Ina May Gaskin leads her own cult

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For years I’ve puzzled over the appeal of Ina May Gaskin.

She’s obviously a complete fraud. She babbles nonsense and makes up “statistics” that she refuses to publish in scientific journals. She has no education or training in midwifery. She has blood on her hands; homebirth kills babies, and indeed she let one of her own children die. She is a cult member who accepts her own husband as a “prophet.”

In writing yesterday’s post about the fact that she proudly transgresses personal boundaries, the final piece fell into place for me. Ina May Gaskin is the high priestess of her own cult, and her loyal followers, for their own reasons, pretend that she is leading them to the promised land.

What are the characteristics of a cult? According to the Group Psychological Abuse Scale, characteristics include:

  • The group advocates or implies that breaking the law is okay if it serves the interests of the group.
  • The group discourages members from displaying negative emotions.
  • Members feel they are part of a special elite.
  • The group teaches that persons who are critical of the group are [evil].
  • The group teaches special exercises … to push doubts or negative thoughts out of consciousness.
  • Medical attention is discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem.

What are the characteristics of cult leaders? According to Lalich and Langone, characteristics include:

  • The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and … regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth …
  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged …
  • The leader is not accountable to any authorities …
  • The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure …

It’s hardly surprising that Gaskin, the wife of a cult leader, has created her own cult in the area of action that he allows her. How do the characteristics of cults apply to homebirth in the US?

  • Homebirth advocates and homebirth midwives routinely break the law and encourage others to do so.
  • Homebirth advocates characterize dissent as “negativity.”
  • Homebirth advocates believe that they are more “educated” than others.
  • Homebirth advocates are vicious to those who question their beliefs. They reserve special contempt for women who have lost babies at homebirth.
  • Homebirth advocates attribute poor outcomes (from C-section to disability to death) to the “negative thoughts” of women who “didn’t trust” birth.
  • Medical attention is strongly discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem. Indeed medical problems are elided altogether by calling them “variations of normal.”

Does Gaskin exhibit the characteristics of a cult leader?

  • Homebirth advocates display zealous and unquestioning commitment to Gaskin, even though she has no education and training, let one of her own children die, and transgresses sexual boundaries.
  • No one questions Gaskin’s claims about homebirth even when they are obviously nonsensical. No one demands that Gaskin provide proof for her claims of purported excellent outcomes at The Farm.
  • Gaskin is not accountable to any authorities. Indeed she set herself up as THE authority, going so far as to join with others in creating a fake “credential” to fool non-cult members.
  • Homebirth advocates, including Gaskin, wield shame and guilt as cudgels to discipline members. Often, this is done through peer pressure.

Gaskin freely admits that she fondles women during labor:

It helps the mother to relax around her puss if you massage her there using a liberal amount of baby oil to lubricate the skin. Sometimes touching her very gently on or around her button (clitoris) will enable her to relax even more. I keep both hands there and busy all the time while crowning … doing whatever seems most necessary.

And:

Sometimes I see that a husband is afraid to touch his wife’s tits because of the midwife’s presence, so I touch them, get in there and squeeze them, talk about how nice they are, and make him welcome.

There is no possible medical or scientific justification for fondling women’s breasts and genitals without express permission. PERIOD. Unless Gaskin has her patients sign advanced consent for “tit squeezing” and clitoral stimulation, she has committed a sexual violation. What’s worse, she violates victims when they are most vulnerable, in pain and unable to advocate for themselves.

That’s the final piece that brought everything into focus.

It’s long past time to recognize this woman for what she is, a cult leaders whose empirical claims have no basis in fact, whose recommendations have caused countless preventable neonatal deaths, and who uses shame and guilt to discipline her followers.

Ina May Gaskin has condemned herself with her own words. Her followers have known about this reprehensible behavior for years and have excused or ignored it as is typical in a cult. This woman is not worthy of anyone’s admiration. She is worthy of condemnation in the strongest possible terms.

Abuse is abuse, even when it is committed by one woman on another, even when it is done under the guise of medical “care,” and even when the perpetrator is widely beloved by other members of the cult. There is no possible justification for this behavior.

  • Jonathan

    I can happily announce that our beautiful baby girl was born to a midwife last week. We chose natural delivery, though my wife wanted a water birth the little girl decided to come out in a position that made the bed a better option. Mama and baby are healthy and happy and we were able to sleep in our own beds at home on the same day that labor started. My wife was really really happy with her midwife’s care and the whole process, felt very loved and taken care of, and certainly recommends it as well as recommending Ina May Gaskin’s books on midwifery.

    Oh, we also chose to go with 100% breastfeeding, we are lucky in that our little girl has been relatively good at latching right from the get go and my wife’s production has seemed to proceed by the normal pattern, the little one impressively seemed to stop the normal post-birth decline (she was down 8% at 42 hours) and start putting on weight by day 3 and had half her loss back by day 4!

    We’re also likely going with a normal vaccination schedule.

    • Chi

      Congratulations on the safe arrival of your little one.

      I’m glad everything went well, but I would like to point out that just because things went well for you, it doesn’t make homebirth any safer – you just got lucky that the birth was relatively straightforward and were the exception rather than the rule.

      And I’m also glad breastfeeding is working out for you too, obviously your wife isn’t one of the up to 15% of women who experience delayed lactogenesis. I sincerely hope it continues to work well for you.

      All the best with your beautiful new daughter, I hope she continues to grow and thrive.

      • Jonathan

        I appreciate your nicely worded message.

        I suspect that we have different ideas of what constitutes “exception” and “rule”. From hearing the experiences of our friends who have chosen this option, from seeing the outcomes in the particular midwifery centers we worked with (due to time we spent with my parents we got to interact with midwives from two different networks in two different states), and from reading the published peer-reviewed results at Ina May’s operation and other competent and trained American-based operations, my impression is that a safe outcome for both mother and baby is the rule, and negative outcomes are certainly less common than positive ones.

        Our birth had it’s own little factors that some might consider would make it likely to be a non-simplistic birth, but the midwife dealt with all of those really well and my wife’s comfort and relaxation along with the ability to use her entire body during the process helped it go smoother than it might have been under other conditions.

        Leading into our birth, we had to hear from a lot of friends who had negative hospital experiences, some of which were negative physical outcomes (in two cases life-threatening but thankfully no deaths) and others just psychologically really difficult. Some of those negative experiences could possibly be blamed on aspects of the hospital methodology, though of course it’s difficult to parse. I believe that both hospital births and midwife births have their strengths, and that the best option would be for them to learn from each other rather than demonizing each other – in the ideal case both midwives and hospitals can continue to get better.

        From what my wife and her friends say I get the feeling that the ideal situation is one in which the most patient-friendly professionals in the most human-friendly environment are able to manage birth with the least chemical and surgical intervention possible but the most chemical and surgical interventions available for all mothers who choose them or necessitate them based on circumstances.

        (with that being said, I’ll now bow out of the conversation for anything other than honest and gentle follow-up questions as I’ve seen how quickly this whole dynamic can become very aggressive and negative)

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          When I was in high school, it was very, very common for my classmates to go out on weekends, get very, very drunk, and then drive home. This likely occurred dozens of times a weekend for multiple years.

          In that time, 1 of my classmates got a DUI, and another was in a severe accident. None of them died.

          Clearly, the adverse effects of drunk driving were, far and away, the exception, certainly not the rule.

          By driving home drunk, my classmates avoided the issue of having to always have a designated driver, which meant all of the social group could participate, and they did not have any annoying hassles of someone having to come and get them. So there were clearly benefits to drunk driving.

          By the way, my class’s experience with drunk driving is not unique. In fact, it is pretty much the standard. According to the US DOT, there are 27000 miles of drunk driving for every DUI. Moreover, there are twice as many DUIs as there are car accidents. And only a small percentage of car accidents involving drunk drivers result in death. I have estimated that there are on the order of 2 drunk driving deaths for every 1 000 000 drunken drives. DUIs are more on the order to 2 in 10 000. So, when it comes to drunk driving, even a DUI is by far the exception and not the rule. My classmates constantly told of their uneventful drunken drives.

          What does that mean in terms of the safety of drunk driving? Nothing. It does not show nor even suggest that drunk driving is a safe activity, nor that it is advisable in any way.

          Just because millions of people in the US drive drunk without incident, and the negative outcomes are few and far between, that doesn’t make it a smart thing to do.

          • Who?

            Quite so. The other reason dd is such bad behaviour is the person you kill or badly injure may not be yourself, but a conscript ie a pedestrian or other driver. Just like homebirth.

            I’m delighted the luck fairy worked for them on this occasion, and I hope they realise it was just that-not planning, not superior care by anyone, just dumb luck. More likely though they will think it was all them, and their ‘carers’.

    • MaineJen

      I’m glad it went so well for both of you. Here is your cookie.

      You get another one when you realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have everything go perfectly well, and that when things do not go perfectly well, ‘home with a midwife’ is not the ideal place to be.

    • yentavegan

      Congratulations. I am so happy for you and your family. Mazel Tov.

  • Jonathan

    The amount of venom in this post really took me off guard. At first I just closed it after reading, but an hour later I went into my history and pulled it up again because I thought a couple words should be spoken.

    I don’t know a lot about home births, I’ve never attended one and I’m not part of that community. But we ended up with a copy of Ina May’s book as we look forward to our first child, and some of the things that Amy Tuteur says about her are downright false. I’ll have to assume that is ignorance rather than maliciousness, though the tone is certainly malicious.

    The enormous disparity between how Ina May is generally received and how Tuteur speaks of her (and her husband) should indicate that there is a real disconnect here.

    Tuteur claims, “Medical attention is strongly discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem.”

    Yet the book makes clear that medical attention is frequently given when there is a medical problem. The midwives had several types of medical equipment on hand and were trained in its use, as well as a doctor on-call for any emergencies they couldn’t handle. There is strong praise for conscientious doctors in multiple places in the book. The book in no way demonizes doctors, it only questions the industrial mindset which treats people like objects and childbirth like a disease that needs to be cured. Long before I even knew there was a such thing as “midwifery”, I had already seen this problem across many hospitals.

    Tuteur claims, “No one demands that Gaskin provide proof for her claims of purported excellent outcomes at The Farm” and “makes up “statistics” that she refuses to publish in scientific journals.”

    All you have to do is go to Wikipedia and see the peer-reviewed study published by Duran in the American Journal of Public Health proves that the results of her midwifery work were indeed published in a scientific journal.

    “Pregnancy outcomes of 1707 women, who enrolled for care between 1971 and 1989 with a home birth service run by lay midwives in rural Tennessee, were compared with outcomes from 14,033 physician-attended hospital deliveries derived from the 1980 US National Natality/National Fetal Mortality Survey. Based on rates of perinatal death, of low 5-minute Apgar scores, of a composite index of labor complications, and of use of assisted delivery, the results suggest that, under certain circumstances, home births attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician-attended hospital deliveries.”

    As far as most of the other claims about Gaskin, claims that she dismisses opponents, tries to guilt and shame dissenters, sets herself up as the “authority” who is more educated than her opponents…I mean, isn’t that exactly what Tuteur is doing throughout this post? I saw nothing in the book or in any of the articles I read about Ina May that show her speaking with anything close to the kind of attacks on dissenters that are littered throughout this piece. Does Tuteur thinks that criticizing one’s detractors is wrong, or that only Tuteur herself has the “authority” to do so?

    There are so many other ad hominen attacks throughout the piece that it would be tiring to respond to them, but the claim that Ina May “let one of her own babies die” deserves context. Around the late 1960s (perhaps 1970), Ina May’s first child was born over two months premature as she was traveling across the country. There was little warning of such an early birth, and at that point in history births that early usually had poor outcomes regardless, even in hospitals. Ina May had not even started her midwifery group yet at that point, nor did she have any training or knowledge of midwifery (Tuteur claims that she still doesn’t, anyone who has even perused Ina May’s book would see that that’s obviously untrue.) Ina May was deeply grief-stricken over the death and took years to move past it. To weaponize the death of her own child many years ago feels quite cruel.

    Also, I don’t know a lot about her husband Stephen Gaskin, but Tuteur’s claims intrigued me so I googled him. It looks like while he certainly has supporters and detractors, Tuteur’s attacks on him are miles from the mainstream view. He promoted nonviolence and hard work and he smoked pot, but he placed altruism for others above everything and it looks like his commune did a lot of good work. You might hate communes, sure, not everyone has to like them. But it doesn’t register as a very solid base from which to cast stones.

    A rather typical obituary:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/stephen-gaskin-hippie-who-founded-an-enduring-commune-dies-at-79.html

    • MaineJen

      Think about what those “statistics” really mean, though. Births that suffer few complications have good outcomes. That’s true whether you’re at home or in the hospital.

      Now think about your wife’s home birth. If any complications had come up, you would have transferred to the hospital, right? So now your home birth is a hospital birth. Any complications that arose from her labor and delivery would have counted against the hospital’s statistics. But since no serious complications arose, she gave birth at home and all was well, and home birth got another tick in the ‘win’ column.

      Any birth that’s complicated at all is going to end up at the hospital, because that’s where the doctors are. Complicated births have more adverse outcomes.

      • Jonathan

        I know that’s the sort of thing you’re told on sites like this one, but it’s false in reference to the study I quoted. So you just spread a falsehood without doing the research to check your claim, just because you believed what they were telling you.

        It says explicitly in the study I cited, “A retrospective cohort of 1707 births derived from all pregnancies accepted for care at the Farm between January 1971 and June 1989 [other than spontaneous miscarriages before 28 weeks]. The outcomes of all these births were attributed to the Farm group, whether or not delivery was ultimately accomplished at home.”

        There’s sort of a laundry list of go-to moves that I’ve seen Amy Tuteur use to selectively dismiss any study that goes against her predetermined beliefs, and that is a classic one. When someone consistently dismisses every bit of evidence that pushes back against what they want to believe, even to the point that they are forced to dismiss most of the available evidence, you have to question whether they’re truly as rigorously committed to truth as they claim.

    • Daleth

      Did you notice that the study you’re referring to was approximately 30 to 50 years old (1971-89)? Two glaring differences between then and now should tell you that it’s not an accurate reflection of midwife-attended homebirth vs. hospital birth now.

      First off, hospitals in the 70s and 80s had much less in the way of fetal monitoring, emergency care and NICU expertise than they do now. They didn’t even do ultrasounds back then, much less electronic fetal monitoring, so they couldn’t detect problems that, these days, they can detect. The anesthesia used in epidurals and c-sections was more dangerous than it is now. Also, in 1980 babies born before 28 weeks pretty much weren’t even viable; now we can save 23-weekers.

      Long story short, hospitals can do things now that they couldn’t do then, so the difference in safety between homebirth and hospital birth is much greater than it used to be.

      As for the second issue, almost all midwives back then were real midwives, with medical training. In the US that’s no longer true at all. About half the states let “lay midwives” or CPMs — people who may not even have a high school diploma, much less medical training — act as midwives. That wasn’t allowed back then.

      If you want to know how things are now, don’t look at a 1970s-80s study of less than 1800 births. Look instead at a modern study of over TEN MILLION births — every single low-risk baby born in the United States over a three-year period. As you can see, these days in the US, home-birth midwives are dramatically more likely to kill your baby than hospital midwives or hospital doctors are:

      https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2813%2901155-1/fulltext

      • Jonathan

        This reminds me of the classic treatise on the scientific method in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, where he points out that if one desires, one can continuously find alternative explanations that force them to start over again and again and again. Under what conditions would any study showing positive outcomes for midwives in general or Ina May Gaskin’s work in particular be convincing to you?

        I was referring to the landmark study of The Farm’s outcomes because Amy Tuteur was criticizing Ina May Gaskin when she claimed that she refuses to publish in scientific journals and doesn’t offer proof of excellent outcomes.

        Midwives today do ultrasounds and electronic fetal heart monitoring too.

        Your study looks problematic as it does not distinguish between planned home births and accidental home births, between prescreened-as-suitable births and unscreened births, between trained midwives and untrained midwives, etc. But it’s hard to tell, as there was very limited information in the link. Do you have a link to the full study?

        What does show, in that limited information you linked to, is that hospital midwives had much BETTER outcomes than hospital doctors, and birthing center midwives had basically the same outcomes as hospital doctors. In fact, so long as they were in a hospital or birthing center, midwives as a cohort outperformed doctors. That’s interesting?

        I, personally, was happy with my wife’s choice to choose a midwife, and was happy that she chose a midwife in a birthing center where they were well-trained and did ultrasounds and electronic fetal heart monitoring. The fetal heart monitoring, in fact, was an important aspect of my wife delivering in the right position for what could have been a problematic delivery. I wouldn’t have been comfortable with her doing a home birth without such a trained midwife.

        • Daleth

          Your study looks problematic as it does not distinguish between planned home births and accidental home births

          Of course it does. Did you look closely at it? It distinguishes between home births with midwives, and “other” home births (i.e. unplanned/accidental ones, unattended ones, intentional free births, etc). The chart at the bottom shows one death rate for home births with midwives (13.2/10,000) and a much higher one for all other home births (18.2/10,000). Clearly, giving birth at home with a midwife is much safer than freebirthing or giving birth at home with only, say, your husband or mom in attendance.

          Under what conditions would any study showing positive outcomes for midwives in general or Ina May Gaskin’s work in particular be convincing to you?

          The study design in the Cornell study I posted would do it:

          * Compare outcomes for comparable, low-risk babies (the only kind of babies who should be considered for home births — i.e. not preemies, not breech, not multiples, etc.);

          * Compare them across the entire population, as Cornell did (10+ million babies over three years), or at least across a representative and reasonably large population; and

          * Categorize the outcomes by both place of birth and birth attendant, as Cornell did (i.e., hospital docs, hospital midwives, home midwives and home “other” — so that you can distinguish between accidental or unattended home births and ones done with midwives).

          It’s not rocket science. It’s just science.

          In response to what you say about medical advances, midwives today do ultrasounds and electronic fetal heart monitoring too.

          Home birth midwives don’t know how to use those tools (only real midwives do, i.e., CNMs, the type that works in hospitals), and even if they did, those tools aren’t available at home. I have zero problem with hospital midwives, whatsoever — I was planning to deliver with hospital midwives myself, until I got risked out.

          What does show, in that limited information you linked to, is that
          hospital midwives had much BETTER outcomes than hospital doctors…

          Not if you understand how hospitals work. The one weakness of the Cornell study was that it only looked at the risk profile of the babies. It studied all low-risk babies born in the US over a three-year period, but it didn’t distinguish between low, average and high-risk mothers (probably because doing so would’ve required them to analyze over ten million women’s medical records, which would’ve been cost-prohibitive even without considering how hard it would be to get all those women’s consent).

          That matters because maternal risk factors can kill low-risk babies, and hospital doctors have higher-risk patients than hospital midwives. So by definition, they’re going to lose more babies than midwives because the midwives won’t be treating high-risk women.

          A hospital midwife will only attend a birth if the mother and the baby are both low-risk. A low-risk baby with a high-risk mom — for instance, a full-term, head-down singleton whose mom has developed preeclampsia or gestational diabetes — will be attended by a doctor, not a midwife. Similarly, a home birth or birthing center birth gone wrong that transfers to the hospital in labor will be attended by a doctor, not a midwife. And without considering the hospital transfers, doctors have higher-risk patients than birthing center or home birth midwives because midwives are generally not allowed to treat high-risk women.

          In short, the patient populations of the different types of midwives are comparable: all midwives, regardless of where the birth happens, should normally have only the lowest-risk patients. But the patients of midwives are not comparable to the patient populations of doctors, so you have to take any comparison between their outcomes with a grain of salt, understanding that doctors are going to lose healthy babies because the mothers were unhealthy, so their statistics will look worse than they would look if you removed all the high-risk women from the doctors’ stats to make them comparable with midwives.

          • Jonathan

            I’m not sure I’ve fully parsed which midwives you are “okay” and “not okay” with, but when I let on that I allowed my wife to give birth with a competent and trained midwife at a midwifery center, I was roundly attacked on this site, called reckless, and even compared to a drunk driver.

            So far as the training/competency of midwives in home births (something I’m not personally familiar with), the comment two below mine states:

            “Hmm.. the midwives I work with that do home births work under an obstetrician, have degrees in midwifery, and ONLY take low risk women. They haven’t had any babies die thus far.. they transport to the hospital if anything happens. They order ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. Just like an OB would. They can do sutures and even administer pitocin. They also encourage you not to have a homebirth if you have any risk factors. They do not let you go over 42 weeks. How many midwives do I know personally and work with? 8. So.. funny how everyone likes to make assumptions about midwives.”

            I’m guessing that there is a range of competencies and to make wide-ranging claims about all home births based on unplanned, poorly planned, poorly prepared, or untrained home births would be inappropriate.

            I’ll ask again, do you actually have the full paper? I did look closely at the very limited summary you provided, and no, it did not distinguish between the categories I listed.

            However, you appear to be saying that the different samples were non-representative in ways that were not explicitly described in the paper. Without seeing more information, it’s difficult to evaluate those claims. And it also reinforces what I said before regarding how selective your cult is about scientific evidence – you don’t only reject any study which comes to conclusions different than what you believe, but even in the studies you cite approvingly, you find reasons to disregard any conclusions you don’t like. That appears to me to be a process far too susceptible to bias – as it appears rather easy to come up with reasons to disregard the conclusions you like as well as the conclusions you don’t like, it appears that you’re just selectively poking only where it helps your cases to do so. Just as hospital midwife births may be nonrepresenative in one way or another, home births may be nonrepresentative in numerous ways.

            Even when you suggest that hospital midwife births could be nonrepresentative, you don’t show that that fully accounts for the difference in results. And you even say that it may be too difficult to show that one way or the other with that much data, while also stating that you would reject any study that doesn’t have that much data…which creates the convenient situation where you can hand-wave away the results without ever having to actually account for them.

            You use the derogatory “It’s not rocket science. It’s just science.” claim, which suggests that The Farm study was….not science? Which I’m guessing the editors of the American Journal of Public Health would be surprised to hear.

          • Griffin

            Erm? You “ALLOWED” your “wife to give birth with a competent and trained midwife at a midwifery center”.

            Is your wife not capable of making her own decisions about her own body?

          • Jonathan

            In that statement I referred to the manner in which YOUR loyal supporter attacked me, Dr. Tuteur, when they compared our actions to drunk driving and said, “the person you kill or badly injure may not be yourself”.

            if either of you have an issue with that characterization, take it up with them, not me.

            If you believe that the issue is only one to be made by my wife about her own body and she has the right to do what she pleases, then no, it cannot be compared to drunk driving, can it?

            Of course, if you believe that a midwifery birth is akin to child endangerment and that it puts a baby’s life at risk, then it is something that the father of that baby “allows”, right?

            Either way, you’re being hypocritical in an attempt to win an imaginary internet argument point.

            My wife made the decision and drove responsibility for it from beginning to end. It was her independent idea from the beginning due to her conversations with friends and the material she had read, and I never advised her for or against midwifery birth at any point. She knows much more about it than I do.

          • Griffin

            This may be pointless but still, I’d like to try to reach out. My hope is that before you and your wife have another child, you might decide to check your home birth assumptions against evidence from well-designed scientific studies to make sure you really are fully informed of the risks.

            You said that your wife made the decision to home birth on the basis of “conversations with friends” and “material” she read. Was she truly open-minded while she was gathering the information needed to make an informed decision? Did she canvas the thoughts of one or more obstetricians (who are very conversant with the risks of all forms of childbirth)? And was any of the material your wife read actual scientific research? Does she have the training and open-mindedness to critically analyze such research? I’m not saying that laypeople are incapable of understanding scientific research, far from it, but some study designs provide much more believable data than others and it takes experience to pick the wheat from the chaff, especially in a politically tempestuous field like childbirth.

            Or was the material that your wife read purely from blogs and internet childbirth sites? Did she also check out sites that are skeptical about home birth, just to be sure that she was making an informed decision? Are you and your wife aware of the enormous misinformation about childbirth/breastfeeding etc that is promulgated on the internet, much of it from people who make money from manipulating people’s naiveté and/or fears?

            In relation to this, you should know that Dr. Tuteur does not make money from her website (actually she loses money). If you look up her credentials, you will quickly realize that she doesn’t need to make money. She has been altruistically fighting for years to give women the information they need to make INFORMED choices about birth, breastfeeding, vaccines etc.

            If a woman wants to continue with a home birth after being thoroughly informed of and fully accepting all the risks, then her choice will be respected on this website. If however, her midwife tells her a pack of lies and her child dies or is horribly injured, Dr. Tuteur rightfully goes for the jugular of that midwife and other deadly midwives like her. Equally, if the woman purposely avoids being fully informed, wilfully refuses to countenance information that does not agree with her preconceptions and desires, and then narcissistically says “It was a lovely home birth” when actually the home birth ended with the death of her child, no one here is going to have much sympathy for her.

            So Bofa offended you by suggesting that by having a home birth, you and your wife were as irresponsible as a drunk driver. I can understand that upset you – after all, you love your wife and your child and would never allow anything that would harm them.

            However, home birth associates with a much higher risk of death than hospital birth: the babies of low-risk women are 4 times more likely to die in a home birth than if they are born in hospital or hospital-based birthing centers. FOUR times, Jonathan! The day any child is born is THE most dangerous day of her life: only when you reach the age of 75 are you as likely to die as the day you were born. This is because child birth is inherently DANGEROUS. You and your wife increased your beloved child’s risk of dying in child birth by FOUR-FOLD because you wanted a home birth.

            There is a reason very few people have home births, Jonathan, and it’s not because ob-gyns need to make money and paternistically want to control women’s choices. It’s because it’s damned dangerous. Why would you take that risk with your fragile little baby? You and your wife and your child, you were lucky this time.

          • Daleth

            I’m not sure I’ve fully parsed which midwives you are “okay” and “not okay” with

            Then you’re not listening. In my first comment on your post I said that part of the reason homebirth in the US is so much more dangerous than hospital birth these days is that in the decades since that study you cited, half the states have started letting fake midwives without medical training practice as midwives. I identified them as “lay midwives” and CPMs, and in my next response to your post I contrasted them with real midwives, i.e. (in the US) CNMs, which stands for Certified Nurse Midwives.

            What else would I need to say in order for you to “fully parse” which midwives I think are okay vs. not okay? Would it help if I pointed out that CPMs and “lay midwives” would not be allowed to practice in any other developed country in the world? The only US midwives who could legally practice in Canada or Europe are CNMs, and possibly the much less common CM (Certified Midwife, i.e. not a nurse but has medical training and a graduate degree in midwifery).

            the comment two below mine states:”Hmm.. the midwives I work
            with that do home births work under an obstetrician, have degrees in
            midwifery, and ONLY take low risk women…They can do sutures and even administer pitocin”

            I don’t see that comment, so I can’t speak for it. But it’s not talking about CPMs. That’s describing either CNMs in well regulated US states, or real, properly trained midwives in other countries (sounds like Canada or the UK). Only three (3) US states allow fake midwives to administer pitocin at all — Alaska, Montana and New Hampshire — and only under certain conditions (Alaska: only if the midwife has passed training and testing to show her competence in administering pitocin; Montana: only if the drug was prescribed by a doctor).

            wide-ranging claims about all home births based on unplanned, poorly planned, poorly prepared, or untrained home births

            Again, I really have to question whether you’re reading my posts. Nobody here is making claims about “all homebirths” regardless of whether a midwife was there. The study distinguishes between homebirths that were attended by midwives (13.2/10,000 death rate), and homebirths that were not (18.2/10,000 death rate).

            An accidental or unplanned homebirth is by definition not attended by a midwife. Unless maybe if you happen to live next door to a midwife, and you know her phone number or have someone who can run and get her, AND she happens to be home when you go into precipitous labor… AND your reaction to unexpected labor is to call her instead of 911.

            But any woman who wasn’t planning on a home birth would call 911 if she went into labor at home and realized she was at risk of having her baby right there. So let’s be honest here: if you’re delivering at home with a midwife, you 99.99% certainly planned to deliver at home with a midwife.

            As for “untrained,” either licensed homebirth midwives fit into your definition of “untrained” — which is the opposite of what you’ve been claiming — or you have to admit that untrained birth attendants would be classified under “Homebirth – Other” in the Cornell study, and not “Homebirth – Midwife.”

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The Farm study compares homebirth to the 1980 US National Natality-National Fetal Mortality Survey and concludes that homebirth is safer. However, the documentation for the NN-NFMS reveals that it is a deliberately non-representative sample of births in 1980 and was never meant to be used as a measure of neonatal mortality. Durand calculated a perinatal mortality rate for homebirth at the Farm was 10/1000 and compared it to the perinatal mortality rate for the NN-NFMS of 13/1000. However, the neonatal mortality rate at the Farm was 8.2/1000 and the neonatal mortality rate for the entire US in 1980 was 8.5/1000. It was only 7.6/1000 for white women and was substantially lower for low risk white women at term, probably in the range of 3.8/1000 or less. So, rather than showing that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth, the Farm study showed the the neonatal mortality rate at homebirth is more than double that in the hospital.

      What is the 1980 US National Natality-National Fetal Mortality Survey and does it give us accurate information about neonatal death rates? The 1980 US National Natality-National Fetal Mortality Survey comes with copious data about the methodology of the NN-NFMS and this data leaves absolutely no doubt that the NN-NFMS does NOT yield neonatal mortality rates for hospital birth in 1980. Let’s look at some important reasons why:

      The NN-NFMS was not designed to yield mortality data for 1980. It had an entirely different purpose. The NN-NFMS was designed to obtain health data that was not on the original birth certificate in order to analyze that data. So, for example, the NN-NFMS asked about the use of ultrasound during pregnancy, which does not appear on the birth certificate. The investigators also collected data that did appear on the birth certificate in order to determine the accuracy of the NN-NFMS data.

      No other scientific paper uses the mortality data on the NN-NFMS. (This is not suprising, since, as explained above, the mortality data is not accurate).

      The NN-NFMS deliberately oversampled high risk births. This fact is acknowledged within the Durand paper, but it is not explained. It means that the sample used in the NN-NFMS has a higher risk level than the population in general, and is much higher risk than any lower risk group. As expected, the neonatal mortality rate in the NN-NFMS sample is HIGHER than the overall neonatal mortality rate for the entire country in 1980.

      The NN-NFMS is known to be a tiny (0.3% of births) NON-REPRESENTATIVE fraction of the deliveries in 1980. That is deliberate on the part of the authors, but it means that under no circumstances can the NN-NFMS mortality data be substituted for the 1980 birth certificate data.

      In summary, Durand compared death at homebirth at the Farm with neonatal death rates from a tiny, non-representative fraction of deliveries in 1980 instead of comparing the Farm to know mortality rates from hospital birth in 1980. The correct comparison shows that homebirth at the Farm had a neonatal death rate more than twice as high as hospital birth for low risk white women. Once again, the only way to make homebirth look good is to use deception.

      • Jonathan

        You appear to follow the pattern you set in the breastfeeding discussions, where even when presented with a body of research for which the large majority (perhaps all?) of published peer-reviewed papers disputed your claims, you claimed various flaws in every paper that expressed an outcome you disagreed with. Even papers which you cited approvingly, when shown that statements within that very paper contradicted your claims, you tried to argue that the paper was correct only to the degree that it supported the claims you were making but not to the degree that it disputed them.

        I’m reminded of the psychological study that showed how much more likely people were able to come up with potential justifications for their positions than with potential counterarguments, and how the ratio of self-justifications vs. counterarguments differed depending on the characteristics of the arguer. Food for thought.

        The Durand paper (which you originally tried to pretend did not exist) did evaluate racial differences in outcomes in the area and found that they did not significantly alter the results. And yes, it purposely oversampled risky births in order to obtain statistically significant data on them, but you can see clearly that that oversampling was corrected with weighting coefficients.

        So far as whether the mortality data on the NN-NFMS is accurate and can be used in scientific papers, Dr. Paul Placek in “Findings on Birth Outcome from the 1980 National Natality Survey and 1980 National Fetal Mortality Survey” appears to contradict your claims that it is unsuitable for constructing accurate mortality rates for researchers. A quick google search also seems to suggest that this mortality information has indeed been used in other scientific papers.

        Also, you made up a “low-risk white woman at term” neonatal mortality rate of 3.8/1000 for the period in question and then claim the Farm’s rate is twice that without showing how you standardized those two groups to each other – it would look almost impossible for you to have done it meaningfully accurately as the entire neonatal mortality rate at the farm for issues related to labor and delivery was less than 3/1000.

        Finally, I’ll point out that the Farm study (which again, you implied in your diatribe did not even exist) was published in the American Journal of Public Health, one of the most influential and highly-regarded public health journals in the world, whose reviewers apparently dispute your allegations of a shoddy, deceptive study.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          I didn’t imply it didn’t exist. Why would I? I debunked it more than a decade ago. http://homebirthdebate.blogspot.com/2007/06/farm-study-classic-case-of-deception.html

          • Jonathan

            Why would you? Because it’s easier to make the kind of ad hominem attacks that you made in this post when you don’t have to qualify them with reality? That would be my best guess for the reason.

            Without reference or qualification you said that she failed to provide proof for her claims of purported excellent outcomes at The Farm, that her empirical claims have no basis in fact and that she makes up statistics which she refuses to publish in medical journals. Since she explicitly did provide proof of her claims of excellent outcomes, and since the statistics regarding her outcomes had indeed been published in one of the most highly regarded public health journals in the world, your claim and omission was quite misleading.

            It’s similar to your claims that she’s “obviously a complete fraud”, that she has “no education or training in midwifery”, that she “let one of her own children die”, that she is a “cult member”, that she is “high priestess of her own cult”, that “medical attention is discouraged even though there may be a medical problem”. Not only are these claims false, some of them appear to be unique to you alone.

            I also ask whether you feel you are part of a special elite, have set yourself up as the authority, believe you are more educated than others, are vicious to people who question your beliefs, regard your belief system and ideology as the truth, discourage dissent, are accountable to any authorities in the claims you make on this site, or ever try to shame or guilt people in order to influence them (or observe it being done via peer pressure by your followers).

            Because by a lot of your own measures, you look more like a cult leader than Ina May does. You just believe that you lead the “right” cult, the one supported by that small subset of peer-reviewed evidence which…supports you. lol

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Sadly, you are so desperate to validate your own personal choice that you ignore the fact that this was not “research” and that Gaskin has published nothing in the intervening quarter century. If her results were as good as she claims, she would have published them in every reputable journal.

          • Jonathan

            Circumstantial ad hominem followed by moving the goalposts.

            All of the actual charges, which have been repeated multiple times over four months, are still ignored. Suggestive.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Right, Jonathan, you “win.” Despite the fact that you’ve never been to medical school, never delivered a single baby, let alone thousands, never read most of the homebirth scientific literature, you “know” more than me. Happy now?

          • Jonathan

            Why would anyone be happy with that statement? It’s just more logical fallacies and further refusal to address the substantive criticisms that have been made. It doesn’t serve anyone well.

          • rational thinker

            Dr. Tuteur does not have beliefs she has FACTS that are supported by scientific evidence.

          • Jonathan

            “Dr. Tuteur does not have beliefs she has FACTS”

            If you want Dr. Tuteur not to look like a cult leader then you should probably not praise her with sentences that belong on a Chuck Norris meme.

          • rational thinker

            She could not be a cult leader she wants people to be informed and think for themselves.

          • rational thinker

            Hey I have an idea, when you and your spouse are ready to have your next child/home birth why dont you go to the farm and let Ina may gaskin personally deliver your child since you are so confident in her skills. Then maybe in between contractions she can help your wife relax by doing this to her:

            “It helps the mother to relax around her puss if you
            massage her there using a liberal amount of baby oil to lubricate the
            skin. Sometimes touching her very gently on or around her button
            (clitoris) will enable her to relax even more. I keep both hands there
            and busy all the time while crowning … doing whatever seems most
            necessary.

            Sometimes I see that a husband is afraid to touch his
            wife’s tits because of the midwife’s presence, so I touch them, get in
            there and squeeze them, talk about how nice they are, and make him
            welcome.” -Ina May Gaskin
            Just in case you missed this part of the article.

  • momofone

    I haven’t seen your comment, but I doubt it was flagged to keep it secret; it’s much more likely that commenters here would explain its flaws as they saw them.

    • Who?

      Is it even possible to flag a comment to keep it secret? Flagging implies just the opposite.

      Either way ‘the comment was up for a couple of months before it suddenly got taken down’ and no one had come across it and thought it was worth a comment in reply. Perhaps it was just dull?

      Also not sure how a comment would be taken down other than ‘suddenly’-line by line, perhaps?

      • Jonathan

        Again, what Dr. Amy told me was that my previous commented had disappeared because other commenters had down-voted them until they were flagged by the system.

        And by “suddenly”, I meant to convey “without warning”, without any sort of negative comments or other signs that there was some problem with the comment.

        • maidmarian555

          Idk, I don’t personally use the ‘downvote’ option but it’s a legitimate way of someone telling you they disagree with your position without getting into a tedious debate if they don’t want to. I’m guessing the substance of it possibly tipped the scale in that way. People disagreed with you but felt explaining why wasn’t worth the effort? There are a number of ppl that I’ve seen upvote my comments that I’ve honestly never seen comment here. Not everyone chooses to wade into discussion- which is fair enough. I wouldn’t take it too personally, whatever you said clearly wasn’t *that* awful or contentious or someone would have taken the time to call you out on it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Nobody could read that comment because so many people down-voted it.

        It’s almost Yogi Berraisk in quality.

        • Jonathan

          Are you just trolling or do you think playing silly games will win someone over to your side?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I don’t know, which of those options includes, “mocking a moron for saying something stupid”?

        • Who?

          Yes I recall it now that I’ve seen it again. Dull, reactive, too long.

          That man is drowning in koolaid.

    • Jonathan

      Then why did not a single person reply in the two months it was visible? They just downvoted it until it disappeared.

      • Who?

        Content too dull to bother with? Seems like the obvious answer, but it might not fit your narrative.

        You could always repost it if you feel so strongly that it deserves an airing.

        • Jonathan

          I indeed reposted the last time this happened. However, Dr. Amy eventually responded to my request and let the comment show again, resulting in an awkward double-comment with responses to both. I haven’t reposted again yet because I was hoping to avoid that. But I will do it if necessary.

          I don’t think comments too dull to bother with gets downvoted until they are pulled. If you believe the comment was dull, you are free to ignore it.

          Are there even any facts in dispute? The sequence of events seems pretty clear. I only have to keep responding because people keep making claims that explicitly contradict the actual events that happened.

        • Jonathan

          I went ahead and reposted it as it’s been a few days and no action has been taken. Here is the comment:

          “The amount of venom in this post really took me off guard. At first I just closed it after reading, but an hour later I went into my history and pulled it up again because I thought a couple words should be spoken.

          I don’t know a lot about home births, I’ve never attended one and I’m not part of that community. But we ended up with a copy of Ina May’s book as we look forward to our first child, and some of the things that Amy Tuteur says about her are downright false. I’ll have to assume that is ignorance rather than maliciousness, though the tone is certainly malicious.

          The enormous disparity between how Ina May is generally received and how Tuteur speaks of her (and her husband) should indicate that there is a real disconnect here.

          Tuteur claims, “Medical attention is strongly discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem.”

          Yet the book makes clear that medical attention is frequently given when there is a medical problem. The midwives had several types of medical equipment on hand and were trained in its use, as well as a doctor on-call for any emergencies they couldn’t handle. There is strong praise for conscientious doctors in multiple places in the book. The book in no way demonizes doctors, it only questions the industrial mindset which treats people like objects and childbirth like a disease that needs to be cured. Long before I even knew there was a such thing as “midwifery”, I had already seen this problem across many hospitals.

          Tuteur claims, “No one demands that Gaskin provide proof for her claims of purported excellent outcomes at The Farm” and “makes up “statistics” that she refuses to publish in scientific journals.”

          All you have to do is go to Wikipedia and see the peer-reviewed study published by Duran in the American Journal of Public Health proves that the results of her midwifery work were indeed published in a scientific journal.

          “Pregnancy outcomes of 1707 women, who enrolled for care between 1971 and 1989 with a home birth service run by lay midwives in rural Tennessee, were compared with outcomes from 14,033 physician-attended hospital deliveries derived from the 1980 US National Natality/National Fetal Mortality Survey. Based on rates of perinatal death, of low 5-minute Apgar scores, of a composite index of labor complications, and of use of assisted delivery, the results suggest that, under certain circumstances, home births attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician-attended hospital deliveries.”

          As far as most of the other claims about Gaskin, claims that she dismisses opponents, tries to guilt and shame dissenters, sets herself up as the “authority” who is more educated than her opponents…I mean, isn’t that exactly what Tuteur is doing throughout this post? I saw nothing in the book or in any of the articles I read about Ina May that show her speaking with anything close to the kind of attacks on dissenters that are littered throughout this piece. Does Tuteur thinks that criticizing one’s detractors is wrong, or that only Tuteur herself has the “authority” to do so?

          There are so many other ad hominen attacks throughout the piece that it would be tiring to respond to them, but the claim that Ina May “let one of her own babies die” deserves context. Around the late 1960s (perhaps 1970), Ina May’s first child was born over two months premature as she was traveling across the country. There was little warning of such an early birth, and at that point in history births that early usually had poor outcomes regardless, even in hospitals. Ina May had not even started her midwifery group yet at that point, nor did she have any training or knowledge of midwifery (Tuteur claims that she still doesn’t, anyone who has even perused Ina May’s book would see that that’s obviously untrue.) Ina May was deeply grief-stricken over the death and took years to move past it. To weaponize the death of her own child many years ago feels quite cruel.

          Also, I don’t know a lot about her husband Stephen Gaskin, but Tuteur’s claims intrigued me so I googled him. It looks like while he certainly has supporters and detractors, Tuteur’s attacks on him are miles from the mainstream view. He promoted nonviolence and hard work and he smoked pot, but he placed altruism for others above everything and it looks like his commune did a lot of good work. You might hate communes, sure, not everyone has to like them. But it doesn’t register as a very solid base from which to cast stones.

          A rather typical obituary:

          https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/stephen-gaskin-hippie-who-founded-an-enduring-commune-dies-at-79.html

          • Who?

            Like I said, too dull to bother with.

            Seriously, been there, done that, got the tshirt.

            I hope your wife and baby get actual medical care from actual doctors and other trained professionals and you all have a safe and successful introduction to parenthood.

          • Jonathan

            Again, that’s your 6th response to me, so obviously you care, yet all you can offer is insults. I would love to have a helpful interaction or a substantive critique, but you take all this time responding over and over yet haven’t helped me nor anyone else.

          • demodocus

            Jonathan, we’ve had -lots- of people coming in here to argue for Ina Mae and CPMs. We’ve read the literature and we’ve come to a different conclusion. Who? is exasperated with everybody who comes in here expecting “substantive critiques,” especially since a lot of them are like those conservatives who assume liberals will change their minds if only they watch Fox News. I have, and I do. Still a moderate liberal.

          • Who?

            Elegantly put.

            I’d only add that a substantive critique would require something substantive to respond to-Jonathan’s contribution is shallow, derivative, ill informed and dull.

            He is impressed by the Ina May spiel, that’s fine. Others are not. My only concern about leaving his too long remarks unresponded to is that someone lurking might imagine, in ignorance, that they are new, interesting and of some value. Still, we can’t save every starfish on the beach.

          • Jonathan

            Coming to a “different conclusion” is fine. But Dr. Tuteur said things that were clearly false, and when I challenge those things, people keep beating around the bush.

            Most of all, if I understand the premise of this blog it is a call for a rational reliance on science and logic, and yet the entire post is filled with hyperbole and invective.

            She’s “obviously a complete fraud.” – Until y’all come to terms with no, she’s not, you will make little ground with your target audience. Ina May Gaskin really is a midwife, she really has delivered and overseen the delivery of an enormous number of babies, and numerous intelligent, fair-minded people don’t see her as a complete fraud. So the statement is false, she is not “obviously” any of that. Moreso, invoking the statement at the beginning of such an essay is begging for people to jump to logical fallacies instead of encouraging them to use actual logic.

            In fact, logical fallacies are heavy in Dr. T’s entire piece. Ad hominem, poisoning the well, begging the question, straw man, false generalization, appeal to emotion/fear – they are throughout the piece.

            She “has no education or training in midwifery.” In fact, the book makes quite clear that she trained with an obstetrician and a local doctor as well as did informal education from numerous textbooks both contemporary and historical. Perhaps Dr. T wants to say “no formal training”, but that’s not what she said, and presupposes that the formal course of training is automatically superior, which of course puts the cart before the horse.

            She “refuses to publish in scientific journals.” I clearly disproved that by citing the exact, peer-reviewed publication of The Farm’s results.

            “she let one of her own children die.” She didn’t “let” the child die, her one child who died was born over 2 months premature while they were traveling and before Ina May had even settled on The Farm or had any midwifery experience. It was a deeply tramatic, sad experience that led to a degree of depression for Ina May for years, it has nothing to do with her later midwifery practice on The Farm, and the manner in which Dr. T repeatedly weaponizes her own child’s death is mean-spirited.

            She “is a cult member” – I read numerous obituaries and biographics of Stephen Gaskin from reputable sources, one of which I linked (The New York Times), and none of them described Gaskin as a cult leader and in fact they were almost universally positive. There are plenty of individual things that Gaskin did that various people don’t like depending on their own ethics, but it seems clear that he had a lot more good qualities than bad.

            In her practice “Medical attention is strongly discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem.” The midwives had several types of medical equipment on hand and were trained in its use, as well as a doctor on-call for any emergencies they couldn’t handle. There is strong praise for conscientious doctors in multiple places in her book. The book in no way demonizes doctors.

            And when I try to google “Ina May” as a cult leader, the only place I can find that makes that claim is…this website.

            Which is especially ironic, because the evidence that supposedly proves she is a cult leader is that she is accused by Dr. T of “dismisses opponents”, “sets herself up as THE authority”, “wields shame and guilt”, uses ” peer pressure”, is “vicious to those who question their beliefs”….which are all attributes that Dr. T is much more guilty of than anything I’ve ever seen of Ina May.

            Look at the words that Dr. T has used towards Ina May, or even towards myself before, and try to find anything that Ina May has ever said that even comes close to that level of vitriol and dismissal. Even the manner in which I was dismissed here (don’t back up any of the arguments, just downvote him until the comment goes away and then mock him if he complains) is in line with that approach.

          • Who?

            I gave you the critique your comments deserve, though not the critiique you desire, and sincerely wished your family well.

            If that’s an insult you are not fit to internet.

          • Jonathan

            I can happily announce that our beautiful baby girl was born to a midwife last week. We chose natural delivery, though my wife wanted a water birth the little girl decided to come out in a position that made the bed a better option. Mama and baby are healthy and happy and we were able to sleep in our own beds at home on the same day that labor started. My wife was really really happy with her midwife’s care and the whole process, felt very loved and taken care of, and certainly recommends it as well as recommending Ina May Gaskin’s books on midwifery.

            The midwives who managed my wife’s care were trained professionals who take their jobs very seriously and did a great job.

            My wife didn’t feel it necessary to get any doctor’s care and still doesn’t, the baby saw a pediatrician four days in and will probably undergo a regular vaccination cycle.

          • Heidi

            Regardless, you are wrong. Ina May had already been delivering babies in her caravan when she gave birth to her second child who died. Just because medicine isn’t where it’s at now doesn’t mean without a doubt Gaskin’s baby couldn’t have survived. Babies were surviving born that early in 1970. She didn’t attempt to go to the hospital to delay labor either. If you are trusting her with your care, I think you’d want to know that about her. I would rather a comment defending a racist and sexual assaulter be deleted from the internet myself. If people did flag you, they did you a favor.

          • Who?

            My husband was born at barely 30 weeks in 1960, and survived.

            Ina May stole whatever chance that baby had.

          • Jonathan

            Completely false, as babies that early born to midwives have survived. She wasn’t in New York or San Francisco, she was in rural Wyoming in 1970, I’m not sure you can prove that the difference in outcomes was all that great. Some babies are survivors.

          • Who?

            So you know my husband’s history better than I do?

            Because otherwise I think what you mean to convey is that you disagree with my contention about Ina May’s responsibility for the death of her child.

            I can live with us having different opinions on that point.

          • Jonathan

            You seem to have misread my comment – I was obviously referring to Ina May, not to your husband.

          • Who?

            ‘Completely false’ was your response to my email.

            Not qualified, not explained. That response shares the same problem as your long, dull diatribe-boundless confidence alongside the expectation that others should fill the yawning gulf left by your ignorance of what you are actually saying.

            Do you think you are doing Ina May a favour here now? Do you think a future someone coming here is going to look at your emails over the last few days and decide that you are a thoughtful, intelligent correspondent?

          • Jonathan

            Who?, the portion of the sentence after the comma is clearly explaining the declarative statement before the comma. To claim I said, “Completely false” without qualification or explanation is obviously untrue, as I actually said, “Completely false, as babies that early born to midwives have survived. She wasn’t in New York or San Francisco, she was in rural Wyoming in 1970,” which should be plenty enough explanation that I was referring to her and not to your husband.

            And my statements stand on their own merit, as do yours. I doubt any honest observer is going to be swayed by your invective against me, nor do I believe that they will judge Ina May based on my words, she stands on her own value.

          • Who?

            What calibre of supporter Ina May has. I guess passion makes up for a lot.

          • Jonathan

            Anyone can see that I’m just someone who read Ina May’s book and this blog, and noticed obvious discrepancies between what the 2nd claimed and the 1st actually said.

            You are much more closely associated with Dr. T than I am with Ina May, seeing as you comment on her blog and likely have even dialogued with her before. Do you believe that Dr. T should be judged by the caliber of your comments in this discussion?

          • momofone

            Or not, as the case may be.

          • momofone

            Jonathan, you seem very invested for someone who continues to insist they are not invested.

          • Jonathan

            “Someone who continues to insist they are not invested.”

            Yet another false mischaracterization. Which is why I keep replying. Not only have I not “continued to insist” such a thing, but the only point of you claiming so seems to be to cast aspersions on me. Instead of, you know, replying to the actual content.

            It is true that until four days ago, my entire lifetime investment to Ina May stuff on the internet was a single comment on a single blog. When I was told my comment was pulled because it was “spam”, I made a second comment asking why. Then when people started making false statements about why it would have been pulled and began disparaging the comment without even having read its content, and then people began disparaging and insulting me, I got invested. You see how that works?

          • momofone

            I see how you seem to think it works.

          • Jonathan

            “I would rather a comment defending a racist and sexual assaulter be deleted from the internet myself.”

            Where did that come from? You’re seriously reaching towards the most extreme caricatures of anti-speech positions if you’re really going to claim that any speech saying anything positive about Ina May should be deleted from the internet because she once suggested that poor diet and higher rates of drug use do explain part of the poorer outcomes among mothers of color in America. It was a “gaffe” in that you have to be extremely careful how you say such things publicly and usually just plain shouldn’t, but it doesn’t make her a racist and banning all positive speech about her as a result is ridiculous. If someone said that the opioid epidemic has contributed to poorer health outcomes for rural White Americans, are they a racist who should be banned as well?

            “Just because medicine isn’t where it’s at now doesn’t mean without a doubt Gaskin’s baby couldn’t have survived. Babies were surviving born that early in 1970.”

            Not “without a doubt”, but it was low, especially in the midst of rural Wyoming where their bus was at that time. Babies on occasion survived that early both in hospital care and in midwife’s care (I now know of a specific example of a midwife successfully delivering a baby at 28 weeks that survived in the mid 1950s), but the chances of a baby surviving at 30-31 weeks in 1970 were still low in both settings.

            “Ina May had already been delivering babies in her caravan when she gave birth to her second child who died.”

            Again, she was present when babies were being delivered but she had no training or experience in midwifery at that time, had not started The Farm or her midwifery practice yet, and was not even the primary person responsible for delivery in those first births.

          • Heidi

            I didn’t suggest anyone should ban your blather. I said if your conspiracy theory was true, I believe it was in your favor. Because I do believe Ina May Gaskin to be racist and to commit sexual assault (as evidenced by her own books). If I had defended her and then it disappeared, I would be thankful.

            And I would have taken issue if she had blamed poor white women for their poverty and the poor outcomes associated with that poverty too. But she didn’t. Instead she said it about Black women and blamed Black women without addressing actual racism.

            She delivered babies out of a van without having any clue what she was doing until a doctor came along and gave her a few pointers. You wanna defend that? Whatever.

          • Jonathan

            She wasn’t asked about poor white women. She was specifically asked about the disparities in infant and maternal health for Black women, and in “part” of her response she referred to higher rates of poor diet and drug use. It was the wrong way to introduce that issue and she shouldn’t have said it, as she herself realized. This was her response:

            “t has come to my attention that my answer to a Texas Conference Q & A question has caused a great deal of hurt, and was insulting and demeaning to many, especially Women, and People of Color. While the intent behind my answer was anything but racist or demeaning, I understand that impact is more important than intent, and I personally offer my genuine and deepest apologies. I have spent a great many years of my career shining the spotlight on the massive racial disparities in maternity care, and my comment at the conference is not a true reflection of my belief, and what I know to be true – that racism, and its denial, are the true root of the egregious inequalities in maternal and infant healthcare for people of color. I’m still learning, and still growing as a person and as a professional, and I am grateful to the many Women of Color who have offered their support, and continued education. It will not fall on deaf ears. – Ina May”

            If you want to demonize her as a racist for that single ill-advised answer over her 80 years of life, and therefore suggest that you don’t mind comments supporting her being banned, that says more about you than it does about her.

          • Heidi

            No, it says a lot about your lack of reading comprehension.

      • momofone

        I have no idea; as I said, I haven’t seen it. Perhaps Who? accurately assessed that it did not interest readers enough to comment?

  • Jonathan

    Strange, I was just notified that my comment was “detected as spam.” Is that just because someone wanted to ensure it wasn’t seen? Not a single person commented in response, it was just marked that way without explanation and now it is hidden from public view. Why?

    • Who?

      It must have triggered a spam filter for some reason. Disqus can be temperamental with links, too. Unless a comment is verbally abusive (really verbally abusive) or threatening, Dr T doesn’t delete it.

      I’m quite certain it wasn’t deliberately removed solely to deprive you of the opportunity to share a particular point you wanted to make.

    • Anna

      I could see your comment a few minutes ago but can’t see it now Jonathan. The site is taking ages to load and coming up as not secure for me so its just gremlins I’d say. Dr Amy doesn’t delete posts unless they are seriously seriously threatening or could create legal issues. Its also a 3 year old thread which might have triggered the spam filter. Who knows. I highly doubt its a conspiracy to stop people reading your comment. I skimmed through it. Sounded like you think Dr Amy and the long time commenters here don’t know much about home birth and Ina May. We do. You can’t thumb through Spiritual Midwifery and think you know what Ina May and the cult of home birth is all about.

      • Jonathan

        I don’t think it’s Dr. Amy either, I think other commenters are tagging the comment knowing that it will get it removed. Dr. Amy could get it put back up again if she wants to.

        As far as the comment, I pointed out discrepancies with the truth that could be cited. Since I made that comment I finished the book, and read other resources as well. Some of the statements that were made about Ina May were provably false.

        • Who?

          I’m not aware that tagging comments in a particular way leads to their automatic removal-but then I don’t speak disqus very well.

          Your comment sounds like it was pretty standard Ina May apologism, of which we have seen many examples over the years. I doubt it was worth the trouble of a conspiracy to silence you, even assuming such a thing could be got up.

          • Jonathan

            I wasn’t aware that would happen with Disqus either, but that’s the explanation Dr. Amy gave me when my previous comments were removed from public view.

            I’m impressed with how easily you’ve managed to pre-judge and dismiss my comment without even seeing it. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if many people who did see it put no more energy into their dismissals than you did – in fact, your rush to judgement is helpfully illustrative for that purpose.

          • Who?

            Glad to have been of assistance.

        • rational thinker

          Trust me no one here would have deleted your comment.This is not a natural childbirth website.

          • Jonathan

            Perhaps your name should be “partisan thinker” rather than “rational thinker”?

            Whatever weight I should put in your trust, what actually happened was that a significant number of fellow commenters performed an action that had absolutely no effect other than to get my comment bushed. And it happened here multiple times.

  • Jonathan

    The amount of venom in this post really took me off guard. At first I just closed it after reading, but an hour later I went into my history and pulled it up again because I thought a couple words should be spoken.

    I don’t know a lot about home births, I’ve never attended one and I’m not part of that community. But we ended up with a copy of Ina May’s book as we look forward to our first child, and some of the things that Amy Tuteur says about her are downright false. I’ll have to assume that is ignorance rather than maliciousness, though the tone is certainly malicious.

    The enormous disparity between how Ina May is generally received and how Tuteur speaks of her (and her husband) should indicate that there is a real disconnect here.

    Tuteur claims, “Medical attention is strongly discouraged, even though there may be a medical problem.”

    Yet the book makes clear that medical attention is frequently given when there is a medical problem. The midwives had several types of medical equipment on hand and were trained in its use, as well as a doctor on-call for any emergencies they couldn’t handle. There is strong praise for conscientious doctors in multiple places in the book. The book in no way demonizes doctors, it only questions the industrial mindset which treats people like objects and childbirth like a disease that needs to be cured. Long before I even knew there was a such thing as “midwifery”, I had already seen this problem across many hospitals.

    Tuteur claims, “No one demands that Gaskin provide proof for her claims of purported excellent outcomes at The Farm” and “makes up “statistics” that she refuses to publish in scientific journals.”

    Yet all you have to do is go to Wikipedia and see the peer-reviewed study published by Duran in the American Journal of Public Health and see that the results of her midwifery work were indeed published in a scientific journal. “Pregnancy outcomes of 1707 women, who enrolled for care between 1971 and 1989 with a home birth service run by lay midwives in rural Tennessee, were compared with outcomes from 14,033 physician-attended hospital deliveries derived from the 1980 US National Natality/National Fetal Mortality Survey. Based on rates of perinatal death, of low 5-minute Apgar scores, of a composite index of labor complications, and of use of assisted delivery, the results suggest that, under certain circumstances, home births attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician-attended hospital deliveries.”

    As far as most of your other claims about Gaskin, claims that she dismisses opponents, tries to guilt and shame dissenters, sets herself up as the “authority” who is more educated than her opponents…I mean, isn’t that exactly what Tuteur is doing throughout this post? I saw nothing in the book or in any of the articles I read about Ina May that show her speaking with anything close to the kind of attacks on dissenters that are littered throughout this piece. Does Tuteur thinks that criticizing one’s detractors is wrong, or that only Tuteur herself has the “authority” to do so?

    There are so many other ad hominen attacks throughout the piece that it would be tiring to respond to them, but the claim that Ina May “let one of her own babies die” deserves context. Around the late 1960s (perhaps 1970), Ina May’s first child was born over two months premature as she was traveling across the country. There was little warning of such an early birth, and at that point in history births that early usually had poor outcomes regardless, even in hospitals. Ina May had not even started her midwifery group yet at that point, nor did she have any training or knowledge of midwifery (Tuteur claims that she still doesn’t, anyone who has even perused Ina May’s book would see that that’s obviously untrue.) Ina May was deeply grief-stricken over the death and took years to move past it. To weaponize the death of her own child many years ago feels quite cruel.

    Also, I don’t know a lot about her husband Stephen Gaskin, but Tuteur’s claims intrigued me so I googled him. It looks like while he certainly has supporters and detractors, Tuteur’s attacks on him are miles from the mainstream view. He promoted nonviolence and hard work and he smoked pot, but he placed altruism for others above everything and it looks like his commune did a lot of good work. You might hate communes, sure, not everyone has to like them. But it doesn’t register as a very solid base from which to cast stones.

    A rather typical obituary:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/stephen-gaskin-hippie-who-founded-an-enduring-commune-dies-at-79.html

  • Sara Barnson

    I recently realized the religion I was raised in is a cult. These objective measures are very useful in recognizing that you should stay away or get out. Just because the cult isn’t beating you or starving you or forcibly locking you in a compound doesn’t mean it isn’t a cult. Cult members aren’t evil, they’re just wrong. And they suffer the consequences of being wrong, all while pushing for others to become part of the cult because it’s so “freeing” and “wonderful”.

    • sdsures

      Cult members have also undergone extensive punishments for disagreeing with the guru – specific example: Aum Shinrikyo (who goes by Aleph these days), the cult responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway attacks with sarin.

      So they have an element of self-preservation inherent in their continued daily existence in the cult.

  • Cha

    Hmm.. the midwives I work with that do home births work under an obstetrician, have degrees in midwifery, and ONLY take low risk women. They haven’t had any babies die thus far.. they transport to the hospital if anything happens. They order ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. Just like an OB would. They can do sutures and even administer pitocin. They also encourage you not to have a homebirth if you have any risk factors. They do not let you go over 42 weeks. How many midwives do I know personally and work with? 8. So.. funny how everyone likes to make assumptions about midwives.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Good for them. How many are CPMs?

  • Who?

    So our visitor has taken his/her hat and pants and headed off into the sunset. Why did he/she remove all the comments though?

    • Angharad

      Is it too much to hope they changed their mind due to a combination of snark and reasoned debate?

    • demodocus

      It’s kind of amusing to read only the responses

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Easy enough to follow by using the logic of “Insert self righteous rhetoric about being closer to nature with a dash of misogyny that pain is essential to childbirth here” and it all flows together.

        So just copy paste from any other crunchy nut that’s tried to come in and “educate” us. Could probably be a fun game too.

        • yugaya

          How did they manage to delete all of their comments?

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Woo magic.

          • LibrarianSarah

            She/he probably committed a “bannable offense.” When you are banned on Disqus all your posts are deleted.

  • psilocyber251

    Oh my God, some people are so scare of life here. You guys please relax. Have you ever heard of the word “Faith”. We are on this planet temporarily, why so much fuss? Why do you want to be so much in control? All this control, and this fear that you are trying to stimulate in people that are not following blindly a PHD TTP UCB WTF licensed “doctor” are just another manifestation of how messy our society is, and of course especially american society. Look around you, people just do what every one else is doing, and if you don’t do that they instantly become so weird, or publicly stigmatized like in this case with Madalee.
    C section (not for strict medical reasons) is just another way of getting access to a status (mom, a very desirable one with all the benefits) without going through all the necessary steps, which involves: research, discomfort, excessive pain.
    Shit happens, no matter how much you try to control the reality around you.
    There will always be a died baby or a died mom or both, wherever you decide to have your birth. Of course if you do it at home at least you can decide to whom show your pussy or boobs or in which position to do it.
    Using all these “datas” like you guys do is the same as a DRUNK person using a lamp post for support. You need to support your fear based theories, while people like Ina May Gaskin are breaking the chain of fear sharing first hand knowledge. Relax
    The truth is that women are losing their faith in themselves, that is why most of them can’t even deliver a Baby naturally anymore. And that is the real problem.
    Travel a bit, go out from your country and you will see that in most of the World giving birth is still a beautiful, drama free, doctor free process.

    • Chi

      Are you talking about in African countries where women still fear childbirth because of the very real risk that it will kill them?

      And what is so magical about going through extreme pain, even if it is ‘part of the process’? I’m sure there’s a significant amount of pain involved in routine dental procedures, but dentists administer lidocaine. A lot of surgery is done under general anesthesia or locals.

      So why the hell should a woman have to endure excruciating pain when there are safe painkillers available?

      Hey guess what, Nature is not a benign being. She is a bitch, and she is out to kill us all.

      • psilocyber251

        Nature is our mother. Would you call the person that feed you and keeps you alive a bitch? wow! Chill out
        Please no dumb answers: a routine dental procedure is not a natural process. Please, let’s be adult

        • Who?

          Nature will kill you, without a thought.

          • psilocyber251

            haha, it’s a “natur”al process to die. It’s part of nature. What’s so bad with that.
            The whole life is just preparation for death. That is the beauty of it. For you it seems something so bad.
            When you have a baby you are signing a contract for his death, that you like it or not, one day our sons will die, and so the ones after them. That is life.

          • Who?

            Let’s make it a long contract, not a short one, is all I’m saying.

            Interesting you care so little for the death of a child-do you support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, or just her right to refuse care to protect a life?

          • psilocyber251

            are we talking about abortion on this thread?
            Why are you so interested about my views?

          • Who?

            I’m curious about how consistent you are. Do you support wilfully inducing death, or just letting it happen? Or both?

          • psilocyber251

            I wouldn’t personally kill someone, would you?i am no perfect person, believe me

          • Who?

            Fair enough-you wouldn’t kill a baby or mother, but you’d let them die.

            Would you do cpr on someone if it could save them until help could come? Or is that-and the help-unnatural too?

          • psilocyber251

            Why so extreme? Why do you want to stigmatize me or the things I am saying? I would not let a woman and his baby die. We are just saying that we should all chill out a bit.
            Please Try and read again my initial post. Have a good day.

          • Who?

            You’re doing a great job stigmatising yourself-if, as you appear to suggest it is ‘chilling out’ to advocate letting nature take its course when its course is avoidable death and suffering, then that’s a wrap, really.

            Your initial post is messy but quite clear, though I can see you might want to pedal back. Relishing the suffering of others isn’t a compassionate look.

          • Poogles

            “The whole life is just preparation for death.”

            Only if you believe there is an afterlife. Personally, I do not, and thus I wish to get as much life as I can because when I die, I will cease to exist.

            “Wash out this tired notion
            Oh, that the best is yet to come
            But while you’re dancing on the ground
            Don’t think of, oh, when you’re gone” – “Pig” by DMB

          • Angharad

            I do believe in an afterlife. I still want to enjoy this life to the fullest with my friends and family.
            I think it’s a huge cop-out for people to use the afterlife as an excuse to let human suffering go unchecked. Jesus preached of an afterlife but he also healed the sick and fed the hungry.

          • Who?

            Let’s be clear-I think psilocyber is entirely into wallowing in the suffering of others. Vicarious enjoyment, if you will.

          • Angharad

            Only so far as it pertains to laboring women and neonatal deaths, though. For instance, she wouldn’t forgo lidocaine during a dental procedure.

          • Elizabeth A

            I accept that I’m going to die someday, and I’ve made some choices about how hard I won’t work to put it off.

            But if my children still need me to keep a roof over their heads, I’ll do what I can to shut that natural process right on down.

          • Nick Sanders

            Everyone is going to die, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put it off for as long as possible. “Natural” be damned.

        • SporkParade

          If nature is our mother, then why is all life on this planet dependent on something else dying in order to survive? You realize that “natural selection” is a euphemism for “death,” right?

          • psilocyber251

            Yes everything trasnforms into other beings. We see it as death, nature sees it as a transformation.
            When you “kill” a carrot and put it in your mouth, chew it, blend it with your juices and then poo it, you are honouring nature, that will embrace your juices mixed with the carrot and will transform the whole thing into something new or food for a new carrot.
            For you it’s death, but Nature is bigger than our little eyes.

          • Nick Sanders

            Nature is blind, it doesn’t see it as anything.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Nature doesn’t care if you worship her and sacrifice you and children on the altar of pain.

          It is indifferent and always has been and will continue as the indomitable force that has created and destroyed more species than we can comprehend before the first reasoning hominids could ask “What am I?”

          Beavers alter the landscape and destroy meadows for their homes. Flood grassland that used to feed ruminants. We don’t call them unnatural.

          Termites build the insect equivalent if skyscrapers that jut to the sky. We call it beautiful earth art of nature despite creating what is basically cement.

          Apes use tools to fish the termites from the mounds. We don’t demonize their tool use.

          Elephants are capable of mourning and simple burial rituals and understanding death and likely, according to recent research, have complex emotions. We don’t call them unnatural monsters for altering their environment to better suit their needs by pushing down trees, stripping branches of leaves or digging pits to find water.

          Parrots use medicine in the form of clay to help bind -natural- toxins, actual toxins from all natural plants, to avoid side effects.

          Why are humans different? Why are we held to different standards? You seem to think humans aren’t special but hold us to special standards. Which is it? Are we special or not?

        • Poogles

          “Nature is our mother. Would you call the person that feed you and keeps you alive a bitch?”

          “Nature” is not a sentient being, it does not actively “feed” us or keep us alive or anything else. It just is.

        • Poogles

          “Would you call the person that feed you and keeps you alive a bitch?”

          Actually, I call him an asshole or a dick, because although my stepfather fed me and kept me alive, he also abused me in a variety of ways, so yeah….

        • Elizabeth A

          Nature has taken a really convincing swing at killing me. Twice.

          If my mother had done that, I’d have pressed charges. If anyone BUT my mother had done that, my mother would BACK ME in pressing charges.

          So.

        • Amazed

          Nature isn’t my mother. My mother is my mother and nature took a shot at killing her at my brother’s birth.

          Such things happen everyday, you uninformed judgmental bag of air.

          Go pull your head into your mojo-jojo and don’t take it out. You don’t belong with normal people.

        • demodocus

          My father’s mother abused the heck out of him. Yes she fed him and never crossed the line of permanent physical damage, but yeah, she was definitely a nasty piece of work. Nature killed my mother a month past her 55th birthday. Nature in the form of “mild childhood diseases” blinded my husband and deafened me. Natural disasters are nature’s way of saying to hell with you all. An earthquake erupts, knocks over a tree and kills someone who was walking in the woods. At best, nature is pretty darn fickle. Grandma always treated Dad’s sister better than Dad.
          All this is moot to me, since I prefer to regard nature as impersonal rather than personified.

    • SporkParade

      Yes, Ina May Gaskin’s baby was on this planet very temporarily because she decided that, despite having literally had DAYS to get medical attention for it, she would rather it die. You’ll excuse me if I don’t subscribe to a philosophy that says that being a “good mother” is all about enduring unnecessary pain, suffering, and grief. And don’t even get me started on your ridiculous tarring of C-section mothers.

      • psilocyber251

        Please get started about C-section. You obviously didn’t read my post, you just scrolled your eyes on it.

        • SporkParade

          You said that C-sections that aren’t for “strict medical reasons” are basically the lazy way to give birth. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “strict medical reasons,” but I’ve met quite a few women who chose C-section, and they all put a lot of thought and research into their decision. Many of them, by the way, have backgrounds that include traumatic vaginal delivery, sexual assault, and anxiety disorders. But I’m guessing you are one of those people who believe that women who don’t meet your ableist and arbitrary definition of motherhood shouldn’t have babies.

          • psilocyber251

            Why are you trying to patronise me and put stuff in my mouth? Did I say that?

            I said strict medical reasons.

            Which excludes uninformed C section moms, lazy C section moms (example: i have got an important meeting on the 15th, let’s schedule a c section on the 16th) and so on

            If you have anxiety disorder or any other illness you should probably solve your problems first before having a baby.
            Over self conscious Society, this is what we are

          • SporkParade

            You just proved my point, namely that you believe vile and inaccurate stereotypes of women who choose C-sections and that you also believe mental illness should preclude women from having babies, even when that mental illness has no bearing on the woman’s ability to raise a child.

          • psilocyber251

            SporkParade, I personally know three women that scheduled C sections because of work duties. And another handful of them that had very unnecessary ones just because they were uninformed!! Sorry dear, welcome to Planet Earth

          • Who?

            How is it your business to decide whether someone else’s cs was reasonable or not? Sweet how you assume everyone tells you the truth for their reasons.

          • psilocyber251

            so I should assume that my friends are liars and that they are lying to me. Sorry for being so naif

          • Who?

            What lucky friends you have to have run up against someone so judgemental.

          • psilocyber251

            I am not judgemental. I have deep compassion for my friends and for everyone, we are born ignorant and will die ignorant, I am not excluded

          • Who?

            Hmm-‘lazy’, ‘uninformed’-very nonjudgemnental.

            Babies and women just die, and that’s natural and okay, very compassionate.

            Perhaps we’re working from different dictionaries.

          • psilocyber251

            Maybe the internet is cold?
            The truth is that there is no sugar for pain. Death is painful wherever you look at it from

          • Who?

            So why court it? Why not protect against it?

          • psilocyber251

            yes, we should shut it down. Let’s shut down the internet! You are right

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            My mother is mentally ill and she’s been “Mom” to a myriad of kids at church and school whose non-mentally ill mothers ignored, emotionally abused, physically abused, or didn’t take their issues seriously. It didn’t matter how broken these kids were, as long as they didn’t pose a threat to my sister and I she took them under her wing anyways. Kept several of them out of jail or out of abusive relationships with the opposite sex that their mothers ignored the warning signs of. My sister and I ended up as well adjusted adults that are largely ahead of the curve compared to the rest of our generation by those loosely defined success factors that get paraded about and shoved in our faces.

            But because of messed up brain chemistry, obviously she’s not fit to be a mother.

            You know what, though? I’d rather take her depressive episodes than be raised by a narcissist like many of these NCB peddlers seem to be. Or my mother’s own mother.

            My grandmother did more damage to me mentally and spiritually in one year than my mom hypothetically would have done in the previous seventeen. Ten years after escaping my grandmother’s warped reality and I’m still recovering. I still have trouble trusting my own experiences from being constantly gaslighted by her.

            So yeah. My mentally ill mother is a damn good mom, depression and anxiety or not.

          • Who?

            What if it is natural for a particular woman to be lazy?

            Just asking.

          • Megan

            There are lots of elective surgical procedures that people do for convenience or comfort, for example knee replacements, hernia repairs (granted, some of those are emergent, but some are not), vasectomies, tubal ligations, etc. Are you also against those?

          • Elizabeth A

            If you have an important meeting on the 15th, scheduling a c/s on the 16th won’t keep your schedule clear. If you go into labor on the 15th, your meeting is just as screwed as it would be if you didn’t have surgery scheduled for the next day. That happens to meetings when you’re close to term.

            So here’s my story – the relevant parts of it – I worked an eight hour day the day I went into labor, and started business school when my son was ten weeks old. I have been a student mom, a mom with a full-time out-of-home job, an involuntarily unemployed mom, a voluntarily unemployed mom, a part-time employed mom, a freelance mom, and a mom with hideous unrelated-to-momness health problems. Our childcare arrangements have included daycares, nannies, and helpful friends and family members. My first pregnancy was a walk in the park, my second ended in miscarriage, and my third was an obstetrical disaster ending in c-section.

            As you might guess from that litany of things, I am not independently wealthy. Our family keeps a roof over our heads and food on the table by selling our efforts to various kinds of employers. These endeavors also provide us with health insurance, which we also need.

            Some days, I hang around the house teaching my kids to read and cook and garden. Some days I kiss them goodbye before school and sniff their hair when they’re asleep and miss all the parts in between.

            You want to pass judgment on my involvement and my parenting without ever having met me OR my kids. You have no idea. You have no idea what this is like, or what we have been through. You do not know the choices we had to make, or why, or what the real alternatives are for us.

            You seem to believe that the pain of unmedicated birth is all the suffering a mother might need to reach the point where she has a child in her arms. And you seem to think motherhood is something out of a Hallmark card. You’re not just wrong, you’re batshit crazy.

          • demodocus

            Nonsense. Some problems don’t resolve, and many problems aren’t necessarily a hindrance. One might need to work around some things. I run into lots of people who think my husband shouldn’t have kids because he’s blind. Some even seem to think that I must wipe his bum as well as our toddler’s. And then I run into couples with well adjusted adult kids, despite chronic mental or physical issues

    • Who?

      I assume you haven’t experienced the death or injury of loved ones to be so cavalier about it. What’s a few dead women hey? Or the odd dead or damaged baby?

      • psilocyber251

        I would suffer a lot, like most people do. The wife of my cousin was died during her third child birth, in an hospital.

    • SuperGDZ

      “C section (not for strict medical reasons) is just another way of getting access to a status (mom, a very desirable one with all the benefits) without going through all the necessary steps, which involves: research, discomfort, excessive pain.”

      This is such an odd paragraph. I see being a mom as many things – a responsibility, a relationship, a labour of love, but an elevated “status” isn’t one of them, unless you have the kind of worldview where a woman’s status is bound up in the number of children she produces. The real work of motherhood happens after a baby is born – raising children, not just spawning them. You make it sound as though the birth is the endpoint, and after that the job is done and it’s all reward.

      • psilocyber251

        raising a baby in the west it’s easy:
        have you ever heard of nannys? Baby sitters and so on. Long hours schooling….. the list is long.
        But on the week end they are at home with you. They make cute instagram pictures…..

        • SuperGDZ

          Where are you from, if I may ask?

          • psilocyber251

            Oh my God, here we go with the western racism. I am a world Traveller but originally from NY. Travel a bit and you will see things differently. When I say travel I don’t mean: you and your husband for two weeks somewhere in Mexico, I mean open your eyes to the outside. US it’s not the World.

          • SuperGDZ

            Actually I’ve never been to the US.

          • psilocyber251

            so, why my geophysical position was relevant to you?

          • SuperGDZ

            I was wondering whether your comments about raising children in the west reflected your own experience or your preconceptions about mine.

          • psilocyber251

            Oh yes, most of the moms I know are part time moms. No time for kids on week days, just in time to say goodnight.

          • SporkParade

            And what about the dads you know? You have awfully strong opinions about which women are qualified to be good mothers, but have precious little to say about the fathers’ role.

          • psilocyber251

            Dads of course are as important as mothers, with the obvious physical limitations (dads cannot breastfeed)
            Sorry if I offended you anyway, it wasn’t my intention. I don’t think I said anything awful by the way

          • SporkParade

            Oh, you’ve said tons of awful things. You’ve said that formula is for mothers who don’t love their children, that anyone who chooses a C-section is lazy or uninformed, that women whose psychological well-being makes vaginal delivery inadvisable shouldn’t have children, that only lazy women don’t appreciate the agonizing pain of childbirth, and that anything that makes childbearing or child-rearing safer or easier is a slap in the face of nature. In short, you’ve called anyone who makes different personal choices than yours (or whose personal situation precludes making your personal choices) a bad mother and a threat to the existence of humanity. I’m not a nice person, I will cop to that, but you are a legitimately not-good person.

          • Chi

            What about those families where nannies and long school days AREN’T an option? That’s a VERY small, very privileged minority you’re talking about there.

            In the current economical climate, families are lucky if they can survive on one income, for a LOT of them, the mothers have to go back to work almost straight after giving birth if they want to keep their jobs. Because in the USA there’s NO paid maternity leave written into law.

            I live in New Zealand, and here mothers (or alternately the dad if mum WANTS to go straight back to work) get 14 weeks paid PARENTAL leave. But that’s it. Once that’s up, it’s either hope you’re in a place where you can survive on one income, or send the kid to daycare and have both parents work, and some families I know, one of the parents has to work two shitty part-time jobs.

            Does that mean they love their children less because they’re sacrificing family time so their children can have a roof over their head, food in their bellies and clothing on their backs?

          • SuperGDZ

            Don’t bother, she’s just trolling now. As a citizen and resident of a developing country I think that her attempt at “3rd world cred” on the basis of being a World Traveller (TM) and throwing out spiteful comments about “the west” and “western racism” is just asinine.

          • KarenJJ

            Yeah, this one lost me at her “part time mothering” jibe that apparently only happens in the West. I think this “world traveller” missed seeing how hard women work in developing countries to keep families fed.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          A New Yorker “world traveller” who thinks that everyone in the “west” has a nanny. I’d say that you read like an upper east sider, but really you read like a bad satire of upper east side privilege.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Why so much fuss? I guess I must love my children more than you love yours since I would give anything (including my own life) to protect them from harm. You are free to do whatever you prefer.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      My faith includes a world renowned cardio-thorasic surgeon as one of the leaders of my church.

      Medicine and faith aren’t mutually exclusive. They make a fine pair when both are excersized together. Medicine to treat the body and physical mind and faith or positive thinking or whatever it is that keeps you mentally/spiritually resilient through the ordeals. But people with faith still die in excruciating pain. That is nature. The body wears out, mutations accumulate faster than can be repaired just through the natural process of cell division, cancer grows, arthritis wracks the world worn joints, the child born with tetralogy of Fallot away from surgical care dies.

      And I believe pain -can- have an effect on the lives of people but I don’t go actively searching it out. Natural genetics did a good enough job of giving the past five generations of my family more than enough pain.

      Go back to your priveledged little life where you’ve probably never even had to mow a lawn.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      in most of the World giving birth is still a beautiful, drama free, doctor free process.

      Um…no. The world is a diverse place. “Third world” countries are diverse places. There is no one way of giving birth and there sure isn’t any “beautiful, drama free, doctor free” process anywhere in the world except sporadically by luck. The c-section rate is higher in most of South America than in the US. In less developed countries women who have even a chance of access to medical care will walk for days to get to a hospital. In places where there is no access women say goodbye to their families and prepare to die when they go into labor. Women in Somalia really do undergo abortions on healthy 40 week fetuses because the fetus is stuck and there is no other way to get it out than to dismember it and remove it in pieces to save the mother, the baby being doomed. You’d know these things if you peaked outside your resort once in a while.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        My mom’s family lived in Western Samoa from the time she was like three until she was seven in the early 60s. Her second brother and first sister were born while living on the island as one of the few semi-perminant white families there.

        I don’t know where people get the idea that “native” women don’t scream during labor because despite already having given birth twice before when she was in labor with my mom’s second brother another woman was in there giving birth and she was scaring the crap out of my grandma. Said that this woman was screaming like the baby was coming out sideways. It must have been common because the people acting as nurse wives didn’t seem to notice.

        Worst part is if I remember right my Grandma said the woman died. Even being in late labor, my grandma wanted to get out of there and take her chances at home instead of with the nonchalant midwives that just watched a woman die like it was no big deal. She took charge when the next kid came along instead of wondering what was going to happen to her. She had her last two kids in the US in hospitals and couldn’t have been happier.

        Priveledge! We has it!

    • Poogles

      “C section (not for strict medical reasons) is just another way of getting access to a status (mom […]), without going through all the necessary steps, which involves: research, discomfort, excessive pain.”

      Why do you feel those things are “necessary” for becoming a mother?

      I mean, you’re obviously wrong, since saying something is “necessary” means that you can not reach your goal without it, but women become mothers every day without some or any of those things, especially the pain, like mothers who adopt their children or have a surrogate carry and birth their child.

      Not to mention that having a CS does not preclude having “done research”, having discomfort or excessive pain. I fully plan to have a maternal request CS (even if I have no medical reason whatsoever) – I have “researched” birth (i.e. I have read lots of stuff, including studies as well as anecdotes) for almost a decade now, I assume pregnancy will involve plenty of discomfort and recovering from a surgery involves plenty of pain (which can be excessive if not properly treated).

      I assume what you really meant is that “research, discomfort [and] excessive pain” are necessary to be a “good” mom or a “real” mom, which is incredibly judgemental and narrow-minded, not to mention also patently untrue.

    • Bombshellrisa

      The over 2 million women suffering from untreated obstetrical fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa might beg to differ. Being relegated to living outside the family because they leak urine and feces is hardly beautiful.

    • Nick Sanders

      If the pain is “excessive” then by definition it isn’t “necessary”.

  • Madalee

    This is the first that I’m hearing of Ina May saying any of these things. I had read three of her books in preparation for labor and postpartum. I had a planned home birth attended by two very skilled and knowledgeable Midwives and their midwife assistant. There was nothing ILLEGAL about it– and thank goodness we women still have a CHOICE in society over where and how we birth. Although there is a strong argument to be had that there exists a Cult of Obstetrics that monopolizes and manipulates many women’s laboring decisions– allowing them to buy into the false idea that hospital birth is the only viable option. My home birth experience was amazing: life changing and empowering. As a first time mom I labored for only a little over 9 hours, in the privacy of my own home. I delivered a very healthy 8 lb 9oz baby with no tearing ( and I’m a small framed woman!) due to prenatal midwifery care that included diligent oversight of my nutritional needs and to attentive coaching and PATIENCE during labor. I was walking upright that very night after giving birth. I had uninterrupted skin to skin contact for 2 hours after birth. The Midwives helped me to get started breastfeeding right away and after only week one my baby has regained his birth weight plus 6oz. I would’ve had to fight for such a perfect labor in the hospital– and who has the energy to fend off interventions when you are giving birth?? Not I.

    • Megan

      My “cult of obstetricians” saved me and my baby’s lives. Thank god we have hospital birth as a choice. Not all women care about empowering birth “experiences” and are just thankful under their circumstances to get a healthy baby and come out alive. I was happy to be in a place where I could have the urgent induction and csection we needed and the blood transfusion I needed. I would’ve died at home and my baby would have died if allowed to stay in my uterus any longer than she did. Seems like you think only your choice is the valid one. No one “manipulated or monopolized me or my decisions.” In fact they worked really hard to try to give me whatever they could on my birth plan despite my circumstances. They were kind, caring and had our best interests at heart.

      • Madalee

        Hospitals are great for true emergencies, such as yours. But many births are not emergencies. For those that are not, home birth is quite likely a very safe and enjoyable option. The “Cult of Obstetrics” that I refer to is the mainstream assertion that hospital birth is THE ONLY safe choice for all births– low-risk included. This is quite simply untrue. And if a true emergency were to arise during labor, it takes a hospital 20 minutes on average to set-up for surgery anyways. If you call ahead and use 20 minutes for transport to a hospital, then what difference is there? It is wise to be within this timeframe of driving distance to a hospital in case of the very rare instance of an unforeseeable emergency rising, but if labor is progressing on it’s own why interfere? It seems that our culture has lost sight of the fact that women have been laboring naturally for thousands of years, successfully, and that we are fully capable of doing that today. Technology is great in a pinch, but I am argueing against it’s widespread, unnecessary overuse in a process that women were biologically designed for.

        • Stacy48918

          “This is quite simply untrue”.
          Well all the published literature would disagree with you. Care to provide citations?

          “It seems that our culture has lost sight of the fact that women have been laboring naturally for thousands of years, successfully, and that we are fully capable of doing that today.”

          And you and the homebirth cult have lost sight of the fact that for thousands of years birth was a leading cause of death for woman and babies – even WITH midwives, pre-doctors. Something like 1 in 100 women died in labor and 1 in 10 babies. Ever walked through a cemetery in New England? The advent of modern obstetrics changed that. Even in 2015 women all over the world in 3rd world counties DIE in birth and their babies DIE too. It’s just that the dead ones aren’t around anymore to regal you with their “empowering” stories the way you are.

          • Do more than a cursory study of comparative mythology. The deities of childbirth and death are very interesting. In many cases, very telling of the fear of childbirth. Often, Death was a goddess…

          • Stacy48918

            Exactly.

            Women used to write-up/update their wills near the end of their pregnancies. They were well aware they could die.

        • Gatita

          You can’t call ahead and expect to be whisked to the operating room the moment you arrive at the hospital. You need to be assessed by the doctors first since they don’t have your medical records and midwives often do a terrible job of charting their patients. Not to mention that there are midwives who do dump and run at the emergency room because they don’t want to stick around to see the bad outcomes they help facilitate.

          If you plan a hospital birth your blood type and medical records will be on file so they won’t have to waste time if they need to get you in the OR. Also if the hospital has 24 hour anesthesia, they can go from decision to incision in five minutes or less.

        • momofone

          Please don’t do the “biologically designed for” argument. It’s ridiculous. Bodies go wrong every single day, contrary to their biological design. Maybe you don’t know anyone whose biological design failed them, resulting in their death, or that of their baby, but I do, and your statement is not only ignorant, but insulting to boot.

        • Who?

          ‘Quite likely’ isn’t much to hang two lives, the risk of physical injury to both, and the risk of a brain injury to a baby on, is it?

          Presumably you let the child bounce around the car without a seatbelt or carseat as well, since they are ‘quite likely’ to be fine.

          Your perception of risk differs from others’.

        • Cobalt

          Call ahead? Hospitals don’t set up ORs based on lay people making phone calls. They CAN’T, because the info they need to set up isn’t available.

          Births can go bad in moments, and without accurate testing and monitoring, it happens without warning. Deciding to deliver at home is deciding to be unprepared to save your baby if something bad (that you’re deciding not to monitor for) happens.

        • Neya

          We discuss your behavior all the time. You talk about the “Cult of Obstetrics,” but if you find yourself in trouble, you run to get a C-section from these same doctors? Which one is it?

        • Megan

          “And if a true emergency were to arise during labor, it takes a hospital 20 minutes on average to set-up for surgery anyways. If you call ahead and use 20 minutes for transport to a hospital, then what difference is there?”

          And how exactly do you know how long it takes to set up the OR for a CSection given that you’ve never given birth in a hospital? Oh right, you don’t. As a resident, I was first assist on CSections and I can tell you that in an emergency, we could have a laboring woman from her LDRP room to the OR, on the table ready to go in 5 minutes. The OR is always mostly set up and the staff is so efficient that it literally takes only minutes. Our OB’s could get babies out in 10 minutes or less if needed. There is no way that you at home could have a CSection in that time if something went wrong. You are, quite literally risking your baby’s life and/or brain cells if something goes wrong at home. I’m sure it will require too much cognitive dissonance on your part to acknowledge that but the studies on the issue (including MANA’s own data) show it to be true. I find it laughable that you think 20 minutes is enough time to save a baby in a “true emergency.” You are walking talking Dunning Kreuger effect! As someone who used to do obstetrics I can tell you that when the shit hits the fan, it happens fast and there is often no way to know which woman it will happen to. Low risk women have complications too.

          “It seems that our culture has lost sight of the fact that women have been laboring naturally for thousands of years, successfully, and that we are fully capable of doing that today.”

          And before obstetrics women and babies died quite frequently for thousands of years. There’s a reason why it was common practice for a woman to update her will before childbirth, because at one time it was the leading cause of death for young women. Get over your natural fallacy. I’m also curious to know what you think about the fact that studies of homebirth in the US with a homebirth midwife show that there is a higher risk of death to your baby at home as a low risk pregnancy than for a high risk mom in the hospital with an OB. But I’m sure you only conveniently did whatever “research” supported your biases and I’m sure your midwives were happy to tell you everything you wanted to hear so that their pocketbooks would get heavier. I’m glad that you didn’t find out first hand just how risky homebirth is by losing your baby.

          • Madalee

            ?? And obstetricians don’t have financial incentive??

          • Stacy48918

            You’re “educated” so of course you know that most OBs are paid salary and receive no additional compensation for a C-section as compared to a vaginal right, right?

            Homebirth represents 2% of all births. It’s not a threat to the OBs bottom line. It is 100% of homebirth midwives bottom line. Who as the most to lose here?

          • Stacy48918

            Also – your fallacy is ad hominem.

            We were talking about C-sections and time to transfer, remember? Not personal attacks on OBs.

          • Who?

            OBs get paid. They have staff, and insurance and professional development to pay for, and need to make a living.

            HB midwives have none of that. They should be way cheaper per delivery than a doctor.

            Would be nice if you could at lease acknowledge, if not respond to, some of Megan’s experiences working in hospital looking after women delivering babies.

          • Megan

            Are you suggesting they should work for free? Most OBs get paid by I durance companies and when you factor in the cost of malpractice I surance, student loans and the cost of doing business, you would see it’s not nearly as much as you think.

          • Megan

            And most OB’s are employed by hospitals and this work on salary. That means they get paid the same whether they do a natural vaginal delivery with no interventions or a Csection. So it makes no difference financially. I know homebirthers love to talk about OB’s doing things for financial gain but has it ever occurred to you that most of us who go into medicine actually do so because we actually care about and want to help people? I currently have $189,000 in student loan debt and I can tell you I didn’t take that on because I thought it’d be easy to pay back. I did it because I like my job.

          • Amazed

            Ah, Madalee and her education again. Here, a crash course to fill the gaps: Homebirthing population makes less than 1 percent of births in the USA. Losing less than 1 percent of OB income would not even register on their radar. And of course, that doesn’t even touch their Gyn income.

            Homebirth midwives, though, make their entire income out of duped women like yourself.

        • Guest

          Madalee, please read this. This is the reality of what happens when a woman laboring at home decides to go to a hospital in an emergency. http://www.skepticalob.com/2012/05/pediatric-er-doc-homebirth-5-minutes.html

        • Somewhereinthemiddle

          No, this is entirely inaccurate. It does not take 20 minutes to get to an OR and have a baby out in a crash CS. I’ve heard from a friend attempting a vbac that ruptured that it was closer to 7 minutes. And no, a hospital will not have an OR ready and waiting for a woman transfering in from a home birth. First you have to get the woman in the car, drive to the hospital, get out of the car, make it up to labor and delivery, be assessed in triage by a nurse, then a doctor, then get prepped for surgery if it is decided that a CS is necessary. You are taking a *minimum* of an hour during which your baby’s brain is being starved for oxygen. The end result is a severly compromised or dead baby.

          You making this statement shows exactly how unrealistic and naive you are about the risks of homebirth and the risks you’ve taken with your own child. It’s fine that you made this choice for yourself but it is not fine continue to assert faslehoods about the safety of homebirth.

        • Stacy48918

          “biologically designed for”
          You obviously have no concept of the vast amount of reproductive waste that evolution can accommodate.

    • Poogles

      “I would’ve had to fight for such a perfect labor in the hospital”

      Why do you believe that is a given?

      I was at my goddaughter’s birth in a hospital and it went pretty much the same way you describe – relatively quick labor (esp. for a first time mom), maybe 10 minutes of pushing (if that), no tearing (she is also very small framed), immediate skin-to-skin and instruction/support for breastfeeding, and an easy recovery. No fighting needed; of course, she also had no problem utilizing the “interventions” you made unavailable to yourself – she had an epidural (that she LOVED) once the pain was more than she could easily manage, a small amount of pitocin and AROM when her contractions became a bit irregular – which got everything back on track and allowed a quick and easy delivery.

      • Madalee

        That’s great for her. I didn’t have an epidural or pitocin. Strangers who heard I was going unmedicated would always say: ” You’ll be screaming for that epidural.” I did not. Of course it was painful! But not more than I could bear, and it felt amazing to handle that pain with techniques other than drugs. That’s what I wanted: a quick, easy, natural delivery. Something you rarely hear about these days– and I got it. What gave me the heads up on hospital interference was Dr. Marsden Wagner ( formerly of WHO) who wrote a great book: ” Creating Your Birth Plan.” Maybe checking that out will help you to see where I’m coming from.

        • Stacy48918

          “That’s what I wanted…and I got it”
          Well goodie for you. A lot of other women want that too but guess what, wanting something doesn’t automatically mean you get it. I wanted that too – I got a first labor that lasted for days and a second labor that resulted in dangerous decels. I ate well, exercised, had a midwife, planned homebirths. What makes you better than me? CHANCE.

          • Madalee

            I am not here to disrespect how anyone’s labor went. We each have our own story. But simply to say that in direct contradiction to this article, mine went very well and that home birth is a safe and viable option regardless of whether mainstream pharmacopeia recognizes it as such or not.

          • Neya

            Madalee — What you are stating is an anecdote. What we do in this site is discussing data. You were lucky and had a positive experience. Not much else to say.

          • Madalee

            I’m sharing my one positive experience to counter all of the horror stories we are continually inundated with regarding labor experiences. It’s time for some good stories— finally. I don’t feel I should be ashamed of my positive birth experience.

          • momofone

            Who are “we”?

          • Stacy48918

            We’re not saying you should be ashamed. Where did ANYONE say that?

            We’re saying that your positive ANECDOTE doesn’t trump all the DATA that exists. Again, goodie for you that things turned out well. That’s not contagious or applicable to anyone else.

            And labor SUCKS. Again, goodie for you if it was ok, but it’s freaking awful for most of the rest of us.

          • Who?

            Why be ashamed of the experience? You might come to the point where you are sorry you took the risk you did-despite the fact it worked out okay on that occasion-and their are contributors to this blog in exactly that situation.

            If you don’t want to know what can go wrong in birth, by all means stick with the homebirth community. But know what when a baby or mum dies or is badly injured, if the homebirth culture is challenged the homebirth group will shun her. That’s not too strong a word.

          • Stacy48918

            “Why be ashamed of the experience? You might come to the point where you are sorry you took the risk you did-despite the fact it worked out okay on that occasion-and their are contributors to this blog in exactly that situation.”

            I am one of them. My first homebirth turned out OK – but I can look back and see several points where it might not have, where decisions we made dramatically increased the risk to my baby, increased my risk of PPH. I am so thankful we are both ok but still wish I hadn’t taken the risk.

          • Who?

            Good to see you, hope all is well.

          • Stacy48918

            Going pretty well overall. Biggest, best development is that my son starts public school this fall. Ex wanted to continue to homeschool. Nearly 7 month battle with him through the courts but I won that battle. 😀

          • Who?

            That’s great news, what a relief. Take care of yourself.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Hey Madalee, when I was in high school, I had classmates who used to tell stories about how they got SOOOOOO wasted and still drove home, and they made it home safely.

            Do you think those are good stories? Were those positive experiences? The next time someone talks about the dangers of drunk driving, do you think we should mention all the times that people drove drunk and didn’t die? (Or crash? Or even get a DUI?) Should we tell them to “stop fear-mongering” drunk driving?

            When SADD comes and does a presentation at high schools, should we provide a counter-point from those who have driven drunk without incident?****

            Because, you know, sober drivers die in car accidents, too, so how can we say that drunk driving is more dangerous?

            ***And before you say that the difference is that drunk driving is illegal, be aware, SADD doesn’t oppose drunk driving because it is illegal, but because it is dangerous. They don’t talk about kids who got DUIs, they talk about kids who die. The legality or illegality of it is not the message, it is about the danger.

          • momofone

            That’s interesting. Other people were also sharing their “one [or more] positive experience” of hospital birth. I’m guessing those good stories somehow don’t count.

          • Daleth

            No one’s saying you should be ashamed of your birth experience. I’m glad you had a good one.

            Where you’ve gone wrong is in claiming that home birth is no more risky to the baby’s life and brain function than hospital birth is. That claim is false. You had a good experience of home birth, and so do most people, because the absolute risks are low in either case.

            However, MORE people (per capita) have devastating home birth experiences–ending with dead babies or babies with brain damage or permanent nerve damage–than hospital births. A home birth is about 450% (4.5 times) more likely to kill a full-term healthy baby than a hospital birth, and the numbers on risk of brain damage are even worse.

          • Azuran

            As Neil Degrass Tyson said so well: ‘The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.’
            Hospital birth is safer, Homebirth is more dangerous. It has been proven times and time again and remains the truth whether you accept it or not. No one is claiming that 100% of homebirth will end in disaster (if it was the case, humanity would have died long ago) But you had a higher risk of dying or losing you baby. Good for you that it didn’t happen. Still doesn’t mean that the risk wasn’t there.
            You were just lucky.
            You are free to take that risk with your life and your babie’s life. But at least own it, if your baby had a birth complication. It would have probably died.

          • Madalee

            Women and their babies are at risk of dying in hospitals as well. There is no comprehensive maternal mortality rate in the U.S. due to varying state regs on reporting deaths etc. So we cannot say that we know hospital birth is safer. We don’t.

          • Stacy48918

            Huh, you seem to be claiming above that homebirth is safer than hospital birth…therefore there must be stats comparing the two that exist for you to make these claims. Source???

            Yes, women and babies die in both locations, just like people die in car crashes and in plane crashes. Basic statistics 101 – the absolute number doesn’t matter. It’s the RATE that is important. And babies die at homebirth at a much higher rate than at hospital birth. And the babies that do die at hospital birth? None of them would ever be saved at homebirth.

          • Azuran

            We do, actually. Many studies have shown that homebirth has as much as 3 times the death rate of hospital births. Even Mana’s hand picked studies show this.
            Birth will never be 100% safe, absolutely nothing relating to living organisms will ever be 100% safe. Yes, woman and babies also die in hospital. No one claims they don’t. But they have higher risk of dying at home. That’s a fact.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I need to consult the sidebar, but I do believe with the “babies die in hospitals too!” we have ourselves a bingo!

          • S

            The author never stated that home birth NEVER results in a positive outcome. How exactly does your experience contradict the blog post?

          • Susan

            I am not here to disrespect your game of Russian Roulette. We each have our own story. But to simply say that in direct contradiction to your idea that Russian Roulette is a dangerous game, my game went very well and is a safe and viable option regardless of you mainstream anti Russian roulette zombies say!

          • attitude devant

            ‘pharmacopeia’ — such a big word! However, it’s the wrong one. Nice try

          • Nick Sanders

            Oh, have you not come across the alt medicine claims that modern medicine is voodoo witchcraft because the root of the word is pharmakopia, which meant sorcery? (That’s not what it actually meant, but alt medicine has never let mere facts get in the way of a good spin.)

          • ChookyMoves

            Sorry Charlie. Her argument may be dumb, but pharmakopia absolutely involved what we might call “sorcery,” although the word itself is loaded and I hate it. “Pharmakopia” (both the term and the concept) was the use of herbs, minerals, spells, charms, etc. to treat ailments in ancient medicine. Ancient cultures didn’t distinguish between the “drugs” and the “voodoo” because it was all valid to them and part of a completely different (but internally consistent) worldview. But yeah, pharmakopia included magic.
            (Before people go googling and demanding what my expertise is I should tell you that I’m writing a dissertation on ancient medical texts and am an expert on this very topic.)

        • Who?

          You haven’t grasped that how your labour and delivery goes, absent the specialist care you reject until a crisis arises, is dumb luck.

          I’m not as tall as I’d like to be-is that because I didn’t believe enough in growing taller? Or is it because of genes, nourishment? I had two normal, short, easy-ish, unmedicated labours, with big babies, in hospital. Was that because I believed in birth or because, as my mum says, I’m from a line of good breeders?

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Do I have horrible cramps that feel like my body is trying to turn itself inside out because I don’t trust my uterus enough? Maybe my endometriosis will go away if I clap my hands and believe really hard.

        • demodocus

          Mom didn’t need pain medication either, so I never tell anyone they’ll be screaming for it. I on the other hand, have a lower tolerance for pain. Her 3rd was quick and easy. Her first, not so much. You’re lucky there, too.

          • Madalee

            I was pretty aware of my pain tolerance. I walked around with a broken arm for a week before getting it x-rayed to confirm ( no insurance). So I had a pretty good idea of what I could handle. Not going into this completely blind.

          • Amazed

            So what now? A broken arm for a week! Oh the horrorz!

            I’ve also walked with a broken foot for week before I even SUSPECTED that it was broken. It was just the place that was broken.

            Sorry, sweetheart. No points for you for being so pain tolerant. If you were half as educated as you fancied yourself, you’d know how much the location of the fractured place matters.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Dad walked around all day with an inflammed and ready to burst appendix without thinking much of it until it was right at the point of bursting and went to his GP. Who told him to go to the hospital asap, no detours, no stops, or he would call an ambulance. They got him into surgery almost immediately and his appendix was gangrenous and split as soon as the doctor had it out.

            We in my family including his oldest (and favorite) sister didn’t applaud his bravery in the face of pain. We called him a dumbass for ignoring his body’s warning signs of pain and not to do it again. Especially since because of his pain tolerance levels this wasn’t the first time something like this happened and unfortunately it hasn’t been the last. We’d threaten to have my sister kick his ass for it, but we’re not sure it would have any effect since we’re not sure even her punch like a train would even register.

            High pain tolerance isn’t always a blessing. Pain, as much as we hate it, is a rather useful sensation.

          • Nick Sanders

            Damn, I’ve had twisted ankles I could barely hobble around the house on without screaming for two weeks.

          • Roadstergal

            I walked around on a broken ankle for a week trying to convince myself it was just sprained, because it didn’t hurt _that_ much. Got it so out of shape I needed surgery. Not smart.

            On the other hand, when I broke my collarbone, the pain was so agonizing I was almost high from it. Every pain is different! You can’t predict…

          • Nick Sanders

            I think I’m just a wuss.

          • Amazed

            Same here. But I didn’t even feel the crash against the rock that stranded me in the company of a huge bruise for a month (still here). Or any pain during this month.

            Pain tolerance. Such a changeable thing.

          • fiftyfifty1

            ” So I had a pretty good idea of what I could handle.”

            I’m confused. If you have such a high pain tolerance and are so confident in it, why were you afraid of delivering at a hospital where they might offer you an epidural?

        • Nick Sanders

          And how much worse off would you have been if it had been a quick, easy, assisted delivery instead? You imply it’s the “natural” part that matters, not that it went well.

        • MaineJen

          That’s the 2nd time you’ve mentioned that book. One of the man’s credentials is his claim to being an expert in ‘orgasmic birth…’ I think I’ll skip that one, thanks.

        • Poogles

          “That’s what I wanted: a quick, easy, natural delivery. Something you rarely hear about these days– and I got it. ”

          Actually I hear about these all the time, and most of them are in the hospital, so not nearly as “rare” as you think.

          “What gave me the heads up on hospital interference was Dr. Marsden Wagner ( formerly of WHO) who wrote a great book: ” Creating Your Birth Plan.””

          Oh, we are all familiar with Dr. Wagner and his bias favoring home birth. That book is full of misinformation, for example he cites the Johnson & Daviss study saying “any remaing doubts about the safety of home birth were conclusively erased” by said study – which isn’t even remotely true (the home birth data from that study actually shows that neonatal mortality is 3 TIMES higher at home):

          https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-critique-of-the-leading-study-of-american-homebirth/

          Dr. Wagner is also not an OB, but a pediatrician, so his area of expertise is not even in childbirth. He is a biased and unreliable source.

    • momofone

      What makes you so certain you’d have had to “fight for such a perfect labor in the hospital”? What I found was that all I had to do was to express a preference. The hospital staff, all the way to my OB, were happy to oblige my preferences as long as there was no medical reason not to (for example, I preferred stitches to staples; OB said I was the first person who ever expressed a preference–and he had been practicing for 30 years). Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying something, rather than expecting the worst.

      No one “monopolized or manipulated” my experience either; my OB said, “Here’s what’s going on, and here are your options. Talk about it and let me know what you want to do.” Kind of like we were able to think and talk and make decisions. We could even ask questions!

      • Madalee

        I know nothing about your personal experience. Only that hospitals are much more likely to veer you into a cascade of unnecessary interventions that have the potential to cause more harm than good in a low-risk birth. I’m glad your hospital birth went well. But that is the minority from what I’ve heard from women all around me. Many c-sections, many inductions for reasons legitimate or not, seems to be a common enough occurance to keep me from choosing the hospital as the safe place for a low-risk birth.

        • momofone

          “What (you’ve) heard” may not be the most accurate information. As in this instance.

          • Madalee

            If you wish for me to evaluate my views on this, feel free to show me evidence to counter what I am saying.

          • momofone

            Whether or not you evaluate your views on this is entirely up to you; I have no stake in what you choose.

          • Madalee

            Even better.

          • Cobalt

            Go to MANA’s website and look at their studies listed under research. Look at the actual numbers for mortality. As it slowly dawns on you that the research MANA presents shows that mortality rates are always at least triple at homebirth, consider this is MANA showing homebirth in the best possible light.

          • Gatita

            This is a blog by a former midwife discussing the many problems with homebirth in the U.S.: http://www.honestmidwife.com/

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      This is the first that I’m hearing of Ina May saying any of these things.

      Now that you’ve heard of it, what do you think? Pretty damn disgusting, don’t you agree?

      • Madalee

        I take hearsay with a grain of salt. This article seems pretty libelous to me.

        • momofone

          “I take hearsay with a grain of salt.”

          Except when it comes to what you’ve “heard” about hospital births?

          • Madalee

            Perhaps I should say I like to consider the source. This is some OB on the internet, what I have are firsthand accounts from many women I know. I hold their opinions in higher regard as a matter of personal preference.

          • Stacy48918

            “The source”???

            They’re INA MAY’S own words. From HER OWN book, “Spiritual Midwifery”. I thought you read it????

          • Madalee

            I have read three out of four of her books. What page of ” Spiritual Midwifery”?

          • Who?

            4ed p441

          • Stacy48918

            They’re posted above. Your thoughts???

          • Madalee

            When I read it I’ll get back to you. Chill.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Images are posted above. It’s exactly what is quoted here.

            Pretty damn sickening, isn’t it?

          • momofone

            I notice you deleted a comment. Any particular reason?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Because she tried claim that she needed to look up the passage. However, given that it was posted as a screen shot she knew she couldn’t get away with that

          • Stacy48918

            Waiting…40 minutes and counting…

          • momofone

            She needed the actual book to double-check earlier; I’m guessing that now she needs an autographed first edition and an interview with the printer before she can respond.

          • I think she flounced off. She can’t evade the truth any more.

          • Stacy48918

            They never manage to stick the flounce first try. She’ll be back tomorrow. 😉

          • Maybe not. Being a baby killer is one thing, but a mother molester is another thing entirely. And it’s in print by the hand of the molester herself.

            It was a mediocre flounce. We’ve seen flounces that could make it to nationals, if not an Olympic team.

          • Who?

            It’s got to be difficult to hear all the non-affirming responses. I have a lot of sympathy with how it must feel to come here and probably see/hear things that have just never come up before.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Madalee’s problem is that she put all her eggs in the “I don’t trust the source” basket. She was counting on the fact that it must not be real, and so spent the whole time denying the ever increasing confirmations. Therefore, when it got to the point that she couldn’t deny it any more, she had to bolt.

            Now, if she does come back, I expect an apologetic, comparable to the “Slavery was not so bad because the masters treated their slaves like family” crap.

          • Stacy48918

            Someone commented on Dr. Amy’s other Ina thread that what Ina was writing about is A-OK as long as the mother consents. Um, no. They’ll find a way to rationalize anything.

          • Cobalt

            Because an OB who has seen, attended, and given a combined total of thousands of births is clearly less reliable than someone who has only done it once or twice. Your personal preferences can be based on whatever you like, but you’d be lying if you called them rational or worth basing other people’s life or death decisions on.

          • Madalee

            An OB who claims too. This is the internet after all.

          • Cobalt

            Then take all these questions to a local OB, and ask them. Or are CPMs the only trustworthy sources? Go ahead, read the studies MANA calls “proof” that homebirth is safe, even though the studies show higher death and disability rates.

          • Madalee

            I was cleared by an OB for my home birth. It was the most expensive half hour I’ve ever had in my life.

          • Cobalt

            So you asked the OB what the incidence of cord prolapse was? You asked if the hospital would prep an OR just because someone (not a medical professional) called them? You asked what the increased risk of brain damage was from homebirth? Increased risk of death? You got a guarantee you wouldn’t have an abruption, or shoulder dystocia, or hemorrhage, or a baby that didn’t tolerate contractions well? These conditions aren’t typically treatable at home with any reassuring rate of success, and can be fatal in a whole lot less than 20 minutes.

          • Amazed

            Was the OB, by any chance, Sainted Peter Biter? I expect that you worship at his altar because your homebirth midwives surely do.

          • Fallow

            You’ve got your citation from Cobalt – Spiritual Midwifery, 4th edition, page 441. Open the fucking book and read it. That IS the source. Unless you really have already read it, and flounced.

          • Stacy48918

            “I hold their opinions in higher regard as a matter of personal preference.”

            And THAT’s the problem. That’s not how science or evidence works. You can’t use opinion as evidence and you don’t get to decide based on personal preference which information to accept as true and which to reject as false.

            If you value opinions over evidence, fine. You’re still wrong, but fine.

            But you don’t get to then come in and claim “homebirth is safer”, “interventions harm babies” because those are NOT claims of opinion, they are claims of EVIDENCE. PICK ONE.

            Either “I just like the warm fuzzies I get from the opinions of other women” or “I trust the safety evidence”. You can’t have both.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Hearsay? They are quotes from Inside May’s own fricking book!

          • Madalee

            Show me where and in what book and then I’ll believe you. I’ve read three out of four and have never seen this.

          • Cobalt

            Spiritual Midwifery, 4th edition, page 441

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      I had a pretty quick labor also- in the hospital. My water broke at home, by the time I got to the hospital I was at 6 cm. I got an epidural at my request. I had uninterrupted skin time after the birth, as much as I wanted. I was walking that night, too. I took a shower that night.

      Why do people who have never had a hospital birth feel qualified to tell people how it would be?

      I had to fight for nothing. What I did get was 3 meals a day delivered to me, yummy chocolate cake, a lactation consultant on staff at my beck and call, a full body massage every day while I was in the hospital, and, oh yeah, expert care from doctors and nurses with an OR and NICU down the hall if I needed it.

      • Madalee

        Wonderful. I didn’t want to risk any pressure from hospital staff when I knew that I’d be more content delivering at home. Hospitals are not relaxing to me. If they are relaxing to other people, then jolly for them. I wanted my own bed, my family around, continuous care from people I know and trust, and home cooked meals. I didn’t want hospital staff popping their heads in, electronic fetal monitoring ( for their own liability concerns), time constraints for stages of my labor, unfamiliar faces popping in, or an epidural dangling at me when I’m just trying to focus. I didn’t want those things to even be a possibility. So it’s great that we both got what we wanted and have the freedom to choose.

        • momofone

          For me it had nothing to do with relaxation; it had to do with where I could get competent care. I am not a subscriber to trusting birth or bodies, because I know firsthand what a crapshoot that is. With the possibility that something could have happened to my son, I can’t imagine anything I would have cared less about than whether my food was home-cooked or not, or whether the person keeping him alive was a stranger. (Also, epidurals are optional; they aren’t “dangled” at you unless you’ve asked for one.)

          • Madalee

            Because I see a pattern here, I’ll just copy my response to someone else above:Again, great on your hospital birth. 20 minutes is the time it takes to set up a surgery room OR 20 minutes is the time it could take to call in an emergency and transfer. Midwives have the tools for infant resuscitation should the labor necessitate it. Competent Midwives don’t deliver babies before 37 weeks or past 42 weeks for a home birth, greatly diminishing needs for a NICU although transfer is possible if necessary. In the two instances of unforeseeable infant mortality during labor ( placenta abrupta or cord in front of face) the statistical probability for each is about 1 in 10,000 and would be so sudden a hospital couldn’t prep for that. Don’t make ignorant statements about my luck when you haven’t even looked into the safety of home birth yourself.

          • momofone

            You have no idea what I’ve looked into, or how I reached the conclusions I did. I’m glad your birth went well, but your ignorance endangers you and anyone who listens to you.

          • Madalee

            Read Dr. Marsden Wagner’s book “Creating Your Birth Plan” and then we’ll talk.

          • momofone

            My birth plan: Let us both survive. Everything else is gravy. And I didn’t need Dr. Wagner to help me create it; I had my very own OB to do that.

          • Stacy48918

            Read the pages from Ina May’s book and comment on them…

          • Stacy48918

            Wrong. Depending on the hospital, decision to incision can be less than 10 minutes. Your baby would be dead long before then if you start out at home.

            Tools for resuscitation? Yea, that’s why they call the EMTs when the baby is born not breathing…

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            It does not take 20 minutes “decision to incision” in a home birth situation. That’s impossible, unless the woman was laboring and pushing in the hospital parking lot.

            Midwives can not do a full neonatal resuscitation at home. They can’t. They don’t have the drugs or the equipment.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          Everybody has their own priorities. I wanted the best neonatologists I could get at my son’s birth. For that I had a CS performed by two OBs I had never ever met before. I got a not-so-lovely scar and a neurologically normal baby. Had I waited for my OB I am pretty sure my scar would be better but I do not know abou my baby’s brain function. He did not breath right after birth, he needed to be resuscitated.

          Other people care about other things.

        • SuperGDZ

          If I’m looking for relaxation I book a holiday, I don’t have a baby.

    • Stacy48918

      So you’ve never had a hospital birth, but you’ve heard a lot of hearsay from midwives (financial incentive much?) and you KNOW exactly how your hospital birth would have gone?

      There’s also a strong argument to be had that there exists a Cult of Midwifery that worships a “perfect labor” and narrows the information provided to women to include only those things that make homebirth look good.

      Stop fear-mongering hospital birth.

      • Madalee

        Stop fear mongering home birth.

        • Stacy48918

          It’s not fear mongering if it’s true.

          Does MADD fear monger drunk driving?
          Are fire fighters fear mongering about kids playing with matches?

          Home birth is associated with a neonatal mortality rate 3-8 times that of comparable risk hospital birth. That’s not fear mongering, it’s facts.

          • Madalee

            I have never seen these facts anywhere, besides you writing that they exist.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Right. Because no one in the cult will ever mention them

          • Stacy48918

            They’re readily available and written about extensively on this blog and several others. They’re NEVER mentioned on pro-homebirth sites. Often those that post opposing information are deleted. They’re echo chambers. If you don’t toe the party line you’re not welcome. You and I may not agree here, but your posts will never be deleted. If I posted on Midwifery Today or other pro-homebirth sites? Poof, gone.

            Homebirths have higher proportion high ristk patients: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25446661

            Higher neonatal mortality rate: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24662716

            Higher risk of Apgars of 0 (ZERO!) at 5 minutes:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23791692

            8x higher neonatal mortality at Oregon homebirth:
            https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/8585

            Just for starters.

          • Cobalt

            And you’ve “done your research”? You didn’t even read the studies the prohomebirthers publish.

          • Amazed

            I am not surprised. You haven’t seen the Ina May quotes anywhere before they were provided it for you here either and you decuded to ignore them.

            You aren’t a mental giant, eh, Madalee?

          • Jocelyn
          • MaineJen

            MANA stats. Look them over. Pay special attention to the stats on mortality for home breech delivery.

        • MLE

          Stop fear mongering YOUR FACE!!!!

          • Madalee

            Oh geez. Who are you people anyways? This is some snarky BS if I ever saw it. Downright cowardly.

          • MLE

            Well, once I saw that you didn’t change your mind on Ina even after seeing proof, I decided not to respond rationally, just like you did.

    • Cobalt

      Mine were better. I was upright and walking in 20 minutes, had skin to skin on demand, breastfed on demand, and all but one baby was above birth weight within 24 hours. I had no medication other than an after birth shot of pitocin to stop excess bleeding, and NO painkillers beyond my own endorphins even with a manual uterine evacuation to remove the clots from an earlier partial abruption.

      All in a hospital. But I don’t credit magical birth preparations (I took no preparation other than standard OB care and showing up in labor), I credit dumb luck and my doctor’s training and skill. I didn’t labor standing, or use a tub, or breathing exercises, or affirmations, or birth plans, and I sure as hell didn’t trust birth.

      I got lucky. So did you. The only difference is that if something had gone wrong, my baby had immediate access to a surgical suite, NICU, neonatologists, advanced resuscitation equipment, etc. Yours didn’t.

      You got really lucky.

      • Madalee

        Again, great on your hospital birth. 20 minutes is the time it takes to set up a surgery room OR 20 minutes is the time it could take to call in an emergency and transfer. Midwives have the tools for infant resuscitation should the labor necessitate it. Competent Midwives don’t deliver babies before 37 weeks or past 42 weeks for a home birth, greatly diminishing needs for a NICU although transfer is possible if necessary. In the two instances of unforeseeable infant mortality during labor ( placenta abrupta or cord in front of face) the statistical probability for each is about 1 in 10,000 and would be so sudden a hospital couldn’t prep for that. Don’t make ignorant statements about my luck when you haven’t even looked into the safety of home birth yourself.

        • momofone

          So despite the stated experience of someone who has actually done it (!), you continue to insist that you know better what it takes to set up an OR for surgery?

          You do understand that transferring is not like ordering a pizza, right? There’s no twenty-minute guarantee. You’re working off some potentially deadly assumptions.

        • Somewhereinthemiddle

          You’ve said the whole 20 minutes to OR and 20 minutes to transfer thing at least twice. Despite being corrected by several people, you continue to state this lie. This is absolutely not true no matter how many times you assert that it is.

          • Madalee

            Please show me how this is a lie.

          • Guest
          • Susan

            It’s a lie. I am a labor nurse. It doesn’t take 20 minutes to set up most ORs. If a mom is already a patient in a true emergency babies are often out within 10 minutes of a decision to do a c/s. A mother coming from home, in the best of circumstances, is going to take longer just because of travel times. In reality, there is going to be some delay because she isn’t a patient already and will need some prep and assessment before surgery. You can’t just haul someone in from off the street and do a C/S … there are things that have to be known and done to make a mom ready for surgery. That will add extra time, and even if there is perfect coordination with the midwife and the hospital there still is going to be time lost, and some babies will suffer.
            ( By the way I had my daughter was born at home, and it was a lovely experience, before I was a nurse. So I am not ignorant at all of why you might believe what you do about homebirth or ignorant of how much you might have loved your homebirth experience. But it wasn’t safer than a hospital birth, at least not if the definition of safety is was your baby more at risk of dying because she was born at home. It may be hard to face, but the truth is my daughter was more at risk and so was your baby. Great we both had a great experience but if our experience had been instead that of the rare person whose baby died because her mom chose homebirth the magnitude of pain and misery would never make any empowering birth experience meaningful in the least. )

          • Megan

            As a physician who’s scrubbed in on lots of csections, many of them emergent, I have told you it’s a lie. What proof exactly do you want?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            For pete’s sake, Megan, she wouldn’t accept screen shots of the book showing the quotes in question, you think she is going to accept your word?

            Especially when she has heard otherwise from others in the cult. But she doesn’t accept hearsay.

          • Montserrat Blanco

            Please show me how it is true. As far as we know you have no medical training and no clinical experience. I trust much more people that has actually scrubbed for emergent CS than you.

        • Cobalt

          If home birth is so safe, why is the death rate (according to the home birth midwives themselves), almost 5 times what it is in the hospital?

          And if you think there are only two ways for unforeseen (by homebirth midwives) infant mortality to occur, you haven’t done your research. Also incidence rates for cord prolapse is around 4 per thousand, abruption 1 in 100, severe abruption 1 in 800.

          And emergency procedures at hospitals commonly save babies from abruptions and cord prolapse. Decision to incision times at many hospitals can be less than amount of time it can take to even get an ambulance dispatched, and hospital monitoring allows immediate action.

          Your baby got lucky. I know that’s a scary thought, but it’s true.

          • Madalee

            I would love to see where you get your stats from.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Madalee – the last time you tried to question a source here, you got your panties run up the flagpole for everyone to see. You really want to go through that again?

          • Madalee

            I just got personal attacks from hospital enthusiasts, I’d take my panties run up a flagpole 1000x over sinking to that level.

          • momofone

            Interestingly, I notice that you’ve had ample time to respond to this, but I don’t see your thoughts on the quoted passages from Ina May.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            First she claimed, “show me the page number and I’ll believe it.”

            She got the page number, and then it’s “I need time to look at it.” Apparently, she was lying when she said she’d believe it.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Oh, poor madalee got her fee-fees hurt.

            Yep, take this opportunity to run away crying persecution. It will be easier than confronting the truth.

          • Madalee

            How are you winning anyone over to your hospital mentality with this attitude?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Because it makes you look like a blithering imbicile

          • Cobalt

            Women don’t deliver at hospitals for us. They deliver at hospitals because access to appropriate medical care for themselves and their babies is their top priority.

          • Amazed

            By talking to people who don’t place their little feelings ahead of their babies’ wellbeing. By talking to people who actually take time to read the evidence to examine the proofs they themselves wanted, although the evidence is against them. By talking to people who don’t spread lies about an emergency C-sections taking 20 minutes to start. By talking to people who are actually willing to face the possibility that their midwives fooled them.

            I can see why it won’t work with you.

          • Cobalt

            Abruption from March of Dimes, prolapse from Healthline, homebirth death rate from MANA’s own published “research”. All easily available.

          • MaineJen

            From MANA.

        • Cobalt

          BirthS. 4 pregnancies, deliveries at 3 different hospitals, different doctors each time. But receiving appropriate medical care without unindicated intervention is actually pretty typical.

          • Roadstergal

            I’ve mentioned it before, but two of my managers have had intervention-free births in hospitals – only child for one, two daughters for the other – because they had low-pain, quick, complication-free labors. They were lucky, but they had a contingency plan in place (being at the hospital) for if they turned out to be less lucky.
            Nobody ‘pushed’ interventions on them, because they didn’t need them.

        • ForeverMe

          Madalee,

          Please read this midwife’s blog. http://www.honestmidwife.com/

          Edited to add: this midwife’s blog covers many important issues in homebirth, and she’s certainly not biased against it! Also, she personally reads and presents all research supporting home birth.

        • MaineJen

          “20 minutes is the time it could take to call in an emergency and transfer”
          False. Completely false. 20 minutes from the time an emergency is recognized at home until the first incision is made in the OR? How about no.

          “Competent Midwives don’t deliver babies before 37 weeks or past 42 weeks for a home birth”
          We have heard contradictions to this one time and time again, from the competent midwives themselves. The competent midwives regularly brag on blogs and facebook about delivering babies at 43, 44, 45 weeks gestation. Of course, the baby is always “perfectly fine,” right?

          “In the two instances of unforeseeable infant mortality during labor ( placenta abrupta or cord in front of face) the statistical probability for each is about 1 in 10,000 and would be so sudden a hospital couldn’t prep for that”
          Now that is some serious ignorance. A hospital is *continually* prepped for emergencies such as these from the moment you walk in the door. Babies who have these emergencies befall them CAN BE, AND ARE saved if they are born in a hospital. Babies who have these emergencies befall them during a home birth…die.

          • Captain Obvious

            Not to mention all the on line blogs that brag how they lie about their LMP or “guess date” so they can go over 42 weeks.

        • I think you had better prove Cobalt hasn’t looked into homebirth safety. I think we all look forward to seeing how you can prove that incontrovertibly.

        • demodocus

          Except the hospital 20 minutes from me doesn’t have an ob or a ped on duty 24 hours a day. I either have to travel 45 minutes or hope that the emergency doc remembers enough L&D/neonatal care from his/her school days. And I do not live in the middle of nowhere.

        • Dr Kitty

          You can only think of two causes of foetal mortality during labour. I can think of more.

          Meconium aspiration, severe shoulder dystocia, cord accident, chorioamnionitis, Foetal cardiac arrhythmia, sepsis, amniotic fluid embolism, velamentous cord insertion and finally maternal stroke or seizure causing asphyxia.

          You might be surprised to know that unrecognised IUGR or utero-placental insufficiency, causing unrecognised or poorly recognised foetal distress during labour and leading to unrecognised asphyxia is the commonest cause of intrapartum fetal demise.
          They key there is “unrecognised” or “poorly recognised”.

          If you rely on SFH and abdominal palpation alone as your only way of diagnosing IUGR, you will miss a lot.
          If you don’t doppler umbilical vessels you’ll miss utero-placental insufficiency and velamentous cord insertion.
          If you only intermittently monitor foetal heart rate you’ll miss a lot of foetal distress.
          If you don’t AROM you won’t see blood or meconium indicating abruption or distress.
          If you don’t check maternal BP often during labour, you won’t recognise early warning signs for eclampsia or stroke.

          As Homebirth in the USA often correlates with a “hands off” approach, you can see that complications are more likely to remain unrecognised.

          Now for the scary bit.

          If you don’t recognise a complication BUT you are in a hospital, with a blood bank, a neonatal resuscitation team, fluids, warmers, drugs, ventilators etc it may not matter so much.

          If you are at home and the first time anyone knows there is a problem is when the MW can’t find the FH during hour 26 of labour, or the baby comes out blue and not breathing, or mum seizes, well, you are in a world of trouble.

          2 minutes to recognise there is a problem and delegate someone to call 911, relay the details and get an ambulance en route.
          5-20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
          5-10 minutes for the ambulance to stabilise the patient (s) and scoop and run.
          5-20 minutes to get to the ER.
          AND THEN you have access to the OR, neonatal resuscitation team, blood bank, drugs and ventilators.

          Don’t kid yourself that those 20-60 minutes don’t affect outcomes. They do.

          http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/11November/Pages/hospital-births-home-births-compared.aspx

          This is the rosiest, most positive spin on homebirth…and it still says that for primiparaous women it doubles the risk of an adverse outcome for their babies.

        • Maya Manship

          Do you really think hospital maternity wards don’t have surgery rooms prepped and ready for emergency C-sections? That’s the impression I’m getting from you. My first child was an emergency C-section. They had me transported from L&D to Surgery and had the baby out in 20 minutes or less. Hospitals don’t wait for the emergency to happen. Their staff is prepared and standing by. Ignorance goes both ways. Looks like you could stand to learn a few things about the hospitals you are vilifying.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      Yeah, I had a 4 hour labor, amazing competent midwife care, an unmedicated waterbirth, uninterrupted skin to skin, a baby that regained to birthweight within 24 hours, no tearing, delayed cord clamping, etc. In a hospital with access to medical care that would have saved me or my baby should either one of us had complications. I’ve also had similarly lovely care from an OB.

      I’ve also read Ina Mae Gaskin’s books, including Spiritual Midwifery where you will find the lovely bits that have been quoted above. What we experienced was pure dumb luck. The last 5 people that I know that have planned homebirths have had to transfer and all of them had had previous uneventful births and had care from midwives. Fortunately all of them were uneventful transfers that ended in healthy mothers a babies. It’s LUCK plain and simple.

      • Madalee

        Success is where luck and preparation meet, this is not dumb luck. Dumb luck would be not researching anything about labor, delivering at a hospital, and having a completely intervention free labor. It’s possible but not likely, and that’s why I chose home.

        • Somewhereinthemiddle

          Oy, you really are a daft one aren’t you?

          • Cobalt

            She thinks interventions are random, and complications predictable. That’s a special kind of ostrich.

          • Madalee

            Again, rude.

          • Cobalt

            Do you deny it?

          • Who?

            Why is that rude-calling you ‘she’ isn’t ideal, but the statement is correct, surely.

            Your view is that interventions are all but inevitable in hospital, regardless of how labour progresses, and that complications allow the necessary time to get to a safe place. These beliefs are held despite you never having birthed in hospital, and apparently having no training or experience in hospitals.

            Ostriches are rumoured to stick their heads in the sand, which is exactly what you are doing.

            You may not care for the characterisation, but it is accurate.

          • Captain Obvious

            Rude=truth I don’t want to accept to Madalee

          • Amazed

            Oh Maddie. Oh sweetheart. I wish I could show you rude but I’m afraid that you’ll drop down dead from shock and I don’t want to have you on my conscience.

            Now woman up, take your poor little feelings under control, stop whine-whine and confront the evidence that YOU requested in your smug confidence that you had Dr Amy backed in the corner.

          • Madalee

            Rude.

        • Stacy48918

          Dumb luck would be “researching” about labor, delivering at home and not having any complications and thinking that your “preparation” had anything to do with it.

          • Captain Obvious

            Like driving home drunk and making it safe and then questioning all the dont drink while driving ads.

        • Megan

          It is really difficult to admit when we’ve done things that, in hindsight, weren’t the safest choice. It is even harder to admit that we endangered the life of someone who matters more to us than our own selves, our child. But you obviously did not have all the info to make this decision. Your midwives saw to it that was maintained as well by not warning you that all of the data on homebirth in the US show a 3-8x higher risk of the baby dying in homebirth than in hospital birth. Midwives routinely do not provide real informed consent (whether they actually believe that it’s safer than a hospital or are just lying about it). I am glad that your baby did well. Many others have not. (Check out the Hurt by Homebirth site if you don’t believe me.) I understand that it might be some time before you’re willing to admit just how lucky you and your baby were.

        • Captain Obvious

          I have delivered babies for 23 years, teens and other mothers who have no or little prenatal preparation walk in our L&D units all the time and deliver without problems. Dumb luck? I have also spent minutes resuscitating a newborn whose tracing and labor went perfect. Dumb luck? Where do you want to deliver if your dumb luck is bad?

    • Trixie

      You can find it for yourself by searching in Google books. No need to trust Dr. Amy.

      • Trixie

        This one includes a helpful graphic.

      • Stacy48918

        Madalee has SO much to say…but nothing at all in response to these images. Typical.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          One of the loudest silences you will ever hear….

    • demodocus

      My kid and I had uninterrupted skin to skin until I let his father hold him. My 8lb9ozer gave me a lovely tear that needed stitches. He has a largish head. My son’s male pediatrician was way more helpful than the nurse-midwife in straightening out our nursing issues. The LC was pushy, bossy, and grabbed me without so much as a by your leave. Various folks at my OB’s office discussed all those things with me as well, and were hardly impatient as I labored for 18 hours. The OB on duty when I came in even stayed for the whole thing, despite his replacement coming in at noon. And despite having an unusually healthy diet, since most less healthy foods disgusted me and good blood pressure throughout, mine skyrocketed 4 hours in. They didn’t want me getting up 2 hours afterward because they were worried about me stroking out.

      • Madalee

        It’s a shame that was your midwife experience. But that doesn’t cancel out the fact that I’m still glad to be able to choose where and how I give birth. Hospital, home, or birth center.

        • momofone

          Don’t you understand, demodocus? Madalee did everything right! She’s exempt from the rules of things going to shit that apply to other people.

          • demodocus

            Ah, yes, if only I prayed harder or added rosemary oil to my morning oatmeal or something. Maybe not start off as fat and old?

        • Stacy48918

          Being able to choose doesn’t mean you had true informed consent. You stated yourself you haven’t seen any of the freely available data about the risk of homebirth and haven’t read these quotes by Ina May…despite reading 3 of her books.

          Women are free to choose homebirth, but even homebirth mothers are entitled to informed consent based on DATA, not happy, “empowering” birth stories.

        • demodocus

          You are an adult and can make whatever choices you want. Doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to tell you that we think homebirth is an unnecessary risk and that we don’t trust Gaskin.

      • Who?

        The scary thing is that had you been at home your blood pressure spike probably wouldn’t have been picked up. If you had stroked out, that would then have become ‘one of those things’.

    • yentavegan

      Madalee the reason your baby’s birth went off without a glitch is because you won the genetic spin of the wheel lottery. Other women just like you, who had experienced mid wives, and who did everything right, ended up with oxygen deprived newborns and dangerous postpartum blood loss. It is unconscionable and elitist to encourage other mothers to take a spin of the roulette wheel.

    • Poogles

      Madalee – were your midwives CNMs?

  • Guest

    It would only be ethical – if you are including direct quotes – to include a reference. I have read Ina May’s books and have never read her to refer to the vagina as “puss”, nor have I ever come across her writing such a grotesque account of the support she offers women in labour. Yes, she is aware of natural ways to stimulate oxytocin release, but sexually assaulting the women she cares for is not her approach – So I invite you to reference the quotes title and page would be enough, thank you.
    As for homebirth, as you advocate evidence based practice – it might help for you to include some research in your own pieces, otherwise it comes across as fear-mongering tabloid writing. Homebirth is recognised as safe for low risk women, particularly if it is not the first time they are giving birth (i.e. slightly higher risk for primiparous women than multiparous) as per “Birth Place Study” – British Medical Journal 2011 – amongst other studies.
    As you know, childbirth is a natural physiological process which requires sensitive and adaptable support for the woman to feel safe enough to immerse herself in the experience, as well as an experienced and knowledgeable professional to pick up on signs of any complications arising.
    Which is when medical intervention can absolutely be life-saving, no doubt about it.
    However, blurring the lines between physiological and pathological, and making interventions part of routine practice is itself a source of (iatrogenic) harm (plenty of research on this discussing “cascade of intervention” and consequent complications/harm to mother and/or baby, one example being: Creddy et al.2000 “Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms: incidence and contributing factors” ). There is a need for midwives to support physiological birth as autonomous professionals who can identify when complications do arise in order to involve obstetricians within their own field of expertise. Only when midwives and obstetricians start working in partnership, and valuing each other’s roles in supporting women, do we see women offered genuine choices, and offered the best care for themselves and their unborn baby (One example of research supporting this: Colter 2014, “Midwife-Physician collaboration – a conceptual framework for inter-professional collaborative practice”).
    Hating on one-another will definitely not benefit anyone.

    • Cobalt

      Please quote, with specific references, where in the Birthplace study it shows homebirth is safer. The actual numbers on neonatal morbidity and mortality.
      Then compare the Birthplace risk out criteria to actual CPM practice.

      Please show a recent study on “cascade of intervention” causing negative outcomes. Anything from elective induction to timing of epidural placement.

      • Guest

        I included the birth place study reference, it makes a good read if you are interested in the specifics of the data.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          We are completely familiar with the birth place study, thank you.

        • Daleth

          Why are you not answering the question? Cobalt asked you to cite exactly where in the Birthplace Study it shows homebirth is safer. Can you find that in the Birthplace Study?

          Hint: the reason Cobalt asked you to cite where in the study it shows that is because the study does NOT show that. If you believe otherwise, please point us to where it shows homebirth is safer.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Read the post the day before. Linked above in the sentence, “In writing yesterday’s post about the fact ”

      There you will find the reference you are looking for.

      it might help for you to include some research in your own pieces,

      You might want to browse this site a little bit more before saying things like this.

      It’s not a good idea to come to a blog, read one post, and think that you know everything that goes on.

      Stick around for a while. You might learn something.

      • guest

        Thank you for the – condescending – invitation, but I don’t think I will. Fortunately there are a huge amount of informative websites and blogs, and plenty of research to make use of. I don’t feel the need to remain on a hateful blog. All the best.

        • Daleth

          So you think it is “hateful” to promote safe childbirth? Why?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Condescending? Maybe, but then again, untrue?

          How much did you browse around this blog before telling the blogger to include research?

    • Daleth

      Guest, have you actually read the Creddy study you reference? Here’s what you said: “making interventions part of routine practice is itself a source of (iatrogenic) harm,” in other words you claimed that the interventions CAUSE harm, and you cited Creddy et al. 2000 “Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms: incidence and contributing factors.” What Creddy found, however, is that the “level of obstetric intervention experienced during childbirth…[was] ASSOCIATED WITH [not “caused by”] the development of acute trauma symptoms.”
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11251488

      In other words, women who had a high level of intervention tended to report acute trauma symptoms. Did it occur to you that the actual CAUSE of the trauma might not have been the interventions, but the LABOR COMPLICATIONS that resulted in needing interventions? Needing an emergency c-section because your placenta abrupts and your baby is minutes from death is certainly traumatic–but that’s because your baby is minutes from death and you’re terrified. Needing an epidural because you’ve been in physical agony for hours and you just can’t take it anymore is traumatic–because you were in agony for hours, not because you got the epidural.

      In case you still doubt whether the intervention itself caused the trauma, ask yourself whether avoiding the intervention would have prevented the trauma. How about a woman whose placenta abrupts–would she have a better birth experience if she skipped the c-section? No, because her baby would be hurt or killed. How about a woman who decides to get an epidural after 10+ agonizing hours–would she have come through the experience trauma free if only she had continued to be in excruciating pain for another several hours? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

    • Medwife

      So you’ve never read Spiritual Midwifery? Because this stuff is aaaaall over it.

  • Camilla Cracchiolo, RN

    I know someone who gave birth on the Farm with Ina May back in the 70s. Kid had hydrocephalus, the labor was of course terribly long because of the baby’s head being so big and they didn’t bother to measure the head after birth, so it was a few months before the hydrocephalus was diagnosed. Child had severe cognitive impairment, never able to walk or speak more than a couple of words.

    Shunts were not placed in utero back then, so I can’t say for sure whether anything could have helped. But I can’t help but think early diagnosis and placement of the shunt might have improved the poor kid’s problems. Of course she remains a fan of home birth…..

  • Kate

    Well, I’m actually glad I found this article. I bought this book after reading so many rave reviews, and can’t believe how culty it sounds so far. I was wondering if I was just missing something but happy to find this out here!

  • Chelsie S

    OMG. I cannot. I just cannot. I CANNOT EVEN…

  • Proud of midwives

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920649/

    Maybe there is a reason for women like Ina May Gaskin. The pendulum must swing to extremes in order for it to level out eventually. You Dr. Amy are obviously on one side and Ms. Gaskin on the other. Surely we, as women, will be able to find some place in the middle where we can feel safe and joyous at the end of the labor and delivery of our children. No matter her credibility in your eyes, she has given us an alternative to what I see as a broken medical system. There is not one “right” way for Everyone, but allowing options is important especially if they have been proven to have positive outcomes. I had my first child in a birth center (which was right next to a hospital) with a midwife. It went so fast and I lived so far away that I almost didn’t make it in. It was a wonderful experience. I was also able to bring my baby home the same day. I never even considered having a hospital birth and because of the speed of my first delivery I may not make it to the birth center (or hospital) in time to deliver my second. I am happy and proud to have these amazing, educated, sensitive women in my life who have offered me a woman friendly, non-invasive, comfortable environment to welcome a new being into this crazy over medicated country we live in.

    • Stacy48918

      Henci Goer is a biased fraud like Ina May. Find a credible source for your information.

      Were you proud of midwives when you read MANA’s study? 1 out of every 200 breech babies died? Were you proud when you read Amos Grunebaum’s studies? Increased risk of death, HIE, seizures, low Apgars, etc?

      How can you take pride in a group of people whose ignorance leads to needless loss of lives?

  • BetaLimaSierra

    Imagine if an obgyn started squeezing a woman’s boobs, and sexually fondling her clitoris in the hospital during birth—these home birth idiots would be pitching a fit and claiming it’s one reason to not give birth in a hospital, but they’re fine with it because it’s strictly a neo hippie home birth thing.

  • Home Birth Momma!

    You are an absolute idiot. I hope one day your ignorance will be shown to you. May God have mercy on your soul.

    • Betadeltasierra

      Suddenly, a wild sanctimommy appeared!
      Care to explain why Amy is an idiot?
      Do you have any scientific data to show that clitoral stimulation is good for labor?
      Do you have any scientific data at all to show us why Amy is wrong?
      I didn’t think so. Get out of here “home birth momma,” you annoying, “I gave birth at home so I am better and stronger than women who gave birth in hospitals big pharma derp” cow.

    • guest

      I truly hope, for your sake and for the sake of any future children you plan to have, that your ignorance will not be shown to you in your next home birth. Because if a serious emergency arises and you can’t get to a hospital in time, (and don’t all of you RUN to the hospital when you realize you are in over your heads) your baby might not make it, and you will have no one to blame except yourself and your incompetent home birth midwife too… May God have mercy on YOUR soul..

  • As

    You are clearly quite jealous. No one knows who you are, but ears perk at Inas name. It must be sad to be you.

    • LibrarianSarah

      Got to love the Internet age where all criticism is attributed to being jealous and fame is the ultimate goal. Amy might be intelligent, successful and has successfully raised for children but since ears don’t “perk” at her name she has to be envious of an aging hippy with a cult of personality around her. That must be it.

    • MLE

      Actually, I bet almost everyone who follows Ina knows who Dr Amy is.

    • Stacy48918

      And you have nothing substantive or remotely intelligent to contribute. You did prove Dr. Amy’s point though, I’ll give you that.

  • Sp

    In our practice we do encourage intimate contact between the Mom and her partner. I too was skeptical when I first heard this. However it works EVERY single time. No sooner have they gone off for some “alone” time, than we hear a mom who’s soon rockin out some serious ctx. I know this is different from her midwife doing the stimulation, however, the fact is that we would not have become aware of this had it not been a topic of conversation brought to our attention by a radical hippie self trained midwife. You have to wonder, what if this really works? Hmmmm clitoral stimulation vs. Pit/IV. WHAT IF IT REALLY DOES WORK? What could possibly be the harm in trying/encouraging sexual arousal as a way of augmenting labor? That is the real question. And BTW when I practiced as a Doula, most O.b s were well aware of and approved nipple stimulation for augmentation of a stalled labor. Weigh this against the use of Cytotec ( which is currently the drug of choice by the medical obstetric community) known for its effective off label use, and it’s horrible obstetric history of catastrophic uterine ruptures or amniotic fluid embolism. Yup, order me up some clitoral stimulation and you can stick Cytotec into the orifice of your choice ( as long as it’s in your own body and not that of an unsuspecting pregnant woman).

    • Amy

      I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. I tried this in the hospital after my water broke and contractions didn’t start. It DID NOT WORK. Just more NCB BS.

      • Sp

        I have been at Hospital births where Pit or Cytotec worked wonders, and in other cases where they failed to work at all. Perhaps more to do with that particular set of circumstances rather than the method itself. Using the Bishop score as a starting point is helpful as an indicator of successful intervention. However Pit and Cytotec are way more invasive than just simple intimacy. But I would no sooner discount the efficacy of Pit or Cytotec as effective methods of augmentation even given the times when they failed to perform as intended 100% of the time. And given the non invasive nature of the non medical intervention, what is the harm? And I really do ask What is the Harm?

  • savonaite

    I think fear mongering about homebirths is the lowest form of evil. Hospitals and labor and delivery centers serve an essential function of our society, but one need only look at the infant mortality rates and C-section rates in our society compared to other 1st world nations to recognize that our medical system is NOT the best in this area. I don’t have strong opinions on Ina May Gaskin one way or the other but I’m tired of reading self-serving articles from MD’s that ignore the dangers inherent in our hospital and medical system.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      ne need only look at the infant mortality rates and C-section rates in our society compared to other 1st world nations to recognize that our medical system is NOT the best in this area.

      1) What does infant mortality have to do with homebirth?
      2) Please explain how you have determined the “best” c-section rate?

      I’m tired of reading self-serving articles from MD’s that ignore the dangers inherent in our hospital

      What are those “dangers inherent in our hospital” system? Let me help you out: there is a risk of MRSA. There, I haven’t ignored it. But also have to ask

      3) how many mothers/babies die of hospital acquired MRSA? If you think it’s a problem, then you presumably can answer that question, and
      4) Do you know that MRSA is also commonly community acquired? The only person I know who had a MRSA infection (and lost his arm as a result) caught it at the health club.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      That’s where we differ:

      I think clowns like Gaskin who award themselves the title of midwife and let babies die preventable deaths are the lowest form of evil.

      • Melissa

        The Farm Midwives widely serve the Amish community in southern Tennessee, and I would be interested to know if the aforementioned death of a child intended to be born at the farm was an Amish child. If so, did the parent refuse transfer as they often forgo conventional medical information? The midwives pride themselves on touch decisions, even if it means being respectful of religioius beliefs different than their own. It would be best to hear all sides of the story before you bash them.
        Signed,
        An educated mother who chose The Farm Midwives after an absolutely terrible God-awful experience with an OB/GYN, had a safely and lovely homebirth at The Farm, and who is a doctor in her research field (not a dumb ass that you make us out to be in this terribly biased blog).

  • asiila

    Dr. Amy, you’re really reaching here…almost sounds like an Onion piece.
    smh

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      No, it’s impossible to parody Gaskin, because she herself is so wacky.

  • Missy

    Science cannot even understand death why should I feel validated by a “scientific study”…please move on with this propaganda you got going on

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      One of the things I love about this blog is that no sooner do I write something than a homebirth advocate parachutes in to illustrate it. Thanks for illustrating today’s post, Stupid is the new black:

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2014/02/stupid-is-the-new-black.html

    • Dr Kitty

      “Science cannot even understand death”.

      In what way, exactly?
      We have brain death and we have respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest and those are not synonymous, but we’re pretty sure what death is and that it is irreversible.
      We’re also pretty sure about the things that will kill you.

      Do you mean all the “white healing light at the moment of death” stuff? That’s probably a subjective experience of hallucinations induced by hypoxia during cardiac or respiratory arrest, and no-one who has actually been brain dead has ever come back to talk about it.

      How to verify death:
      Pupils fixed and dilated
      No heartbeat for 1 minute
      No carotid pulse for 1 minute
      No respirations for 1 minute
      Absent pain reflex

      If you’re not sure whether to start CPR you can use the five signs that someone is too dead to be saved.
      1) decapitation
      2) burned beyond recognition
      3) lividity
      4) rigor mortis
      5) decomposition

      What is science not getting again?

      • MLE

        Her comment makes me think there are a bunch of people buried alive out there and that scares the heck out of me.

        • Dr Kitty

          If you’re not dead before they start the embalming, you sure are afterwards!

          No, really, dead people don’t look like pale sleeping alive people the way you see on TV or the movies. You might think you know what a dead body looks like if you watch CSI, but you don’t.

          Dead people look and feel…dead.
          White people turn a waxy yellow grey, for a start, and lose all muscle tone in the face, which has a specific look.

          I don’t think there are lost of people buried alive. This is not 16th century Verona.

          • Dr Kitty

            I have, unfortunately, seen a lot of dead people.
            It is not my favourite thing, but most of the dead people I see are old and the death is expected, or they are young and the death is self inflicted, which makes it a little easier somehow.

            Not a mystery though.

  • MeriBeth Glenn

    yep… Ina May is an absolute quack…..who has an obstetrical maneuver named after her???? She also has been invited to speak at Ted talks, obstetrical and is a very prominent name in the birthing community and has done MUCH to support women, educate professionals and change birth practices for the better within the United States. She has contributed much to the evidence based practices within midwifery. Her birth outcomes and numbers prove that birth isn’t the dangerous accident of nature that we have been lead to believe and that this website works so hard to try to slander. “Dr. Amy” has worked tirelessly for over a decade to try to bash and slander and squash the homebirth movement and all those involved in it. And for every arguement she makes she ignores the truth of all studies supporting the safety of homebirth and simply tries to slander the midwife. Her tactics are the same that the board of medicine used back in the 1920’s when they campaigned against the “granny midwives” in attempt to bring more women into the hospital to birth. The results were disasterous for women and their babies. And the addition of technology does not make for a better birth.

    • Trixie

      The Gaskin maneuver is something she witnessed in South America, and then decided to name after herself. Ina Maey also let her own baby die rather than take him to a hospital.

  • Mary

    One of the things I loved most about the care of my homebirth midwife was not having to do any vaginal exams during the first forty weeks of my pregnancy. But when my due date came and went, I finally had one. Fortunately, my mother was present. It was so painful that I told the midwife to stop. She didn’t. She kept going until my mother said, “Hey! She told you to stop!” I am an assertive professional, but I just cried and did nothing about the violation. This sort of thing won’t show up in the MANA statistics, but women who are attracted to homebirth because they don’t want to feel violated by unnecessary exams ought to be warned.

  • Knox

    You are so uptight that when you fart it probably can’t come out. Please post the complaints from the women Ina May delivered for – put up or shut up.

    • PJ

      Are you actually defending Gaskin’s fondling women in labour?! You are sick! (By the way, FYI: very few sexual assaults are ever reported.)

    • KarenJJ

      That’s a pretty typical response to sexual abuse complaints. Congratulations on being one of the majority.

  • KzCNM

    I am a nurse-midwife who practices in a hospital, and who has never seen nor advocates for homebirths. While I agree IMG may have her weird quirks and even weirder ways of writing about them, I don’t totally disagree with her practices, because some are actually based on reasonable theory. As medical professionals, we know that nipple stimulation and orgasms release the “love hormone” Oxytocin, which is commonly used in hospitals to augment labor. For women that are typical clients of IMG who birth at home, or even those in other settings who do not want medication, I feel this is a reasonable method to initiate or enhance labor contractions. Additionally, sexual stimulation stimulates glands in the vagina and can help to lubricate the birth canal. In my training I saw a patient that needed to be induced for preeclampsia, yet refused medication, and this was a physician’s patient. With only nipple and clitoral stimulation from her husband, this patient was able to successfully self induce herself.

  • The details are well-explained and very concise.

  • PrecipMom

    I agree with this assessment regarding Gaskin as cult leader. I would suggest taking it a step further and try to keep it in mind when talking to and about home birth mothers, particularly loss mothers. If you are a more vulnerable to this sort of thing kind of person, it’s really easy to get over your head before you have any idea what is off and detoxing takes time in all but some of the most extreme cases.

  • Sue

    Sexual abuse is a relatively common factor in extreme cults. This is the first time I have heard of a female perpetrator, though. Creepy.

  • Jenny

    I had only been thinking a few days ago that not much shocked me anymore – wrong!

  • Antigonos CNM

    On another forum, in reply to comments I made about IMG, someone wrote that she “has changed the way birth is handled in the US” as if this was a credential: if IMG is asked to speak at a zillion places, then she must be an expert, was the gist of this person’s comment. In other words, “if she gets lots of invites, therefore I can assume that the people who invite her know what they are doing, and therefore IMG MUST really be a birth expert”. Odd logic, to my way of thinking. The person who made this comment is an otherwise highly intelligent person, so it just shows how easily some folks can be suckered.

    • BeatlesFan

      Next time, turn it around on them and mention every interview Dr. Amy has ever given.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      someone wrote that she “has changed the way birth is handled in the US” as if this was a credential:

      Or true, for that matter. In fact, isn’t it the exact OPPOSITE?

      IMG is trying to prevent how birth is handled in the US, and, in fact, is trying to roll it back to how it was done 100 years ago?

  • Courtney84

    I received a complimentary copy of FitPregnancy at a recent OB appointment. Multiple articles sited Ina May Gaskin. One particular article was about 10 ways to prepare for successful breastfeeding prior to baby’s birth. The non sense was awful…I tossed the magazine. I even briefly wondered what the doctors and nurses were thinking giving that out…

    • Allie P

      I don’t think most OBs know all the crap in those magazines in their waiting room. Unfortunately, it gives the whole thing a veneer of respectability. I know i fell for it, and I worked for an OB! Most OBs are so busy doing their job they don’t even think to ask you what woo you may have unconsciously consumed and integrated into your behaviors and beliefs.

    • Clarissa Darling

      This is kind of an OT rant but, since you mention magazines, it
      really irks me that all the magazines in my OB’s waiting room are
      birth/parenting related. When I’m at the dentist I’m not given copies of “Oral Hygiene Today” while I wait. What is wrong with a general news magazine or even a mindless celebrity gossip rag? Is
      there a rule that women who are expecting must only be thinking of childbirth or children at all times? Furthermore, you are totally right that so many of these magazines articles are just crap. One article about the importance of staying active during pregnancy showed a picture of a heavily pregnant model rock climbing? Seriously, rock climbing? Is this even safe? Even if it is I can’t imagine that it’s something I’d want to take up during my third trimester (as the model appeared to be) since I’m only in my second and I can already hardly get off the couch. When I saw that fit model smiling and not sweating a drop while sporting her huge baby bump I thought, oh God I must be the laziest, unhealthiest pregnant woman in the world! Then I told myself that it’s just a magazine and, like unrealistically glamorous pictures in fashion magazines the model is probably photo-shopped and a lot more pregnant women in real life are probably sitting on the couch than out rock climbing. Anyway, I’m at the clinic to get to get medical and pregnancy advice from the doctor, not the bogus waiting room magazines and it’s a very small thing I know but, I really wish whoever chooses the reading material would consider this.

      • VeritasLiberat

        The article title I remember was “Look sexy and sensational all 9 months!” Yeah, as if gestating a human being wasn’t enough, I don’t dare fail to maintain the perfect body and face. Hey, I evidently looked good enough that someone knocked me up; give me a break for awhile. I didn’t need to feel sexy; I would have settled for not feeling 24/7 like I was going to throw up.

        So if I were writing a pregnancy magazine, here’s the kind of articles I’d include:

        Pajamas You Can Wear to Work
        7 Recipes that You Can Probably Keep Down and that Even Your Spouse Can Make
        Where to Buy Non-Slutty Maternity Clothes (Seriously, I work with kids. Nobody at work wants to see the tatas hangin out like two scoops of ice cream on a plate)
        How to Deal With Useless Advice Forwarded to You by Well-Meaning Idiots

    • Dr Kitty

      Most NHS GPs no longer have magazines in the waiting rooms, for infection control purposes.
      Magazines are quite effective fomites.

      I remember a microbiology lecture as a medical student- four Irish patients in a 24 bed Nightingale ward in a London hospital in the 1980s all contracted the same virulent and rare infection. Their beds weren’t adjacent, and there was no difference in the care their received from the other patients.
      Turns out it was the copy of “Ireland’s Own” they had passed between each other.

      You’re better bringing your own entertainment to the doctor, especially in ‘flu season.

      I don’t let my child play with the wooden beads-on-a-wire in the waiting room either, for the same reason.

  • SB

    I was unable to finish my doula certification due to all the IMG love in my coursework and from fellow classmates in our online environment. She seems incredibly abusive (mentally and sexually), and triggered so many negatives in my own life that I just could not go on. I’m also of the “whatever works for mom, works for me” mindset, and that didn’t fly very well with the instructor or classmates either. I would love to become a certified doula, but at this point I just volunteer with friends and family.

    • KarenJJ

      Yes – even mainstream midwifery seem to be very keen on IMG. I went to a hypnobirthing course prior to my attempt at an unmedicated birth with my first. The midwife was big on the woo (so not exactly mainstream, but a university trained midwife), BUT she was also cautious enough to direct me to trust my medical providers (which was my biggest issue anyway) and didn’t work to undermine the hospital and encouraged us to work with the hospital.

      But she was also recommending Spiritual Midwifery to us. Not that I got around to reading it, I had no desire to be a midwife and I thought it sounded like a text book.

      • t.

        Any book with “Spiritual” in the title is not a worthy textbook. Exception in anthropology/historical books like “The Spiritual Belief of XXX”.

        • KarenJJ

          Good point. “Spiritual Electromagnetics” was never on my text book list at uni.

    • Leica

      I looked into certifying as a doula, because I wanted to help other military spouses whose husbands might be deployed during delivery and postpartum. Then I realized that I didn’t need any special training, because what most women needed was someone to just be supportive company during birth, take over the older kids for a little bit while they recovered, cook a few meals, and walk a fussy baby so mom can get a nap and shower. No one has complained yet.

      • Sue

        Isn’t that exactly what a doula is meant to do? They are support people, not health care providers. In my view, the main reason for certification would be to vouch for the person’s good character, which isn’t meeded for friends.

  • One Sick Puppy

    That is just SICK! And some homebirth ‘feminists’ just love her? >:( I would be really upset if a doctor was touching my clit without asking for non medical reasons and with this phony its even worse. Also the term ‘puss’ for vagina makes her sound like an idiot.

    • emkay

      YES. “Puss” and “tits” aren’t exactly EMPOWERING terms for womens anatomy

  • fiftyfifty1

    I agree that in many ways she is a cult leader. And that explains the power she has over the people on The Farm. But what explains the power she has among people not in her cult? There are all sorts of people who seem to take her seriously: journalists, academics, talk show hosts, CNMs, middle class moms, feminist blog writers. Obviously not all or even most of individuals in these groups respect her. But a steady trickle of them do, and that needs explaining.
    We can’t say that it’s because none of them know. Sure some of them haven’t read her book all the way though. But some of them have. Many of them have read Spiritual Midwifery and so know how she promotes sexual massage in labor and how she let her preemie son die etc.. But obviously they didn’t find this info offputting or something.
    I don’t know. I’m still stumped.

    • staceyjw

      Even if there were people that found her disturbing, you can bet that 1) they would NEVER say so, not out loud anyway! 2) they probably didn’t read her books thoroughly, or 3) They actually think this is A-OK!

    • Laural

      When I read it I attributed all of the language and sexuality to the era- that ‘hippie, free-love, make love, drugs, etc.’ impression/imagination I have of that day and age. It is before my time but then so is the book. It was given to me to read 14 years ago…by a very free-spirited friend… I found the intimate sharing of birth stories to be extremely enthralling. Now with the internet blogs others intimate experiences of birth are not so novel; but, at the time I read the book expecting my first baby, those stories really held me captive, kind of like a voyeur.
      Oh- and Ina May is in a weird way almost responsible for me having my baby in the car or at home by accident. My first labor was very fast (3 hrs) with irregular contractions. Over the phone to the doctor I described them as ‘really intense’- they were, in fact, so intense I could barely speak but the word I should have used was ‘extreme pain’ not ‘extremely intense’- I would have had a chance of the doctor telling me to go in right away, perhaps, instead of telling me to wait until they were at some programmed interval for at least one hour. Thank goodness my mother decided to bring me in when she did; I arrived at the hospital, got out of the car, my water broke dramatically in the hallway of the OB and they checked me and I was complete and having a baby then and there. Not so fun, but, whatever, getting my baby was the most incredible thing that ever happened to me.

      • Squillo

        That’s exactly what Sarah Buckley says in her glowing review of Spiritual Midwifery–ignore the “hippie language.”

        I could probably ignore the language–childish, rather than hippie, in my view–if it weren’t accompanied by the sexualization.

        • Laural

          I could barely get through Dr. Amy’s last two entries I found the language/sexuality to be so revolting. It really made me kind of examine ‘what was I thinking’ and think about exactly what aspects of that book appealed to me so much at that time.

          • Clarissa Darling

            It occurs to me that Ina May is not the first cult leader to
            use sexuality to exert power and control over their followers. I agree it is revolting.

        • Bombshellrisa

          If people ignored Sarah Buckley’s children’s testimony about how they were traumatized when their cords were cut, she wouldn’t have much of a career. If we ignore the hippie sounding or just plain ridiculous crap written by NCB authorities, there would be nothing left to read.

    • Squillo

      I’m not that surprised. People are willing to ignore all kinds of inconvenient things if their belief in a central dogma is strong enough. Look at the folks who still follow the prophets who have predicated several apocalypses that failed to happen.

      Heck, look at the sagas of Drs. Biter and Fischbein–both would have been (rightly) reviled by women who are now their most fervent supporters if it weren’t for the fact that they spout the desperately desired line about “natural” and home birth.

    • AmyM

      She’s got “little old lady” going for her. She looks like your sweet old auntie or grandma. How could she be a cult leader or sexual predator? This worked for my MIL (who was not a cult leader or sexual predator, hang on) but was an alcoholic, and had been drinking and driving. (no one else was in the car, no other cars involved, just her and a telephone pole) They never even gave her a breathalyzer. Probably helped she’d been drinking Listerine, and didn’t reek of booze, but she LOOKED like a sweet little old lady who fell asleep behind the wheel. Not like someone who’d been drunk for the better part of 6mos already who managed to evade her family and get the car keys.

      (For the record that was a decade ago and she became sober shortly thereafter and remained so until her recent death.)

  • Rita Rippetoe

    Did anyone else catch the breast vs bottle discussion in the Doonesbury comic comments board. Started June 2 with a panel showing a character bottlefeeding.

    • Karen in SC

      I noticed the strip – feeding the twins. It was cute. Can’t believe people criticized that. Trudeau is a father of twins!

  • Yammy

    I also agree that overlaying the hallmarks of a cult onto Gaskin’s mission of quackery is a rather chillingly accurate comparison. I think cults also usually prey on people who are at their lowest and most vulnerable (i.e. suggestable) states, such as mothers who went through a difficult first birth in the hospital. Recruiters do this because these vulnerable targets are an easy sell. Join our group because we offer something so much better, something too good to be true. Their promises sound ridiculous to your average person yet sound like the music of a pied piper to someone who is hurting.
    Targets then willingly agree to and endure an initiation ritual, though they are ignorant that the ritual is intended to be strenuous and degrading. The cultist’s goal is to deprogram their victim’s personal identity so that the cult values can sink in and fill the vacuum. There can be no individuality in a cult, after all. And the more humiliating the initiation, the more difficult it is for the initiate to admit that the lost time and agony suffered was a huge mistake.

    For Gaskin and her followers, unmedicated childbirth I think could be seen as the baseline initiation protocol. It is the ideal source of humiliation and suffering through which a candidate can be molded and made to prove their dedication. Not that childbirth is inherently humiliating, by the way, but rather the homebirth cult has invented its own checklist for an initiate’s success. Should you successfully push out a baby (whether dead or alive) at home, without painkillers and without needing a transfer, you’re in the club. However, you’re on more like a bronze-level, apprentice tier. There’s a hierarchy to be inducted into based on how above and beyond you went. Unassisted CB seems to be regarded as the silver-level, warrior woman tier. Unmedicated and unassisted plus birthing outside somewhere in nature is gold-level, goddess tier. Claims to the latter two ideally involve filming and posting the evidence online for the world so no one can doubt that you passed the initiation and you deserve your corresponding medal. Oh, and extra respect points for an orgasm in all cases (apparently with or without the unsolicited “help” of your midwife or husband).

    TL;DR: Gaskin’s cult is kinda like Dr. Amy’s Sanctimommy Olympics, but with a huge Kool-aid sponsorship.

  • yentavegan

    Ina May Gaskin is brilliant at self promotion. when I saw her being interviewed on the documentary Business of Being Born I got the creepy feeling that she practices hypnotism. she has the uncanny ability to make people believe in her.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    I’d really love to hear from some professional homebirth advocates whether they can continue support Gaskin in light of these revelations.

    • Staceyjw

      You won’t ever hear from them.
      They won’t read your blog, they are so full of hate and fear they can barely speak your name.

      • Anj Fabian

        They can barely address the American home birth statistics, which are based on hard data.

        Speak out against the ideology that is at the core of the movement? They’d better have their bags packed if they do, because they will be shown the door.

  • Lena

    Something that’s bugging the hell out of me since yesterday’s post…IMG has received a fair bit of mainstream attention, hasn’t she? Actual journalists have interviewed and profiled her, quoted her in pieces about breech birth, etc. So how the hell has this escaped notice?
    Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect them to read her books all the way
    through, but this is huge. Surely something should have pinged a radar during research. It’s not your standard “aren’t they so charmingly weird” hippie fare. WTF, journalists?

    • Zornorph

      I would love to see 60 minutes tear this woman apart like they did with that Three Cups of Tea liar.

      • Karen in SC

        I’m still hoping for Michael Moore and Dr. Amy to blow the lid of The Business of Being Born!

    • Victoria

      I found an article from Vanity Fair about the Gaskins and The Farm. The quotes that Dr Amy has provided above are referred to but not quoted, and it is glossed over in about two sentences. Page three. The article is from 2007. Yes, why has this not been covered in depth? How is it that IMG can talk about a woman’s cervix seeing an OB as a predator when she is actually touching women in a sexual way? How is it that she blames the OB in a transfer for reducing the woman’s dilation from 7 to 4 with just one cervical exam? (this example is from her Guide to Childbirth)

      http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/thefarm200705

      • CourtneyTX

        She sees birth as sexual so then sees anything that an OB would do as sexual and worse because to her she is helping and they can only hurt. IMG is not a well minded person, a narcissist, and has a vastly skewed perspective on birth/life. The decrease in dilation is surely the OB’s ill intent and fear implantation on the woman and not her misjudging the actual dilation to begin with – simply nothing she does is wrong or flawed. It is really scary when you consider that she is acting as a medical provider and has the audacity to write those words.

      • Karen in SC

        Here’s a much older article. It doesn’t mention much about the midwifery part of the Farm but it helps to get more understanding of the underlying principles.

        http://www.kk.org/writings/why_we_left_the_farm.pdf

  • Dr Kitty

    OT: I had a P1 with previous uncomplicated natural birth come to see me to tell me she’s pregnant again.
    “Would you be at all interested in the local midwife led birth centre?” I asked, seeing as how she’s text book low risk with a previous uncomplicated labour and delivery.
    “No f@&king way doc, I want an epidural. Book me into the maternity hospital, and put that on the letter…they talked me out of it last time, and I’m not letting them do it again”.

    So, respecting patient autonomy, that’s exactly what I did.

    Not everyone who had a natural birth is keen to repeat the experience!

    • Lena

      My sister had a really rough recovery after her first birth because of the epidural (headache so severe she had to say flat on her back). Her second was a precipitous labor. The first thing she said when she got to the hospital–before telling them her name–was, “I want an epidural.” The nurse checked her and frantically called for the OB because she was crowning.

      Sister: So I’m getting the epidural now, right?

      Nurse, sounding genuinely sorry: Oh, honey. You’re not getting an epidural.

      Sister: *Bursts into tears*

      She says her recovery was a breeze, and she still thinks women who don’t want pain relief are nuts.

      • staceyjw

        I am sorry for your sis! I know that feeling. During my TOL,I complained that my epi wasn’t working. I was checked, then also told “well, baby is coming out- NOW” and I freaked. I cursed the docs and felt like I was tricked into a VBAC I hadn’t even wanted.
        Thankfully, it didn’t hurt, and only took 4 pushes, 13 minutes. Had it been horrible, that doc would have gone home with fewer teeth….

    • theadequatemother

      why exactly is there this public perception that pain relief in labour is unimportant or unnecessary?

      • Karen in SC

        In my childbearing years, I was told that an epidural drugs the baby, and that a drugged baby won’t want to nurse.

        Additionally, I was told that an epidural could cause bp to drop so you needed another IV for fluids. You couldn’t feel or move so you’d need a catheter.

        The idea of IVs and a catheter makes me want to scream like a banshee. So that is why I had the fortitude to go without. It hurt like hell, both times. If I had to be hospitalized for any reason I would need to be put into a coma, most likely.

        • theadequatemother

          its okay to have feelings / preferences about any particular form of labour pain relief…but what I’m wondering is, why in general does it seem that pain relief for labouring women is perceived to be unimportant?

          We’re sort of stuck with IM narcotics for early labour, fentanyl, epidurals or laughing gas (the latter seems to be a commonwealth thing and pretty rare in the US )for active labour and “suck it up sweetheart” for the pushing phase.

          Surely we should be able to come up with better methods for women who don’t want epidurals?

          Surely we don’t need so many barriers between a request for pain relief and the actual provision of pain relief? “talking women out of it” or delaying it…or even resource issues that mean ane’s aren’t available…it certainly seems like pain relief in labour isn’t a priority or even seen as a necessity even for those that REQUEST it.

          • Karen in SC

            I agree that being talked out of it is dirty pool. I may have chosen something else – I love laughing gas at the dentist.

          • auntbea

            I was talking to a friend about Obamacare, and made an off-hand comment about how I wouldn’t really look forward to an NHS-style medical system because of how terribly all my pregnant friends have been treated under that system, especially with lack of pain medication. (Yes, I know Obamacare is not the same thing as the NHS) My friend suggested I was being ridiculous to prioritize that over providing any healthcare at all to a lot of people who don’t have it now.

            Now, certainly, if going without pain meds in labor would mean that, say, a dozen people got health insurance, I think I would suck it up. But I am not sure such a trade-off exists, and I am not sure why women seem to bear the brunt of said trade-off.

          • Jocelyn

            Because most of the lawmakers are men.

          • auntbea

            But half of voters are women. (Well, almost half.)

          • BeatlesFan

            But, sadly, there are still women out there who think that men are higher on the totem pole then they, and entitled to decide what is best for our gender as a whole.

          • MikoT

            Oh FFS.
            Are you really trying to reframe the debate about affordable healthcare into one about bodily autonomy?
            I’d expect this kind of nonsense from TFB, but not from posters here.

          • BeatlesFan

            No, I am not trying to “reframe the debate”, and I said nothing about either affordable healthcare OR female bodily autonomy. I’m not sure how you got that from my comment, which was simply acknowledging that there are still women out there who are a-ok with men deciding what is best, even when it does not concern them.

          • Eddie

            Reframe the debate about affordable healthcare? This was not such a debate. Most people are discussing different things. The post you responded to here wasn’t discussing the Affordable Care Act at all, so I’m not sure how you read it that way.

          • Eddie

            In American, I thought that just over half of registered voters were women?

          • auntbea

            In American, you are right. 🙂 Quite a few more women than men reporting being registered and voting. In the UK, the percentage of women turning out is (very) slightly less than for men…but, actually, now that you mention it, I am not sure that translates into fewer actual voters. Depends on gender ratios.

          • Eddie

            (laughing) You caught me in a typo. I normally catch those in proofreading. It would just be silly to correct it now.

          • MikoT

            Just a little overly simplistic, don’t you think?

          • Jocelyn

            Yes, a bit. But there’s truth to it.

          • MikoT

            Could you elaborate on this?
            In what way would women be worse off with subsidised healthcare?

          • Jocelyn

            That’s not what I said, and that’s not the point of my post. I was replying to auntbea’s remark that women often bear the brunt of medical inequalities (in any system). I was making no specific statement about subsidized healthcare, and that’s not a discussion I wish to enter.

          • MikoT

            auntbea seemed to be suggesting that medical resources are allocated in a way that discriminates against women, and that this would be further entrenched under a nationalised system.

            Do you agree with this?

          • Jocelyn

            As I said, that’s not a discussion I’m interested in entering.

          • auntbea

            Actually, auntbea was not suggesting that. And I am not sure why you are going after Jocelyn so aggressively based on something I (didn’t) say.

            You seem to be very sure about the benefits of a single-payer system. Since this is not my area of expertise, can you link me to the research?

          • staceyjw

            Women ALWAYS bear the brunt of ANY such choices or sacrifices. Because patriarchy. You can bet that Viagra will be fully covered, while women beg for BC pills and adequate labor anesthesia. Thats forgetting about abortion care, which I would fear would become inaccessible if USA went towards an NHS system.
            I don’t see why women need to be the sacrificial lambs.

          • fiftyfifty1

            That’s a myth though about Viagra, at least in the United States. Viagra (and the other brands of erectile drugs) are very seldom covered by insurance now. And if they are, they are only covered for certain conditions such as diabetes. And for all the talk about birth control pills NOT being covered, I have never in real life run into an insured patient where they were not. Plenty of uninsured women struggle with this however. The cheapest brand is $9/mo.

          • AmyM

            I just switched to a mini-pill, that I swear I am not making this up (thanks Dave Barry)…is free. I didn’t realize this until I went to get it at the pharmacy…I handed over my debit card and they were like “It cost zero dollars.” !!??!

          • CourtneyTX

            I was not covered for birth control pills under BCBS Concordia Health Plan. Granted this was 7 years ago and I worked for a religious institution, but the only way to get them was as treatment for a health condition. I was still able to get the pills covered having a condition that can be treated by birth control, but it was still more trouble than it should have been and was still a rule that simply should not have been there.

          • MikoT

            You can bet that Viagra will be fully covered, while women beg for BC pills and adequate labor anesthesia.

            I’m a little disappointed with your post staceyjw, and it seems like you’re one breath away from ranting about “death panels”. It’s quite bizarre to see feminism so clumsily co-opted to inveigh against socialised medicine, when women and mothers will clearly be the biggest winners from this system.
            A few points:

            The same legal standard of care will exist regardless of whether your healthcare is public or private,

            Public healthcare is also driven by “market forces” by way of the ballot box, and it is clear that women will not stand for any restriction on BC or abortion. This is the reality for every other country with nationalised healthcare. In Australia, for example, BC pills are heavily subsidised while Viagra is not (except for veterans).

            Most importantly: You will always have the option of paying out of your own pocket.

            It’s not about the government controlling what you do, but rather the most cost effective way to allocate available resources.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Technically nobody is being denied anything under the current system in the US-everyone has the option of having to pay out of pocket for what insurance won’t cover. I think what worries me the most is the idea that part of the way that cost affective allocation of resources will happen is that midwives will be the norm for care in pregnancy and birth. Even with CNMs, the woo is running rampant. I know there are woo free, evidence based ones out there, but I have not met any. So if we have midwives working within the system who believe that breathing exercises or sitting in a bath is a good way to control pain-not a good situation. Someone needs to pull up the post about what NHS midwifery students said about patients who asked for pain medicine-it illustrates why people are concerned about having a system like that. I also wonder if patients in the public system would like paying for things like a private room instead of a ward room or a semi private room (the rooms in L&D and post partum are all private around here)

          • Dr Kitty

            If you actually want to use the UK NHS as an example:

            ALL methods of contraception are free. To EVERYONE- including tourists, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. Same for HIV/AIDS and TB treatment and antenatal care and treatment, postnatal care and treatment and childbirth.

            Abortions are obtainable free on the NHS to legal residents of England, Wales and Scotland with a right to NHS treatment (3 months prior residency), and privately to everyone else (typical cost £300-600)

            Viagra is free to men with some kinds of cancer, spinal cord injuries, some serious neurological conditions, diabetes, who on dialysis, or who have been determined to be suffering from severe psychological distress caused by ED by a specialist. Everyone else( the vast majority) pays the full price (£40-80/month).

          • Lizzie Dee

            And I think the reason epidurals can be a problem is because of midwives who insist pain is good for you. (The bean counter are probably happy with that, but they are available)

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Actually, Obama’s health care reforms make it illegal to not cover birth control pills or to charge women more for health insurance. Currently, many private insurers refuse to cover OCP. This should end when/if Obama’s reforms ever get implemented.

            I understand your concerns and certainly don’t think that they’re baseless in general, but in this case the reform will actually help women.

          • Eddie

            I believe that a reproductive-lifetime of birth control pills cost less than a single pregnancy with no complications. That’s why the only insurance plans in the US that do not cover birth control are offered by religious institutions that don’t believe in it.

          • Anj Fabian

            The theme of women sacrificing their own welfare for the good of others is a common narrative.

            One example is noncompetitive feminism – women should be encouraged to compete for jobs, positions, authority – unless she is competing directly against a man. In that case, she should remove herself from the competition. IOW – women should be allowed to do what they want, as long as no man is inconvenienced or disadvantaged by her choice.

          • MikoT

            I wouldn’t really look forward to an NHS-style medical system because of how terribly all my pregnant friends have been treated under that system

            Are you suggesting that they were denied analgesia as a cost cutting measure?
            For that matter, do you honestly believe that patient outcomes are worse under socialised healthcare?

          • theadequatemother

            all heath care systems, socialized or private insurance or private pay involve some rationing of care. Both universal insurance schemes (like the NHS or provincial plans in Canada) ration care. But private insurers in the US ration it too – by denying claims, requiring prior approval etc. With private pay, patients and their families have to ration care based on what they can afford.

            Anesthesia staffing in many centers here is suboptimal for OB (no dedicated coverage, even in very busy centers)…that is a care rationing- cost saving strategy on the part of the health authorities and provincial insurers.

          • auntbea

            Well, I don’t know why they don’t pay for it. Cost-cutting is certainly a plausible goal.

            And though it seems likely that the median patient outcome would be better under socialized medicine than what we have now, I don’t know how it compares to outcomes under Obamacare.

            I DO know that under socialized medicine MY health care would be worse, because I have the luxury of excellent (arguably excessive) health insurance in a university-hospital based system. So, as I stated, I would not look forward to NHS-style care. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it.

          • Eddie

            Patient outcomes under socialized healthcare vary widely. Take a look at Eastern Europe and compare and contrast to the nordic countries. There’s a large gulf. Where my wife is from in Eastern Europe, pain relief in child birth is denied — DENIED PERIOD — unless you can pay the entire cost. It is denied because it is not necessary. Now, to be fair, I wouldn’t be surprised if other pain relief is also denied in that country for the same reason. Cost.

            Doctors and nurses are paid so poorly that unless you give them money under the table, they really don’t care very much about providing the best care. Maybe in some of the big cities it is better. But my friends from that country from the cities haven’t indicated that it is.

            Just because heatlhcare is socialized doesn’t mean it is better. (Or worse, for that matter.) Socialized healthcare is not a magic bullet. It depends on the specifics of the implementation.

            Generally speaking, free enterprise will respond more quickly to changes in health care needs. Governments will respond to changes more slowly. See for example complaints about the British NHS and understaffing in L&D due to population demographics changing faster than expected. (I read about that on this very board.)

            Free enterprise health care is not a magic bullet. Socialized medicine is not a magic bullet. There is no magic bullet. This is a hard problem to solve.

          • Box of Salt

            Eddie,

            this is so well said it bears repeating:

            Free enterprise health care is not a magic bullet. Socialized medicine is not a magic bullet. There is no magic bullet. This is a hard problem to solve.

            I may quote you later.

          • Eddie

            Thank you. This is a subject I have read and thought about extensively. I’ve talked to people from many different countries to learn what they thought were good parts and bad parts of what they had at home. I’ve read about cultural differences and how they affect outcomes. (For example, the higher rate of obesity in America, which causes problems all over the place medically, in part due to Americans eating more, in part due to Americans being more idle.)

            The more I learn, the more complicated the problems with financing and managing health care look.

            I see a lot of people on both extremes in America (referring here to “no government involvement at all” and “single provider, the government”) believe this is a simple problem, and their solution will solve all problems. And both extremes, IMHO, are naive or ignorant or just ignoring some of the problems.

            It would be a huge tangent from the purpose of this blog to go into any depth, and I don’t even pretend I have a lot of definitive answers. Also, I won’t even pretend I have any clue what will work best for any country other than America. The specifics matter.

          • theadequatemother

            so ask your friend why she isn’t suggesting that other patients go without pain relief so that we can afford more care for more patients…examples, pain relief in trauma care…post op pain relief, pain relief for gall stone attacks, kidney stones (you know, other conditions that are relatively “benign” other than discomfort).

            why does she think pain relief for labour is a “luxury?” Because that attitude is incredibly common.

          • auntbea

            Well, it’s a he. And I think he believes a lot of medical treatment (in terms of preventative testing, etc.) is unnecessary. But I don’t think he was suggesting I go without pain medication for someone else’s sake. I was the one that drew that connection.

          • For the life of me I just don’t get the reluctance to provide timely access to women – surely their medical autonomy must matter as much as the person passing a kidney stone.

          • Antigonos CNM

            Evidence has shown that, in general, women’s requests for pain relief in all forms of illness, etc. are not taken as seriously as men’s. Doctors routinely prescribe higher and more frequent dosages of analgesics for men, even allowing for weight differences. Women, apparently, are still thought to “handle pain better than men”.

          • Eddie

            I completely agree. I think women’s complaints about pain are also not taken as seriously as men’s complaints about pain. I had a gf who was in the hospital several times a year … sickle cell. It was routine for them to undertreat her pain. In these cases I think they would have undertreated a man as well, but not as severely. It was pretty clear to me that they didn’t take her complaint of pain as seriously as they should.

          • Clarissa Darling

            It seems to me to go back to the medieval notion that women’s suffering is punishment for the “sins” of womankind and that the way for a good woman to atone for these sins to bear her suffering without complaint. I know that NOT a lot of people these days believe that literally, but in my personal option, modern attitudes towards pain relief in labor still show symptoms of society having believed that literally for generations upon generations. In other words, old habits die hard. I think of how a woman who takes medications during pregnancy or medications that interfere with breastfeeding is demonized for attending to her own need to alleviate her physical/mental suffering and is therefore viewed as not making the type of sacrifices that a “good” mother should. And the women who are praised the loudest by the NCB community do not appear to be the ones who have relatively quick and easy natural labors but, the ones who go through hell and back and can say “I still made it without a C-section, epidural, etc…” I think this all points to an unspoken and outdated belief that a suffering woman is a virtuous woman. This is why I find it so ironic that many NCB advocates consider themselves feminists. As far as I am concerned they have only re branded same old patriarchal BS as “female empowerment” and are using it to empower themselves at the cost of so many other women.

          • CS

            There is another option that is very rarely available, which is a paracervical block. Very, very few OBs know how to do them anymore. Lucky for me, my OB with my 2nd baby did them and it was wonderful. I know they can be controversial, but in the hands of an experienced provider, it was a fantastic compromise of not wanting an epi or IV meds, but wanting something to take the edge off.

        • Antigonos CNM

          A great deal of what you were told was deliberate misinformation. The origins of the NCB philosophy were sound: at a time when the only form of pain relief was the use of powerful IM or IV meds which DID go through the placenta and resulted in far too many groggy babies [in those days Narcan to counteract the baby’s respiratory depression at birth was ALWAYS immediately to hand], and the effect of them was usually augmented by scopolamine, which was supposed to be amnesiac but often resulted in the patient becoming uncontrollable and later having traumatic “flashbacks”, UNMEDICATED birth was a definite improvement for everyone involved — if the patient could cope with it. Lamaze was a method developed to minimize the pain of labor, not get rid of it, btw. Once the epidural became common, and it became clear that it had almost no effect on the baby at all, huffing and puffing one’s lungs out for minimal pain relief began to be almost silly.

          But then NCB began to mean much, much more. And somehow, the emphasis shifted from avoiding undesirable side effects of analgesia to glorifying the more masochistic aspects of what is generally regarded [at best] as an unpleasant episode [the baby in your arms is your “reward” for “suffering”] I find it hard to avoid thinking that attitudes are still being determined according to the Book of Genesis, where woman’s “punishment” is to bear children in pain. I really thought we’d got beyond that. There’s no physiological requirement whatsoever to have pain in labor, unlike a baby’s need to inflate its lungs after birth with a vigorous cry, and negotiate the change between fetal and infant blood circulation via a different route through the heart and pulmonary vessels.

      • I don’t know but I wonder the same thing. I was told all about the dangers of using pethidine in labor, I got my shot and even though I was dizzy at first, this passed and the pain became more manageable. Ladies and gentlemen, pain relief is awesome and I am glad that I requested it this time. Besides, baby took a while to nurse but he swallowed meconium, and the pethidine was out of my system before I knew it. Neither of us had problems because of it. I am all about informing people about dangers of medication, but let’s not demonize it.

      • Bombshellrisa

        And it seems to be centered around childbirth. Ever hear of someone suggesting a course in HypnoSpineSurgery? SpinningKidneyStones? Nope, because it’s understood and accepted that these things HURT and the only way to relieve that pain is through adequate pain medication.

        • Lizzie Dee

          So one can only conclude that the pain of childbirth is regarded as different, special, functional.

          If you suffer for your child you prove something? the pain of childbirth is heroic, so a test of your mettle? It is a special kind of pain that carries messages about something or other? I have read women saying they want to be aware, and experience the birth fully, but I would think that when in mind-bending pain, you are not aware of anything much but the pain and a very strong desire for it to stop. I have heard of mothers who have cursed the baby, their husbands, and sworn never to have sex again. Understandable, it seems to me. Nervousness about the effects of epis on the baby seems rational enough except for abundant evidence that there isn’t any. Fear of needles I get – not fearing hours of pain I don’t.

          There used to be a religious ceremony in the Church of England for post-partum women – I forget what it was called. It was part giving thanks, part “cleansing” – the child was born in sin, the mother had to be cleansed. I can remember my sister arguing vociferously with the vicar about this, and in the end refusing to partake though she did want to give thanks. I can’t figure out what is masochism, unwarranted optimism, some kind of guilt – but damned if I can see the appeal of toughing it out.

  • Mamatotwo

    By these definitions, attachment parenting is definitively a cult.

  • Meredith Watson

    Here is my theory on why people follow IMG. I think some of these people have rejected conventional religion in favor of some type of worship of birth/nature. Aside from all of the other motivations for ignoring the fact that birth is indeed dangerous, they are motivated to see perfection in their religion and order in the world. Birth is good, birth is natural. Nothing can or should go wrong unless you leave the realm of the natural (interventions) or think a negative thought. If you think about it, it’s quite a bit more comforting than the idea that our fate is NOT in our own hands or that God, who’s ways are inscrutable, is in charge.

    • Lena

      I was first made aware of NCB culture through someone I knew online. She was a complete fanatic, had a HBA3C, constant tirades about the “OB industry.” She was also the most strident atheist I’d ever come across–and I’m an atheist, myself. I thought it was bizarre, but now it makes sense. A lot of people really just need to believe in something.

      • staceyjw

        A huge portion of the hardcore NCBers are Christian fundamentalists, with many QFers. I would say few are atheists, probably about the same proportion as the population.(and I live in liberal woo-ville)

        • Lena

          Oh, I didn’t mean that there’s a large proportion of atheists among NCBers, just that some atheists seem to grab onto SOMETHING that has all the characteristics of religion (like NCB) and run with it. It’s why I stay away from atheist groups, frankly. Too much zeal for me.

    • Zornorph

      Yes, I agree. They seem to gravitate toward pagan worship and the ‘old ways’. Being one with nature and all that. IMG is their high priestess. They even do human sacrifice by letting babies die who would otherwise live.

    • Something From Nothing

      This is the hammer, hitting the nail clean on the head. I’ve always compared NCB to religion.

  • Guesteleh

    There’s been a discussion of consent, and I think that it’s important to point out that it doesn’t matter if the women give consent or not–anytime a healthcare provider engages in sexual behavior with a patient, it’s abusive. Sexual relations in the context of a relationship with such a huge power differential is always abusive. It’s the reason why professors are forbidden from having sex with grad students even though they are all adults–the professor holds so much power over the students that its inherently coercive.

  • KumquatWriter

    As a survivor of a cult, I’ve been saying this all along. Irony? I read Spiritual Midwifery because my cult leader/partner wanted me to be a midwife.

    • Dr Kitty

      I just wanted to say that I’ve read your blog, and really enjoy your writing.
      I think that your life experiences, while harrowing, have given you a unique perspective, which I have a lot of time for.

      In this case, your point is very well made.

      • Charlotte

        Could I have the link to the blog? Cults have always frightened and fascinated me, and I’m always interested in reading the stories of survivors.

        • KumquatWriter
          • KumquatWriter

            Oh, the cult stuff is under the category “The Crazy Train”

          • Jocelyn

            I just read it all today after Dr. Kitty posted that first comment – really fascinating story. I’m sorry you went through all of that, but I’m glad you’re in a good place now.

          • staceyineugene

            She is AWESOME now, btw. Even more wonderful in person 🙂 I am proud to call her a dear friend.

          • KumquatWriter

            *blush*

  • BeatlesFan

    Who else here is willing to bet that at least SOME of the NCB nutters who think a midwife stimulating a clitoris or groping breasts uninvited is okay are the same ones who bitch and moan about breasts being overly sexualized when it comes to breastfeeding in public?

    • LibrarianSarah

      Or refer to a cervical check as “birth rape.”

    • InfertileChick

      I thought the exact same thing after reading Dr. A’s post yesterday! SO ON POINT!

    • Chelsea Frost

      Agreed 100%.

  • Jocelyn

    Wow, those characteristics of a cult really do describe the natural childbirth community.

    My sister is currently pregnant and attending a “hypnobirthing” class. I asked her if she was planning on attending the hospital prenatal class as well, to which she said no, she was not. I was explaining to her how helpful I had found the class and that it was really good at explaining all the different equipment that they use during labor and what the different procedures were, and she was nodding but I could tell she had no intention of checking it out, because she didn’t want to know about the different “interventions.” Having a hunch that her reluctance was stemming from her hypnobirthing class, I told her that she should be careful of any class or instructor that encourages her to be deliberately ignorant. To which she replied that she wasn’t ignoring information, she was just avoiding anything that could be “negative.” I tried explaining that the information about hospitals isn’t negative, it isn’t scary, it’s just neutral and helpful, but I could tell my words were just rolling off her because she was blocking out the “negativity” of thinking about hospitals. Ah! It’s so frustrating. (I want to add: she is giving birth in a hospital, no worries there. But I think she’s going to go into it with a doctors-are-against-you mindset because of her class.)

    • slandy09

      I borrowed Hypnobabies from my SIL and attended a birthing class at my clinic. It was just a general birthing class–offered relaxation tips, watched birth videos (natural, epidural, and c-section), learned about interventions. There was no “drugs are bad!” or “get the epidural when you walk in the door”. It was more, “Here’s information, do with it what you will.” I am so glad I went, even though the Hypnobabies book said not to, because I did end up needing intervention and that made things much easier.

      Basically, I think everyone should have a class like I had. Informative, non-judgmental, no fear-mongering.

      • Jocelyn

        Yes, I agree completely. The class I attended was just like you described – “Here’s information, do with it what you will.” No pressure in either direction, just information.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          Wish my class had been like that. It was the Hospital birthing class but the RN who taught it was “very” judgmental(this was 1994). “You must breastfeed! ” “Disposable diapers are evil.”(yeah lady? well you can come take all my laundry to the laundromat or buy me a diaper service) “The breathing exercises will probably remove any need for an epidural” (yeah, NO).

          I would have appreciated an explanation of what some interventions are used for/how they work. What a C-section is like in case any of us might end up needing one.

          About the only useful thing she told me was don’t eat too much once you are sure you are in labor. I followed that advice, but I barfed turning transition anyway.

          Oh, well I’m an ornery person so I just ignored the judgey stuff and got my epidural, used the diapers I wanted and decided to bottle feed. Somehow the Spawn survived. Funny story she babysat a baby and 4 yr old today, came home and said “I am never having kids! I’m exhausted!”

    • Emily

      That is frustrating. And it’s a shame, because I found those classes so helpful, in addition to my Bradley class. Knowing what your hospital is like, what services they offer you, etc. removes a lot of ‘fear of the unknown.’ Nothing at the hospital was negative. It was just…there. And it helps to meet the staff and see how nice they are.

  • Captain Obvious
    • Anj Fabian

      The problem with all of those alternative methods is that they are better than flipping a coin or rolling dice – but not as good as a cervical check.

      So an external assessment could be accurate, or it could be completely off. If you weren’t planning on doing anything either way, then yay you can keep doing whatever. If you were charting a partogram, then your partogram data is garbage.

  • HolyWowBatman

    This is just about as wrong as sexual abuse gets. For whatever reasons, women and some of their men are turning to what they perceive to be the “gentler” and more “natural” ways of birthing and parenting (fairly noble goals, really) and are then waylaid by a predator and her system. This is an insult to the humanity in parents, healthcare providers and communities. I have found that since reading yesterday’s post that I have been deeply troubled. As a survivor of some pretty horrific sexual abuse myself, I wish, on behalf of all of these women, that Ina May could just be removed from the equation.

    My hope is that some mom/dad somewhere will find the cajones to speak up. No one deserves to be objectified or violated in this manner.

    • Lizzie Dee

      I find it very wrong and troubling too.

      People do all sorts of strange things in search of sexual satisfaction, and I can live with that. But this seems so opportunistic, out of place and abusive. I imagine that most normal women, and health care professionals even more so, would find this kind of overtly sexual touching to be a problem even if it was proved to be of some benefit to some women, but this seems to be Ina Mae doing what she has decided on,and gains power from and controlling in a way that is blatantly abusive. To me the worst kind of sexual abuse is the kind that makes the victim feel complicit. How confused and messed up are some of these women going to feel?

  • Jenny Splitter

    Ha! I don’t mean those quotes. I thought someone said they were from earlier editions of her books. Maybe no one is reading her books in their entirety. I personally couldn’t get through the whole thing!

  • Expat in Germany

    I don’t find it surprising that she has a big following. Say, you are poor and don’t have indoor plumbing and you would feel embarrassed about it unless you call yourself a hippie and take on the cultural trappings thereof. Telling yourself that something that is scary and embarrassing is wonderful and beautiful is a very effective coping strategy for a difficult situation.
    Freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose..
    Ina May did this with the terrifying series of childbirths which she was forced to attend on a caravan from cali to kentucky. I know that they were not forced to run away from society and into the woods, but when you are young and idealistic and don’t know any better… let’s just say, I know some former cult members. The crazy thing is that once they were no longer running and young and stupid and had access to hospitals, she continued to trust in dumb luck when there was no need to. Conscious delusion is a good coping strategy in a bad situation, but it is important to keep objective reality somewhere accessible.
    She wasn’t crazy to holf on to the power that midwifery gave her over the women. Immoral, yes. Power is addictive.
    Smart people join cults all of the time. Feeling like a member of a community is one of the strongest human needs

    • Expat in Germany

      I don’t think that all of the people who read her books are completely cult like in their mentality. For some, I bet it is just a nostalgia and (oversized) respect for the was things were back when mom was young.

      • T.

        and a good ose of historical myopia. I agree.

      • Lizzie Dee

        Presumably the people who need a cult are going to be quite happy and accepting while under its influence and not question anything the Leader says. But I would agree that most Ina Mae fans are actually searching for a safer, nicer birth not a leader. What do they make of this? Do her academic and influential admirers think this is OK?

  • Victoria

    These last two posts have been really distressing to read. My own past of sexual abuse was from a female in a position of power and for those wondering if anyone has ever reported Ina May there is every reason to believe that the first person they told was someone who told them to not discuss it, not worry about it, not think about that part. Or shamed them for even considering it assault.

    I find looking at the face of IMG really difficult now. I have never met her but I find her words have been more than enough to make me employ many coping mechanisms I have for dealing with my past. It never goes away, you just find ways to deal with it.

    I hope that if there is someone out there who has felt violated by their treatment at the hands of IMG (and that is both the woman she grabbed and the man – or woman – whose sexual relationship with his/her partner she co-opted) then I hope that they know they are not wrong. They are not alone in thinking, in knowing this is wrong and that they find healthy ways to help themselves. And yes, NCB zealots, I would have the same message and hope for the patient of an OB who behaved in this way.

    • Karen in SC

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope your message reaches those that need it.

      • Victoria

        Thank you Karen, I hope they find someone they can trust. I cannot imagine that there are not women out there who have not felt violated by these practises whether IMG was their midwife or someone who believes that she is right and practises this way. It is absolutely disturbing.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      These last two posts have been really distressing to read. My own past
      of sexual abuse was from a female in a position of power and for those
      wondering if anyone has ever reported Ina May there is every reason to
      believe that the first person they told was someone who told them to not
      discuss it, not worry about it, not think about that part. Or shamed
      them for even considering it assault.

      Thank you for saying this.

      Ever since reading that post yesterday, I have viewed IMG completely as an abuser, and interpreted everything in that light.

      • Victoria

        Yes, I will never look at her the same way or hear about her the same way. Thank you for understanding my words.

    • moto_librarian

      I am so very sorry that you were a victim of abuse. Thank you for sharing. I hope that those who have been victimized by IMG will find the strength to come forward.

      I always thought she was an idiot, but until now, I didn’t realize that she was a predator. Chilling.

      • Lizzie Dee

        It is predatory, isn’t it? The cliche that rape isn’t about sex but about power seems to fit here.

        I have fairly often wondered whether there is some kind of sexual kink in some birth junkies but thought I was perhaps reading in something not there. Now I am not so sure. Even the oft repeated desire to “serve” women hs turned me off sometimes. And is there anything worse than the kind of abuse that claims it is for your benefit? Horrible.

      • Victoria

        Thank you moto – I feel like I am more of a survivor than a victim now. It is certainly not something I talked about much before I attempted a natural delivery with my first. That attempt resulted in the worst flashbacks I have ever had in my life. I feel like now I need to talk about it more so that other women can hopefully avoid the same. It bothers me a great deal that someone might have to actually ask the midwife they are interviewing if they practise like IMG. I said that I would have the same message and hope for the patient of an OB but there would be more – that OB would be held accountable and hopefully punished for that kind of absolutely predatorial behaviour. Who will hold IMG accountable?

  • GiddyUpGo123

    I don’t understand this need that some people have to sexualize the birth process. It’s bizarre. So, that’s the part of your body that you use for sex, so that must mean that anything and everything that involves that part of your body must be sexual? I don’t know, I use my mouth for talking and also for eating, and I really don’t think the two activities have anything to do with one another. In fact most people think it’s inappropriate to try to talk while your mouth is full of food, and personally I think it’s pretty damned inappropriate to try to have an orgasm while your vagina is full of a baby. But that’s just me.

    • Claire

      Is it perhaps that sex is pleasurable and it’s the mentality of oh childbirth causes pain but if I do these things that are pleasurable we can trick the mind?

      • Anj Fabian

        ..between two consenting adults..

        Nothing about those passages talks about obtaining informed consent before grabbing, squeezing and manipulating the woman’s body in a way that is in no way medically necessary. Talk about unnecessary interventions!

        • Claire

          Good point, that’s right she had to coax the husband into touching his wife to get over the “fear”. My brain bleach was a little strong and I had to reread it.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I really think it is the inability to separate the other bodily functions from sex.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The biggest problem with sexualizing childbirth is the tremendous potential for abuse. It makes for a terrific excuse if you are caught fondling a patient.

      Imagine a gynecologist (male or female) faced with a charge of inappropriate touching during a pelvic exam, claiming that massaging the clitoris makes women relax so that speculum exams are more pleasant.

      Imagine a mammography tech kneeding a woman’s breasts before an mammogram to “relax her” or after to “reduce discomfort.”

      Imagine a gynecologist suggesting that a husband accompany his wife to her pelvic exam and squeeze her breasts to “relax her” while the gynecologist inserts two fingers in the vagina for a bimanual exam (and demonstrating to the husband before hand just how to grab the wife’s breasts and not feel embarrassed in front of the gynecologist).

      I consider the patient provider bond to be a sacred trust. The provider implicitly promises to care for the patient at her most vulnerable without taking advantage of her for the provider’s benefit.

      Sexualizing any aspect of patient care, or justifying the provider’s desire to fondle the breasts or genitals of the patient by convincing her that birth, or gynecological exams or mammograms are sexual is a violation of that sacred trust.

      • Laura

        Stimulating a woman’s clitoris does NOT relax her – it stimulates her sexually! How deceptive to even imply that it’s relaxing in any way. It’s extremely uncomfortable and distracting at a time when a woman needs genuine comfort, care, and medical support. I really have felt nauseated all day long yesterday just thinking about this pervert. Yuck….

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I agree, Laura. I can’t fathom the idea of sexual stimulation being “relaxing.” At least that is not what I find to be the case with my wife. Far from relaxing, I would call it “intense” especially at orgasm.

          Pleasurable? Absolutely. But sexual pleasure is NOT the same as a relaxing massage, which is also pleasurable. World’s apart.

      • Lizzie Dee

        In exactly the same way that child abuse or incest is violating a sacred trust.

        And to write about it and claim innocence!