Sorry, Brandy, natural childbirth is a cult

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Brainwashing is integral to cult membership. Hence the last person I would ask if they belonged to a cult is a member. That’s why Brandy Zandrozny is not a reliable reporter on the cult of natural childbirth.

You may remember Brandy from an apologia for the terrible MANA homebirth statistics that she wrote for The Daily Beast in February. Now Brandy is back on the case with a new piece, Natural Childbirth is Not a Cult. Zadrozny is responding to a piece by Elissa Strauss at The Week. In discussing the unassisted childbirth reality TV show, Strauss makes the point, correctly in my view, that “the cult of natural childbirth has gone too far.

To determine who is correct, we should start by considering the definition of a cult. According to Google, a cult is:

a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.

In the case of natural childbirth, the object of veneration is unmedicated childbirth without interventions. Unmedicated vaginal birth is understood by cult members to be venerated with trust, worshipped with affirmations, and often viewed as more important that the ostensible purpose of childbirth, a live, healthy baby.

Natural childbirth, like most cults, has its own mythology, in this case a mythology that is both racist and sexist. The cult was started by Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear, and a eugenicist who was preoccupied with visions of “race suicide” as non-white people became an ever larger part of the population of first world countries. Dick-Read thought that white women of the “civilized” races were being diverted by the quest for economic and political equality, when they really should be home spitting out babies. He believed that it was fear of the excruciating pain of labor that discourage these women from having more children. He fabricated out of whole cloth the bizarre notion that “primitive” (read: black) women gave birth without pain because they didn’t fear childbirth and understood that their primary role was to reproduce.

To this day, natural childbirth advocates fantasize that they are emulating exotic brown foreigners and becoming better at birth than they are themselves. There is no historical basis to the claim that unmedicated vaginal birth is safest, and no scientific basis for the claim that it is superior in any way to childbirth with pain relief. No matter; cult membership requires belief regardless of inconvenient facts.

Zadrozny roll out all the cult tropes of natural childbirth as if that proves it isn’t a cult:

  • Childbirth is not a contest, but it is “a defining moment” in the lives of many women
  • Natural childbirth doesn’t mean rejection of care. It means care with a mother-focused doctor or midwife, sometimes in a place other than a hospital
  • Many mothers cite safety as the reason for drug-free births, fearing a cascade of interventions like induction, synthetic hormones to speed labor, vaginal cutting, and caesarean section.
  • One out of every three births in the U.S. is a cesarean section (as if this is somehow an indication that natural childbirth is better).

Zadrozny does not recognize the irony of vehemently denying the competitive nature of natural childbirth and the use of guilt to keep followers in line and non-followers second guessing their mothering skills, and then boasting:

My own son was born in a hospital without pain medication. I had the help of a midwife, a doula, and my husband. It was painful, sure, but it was agony with an end. I wasn’t vehemently against epidurals. I had done the math and decided if I wanted to be on my feet, during and quickly after the birth (a quarter of mothers who have caesareans describe (PDF) at least “quite a bit” of interference with routine activities in the two months after birth compared with 9 percent of mothers with a vaginal birth), if I wanted to avoid a catheter and major surgery, if I wanted to be out of the hospital and home with my babe sooner than later, it would be best to manage as much of the event as I could on my own.

QED, Brandy, QED.

Brandy ends with this admonition:

Rather than demonize the natural child birth movement, Lifetime, or these “extreme” mothers, let’s ask what has caused them to completely reject the system and figure out a way to make birth—wherever a woman chooses to do it—as safe as possible. Maybe we can even improve the current system so that laboring mothers feel more comfortable going to a hospital than into a forest.

Umm, Brandy, you seem to have missed the point of Strauss’ piece entirely. We know what causes them to completely reject the system: the worship of unmedicated vaginal birth, the veneration of “trusting birth,” the lies about the dangers of “interventions, and the lies about the health benefits of refusing those interventions.

In short, the cult of natural childbirth.

  • Eve1111

    We’re having our first baby in 7 weeks, I just turned 41. Pregnancy has been happy and comfortable. I’ve had barely any fear of childbirth because I have the privilege of giving birth in a hospital, with a doctor, medical staff, my wonderful husband, and an epidural! It’s nice to know an epidural is available to me and covered by my insurance. What a blessing. How kind of our society to create (and improve upon) pain relief for women undergoing childbirth! I’m quite a strong woman, healthy, and have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I’m not squeamish, have had a hard life and I can handle hard knocks. But I love myself and will not put myself through needless suffering. I’ve read the research and the books and in this day and age, epidurals are quite safe in the vast majority of cases. I don’t appreciate all the many people pushing their anti-epidural beliefs on me. It won’t work. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I probably “can” give birth without pain relief but why should I?! The reasoning against epidurals is flawed. I’ve done extensive research, reading medical texts, books, and actual statistics (not false claims from internet midwife articles). My only aim? Come through labor as comfortably as possible, in good health, and with our baby in good health. That’s all. It’s not a contest, nor is it a “defining moment” and there is no honor in pain. I find it absurd. This “natural” nonsense has become militant and biased. Men aren’t trying to “control” us with pain relief, goodness. They offer pain relief and comfort. Natural childbirth pushers are trying to brainwash us into the belief that we should suffer pain needlessly. PS… the defining moments will be the millions of moments as we raise our child over the years, into a strong, happy, loving, confident, responsible, wise adult.

  • GuestS

    “Childbirth is not a contest, but it is “a defining moment” in the lives of many women”

    I find it amazing that these women are so obsessed with it even after multiple pregnancies and births. I mean, come oooan, how many defining moments do you want?! maybe I speak for myseld, but I think it’s more like: First baby “OMG WOWEEEE I’m PREGNANT I’m amazing, my body is a temple!” then, Second baby: “Ooooooh, baby two, lovely, bit draggy for nine months but, yay baby” then, Baby Three “oh, baby three, urgh morning sickness, urgh, no wine….pffffft, labour again….” and so on ad infinitum if you would like.

    These women are loopy! They just cannot get enough and their entire lives are centred around their pregnancies and other people’s. Not in a way that an OB or medical professional is either, they’re laypeople who can’t be bothered to do the actual training. Nuts.

    • Anna T

      Well, I do think the birth of each child is special in its own way. My mother-in-law had five children and she can recall every birth in vivid detail, even though the last one happened 30 years ago.

  • Sue

    “Vaginal cutting”??

    • fiftyfifty1

      You know, to try to up the drama quotient by using the same vocabulary that is used for female circumcision to describe an epis.

  • Anna T

    Somehow, I always thought that “natural childbirth” means, very simply, giving birth without medical interventions. I’m sure that the majority of women who choose to bypass drugs during birth do it not for ideological reasons (I, at least, have never met anyone who brought ideology into the matter) but because it just makes sense to them to avoid interventions *if possible* (obviously not if they are truly needed).

    To me it doesn’t sound as if Mrs. Zadrozny is boasting of having an unmedicated birth (no more than I myself “chose to birth without pitocin just so I could boast about it later”. Nope, I haven’t forgotten this offensive notion, nor am I likely to). To me it appears she chose natural birth in the hopes of a quicker and easier recovery. You may agree or disagree with this reasoning, but there is nothing cult-like or insane about it. Also, she gave birth in a hospital, so presumably her labor was monitored by competent doctors and midwives.

    It does appear that unmedicated birth has some benefits. Not to-die-for benefits, of course; not enough to risk your baby’s life by refusing a necessary C-section, or to say “I’d rather pass out from the agony than get the big bad epidural”. And certainly it’s not like you get a medal for birthing without drugs, or birthing vaginally at all. But the midwife who delivered my first baby told me that, from her experience, she often sees shorter active labor and a shorter, more effective second stage in mothers who give birth without an epidural and are active and upright throughout their labor.

    The advantages of a shorter second stage are obvious – the baby is out sooner, there is less pushing and thus less chances of pelvic floor damage. Again, not something to die for, but something to consider.

    I’m generally not very keen on drugs in any form. So why wouldn’t it make sense to avoid drugs during labor, too? I’ve read about the procedure of placing an epidural. The image of it, shall we say, didn’t thrill me so I said, “I’ll avoid it if I can”. I’ve read that pitocin causes more intense and painful contractions. I said, “I’ll avoid it if I can.”

    So is every woman who chooses natural childbirth presumably influenced by a cult or some outlandish ideology? Perhaps we should find a different name for our sensible choice, then. Something like, “women who give birth without drugs in the safety of a hospital and don’t post their birth videos on YouTube”? Nah, doesn’t sound catchy enough. Sorry, English isn’t my first language. Perhaps someone from around here will come up with a suitable term.

    • Beth S

      I like unmedicated hospital birth. It explains the type of birth you are having without sounding as if you’re saying that anything else is unnatural. I mean it’s pretty obvious that if you don’t have epidurals you’re not having a C-section, and it also rules out pitocen and any of the other “unnatural interventions” that most hardcore NCB advocates vilify.
      To be honest though this article is more talking about the judgmental section of the NCB crowd who say it’s their way or you’re a bad parent then the sensible ones who say “I’m doing what’s best for me and my family.” None of us are opposed to unmedicated hospital birth, many of us have had one at some point or another we aren’t even really opposed to the idea of homebirth so much as advocating for true informed consent, better educational practices, and true transparency within the industry.
      Unlike the true hardcore NCB cultists we are also willing to change our opinions when presented with evidence that suggests the standard of care is hurting women rather than helping them. Hence the reason things like episiotomies, shaving and enemas are no longer standard practice.

      • Anna T

        Thanks for your sensible comment. By the way, the hospital midwife who delivered my baby also used the term “natural birth” and didn’t seem to attach any unreasonable meaning to it.

        • Beth S

          My OB called it natural childbirth five years ago when I was pregnant with ODD however as the Mommy warring hardcore NCB movement took over we’ve had to come up with other terms. Maybe it’s time we took Natural Childbirth back.

      • deafgimp

        Eh, unmedicated hospital birth is still going to be belittled by NCBers. I honestly can’t think of any term that will work for them except unmedicated homebirth or birth center birth. It’s a shame we can’t say “I’m giving birth on this day (approximately) and that is sufficient.

        • Beth S

          I was mostly replying to the women who were happy with their hospital birth who don’t believe in homebirth but want an unmedicated birth. It was more something they could say and not be lumped in with the cultists.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      From previous posts and from this post as well I am sure Dr. Tuteur is not saying that if you do not get an epidural you are part of a cult. She is not demonizing women that do not get epidurals nor is she implying that everybody should get one. But do not getting pain relief in labour does not make you superior to anybody, which is what NCB cultists imply, nor does it make you better in any single way than anybody else. The same as giving birth vaginally does not make you better than women that had a c-section.

      • Anna T

        “But do not getting pain relief in labour does not make you superior to anybody, which is what NCB cultists imply, nor does it make you better in any single way than anybody else. The same as giving birth vaginally does not make you better than women that had a c-section.”

        I agree with 100% of that.

        I remember accidentally stumbling onto a message board where a home birth midwife, when confronted with the what-if-there-is-an-emergency scenario, told over and over that she can do anything they do in the hospital. Oh really? You bring a team of doctors, the OR, the ICU and the NICU with you?

    • OldTimeRN

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news or at least possibly bad news, but as someone who witnesses many many labor and deliveries, no epidurals don’t cause longer labors. They may do it for some. But they may not for others. That’s why birth is unpredictable and should be personalized to each individual patient. What works for some patients may or may not work for another patient in the same situation.

      Your midwife sold you her beliefs to get you to follow her desires and her vision of the perfect birth. But if she was a half way decent midwife, she went into the next delivery telling the next mother she made the best decision to have an epidural because it worked for her(the patient).

      • Beth S

        Believe me if a doctor could’ve used an epidural to slow down my precipitous labors I’m sure he would’ve jumped all over it. I understand why some women want an unmedicated birth, especially since I experienced it and it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

        • Anna T

          Oh yeah, that’s another part of the story – many mothers have unmedicated birth not because they consciously choose it, but because the baby is crowning by the time they reach the hospital! I’ve heard especially many stories like that from moms with their 4-th or 5-th baby.

          • Beth S

            I ended up like this with my first two, believe me the epidural for the third was like heaven and if I was going to have more kids I’d definitely want one again.

      • Anna T

        “Your midwife sold you her beliefs to get you to follow her desires and her vision of the perfect birth.”

        Oh indeed?.. How very interesting, then, that she shared this tidbit of her experience with me already AFTER I had the baby in my arms. She had no business influencing my decision-making WHILE I was in labor (but, as I imagine, she was a pro-natural birth midwife. It only makes sense that I was given one, as I stated upon arrival that I do not want pain meds).

        “But if she was a half way decent midwife…”

        I’m not sure whether she was decent, half-decent or not decent at all, but she was a hospital CNM with over 20 years of experience and, at least to me, she seemed to know her job. At any rate, I can’t imagine her telling a mother after a successful delivery with an epidural, “if you hadn’t chosen pain meds maybe your second stage would be shorter.”

    • Dr Jay

      “But the midwife who delivered my first baby told me that, from her experience, she often sees shorter active labor and a shorter, more effective second stage in mothers who give birth without an epidural and are active and upright throughout their labor.”

      And maybe the reason that they don’t need an epidural is that they are having a shorter and more effective 2nd stage. In other words, the epidural isn’t lengthening the labor, the length of labor is a deciding factor in whether or not you need an epidural.

      ” The advantages of a shorter second stage are obvious – the baby is out sooner, there is less pushing and thus less chances of pelvic floor damage.”

      Less pushing for sure, but your risks of pelvic floor trauma are linked to pushing the fetal head out, and actually the faster you do it, the more likely you are to tear (your perineum, your levator ani, and your internal and external anal sphincters). There is some evidence that an epidural may be protective, as it relaxes the pelvic floor, preventing levator avulsion.

      • Anna T

        But isn’t an epidural usually placed long before the mother reaches second stage?

        • Beth S

          It’s not only every woman who is different but every birth that’s different. With my first I barely felt the first stage of labor because it was in my back and I’ve had back pain most of my life, I honestly didn’t feel anything until it was time to push and that was more like the urge to have a bowel movement. I got to the hospital crowning and second stage was torture.
          With my second I went so fast I ended up giving birth in an ambulance and promising the world that no man would ever touch me again. In fact I think I punched one of the EMTs in the face “accidentally” when she said I had the sex to make this baby so I could birth it just fine.
          Of course with both of those labors I have post-natal seizures on top of everything else, so for the third time around we did scheduled C there was no tearing as with my first babies, very little pain and the recovery was much easier for me. I came from it wondering why any woman would ever want to do this the old-fashioned way. Of course now that the drugs have worn off I don’t think of it that way, but this way in the haze.

          • Anna T

            Good point, every birth is different as well. After my very long early labor the first time around, the second time I was in denial. Husband would tell me, “let’s go to the hospital already”, and I said, “nah, there’s plenty of time.” He kept badgering me and I’m glad I listened, because I was in active labor before long!

          • S

            She said what?? How rude and heartless!

    • Stacy48918

      “I’m generally not very keen on drugs in any form.”
      Not even to have a cavity filled or a root canal drilled? Would you delay having a cavity filled just because you were pregnant?

      What is the difference between an injection of a local anesthetic along a nerve to numb half your face and an injection of a local anesthetic at a nerve sufficient to numb half your body? Same principle. Different location. But the idea of a “needle in your spine!” is icky…so people think icky = dangerous or bad.

      • Anna T

        The difference (at least for me) between root canals and giving birth is that you can’t make a root canal more bearable by changing positions or immersing in warm water.

        But during my labor, while I stood in the shower or used the birthing ball, I told myself “hey, this actually feels great. I just had another big contraction and it was very tolerable. So why shouldn’t I go on this way?”

        • Medwife

          Well let’s be fair. You could slip on the wet floor. Staying in a warm shower too long can make the baby tachycardic. Monitoring is more difficult.

          • Stacy48918

            Not to mention that “bearable” is not how I would like to go through a root canal, even if that option was available.

            I did not find the water to be all that helpful at all.

          • Anna T

            Well that’s just my point: every woman experiences labor differently; every woman finds different things to be helpful. And you can’t know in advance; I actually spent the last few weeks before birth compiling a playlist of soothing music, and in the end all I wanted was silence. I thought I wanted dim lights, and in the end I didn’t care three straws about the lights.

            It’s impossible to get into another woman’s skin and feel what she’s feeling, but my best description of what I experienced while I directed a jet of water at my belly during a contraction was this: I felt my uterus contract, and the feeling was very intense, but it was not actual pain. However, if I was made to lie on my back for monitoring and a contraction came, the pain was excruciating.

            I loved to have my mobility during labor; to be able to eat and drink, walk around, and use the bathroom on my own; to not have an i.v. pole attached. I loved to feel that I’m not a “patient” in the regular sense of the word, that is, that I’m only monitored and nothing actually has to be done to me, and things are happening on their own. It gave me a feeling of control.

            For some women, it is just the opposite: the pain is so great that they have no sense of control until something is given to them to subdue the pain.

            And that’s why it’s so good we have choices.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, it makes perfect sense to avoid pain medications if you are not having pain but rather just intense sensations. I wish I could send such easy uncomplicated births to every pregnant woman!

          • Anna T

            I’ll say more, this isn’t limited just to labor. If I have a headache and can soothe it by lying down with an ice pack on my head, I’d rather do that than pop a pill.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, it makes perfect sense to choose not to take a pain pill for a headache if your headache is the mild kind that can be soothed simply by lying down with an ice pack. I wish I could send such easily remedied headaches to all my patients who suffer greatly with their headaches (migraines, brain tumors etc)! Then they wouldn’t have to, as you say, “pop pills”.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I’ll say more, I wonder if anyone has yet discussed the concept of “wellsplaining”.

          • KarenJJ

            oh my yes – THIS! Good term for it.

            That’s great for those that can avoid medication and doctors. I tried that once myself, yay me.

          • Young CC Prof

            I’ve usually referred to it as the inherent ableism of the natural-health movement, but I like your word.

          • Anj Fabian

            I love that!

            The next time I need a break, I’ll plead headache and take an ice pack to my bedroom.

          • Mishimoo

            Bearable is what I strive for as I have a stupidly high resistance to anaesthetics. Finding a dentist who can manage to cut the pain by about 2/3rds (by believing me when I told him of the issue and giving me as much local anaesthetic as was safe) was a really big deal to me. Having said that, I would never go around proclaiming that it’s the best and safest way.

          • D/

            Can completely relate to finding a dentist that believes you can recognize pain inside your own mouth. I suffered through every dental procedure I ever endured until my current dentist discovered that my nerves evidently run crazy circuits through my jaws. (She figured it out when my temple became perfectly numb for the prep to put a crown on a lower molar?!)

            Despite suffering through dental work most of my adult life I consider my threshold for pain (or at least my threshold for what pain I choose to endure) very low … I would have been happy to have my head screwed off and the epidural poured down my neck once labor with my eldest cranked up (OP, fractured coccyx, and 4th degree)

          • Anna T

            There was an anti-slip rubber mat, and the shower wasn’t actually warm all the time… they ran out of hot water LOL.

    • jenny

      I had three unmedicated births, mostly by inertia more than anything else. In two cases I was quite lucky that my babies did not need the kind of help that comes in the form of pitocin, epidural, or c-section. It wasn’t a lifestyle choice. A lot of people here have had unmedicated births. My middle child definitely needed a lot of intervention, and we didn’t get to have it (*not* by choice), so she didn’t live. We should all be so lucky as to have births requiring no intervention. Whether or not you want an epidural during your birth is a personal choice. No one objects to a woman exercising that choice. What I object to in popular English-language NCB oriented blogs, websites, and facebook groups is the idea that there is something inherently valuable about birthing without interventions, rather than a byproduct of a happily uneventful birth.

      • Anna T

        Jenny, I am so very sorry for your loss. I completely agree with what you said – “We should all be so lucky as to have births requiring no intervention.” Luck is precisely the key word here. An uneventful birth, the same as good health, does not come through any merit of ours. A neighbor of mine had an unexpected full-term stillbirth after a precipitous labor. That’s just heartbreaking and devastating and obviously all must be kept in perspective.

    • jenny

      And here’s the thing about “necessary” c-sections. To *you* the difference may be clear. But there is a whole swathe of NCB ideologues that retroactively rate pretty much any c-section where no one had to be resuscitated “unnecessary.” And then it’s bc pitocin, premature cord cutting, or “interventions” that caused the problem. There’s no sense that sometimes things just go wrong, and sometimes it’s better to head off a disaster completely than get through one by the skin of your teeth.

    • Cobalt

      Exactly. There is a difference between wanting to avoid intervention and refusing needed intervention. I keep hearing “well, if you were having a root canal you’d want drugs”. Sure. But I also try to avoid needing a root canal by making choices that reduce my risk of needing one. There is NOTHING that can guarantee you won’t need the intervention, or the root canal, but that doesn’t mean that working to avoid the need is cultish.

      Epidurals do more than just make pain magically disappear (although to some women it probably feels that way). There are tradeoffs and potential side effects, some long term, mostly minor from a safety standpoint. Episiotomies don’t just move a baby faster or prevent a potential tear. There are tradeoffs and longer term effects. Being stuck in two positions in bed for hours with equipment all over can be quite stressful. Asking the doc if it is safe to use intermittent monitoring and a hep lock isn’t crazy. Your particular birth might not need that.

      Crazy is declaring that any particular intervention is either necessary or unnecessary without looking at the individual woman, baby, pregnancy, labor, doctor, and availability of alternatives. You can’t tell from the outside.

      Some women can avoid an epidural without feeling undue stress (something the woman not having it is solely qualified to judge) and no other intervention becomes necessary. Some teams use every useful intervention because it is available. Sometimes there are issues apparent at the first prenatal visit that make a cesarean the only safe option. None of these scenarios make anyone a failure at birth or cultish weirdo.

      • Stacy48918

        Right. One can brush, floss, etc to avoid needing a root canal. What choices can one make to avoid the pain of childbirth? Millions of women want to know. And water, counter pressure, positioning etc are not avoiding the pain. I tried all that. Labor was still agonizingly painful accompanied by screaming and vomiting. Yay.

        If some women just have “rushes” or “intense surges” good for them. But most of us just have excruciating pain. I don’t want “bearable” excruciating pain in most any aspect of my life, thanks.

        • Cobalt

          I honestly just didn’t need an epidural. I dilated to 6 without even knowing I was in labor, went to the hospital from the doc’s office, and slept from 8 to 10 cm. Pushing was hard, but more like moving a heavy bookcase than a root canal. Crowning hurt like heck but only lasted less than a minute. So, FOR ME, the potential side effects of an epidural (spinal headache, recurrent back pain, loss of mobility in labor, blood pressure issues, etc.) weren’t worth it.

          I was prepared to get an epidural if I needed one, but the risk/benefit just didn’t call for it. As for water and all that alternative pain management, I have no personal experience. Some women say it worked for them, and I am willing to believe that it did. Doesn’t mean it’ll work for everybody, but I don’t think they are crazy for trying them. I went on endorphins and a blessedly easy labor, but that has no bearing on anyone else’s experience, or even any future birth I have.

          So I technically had a “natural childbirth” at a hospital. I mostly just got lucky with an easy, uncomplicated birth, which honestly surprised the scrap out of me since the pregnancy was miserable and I had all sorts of issues, including gestational diabetes.

          Point being, avoiding unnecessary meds or interventions doesn’t make you crazy. It just means you didn’t take something you didn’t need. Crazy is avoiding a needed medication or intervention. If you need an epidural (and the one feeling the pain is the only one qualified to judge) then you should get one, and in a timely manner without having to put up with any flak.

          • araikwao

            But the cultish types see not needing an epidural etc as a mark of their intrinsic worth, so they do go to all manner of the lengths to avoid it

  • expat

    OT: cult member Gina shares some pearls of wisdom about nuchal cords not being a problem.Thankfully, several people set her straight in the comments, so she, in true Gina fashion, redirected her finger pointing at pitocin. So, now, pitocin causes nuchal cord strangulation? How can she not see the logic errors? https://m.facebook.com/thefeministbreeder?_rdr#!/story.php?story_fbid=10152179109912727&id=185813897726

    • expat

      Would they award an MPH degree to someone who distributes ridiculous medical misinformation? In the comments, she used about.com as her source for her claims about pitocin. Not very academic.

    • RNMomma

      The link isn’t working for me. Did she delete it?

      • Expat

        I think so.

        • expat

          It was still up on my phone, but it is no longer posted on her page (that I can see)

          • RNMomma

            Ugh. Deleting it just makes her look immature. It’s really sad when people can’t handle their errors.

  • Beth S

    I rereading this post and I was reminded just how much the NCB movement reminds me of Jonestown and the People’s Temple. I’ve read interviews with survivors that mention that when they were being courted by the cult they were welcomed, made to feel as if they were part of something bigger, and made to feel as if no one would love them as much as Jim Jones himself.
    As you fell deeper and deeper into Jones’ own brand of woo and was brainwashed more and more into the belief system only then were you indoctrinated into the more disturbing aspects of the cult, and even then most of the lower ranks of the membership had no clue as to Jones’ plans and more radical leanings until they were stuck in the Guyanese jungle with no way of getting home.
    It’s the same with the radical NCB cult. It starts out fairly innocent, teaching a mother’s autonomy must be respected at all times, and then from there you’re introduced to the fear of the Cascade of Interventions and the outdated practice of Shaving and Episotomies, and terms like birth rape.
    The NCB even has their own “enemies list” Including Dr. Amy and the medical establishment who tries to bring some sanity to some of the more deadly claims of the wooists out there.
    Just like in Jonestown where defectors from the cult were considered apostates, liars, and fair game to whatever abuse the rank and file wanted to throw at them, NCB parents who decide to leave the lifestyle for any reason including the tragic loss of their children to homebirth butchers…I mean midwives are ostracized, told not to be mean, and told not to harsh other’s birth vibes.
    What scares me is what’s going to happen later? Are we going to wake up one morning to read about the ‘NCB’ cult’s version of the Jonestown massacre? Are we going to learn of many more babies like Gavin Michael, Mary Beth, and all the other’s lost to the homebirth communities, once these mothers realize it’s not a competition.
    (TL:DR: I’m long winded and have really weird knowledge about weird things when the kiddo is asleep.)

  • Adelaide GP

    Re this ridiculous birth reality TV show: I’ve got an idea for another reality TV show in 20 years time. “On the Therapists Couch” featuring the psychopathology of the poor kids of the present day crop of narcissistic stunt birthers, over exposing mummy bloggers and internet birth junkies exploiting their babies/kids for their 5 minutes of fame. TFB and her ilk harp on about their version of “reproductive rights’ but what about the said children’s rights to privacy and dignity? Children are little human beings with universal human rights and they should not be fodder for their parents internet attention seeking behaviours, before the age where they are able to give consent. Its becoming a disturbing idea to think what is going to happen when the current children of the relatively new internet age of over sharing , come of age. 🙁 .

    • Beth S

      I was thinking about this. I mean go to you tube and you see so many women posting their “soothing homebirth videos” and their “unmedicated natural childbirth” videos, and I wonder what the heck they’re thinking to feel the need to overshare like this. I mean sure I videoed the birth of my child if you mean DH stood at my head and kept the camera on my face at all times. I sure as hell didn’t need him capturing ever grizzly moment. Not to mention he has an issue with blood and if he’d actually tried to look he’d have been on the floor.
      Is there nothing private in this world anymore? Nothing that can’t be a little sacred between parents, and their new child?

      • Karen in SC

        Most of those videos are full frontal nudity and quite a few show bulging anuses. Can’t anyone edit?? I don’t understand posting it online for strangers to see.

        • Beth S

          I don’t either. I was looking for some C-section vids to show DH what to expect and he thought it was funny as heck when I could sit there and eat my nightly bowl of ice cream while watching abdominal surgery but natural childbirth made me cover my eyes and wince.

        • Beth S

          Speaking of traumatizing DH and I were going through the you tube history on my tv and I thought he was going to yak when seeing the stills of babies hanging out of a woman’s vagina. In fact his exact words were “Good GOD! Please turn it off turn it off.”

        • deafgimp

          The best videos are the ones where you see a little turd squirt out and hang there during the birth. No one wipes it or takes care of it, it’s like Mr. Hanky came for a visit and never left. At least in a hospital they take care of that stuff quickly and quietly.

          It’s what I’ve always wanted, a picture of my squirtle for posterity. Can’t wait to show the kids my shit.

      • Hannah

        I’ve already told DH that he needs to be in the room but to stay by my head, and there will be NO pictures whatsoever of what’s going on below the waist… he is more than okay with this, especially since his best friend took the advice to watch the birth… and immediately and simultaneously threw up and passed out. Plus, the last thing I want is for there to be pics of my ladybits to somehow end up on the internet. Or shown to family. Or anyone else. I cannot fathom why anyone would want those, let alone broadcast them to the world online.

        • Beth S

          I totally agree. I wouldn’t even post bump pics because to me it felt too revealing, although I have no problem running around the house in shorts and a bra if my stepson isn’t home.
          I had a C-section and DH was afraid they were just going to pull all my guts out and lay them on the table, I made him watch a video of one so he knew that wouldn’t be happening, but I also reassured him all he would see was an ugly blue curtain.

        • Amy M

          When I was pregnant, my husband and I watched some birth videos, and he referred to the baby being born as a “blood covered meat bullet” and was reluctant to stand anywhere near my nether regions when it was our turn. I was fine with that, I didn’t really care where he was, as long as he was in the room.

  • Beth S

    I honestly think the NCB cultists have gone too far in their scare and demonize the mother and doctors who choose to give birth differently than the highly idealized norm. I changed hospitals in the last six weeks of my pregnancy because they were way too steeped in NCB woo, and the hospital I had been avoiding was less wooish. The only reason I’d not wanted to deliver at the latter hospital was because it was where my father passed.
    I swear you would’ve thought it was the end of the world for some of the women on my BB I was evil and cascade of interventions, and C-section!

  • Jessica S.

    “let’s ask what has caused them to completely reject the system”

    The tedium of modern life and all the conveniences afforded therein, leaving us with time to construct elaborate ideologies in need of fervent defense? 🙂

    • anion

      And intellectual laziness, with a bit of ignorance, as well (“Birth is so safe! Large numbers of women have never died in childbirth!”). They ignore history, and we all know what happens to those who ignore history.

      • Beth S

        I like to point out to those people: “Until the last century or so childbirth was the leading cause of death in both women and children, why do we want to slip backwards?”

    • Beth S

      So we’re supposed to ponder about why they are rejecting the system rather than making it better for the 90% of women who don’t reject the system. Honestly with some of the NCBers it seems like they won’t be happy until epidurals, C-sections and interventions are completely illegal.

    • Dr Jay

      And while we’re on topic…if you are such a “strong feminist” that you have no problem sticking it to the man by squatting in the forest, why is it that you immediately lose your voice the minute you enter a hospital? I spend all my time discussing options with women…they say no, I say ok. If it’s dangerous I try to make sure that they understand the risks, but really, no one is forcing anyone to do anything. I legally can’t (and I don’t want to). With autonomy comes responsibility…

      • Beth S

        I sometimes wonder why being a strong feminist completely shuts the father out of any decision making process when it comes to their children. I understand it’s my body my choice, however I also feel that men should have a voice as well, not so much decision making rights, but a voice.
        Especially in the unlikely event that the mother suffers an unforeseen catastrophe and ends up on machines just to save their babies.

        • Anna T

          I often wonder about that too. My husband was very involved. He was the one who suggested I check my options in the first place and try to make up a birth plan, and he was the one who dealt with the hospital staff (for some reason, I wasn’t very articulate during active labor…)

          • Beth S

            Both my older daughter’s father and my hubby participated in my pregnancies and labors as much as they could. My husband told me later that if I hadn’t insisted on a C-section myself he would have for me because he didn’t want to have to come home from the hospital with either a dead baby or a dead wife as labor is actually a life threatening medical situation for me.
            It was actually my mother who suggested I make a birth plan for all three of my kids, I wrote down “healthy Mom, healthy baby, and whatever interventions it takes to keep up both safe”

  • MaineJen

    Um, Brandy. Regarding the women who will be on this reality show: They *haven’t* completely rejected the system. They are *not* going to be giving birth in a forest with no one else around. There will be a team of emergency personnel and a medivac helicopter waiting just out of range of the camera in case something should go wrong on this accursed train-wreck of a reality show. And it inevitably will. But you can bet that episode won’t make it to air. I don’t think the contestants on this new reality show even count as NCB enthusiasts. Like all participants in reality TV, they just want attention. They want to be looked at, and praised. They are everything that is wrong with the modern notion of ‘fame’.

    • Amazed

      This. They are using “the system” to the max and over. How many of the hospital birthing women on this site has had THIS much of personnel and technique solely on their disposal? MaineJen? Amy M? Stacey? Hello? Anyone?

      • Amy M

        Well, I’ll admit there were a lot of people in the hospital room with me when I gave birth (OB, resident, possibly anesthesiologist?, nurse for me and one for each baby, and a pediatrician standing by for the babies) but since I was already in hospital, no need for the medivac. And certainly no film crew.

        • the wingless one

          Me too, two OBs, an anesthesiologist, a nurse for me, a neonatologist and nurse for the baby. And I think there were a couple more people in the room as well but I’m not totally sure what they were doing! They were definitely not film crew though, I actually wish we had one picture of us in the delivery room! As it is I think our first family photo didn’t happen until three weeks later when we finally got to bring him home!

      • Mishimoo

        I had some complications, but not loads of people. There were a few extras in the room for the second (light meconium staining) but I didn’t really notice them.

      • Wishful

        Even those who give birth outside the hospital normally do not totally reject the system. How many times has it been said that the hospital is only 10 minutes away? In doing that you are kind of depending on the system more. After all when was the last time you assumed you could you could go to the ER and have 0% problems getting in immediately? That absolutely nothing will go wrong with the transport or a stat surgery. Everyone will be in house, ready to go. Blood products will be on hand with no issues getting typed and crossed or enough O- to get the job done. The IV team will get everything in first try. That is like saying you never look when changing lanes near the hospital because it’s only 10 minutes away if you should crash. It’s a greater dependence on system perfection

      • Beth S

        I had a MFM doc, a pediatrician, a scrub nurse and my OB plus a bunch of people I didn’t know because I was too doped up to care. But nothing near what these “homebirthers” have when going on this show.

  • Houston Mom

    OT but since there are so many people here who care about little people, please take a moment to sign this petition started by a friend of mine.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/give-our-foster-children-fighting-chance-good-life/dwqkvhHH

    This petition seeks limts on the number of times a child entering the foster care system due to physical or sexual abuse can be handed back to the very people who harmed them. My friend is a foster mom and now thankfully, the adoptive mom of one of her fosters. The stories she’s told me are heart-breaking. Her daughter was on the verge of being handed back to a woman who had pistol whipped one of her older children, among a long list of other horrible things. At the last minute evidence surfaced that showed the bio parents were up to their old tricks and the judge ruled for termination of parental rights. Too many kids are not that lucky.

    • the wingless one

      My mom used to counsel children on Medicaid and she said she was amazed by how many chances the worst bio parents could be given by the system. One mother who tried to get her middle schooler to do hard drugs with her. Another with ten kids (by ten fathers), all removed from her care and in foster care, she was pregnant with #11, still completely unstable and the authorities were still not sure if they were going to take that one away from her too.

      My mom said she hated seeing these poor kids constantly being sucked into their parents drama because the courts number one priority was unification even though it was pretty clear in some cases that that would never be feasible. Our system as it is now definitely sucks and doesn’t place the safety and well-being of children as it’s driving purpose.

      • Houston Mom

        I have a friend who used to work for the SPCA. She often had to call CPS because animal abusers were often also child abusers. She said the pets had it a lot easier. Show the judge a photo of a starving dog; case closed. Fido gets medical care and a new home.

    • Mishimoo

      This really hits home for me – my friend’s workmate has found himself with temporary custody of his ~7 week old daughter after her mother left her in her pram in the yard at night to go out clubbing. (It’s winter here) Poor kid nearly died and I hope that she never, ever goes back to her mother.

    • nohika

      I worked with bio parents who didn’t have custody, supervising visitations, for two years in Undergrad. Some of the things I saw were horrifying. I left to go to grad school, but I heard through the grapevine that one of the parents had just gotten her two girls taken from her custody for the third time due to her beating them up. Too many chances, sometimes.

      • Houston Mom

        I believe second chances are appropriate for struggling but loving parents. But there are some people who should never get another chance. One of the abusive mothers in my friend’s area lost her 3 little girls after being caught selling them to men for sex so she could buy drugs. She got them back! How is that possible? One of the girls tried to burn down one of the foster homes she stayed in. Those kids don’t have a chance. I think they’d be better off living feral than with their mother.

    • OBPI Mama

      My parents were foster parents and the one thing that was really hard for us, bio kids, was when the system would give the foster kids back to the parents and then we’d get them back months later and they were worse off than when they left. It really frustrated us kids. We would see how far they’d come in a stable, loving home and then they’d be all messed up and harder to be around after their failed reunification. Ugh.

      • Houston Mom

        My friend currently has her adopted daughter’s little sister as a foster – for the second time. She was with them from birth to 3 months and then back to her birth parents. During the 9 months she was away, she did not even learn to sit up. She had never been fed solids, no teeth came in, she was filthy and ill and very overweight from being overfed to keep her quiet. No doctor visits or vaccinations and no visits from social workers. She only re-entered care because someone saw her beating the baby and called police. The arrest is the silver lining – the first time she’s been caught beating one of her kids in years. She has 10 or 11 now and isn’t even 30. But social services are working toward family reunification for this little girl. Her mother doesn’t have custody of any of her children. One of her older boys told the court he never wanted to go back. She threatened him with knives and set his toys on fire and made him watch. I think this is the kid she got caught pistol-whipping. He tried to testify during the termination hearing on the sister my friend adopted but the judge wouldn’t allow it because he had already been removed from the home before the girl was born. As if someone like that is going to change.
        My friend’s daughter is already bonding with little sis. It makes me sick to think she has a good chance of being sent back. My friend said it’s heart-breaking to get the phone call to pack up a kid’s stuff because they’re going back to their abusive parents.

    • Beth S

      I always felt that some courts placed too much emphasis on keeping the family together, especially in the face of clear cut evidence of abuse and neglect. I understand wanting reunification, but some children are better off without their parents in their lives.
      How many Judith Barisi’s (The little girl who played Ducky in the Land Before Time), Juliette Guerts or Omariee Varela’s do we need before we admit that some people aren’t meant to have kids?

  • Renee Martin

    NO, we should NOT be overly concerned with why this small number of women reject all that modern medicine offers for maternity care. At all.

    All the time spent theorizing how to change what we have now, in order to suit these people, is a WASTE. It often makes birth more miserable for the overwhelming majority that just want safety, effective pain relief on demand, dignity, and comfort, which is NOT acceptable. Adding services is wonderful, but when this subtracts There is no reason to change a system that works for over 90% of moms, to cater to those that won’t be satisfied with ANYTHING any hospital does.

    Non cult members simply do not get it- you could build a river around the hospital so women could birth in it, complete with quacks, er, lay MWs, and all the accouterments of NCB, and they would *still* reject it. It is NOT about making the hospital better, it is about rejecting the entire paradigm of OB care, no matter how patient centered it has become. Those are simply excuses, reasons they give for their actions.

    I have real life examples of this.
    Here in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, we have some of the most progressive, patient centered, NCB friendly (too friendly IMO) hospitals anywhere, with excellent CNMs, OBs and staff.

    Even to the disadvantage of the hospital/docs, they DO cater to HBers and their MWs. They allow transfers without hassle, try to be polite when they ought to be firm, they don’t report their disasters like they ought to, as they do not want to slow of deter these quacks from timely transfer (also because these quacks sued one hospital to keep this info from being reported! HOLY shit, right).

    They even allowed breech VB (and got sued when one went badly, no fault of their own), and VBAMC, far past what other places would allow. They do this because of the train wrecks and tradgesied they see in the HB world.

    In addition to these medical realities, they have FREE doulas on demand, private suites each with jacuzzi tubs and showers, plus a water birth room with big pools, birth balls, squat bars, lactation counselors as soon as you give birth. (whether you want them or not) They will not just respect, but participate in all of their demands- even lotus birth. Along with typical things like epidurals on demand, wifi, comfortable beds, place for partner and kids to sleep, etc. Oh, I almost forgot- very yummy local and organic food of the highest quality, served room service style.

    YET WE HAVE A HIGH, AND GROWING NUMBER OF HBERS, the highest in the nation at 4.5% and growing.

    Other than the reporting, offering these things are great, but they should be the topping on the cake, not the focus. The hospital should do what is the best evidence based care or all women, first and foremost. If they are going to go further into customizing birth for the patient (which IS great), they ought to provide a range of options, starting with, and most importantly, what the largest numbers of moms want. This is safety, effective pain relief, dignity, comfort.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      Whoa, that is a *lot* of icing on the cake. I had a pretty awesome, but mostly bare bones birth experience. That sounds like a spa.

      • Ash

        I do think some things are important , like private rooms for all patients to ensure infection control, privacy, and adequate sleep. But of course, it’s the poorest areas that don’t have private rooms. The concept of “midwifery only” units at some hospitals is bizarre to me. There’s a hospital in NYC that charges you an out of pocket fee of $200-$300 so you can be in a special unit specifically so they can’t offer you an epidural there. Bizarre stuff.

    • Mariana Baca

      Maybe hospitals adopting all these things send the mistaken image that if these things are good, and they were introduced by Hbers, then HB is respected by the medical establishment. Thus raising the rate.

  • Amy H

    Still getting redirected to adverstitial or whatever that is. They seem to want me to download a Google Chrome add-on. May be legit but I’d shoot myself first (intentional hyperbole).

  • lilin

    Hey, Brandy! Over ninety percent of women in America “reject” home birth and give birth in a hospital. Even in the Netherlands, the clear majority of women reject home birth.

    Rather than demonizing the medical system, let’s ask what has caused the extreme majority to “completely reject” the home birth and midwifery system. Maybe we can even improve that system – by making midwives train, educate, and license themselves, and forcing them to face organized review boards – so that laboring mothers can actually be safer.

    Let me guess. You don’t want to talk about that. Because you’re in a cult.

    • Jessica S.

      “Rather than demonizing the medical system, let’s ask what has caused the extreme majority to “completely reject” the home birth and midwifery system.”

      Spot on!

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    “Vaginal cutting.” Did she seriously refer to the medical procedure of episiotomy (which is NOT used routinely anymore) as “vaginal cutting?” Like it’s some sort of barbaric torture?

    • Therese

      I think that may have been for readers who are not immersed in the birth world and wouldn’t know what the term “episiotomy” means. She did the same thing for pitocin, referring to it as “synthetic hormones that speed up labor”, rather than just say pitocin.

      • Amy M

        Maybe. Or she might be going for shock value…synthetic hormones sounds scarier than pitocin, and vaginal cutting sounds scarier than episiotomy. She also said “major surgery” instead of Csection, and don’t forget, about 1/4 of all labor is induced! A QUARTER!!!!!

        • Therese

          No, in the sentence we discussing she used “caesarean”.
          Many mothers cite safety as the reason for drug-free births, fearing a cascade of interventions like induction, synthetic hormones to speed labor, vaginal cutting, and caesarean section.

          • Amy M

            Oh yes, she did in that sentence. Further down, she said major surgery, instead.

        • KarenJJ

          A whole QUARTER as opposed to 9%.

          So 25% after major abdominal surgery and 9% after a vaginal birth. I can imagine that’s about 9% hoping for a MRCS next time around.

        • Mishimoo

          I was so excited when I was pregnant with our eldest and heard about augmentation and active 3rd stage management because having worked in a vet surgery, using synthetic oxytocin just makes sense. To me, it was a case of: “Oh wow, isn’t science cool?!”

          • Young CC Prof

            Probably the weirdest NCB idea of all is the commitment to “physiologic third stage.” Trying to avoid a c-section is not crazy, c-sections do have some real disadvantages. (Mind you, they play up the disadvantages and deny the advantages, but still, disadvantages do exist.)

            Physiologic third stage, though? No advantages at all, unless you enjoy bleeding. It’s kind of like,

            “When I am bleeding profusely, during the immediate postpartum period when women are at highest risk of death, I really want my provider to stand there and watch, and not try to do anything to help.”

            WHAAAAT?

          • Dr Jay

            Don’t be silly. Your provider doesn’t just stand there. She plays soothing music, makes you eat a chunk of your own bloody placenta, and tells you to think happy, non-bleedy thoughts!

          • Young CC Prof

            And cinnamon candy. I forgot the cinnamon candy! It affects the ying and yang, or vital humors, or something like that.

      • PrimaryCareDoc

        Well, I’m not a fan of dumbing down conversation. However, I think that if she was THAT worried about her readers understanding, she could easily have hyperlinked the definition. And I don’t think “episiotomy” is a rare, unknown term. I think she was going for shock value. Because “vaginal cutting” is not a synonym nor a good description of what an episiotomy is.

        • Therese

          What would be a good description then? I just know the first time I heard what an episiotomy is, long before I knew anything about NCB, it did strike me as completely barbaric and horrifying. I don’t know any way it could be described that would make it sound not that bad.

          • AllieFoyle

            It is kind of horrifying, but not necessarily more so than tearing naturally.

          • Therese

            True! I don’t think I even knew that was a possibility at the time I first heard about episiotomies.

          • MaineJen

            It was one of those things I didn’t allow myself to believe, before I had kids. I heard about it, but just thought Nooooooooo there’s no way that would ever happen. LOL

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            “Making a small surgical incision to enlarge the vaginal opening.”

            “Vaginal Cutting”

            Might one of these terms be a bit more accurate and a bit less hyperbolic than the other?

          • anion

            Huh. First time I heard of it, I thought it seemed pretty sensible. Unappealing, but sensible.

          • MLE

            I asked for one because I could tell my baby was huge and I wanted a controlled exit rather than a mass explosion. My OB did not want to give me one! But I got a tiny snip and it helped a lot. My baby was 9.5 lbs and it was just what I needed to help him out after a long time pushing.

          • Dr Jay

            I do this. I call it my “homeopathic” episiotomy. 🙂
            Sometimes all you need is to get a band of fibrous tissue out of the way, or just make a smidge more room. Most of my episis are less than a cm. NCBers make it seem like I hack a hole in peri from the vaginal mucosa to the ischirectal fossa. It’s complete bullshit. And if it let’s me control the head and prevent a 3rd or 4th degree tear, then you’re welcome.

          • A cut to the perineum in a place where it won’t lead to a worse tear (jagged edges) that could result in fecal incontinence, or to prevent a tear in a place that would lead to a massive hemorrhage. I don’t think that sounds too awful …

            Episiotomies are sort of horrifying to think about, but the potential alternatives are even worse. A lot of medicine is really rather gross, barbaric, and horrifying when you think about it, it’s just better than the alternatives. I mean, think about chemo- you are literally poisoning your body, trying to kill the cancer cells a teeny bit faster than the poison kills you. It’s a really barbaric thing to do, but we do it anyways, because dying sucks a lot.

        • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

          She was absolutely doing it for shock value and to make episiotomies and inductions seem unnecessary and dangerous in order to add value to her article and personal opinion. Fear mongering at its finest

        • Medwife

          Anne Frye calls it “clitorotomy” because she says it involves clitoral nerve endings. (Don’t ask me, I don’t know why she says this.)

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            No. You’re joking, right? I had an episiotomy, and i can assure you that my clitoris works just fine.

          • Dr Jay

            Huh. Anne Frye apparently has her clitoris in her ***hole. Good God. The nerves supplying the perineum are the pudendal and inf. haemorrhoidal (anus). Your clitoris is at the top…no where near the business end of the deal (and you don’t need a medical degree to figure it out…a hand mirror will do). How can they outright lie like that? NCBers & midwives are forever harping on about the “culture of fear” in the hospital…they create it themselves.

      • Dr Jay

        Ignoring the fact, of course, that those same “synthetic hormones ” also cut your rates of bleeding to death from a PPH by 50%.

    • Trixie

      It’s used intentionally to try to make it sound like FGM.

      • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

        That was the first thing I thought when I read vaginal cutting, ” Is she purposely trying to make it sound like female genital mutilation?” Absurd. What is also hysterical are the link to the articles by Elissa on Jezebel.com and theweek.com made Brandy sound like a self-righteous looney tune. If an episiotomy prevents a 3rd or 4th degree tear, why would any woman reject the procedure to tear that severely? Absolutely bonkers!

      • PrimaryCareDoc

        The term “cutting” itself is pejorative. It made me think of FGM and loony intactivists, but it also makes me think of “cutting” used as a synonym for self-harming behaviors.

        • Trixie

          That too.

      • Especially as an episiotomy is not an incision into the vagina but into the perineum. She doesn’t even have her anatomy right. The perineum is skin while the vaginal tissues are mucosa.

  • Amy M

    Before anyone comes on here in a huff, I think its important to recognize that simply wanting an unmedicated birth does not mean that you are part of a cult.

    The cult includes the extremists, who believe the unmedicated birth is be all-end all. These are people (mostly women, but some men) who will get all up in everyone else’s business about they give birth, feed their infants, and raise their children. Despite what Zadrozny is saying about about “mothers supporting each other” it’s total twaddle and they only support the people who make the same choices. They prefer to tear down everyone else—maybe because of insecurity, maybe because they are mean jerks, maybe because its the only way they can remain part of their inner circle. If this describes you, maybe you are an NCB-cultist.

    But if you just want to have a healthy baby, and you prefer to go without pain medication, and you don’t really care what other people do, the NCB cult label does not apply to you.

    • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

      Yeah, but when you take the NCB as far as some women do to the point that they endanger their child’s brain function and life in the name of your birth experience it seems a little cultish and borderline crazy. Rejecting necessary medical care because these NCB worshippers tell you to trust your body and intervention are unesscessary lacks explanation or sense. It not just the simple no drugs during childbirth, which is definitely a great idea if the situation is uncomplicated and does not require interventions. It’s all the lies they perpetuate to further their agenda with no thought to the dangers they could be putting other women and children in because they think they know more than licensed medical professionals. It is absolutely shameful.

      • Amy M

        Oh absolutely! I was just anticipating some readers storming into the thread all offended because Dr. Amy said they were in a cult because they had an unmedicated birth. Obviously, Dr. Amy said nothing of the sort, so I was trying to pre-empt that thread.

        • Jessica S.

          I had the same instinct – it’s maddening, because it should be obvious that she’s not talking about reasonable people making personal choices. It’s the whackadoodles that think they’re right and must force it upon everyone else. (All the while, as they insist they’re all about choice!)

  • Mel

    “Maybe we can even improve the current system so that laboring mothers feel more comfortable going to a hospital than into a forest.”

    Over 99% of women in the USA already feel more comfortable giving birth in a hospital than a forest. Let’s keep this in perspective.

    • Life Tip

      Another way to ensure women are more comfortable going to the hospital to have their babies: don’t lie to them about what happens in the hospital or about the awful death rates for homebirths.

  • anion

    I am so sick of the “If they don’t want the hospital, let’s find out why and what we can do to make them happier,” thing, at least as it’s applied today (it was valid years ago, I think, before most maternity wards became like luxury hotels). Sure, we can find out why they don’t want the hospital, but those feelings are likely to be grounded in misconceptions and outright untruths. And no matter how many times those are refuted, they still keep popping up.

    Second, if a woman seriously thinks she’d rather give birth alone in the forest, there is *nothing* a hospital can do to encourage her to come in, short of planting its own forest and setting up a constantly-monitored camera feed in case there’s a problem. Which is ridiculous.

    Third, asking those women why they don’t want to go to a hospital, and (presumably) changing everything about the hospital to make them happy, not only leaves the majority in the dust, but presupposes that their reasoning is logical and sound and their complaints valid. That may be the case for some of them, sure, but not most of them.

    Fourth, let’s not forget that–as you basically said–it’s not always what the hospital does or doesn’t do that makes women want to homebirth or stuntbirth or whatever else, it’s the pressure put on them by people like Zabrozny. They make the decision because they’ve been fed a bunch of propaganda and subtly encouraged to think they’re failures if they don’t have an orgasmic homebirth in a tub full of wales. Peer pressure, in other words, and the only thing to counter that is for the NCB people to quit applying it.

    The answer is not in further catering to reckless fools. Yes, of course those women should be shown how nice hospitals are and assured that their wishes will be met to the best of everyone’s ability. I’m not suggesting we let them twist in the wind. But the idea that we should all bend over backwards to cajole a few irresponsible women into being responsible drives me crazy–especially when that irresponsibility is often based on the lies of others.

    • Amy M

      Zadrozny herself is perpetuating some of these myths by implying that an epidural will lead directly to a Ceserian.

      “I wasn’t vehemently against epidurals. I had done the math and decided
      if I wanted to be on my feet, during and quickly after the birth… if I
      wanted to avoid a catheter and major surgery….”

      She just slips that right in there–Epidural=major surgery. I’m amazed she went to the hospital at all. Wasn’t she afraid the big bad doctors would coerce her into getting an epidural against her will, so they could give her the automatic Csection that goes along with it? And you know all the shaving and enema parties those nurses have, probably while you are in transition.

      On the up side, most of the comments think the extreme NCB stuff is a crock and someone mentioned several of the most outspoken NCB advocates who lost babies (or their own lives).

      • moto_librarian

        Since she is so focused on anecdata, perhaps Zadrozny would like to know that I was up and walking within two hours of my delivery, and that was with am epidural so heavy that I could not feel my toes (and pushed in stirrups – the horror!). I was in a wheelchair for 24 hours after my unmedicated delivery, and was shaky on my feet for another day from blood loss.

        • Amy M

          Yeah, my epidural wore off after a couple of hours also. AND failed to lead to major surgery.

          • Jessica S.

            You mean it didn’t lead to a triple bypass? Or a kidney transplant? Whew! 😉

          • Amy M

            I know, right! I mean, it FELT like I had a lobotomy for a while there….

            Seriously though, after my “totally awesome vaginal delivery that was supposed to lead to instantaneous recovery” I had a pph, that left me weakened and anemic for months. Sure, I was able to get up and walk around the next day, and lift things, but it was mighty unpleasant. Let’s face it, recovering from birth can really suck, no matter how it happens, if things get complicated.

        • Jodi Hilla McCormack

          With both my pregnancies, I was induced, had my water broken AND had an epidural, yet I have had 0 cesarean sections, 0 episiotomies, 0 vacuum extractions, and 0 experiences with forceps. You know what the cascade is? It’s doctors trying to use the next least invasive method to deliver a baby safely and, each time they fail, they move up one more step instead of jumping to a cesarean (if they can, if there’s time).The “cascade” is doctors trying to preserve the chance of a successful vaginal delivery until there is no longer an option.

          Why aren’t NCB-ers applauding that?

      • Jessica S.

        Yeah, that really bugged me – especially when you contrast her personal experience with mine, a CS. She makes it sound like I was incapacitated in the hospital for days, and was crippled for two months following. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had the catheter out the same day as I had the CS, once I made my little journey around the maternity ward hallway. By the time he was two months old, I was definitely “normal”. We took a vacation to Whistler, BC when he was only 7 weeks old, a five hour drive from where we live. I definitely would remember if I was still limited in what I could do, and if don’t recall thinking about it once! So disingenuous. THAT is what causes women to shun hospitals, disinformation campaigns such as her own, and disguised as “journalism” no less. Ugh.

    • lilin

      Seriously, I feel like they’re daring me with this crap. “Why would a woman refuse to give birth in a hospital and instead decide to give birth with no trained, professional medical personnel around – but a huge amount of trained, professional camera people around?”

      Because she’s a self-aggrandizing idiot enthralled to a self-aggrandizing, idiotic philosophy! The flaw is not in the medical system, here. Sometimes stupid, self-involved people do stupid, self-involved things, especially when encouraged by others like them! There’s no system that can fix that.

      • Jessica S.

        Bingo!

  • anion

    Line above the quote: “Zadrozny does not seemed to recognize…” Should be “does not seem/has not seemed.”

    🙂

    • NoLongerCrunching

      Dr Amy, spell/grammar check might help. It really detracts from the message when it looks sloppy.

  • Captain Obvious

    I think these women should be asked to come on that reality show and discuss their own life experiences so as to cheer on women in their quest of a natural unmedicated child birth.

    “Even homebirth celebrities are not immune. In fact, they appear to have experienced a mini-epidemic of homebirth deaths. Ina May Gaskin, the doyenne of homebirth midwifery, lost a child at homebirth, Laura Shanley, the American exponent of freebirth (homebirth without a midwife) lost a baby at homebirth, and Janet Fraser, the Australian exponent of freebirth, lost a baby at homebirth, too. Don’t worry about her, though. She thought the entirely preventable death of her baby at home wasn’t particularly traumatic, not nearly as traumatic as the “birth rape” with her first (living) child.

    Two months ago Canadian homebirth celebrity Annie Bourgault had a twin homebirth. One of them lived and one of them died.”

    http://www.skepticalob.com/2011/08/author-of-perfect-birth-experience-has.html

    • Captain Obvious

      I suggest the show ask some big name natural unmedicated celebrities to come to the show and discuss their trials and tribulations about their own experiences. Names like Ina May Gaskin, Judy Fraser, Laura Shanley, Annie Bourgault, and the family of Caroline Lovell. Also, each of these guest stars can discuss how their losses of their own child or wife could have been prevented had they delivered in a hospital.

    • Captain Obvious

      I also think the reality show should invite midwife Katie McCall, founder of the site “Sister in Chains” to come on their show to discuss all the many of midwifes and doctors listed on her webpage have either presided over Homebirth deaths and injuries, err, I mean, are being persecuted for not being allowed to practice Homebirth midwifery giving these women a choice of where they want to birth.

    • Mel

      *Edit: Two years ago – not two months.

      That story makes me sick since I’m a twin. We were premature and deathly ill. Thanks to an OB and NICU we’re both alive and well.

      • Amy M

        I have twins, so the twin disaster stories always bother me a little bit more as well.

    • Amy M

      Oh that was you? Awesome.