“Ways to Deal With Dr. Amy’s Negativity”


Apparently waterbirth proponents can’t figure out how to deal with my “negativity” about waterbirth in the wake of the cautions issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists.

It’s not as though any of them could mount a rebuttal to the paper. They haven’t read the literature, wouldn’t know how to understand it if they read it, and couldn’t care less what is says in any case.

So what if babies are injured and die unnecessarily at waterbirth from infections as a result of inhaling fecally contaminated water; umbilical cord avulsion and umbilical cord rupture leading to hemorrhage and shock; drowning or near drowning; and seizures and perinatal asphyxia?

Is that any reason to be so negative?

Ananda Lowe doesn’t thinks so. She is the co-author with Rachel Zimmerman of The Doula Guide to Birth; Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know. Hmmm. Rachel Zimmerman; that name sounds familiar. Oh, I remember why; she’s the doula who authored the piece on waterbirth on WBUR, the Boston affiliate of NPR. Zimmerman revealed her bias by “balancing” the scientific evidence from the AAP and ACOG with the blithering of Barbara Harper, as if a nurse who just makes stuff up provides balance.

Lowe doesn’t like the comments I left on the piece. She wrote an email to her doula list about it and the email was posted on Facebook.

Hi all,

Thank you to those who responded to my previous email asking for your comments on the water birth article that my colleague wrote for the NPR Web site. You truly made a constructive contribution to the conversation.

If you looked at the article, you probably noticed the “flame wars” started in the comments section by Dr. Amy…

… Dr. Amy instigated perhaps the worst comment war I have ever seen her create. There were over 600 comments in just 2 days, many of which are posted by a small handful of people (Dr. Amy’s followers) repeating themselves many times and with extreme hostility. Dr. Amy had posted the very first comment to the article: “Would you completely immerse your head (eyes open, of course) in the fecally contaminated bloody water of a birth pool in the aftermath of a birth?” and the flame war took off from there.

I am curious what our community feels is the best way to handle her and others like her. She has an orchestrated way of disrupting the comments section of articles on a frequent basis. I wonder, should there be an orchestrated response to her, or should some other approach be taken? …

My feeling, and I have heard others speculate, is that she and her followers are acting out their pain over their own difficult births or difficult breastfeeding experiences and lack of support for mothers in our society, or other difficult experiences in their lives that somehow come out in their anger toward the natural childbirth community…

I myself do not have a lot of time to devote to a campaign to dealing with Dr. Amy. But she seems to be getting more and more wild, if that is possible, and I would be interested in hearing your ideas about relating to bullies in general, as well as those who inflame the childbirth wars and mommy wars in particular.

Ananda Lowe

How sad. I’m harshing the mellow of doulas and natural childbirth advocates everywhere and for the absolutely trivial reason that babies are being harmed by being delivered into the equivalent of toilet water.

Here’s a thought, Ananda:

Instead of reflexively opposing anything that calls your birth “knowledge” into question, maybe you ought to consider that the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on the Fetus and Newborn knows much more about neonatal physiology than all the doulas in the country put together. They have no reason to claim that waterbirth injures and results in preventable deaths of babies unless it does. Y0u are wrong and babies are suffering because of your lack of knowledge, and the willingless of natural childbirth advocates to privilege process ove3r outcome.

We have a saying in medicine that doulas might want to take to heart: Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.

Waterbirth can and does harm some babies. That’s not negativity. That’s the truth.

Deal with it!