The World Championship of Childbirth

golden podium

Hi, folks, we at the Extreme Sports Network are proud to be reporting from this year’s World Championship of Childbirth. We’re especially fortunate to have world renowned childbirth expert Ima Frawde, CPM here with us as a commentator.

Ima, tell us about competitive childbirth.

Ima Frawde, CPM here. I want to start by thanking the Extreme Sports Network for inviting me to comment on this very important event. Many people may not know about competitive childbirth, but it’s an obvious outgrowth of our understanding about birth. We used to think that childbirth was about having a healthy baby and a healthy mother, but we now realize that birth as a piece of performance art whose goal is to perfectly replicate birth in prehistoric times.

I like to think of the sport as akin to rhythmic gymnastics. In rhythmic gymnastics participants are judged on how closely they execute a variety of stylized moves and how closely they mimic each other. In competitive childbirth, the judges evaluate each mother for how closely she executes the pre-approved moves of competitive childbirth and how closely she mimics childbirth in prehistory as imagined by a bunch of high school graduates thoroughly ignorant of both obstetrics and history.

The competition involves 3 phases. Competitors are awarded marks in each area: each competitor receives risk points, the object being to enter the arena with as many pre-existing childbirth risks as possible. Basic individual risks —breech, twins, postdates, VBAC —- receive small numbers of points. The key in this phase of the competition is to combine risks for bonus points. Bonus points are also awarded for women who willingly expose their babies and themselves to above average risks —- like a history of a previous stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction, or a history of postpartum hemorrhage. pushing for more than 6 hours, ignoring thick meconium, or failing to monitor the fetal heart rate for hours at a time.

The strategy in this phase is come as close as possible to killing your baby and yourself without actually dying. No, there’s no point penalty if your baby or you actually die, but you can’t brag about the award if you don’t live to see it.

The second phase, which we’ll be watching today, awards style points for how closely the competitor mimics childbirth in nature as a imagined by a bunch of ignorant clowns. Style points are awarded for prolonged latent phase (regular contractions for two or more days BEFORE labor really starts), arrest of labor lasting 6 hours of more (extra style points for going over 8 hours), and pushing for more than 6 hours (extra style points for pushing more than 12 hours). Style points are also awarded for how much food a woman consumes during labor (it doesn’t matter if she vomits it up later), how much time she spends in the fecally contaminated birth pool, and how many herb preparations she consumes. Bonus points are awarded for pushing for more than 6 hours, ignoring thick meconium, or failing to monitor the fetal heart rate for hours at a time. Giving birth in creative place, such as in the Amazon rainforest or on top of Mount Everest also merits bonus points. Additional bonus points are awarded for being accompanied by animals like dolphins or sharks.

The final phase awards points for defiance of authority, but don’t thinks it’s merely about refusing postpartum interventions meant to protect the health of your child. Competitors are judged both on the seriousness of withholding those interventions; as you might expect, refusing the vitamin K shot, which could result in the baby bleeding into its brain and sustaining permanent damage, gets more points than refusing the eye ointment, which might only lead to blindness. Points are also awarded for bizarre childbirth practices attributed to indigenous peoples but actually made up by white women like lotus birth or eating the placenta. Additional bonus points are awarded for tricky maneuvers like attempting to breastfeed a non-responsive baby, or breastfeeding while in hypovolemic shock due to hemorrhage.

The winner of the competition is determined by adding together risk points, style points and defiance points. The winner has the satisfaction of knowing that she met the highest standards fabricated by a bunch of ignorant clowns.

Wait, what? The baby? Oh, yes, a live baby can be an unexpected bonus of the competition, but that’s hardly a requirement, especially because many women enter because they want to experience a “healing” birth after a previous loss (of the competition, silly, not the previous baby), as opposed to wanting another child. There’s so much more to childbirth than whether the baby lives or dies!

The prize? Thanks for reminding me. The winner receives a golden pessary and a lifetime supply of Depends, which is going to come in very handy when she develops urinary incontinence after the inevitable uterine prolapse.

What do the runners-up receive. They receive the consolation prize failing to meet the high standards of the competition: a lifetime supply of guilt!

 

This piece is satire.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Is there nothing here about power birthing? How little can you be dilated and still deliver. It could be a game show, like Name That Tune

    “I can deliver my baby dilated to 9 cm”
    “I can deliver dilated to 8 cm”
    “I can do 7”
    “I can do 6”
    “Deliver that baby”

  • Felicitasz

    Dr Amy I do beg you to stop writing “this piece is satire” after a satire, what a killjoy – are you a doctor perhaps?

    Giving birth on Mount Everest: I hope that the “no extra oxygen” category gets double points as opposed to the suckers of pipes connected to an oxygen tank.

    • Ngozi

      Why? It’s her website! She’s not being racist, sexist, and I haven’t seen her bashing anyone’s religion. What’s the problem?

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        She’s joking.

        • ngozi

          Sorry, thought she was one of those crunchy folks. Carry on!!

      • Ainsley Nicholson

        Well, since the NCB movement is a lot like a cult, maybe she could be accused of bashing their religion.

  • Elle

    But even if you don’t win, it’s okay to write up a long, dramatic, photo-filled birth story and *act* as if you did, so that women who feel like failures after birth will have one more voice to remind them that they didn’t even come close. Bonus points for buzzwords such as “empowering,” “earthside,” “inspired,” “my body’s ability to birth,” and anything about trusting birth or your body.

    • emkay

      seriously… welcome earthside baby?! i don’t get it!! where the fuck do these people think the baby is while its in the womb? or before then for that matter?

  • Jenna

    What’s wrong with a prolonged latent phase? (Besides the fact that it totally sucks.)

  • AnnaC
  • RN who has seen too much

    This made me laugh so hard! I am lucky that where I work as a nurse, we are pretty forward thinking, and many of the women that come in looking for a fight don’t find much of one.I just hope the crazies go birth at home where they want to….and I also hope we don’t see them as transfers, because they are always rude and entitled even when we are trying to save their life or their baby’s life. ugh.

  • NursingRN

    Oh don’t let us forget the points awarded for birth plans exceeding 2 pages in length- especially ones that go into great detail about how important it is for this Gaia Mother to give her child a non-harmful, natural welcome into the world. I would also say points should be awarded for the most hostile interactions with nursing staff who are just trying to do their job and preserve their license- which is to make sure you and your Earth child leave the hospital (which you were rushed to via ambulance from the natural birthing center) alive. First place goes to the mother and father who post their birth plan on the outside of their room and demand that the RN’s read and RESPECT and TOLERATE their wishes and preferences. (Sometimes we nurses get confused- see, your birth plan, *point Q subpart 4f * clearly states that you are “so pleased” to have us as a part of this journey of your child’s entrance into the world” but the way you’re treating us (like excrement) would suggest the exact opposite!

    • Lisa from NY

      OT: How often do you get transfers from natural birthing centers?

    • Ngozi

      Good grief. Why don’t people just have a frank discussion with their OB about what is and isn’t allowed at the hospital, and discuss what they want with their OB before labor. Some people just love all the drama they can get…

  • Lisa from NY

    Dr. Amy, you said that runners-up get ” a lifetime supply of guilt!” But others will get to repeat the following phrases forever and ever:
    “Babies die in hospitals, too”
    “Some babies weren’t meant to live”
    “The brain-damage would have happened anyway”

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Not to mention my personal favorite, “God wanted it that way and sabotaged the transfer to the hospital to make sure that the baby died.”

      • emkay

        no… way…

  • fiftyfifty1

    I’ve got to hand it to Ima Frawde, I had no idea she knew terms such as “hypovolemic shock”. She stands head and shoulders above other CPMs.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    OT: the doctor who provided the information to Andrew Sullivan was me.

  • Dr. W

    Off the top of the ropes with the elbow smash, Kaboom! Biting, even by your high standards. Funny funny stuff… if it weren’t so sad.

  • Zornorph

    Said competition sponsored by Acme Essential Oils. How could you have ever given birth without it?

  • ngozi

    I think I fainted after reading 6 hours of pushing. Wait…I’m feeling woozy again!

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I know, I cringe when people talk about pushing for more than an hour. My longest was 45 minutes and it seemed like eternity.

      • Jenny

        My first was two+ hours pushing. Sunny side up with a nuchal hand. I’m never ever EVER doing that again without an epidural.

      • Ngozi

        I’m sorry, I am NOT bragging at all, but I don’t think I have ever pushed for more than 10 minutes. Even the baby nurse that was in the room during the pushing turned around and said in a loud voice, I kid you not, “DAMN, she did that DAMN thang!!!”

  • So in this competition does the mother have to be aware of the risks that she’s taken – or is the fact that her CPM knows about the risks adequate? I mean is it the CPM who submits stories to the awards panel – after all informed consent seems to be seen as a bit of a stretch in many cases. I can’t help but think that there is very few women out there who would knowingly attempt a stuntbirth…but there are a lot of midwives who are more than happy to let their clients attempt a stuntbirth.

  • HolyWowBatman

    There should also be style points for an orgasm… although perhaps that is too passé to warrant extra points.

    • ngozi

      You know I never understood the orgasm/birth thing (if that is what you are talking about, if you are not, please excuse me). I’d be embarrassed to orgasm in front of the people I am giving birth in front of. Pooping is bad enough.

      • HolyWowBatman

        I don’t presume to understand it either, but I was referring to orgasmic birth.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      What?!? Orgasm that’s nothing! You should lose points if you cannot accomplish an orgasm during the birth.

      • Amy M

        Does the woman’s usual partner have to be available for that?

        • fiftyfifty1

          No, of course not, Ima Frawde will touch their “buttons”.

          • ngozi

            Wait a minute, excuse my ignorance, but the MIDWIFE is going to touch someone’s CLITORIS? If I misunderstood, then please accept my apologies.

          • KarenJJ

            http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/06/would-you-hire-this-midwife.html

            Not sure if you want to read this or not, but yeah…

          • ngozi

            *fainted*

          • Dr Kitty

            No, you understood perfectly. It is exactly as unprofessional and boundary crossing as you think.

          • ngozi

            And this is legal?!?!?
            These midwives better be glad I am not their patient because if my husband was in the room and saw that happen he would stomp them to a fine powder.

  • Amy M

    PS: I love the prizes! tee hee!!

  • Amy M

    Are there any style points for musical selection, specific candle scents, how many or how few people are present, whether or not the birth was live-broadcasted/tweeted/put on YouTube, what position the mother labors and/or delivers in (oh excuse me, “births” in) and what tongues she vocalizes in?

  • amazonmom

    There should be a special bonus for wanting son circed after refusing his Vit K shot. The circ becomes acceptable when you combine it with increased risk of bleeding!

    • Zornorph

      Circumcision would be an automatic lifetime disqualification for this crew, though.

      • R T

        Actually, that’s not always true. There are some who perform their own at home. There are many people on homebirth boards who circumcise their sons believe it or not. It’s usually claimed to be done for religious reasons as is the homebirth.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Hopefully they at least hire a Mohel. If not don’t tell me.

          • R T

            Ignorance is bliss! All I’m gonna say.

      • amazonmom

        This situation came up in the staff newsletter, parents refusing K then wanting circ. The doc will come in and see K was refused, then there’s a mess because doc is angry for wasting his or her time because no way in hell are they going to circ a baby that didn’t get K.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Where is the award for eating the most kale? You have to have a component of the competition that involves the craziest ways of “doing it right” during pregnancy.

    • Anj Fabian

      The prenatal competition is the qualifier for the birth competition.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      And for not eating wheat. Don’t forget that flour causes obstructed labor.

      • Jennifer2

        Oh, was the answer really that easy? I love all baked goods and starches. And I had to be induced and took forever to respond to the pitocin. And my big-headed baby needed to be suctioned out of me (but i had only pushed for 2 1/2 hours). Here I thought it had something to do with a poorly positioned baby or just genetics. But really it was my love of carbs. Imagine how much worse it would have been if I hadn’t scaled them way back on account of the gestational diabetes!

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          No, you have to cut out all flour entirely. If you eat flour EVEN ONCE you’ll get an obstructed labor. This provides a perfect excuse because very few people can follow a wheat free diet perfectly and even if they do, they probably ate some wheat before they knew they were pregnant. So it’s not the midwife’s fault, right?

  • KarenJJ

    Don’t forget the shifting goalposts for this accomplishment. Just as someone manages to give birth the breech twins at home and breastfeed for 6 years, someone will say “oh but did you put a hat on them after their birth? Tsk tsk, no wonder they don’t eat their wholemeal organic bread with linseed oil”.

  • Mel

    Damn, I’m never going to be able to compete in this one. *Sighs* Oh, well, I’m just gonna have to rest of the laurels of my career, hobbies, educational accomplishments and general awesomeness.

    • Lisa from NY

      You won’t be able to bleed to death from PPH, but you can still swim with the sharks and get eaten!

      • Mel

        I could also try and climb a really tall building without safety equipment! The sky’s the limit.