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.