What do homebirth advocates and toddlers have in common?


Homebirth advocates are lamenting the court defeat of Aja Teehan. Teehan petitioned to Irish courts to force the health service (HSE) to PAY FOR a homebirth VBAC, against medical advice, attended by a non-HSE provider. Not surprisingly, she lost, in large part because her toddler level claims.

The arguments of homebirth advocates bear a remarkable similarity to toddler tantrums. Indeed, the language is the same.


1. I want

Homebirth advocates, like toddlers, appears to believe that because they want something, they deserve to have it. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t safe. It doesn’t matter that others (the baby) may be hurt or die because of their choice; it doesn’t matter that other people (health professionals) must be forced to do things they don’t want; it doesn’t matter what it costs. They want it, and like toddlers, they appear to think that this is their most compelling argument.

2. Gimme

Homebirth advocates, like toddlers, appear to think that because they want something, everyone else has an obligation to provide it for them. Regulatory boards should violate their standards to admit uneducated, unqualified midwives; the most basic principles of safety should be ignored, and somebody else, be it an insurance company, the government or donors on crowd sourcing website. should pay for it.

3. Mine

In the world of homebirth advocates, everything is “mine.” My homebirth, my rights, my desires. No one else counts, not even the baby. Everyone else is just a prop in their little piece of performance art.

4. How do you know?

Homebirth advocates, like toddlers and even older children, have zero respect for the education and experience of those who are older, better educated and better trained. Like the second grader who asks for help with math homework and then whines that the parent is doing addition wrong, homebirth advocates insist that they know more about childbirth, medicine and science then people who have spent decades studying and practicing obstetrics. In exactly the same way as the second grader who needs help with his math homebirth believes that his mother doesn’t understand addition, homebirth advocates who transfer to the hospital in obstetric emergencies believe that doctors and nurses don’t understand childbirth. Such astounding naivete may be understandable in a second grader, but it truly defies comprehension in an adult.

5. You can’t make me!

The battle cry of toddlers and homebirth advocates everywhere.

That’s because defiance is the hallmark  of homebirth advocates as well as of toddlers. It’s true that we can’t force women to give birth in hospitals or hire real midwives instead of birth junkie self-proclaimed midwives, nor should we be able to force women to do so. Nonetheless, choosing to risk your baby’s life because you enjoy defying authority isn’t any more mature than the toddler who lies thrashing on the floor, whining “you can’t make me.”

6. It’s not fair!

Homebirth advocates, like children of all ages, have acute appreciation for fairness BUT ONLY as it applies to them. They are constantly wailing about injustice without giving a moment’s consideration to their fairness to others. Homebirth advocates, like small children, insist that their “rights” are being violated as if there is a right to homebirth. They simply made it up; there is no right to homebirth, just as there is no right to stay up past your bedtime.

Ultimately, homebirth advocates are going to find it impossible to achieve their desires as long as they continue to resort to toddler-speak. “I want” a homebirth does not incur any obligation on the rest of us. “Gimme” does not mean we need to pay for it. Insisting that the birth is “mine” and ignoring the baby’s well being just makes most people think less of you. “How do you know?” and “You can’t make me!” are cries of the immature. And “It’s not fair!” begs the question of fair to whom; the baby? the health care providers? the government?

Fortunately for babies, I don’t foresee homebirth advocates improving their reasoning skills. In the books they read, and the echo chamber websites they frequent, toddler reasoning carries the day. They can’t seem to figure out that what works for toddlers isn’t going to work in the world of adults and professionals. And so they are left to wail, yet again, “it’s not fair!”