“Reading your site made me feel more empowered than I had ever felt before.”

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Readers don’t see it, but I get a lot of email thanking me for helping women feel better about the choices they know are best for them. I suspect that this letter,  from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous, may resonate with a lot of women.

I had my son when I was 22, did not have many friends who also had children, and was fairly clueless as what I should expect when it came to birth and child care. I almost exclusively relied on BabyCenter as my go-to reference for all things baby related. I was certainly not prepared for the pain I would experience during birth (who is) as I had a failed epidural, partly related to a skin condition I have which makes me resistant to local anaesthetics.

After my son was born, I did not cry tears of joy, I did not count to make sure if he had 10 fingers and toes. I felt like I had been completely run over. He had meconium present when my water broken so he was not able to be placed on my chest. I stared across the room at him, thankful for it all to be over, but not really able to experience the joy of the moment.

I had planned on breastfeeding with no concern as to whether it would be an issue for me. It was an issue. I fed and fed and fed. I had lactation consultants that told me it was “normal” for him to feed for hours on end. I asked for him to be taken to the nursery so I could sleep, but I might as well have kept him in the room as he was always hungry. I refused to use formula. On my last day, I expressed frustration and one nurse of all the medical professionals I had encountered looked at me and said, “it can be horrible, and painful, and it’s not easy. I breastfed all my kids but don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy.”

When I got home it only took a day or so to figure out something wasn’t working. He cried constantly, and never seemed to be satisfied after eating. My husband convinced me to give him some formula and he ate a 2 oz bottle in under 5 minutes at only a few days old, which he promptly threw up. I cried because I didn’t recognize how hungry he was, I cried because I was defective.

I went to see hospital lactation consultants (free at the time) who were shocked that my breasts had no heft, produced nothing when squeezed, and were soft. They were actually very helpful and recognized that I had a legitimate issue. I was given the Medela supplemental nursing system and things were much better (other than trying to tape down a tiny tube to my nipples at 1 am while avoiding kinks and clogs.) I abandoned it after a week as my breasts had not changed, were never in pain, and when I tried pumping got literally 2 drops.

A friend had also given me “BabyWise” in the middle of all of this and told me it was her bible. I attempted to use it in some meaningful way but gave up on that too, as it felt too stiff but also contained stories of the horrors that would befall parents and children when hyper-scheduling wasn’t utilized. It was a confusing and contradictory time. There was always a part of me that felt I had cheated my son or had hurt our bond in some way.

Fast forward 6 years and I was pregnant with my daughter. Again, I frequented BabyCenter, and someone posted a link to, “The Business of Being Born.” I watched it and was shocked. How could this not be mainstream information? I became indignant about the “birth industry,” c-sections, and lack of information about breastfeeding. I began to feel even more awful about my son’s birth: receiving an epidural, not having him placed on my chest, sending him to the nursery, not breastfeeding for longer than 2 weeks. What had I done to him?! I considered forgoing an epidural altogether this time. I vowed I would MAKE BREASTFEEDING WORK!

All of this changed when I was told my daughter was breech and would require a C-section. I was terrified and sobbing, not only for the loss of autonomy in birth, but I had never had such a procedure and wasn’t certain how well my skin would heal considering my condition (classical Ehlers-danlos syndrome.) I expressed my fears to my OB and gave her the number of another physician to consult about performing surgery on my skin who is an expert on my condition.

I obsessively read on “Spinning Babies.” I laid ironing boards on my couch to the floor and laid upside down on them. I used flashlights and bags of frozen peas,ANYTHING to get her to flip. Someone really should have taken a picture, it was hilarious. At various times I came across women that would post the contact information of OB’s and midwives that delivered breech babies. They would tell other women, “if all else fails, you can contact these people and they will help you deliver!” while espousing the “variation of normal” theme.

At some point, and I can’t recall when or where, I stumbled on your site before my scheduled C-section. I immediately related to the stories of feelings of inadequacy that women feel surrounding their births. I also related to how those feelings were often taken advantage of to advance an agenda of, “natural is always better.” Women can talk all they want about birth being empowering, but reading your site made me feel more empowered than I had ever felt before regarding childbirth and breastfeeding.

When I went in for my C-Section, my OB had informed me she had done the phone consult and was going to be using a subcuticular stapler on me adding lots of extra stitching and tape. She had humbled herself to asking someone for a second opinion in an effort to provide me the best care possible and make me feel at ease.

During the procedure the doctors had music playing, everyone was chatting happily, the feeling in the room was amazingly positive and not chaotic at all. After my daughter was born I heard her cry and I just sobbed tears of joy. My husband held her for the first time and brought her over to me. I know it was a special moment for him.

I breastfed as soon as I could, but as the day progressed I noticed the familiar pattern of hunger I experienced with my son. Because of your site, I felt confident to ask a nurse for the SNS, although she said she’d have to speak with the lactation consultant first. This was a much harsher approach than when I had my son just 6 years prior. The LC came in and man-handled my breasts and told me everything looked great. I told her I would feed my daughter and call her back in 45 minutes. She showed up an hour and a half later (I had been feeding since she left the room.) I removed my daughter from my breast and she SCREAMED in hunger incessantly. I was promptly given the SNS.

I also gave my daughter to the nursery when I needed to sleep as my husband was home with our son. I had no qualms with her being fed formula. I actually combo fed for a whole month, and I was very proud of myself that I lasted that long! I did not experience in any way shape or form the type of guilt I had with my son’s birth. I owe a debt to you in helping relieve that burden for me and allowing me to examine the situation for what is truly was; being young, unprepared, impressionable, vulnerable. I consider myself a “skeptical” individual. I take most claims with a grain of salt, consider the sources, and try to think critically. But I still managed to (almost) fall down the rabbit hole of WOO. I’m actually really interested in cults and can now somewhat relate as to how one initially is attracted to them…

Anyway, this is extremely long winded … but I wanted to share my experiences and express my appreciation for the work you do.

  • Sue

    That says it all, really. For all the threats of “Dr Amy is MEEEAAAN and will scare people away with her terrible style, here is clear evidence of benefit.

    I thank the mother for telling us her story. This sort of stuff is what keeps me involved.

  • CanDoc

    Lovely and articulate.

  • R T

    I see women post here about letting their baby go to the nursery and it really highlights the different approaches around the country. My hospital doesn’t have a nursery, only a NICU. If I wanted a break, the nurses would walk my baby around the hallway for an hour. I don’t think many, or even any, hospitals in my area even have a nursery anymore. I asked about it and the nurses said it was to cut down on infection transmission and help build a bond between mother and child.

    • Karen in SC

      Really? Seems to me more cost cutting. Parents bond with their children just fine, nursery or no nursery.

  • KarenJJ

    This blog has brought a lot of peace of mind to me too. Having had plenty of problems – emergency c-section, suboptimal breastfeeding, unable to co-sleep or “baby wear” – it is easy to feel like you you will be raising the next generation of serial killers if you believe all those issues to do with “bonding”. I had no idea what to think after reading Dr Sears book. All his solutions and answers to raising an emotionally healthy kid just didn’t work as soon as you were looking at health problems, disability etc. It was depressing.

    It was fantastic to finally get a more balanced approach to parenting from here. Reassurance that things will probably be OK and that there is very little difference in outcomes based upon these small choices. I found Dr Amy after an exasperated google search of “science and parenting”. I was fed up with ideology and just wanted to live my life with my family without constantly feeling like I was getting everything “wrong:.

  • Rachel Mills

    This is fantastic. I think I’ve written you a very very abbreviated version of one of these too.

  • Happily Disillusioned

    Long, long time reader but first time poster. I must thank you, Dr. Amy, for being a voice of reason within the sanctimonious vacuum of BS that is the NCB/lactivist movement. I am a health professional who delivered with a nurse midwife (in hospital) but seriously entertained the idea of doing so at home. This is despite having read the UK Birthplace study and questioning my midwife about the increased risk of adverse outcomes in primips at home, even with a transfer rate of at least 40%. I am ashamed to admit the idea even occurred to me, but can now appreciate how even educated, critically thinking (and medically trained!) women can be enticed by the romanticized fable of homebirth.
    I did receive excellent intrapartum care in the end (including an epidural worthy of lifetime anesthesiologist worship) but ultimately struggled to breastfeed after two months of successful nursing. I will never completely understand why or what changed, but unfortunately the LC I saw (and my own physician, and the useless doula I paid to “help” me at home) were all of the opinion that “if you try hard enough”, you will “be able to figure it out”. I was advised to feed q2 hourly (after the LC did before/after weights and “calculations”), to pump each time afterwards, to read Jack Newmann books and to focus on “how important this relationship was” for both of us. When I continued to struggle, I was given a prescription for domperidone rather than the anti-depressant that I actually needed, and then promptly descended into the depths of a horrible, year-long PPD that was clearly much, much worse for my infant than giving her that “horrible” formula.
    It was finally my psychiatrist who gave me permission (ordered me?) to feed her formula, after reassuring me of the negligible benefits of breastmilk at that point, and insisting that I NEEDED TO SLEEP. Only a few, supportive friends and the voices on this website seemed to have the same rational approach.
    I continue to believe in a woman’s right to make an informed choice about birthplace (when it is truly an INFORMED choice, not the magical thinking that constitutes NCB “choice”) and for her to be supported in her choice to breastfeed (half-naked, all day long, wherever she wishes), or NOT breastfeed, or combo feed, or WHATEVER, as long as the people advising her also consider her own mental health to be an equal part of the equation. I could have spared myself so much guilt and sadness if only I had found Dr. Amy sooner.
    So, again, THANK YOU Dr. Amy, for your persistence, courage, and insight, and for your dedication to providing women and babies with the truth that is sorely lacking elsewhere. I am grateful to you, and now count myself amongst the happily disillusioned 😉

  • Maria

    I found this blog when I went on a quest for “normal” parenting/birth blogs when I found out I was pregnant with #2. I have never been into the woo, but I am surrounded by it where I live and I was having a really hard time finding forums that didn’t equate trusting in the science and the training of your OB as being a “sheeple”. It was like a breath of fresh air and I appreciate the sane and thoughtful conversations here.

  • Still can’t remember my login

    As I think I’ve said before, it was this site that helped me let go of any residual guilt I had about my children being born by c-section (one emergency, then an elective repeat c/s as I didn’t want to attempt a VBAC) and being mostly formula fed. I feel good about it now – I did what was best for us and as a result we’re all happy, healthy and (reasonably) sane. And it was this site that helped me see through the misinformation spread by birth junkies and other quacks – a real crash course in psychology, statistics and evidence-based medicine, which has changed the way I look at any information, not just related to parenting & birth. I thought I was pretty good at spotting BS before, but really I had no idea.

    I think I’ve also said this before – I’m just sad this site wasn’t around when I had my first child, because it would have saved me so much unnecessary angst & pain and I may have been able to stand up to the bully midwives, LCs etc. that I encountered after he was born.

    Thank you Dr Amy – what you are doing here is fantastic. I’m sure you’ve helped save numerous babies’ lives through this site… not to mention the sanity of countless parents!

  • yentavegan

    SOB lit the fire in my britches and I got off my comfortable organic green cotton futon,,I spit out the unicorn glitter and stopped worshiping “other ways of knowing”.
    The NCB crowd has infiltrated the breastfeeding support group I hold near and dear to my heart. I am disgusted with women who advise mothers suffering with latch problems to seek out cranialsacral therapists for their infants. Crappola like that used to resonate as valid with me until I linked onto other sites mentioned here. I have had my eyelids pried opened so to speak… Real science with real outcomes are more in tune with the way most mothers respond to their babies. THe only experts to be trusted are the ones with science on their side. Not trust birth, not auras not positive thinking.

    • Susan

      Spit out the unicorn glitter all over the keyboard!

  • Amazed

    I found this site a few years ago after the news of a deadly homebirth here (Eastern Europe, virtually non-existant qualified support for homebirth here). It was literally the first time I heard that there WAS such a thing as homebirth. I am not a mother yet but I was stunned and shocked who on earth might actually be this stupid. So, I started googling and bingo! I found the biggest mothering forum in my homeland. And I landed right in the middle of a pro-homebirth/anti-homebirth discussion.

    May I reiterate that here, we have NO qualified support for homebirth?

    I remember how shocked I was at the open insolence of the homebirth advocates defending their positions. They didn’t care at all that this baby died. They tried to blame it on the hospitals because if they weren’t so awful, the mother wouldn’t have been forced to almost have a C-section the first time around (baby blue and almost suffocated) and of course, she would have wanted to be in a hospital. I suspect they are not far from the truth about the conditions there, many of our hospitals are sadly lacking in comforts and I see no reason for L & D wards to be the exception. But that’s beside the point.

    Well, I told myself, they can’t all be this crazy. Let’s see what’s happening in the countries they look up to as the perfect homebirth-supporting countries. First, I found Janet Frazer. My jaw hit the floor. I kept googling. I had a few other hits that all but convinced me that NCB was just as bad abroad as it is here. At the end, I found this site and I was so happy that I wasn’t the loony, after all, they were. Really, when all one can find is “amazing, wonderful, life-changing”… let’s say that asking yourself whether you might be in the wrong is a very valid question.

  • Nashira

    I have trigeminal neuralgia, type two AKA constant very painful neuropathy along my lower jaw and cheeks, and unpleasant but less painful over my eyelids. Lyrica and several other meds can reduce that pain, but they pass through breastmilk at a level I do not feel okay with.

    Dr. Amy, your site is the only place that has helped me to stop feeling guilty because I plan (and my husband supports) to formula feed. the meds cannot exactly go away, otherwise I’m in too much pain to get out of bed and I start feeling suicidal. Not exaggerating, it’s bad. This site, both the posts and a lot of the comments, makes me feel like I can have a kid and do right by them. Elsewhere, people demand to know my meds and try to bully me into saying I will bf, even though we’re not going to have a kid for another 2-3 years!

    So, thank you for being awesome.

    • Burgundy

      Wow, you were in the same situation as my friend. She had a serious case of glaucoma. So she had choices of BF or losing her eye sights. Her aunt (a NCBer) tried to bully her into BF. I just asked her aunt if she was welling to take care my friend’s baby and her family unconditionally if my friend went blind. That shut her up really fast.

      • Nashira

        Oh good god, I would have thrown something at that aunt. How can these people be so utterly disconnected from reality? The more I learn about woo, the less it makes sense to me… I still try to understand understand, so I can demolish arguments, but just… I don’t know.

        I’m so glad to hear that your friend had your support.

    • Dr Kitty

      TGN is a horrible thing to live with.
      Your meds are necessary for you to have a good quality of life.
      BF is not necessary for your baby to have a good quality of life.

      Meds win, end of story.

      • Nashira

        You made me cry. I don’t often run into people, let alone a doctor, who get itm Thank you.

    • Paloma

      Your child needs a mother, a REAL mother, one that will be there to love them, to teach them, to support them. Your child, needs YOU, not your breasts. Being a mother is so much more than breastfeeding your baby, your child will be grateful to have a mother who cares enough to be able to look after herself and therefore after him/her. Don’t ever feel ashamed for making a decision like this. EVER.

    • Something From Nothing

      Even if you didn’t have a medical condition, and simply didn’t want to breastfeed, that’s ok! Your breasts, your baby, your choice. It’s sad that other women expect you to justify that choice. What a strange world we are living and procreating in,

    • Sue

      Think of it this way, Nashira. There are lots of smart, witty and forthright people who regularly post on this blog.

      Can you tell which ones were breast-fed?

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        Take it from this morbidly obese and mentally ill allergy-sufferer: I was breastfed to 12 months.

  • jenny

    I encountered this site many years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest, and wrote it off as being full of haters. I was terrified of doctors (mostly due to some unrelated trauma in my life that left me fearful to trust anyone) and the woo brigade left me thinking I would be strapped to a bed and tortured. This was the complete opposite of my experience giving birth to my first child in the hospital, and it was my first hint that the woo brigade really didn’t know everything.

    When I was pregnant with my second child, I decided that a hospital birth where someone else would wipe up my messes and bring me all the cups of water I wanted sounded relaxing. Pretty much all of my peers had home births, but it sounded stressful. I was not worried about safety because everyone knows that “birth is safe.”

    Then my daughter died because one of those “rare” split-second, every minute counts emergencies. Despite living two actual minutes from the hospital, we did not make it in time. Instead, I was paralyzed by the labor and stuck in my kitchen for half an hour while she was born. Paramedics took her and she arrived at the hospital with the best NICU in the county within ten minutes of her birth. And she still died.

    I searched for stories similar to what had happened to my daughter and was horrified to find that they mostly happened to women and babies who’d had planned home births with incompetent midwives. Women who were in the hospital when similar birth accidents occurred mostly ended up with scary crash c-sections and living children.

    When I came home without my daughter, I resented every time I’d read “trust birth” or “birth is safe” or “our bodies were made to do this” or “all you need is instinct” and “interventions are what cause complications.” Every time that I read, “If an emergency happens we will just go to the hospital.” As if it were that easy. And so I resented the fact that I had feared a c-section more than I feared my child dying. I resented the fact that I had worried about the “cascade of interventions” more than I had worried about brain damage. I felt like I had been duped. I had been worried about all the wrong things.

    And all those evil doctors and nurses? I’ve never been treated with so much compassion in my life. I could write entire essays on how kindly we were treated. They focused not just on the physical, but our whole family system, our feelings, our comfort, her humanity, and supremely, her health and mine.

    So this site became a breath of fresh air to me. Someone saying, “Actually, birth isn’t safe, and when shit goes bad, it goes really really bad.” This reflects the truth of my experience and of so many people I know. The reality is that we cannot control what happens to our babies by meditating, eating kale, stretching, or positive thinking. My baby didn’t die because I failed to trust birth, she died because sometimes, in the absence of the right kind of help, and sometimes even despite it, birth kills. The doctors in the hospital were more than willing to admit that they didn’t have all the answers, and that sometimes things happen that can’t be prevented or fixed. They refused to speculate – if only I’d done this or that. All they would say is, “We would have done x, if you’d been in the hospital. We can give you percentages on how successful that is, but we can’t promise your outcome would have been different.” And in a small way, that saved me because it was the truth. The truth is we only had odds, not guarantees.

    Sometimes I do wish Dr. Amy would be slightly less bombastic, because I think more people might listen to her, but in the end, the tone is just one aspect of the message and one I find myself caring less and less about.

    • jenny

      Also, thanks to this site, I no longer think that receiving pain control in labor is something to be avoided. Instead I see it as a humane act, to relieve someone’s pain, and I kind of find it barbaric the way that NCBers lionize the experience of enduring pain. Doesn’t mean I think every woman should have an epidural, just means that I think every woman who wants one shouldn’t have even a moment of doubt that she is being “selfish” or that there is something noble about labor pain.

      • araikwao

        That is exactly what I think now. In Australia, midwives pretty much run the show in the birth units, and it is very much “analgesia is bad, epidurals lead to more C-sections” and other guilt-inducing misinformation. I now feel really strongly about the ethics of denying women pain relief, and this site and the Adequate Mother have been very helpful resources (and Medline!)

        • Aaugh! Have they never realized that analgesia can help labor along too? My mom was stalled in one of her labors until she got for an epidural, at which point she was able to relax and progress again.

          As she put it, after the doctor told her she needed to relax, she looked at my dad and said, “If there was a mule kicking you in the back, really hard, and you knew it would do it again in a minute or so, could you relax?”

        • DaisyGrrl

          This issues has been the driving factor in making me anti-midwifery. Upon arriving at this site, I was shocked to learn about CPMs and woo. But I have found that the drive to be anti-intervention (aside from what a midwife can do) and anti-effective pain relief is fundamentally anti-woman because it deprives a woman of the opportunity to make a choice based on unbiased facts.

          I’m in Canada so our midwives are well trained. But their governing organizations mention how they are against unnecessary interventions such as epidurals. By framing the philosophical position of their mode of care in such a way, they refuse to acknowledge that interventions can be very necessary and that life/death is not the only way that medical necessity should be measured.

          My training is in the humanities, not the sciences, and I have studied women’s studies at the graduate level. When we discussed women’s health issues and reproductive rights, the focus was on ensuring that the patient was properly informed, her voice heard, and her choices respected. To me that means no lying about the effects of epidurals, providing them upon request (absent a medical reason not to), and not judging a woman’s decision to request pain relief. It also works the other way. If a woman does not want an epidural then her decision should also be respected. To me, ensuring agency in reproductive choices require these three elements at a minimum: giving accurate information, listening with respect, and providing care without judgement.

          I’m sure medical ethicists could say it much more eloquently and precisely, but that’s the core of it to me and I don’t see midwives providing these elements of care. Since they claim to be providing woman-centered care, this is a deep betrayal to the women and feminism they claim to respect.

          • Young CC Prof

            It was the first-wave feminists who fought for pain control in labor in the first place, and the priests and old men saying it wasn’t decent. I very much believe women should have access to pain relief without judgement.

          • Clarissa Darling

            It just seems so sick and wrong that any origination of health care providers would actively campaign against pain relief. It’s not as if I’m for mandatory epidurals but, just to play devil’s advocate I can think of instances where doctors wouldn’t be allowed to perform painful procedures without anesthesia even IF the patient were to request it and where actively arguing against it would just be considered cruel and unusual.

            Imagine: “Mr. Jones, I have some bad news, we are going to have to amputate your foot. I would like
            to inform you that the Official Association of Surgeons recommends against using unnecessary anesthesia for this procedure. What’s that? You have a low pain tolerance, you are frightened and you don’t want to do the procedure without anesthesia? Oh don’t be silly! Think of all the men that had limbs amputated without anesthesia during the Civil War, they managed to toughen up and make it through, you will be FINE! Also, there are plenty of natural ways to relive pain like breathing techniques and pan flute music. Ok, we’ll give you the anesthetic if we HAVE to but, not without making it as inconvenient as possible for you first.”

            I’m not the type that sees misogynist conspiracies around every corner but, it seems a little suspect that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat a woman in labor this way when it wouldn’t be in many situations that also affect men…..

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Think of all the men that had limbs amputated without anesthesia during the Civil War, they managed to toughen up and make it through, you will be FINE! Also, there are plenty of natural ways to relive pain like breathing techniques and pan flute music.

            The men from the Civil War had bullets to bite on. Be sure to offer that option for them, although you need to be careful to not have any unnecessary interventions.

          • Clarissa Darling

            It’s OK, we only use 100% natural lead bullets after all.

        • Ob in OZ

          “In Australia, midwives pretty much run the show in the birth units, and it is very much “analgesia is bad, epidurals lead to more C-sections” and other guilt-inducing misinformation.”
          An unfortunate reality that we have to fight almost every day. I was led to believe that somehow Doctors were so out of touch with patients that nurses and midwives had to advocate for the patient. These days it is completely the opposite. It is about patient choice as long as that choice is what the midwife wants, which is no interventions because the midwife would have to, oh my gosh NO, talk to an Anesthesiologist or Ob and ask for help! Birth Experience RUINED…for the midwife! But a patient who wants what is safest for the baby which may mean c-s or induction is made to feel like a failure.

          • araikwao

            I think it says a lot when midwives use number or % of unmedicated deliveries as an outcome measure.

    • Karen in SC

      Jenny, your story is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing it.

    • anion

      Jenny, I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Amazed

      I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your heartbreaking story.

    • moto_librarian

      I am so very sorry for your loss, jenny.

  • MichelleJo

    I have always thought that this is the way in which Dr Amy’s site has helped the most people. Although the focus is mainly on the dangers of home births, and someone has to expose them, the arguments against it are not needed for the vast majority of women. It’s the guilt of millions of women that needs eradicating, at a time when they should be experiencing only joy.
    I only discovered this site after I had my kids, but because I had five, I had already completely screwed the NCB crowd in my mind. This was for several reasons. The preachers were people who never had a high level or education, nor did they seem particularly bright. They frequently contradicted themselves, said things that anyone with two brain cells to rub together *knew* couldn’t be true. In a childbirth class I went to, the ‘educator’ only mentioned pain killers with regards to their dangers. Gas and air causes early miscarriage in the midwives (anyone hear of that before?) so only a really selfish woman would take that. She has been at many births where the epidurals worked up instead of down (shows she is clueless about how they work). Walking down lots of steps can bring on labor, because she did it and had the baby the next day (maybe it was something to do with her being 42 weeks?). Also, what I was hearing was being said almost mantra like, (the bingo card gave me a good giggle!) But mainly because, after a few births I saw that what they were saying was simply not true. Their dire forecasts were just not happening. By baby number five, I was quite happy to be induced, epiduraled, have the baby taken to the NICU because she needed it, and then bottle-feeding her.
    I only wish this site had been around when I had my first, and still believed the woo and suffered an excruciating birth because I didn’t think I had any other option. My contractions were one on top the other for over two hours, and the baby didn’t have a chance to ‘catch his breath’; his heartbeat didn’t have time to get up to speed in between contractions, because there *was* no in-between, so there was talk of a c-section and it scared the hell out of me, nursing didn’t go for us, and all the rest of it.

    Nevertheless, I am still very grateful for this site now, because in addition to always being a good read, I am in a better position to ‘detoxify’ those who suffer from believing in the woo. Although I knew that all the woo had to be nonsense, I wasn’t in a position to counteract it and be supportive of other scared women, because I am not a doctor or a specialist who knows scientifically why it is wrong, and what the truth is. (My connection to medicine goes as far as practicing phlebotomy, which I left for accounting, in order to actually earn a living.) Now I can explain, or point people in the right direction towards, what formerly I had only experienced, as right.

    • anion

      I remember, when pregnant with my first, reading a story on the Babycenter boards where the poster insisted that epidurals were sometimes deadly and that personally, their sister’s friend/their cousin’s co-worker (i.e. “She lives in Canada, you wouldn’t know her”) was killed by an epidural because the anesthesiologist shoved the needle all the way through her spinal cord and into her heart, and spinal fluid and lidocaine spilled into her heart and chest cavity.

      I gave refuting it a go, but anyone who thought that was a reasonable possibility was going to be very hard to convince.

      • Dr Kitty

        Oh…Kay…

        Epidural needles are big, but not that big.
        The distance from L4 to the 5th intercostal space is pretty big and even the most incompetent anaesthetist would find it impossible to pull off that manoeuvre by accident!

        Really, I think basic anatomy should be taught in high school.

        • anion

          Lol, I was like, “What, did he trip and fall with the needle held out in front of him like a spear?” FFS.

          • Dr Kitty

            Known as “if the facts don’t support you, make shit up”.
            Internet anecdotes are worthless unless supported by some actual evidence.

        • Mrs Dennis

          I heard the husband, who was standing in front of the labouring woman supporting her, was stabbed through the heart too. They were kebabed by the needle.

          • anion

            He was attempting to use a jousting lance to administer the epidural. Anesthesiologists, man. They crazy!

            (BTW I literally LOLed when I read your comment.)

  • I found this site b/c someone in my doula association sent out an email to the whole group about Dr. Amy being on NPR and how horrible she is. Many chimed in to echo the same sentiment. I immediately swore her off and said I would never – NEVER – even give her website a single visit b/c I didn’t want to boost her traffic even one small little bit. Fast forward to scary home birth transfer for one of my doula clients. Feeling totally freaked out. Decided to finally check out this site as it was the only site out there that I could find that would share the “other side” of home birth.

    Funny thing is (actually more like tragic, not funny)…. I read several stories on Hurt by Homebirth first and I remember thinking (while crying)… this wouldn’t happen to me. My midwife is so amazing. She would have transferred me if _____ happened. These are fluke stories. These midwives are just not good but they are not the normal. These things would never. happen. to. me.

    So those stories didn’t really even do it. The Annie B story about her twins is what really did it, here on the SOB site. You see, I remember asking the woman (a LM) we wanted as our midwife about breech and twins (I was freaked out as twins run in our family and my sister had two babies in breech position)…. and for our midwife, well, it was no big deal, basically. She had “just delivered twins, actually…. the mother held one twin while she delivered the second… it was amazing.” So anywho, I read that story about that woman Annie and her home birth of her twins with the second twin who did not survive.

    F.

    It all of a sudden hit me: I may very well have one of *those* midwives.

    It took a lot of crying… and praying… and talking to my friends and my husband… and reading… and doing more “research”…. and I knew I had the answer – that we could not have a home birth b/c I no longer felt it was best. But it was hard. It was hard even just on my pride alone (everyone knew my feelings and plans for home birth. EVERYONE!). But I also felt I was letting certain people down. And knew I would be letting go of certain friendships. And it just sucked all the way around.

    It sucked at the time but thank God it all happened the way it did. I, too, feel more empowered than ever. I felt myself sinking way down into that World of Woo….. and I know I got to that point of “I can change my path” or “I can keep believing what I want to believe – what I *have* to believe – b/c I it’s too hard to believe or accept anything else.” And I am so, so grateful I chose to change my path.

    This site was key in that change. And I know this comment is so ridiculously TL;DR and I don’t know why I keep typing but anyway. It wasn’t just Dr. Amy’s posts. It was the conversations in the comments, too. You all helped me. I know sometimes I just need to LET IT GO when someone starts to rip on this site / Dr. Amy but I feel so protective that I have to say something. B/c it was LIFE CHANGING for me to read here and chat with Dr. A and all of you.

    And now I need to go pee b/c my novel here took like 15 hours to type. Sheesh!

    • Karen in SC

      I, too, get very protective when I read the lies that are told about Dr. Amy. The more ridiculous, the more the lie gets repeated. Frustrating and I don’t know how Dr. Amy can stand it sometimes.

      Also, totally agree with the knowledge and humor we share on this site. It’s incredible!

  • MaineJen

    Add my voice to the chorus. I was questioning everything about my son’s birth, as you tend to do with your first baby I guess. I too was a babycenter member (I still am, but mostly for laughs, now), and the crunchy boards there were calling everything into question. “Why did they induce you? My midwife lets women go for DAYS with their water broken.” “Oh honey, that was your first mistake; you NEVER tell a doctor when your water really broke. You lie and say just a few hours ago, even if it’s been longer.” “Infection is not a danger as long as you don’t let them check your cervix.” And on and on… And then I managed to find a sane group, and then this blog. The pushy crunchy moms, online and in person, were like a scary clique that I never quite “got.” This place was a breath of fresh air.

    • anion

      I actually used to wonder sometimes if those moms were really as crunchy and woo-filled as they seemed, or if they were just going along with the others so as to be included in the cool crowd. Anybody can be anything online; anybody can have an orgasmic med-free birth on the internet.

  • When I first started reading this site it felt like a guilty-pleasure. I worried that I was just some sort of bitter person taking joy in hearing criticism of that the natural homebirths my girlfriends rave about by I would never be able to have. Overtime though I stop thinking of it as a guilty pleasure, and start thinking of it as an opportunity to keep a sense of balance, to hear a countering view to the NCB propaganda. It’s helped me recognize the obnoxious comments like “was the c-section really necessary or just hospital policy?” are not my problem. I don’t have to worry about whether I did everything right – could I have gotten the baby to turn if I spent more time reading spinning babies? I can just tell those who question it to get lost.

  • kumquatwriter

    I found this blog after a close friend had a lovely HB. We had both lost pregnancies at around 24 weeks and had bonded deeply. Her family wanted something as different from the experience of losing their daughter (in a hospital, but she did high level ob care until she was deemed legit low risk). Most of my local friends had HBs as well (Eugene Oregon, remember). So the pressure was pretty high.

    Hubs and I thought we might want the same (though we weren’t preggers yet) so, research monkeys we are, I started at Google with “homebirth safety”

    Only took 2 or 3 posts to make us 100% sure HB was NEVER going to be a choice we’d make. But I liked finding s resource that is about real science and practicality, and I’ve been here ever since. Glad I’ve stayed, too. Just because I am 100% confident and happy in my choices so far, that does not mean I gelt no guilt, shame, anger or betrayal. I still feel it lots. Effing peer pressure. This blog keeps me going when the crunch of this town makes me feel like shit.

  • ElsaKay

    I found this sight while approximately 20 weeks pregnant. While I wasn’t even considering the home birth route, Dr. Amy has alleviated some of the guilt I felt for desiring an epidural. And I still want to breastfeed–very much so, but if it doesn’t work out, I feel like we’ll be ok.

    • Ceridwen

      The beauty of going into breastfeeding well informed about how it can be a struggle and might not work out is that if it does work out without major problems you get to be really happy about it! And if it doesn’t work out you were prepared.

      My husband and I even discussed specific scenarios in which we would call it quits on breastfeeding (horrifying for the lactivists I’m sure) before the baby was born. That way he could help me see it was time to stop even if I was hormonal and emotionally wrapped up in it.

      In the end? I was one of the rare women that really did have everything work out easily. My baby is 5.5 months now and the worst I’ve had to deal with is her recent distractability, some relatively moderate cluster feeding in the evening during the early weeks, and some slightly sore nipples in the first couple of days. And I’ve appreciated it way more than I would have if I thought breastfeeding always worked out!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”

        Always a great approach to life.

    • anion

      Congratulations!

      I gave up bfing with my first; it hurt, I had PPD, I didn’t have a lot of milk, etc. etc. But I gave it a try again with my second and found that it really helped to set small, easy goals: “I’ll do it for a week. I’ll do it for another week.” Always reminding myself I could stop anytime, because it was my choice to make.

      My girls are twelve and eight, and it’s not obvious which was bf and which wasn’t, and they are both healthy and gorgeous.

      IMO the biggest thing to learn as a parent is that it will likely never be exactly what you think it will or dream of or whatever, because children have minds of their own and are determined to use them. That outfit you love, they’ll hate. Those long pianist fingers, they’ll use to touch everything but piano keys. They’re pretty enough, tall enough, and slim enough, to model, but they think that’s “weird” and they don’t care about the money. Roll with the punches, love them no matter what, and don’t sweat the small stuff, and you’ll be great.

  • almostfearless

    I felt really guilty with my first, after my homebirth turned into a c-section. My Oregon midwife ignored my pre-e until I was at 40 weeks 5 days and we did an ultrasound and the baby wasn’t moving at all. So I went into the hospital and my blood pressure was sky high and I was dropping protein in my urine, I had edema, etc etc… The doctor said I could try inducing but I wasn’t favorable. I asked him what he would do for his wife and he said, “For my wife, well really, for my daughter, I would do the c-section right now.” My midwife said nothing. I really felt like she thought I was giving up, that I should have “fought” for my natural birth. But to me, I was defeated, I was like “what’s the point of going natural if it puts the baby at risk? Isn’t it the safest thing to get the baby out now?”

    I cried the whole week after the baby was born, I felt like I had failed. Of course my pre-e was so bad that my blood pressure continued to be high and I had to stay in the hospital until they could get me stable, that’s how bad it was. But those nurses were so great, they grabbed my boobs and shoved it into the baby’s mouth like a pro, I was flat on my back, being woken every 15 minutes by the monitoring, but I really wanted to breastfeed, so they literally held that baby over me and made it happen. I had no idea that nurses would try so hard to give you want you wanted. I had watched the BOBB and thought they would all fight me.

    When I had my second baby this year, I knew I wouldn’t do a HBAC but I wanted to try a VBAC, if only because I want more kids after this, and repeat c-sections make me nervous. But I went with an OB, and she caught my pre-e right in the beginning of my third trimester. Same symptoms. We did a light out of office induction, the baby didn’t move down so we scheduled a c-section for the next day. Reading this site during that time really helped me make peace with my birth experiences. I was always concerned about the baby first, but felt like I was being too much of a “wimp” by not demanding the birth experience I wanted.

    Now, with even more time and clarity and seeing those stats in Oregon, where I planned a water birth at home in 2010 with a lay midwife, who couldn’t even recognize pre-e or at least thought she could somehow manage it on her own — I’ve moved beyond making peace, I’m furious.

    A friend of mine has had five homebirths and they have gotten increasingly more difficult, so much so she didn’t want to have more children. She’s now pregnant with her sixth. She wondered if she should get the epidural and all these women were like NO YOU CAN DO THIS. It makes me want to cry. Give that poor women the epidural. This is barbaric. There is no good reason to go natural unless you just want to experience it, but in her case she was petrified of doing it again.

    I also really like Dr. Amy’s shift recently into the mommy wars, quite amusing. I tend to be more attachment parenting-ish but I would love a world where people stopped shaming parents on their quest for validation.

    • Susan

      As a OB nurse I am so glad you included how you were surprised we weren’t the enemy as portrayed in the BOBB. I have seen this so many times, that parents are so surprised when we don’t want pregnant women to lay on their backs, when we advocate for them and respond to their individual desires, and of course we do everything we can to support breastfeeding moms. What that shouldn’t turn into is shaming formula feeding moms! But it doesn’t mean we won’t bend over backwards ( at times nearly literally ) to help moms breastfeed. Where I work we document “skin to skin” time, if there is a C/S all the local hospitals recover mom and baby together to allow baby to breastfeed in the recovery room. Babies spend no routine time in the nursery it’s only on request. Again, that shouldn’t turn into making women feel badly if they want us to watch the baby so they can sleep. But the whole notion that nurses and doctors have some agenda to interfere with birth and breastfeeding is absurd and created by people who have an agenda to demonize us. I have seen a lot of changes over the years and the fact that hospital care does change to respond to research and patient’s desires to me says a lot about who it is, the medical establishment vs the alternative birth world, that is more willing to be self critical and willing to question it’s own beliefs and practices. Having been a part of both worlds I very strongly feel it’s actually the standard medical and nursing world in the US that is more concerned with the patient’s best interest than it’s own.

      • Life Tip

        My OB nurse stayed almost an hour after her (long, exhausting) shift was over so she could stay by my side during the c-section after my long labor. I’m sure she had a family and life to get home to, she’d been on her feet all day, etc but she saw I was scared and my husband was scared. I will never ever forget that. Ever.

        • Amy M

          I will always remember the nurse who apparently did nothing but hold my hand while I was hemorrhaging all over the place while a gazillion other medical people did whatever they had to do. She was so comforting (she was a familiar face from my month long hospital bed rest stint) during the scariest moments of (after) my children’s birth. I wanted to go back and thank her for that later, but I couldn’t remember her name.

          • TwinMom

            My complications were so…well…complicated — and lasted so long, that we went through several shift changes before I could finally be delivered. The on-call OB who was supposed to originally deliver me when I walked in but who got shifted out came to my room late at night after her shift, talked to me person-to-person, held my hands in hers, and prayed for me. She also constantly called to see how I was doing, and came to visit me in the ICU. Even though I was not her patient and not her responsibility. She sure was the epitome of the evil doctor, only interested in making $$$.

        • MaineJen

          I will never forget my L+D nurses either! Those are the faces that stay with you 🙂

  • Amy M

    I’m so glad the [original writer]reached the conclusion she did! No reason to feel guilty! She sounds like a wonderful mother. 🙂

    I think I found this blog via Fearless Formula Feeder. I am not sure how I found that one, as it was just after my boys turned one and were done with formula anyway. And I never really felt guilty about using it.

  • Burgundy

    This is so great! I found Dr. Amy’s blog because I saw how NCB can hurt. While I was discharged from the hospital after my 2nd daughter’s birth, I ran into a women who lost her baby due to a home birth went wrong. I never forgot the sadness and desperation on her face. She was crying as soon as she saw my baby. The poor young nurse student who was wheeling us out did not know how to handle it and mumbled “NCB” when I asked what happened. I started the research about home birth after my daughter’s 1st birthday because I thought about that lady and came across Dr Amy’s blog. Thank you Dr. Amy 😉

  • Bodnoirbabe

    AWESOME! I stumbled on Dr. Amy because I was looking for answers on formula feeding. The more I read the angrier I became. Not because of her or the tone of her blog but because I began to realize just how abused I had been at the hands of the breast is beast brigade. It was only after reading Dr. Amy that I realized that I was just as mom as any mom and could stop beating myself up about my lack of breast feeding.

    A sincere thank you, Dr. Amy. You helped to dramatically change my life and the life of my baby.

    • Antigonos CNM

      “breast is beast brigade.”
      Indeed, it often is
      Interesting typo.

      • Zornorph

        Yeah, I caught that myself. I think I’ll make it my new slogan. But then again, I’m a ‘boob man’ and when I say ‘breast is best’ I am not usually referring to lactation. 🙂

      • Bodnoirbabe

        Oh wow! I didn’t even notice. Freudian slip!

  • Bambi Chapman

    Awesome!!