she was not superior or more qualified to any other midwife due to the degree she had acquired, that for her it was a piece of paper

            I appreciate her humility. I have a PhD in physics, and I don’t feel like that means I’m smarter than other people. There are plenty of smart people without a PhD. There are certainly people who acquire a PhD much to the surprise of everyone else. However, on average, a PhD does indicate a certain level of competence. The same is true of a CNM.

            The reason I personally prefer requiring a CNM is not because most births require that level of training and expertise. It’s because of the fraction that do, not having that level of training and expertise is too-often fatal or permanently life-altering.

    • Jocelyn
      June 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Rachel, I really don’t mean this in any kind of disrespectful way, but have you seen this new blog post of Dr. Amy’s about Ina May Gaskin?

      To me, Gaskin’s opinions, words, and actions feel extremely violating. I’m very sorry that you’ve felt uncomfortable in different medical situations. However, I personally want all my care to be in the hands of actual professionals who: 1. Are taught about personal boundaries and behaving in a professional manner and 2. Are regulated and have to answer for their actions.

  7. laurab
    May 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I think comments like these show a lack of education from Ina May. I talked with the local CPM and she compared having a c-sec to a leg surgery, my jaw hit the floor with that one. I knew I would in no way have her touch me, and the CNM that does home births was not recommending ultrasounds or tests to check babies health.
    I am hoping that more women do speak up for better care and information to make informed decisions, because I was shocked at the lack of information when I was inquiring on a VBAC, all in town OBs refused to talk or see me, later I found they feared the hospital would take away their privileges which would shut down their practice if they helped me have a VBAC in the hospital.

    As someone who has worked in veterinary hospitals it is very common to see a dead puppy from birth, I have seen them get stuck, my first surgery that I assisted in was an emergency c-sec. It does happen to animals too, it is just not as big of a loss as a human child.

  8. schnitzelbank
    May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    I think she just wanted us to be impressed with “Rhinoceri.”

    • Sue
      May 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      Anyway, aardvarks have it easy. Apart from being graced with three ‘A’s in their name, they are blessed anatomically:

      “Aardvarks possess a large pelvis characterized by a dorso-caudal extension of the iliac bone. Their sacrum does not enter into contact with the ischium, and the pubic symphysis is unreduced in comparison with other digging mammals (MacPhee 1994). ”

      In addition, “The aardvarks’ skull is long, roughly tubular, particularly elongated on the snout, and widest at the level of the jugals. The nasal bones are triangular in shape, broaden caudally but are never fused. The lacrimal presents a rostral development and the lacrimal foramen is situated on the edge of the orbit. The frontal bones bulge dorsally in front of the orbit as a result of the highly developed nasal chamber (see below). In Tubulidentata, a part of the parietal bone joins the alisphenoid so that frontal and squamosal are not in contact. There is no sagittal crest and only faint temporal ones. ”

      I guess that’s why aardvarks trust birth.

      • schnitzelbank
        May 29, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

        But what if the baby doesn’t present highly-developed-nasal-chamber-first?

        • Sue
          May 30, 2013 at 12:11 am #

          What?? That NEVER happens in nature, because aardvarks trust birth!

        • Aunti Po Dean
          May 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

          Silly …that would be an aardvark variant of normal

          • Mel
            May 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

            Yup. Calves in cattle fit through the pelvis in two ways: with their head between their extended front legs (think Superman) or back feet first with the spine toward the maternal spine.

            Cows trust in nature so when calves are coming with all four feet at once or tail-first with the legs folded towards the head the cow doesn’t worry. Nope, she just labors until she is exhausted then dies.

            Herdsmen don’t trust nature. That’s why we check on the cows every 2 hours and use interventions to turn the calf so it can be born and its mother can live.

  9. The Bofa on the Sofa
    May 29, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Ever notice that it is only natural childbirth advocates who insist that anything less than an idealized birth is a sign that a woman is defective?

    I just want to reiterate this.

  10. Bombshellrisa
    May 29, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    The breeder I got my dog from was an L&D nurse and she talked to me up front about all the ways that a pregnancy and birth FOR A DOG can go wrong. She makes sure that anyone who wants to buy a puppy from her understands that things can go wrong, things can go badly and that just because a bitch goes through her pregnancy fine doesn’t mean that something won’t go wrong fast during labor/birth. I thought it was refreshing to hear a breeder who is willing to talk about the risks involved and wasn’t all googly eyed about the puppies (btw Samoyed puppies have got to be the cutest puppies ever!).

  11. Laura
    May 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    OT update: my facebook friend whose first baby is in frank breech position 2 1/2 weeks before her due date is getting LOTS of advice and testimonials about women whose breech babies turned a week before their due date while they swam in a pool and/or saw a chiropractor, did pelvic rocks, saw a midwife, etc. And of course, I am curious: is this baby going to turn before labor or not? This woman’s mother has been a NICU nurse for many years, so at least she has a medically-informed mother who can steer her in the right direction…hopefully….

    • Antigonos CNM
      May 29, 2013 at 1:29 am #

      Short answer: it might turn, probably won’t. All these “techniques” such as pelvic rocking or even going to a chiropractor won’t have any effect. The only ways the baby will turn is [1] ECV, or [2] it just turns on its own. Incidentally, at this stage the baby is gaining weight at about 30 gm per day; the bigger the baby, the less likely it will turn [no room to do so].

      However, I have seen instances where babies — in one case, twins! — turned spontaneously in less than 24 hours, so it is possible.

      • Marie
        May 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

        I have to chime in with my story. My daughter (second child after a vaginal delivery with my first) was vertex (by ultrasound) from 20 weeks onward. I showed up for an induction at 40 +3 and she was breech! I elected not to attempt a version, as I knew her head was measuring big on ultrasound and I figured there must be a reason she turned (especially since I’d had a whole evening of labor contractions on my due date that stopped, and then, in hindsight, she turned sometime after that and before the induction). We waited all day for a C-section, got prepped and saw huge, huge movements in my uterus while waiting for the doc, and as you can guess by now, he was shocked to discover the presenting part was her head!!! You can imagine all the discussion about “Unnecessareans”, but I was perfectly at peace with my decision. I just had a VBAC (induced with Pitocin no less) with my third child 4 weeks ago.

      • schnitzelbank
        May 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

        Yes, the staff at my hospital was delighted that my baby turned again on his own at the last minute! How’s that for those “evil interventionists?”

    • Wren
      May 29, 2013 at 4:12 am #

      My son turned the other way, from head down to feet first, at term. It was missed until I was in labour but I had apologies from the midwife, the GP and the OB who missed it afterward. At the time he turned I thought it was labour starting. He was my first, but I really couldn’t have missed the whole turn going on. You could see my belly moving like no other time in the pregnancy and it felt so strange. And no, I didn’t do a single one of the things people claim will turn a baby. He just did it. I was worried about my daughter doing it too, but she was head down from 20 weeks down as far as anyone could tell and they did check her with an extra scan.

    • Lisa Miller
      May 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      I had one flip at 36 weeks with none of that to help. It hurt like a mother.

      • AmyM
        May 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

        One of my twins flipped at 35wk5d (ish)–about a day or two before he was born. He wasn’t completely breech though—he was sort of sideways, head to my right, and then he moved so his head was on the other side and as far down as he could get it. So more of a lateral move I guess. It definitely felt weird.

    • schnitzelbank
      May 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      My second child disengaged from my pelvis and turned transverse at 38 weeks. I felt it happen a few days before, he gave out a big kick and flipped, and then my belly shaped changed to looking like I was wearing an inner-tube.

      I had a successful version done (it actually wasn’t bad) and was in a binder, and was set to come in for an induction at 39 (already on the books). When I came in for my induction, the plan was to start the drugs and I would deliver in the morning. However, when I got there, I was given another ultrasound and the baby had turned transverse again at some point. So I was scheduled for a c-section, instead, set for the next morning. They decided to keep me there and monitor me.

      I was prepped for surgery and they started to wheel me into the OR. One nurse stopped the other, the OB wanted one more ultrasound to see the position of the baby. She was anticipating a lateral cut, baby was wedged tightly in there sideways, spine-up. The scan showed he was engaged again! Wheeled me back out of the OR, slapped the binder on, and started the induction. No guarantees he’d stay engaged, and in that case, I’d be going back to the OR. I was okay with that. The binder stayed on until I started pushing. He stayed put and I had a very easy L&D! Tiny guy, 6 lb, 2 oz. My first was almost 9 lbs.

      Expect the unexpected… but at least I was in a hospital, and able to carry out my birth plan: Safe Mama, Safe Baby.

      • schnitzelbank
        May 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

        And can I tag my first baby on the “expect the unexpected” train? I labored most of the day at home, irregular but painful. Arrived at the hospital unable to sit, was checked and my water broke….5cm….straight into birthing suite.
        The anesthesiologist took his sweet time getting to me, I was nearly transitioning by the time he showed up a few hours later. He was leery about my history of degenerative discs in my lumbar spine and herniated L4/5, so he put it way up in L2! I had a nicely numbed diaphragm for pushing. There wasn’t enough time for him to come back. Had a fast, big baby with one shitty epidural.
        So, ladies, be forewarned: even if you want pain relief, shit happens.

    • Josephine
      May 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      It’s absolutely possible…though not probable, I’d think. I went in for an induction right at 40 weeks because I had a very flippy little baby and I wanted to induce while he was head down. Much to the bafflement and chagrin of the L&D nurses, he changed position three times before he finally came out via C-section.

      Actually, I got an ultrasound right before surgery and he was breech…and by the time they got me all the way opened he was head down again. Groan.

      Point being, it’s not impossible for a baby to turn, though I sincerely doubt any amount of chiropractic treatments, spinning babies maneuvers, swimming, etc will help. It certainly didn’t help me, though I attempted a lot of different things.

    • Laura
      May 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Good news! My friend just posted that her baby did in fact turn around for an optimal vaginal delivery position. Now, let’s see if he stays that way…

  12. Ducky
    May 28, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Hit the nail on the head. I think it’s important for women to go into birthing with a positive attitude and confidence in their body and their medical team – and if you have the privilege of doing so, it’s important to find an OB who fosters that confidence. But thank you for continuing to point out that belief in confidence alone is tragically misguided…

    • suchende
      May 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

      I was very much lacking in confidence in my body since my mom nearly died from a retained placenta, and I don’t really see why either confidence or positive attitude is important. I had an incredibly uneventful and pleasant birth.

      • guestmama
        May 29, 2013 at 12:13 am #

        I have always had plenty of confidence in my body. I had two uneventful, pretty easy vaginal births…followed by a c-section for abruption post-MVA, an attempted VBAC turned repeat c/s for arrest of descent (macrosomic, 42 wk baby), followed by a preterm attempted VBAC turned c/s for arrest of active stage complicated by severe preeclampsia.

        Yes, in general it’s a great idea to “think positive.” But it’s hardly a foolproof method of avoiding complications! My positive attitude did NOTHING to prevent my preeclampsia, or force my cervix to dilate, or make my macrosomic baby fit through my pelvis. Positive thinking and body confidence is not magic. Shit really does happen!

        • desiree
          May 29, 2013 at 7:24 am #

          I was similar. I had the world’s easiest pregnancy with my first, gained a perfect 30 lbs, walked every day, ate perfectly. My mom had had 3 natural deliveries (longest took 5 hours), and I was absolutely confident that I would show ’em all how it was done.

          Yeah. My first had a nuchal cord and needed an emergency c/s when her heart rate plummeted and didn’t recover, and my second tried to come out ear first. So much for my confidence!

    • fiftyfifty1
      May 28, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      I have a good friend who went into labor very worried and very un-confident. Ended up with a straightforward 4 hour labor where she didn’t even feel the need to request pain meds. I wish that we could think our way to good outcomes. Now confidence (if it is well placed) in your medical team is a nice thing.

    • theNormalDistribution
      May 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      I really don’t understand this idea that women need confidence in their bodies. Why do they need this? Having confidence in your body, to me, translates to expecting that everything will go smoothly. That kind of thinking a) doesn’t actually do anything to help produce good outcomes and b) undermines confidence in their care providers, which is something they will actually need in the event that something does go wrong.

      • rh1985
        May 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

        Considering I had to be on the birth control pill for over ten years when I wasn’t even sexually active just because my cramps were so severe I couldn’t get out of bed – and yes, it was medically investigated by two doctors, nothing was found, and my mother had the exact same problem which went away after she had her first child – I’m honestly not too confident in my body’s “perfection.”

      • Eddie
        May 29, 2013 at 12:16 am #

        There’s a group of people who disagree that confidence doesn’t translate to things going smoothly. That kind of magical thinking is part of the problem. Louise Hay is a best selling author with exactly those kinds of nutty beliefs.

        • Bombshellrisa
          May 29, 2013 at 2:55 am #

          She is also the one that insists that feelings and thoughts are what create ailments in the first place. For example, cancer is caused by anger, hurt or resentment (depends on where it develops). She also believes that thinking mean, angry or violent thoughts contributes the hostility and violence in the world around us, and also causes natural disasters.

          • Sue
            May 30, 2013 at 12:16 am #

            Which is awful for people who develop cancer or other serious diseases, who are seen to have failed to prevent their own illnesses.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          May 29, 2013 at 10:19 am #

          Just wondering, how common is the belief that confidence is the key to avoiding constipation?

          All I can think of is the scene in Austin Powers II with Tom Arnold.

          • VeritasLiberat
            May 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

            Well, as a kid I found out that when I had to pee, it was better to think “I can hold it,” than “oh no I can’t hold it I’m gonna pee my pants.”

    • VeritasLiberat
      May 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      Maybe confidence is not quite the right word… maybe better would be a positive attitude, in the sense of “whatever happens, we will handle…if the baby is born easily, great; if I need the doctors and nurses to do X, Y, or Z, it’s not the end of the world.”

  13. Lisa from NY
    May 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Can someone call the Museum of zoology at University of Michigan at
    Phone: (734) 764-0476 to find out the neonatal death rate of aardvarks?

  14. paradox
    May 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    My middle school daughter just returned from a field trip to an urban farm. There had been much excitement throughout the day as a goat was in labor. They saw her bag of water break, and behavior that was described as a “miserable” mama. (yes, pain). In the end, obstructed labor and a call to the vet. So happy those city kids got that clear lesson on how “natural”problems in labor and birth can be.

  15. Lisa from NY
    May 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    English bulldogs and pugs require cesarean sections due to large heads and mother’s narrow birth canals.

    • Marguerita
      May 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Those breeds are so unnatural that they are not meant to live. Duh.

    • Therese
      May 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      Yeah, that’s really more of a selective breeding issue, so it’s not going to convince any NCBers.

      • May 29, 2013 at 1:52 am #

        Why are NCB’ers racist too – more than a few women slight of build might fall for a rather large headed male…. Or do they have NCB specific dating adds which explicitly state that only the small headed and wide hipped need to apply….

        • Eddie
          May 29, 2013 at 10:14 am #

          NCBers seem to believe that it’s not possible to gestate a baby too big to be delivered. Years ago I knew a petite woman married to a man well over 6′ tall and the first baby took after his side. C-Section. But I guess if she had trusted her body enough, all would have been well…. Or maybe you only grow a baby too large for your hips if you don’t trust your body, and this is your body’s punishment for the lack of trust.

          Some of the NCB folks believe in an odd form of karma, where not trusting your body leads to all kinds of disaster. And therefore, a-priori, anything bad happening means the mother is at fault.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

          I keep recommending the use of terminal sires, but nobody listens to me 🙁

  16. SkepticalGuest
    May 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Thank you, Amy!

  17. drmoss
    May 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Over thirty years ago my wife did a three month elective at a mission hospital in northern Kenya. She came back with tales of obstructed labour, fetal death and a three day walk to get to the hospital, then the use of those horribly fascinating instruments in the last chapter of an old obstetric textbook that are concerned with ‘destructive operations’ (can’t do a C-section and leave a uterine scar that may rupture at the next unattended birth in the bush, so remove the foetus piecemeal.) This is human labour and delivery unmodified by medicine. You certainly can ‘trust birth’ – but only give you a spin on the roulette wheel of life and death. Oh, and she didn’t choose to become an OB/GYN after that experience!

    • Charlotte
      May 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      I thought the same thing when I watched this documentary.
      I have no idea why people would want to regress.

      • Lisa from NY
        May 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

        They still get cesarean sections, but much higher stillbirth rate.

      • suchende
        May 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

        I am only halfway done but so far she has learned NOTHING about the danger of non intervention.

      • Charlotte
        May 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

        So a mom has an emergency c-section because she’s bleeding from her placenta previa, the baby comes out not breathing and with a weak pulse, they do CPR to save the baby’s life, and her first thought is to be upset that the care wasn’t mother-centered enough and that she couldn’t immediately cuddle her barely-alive baby? Good grief. (Off topic: “Hi” to a fellow Charlotte!)

      • suchende
        May 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

        This reminded me of and the naive moron who runs it. It seems like African babies have a lot to cry about: war, poverty, mothers lost in childbirth or other “traditional” midwifery practices, lack of access to potable water…

    • realityycheque
      May 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Yes, but the nacheral birth crew would put these complications down to poor nutrition. Every time I’ve heard first world birth compared to countries with poorer obstetric care, or to times prior to the medical advancements of today, the go-to arguments seem to be nutrition or poor understanding of hygiene.

      • araikwao
        May 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

        Better nutrition leads to bigger babies…uh-oh!

      • suchende
        May 29, 2013 at 7:36 am #

        And yet this paleo hormone free all organic types are doing their best to recreate “traditional society” diet.

        • KarenJJ
          May 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

          Yeah, with paleo “pizza” and paleo “burgers”. Just like it was from your local take-away shop in paleolithic times.

          • Sue
            May 30, 2013 at 12:21 am #

            Wait – didn’t the Flintstones eat paleo? I remember an assembly line for pie-making where the feet of a bird were used to make the steam holes. Bofa will remember.

    • Antigonos CNM
      May 29, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      And the sad thing is that in some places the same conditions still apply. There used to be a blog by an American CNM who went to Africa and she reported much the same situation your wife encountered, at what was supposed to be a “good” obstetrical facility.

  18. Jocelyn
    May 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Reading this as a biologist (with a specialty in zoology) AND as someone with a chronic disease, this quote just blows my mind. I just don’t understand how you could possibly really believe this. As many other people have said – “your body is not a lemon?” Then how do you explain cancer? Or multiple sclerosis? Or ANY disease? Bodies are faulty, and pregnancy and birth is not a magical process that changes that fact.

    It seems like they try to explain their “your body is perfect” logic with both creationist and evolutionary thinking. On the creationist side, they say that God made us perfectly, and our bodies should therefore work perfectly. Again, bodies are not perfect. There is AMPLE evidence to show that. On the evolutionary side, they say, “Your body has evolved to do this! Women have been doing this by themselves for thousands of years!” And yet they don’t seem to take into account the very basis of evolution – survival of the fittest. That means those who can reproduce effectively pass on their genes to the next generation, and those who cannot reproduce effectively do not pass on their genes to the next generation. So guess what that means? There are many organisms (and people) WHO CANNOT REPRODUCE EFFECTIVELY. That’s the whole POINT! (Sorry for the all caps, I’m just so frustrated by their lack of understanding!)

    • WordSpinner
      May 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Not to mention the fact that a cursory knowledge of biology and ecology (or knowledge of geometric increases) proves that the survival of the species does not preclude huge amounts of wastes in reproduction. Evolution only selects for “good enough”–perfect is no required. R-strategists, anyone?

      Even in species like humans, losing half the babies that make it to term during or soon after birth is in no way inconsistent with survival if each woman has on average more than four, and not inconsistent with high maternal mortality rates either.

      • Eddie
        May 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

        Like cats say of mice: “Crunch all you want. They’ll make more.” Apologies to the chip commercial and to people with delicate sensibilities. 🙂 Despite the large number of mice that get consumed in their first year of life, there are still a lot of mice. Perfection is not required. Not even desired, due to the higher biological cost of perfection.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

          ” Not even desired, due to the higher biological cost of perfection.”
          Excellent point.

    • Sue
      May 30, 2013 at 12:22 am #

      ” Then how do you explain cancer? Or multiple sclerosis? Or ANY disease? ”

      As a personal moral failing.

  19. GiddyUpGo123
    May 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Well you know, it’s because the birth process for domesticated animals is tainted by human intervention, and human intervention leads to higher morality rates. So you can only compare aardvarks and water buffalo to people because, you know, there’s no human intrervention mucking with all those rainbow sparkles. In fact, why not compare human perinatal mortality rates to unicorn perinatal mortality rates? Now there’s a meaningful comparison!

    • Jocelyn
      May 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      You know, this logic is really part of the “logic” they’re using. My sister went to a hypnobirthing class a couple weeks ago, and the teacher gave some stupid example about horses and cows and said that horses have easier births because humans let them do it by themselves, and cows have more difficult births because humans insist on intervening. Their logic completely mixes up causation of problems: they think that interventions lead to problems, when it’s really problems that lead to interventions.

      • GiddyUpGo123
        May 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        Both times my horse gave birth she had a retained placenta, which would have resulted in a nasty infection if the vet hadn’t come to remove it, especially since it was actually hanging out of her and dragging around in the straw. So I’m not buying the whole “horses always have easy births” line at all. Unicorns, yes, but as my daughter so wisely pointed out once when I asked her if she wanted to ride: “Mom, she is NOT a pink and purple unicorn.”

  20. Lisa Miller
    May 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Too funny. I remember seeing something like this trying to say that birth is not painful for animals so it should not be for us. Upright biology aside, they used cats as an example because they purr while giving birth. Clearly the things must be in high heaven, almost orgasmic birth. However, a simple Google search on “why cats purr?” will come back with the result that yes, cats do purr when they are happy, but they also purr when they are badly, and sometimes fatally wounded. So is the cat having a kitty birth orgasm, or is it more likely that the cat is in a world of pain and purrs to comfort itself, much like women moan in labor?

    • AmyM
      May 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      I’ve seen/heard animals moan, pace and kick at their bellies when in labor…that seems like a response to pain to me. They don’t do those things normally.

      • Mel
        May 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        Pacing, kicking at the abdomen and licking at their abdomen are all signs of labor in a cow

    • Dr Sarah
      May 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      I’ve seen a cat in labour. She was miaowing quite loudly and certainly appeared to me to be in pain. (Come to think of it, she then went on to have an unattended delivery and one of the two kittens was stillborn, so her natural unassisted delivery didn’t work particularly well.)

    • Squillo
      May 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Yup. We had a cat come into our veterinary hospital with a traumatic near-amputation of a leg (cat vs. car). Purred all the way to the OR.

    • Mel
      May 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      I’ve watched a lot of cows give birth. No one would say they are pain-free. I feel especially bad for first-calf heifers. They have no idea why they are in so much pain….

  21. mollyb
    May 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    OT but tell me I’m not the only one who say this article in the Daily Fail about this couple planning a DOLPHIN assisted water birth. It made me laugh, only because I hope something so stupid has to be fake.

    • AmyM
      May 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      No, we’ve seen several articles about that same stupid couple over the last couple of days. If they are for real, they are total morons. I’d be afraid the dolphins would eat the newborn. If they really go through with that nonsense, I’d love to hear the outcome. Of course if the dolphins ate the baby, we’d never hear about it.

      • mollyb
        May 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

        I knew this bullshit was too priceless/hilarious/horrible to have been missed by this crowd. Now I’m going to have to scroll through old comments to hear what everyone had to say about these brain trusts and their dolphin midwife.

      • Squillo
        May 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

        According to the Penn & Teller episode that featured these rocket scientists, they didn’t. They had a home water birth instead and had a baby girl (healthy, I assume.)

        • C Louise
          May 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

          Different couple. The one in the Daily Mail hasn’t given birth yet. Understandable mixup, though; the two couples look similar.

          • Squillo
            May 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

            My bad. Thanks for the correction!

    • KumquatWriter
      May 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Scroll down 😛

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Should also note that dolphins have “midwives” who assist the baby in reaching the surface and breathing after it is born. If you’re going to go to dolphins as examples of ancient wisdom, why not notice what they actually do, which is NOT have an unassisted birth if they can help it?

    • realityycheque
      May 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

      Still more qualified than some of the ‘midwives’ we see getting paid to attend births!

  22. VeritasLiberat
    May 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Notice that Ina May did not mention hyenas.

    • drmoss
      May 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      Or bulldogs, whose heads are too large for their pelvis.

  23. May 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    This is using words as incantation, isn’t it – divorced from meaning, sounds ritualistic way, fends of “evil”. A kind of fourth witch, encouraging foolish enterprises with partial and unreliable information.

    And not so much who believes it given that it is a popular message, as WHY do people believe it?

  24. Mel
    May 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I’ve been living on a working dairy farm for 11 months. Cows have some really nasty birthing problems. We lose calves sometimes especially during the first birth. We don’t lose many cows, though, because my husband has been trained extensively in how to intervene in cattle births. The most important thing to know: when to call the vet.

    We also have cats on the farm. They’re mostly feral, so we can’t do much to help them with deliveries of kittens. The mortality rate of kittens within 3 weeks of birth is over 50%. Mortality rate after 3 weeks – around 10%. What’s the difference? Kittens start walking at 3 weeks and the moms are less protective so we can give them medical treatment if needed.

    My take-away: I like hospitals. I haven’t had any babies yet, but my babies will be born in a hospital. My DH supports me on this since he was born with a nuchal cord wrapped 3x aound his neck and an APGAR score of 1. He’s fine now since the hospital had advanced resuscitation available within seconds. I’d hate to think of what would have happened if he was born at home on the farm 30 minutes from advanced resuscitation.

    • OBPI Mama
      May 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      We also farm, raising sheep and cattle mainly… That lamb death statistic Amy threw out there is pretty right on… on a good year. The natural world works well a lot of times, but it can be pretty dang cruel too. The more I see the natural world, the more thankful I am for hospitals and advanced medical care for humans.

      And good for you, Mel, for staying with a hospital. I had a homebirth and shoulder dystocia and injured baby. I’ve seen my husband pull calves who usually end up dead because of getting stuck and I’m thankful my son is alive, but I trusted nature and my body and my son paid the price.

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC
        May 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        I’m so sorry to hear that. That must be an awful burden for you knowing that things would have been different if you were at the hospital. You are doing a good thing by being brave enough to share your story. Hugs to you and your son.

      • fiftyfifty1
        May 28, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

        OBPI Mama, you are not the only animal farmer who I have heard of who decided to have a home birth. I remember a loss story from a year back or so of a sheep farmer, I think, who decided to birth at home despite being a first time mom and advanced maternal age.

        So I sincerely wonder about this. How do people with real-life knowledge of animal birth losses go on to decide to birth at home? Where is it that the cognitive disconnect happens? Is it that they think that humans are different than other animals? Or that the midwife will have plenty of time to get them to the hospital? Or is it just that there is a big overlap between the homebirth movement and the “back to the land” movement and so it’s more of a stylistic decision driven by the culture and not by logic? If you have any insight into this, I would be really thankful for your opinions.

        • OBPI Mama
          May 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

          Hmmm… I hadn’t lived on the farm long when my husband and I had our first baby so I was not as well versed in the tragedy that can be farmlife. I was young and idealistic and was very much into the homebirth movement prior to even being married (I even attended The Farm’s Midwife Assistant Workshop in TN headed by their midwives at 19yrs old). It just seemed so… natural. Like if you do everything naturally and “correctly” it equals a great birth. 1+1=2 (oh, how I wish we were math sometimes). and if anything went wrong it was usually because of something the mom did or she didn’t trust birth enough to allow labor to progress normally or it’s because of interventions or it’s something that could be easily remedied. Hemmrhoaging? Then eat your placenta. (seriously, that was one of the instructions given).

          I genuinely thought that a homebirth was safer than a hospital birth, it was so drilled into my head that doctors just want money/they don’t care/it’s all about them. I was freaked out they were going to cut me open the first chance they got (and wouldn’t you know that that’s what’s given me 3 healthy children). I was just so scared of going to the doctor even when it was so obvious I should be there (and I think my gut told me I should go, but noooo… a woman’s body was made to do this. I shouldn’t have been a wimp to think that during my 30 hour back labor).

          I did think the emergencies could be foreseen and dealt with or transferred in time (I know I sound like SUCH an idiot). I live 25-30 minutes from the hospital.
          I had quite a number of red flags, so this statement of my thinking really makes me slap my forehead.

          And yes, I never did put 2 and 2 together in my head about comparing myself to livestock. My husband did mention how long a cow calves in comparison to how long labor can be and that was about it. He had to pull a calf a couple weeks after my shoulder dystocia. The calf died and I sobbed. It all started coming together then. My husband had his doubts about homebirth when we first got pregnant. He knew birth wasn’t all rosey and great (as did his parents who were really scared for us), but I was SOOO sure it was how it was “meant to be”. That if I did everything right and not even take 1 tablet of tylenol, that I’d have a perfect birth. So I convinced him. I’m thankful he doesn’t hold our son’s injury against me.

          I do think the “back to the land/homesteader” movement portrays such a rosey picture of homebirth. It’s how it was “meant to be” (I have heard that so many times). I’ve also heard some women talk about it like it’s the ultimate homesteader act. There is so much nostalgia in homesteading/back to te land… no one in that culture usually looks at the heartbreak that also went hand in hand with the good parts. Same with homebirth. Skeptics would say something about the deadly births in the olden days and I’d respond about better sanitation now, healthier bodies, prenatal care. To me, that was the huge factor. I wanted to be able to tell my son that he was born in our bedroom in the house his great-great grandpa built. It all sounded so romantic.

          In the end, I didn’t trust birth enough so that is why the shoulder dystocia happened…

          • fiftyfifty1
            May 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

            “There is so much nostalgia in homesteading/back to te land.”

            I hadn’t realized that, although that makes a lot of sense. I had thought it was more driven by more out of a catastrophe prep/government distrust reasoning, but I see there must be multiple motivations. It could seem very romantic, couldn’t it? Anyway, thanks for your response. Your thoughts on it are really valuable.

          • Amazed
            May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

            OBPI Mama, your reply sounds so familiar. I’ve got many friends who harbor this… nostalgia for the good old days, albeit they wouldn’t go as far as to homebirth. I do think that nowadays, we’re shielded my mortality realities, be it human or animalistic… when they just happen because interventions mostly prevent it. It’s so easy to don the rosy glasses when you’re new ot far removed from those realities. All this rubbish how perfect living ‘naturally’ in “natural’ conditions is… it showers us from everywhere – internet, newspapers, movies. I remember how shocked I was when I discovered that one of the cows in my grandparents’ farm was blind in one eye – I didn’t even know it was possible for a cow to be blind. Of course, I was a child then but if i had lived all my life away from those realities – who knows, maybe Ina May’s ramblings would have gripped me, too. After all, women have been giving birth at home for millennia and wow, still here we are.

            I don’t mind nostalgia over what is considered to have been a healthier, simpler life. But when people overdo it, I say something like, Yeah, good old times where everyone lived naturally, vaccines and other interventions were unheard of, and everyone our age was knocking at Death’s door.

  25. Elle
    May 28, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    I’m a creationist. I believe in God. But that doesn’t mean that I’m in denial about how messed up the world is, nor would it be responsible of me to perpetuate the idea that because there is design at work, the product is therefore flawless. You see this anytime something is designed. Cars are designed to drive and be driven perfectly. They aren’t designed to malfunction or get into accidents – and yet it happens quite often, because the world is fallen. Ina May’s ideas are simplistic, feel-good propaganda that do not fly in the real world, and unfortunately, many women and babies pay the real-world consequences of her misinformation.

    • OBPI Mama
      May 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Exactly this.

    • guestmama
      May 29, 2013 at 12:24 am #

      Yes, that’s exactly how I feel too.

      • KarenJJ
        May 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

        I’m an atheist and I liked that comment.

  26. Dr Kitty
    May 28, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    OT: Article in The Guardian about Baby Alexandra, who died from Spinal injuries after Kielland’s forceps delivery after 40 hours of labor and despite her mother requesting a CS several times.

    The video interview with her mother Beatrix is only to be watched if you have tissues at the ready.

    • Lisa from NY
      May 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      So sad, conceived via IVF after 5 years of trying.

    • May 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Really hard to watch and imagine what this poor woman went through. But was it really about “a culture of not listening”? At one point she says, incredulously, “This is the 21st century” – by implication, things like this don’t happen, shouldn’t happen. But they do, still, even when they shouldn’t. It ends up being very much an anti-hospital story, not surprisingly, and the fact is that hospitals do not always handle these things that well. The thought of this poor woman spending 75 minutes being sewn back together with no-one telling her anything is just too awful – but the staff in hospitals aren’t free to say much, even if they know what happened and what went wrong. It is a sadly familiar story in one way – I was healthy, my baby was healthy, nothing was wrong, and then it was. Why she was refused a CS, why a junior doctor was left weilding forceps just doesn’t get explained and the lack of any kind of explanation adds to the mother’s distress.

      Perhaps I am hopelessly idealistic to believe it is time the discourses of childbirth changed radically in favour of much more openness and honesty. Things like this do still happen, are perhaps MORE likely to happen to low risk women when complications occur because everyone wants to pretend they don’t.

    • Clarissa Darling
      May 29, 2013 at 12:29 am #

      So sad. I was reading the reviews on the hospital I plan to give birth in and one reviewer said “this hospital has one of the highest c-section rates in the area”. Because of the tone of their review I assume they meant it as a complaint but, hearing stories like this makes me think “Thank God”. I can’t imagine what this poor woman is going through and my heart breaks for her. People need to get over this lower the c section rate at all costs mentality and fast!

    • Antigonos CNM
      May 29, 2013 at 1:44 am #

      Not long after coming to Israel, I was living in an area where the local hospital was really nothing better than a cottage hospital, and had only one anesthesiologist and the OR was in another building altogether, and getting an emergency C/S during the hours when scheduled surgery was being done was next to impossible. To be frank, I was scared to death while working there, until one of the doctors said to me, “Don’t worry. I’m Romanian”. I must have looked completely blank, because he went on to explain that during Ceacescu’s reign, facilities in Romania were so bad that doctors, by necessity, became extremely expert in kinds of forceps deliveries that had long ago been abandoned in the West in favor of C/S. And it was true: I watched him deliver a number of babies with incredible skill [first time I ever saw the Scanzoni maneuver for persistent OP]. But nearly no doctor today has any experience with any but the lowest of low forceps, and increasingly little of that, as C/S is resorted to nearly all the time. Same situation with breech birth. Give me a C/S rather than an inexperienced doctor every time.

  27. Susan
    May 28, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I got curious about what do they actually believe on The Farm. This article didn’t really answer that but it was interesting nonetheless….

  28. MaineJen
    May 28, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Um…wait a second. Didn’t SHE HERSELF lose a child during a home birth? How could she possibly say there is nothing wrong with the process if even her OWN children cannot survive it 100% of the time? (Unless this means that the health and survival of the baby *really is* secondary to her. In which case…yuck.)

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      May 28, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      She got the baby out of her body just fine. It wasn’t her fault that he was too weak to live.

      • Mel
        May 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        Totally unrelated: How do you MW a hamster? Tweezers?

        • Certified Hamster Midwife
          May 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

          The same way you midwife a human: sit in the corner and knit while discouraging everyone from calling an ambulance.

    • Elle
      May 28, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Well, if the death of her OWN child isn’t enough to change her mind about birth, how is the potential death or morbidity of anyone else’s child going to factor in? Kinda scary when you think about it…

    • AmyM
      May 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      I guess, as the others below mentioned, it would have nothing to do with the outcome for the baby. However, she is ignoring all of those women who have died from PPH, from a baby being stuck and killing them both, and from infection. All of those causes of death are directly related to the process of birth, and are obvious cases where the process failed. I am not sure if she is simply denying that these things happen? Or does she think that they are always preventable if you “do things right?” Since she chalks everything up to god anyway, it would follow that god is responsible for those events, in her eyes—would that mean that a certain percentage of the time, the process is SUPPOSED to be flawed?

      I think it is fair to say that those things aren’t a woman’s FAULT and if she survives a PPH, a stuck baby or an infection, she shouldn’t blame herself or be blamed by others. Those things happen, and while sometimes somewhat predictable, often at random…no one’s fault.

      I am not saying it is no one’s fault if the problems that could be solved in a hospital are not, I am saying the adverse event itself. I would have been a moron to try to give birth to my ID twins at home, and one could say that by refusing to be in the hospital, if that PPH I had, had killed me at home, I would have to shoulder at least some blame. However, regardless of location, it was not my fault that PPH happened in the first place. Could Ina May be referring to the arbitrariness of birth related issues? As in: “Your body isn’t a lemon…your body isn’t any worse than any other woman’s body. These things happen, and the creator isn’t sloppy…these things happen for a reason, perhaps a reason we weren’t meant to know.” (that’s one interpretation I came up with, not my belief, just to be clear)

      • auntbea
        May 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

        This is why we have to believe that interventions have the power to kill. On your own, you would have been fine, but you had that PPH because of the pitocin or the epidural.

        • AmyM
          May 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

          Right…:) I bet it was not thinking happy thoughts…or more likely the lack of immediate skin to skin.

          Man, every time I comment, I regret it because I am not very articulate, especially in writing. I worry that what I write will be taken the wrong way and either offend someone unintentionally or cause others to think I have different beliefs than I actually have.

          Back to topic/discussion:

          Anyway, auntbea, you are saying that Ina espouses the philosophy of “interventions CAUSE problems?” I would believe that, but I don’t get that from this particular quote. And I haven’t read her book.

          • AmyM
            May 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

            Jeez I did it again…I meant I DO believe that, just that I didn’t think she was saying that in this particular quote.

          • auntbea
            May 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

            I assume she believes that. Because if interventions aren’t dangerous, there isn’t really a need to avoid them and a good portion of the NCB philosophy goes PTTTTHHHHHTTTT!

      • Bombshellrisa
        May 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        “However, she is ignoring all of those women who have died from PPH, from a baby being stuck and killing them both, and from infection.” Sort of, she is glossing over those deaths by making those women quilt squares and blaming obstetrics for their deaths.

        • AmyM
          May 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

          Oh, I see. So the process is still perfect, unless those awful doctors mess with it. What about those that die of those birth related complications in 3rd world countries where there was no doctor or intervention? What then?

          • Poogles
            May 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

            “What about those that die of those birth related complications in 3rd world countries where there was no doctor or intervention? What then?”

            Well, obviously, those complications are all caused by poor diet and lack of clean water. If they just had clean water and an all-organic diet with plenty of kale, there wouldn’t be any complications! /sarcasm

          • suchende
            May 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

            Right, if they’d just eaten an all-organic, hormone-free, free-range, local diet.


  29. KumquatWriter
    May 28, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    You know what? My reproductive system IS a lemon, and I think positively about that! I have a 50/50 genetic defect that cost us our first son, then a miscarriage, finally a miserable, sick, painful pregnancy and a crap birth experience.

    NONE of that makes me less of a woman or mother, or lessens any part or my life.


    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 28, 2013 at 11:28 am #


      While I’m not sure my reproductive system is quite a lemon by “lemon law” standards, I will say that I wouldn’t buy again from a company that gave me this poor quality the first time around.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        May 28, 2013 at 11:49 am #

        I always say that everything started going wrong with my body after the 25-year warranty was up. Should have taken it back for a refund before that.

        • Antigonos CNM
          May 29, 2013 at 1:50 am #

          I told my surgeon, before my hip replacement, that the most sensible thing to do was a total body transplant from the neck down. My head’s fine, and I figure about 35 years old; my body’s a wreck, I guess about 100, and it all averages out to 67.
          Now I have a marvellous hip, but my knees are creaking ominously….

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 29, 2013 at 10:10 am #

            the most sensible thing to do was a total body transplant from the neck down.

            Unfortunately, we can’t know whether this would make you more like the Bionic Woman or Darth Vader.

          • Antigonos CNM
            May 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

            Probably the latter but right now I feel a lot like the Tin Man before Dorothy gave him a lube job.

    • KarenJJ
      May 28, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      Hear, hear! My body is a reproductive lemon too. I didn’t have crap birth experiences though, they were awesome, thanks to the mighty c-section and the two healthy children they gave me.

    • Dr Kitty
      May 28, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      I’m the lemoniest lemony lemon.
      My body couldn’t grow a spine with the right number of vertebrae attached to the sacrum, or a normally shaped pelvis, or a neural tube that closed properly.

      I’m perfectly positive about my body and my self image Ina May, and I’ve NEVER been made to feel “broken”, even though it took a lot of tinkering to make thinks work right.

      I find Ina May’s writing fairly offensive, actually.

      • May 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Oh. It has never occurred to me to regard my daughter as “broken” either. More an amazing example of human resilience, courage and fortitude. Sense of humour intact, not much given to whinging or demanding her rights.

    • ratiomom
      May 29, 2013 at 6:01 am #

      Here`s another lemon. I couldn`t get pregnant without high-tech assistance, failed to carry my first pregnancy to term, was unable to carry the baby right side up so baby came out of the sunroof instead of the only acceptable orifice. And if that`s not enough for a whopping big pitcher of lemonade, I was unable to breastfeed as well.

      No OB/GYN has ever made me feel even the slightest bit ashamed or unhappy with myself. All of the bad vibes came from midwives, LC`s and natural birth aficionados.

      Ina May, I`m not buying it.

  30. Isilzha
    May 28, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Tasmanian Devils give birth to very large litters (20-30), most of which will die as there are only 4 nipples available. Nature does NOT care about any individual’s survival.

    • Karen in SC
      May 28, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Wow! Are Tasmanian devils endangered? If so, are there any efforts to save the extras by hand feeding?

      • Susan
        May 28, 2013 at 10:58 am #
        Not according to Daffy….

      • KarenJJ
        May 28, 2013 at 11:09 am #

        There’s a very contagious cancer that has been decimating the Tasmanian Devil population.

        Similar to Koala’s and chlamydia, Australian animals seem to cop some really nasty diseases.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          May 28, 2013 at 11:12 am #

          Tasmanian devils have a very limited gene pool. They’re close to clones. Which means that their immune systems can’t reject the cancer if they’re infected with it. (Which they are through biting.) Not sure if there’s much to do about it besides hope a resistant subspecies develops.

          • May 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

            Scientists have isolated a colony that is cancer-free. I think they’re planning on reintroducing them to the wild if/when all the other Tasmanian devils die, because the chances of that cancer reoccurring are pretty slim.

      • deafgimp
        May 28, 2013 at 11:32 am #

        Well, Tasmanian Devils are marsupials. When they give birth, they give birth to embryos. The embryos crawl their way up to the nipples, and that is why they make so many. They are lucky if 4 make it to the nipples which are in the pouch. Once they reach the nipples they latch on permanently until they are far more developed. Like premature humans, they have to be at a certain stage to make it with hand rearing, so you can sometimes save the babies if mom was hit by a car and the babies lived. But there’s no way you can rear them from an embryonic state to adulthood.

    • Squillo
      May 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      Indeed. The octopus (and I don’t recall which species, specifically) hatches tens of thousands of eggs, tends them for weeks in which she doesn’t feed or do anything else, then dies shortly after they hatch. (Apparently, the male also generally dies within a year after fertilizing eggs.) Of the tens of thousands of hatchlings, only a handful survive the first few days.

      THAT, my friends, is Nature. (And also why comparing us with other species the way Ina May does is pretty pointless.)

  31. quadrophenic
    May 28, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Can someone explain to me how every woman is perfectly designed to give birth, yet some babies are meant to die?

    • Amazed
      May 28, 2013 at 11:14 am #

      Gladly. Because it’s the process itself that is perfect. The process and the woman who is the Goddess incarnated. Babies… well, each religion needs sacrifices.

      Any more questions?

  32. Eddie
    May 28, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    I wish I could say that that quote was a unique brand of stupid.

  33. Tired Momma
    May 28, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    If our bodies are not lemons, how does she explain none birth health problems like cancer and dementia?

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      May 28, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Non-organic food?

    • Bombshellrisa
      May 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Gluten. Allergies. Toxins.

  34. PrecipMom
    May 28, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    There are probably different people who believe it for different reasons. There are some more normal people who for whatever reason feel disempowered in their lives and need someone telling them that if they believe enough, their lack of power doesn’t matter because they have the ultimate trump card. It’s more defensive for those folks, like a shield against the risk that bad things will happen so that they can turn down their fear.

    Then there are the people who really just believe that they are the most special snowflakes to ever waltz through the world, for whom this is an aggressive, offensive position if that makes sense. They really think they are that special and wonderful and will use whatever they have at their disposal to prop themselves up.

    That’s my armchair psychologist analysis based on what I’ve seen in natural childbirth circles. Not everyone fits into category A by a long shot, but not everyone fits into category B either, and there are probably more groups past that too but those are the ones that stick out to me.

  35. LukesCook
    May 28, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    If “rhinoceroses” is too plebeian for Ina May then someone should tell her about rhinocerotes. If you’re going to be a pedant then at least be correct.

  36. May 28, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    I love how she claims that “the body is not a machine”, and yet then goes on to say: “Your body was perfectly designed to give birth”. Ahm. Of course not everything that’s designed is a machine, but you get my point, right?

  37. theadequatemother
    May 28, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    re: God is not a careless mechanic. If god created everything “perfectly” why would he need to be a mechanic at all? There would be nothing to fix, right?

    This part of the quote might also imply that if you experience a mis or a fetal loss or a difficult birth with trauma then god WANTED you to or is punishing or testing you. Does anyone know anything specific about the religious beliefs of the cult known as “The Farm?”

    • AmyP
      May 28, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      “Does anyone know anything specific about the religious beliefs of the cult known as “The Farm?””

      That is a very interesting question.

    • T.
      May 28, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      From what she says, they are creationist *eyerolls*

    • Elle
      May 28, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      They’re hippies. They do believe in “spiritual” things… I don’t know if they’re pantheists or what, but they’re definitely not Christian.

  38. May 28, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I love this decomposition of one of my least loved quotes of all time…I always find myself thinking, “no my body isn’t a lemon, but if it proves to be a lemon why the hell wouldn’t I want to make lemonade?”

  39. yentavegan
    May 28, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    But Dr. Amy!! Most women don’t need all the unnecessary expensive intrusive interventions pushed upon them by hospitals. Most women are fully capable of birthing without drugs or pain killers. And frankly, the women who can not rise above the pain of labor probably are not meant to be mothers, They probably won’t breastfeed. They will let their offspring cry themselves to sleep. They will rely on ritalin to control the undesirable behavior that they themselves caused by having a birth with multiple interventions. I don’t want to have my perfect organically raised children have to interact with these lesser beings. So now I will have to home school because I can not trust these warped drug addled children to unduly influence the children I so perfectly birthed.

  40. CNM
    May 28, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    This made me think of this article I just read about ‘dolphin assisted birth’ (yes, you read that right)- which seems to be the ‘natural’ extension for extreme natural birthers.

    Amy, you should probably pick this one up and write about it. Who are these people promoting this (and making money off of it)? Do they not realize that wild dolphins are actually predators?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 28, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Dolphins are sex crazed maniac predators. Not my first choice in midwives.

      • Wren
        May 28, 2013 at 11:32 am #

        But still possibly better than some of the midwives I’ve read about here.

        • deafgimp
          May 28, 2013 at 11:34 am #

          Well, my friend had a dolphin assisted birth. It didn’t go well, the dolphin ordered her to moisturize his skin constantly and recommended fish for everything.

          • CNM
            May 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

            know, I was actually thinking of having fruit flies attend my next
            birth since we share so much DNA with them. I would just have to smear
            myself with ripe strawberries and they would answer my call.

    • T.
      May 28, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      I read that too!
      The guillibility of people never cease to astonish me.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 28, 2013 at 9:33 am #

      Also, if you want to save the dolphins, teaching them to associate with humans and possibly be aggressive to humans is exactly the wrong way to go about it.

    • KumquatWriter
      May 28, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      I posted this link on another comment about her, but Penn & Teller’s Bullshit featured her in this episode:

      • Susan
        May 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Thanks that was very entertaining.

    • May 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Dolphins freak out about blood in the water! It can call sharks, so dolphins sometimes attack bleeding creatures as a danger to the pod. Who thinks this could possibly a good idea?

    • suchende
      May 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      Bringing a new meaning to “stunt birth.”

  41. auntbea
    May 28, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    But, why would anyone want their body compared to an aardvark’s? Hey! Is she saying I have a big nose?!?

    • May 28, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      I just wanted to check whan an aardvark is, and then realized that the name comes from Dutch and means “earth pig”… I then checked anyway and OMG, these are cuuuute!

  42. Monica
    May 28, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    You have it all wrong Dr. Amy. If you experience a miscarriage it’s because you didn’t trust birth enough. It’s not because our creator is a careless mechanic.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 28, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      That’s the thing about a c-section. It works whether you believe in it or not. Progestin supplementation and lovenox also work for decreasing risk of miscarriage, if the context is right. And the “context” is the right underlying condition, not the right amount of belief.

  43. The Computer Ate My Nym
    May 28, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    This quote leaves me with just one question: Does Ina May Gaskin know anything about biology? Human or animal? Because I don’t see how anyone with the most superficial knowledge of biology could believe this sort of nonsense.

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