Is the world of homebirth just middle school writ large?

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What would the world of homebirth look like if it were nothing more than middle school writ large?

It would look an awful lot like the world of homebirth looks today. Homebirth, like middle school is dominated by Queen Bees, based on exhibitionism and risky behavior, and ruled through enforced conformity, emotional manipulation, shunning, and purging.

The world of homebirth is dominated by Queen Bees. You know the type. They only feel alive when they are controlling a group of sycophants; hence they have blogs and websites restricted to sycophants. They run the gamut from complete wackos like Ina May Gaskin, Gloria Lemay, and Janet Fraser to mainstream business people like Jen Kamel, Gina Crosly-Corcoran, and Ricki Lake, to know nothings like Carla Hartley and January Harshe.

They are characterized by narcissism and overweening arrogance. They don’t need no stinkin’ medical or midwifery training to appoint themselves as experts on childbirth. They know what’s best for you in every situation, even though they don’t know you at all. What’s best for you is to copy them, to worship them at their seminars and workshops, and to buy their goods and services.

They demand rigid conformity to arbitrary rules:

You must not have a C-section or you must be devastated if you do. You must not have pain relief in labor or you must be ashamed if you do. High risk pregnancy? Your fault. Breastfeeding painful? Your fault. Baby died at homebirth? Bad stuff happens.

It’s is always your fault, except when it happens to them. When Queen Bees fail to meet their own arbitrary rules it’s the hospital’s fault: They had to get the epidural because the nurse mentioned it, or their heplock was too painful. Their C-sections were foisted on them by their doctors, even the C-sections they asked for. Their own complications never would have happened if they had had an unhindered labor.

Exhibitionism is key. You must demonstrate your conformity by filming your baby’s birth and posting it on YouTube for the world to evaluate. You must post your birth story in contraction by contraction detail so the Queen Bees of the homebirth world can parse it for ideological correctness. The more risky your exhibitionism is, the better. Breech baby? Twins? VBA4C? Awesome! The greater the risk of death, the more evidence that you are loyal to the Queen Bees’ arbitrary rules, and the higher your status in the group.

What if you refuse to conform? What if you don’t feel bad that you deviated from the Queen Bee’s rules? What if, horror of horrors, you don’t constantly feed the Queen Bee’s insatiable need for praise and worship. In those cases, Queen Bees have ways of dealing with you.

The first step is emotional manipulation through shaming. You are weak. You are selfish. You are a BAD MOTHER!

So long as you recognize the error of your ways, come slinking back promising to do better next time, and praising the Queen Bee for achieving what you could not achieve, you are allowed to remain in the group.

And if you don’t? You must be purged from the group and shunned. No one is to speak with you or acknowledge you. Whatever you write is greeted with the metaphorical equivalent of the Queen Bee putting her fingers in her ears and chanting “la, la, la, la, la.”

Why? Because, according to the Queen Bee, you are mean to her, bullying her, a troll and, horror of horrors, not supportive. That’s because the Queen Bee lives in a Manichean world where you are either with her or against her. There is no middle ground. She claims that she is protecting her group from unsupportive comments, but, really, she is protecting her fragile ego from anyone who doesn’t acknowledge her as the Queen.

This middle school behavior has important implications for a woman considering homebirth.

She needs to ask herself whether she is choosing homebirth because it is right for her and her baby or because it cements membership in the Queen Bee’s circle. That goes double for those planning a high risk homebirths where the possibility of her baby’s deaths is much higher.

She need to ask herself whether the “encouragement” she is getting for her planned homebirth is truly encouragement or just a way to bolster the Queen Bee’s fragile ego by having her own choices mirrored back to her.

When she is shunned for questioning the arbitrary rules of the Queen Bee, she needs to ask herself why the Queen Bee’s approval is so important to her.

When she is shamed for daring to deviate from the Queen Bee’s prescriptions for birth, she should recognize that the Queen Bee and her sycophants are not her friends. Friends help you when you are down. They don’t crush you.

When she is purged from the group for not being sufficiently worshipful of the Queen Bee, she should thank her lucky stars for being forced out of a toxic situation.

And in the worse case scenario, when her baby dies because she attempted a homebirth, she should never look to the Queen Bee for accountability. Indeed, she should prepare herself to be vilified by her former community; her empty arms and broken hear will be a source of unbearable cognitive dissonance to the Queen Bee and her sycophants.

The world of homebirth isn’t about babies and it isn’t about birth. It’s about Queen Bees enforcing their will through ideological conformity, emotional manipulation and shunning of those who deviate … just like middle school.