Say no to natural childbirth and take control of your birth


One of the central conceits of natural childbirth advocacy is that it involves taking control of your birth. The reality is precisely the opposite; natural childbirth involves ceding total control to others who have devised an arbitrary standard to which you must adhere.

Claiming that natural childbirth gives women control over their own bodies is like claiming that being a runway model gives women control over their own bodies. If you want to be a high fashion model, you must maintain a certain weight, be of a certain height, and have facial features that meet someone else’s definition of attractive. Similarly, being a natural childbirth advocates requires that you make every feature of your baby’s birth conform to a pre-approved script, regardless of whether that is right for you or your baby.


  • Want to determine your use of pain relief based on your preferences?Impossible. Your preferences, your experience and your needs are irrelevant. You must avoid pain relief of any kind because natural childbirth is about pleasing the arbiters of birth, not about pleasing yourself.
  • Want to control the way that you give birth by choosing a C-section?Impossible. There is one and only one approved mode of giving birth and that is unmedicated vaginal delivery.
  • Want to give birth on a day that’s convenient for you?Impossible. Induction is forbidden, especially for social reasons.
  • Want to reduce the risks of birth to your baby?Too bad. The particulars of your baby’s circumstances are irrelevant. Breech? Only a vaginal birth counts. Postdates? Only a vaginal birth counts. Twins? Only a vaginal birth counts.
  • Want to take joy and pride in your baby’s birth regardless of how it took place?You’re out of luck. How YOU feel about the birth is meaningless. All that matters is how the arbiters of natural childbirth feel about the birth.

It’s no wonder then that natural childbirth sets women up for disappointment with perfectly wonderful births, in the exact same way as trying to look like a high fashion model sets women up for disappointment in their bodies.

So the question pregnant women need to ask themselves is this: Do you want to be free to control your own birth, tailoring it to your needs and desires and your baby’s safety? Or do you want to cede control over your birth to others who don’t have your interests at heart and plan to hold you to an arbitrary standard that fulfills their needs and ignores yours?

149 Responses to “Say no to natural childbirth and take control of your birth”

  1. jj
    January 2, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    Stop. Lying.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      January 2, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

      Is that supposed to be a compelling comment?

  2. Emlemur
    June 12, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    OK. I get what she’s saying. When I saw the title I was very confused because I thought having a natural childbirth (which usually means low-intervention, unmedicated) was one way to take control of your birth. (of course ‘natural’ is shorthand. A c-section can be just as ‘natural’).

    My cousin had a planned c-section. My friend got her epidural as early as possible. My other friend had a drug free birth. What they all had in common were 1) healthy babies and 2) satisfaction with the process.

    If you expect your epidural to take away all your pain, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you expect that your drug-free childbirth will go perfectly, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I am sure there are ways you can be disappointed about your c-section too.

    I think it’s best to prepare with your provider for the kind of birth you want. And then be flexible. There’s a Mexican saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him all about your plans.” I think it applies especially well to childbirth.

    • jj
      January 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

      C sec is not natural. Lol. Come off it. Yeah, it’s painful to think of how sick the ob industrial complex is. But it’s wake up time for our babies’ sakes.

  3. Not convinced
    June 10, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    My main issue with this blog is the fact that she is as ANTI-choice as the people expousing natural childbirth as the only choice. The main issue that most reasonable people have with how we currently conduct childbirth is that often times the side effects of procedures such as induction (for ‘convenience’), elective c-section, or even epidurals are not even discussed as a part of the choice. It is not merely a ‘do I want to feel pain’ or not, but a question of trade-offs that Dr Amy does not adequately address because of her vehemnant anti-natural childbirth stance. I find this blog about as appealing as the ‘all natural – all the time’ sanctimommy advocates–only less excusable. Reminicent of James Young Simpson’s reaction to Ignaz Semmelweis’s childbirth fever theory–how dare ANYONE question her authority.

    • longtime lurker
      June 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      This blog does discuss the side effects of procedures such as induction, elective c-section, and epidurals. Search the archives. What you’ll find is a discussion of what the risks and side-effects really are, based on a careful and objective examination of the scientific evidence. There are, of course, risks associated with any medical procedure–the blog has never denied that. However, I’m willing to bet that your beliefs about the “dangers” of those procedures are greatly exaggerated and based on misunderstanding and distortion of the evidence–or no empirical evidence whatsoever. Let me guess: the “trade off” for effective pain relief is a having fat, stupid, sociopath child, right? Please, “educate” us all about the way epidurals and c-sections will lead to obesity, lowered IQ, and a complete inability to bond. You definitely be the FIRST troll to have parachuted in to do so and it definitely WON’T be something that’s been discussed ad nauseum in blog posts and their comment threads.

      Oh, and I almost missed the little dig about induction for “convenience.” Ah yes, that old canard about those eeevil doctors’ and their golf games, right? LOL

      • Not convinced
        June 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

        1) There wasn’t a dig in the induction from convenience! See Dr Amy’s blog above: ‘Want to give birth on a day that’s convenient for you?Impossible. Induction is forbidden, especially for social reasons.’
        Why are you assuming that the epidural, c-section, etc. side effects have to do with the baby’s future? As with any medications, there are harmful side effects that should be discussed and considered (think of all of the advertisments on TV for anti-depressants…a discussion of the negative side effects allows people to weigh the severity of their need with the benefit incurred.
        For your information, I am not a troll–I am someone who is going to give birth in the next four weeks and have not completely made up my mind in regards to what steps I am going to use for pain management. I am giving birth in a HOSPITAL & I really trust my OBGYN! We switched OBGYNs on the recommendation of a friend & we were shocked at how much more information our new OBGYN has given us as to the trade-offs (positive and negative) of each step AND how much she has encouraged us to explore our options.
        I stumbled on this blog as a link from a blog that MY DR recommended , and I find this one to be as much of a turn off (ESPECIALLY commenters like you) as the ‘all homebirth all of the time’ blogs. This blog is just as much about being a sanctimommy and feeling good yourself as the granola blogs are–and neither one has very much appeal to the moderate reader. In my opinion, you should do research, decide with your partner and Dr what works best for you and your situation, and be open throughout the process. I am honestly surprised that anyone would argue with that.

        • Karen in SC
          June 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

          “In my opinion, you should do research, decide with your partner and Dr
          what works best for you and your situation, and be open throughout the
          process. I am honestly surprised that anyone would argue with that.”

          We don’t argue with that! This is one of the main tenets of this blog. Occasionally Dr. Amy writes a post heavily slanted on sarcasm, and other times, she satirizes the NCB movement. It’s just a “variation of normal” for the SOB. (haha, see what I did there)

          If you searched the archives you would find many examples of evidenced based posts. And many more examples of mothers who have done just as you recommend.

        • LukesCook
          June 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

          I am honestly surprised that you think we all live to turn you on.

          Dr Amy is not trying to sell you anything. She has no personal interest in how the birth of your baby turns out. She is giving you the benefit of her expertise and experience in counter to the massive marketing machine that is the natural birthing movement. It is you and your baby and your family who stand to benefit from taking on board her arguments or to suffer if you don’t, and nobody else.

        • theadequatemother
          June 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

          which blog did your doc recommend?

        • Susan
          June 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

          I don’t agree with you about how you see this blog but I do think it’s great that you found a doctor who takes the time to explain the risks and benefits of the decisions you have to make. I for one had all three of my children, now adults and a teen, without meds, if I had another I would likely to that again. In fact I breastfed them all till they weaned themselves. I probably would not let another small baby sleep in my bed but that’s because I think it’s not as safe as I once believed. I guess what has changed, and this isn’t JUST because I am a 20+ years L and D nurse but it’s the discussion here, is if I did have an epidural or did need to formula feed I wouldn’t be consumed with guilt or feel like failure. Believe me if I had not been one of the lucky successful ones I would have likely needed therapy. I was that enmeshed in the belief system. I no longer feel “sorry” for women who have to have C/S, or decide they want pain relief, or perhaps even decide they don’t want to use their breasts for feeding a baby. I did feel that way, and even when I was a nurse who hadn’t really explored how we THINK about these issues I still had remnants of feeling that women who need or want modern advances are missing out on something. So that’s to me the best thing about the blog– Dr. Amy ( and the other posters ) act as cult deprogrammers for those of us who were thoroughly caught up in this belief system. I don’t think there is uniformity of thought or parenting choices on this site.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

            Thanks, Susan. I just take issue with anyone that is convinced that their way is the ONLY way–especially when sarcasm or anger is used to communicate the message. Your response is very helpful, but some of the other comments above are just sarcastic and angry. If there are pro-con pages on this blog, I would love to be given a link to these pages so that I can find out more. Instead, it seems like people are responding with anger or sarcasm rather than a desire to edify–which prob. means that this is not the place for me! Thank you (and others) for your well measured reply!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

            Thanks, Susan. I just take issue with anyone that is convinced that their way is the ONLY way-

            Of course. And who does that?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 11, 2013 at 9:16 am #

            Sigh, no answer to my question. OK, I know it seemed snarky, but I was serious. Who ever is “convinced that their way is the ONLY way”?

            For that matter, what does that even mean? “ONLY way” to do what? Obviously, no one thinks that the modern medical approach is the only way to have a baby, since there are many other ways possible. However, to have a baby as safely as possible, some version of the modern developed approaches, which includes extensive management by (real) professionals, is the only way you will get that. Not by “trusting birth,” nor by relying on the services of ignorant hobbyists with no commitment to responsibility.

            But hey, no one says that you can’t “trust birth” or use the services of CPMs. Of course you can. However, it’s a lot more dangerous, and that is a fact, so if you do it, you are exposing yourself and your child to serious risk, and Dr Amy will make no bones about telling you that.

            As for NCB in a hospital vs not, who cares? As long as it doesn’t involve exposing your child or yourself to risks, then no one here cares at all. Absolutely, there are many ways that childbirth can happen safely, and the message you will get here is that none are inherently better than others. Sounds reasonable, right? Yeah, you would think, but it’s amazing how some people object to the position that having a non-medicated, vaginal childbirth does NOT make you a better person (or more awesome, as someone I won’t mention has recently described it) than those who opt for pain medication, get induced, or even go so far as have a c-section to prevent problems.

        • Eddie
          June 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

          This blog is just as much about being a sanctimommy and feeling good yourself as the granola blogs are

          You have to read more than a couple blog posts here to really understand the aims and goals. The tone can indeed to offputting to many. This blog isn’t for everyone. But your read of the tone as just as much about being a sanctimommy tells me you haven’t read enough of the posts and comments to really understand what motivates people who regularly read/comment here.

          In my opinion, you should do research, decide with your partner and Dr what works best for you and your situation, and be open throughout the process. I am honestly surprised that anyone would argue with that.

          I haven’t seen anything posted here that indicates disagreement with that. The idea is — make decisions based on scientific evidence, not based on social pressure or anti-scientific information or bad, politically-motivated medical research.

          Part of the response you got comes from the fact that NCB advocates regularly parachute in here to disagree. With your comment, you hit some of the buzzwords that appear in those posts, and thus triggered a similar response. Not your fault. Just trying to explain. For example:

          It is not merely a ‘do I want to feel pain’ or not, but a question of trade-offs that Dr Amy does not adequately address because of her vehemnant anti-natural childbirth stance.

          Having participated here for months, I have never seen Dr Amy post anything that says she is against natural childbirth, assuming you mean unmedicated normal birth in a hospital when no intervention is medically indicated. For example, I’ve never seen anyone here, not Dr Amy and not any commenter, suggest that all childbirths should use an epidural.

          I believe everyone here agrees with you that when discussing a procedure, a doctor should explain the pros and cons, including the risks.

        • moto_librarian
          June 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

          Since you haven’t given birth yet, the best piece of advice anyone can give you is to have an open mind. The problem with NCB rhetoric is that it tells you that you shouldn’t ever use pain medication, and that any intervention puts you on the path to an unnecessary c-section. In reality, a little bit of pitocin or AROM to get stalled labor going will likely INCREASE your chances of having a vaginal birth when your body is uncooperative.

          If you opt to have an epidural, you will be fully informed of the risks and benefits. The anesthesiologist went over them with me carefully. Allow me to tell you that if epidural anesthesia were not available, I would have done everything possible to avoid getting pregnant ever again. I say this as someone who stayed at home as long as possible, took natural birthing classes, etc. so I could have an unmedicated vaginal birth with my first child. Fortunately, I had not become so brainwashed that I even considered homebirth, and that is why I am alive today despite suffering a cervical laceration and massive pph.

          I certainly hope that you have a good birth, and that your pain is tolerable. If it is, though, remember that it is luck, not preparation, that leads to it.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

            No offense–but the last line of your post demonstrates that you are just a horrible person. Please see my post below–I am not sure what options I am going to use at this point in time BECAUSE I am in the process of researching my options as we speak (How I ended up on this blog to begin with). I am not even considering a home birth, so your assumption that ‘it is just luck’ if I have a decent birth experience is exactly why I am done with this forum. People completely erase the well reasoned and helpful imput of educated and rational people like Susan and Eddie. Please send me links to the studies that you cite in your first paragraph–if you are interested in being helpful in the slightest…

          • Wren
            June 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

            But it is luck.

            My first was a c-section for a footling breech position. It was just luck my son had turned at term from head down to breech. No anatomical reason was ever found.

            My second was an unmedicated VBAC. I got lucky that the labour wasn’t too bad, she was in a good position and she had a nice little head. I got very lucky that the cord wrapped around her neck 3 times caused no problems. Nothing I did or learned caused those things to happen.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            June 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

            How does telling you that if your pain is tolerable, it is luck, not preparation, that leads to it the sign of a horrible person? She simply told you the truth. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

          • Ainsley Nicholson
            June 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

            Not convinced, I think you may have misinterpreted moto_librarian’s last sentance. It is not “just luck” that determines if you have a decent birth experience- the options you select will certainly effect both the experience and the outcome, and it is clear that you are doing due diligence to select the best options. However, whether or not your pain is tolerable is dependant on many things that are partially or completely out of your control- which direction the baby is facing, how big the baby is, how your pelvis is shaped, how your body reacts to pain, how quickly or slowly your labor proceeds, how dilated you are when you get the urge to push, and so on.
            I’ve been lucky and the pain was tolerable for both my deliveries, even the one that was induced, so I didn’t need an epidural for either. I did my due diligence and made the best choices I could, but it helped immensely that my babies were little and my labors were short.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

            Thank you Ainsley–that makes more sense. Dr Amy, please see above. Telling someone that they shouldn’t even bother to explore their options because it is just luck sounds pretty ignorant to me. It seems like understanding the PROCESS of childbirth and why things hurt when they hurt would increase the chances of the pain being tolerable, right?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            June 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

            No one told you not to explore your options. Explore all you want. What I’m telling you is that it has no impact on your labor. Most women find the pain of labor is excruciating. If it’s not excruciating for you that’s only luck. You have as much control over labor as you have over a tornado.

          • Eddie
            June 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

            My wife would say that the pain was so excruciating that no amount of understanding what was going on or the process would make it bearable. That was her experience. She found the pain so unbearable in her previous deliveries that she was genuinely surprised, quite surprised, that an epidural was able to give effective relief.

          • Amazed
            June 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

            No offense, but if the first line of your post is something to go by – don’t try to do any research, You lack the brain cells.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

            wow-you got me there, Amazed. Sure took some powerful braincells to come up with that rebuttal! (FYI–I am an architect and have an IQ of 182… :-)) Have a nice day…

          • theNormalDistribution
            June 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

            Been taking IQ tests on the internet, have you?

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

            No–I was tested when I was 6 years old–long story. Thanks for asking, though!

          • theNormalDistribution
            June 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

            I was being facetious. In my experience, no one who actually has a high IQ feels the need to brag about it. This board is filled with engineers, and physicists, doctors and scientists; I doubt anyone is impressed. You should change your name to “Not convincing”.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

            Most people will respond if provoked. I was provoked…there you go…If I question your ability to think, I would expect a rebuttal–that was my rebuttal. Again, all of this is irrelevant to the conversation–just bullying techniques by a few that make the larger forum appear less reasoned.

          • theNormalDistribution
            June 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

            Let’s review: you said something stupid, someone called you stupid for it, and instead of re-reading the original post you were responding to to see where you went wrong, you responded by bragging about your greatly exaggerated intellect. I’m confused… Who is making the larger forum appear less reasoned?

          • Amazed
            June 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

            Hey, I am not an architect and I never felt the need to boast about my IQ to strangers on the internet. Usually, I can tell when someone is genuinely wishing me luck, though.

            Stop being childish, read a post or two with factual information (they do exist here, you know) and stop throwing tantrums. No one is trying to keep you uninformed.

            It’s evening here but thanks anyway.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

            Again, please send me links to factual information and I would be more than happy to read them. This is my third request for a link to statistical data.

          • Amazed
            June 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm #




            Pay attention to the third link, Not convinced. For someone yelling that Dr Amy insisted that her way was the only way it must be of interest.

            Did I sound childish? Damn it, I wanted to sound snarky. Mean. I’m sick with seeing people here – women who have had some pretty terrifying things happen to them in childbirth – wish a mother to be luck, most sincerely, and said mother to be looks down at them and scoffs that they are horrible people who want to take her CHOOOOICE away. Too often, it’s someone having their first child and convinced that their research would make the difference, so everyone who doesn’t think so is the enemy.

            You know what? I am a meanie sometimes. But I am not your enemy. I most sincerely wish you al lthe best, the way you want it. So do most people here.

          • Not convinced
            June 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

            Also–the only reason that it came up at all was in response to YOUR childish comment about not having enough brain cells to do some research. It was not an unprovoked comment on my part. Facts, please…

          • June 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

            I’m pretty sure moto_librarian was being sincere in her desire that you have a good birth. She wasn’t being snarky or sarcastic. She just wanted to remind you that if you did have a good birth -if you do have tolerable pain and don’t need an epidural or pitocin or any other medications or interventions and end up with healthy mom and healthy baby- that that outcome is pure luck. Everyone hopes things turn out well, but it’s luck whether the outcome is actually good or not.

          • Eddie
            June 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

            I seriously think you misunderstood what moto_librarian was saying. Some women report quick unmedicated deliveries without intolerable pain. Other women report their delivery having unbearable pain. Luck determines which of the above you’ll have in the absence of pain relief. I’m pretty sure that is what moto_librarian meant.

            But also, childbirth does have some inherently unpredictable elements to it. That’s why it is so important to do the very research and work that you’re doing right now. Luck enters there too. Preparation makes a big difference — if the unexpected occurs, you have put yourself in the best possible situation for responding to it.

            Due to the inherent unpredictability of childbirth, luck plays a role in the experience. This is in no way a criticism of you or the research you are doing.

            FWIW, my wife had several unmedicated-without-other-option childbirths in Eastern Europe, well before we met. The pain of childbirth was definitely NOT the kind of pain she forgot. Her pain was so strong she honestly didn’t believe it was possible to alleviate it. She *loved* the epidural she had in the United States, and was very pleasantly surprised what a difference it made.

            Every person needs to make their own decision about the risks and benefits of analgesia, with the understanding that they may change their mind once in the middle. 🙂 I once knew a woman who was an abuse survivor with admitted control issues who went through facial reconstructive surgery without general anesthesia because she could not bear the thought of being unconscious and therefore so out of control of her body in that situation. This was the right decision for her, even if very few would elect that choice for themselves.

          • moto_librarian
            June 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

            You completely misunderstood me, Not convinced. I really do hope that you hit the lottery and don’t have a lot of pain – I hope that for every woman giving birth. My point is that all too often, someone who has a great delivery believes that it is due to her preparation, when in reality, it is luck. I guess I should have specified that I viewed pain as separate from the birth experience itself, although pain certainly can make a birth experience awful. Nor was I stating that you were having a homebirth, merely that had I been fully indoctrinated, I wouldn’t have survived.

          • moto_librarian
            June 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

            But thanks for letting me know that I’m a horrible person. My 3 year old says the same thing when I won’t let him stay up past his bedtime.

    • Bombshellrisa
      June 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      “It is not merely a ‘do I want to feel pain’ or not, but a question of trade-offs that Dr Amy does not adequately address because of her vehemnant anti-natural childbirth stance” No, Dr Amy discussed why she gave birth naturally. She just doesn’t hold it up as an achievement or make giving birth with pain medication sound so risk laden that going without is a “safer” or “better” choice.

    • PJ
      June 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      “My main issue with this blog is the fact that she is as ANTI-choice as
      the people expousing natural childbirth as the only choice”

      I’m genuinely curious about how you arrived at this. I know Dr Amy routinely debunks NCB claims that are not based on evidence and challenges the assumption that enduring pain and giving birth vaginally are achievements, but that isn’t the same thing as denying women choice or being against natural childbirth per se.

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      I have read this and your later posts with interest. To be honest, if I were four weeks away from having my first child, I don’t think I would like this blog much either. But I do think your criticisms lack accuracy on the whole. You regard yourself as a moderate – and in general, that is not a bad stance to take. You would prefer a more emollient, reasonable stance – but as someone who is not even slightly moderate on this topic, my problem with that is Would it work? You believe that Dr. A’s more scathing comments stem from feeling that her “authority” is being challenged but that seems to me very unlikely; her ire is provoked, as mine often is, when FACTS are challenged – because the pretty, reasonable sounding version has more appeal. Poster after poster comes here to educate us with the NCB version, or their own personal, preferred version of how things ought to be, or was for them. Not all of them are as reasonable about it as you, but nothing much will convince them that Dr. A’s unpalatable facts are facts, not her personal opinions.

      You claim that she, and the rest of us sanctimommies, are anti-choice. In my particular case I am not at all against choice, in fact I am rather in favour of it – when choice is actually relevant and is based on hard, reliable information. I think the point that some of us want to make here that when it comes to childbirth, “choosing” natural is a little bit pointless if you will not acknowledge that whether you get one has little to do with choice.

      Again talking about informed choices – properly informed choices – is highly unlikely to be challenged here. That is what most argue for. Except, perhaps, me. I forget how many weeks I was when I was told that my child had little chance of surviving labour, so I would need a CS. I didn’t feel much need to argue or enquire further – because I had heard her heart falter, seen the decelerations caused by contractions I hardly felt. I didn’t regard a section as some major tragic fauilure, I was just very glad it was an option. The doctor did not go on to solemnly inform me of the downside of CS. I hope he assumed that I would know that surgery, especially under GA, had its risks. Would I have welcomed a long long list of the OTHER possible complications? Hardly. Because when things get complicated choice is a bit beside the point as far as I was concerned. Again, I was aware of some of them, but was astonished when I read the list NCB likes to push. I had some of the temporary ones – none of the terrifying long term consequences that NCB likes to imply are common if not inevitable.

      Clearly I am an oddity in feeling that informed consent and RELIABLE information on risk is a two edged sword – does it really aid choice in every circumstance?? Or just complicate it sometimes? Obviously in general terms it is essential

    • kira fox
      June 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      I agree. This post is basically saying don’t because of just a few situations. There will always be pros and cons to every procedure and there always be the extreme cases. even many. You need to remember there are 8 billion people in this world every scenario is possible. What you have to remember first and foremost is that you always have a decision and you should make it. You should realise the consequences and be responsible for all of them. For you it might go well and a Natural Birth for someone else might not.

      Bottom line. People need to realise that nothing is perfect and nothing is impossible.

      • PJ
        June 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

        “This post is basically saying don’t because of just a few situations.”

        Don’t do WHAT? And WHERE does it say this?

      • Eddie
        June 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

        Your generalizations are a bit too general. It’s true that nothing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you accept unnecessary risk. Life contains risk, but it’s wise to try to minimize risk, within certain parameters. (For example, people who enjoy skydiving are not absolutely minimizing risk, because for them, the joy of skydiving overrides the goal of absolutely minimizing risk. That’s fine, as long as there is informed consent.)

        Your comment that everything is possible given 8 billion people is so general as to be meaningless. There are a lot of things that are impossible. (Aside: We’re probably ten years away from hitting a world population of 8 billion.)

        I think we all agree that people should realize the consequences of their choices and take responsibility for them. Dr Amy’s post is not, in fact, saying “Don’t ever do home birth” or “Don’t ever do unmedicated natural birth.” What it says is, “Don’t buy into an ideology that limits your choices.” It says that pretty clearly. In fact, the closing paragraph (emphasis added):

        So the question pregnant women need to ask themselves is this: Do you want to be free to control your own birth, tailoring it to your needs and desires and your baby’s safety? Or do you want to cede control over your birth to others who don’t have your interests at heart and plan to hold you to an arbitrary standard that fulfills their needs and ignores yours?

  4. rh1985
    June 8, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    If I had my way, they’d knock me out and I’d wake up and be no longer pregnant and they’d hand me my cleaned-up baby.

    Yeah, I’m not much for the natural way….

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 8, 2013 at 4:48 am #

      Ahh, if I had my way…. Given that pushing a baby out painfully between your legs has always seemed like a macabre joke rather than a brilliant design, I have occasionally thought about alternatives

      The stork? a grown up version of Santa Claus – the excitement and anticipation would be really something. Laying an egg? I could get to feel very maternal cosseting that. (Though a programme I once saw about penguins and how they suffer, the rate of failure… Survival is a battle in Nature) I quite fancy an artificial glass womb where you can actually watch your baby grow, know for certain all is well. Zip fasteners for repeat, easy, CS? Definitely missed the appeal of natural that’s for sure.

      I do think babies are precious though. Before and after they are born.

      • rh1985
        June 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

        If babies grew in artificial wombs you could see into, I don’t think I’d ever be able to stop watching…..

        • Lizzie Dee
          June 9, 2013 at 8:24 am #

          Me neither. And if you spent months watching the miracle which is the intricate development of a new human being, you might get a bit nervous about how it got out of there. Don’t think a rational scientist would necessarily come up with an artificial vagina for it to be squeezed slowly through.

          • rh1985
            June 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

            I am almost imaging something that looks like a large fish tank with a lid that could be removed at the end of gestation, and just pull the baby out.

            I guess the NCB people would hate that, too much like a c-section!

      • WordSpinner
        June 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

        Have you ever read the Vorkosigan books by Bujold? Uterine replicators play major roles in some of the books. (One character ends up watching and re-watching the fertilization of his future children. It is cute and kind of creepy at the same time.)

        • Eddie
          June 9, 2013 at 12:12 am #

          What’s funny is that I thought of exactly the same series. Not the only scifi exploring an artificial womb but the idea was well explored in that series.

        • Elizabeth A
          June 9, 2013 at 1:44 am #

          I actually most love Ethan of Athos, Bujold’s awesome novel about an obstetrician from all-male planet.

          There are, however, a bunch of fun obstetrical bits in Bujold – one character kicking herself for NOT opting for a replicator birth, and a ton of women discussing their opinions on replicator technology, coming out firmly on the side of “no man who really loved you would expose you to that kind of risk.”

    • Squillo
      June 8, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      I didn’t mind being awake, but I could have done without the pain and damage (inflicted on both of us, in my son’s case) of birth.

      I remember thinking (around hour 3 or 4 of pushing): “You’ve got to be kidding. There must be a better way.” Of course there is a different way, but you trade one set of annoyances for another. In retrospect, I might have preferred those, but it wasn’t on offer.

  5. ratiomom
    June 7, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    The NUCB ideology has sunk in so deeply that I received condolences (!) after the safe birth of my healthy, stunningly beautiful 7 pound baby girl. I chose an elective cesarean for my breech baby. I didn`t want to put her at even the slightest risk of birth injury so vaginal breech birth was off the table. I was visited in hospital by a crunchy acquaintance who entered my room with the words “I`m so sorry”.
    Imagine the scene: me sitting up in bed beaming with my brand new daughter, celebrating my victory over years of infertility with a glass of champagne. You can`t poke sanity with a very long pole if you believe that condolences are appropriate in that situation.
    I should have seen it coming: she took it upon herself to explain to me how a breech homebirth would surely heal all that trauma from infertility. I shudder to think what may have happened if I`d taken that advice.

    • grenouille
      June 7, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      That is unbelievably awful. I hope you guys are no longer even acquaintances.

      One of my very close friends told me (lectured me, really) that my child’s dyspraxia was caused by me getting an epidural. And then very helpfully added that all the time I was spending with Early Intervention and PT/OT was causing my older child to become a behavior problem and to have merely average skills after years of being advanced. Even if all of it had been true, and it was most certainly not, she had no place to make such comments. We didn’t speak for a few years and the relationship has never been the same.

      Why do people feel the need to say such horrible things?

      So glad your struggle with infertility had such a happy ending.

      • Karen in SC
        June 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

        It’s difficult to know what *not* to say sometimes. Perhaps your friend sincerely believed that there was value in telling that to you. (but she shouldn’t have lectured).

        When I was a young mother with an (unmedicated VB) child with a severe speech delay, I observed my friend’s child that was a year younger and exhibiting similar problems with speech. I thought long and hard and finally had a discussion where I recommended screening. I didn’t lecture (I don’t think) and tried to be a gentle as possible. She was very hurt by my suggestion – but she did go for the screening and it turned out her son did need intervention. After that, she was a force of nature getting him all the therapy he needed and by age 5, he was ready for kindergarten.

        I knew only too well that observers like to “blame the mom.” She did confess her feelings to me after the fact and we continued to be good friends. Both our sons turned out to be honors students, Eagle Scouts, etc.

        • grenouille
          June 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

          I do think it’s difficult to know when to say something. I have been in the same situation with a friend’s child showing some delays. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you want the child to get help if it’s warranted. And blame the mom is the oldest game in town.

          But I think the situation with my friend and I was categorically different. The equivalent situation would be that your friend told you a speech therapist said her child needed intervention. And you responded with, “What did you expect? You had that epidural and they are linked to all kinds of issues.” Which is pretty much what happened in my case.

          Now that my child is older and doing so much better, it’s a little easier to laugh her comments off as self-righteous craziness. But it really stung back then.

  6. June 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Nothing made me feel more out of control in my life than the nearly unmedicated (Fentanyl and gas) unwanted vaginal delivery of my daughter – and nothing was more empowering than the elective planned cesarean that I chose and am thankful to have had facilitated for the delivery of my son…

    I don’t think NUCB is bad, just as I don’t think marathons are bad – for those who want to do them and for whom there is no reason not to – what I think is bad is the inability to accept the different choices of others.

    • CaliforniaDreaming
      June 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      And they REFUSE to accept others choices and opinions, no matter how polite, unthreatening, or respectful you are of their beliefs. Merely holding a different opinion (even if you don’t share it w them) is enough to get NCBers to dislike you.

      I have never seen anything like it.

      • Something From Nothing
        June 7, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        I have. It’s religion.

    • Ann
      June 7, 2013 at 1:22 am #

      The problem is not with the NUCB ideology as such. It’s that they keep trying to force their choices onto all of us. Look at what is happening in the UK. Having a certain percentage of unmedicated vaginal births has become a public health goal through an unholy alliance of the very vocal NCB minority and NHS management, who are always looking for ways to save money. This has created barriers to obtaining epidurals for women. We thought that the battle for the right to pain relief in labor had been won years ago. Now it seems like it has to be fought all over again.

    • theNormalDistribution
      June 7, 2013 at 3:34 am #

      Mrs. W, you are my hero. I love reading your comments.

    • OBPI Mama
      June 7, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      I also felt most OUT of control with my natural childbirth. Infact, we were taught to surrender to the pain and let it take over (not to fight it). And I also think NCB is not bad at all… it has perks, as do medicated births. The most beautiful births I’ve been to were medicated births (and my best, most beautiful birth was my 2nd c-section… yay to no spinal headache)! Anyway, I wish we could all be proud of each other for whatever means it took to get a baby into this world. No pity, no you could have done better, no inwardly or outwardly judging. They each have their plus sides and bummer sides and it’s hard work no matter which way you go!

  7. Charlotte
    June 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Slightly OT, but I’m annoyed that my daughter’s speech therapist told me this morning that her sensory processing disorder was likely caused by the fact that she was born via c-section. She has a developmental therapist friend who has “done some research” and recently told her that the squeezing during a vaginal birth calms the baby and babies who don’t get it will seek out sensory input throughout childhood to make up for that lack. I had to explain to her that SPD is a nerological disorder that originates in the brain, and that my daughter’s was more likely caused by being a very low birthweight IUGR preemie baby more than than her lack of experiencing the pressure of birth. I also pointed out that any correlation between c-sections and SPD, if it exists at all, could be better explained by the medical conditions that necessitated the c-section in the first place.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      b) Why does it matter?

      Even if it WAS caused by the c-section, how does that affect anything now? Does that change the approach to speech therapy?

      • AmyM
        June 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

        No, but (general) understanding that Csections are often correlated with neurological disorders for the reasons that Charlotte mentioned is important, so women won’t refuse or delay C sections on the erroneous grounds that the babies might have some disorder for lack of squeezing. Of course, if women do refuse Csections for those reasons, there could be an increase in such disorders in vaginally born children. And though less likely, if that kind of woo gets into a hospital trying to reduce Csection rates, they may cite those (silly) reasons as grounds to avoid Csections, and someone ends up like poor JenniferG.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          June 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

          But that doesn’t help Charlotte, unless she is planning to have more, nor (especially) her daughter who is receiving speech therapy.

          • AmyM
            June 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

            Of course it doesn’t. I didn’t say it did.

      • Charlotte
        June 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

        She said she had started asking all her clients whether their children were born via c-section after hearing her friend claim it’s relevant. What brought it up today was her asking whether my second child (healthy and full term) was born via c-section. When I answered that she was, she said I should watch for delays because her birth put her at higher risk of having SPD and delays like her sister. It took all I had not to facepalm.

        • theadequatemother
          June 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

          Is she an independent practitioner or can you complain? I would complain if possible.

          • WhatPaleBlueDot
            June 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

            Even if she’s independent, she is most likely licensed and a member of a professional organization. Report her.

        • Box of Salt
          June 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

          “she had started asking all her clients”

          If she wants to do research, she should write a grant proposal, find some collaborators, and get IRB approval for work with human subjects. Otherwise she should keep her mouth shut.

          • Charlotte
            June 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

            Her friend was the one who had “done the research” and she had started asking clients about their births after a single conversation she had with the friend about it. It’s really a testament to how quickly the woo spreads and how susceptible people can be to it. At first glance, I can see how something like that can appear plausible to the average person.

          • Box of Salt
            June 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

            Charlotte, why do I have the feeling that what I calling research and what your therapist’s friend called “research” are two different things?

          • Box of Salt
            June 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

            ooops ^ what I AM calling research

          • Charlotte
            June 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

            Oh you know it is. Which is kind of concerning, because to become a developmental therapist you need a Master’s degree and a license. It bothers me greatly that people can have so much education yet still think googling and reading message boards is worth a single dang thing.

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 7, 2013 at 12:21 am #

            I worry about that too because SLPs do have to have professional judgement. They do the swallow evals on people who have had strokes, they evaluate people in the nursing homes to see if there is an aspiration risk. Lord help us if they start using “other ways of knowing” things and implement those into their practices.

        • Amazed
          June 7, 2013 at 8:55 am #

          Material for her research: my gooddaughter was born via c-section, as was her sister. A few days ago, gooddaughter did brilliantly at her exams. At three, her sister was able to put up a convincing argument why she should not be put to bed ‘so soon, Mommy!”.

          Of course, the first was an emergency c-section after a failed labour. The second was a planned c-section almost at term. Both were average birth weight. Maybe that made the miracle, who knows.

          Or maybe not quite. They both suffer from selective deafness. They wouldn’t hear “Put your room in order!” if it was shouted in their ear but when I whispered, “You want ice cream?”, they heard from the far end of the room. Weird.

    • Bombshellrisa
      June 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      The famous “squeezing”-there are people I know that claim it clears out the baby’s ears so that they won’t get ear infections later on.

    • Karen in SC
      June 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Ha, I’m sure plenty of VB kids have sensory disorders, need speech therapy, etc. My son was one of them!

    • OttawaAlison
      June 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      I’d change speech therapists. My daughter was a full tERM + c/s baby and is dyslexic. I’m 100% certain that it was not caused by the csection.

    • VeritasLiberat
      June 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      What an idiot. C-sections don’t cause SPD, vaccinations do. >. Or maybe disposable diapers.

      • fiftyfifty1
        June 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

        Ugh, this business with cloth diapers has gotten insane! I saw a baby last week with such a severe diaper rash that she was bleeding. Mom told me the baby would, just out of the blue, cry out in pain. They figured out that that was in response to urinating onto the raw skin. But when I suggested switching for a week to disposables and prescribed an ointment, mom got upset and refused to change to disposables because of “the toxins”. And she asked if there was any way to get the ointment custom compounded because they didn’t want to use a petroleum base.

        • California Dreaming
          June 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

          OMG, you have GOT to be kidding.
          But of course you are not.

        • Charlotte
          June 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

          It amazes me how much pain and suffering parents are willing to put their baby through to do what’s supposed to be best for them.

        • Rochester mama
          June 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

          I use cloth because I’m cheap. Cream will ruin cloth diaper absorbency, but there are liners you can put in to keep the cream off the diaper when you need to use a cream. There are also disposable/cloth combos where you have a cloth cover that can either take a cloth pad or a disposable one. Unfortunately the cloth diaper stores are full of woo but they do have solutions for this. Seventh Generation also makes super expensive organic disposable diapers.
          I paid $300 for new pocket diapers, I do an extra 2 loads of laundry a week. Way cheaper than 10 cents a diaper on average.

          • Eddie
            June 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

            it’s not that cloth diapers are *necessarily* wooey, A number of people have pointed out that there are situations and people for whom they make sense. it’s that some people are so afraid of even temporarily using disposables that their children suffer unnecessary rashes and pain.

            Aside: When you said, “Cream will ruin cloth diaper absorbency,” my first though was, “How are you spilling cream on the diaper? Won’t it wash out?” Then I realized you mean ointments and creams, not cream as in milk. 🙂 Only took a few moments to figure it out, then I laughed at myself for the misunderstanding.

        • Bombshellrisa
          June 7, 2013 at 12:17 am #

          I made a beautiful diaper cake centerpiece for a baby shower. It had fresh flowers on the top and the fabric and ribbons were her nursery colors. I wasn’t able to go to the actual shower. And guess what the mom said? “What is that? Somebody better tell her I won’t be using any of those diapers, they are disposable!” Nice. I shouldn’t have expected a thank you from someone who was home birthing and being COMPLETELY sanctimonious about it. The mom to be then started “educating” everyone about toxins in disposables, carbon footprints and the whole “chemtrail conspiracy” in the PNW and how it leads to mental and physical disorders.

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 12:22 am #

            I didn’t know that people still talked about chemtrails. A decade ago (before I had a family) I used to listen to Coast to Coast AM … basically “paranoid radio” on after midnight. Usually entertaining nuttiness, sometimes it made me angry though. That’s where I first and last heard anyone mention chemtrails.

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 7, 2013 at 1:14 am #

            What they mean are “contrails” and being the flight path for SEATAC airport, we do see them. But they are harmless. Someone posted a pic of a contrail on Instagram yesterday, called it a “chemtrail” and was going on and on about how these lead to MS. Yes, there is a higher incidence of MS in the PNW, but show me some PROOF that is what is causing it. This person is always posting pics of different “healthy lifestyle” tips on Facebook.

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 1:35 am #

            Oh, OK, so the person wasn’t referring to the conspiracy theory about deliberate spraying, but instead, that airplane exhaust that causes contrails is causing medical problem?

          • auntbea
            June 7, 2013 at 4:02 am #

            Aren’t contrails largely made from steam?

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 4:07 am #

            I wasn’t speaking about what they’re really made of (water, “contrails” is from “condensation”) but what I thought the woo inspired might be thinking about. Trying to figure out what the complaint is.

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 7, 2013 at 10:58 am #

            Me too. Another case of someone not understanding science and getting upset about nothing. A bit like the parachuting trolls that come here and rail about routine episiotomies.

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 7, 2013 at 10:56 am #

            This person seriously doesn’t know the difference. She was taking pics of contrails and thinking they are the same thing as a chemtrail.

          • Elle Bee
            June 7, 2013 at 9:35 am #

            There is a known link between MS and vitamin D, isn’t there? And the PNW is at relatively high latitude and it rains a lot, right? But no – it’s got to be the airplanes doing it…because everybody knows Seattle is the only city in the world with an airport. No, wait…

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 7, 2013 at 10:55 am #

            Yep, it couldn’t be living in a place where the sky is gray constantly. Because then that would be admitting that NATURE has something to do with it.

        • MonaLisa
          June 7, 2013 at 12:42 am #

          That is just awful. I was getting sucked into the woo in my early days of mothering, and I remember feeling like I had to explain myself if my daughter showed up to a play group with a disposable on. “Oh we don’t usually do this! I swear!” Ugh.

          Another example of the not-really-doing-it-for-the-child’s-best-interest woo trends: amber teething necklaces. So, you’re so worried that a drop of formula might taint your kid for life, but you will tie a string around a baby/toddlers neck and not think twice?? This drives me insane!

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 1:12 am #

            Amber as in fossilized tree sap? Really? For teething? Wow! I am way, way behind on the woo curve. Why am I always the last to hear about these things?

          • Box of Salt
            June 7, 2013 at 1:31 am #

            Eddie, here’s another link for you (debunking, naturally)

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 2:27 am #

            What a great blog!

            All of this woo is proof that you can bring people to science but you can’t make them think. It’s amazing that after all we have learned, there is still so much snake oil being sold.

          • Eddie
            June 7, 2013 at 2:34 am #

            Fascinating. A couple links from that blog post is this study suggesting an anatomic difference in the lungs may be associated with Autistic spectrum disorders. If this pans out, it ought to completely discredit anything that happens after birth as a cause, except to the most hard-core of vaccine-causes-autism woo-folk.


          • prolifefeminist
            June 8, 2013 at 1:53 am #

            Yea, the amber teething strings around the neck drives me nuts too! How stupid can you be to tie such a thing around the neck of a young child? (Not to mention…um…amber magically makes teeth stop hurting? lolol!)

        • Bystander
          June 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

          I read that and the evil bit of myself thought of how she’d like an idea of what her baby is going through with the help of a cheese grater and diluted vinegar… but that would be assault.
          Results need to take precedence over process. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to change.

        • Laural
          June 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

          My sweet 9 month old baby suffered similarly. He had bleeding open sores on his bottom; I wept for him. I cannot imagine not doing anything and everything to save your baby from that suffering.
          What on earth is she thinking?
          I certainly tried everything I possibly could think of; and drove us all nuts always checking his diaper I was so obsessed with him not being in a soiled one. I did ask my doctor if the cloth ones would be better, bugged him for new prescriptions and remedies for my son.
          Finally the doctor suggested lactose intolerance. It was a miracle- after a few days on soy formula my baby was healing and feeling so much better. No creams or special diapers needed. Unreal. I do not feel bad he is no longer on the breast- his weight percentile was always low- 8th-10th even though his length was 50th-70th – and for the first time his weight is up to the 20th.
          It is not about a universal ‘best’, but what is best for your baby! I still can’t imagine not doing or trying what my doctor suggested when my baby was suffering like that. Why go to the doctor at all?

    • melisaholloman
      June 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Ew. Time to find a new speech therapist.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      “squeezing during a vaginal birth calms the baby”

      Because we all know that putting your head in a vise is incredibly calming.

      • Kerlyssa
        June 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

        It’s a whole body Mama Bear hug.

      • Claire
        June 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

        Yeah that scene in Casino puts me to sleep.

      • rh1985
        June 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

        Yeah, it’s no wonder babies come out crying…

      • VeritasLiberat
        June 7, 2013 at 9:06 am #

        Well, my kids do enjoy squashing each other. I guess it’s because of the c sections, and not because it’s fun to sit on your sister and hear her yell “mom she’s squishing me!”

    • Squillo
      June 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Thank you for talking sense to your therapist. We’ve had therapists who were enamored of non-evidence based crud. We had one whose partner recommended the GFCF diet–I got to watch the struggles of the family who shared an appointment slot with us. The kid was, like mine, an autistic child with a very limited range of things he’d eat, and I got to listen to the mother discuss the week’s feeding travails with the therapist.

      Another one recommended “listening therapy,” which required expensive, specialized equipment. We did it for several months with no result–then I discovered that there’s no research that suggests it’s actually helpful. So I basically forced my son to do something for a half hour every day that he hated, cost me money, and had never been shown to improve the symptoms we were struggling with. When the same therapist later suggested homeopathy, I told her I was only interested in evidence-based therapies and promptly switched.

    • Ripley_rules
      June 7, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Charlotte, I wonder where your daughter’s developmental therapist got her information, because she doesn’t know WTF she’s talking about. My 13 year old autistic daughter was born after a COMPLETELY unmedicated hospital delivery, albeit with a vacuum extraction and episiotomy (which I approved) at the very end. She was born 4 days before her due date and weighed 7.6 lbs. I had no problems during my pregnancy whatsoever. Yet she still struggles with fine motor skills and has problems processing speech if someone speaks too rapidly for her. So There.

  8. LynnetteHafkenIBCLC
    June 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    It’s so ironic that the NCB movement started by women wanting to take back control of their bodies, and now they preach a rigid way of birthing that dismisses mothers’ personal feelings and choices as much as a 1950’s OB.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      The ultimate origin of the NCB movement rests with Grantly Dick-Read who wanted white women of the “better classes” to have more children and thought that if he could convince them that childbirth pain was all in their heads, they would do so.

      NCB was popularized by women who confuse “control of birth” with defiance of authority figures.

  9. anonymous
    June 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I was thinking about what the NCB moms I used to hang with would think of this post, and I think the problem is they wouldn’t come right out and say “you can’t do X,” or “Y is bad” especially when it comes to things like epidurals or planned c/s for breech or twins. It’s all about being accepting on the surface.

    The damage done, I’ve learned, is more subtle and insidious…

    -It comes from crowing that “MY birth was empowering” because it was at home/unmedicated/not painful/set to my husband playing the cello etc. which implies that women who don’t have that experience are somehow not empowered.

    -It’s the flowery phrases about how “I trusted my body to do what it needed to do” that imply that when things go pear-shaped it’s because you didn’t trust hard enough or intervened too quickly.

    -It’s the birth stories where moms attribute their easy labor and delivery to their wonderful partner/doula/midwife, implying that those who had a hard time had inferior support.

    -It’s the head shaking and sighing and quiet Monday morning quarterbacking when a mom talks about how the doctor made the call for the c-section, unless it was clearly an emergency.

    -It’s the deeply instilled belief that natural childbirth is somehow more profound and spiritual, and women who don’t have it are missing out on something uniquely amazing.

    -It’s all this fuss about the gut microbiota – for the love, people, you haven’t ruined your child for life with a c-section!

    -It’s blog articles like the one a friend’s wife wrote, about how she learned that if she can have a baby naturally at home, she can do anything! And for those of us who couldn’t do that? Workshops to help us heal from our (definitely not a) failure.

    I guess what I mean is, sometimes what’s not said can be as damaging as what is said. And that’s much harder to tackle. My solution was to just remove myself from that environment, but even now, in med school, I still get a twinge when classmates say things like “I don’t know, the vaginal deliveries are just more beautiful, aren’t they?” But while maybe the coordinated technical maneuvering, the OR lighting, the tugging of muscles and hand off to peds is perhaps less mysterious than a quiet vaginal birth, hearing that first cry still makes me tear up every time.

    • Jessica
      June 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      I never wanted a C-section for myself (scared of surgery and the recovery), but some of the most amazing birth stories I’ve read (and seen on TV shows) have involved a C-section. The birth of a new baby is wondrous, and the mode of delivery does NOT change that.

    • GiddyUpGo123
      June 6, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

      “It’s the deeply instilled belief that natural childbirth is somehow more
      profound and spiritual, and women who don’t have it are missing out on
      something uniquely amazing”

      This is a completely modern notion that probably would never have existed without modern obstetrics, because modern obstetrics is what made childbirth safe enough that women could actually view it as something other than a process that might kill them and/or their babies. Back when maternal mortality was between 6 to 10 percent, no one thought of childbirth as “spiritual” except in the sense that they would spend a lot of time begging God to spare them from the pain and/or the deaths of themselves and their children.

      “This is my remedy for hateful slow birth,
      this is my remedy for heavy difficult birth,
      this is my remedy for hateful imperfect birth.
      Up I go … with a living child, not a dead one,
      with a full-born one, not a doomed one.”

      — Anglo-Saxon incantation to ward off a difficult childbirth

      Doesn’t sound like she’s expecting a terribly spiritual, profound or amazing birth.

    • Elle
      June 7, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      Very well said… that is so true. You can’t crow about the wonders of one kind of birth without implying that another kind is inferior.

  10. Lisa Miller
    June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    After two natural child birth attempts with crazy bad results see Childbirth without Guilt”, my last induces, fully medicated and lovely birth was like a big Eff you to NCB. It felt sooo good.

  11. Eddie
    June 6, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Perfect! Short and sweet, and straight to the point that it’s not about choice at all. It is all about control, but not by the mother. NCB advocates just want you to take control away from traditional medicine (where in most cases they don’t have control any longer — this isn’t the 1960s) and hand it to them.

    I, personally, would advocate for mothers taking control by becoming informed (actually informed, not “I read it on the internet”), then interviewing hospitals, doctors, etc. And then choosing the combination that best meets their needs and desires. THAT actually puts the mother (and her partner if there is one) in charge, and simultaneously assures the best possible outcome for mother and baby.

    If a local hospital has a high C-Section rate, is that because it’s where the high risk patients go? If so and you’re high risk, it may well be the right place for you to go. If a hospital has a very low C-Section rate, is that because they are driven by ideology to have a low C-Section rate and therefore have a higher rate of other complications (including death) when compared to other local hospitals?

    The problem about having control ….. it means you share responsibility. You have to make decisions. You have to have more understanding. It doesn’t mean bad outcomes are your fault. That’s simplistic thinking. But a lot of people really don’t like having to make decisions, especially in the face of a complicated array of choices. I suspect this is why some women are drawn to NCB. It tells them they’re smart, and it tells them what to do and how to do it at the same time.

  12. Zornorph
    June 6, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Probably because I’m a man, I simply don’t understand this whole NCB thing at all. I have no desire to experience pain if I can get relief for it. I can see preferring a vaginal birth to a C-section if you are worried about recovery, but who would you feel even a little bit less a woman because the baby came out that way?

    • BeatlesFan
      June 6, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      I’m a woman and I don’t understand it either. At least, I don’t understand not allowing yourself to have pain medication if you want it, simply for the sake of idealogy. Some women have easy enough births that they legitimately don’t feel they need pain management, but they aren’t the ones who behave as though it’s a contest.

      As for the c-section thing, women only feel like less of a woman for having a c-section because other women tell her she should.

    • auntbea
      June 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      I got all the pain meds they could throw at me, but almost all of my friends went without and feel a great deal of satisfaction for doing so. At times, it does make me wonder if I am just a wimp. (Note: I AM a wimp, but should not be classifying myself as such on the basis of wanting pain medication for child birth.)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        June 6, 2013 at 11:48 am #

        If wanting to avoid pain makes you a wimp, then, ok, I guess you are a wimp.

        But here’s the rub: so what if you are?

        What’s wrong with being a wimp?

        • auntbea
          June 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

          It’s wimpy.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

            Hefty, hefty, hefty!
            Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy!

      • Zornorph
        June 6, 2013 at 11:52 am #

        Well, then why wouldn’t people get density work done without painkillers then? It’s not that I can’t endure a certain amount of pain, but I would generally prefer not to.

        • auntbea
          June 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

          But would your outlook change if you were the ONLY one getting painkillers?

          • theadequatemother
            June 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

            idle question…do you think it would be different if laboring women were kept all in the same room until pushing like in the 50s? rows of women, all in labor, witnessing each other’s “vocalizations?” Requests for more drugs or less drugs? 🙂

          • auntbea
            June 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

            Hm, I have trouble not visualizing this in Africa where it’s a pointless question because there are no drugs.

            But transmitting this to developed world, I am still not coming to a conclusion. Points to ponder:

            1) It seems reasonable that more women would try to avoid medication if it was clear everyone else in the room was toughing it out.

            2) However, if also seems reasonable that a women who naively committed to going without medication would be more likely to request an epidural *right now* after witnessing everyone else’s agony

            3) And once one woman decided to get the epidural and everyone could see how nice it was for her, how many other women would follow along?
            4) Would anyone be willing to be only one without medication?
            5) And how realistic is the original scenario in which the majority are going unmedicated?

            So, there, I made the question longer, and provided no answer. Hope that helps!

    • AmyM
      June 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      I am a woman, and I feel the same way you do. I avoid pain whenever possible. I don’t like it. I was very happy that I got an epidural for the birth of my children. I do not care if some other woman thinks I am a wimp. What is the point of enduring great pain if you don’t have to? I will freely admit that if the zombie apocalypse comes, I will be the first one eaten as I am not athletic at all, nor am I interested in roughing it. My husband thinks that uncomfortable things like camping are fun. He also refuses to take advil for headaches. I don’t get it, but to each his own, I guess. If some other woman wants to experience maximum pain during labor, that’s her business, but she wouldn’t get much more than a “good for you” from me.

    • yentavegan
      June 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      My recovery was quicker with the 2 scheduled c/sec’s than the 3 other vagina borned. and the hospital staff was so much nicer when recovering from the c/sec’s, just saying…

    • Anj Fabian
      June 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      I got pain meds for several reasons:

      Pain sucks.
      Pain makes me an unpleasant person to be around.
      Pain creates dysfunction, or nonfunction if it is severe enough.
      Pain keeps you from resting.

      Pain meds do impair function, but far, far less than pain does.
      Pain meds make me a nicer person to be around, even if I’m a bit spaced or drowsy.
      Pain meds are completely optional.
      Pain meds allow you to rest.

    • MonaLisa
      June 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      I am sure that a C-section recovery is very unpleasant, since I have had minor abdominal surgery and felt really awful for at least a week. But recovering from a vaginal birth is no picnic, especially when you have third degree tearing. I couldn’t wear real pants for a full day for at least two weeks.

      • Box of Salt
        June 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

        C-section recovery unpleasant? In my experience, that’s only when the section is preceded by many hours of nonproductive labor. I was in more pain after getting my wisdom teeth removed than after my scheduled section.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          June 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

          I was worried about the c-section because I remembered how miserable my wife was after her laproscopic appendectomy. It took her like a week to actually get back up and going again.

          However, with her c-section, she up and going basically the next day. It took a day for the anesthesia to back off, but after that, it was not bad at all. Not near as bad as her recovery from her appendectomy.

          • prolifefeminist
            June 8, 2013 at 2:15 am #

            I had a lap appendectomy last year that was far more painful than the c-section I’d had 11 months before it. No idea why – seems like it would be the opposite.

        • MonaLisa
          June 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

          It’s hard to believe after having assisted in a c-section….it seems pretty major when you’re on the other side of the curtain. So much yanking! But good to know that it’s not too bad for some patients.

          • theadequatemother
            June 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

            I am continually amazed at how well people recover from surgeries these days. And major major ones too like lung and liver resections. The human body is amazing in its power to heal.

            I am wondering why if you have trust and confidence that your body was made to birth a baby, you don’t have trust and confidence that your body will easily recover from a c/s. I guess cos it’s not “natural.”

            but then the natural c/s (via bull horn) is probably a lot more difficult to recover from than the surgical one. Surgeons are very good at making clean cuts and dissecting through tissue planes that already exist thereby minimizing tissue trauma.

      • Michellejo
        June 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

        Furthermore, I’ve heard animal like shrieking from ladies in natural labor, but never from those recovering from CS. I’m not saying that recovery from CS is a piece of cake, but it sure is manageable.

        • GiddyUpGo123
          June 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

          I’ve done it both ways. As long as you don’t try to do much for the first four days or so, it’s really not difficult to recover from a c-section (at least it wasn’t for me, but I’m not saying my experience is typical). Four days is how long it took me to be able to sit up in bed without pain. After that, I barely noticed. And the pain of c-section recovery was nothing compared to the pain of childbirth.

          • prolifefeminist
            June 8, 2013 at 2:11 am #

            I had three fairly easy vaginal births and then three c-sections. The first was an emergency c/s, the second c/s was at 42 wks with a 9.5 lb baby after 10 hrs of labor, and the last was a preterm c/s following about 10 hrs of light labor.

            I was shocked at how different the recoveries from the c-sections were. My first was really, really painful and I was in a fair amount of pain for several weeks afterward, and on pain meds for about a month. It was pretty bad.

            My last c-section recovery was SO different. I was only on narcotic pain meds for 5 days, and was able to be up and moving about without anything more than minor discomfort after only 7-8 days. It just varies so much, not only from person to person, but from section to section.

          • Lizzie Dee
            June 8, 2013 at 5:06 am #

            Same here – as bad as it can get the first time, with most of the minor complications and a lot of pain, compounded with nephritis. I looked positively scary.

            The second was unbelievable. We had post-natal WARDS then, and long stays, so it was easy to see that I was after a day or so in a better state than many of the vaginal birth mothers. I had been scared to death of trying to care for a new baby and a disabled toddler while ill myself – so the relief was really something.

            No longer term consequences, and surrendering the idea of more children wasn’t that hard in the face of reality.

      • ratiomom
        June 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

        The congestion from my failed breastfeeding attempt was far worse than the incision ever was.

      • moto_librarian
        June 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

        When I had my cervical laceration and 2nd degree tear, it hurt to sit for a good two weeks. I was taking oxcodone for the pain. I had also had a pph, so my total recovery was a good six weeks. My epidural birth also resulted in a 2nd degree tear, but it didn’t cause much pain, and ibuprofen was adequate.

  13. amazonmom
    June 6, 2013 at 10:19 am #


  14. Daniel
    June 6, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Woo! Well done, Doctor Amy. Taking away their main sales argument and exposing their fallacies in one fell swoop.

    Smack them upside the head with logic until they see the light!

    Still your fan,

    Daniel in Montreal

    • Michellejo
      June 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

      “Smack them upside the head with logic until they see the light!”

      The problem is, this doesn’t work. Even if you get an NCBer intelligent enough to see the logic, if she wants to remain in the NCB world, she’ll change the subject and bring up something completely illogical to prove that she is right. People who are brainwashed *will not* see logic.

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