Big Birth takes a page from Big Pharma and creates a new disease that only they can treat

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Big Birth is the multi-million dollar business of the natural childbirth industry. It involves midwives, doulas, childbirth educators and lobbying organizations. It, like the anti-vax movement, climate deniers, and creationists has created an alternative world of internal legitimacy involving journals, conferences, and letters after names, not to mention blogs and message boards where true believers can never be challenged by actual scientists.

And because Big Birth is a business, it does what all businesses do; it aggressively markets its products in a constant battle for greater market share and more profits. In fact, in its marketing techniques it employs all the tactics of Big Pharma: grossly exaggerated claims of benefit, desperate efforts to hide bad outcomes, and aggressive efforts to besmirch the reputation of competitive products (in this case modern obstetrics).

An now it has taken a new step pioneered by Big Pharma. It has created a new disease that can only be treated by its products. Just like Big Pharma created the disease of “social anxiety” and proposed treating it with SSRIs like Paxil, Big birth has created the disease of “birth trauma” for which the only treatment is, you guessed it, the products and services of Big Birth.

How does Big Pharma create a new disease. Here’s how alternative health guru Dr. Larry Dossey explains it:

The trick [is] to inflate a common, everyday condition to the level of pathology, which, if not attended to, could blight one’s prospects for personal happiness and success.


• Taking a normal function and implying that there’s something wrong with it and that it should be treated

• Describing suffering that isn’t necessarily there

• Defining as large a proportion of the population as possible as suffering from the “disease” …

• Using statistics selectively to exaggerate the benefits of treatment

• Promoting the treatment as risk free

Those are the exact tactics that Big Birth is using to promote the disease of “birth trauma” to promote their own products and service.

Keep in mind that Big Pharma does not create the condition; the condition is real. Big Pharma merely pathologizes it and recommends a treatment that will add money to their coffers. Similarly Big Birth did not create the condition of fear, feelings of helplessness and disappointment that characterize the response of a small segment of women to childbirth. They have merely pathologized it, insisted that it must be treated, and promote a treatment that will add money to their coffers.

Birth trauma is a subset of the trauma occasioned by serious, life threatening illness, pain and feelings of helplessness. That form of trauma is experienced by many people who have felt helpless due to severe pain and frightened for their lives.

Most women are able to examine and integrate their feelings of agonized suffering and fear around childbirth and move on. A small segment are not, and they should be treated … by psychotherapists versed in the treatment of post traumatic stress syndrome.

But that won’t line the pockets of the midwives, doulas and childbirth educators of Big Birth, so they have responded just like Big Pharma would.

Read any natural childbirth book, website or message board and you will find copious references to “birth trauma.” It is now a full blown pathology; “lots” of women are suffering from it and if they are not, it’s only because they don’t realize they are suffering; obstetricians are advertized as the cause; unmedicated vaginal birth as provided by Big Birth is promoted as the cure; and the risks of forgoing obstetric interventions are ignored altogether.

It also explains why Big Birth denigrates anything other than unmedicated vaginal birth (since it can’t provide epidurals, or perform C-sections), and why it promotes unmedicated vaginal birth as “healing.” They’ve created the disease of “birth trauma”; they’ve insisted that anyone who doesn’t have an unmedicated vaginal birth has been traumatized by it, whether women feel traumatized or not; and they offer “healing” through purchase of their products and services.

Why should we care how Big Pharma and Big Birth market their products?

According to Dossey:

Why should we be concerned about disease mongering? There is a huge psychological burden in thinking of ourselves as diseased when we are not. Beyond the psychological cost, there are financial costs, both personal and social. Treating these “illnesses” with pharmaceuticals [or natural childbirth products and services] is not cheap…

How do we resist the tremendous marketing pressure brought to bear by both Big Pharma and Big Birth?

Dossey says:

The way forward may be in immunizing ourselves psychologically against the messages from Big Pharma [and Big Birth] that invade our lives on every hand. We have to learn to stop being suckers.

How? … [I]t may be that the best way to resist disease mongering is not to beat our heads against the fortress of Big Pharma, but to develop the psychological and spiritual maturity that makes us resistant to their efforts to instill fear and dread in our lives.

In the case of Big Birth, women need to immunize themselves psychologically against the messages from Big Birth that only unmedicated vaginal birth is a real birth, that they should feel traumatized by the interventions of modern obstetrics and that they have “failed” if they didn’t achieve and intervention-free, unmedicated vaginal birth.

It may be that the best way to avoid birth trauma is to develop the psychological and spiritual maturity that makes women resistant to the efforts of Big Birth to instill fear of modern obstetrics and dread of not achieving the natural childbirth idea.

67 Responses to “Big Birth takes a page from Big Pharma and creates a new disease that only they can treat”

  1. ducky7
    October 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Yes! This! You keep hitting it on the head!

  2. SisterMorphine
    October 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    I probably shouldn’t follow links to the various homebirth advocates’ pages because it’s just going to give me an aneurysm, but I’m always puzzled by women whose quest for a “healing birth” leads them into such craziness as HBA3C or some such. I mean, do these women have self-esteem so fragile that their first response after a “failed” birth is to get pregnant again (and again, and again) in hopes that “this” birth will be the magical, beautiful peaceful HB they always wanted? Do they think about whether or not they have the resources (not just $$, but energy & time) for all these kids? I’m not criticising someone’s decision to have more than 1.2 children–I came from a blended family of 12! But you should be having children b/c you WANT CHILDREN, not to prove something or “heal.” Plus, what do these mothers see when they look at Child “2C”? That he or she, while a nice kid and all, was a huge disappointment b/c they went through a horrible transfer to the hospital so that the child could be born alive?

    I’m being a bit facetious; I’m sure these mothers love their children the same regardless of how they came into the world. (At least, I really hope so.) But the way a number of them seem to keep reproducing in search of the perfect birth experience is something I find really, really troubling. IMO, once your kid is born and ok, it shouldn’t matter one bit whether they were unmedicated vaginal, vaginal with epidural, c-section, homebirth, “medicalised” or transported by Bones using his tricorder directly into the bassinet. I had a planned C-section and once they handed me my son it made not a damn bit of difference. I just don’t get that this is something people continue to weep over long after the birth, much less keep getting preggers & attempting increasingly risky “stuntbirths” just to “heal.”

    • guest
      October 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

      You are so right. It’s immature, selfish and just insane. I think it’s a combination of fragile self-esteem, being extremely gullible, and narcissism. They are the kind that psychos like Robert Biter and incompetent home-birth midwives prey on because they know all they have to do is stroke these women’s egos and they hit pay dirt.

    • Elaine
      October 4, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      To be entirely fair, I think that these people who get pregnant and seek a “healing” birth probably wanted another kid anyway. I highly doubt anyone is getting pregnant solely for the “healing birth”.

    • DiomedesV
      October 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      I was about to say that people like that are probably rare, but then I remembered that a similar phenomenon is actually quite common: people who have children to save a relationship. It never works. All it does is make an innocent person miserable. But it still happens. All the time.

    • Annnabel
      October 14, 2014 at 8:10 am #

      If they really have PTSD, they need healing THERAPY not another birth. Fuck midwives and their stupid healing/orgasmic birth dogma seriously

  3. me
    October 3, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    The only point of contention I take with this is that social anxiety is very real, and does respond to treatment. I know you point out that Big Pharma didn’t create the disorder, only that they “pathologizes” it. It was already pathological. Big Pharma may be guilty of widening the pool of “sufferers” to include those who may have been excluded before (right, wrong, or indifferent), but nevertheless, social anxiety is very real, and those who suffer from it do have difficulty, often extreme difficulty, functioning in their day to day lives. And yes, SSRIs do help – they lower the anxiety level to the point where non-pharmaceutical treatments become more effective, thereby saving the patient months, if not years, of therapy.

    Full disclosure time – my oldest child suffers selective mutism; an extreme form of social anxiety/social phobia. And since starting Prozac last year (after trying non drug methods for over a year) she is finally responding to treatment and has made tremendous progress.

    Maybe, being a vagina doc, you should stick with vaginas.

    • Michelle
      October 3, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

      I do think that broadly, the point in the article is correct but I wish
      she hadn’t used “alternative health guru Dr. Larry Dossey” as there are
      plenty of logically based articles from valid sources pointing how the
      discourse gets skewed. Actually, I’ve got Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway that while it’s about climate change aptly demonstrates how campaigns can be run to mislead and the information in there could have been readily adapted to this.

      Instead, it’s disappointing to see “Big Pharma”
      making a appearance along with the use of an article intended to
      minimise the benefits of pharmaceuticals (and that would include things
      like pain relief that could be used in labour!) and which gives the conspiratorial impression that disorders like the bone disease osteoporosis or bipolar disorder are just made up for the purpose of conning us. The article is totally invalid though, it requires we make a lot of assumptions about the broad claims within it and accept that a Listerine anecdote dating back to about 1914 is a example of this happening. That they can’t come up with anything better than that is really suspicious, and nor could they come up with anything really solid as a manufactured medical problem. Rather, they use examples of real things that are real problems for some people.

  4. Sue
    October 3, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    Great analogy – thank you!

    These people like to think they are so morally superior to The Man and Big Pharma. They are just another example of the same, under another guise, and less effective.

  5. TsuDhoNimh
    October 2, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    The recent research that the faster wounded soldiers are given pain
    relief the less likely they are to go on to develop PTSD suggests that
    there is a way to minimize the trauma of childbirth.

    The difficulty is that it means the whole “drug-free childbirth” idea needs to be changed into “birth with pain meds as needed”.

  6. ArmyChick
    October 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Don’t you just love first world problems?

    I’ve seen both sides of the coin: I am an American raised in a third world country where mortality rates are very high and women would give an arm and a leg to be able to give birth in a safe, clean environment.

    Yet we have fellow American women who want to go back 1000 years and pretend medicine hasn’t evolved. At all. They are so privileged and just don’t see how easy they have in this country. I am a mother to a 3 year old myself and I was treated like a queen during my hospital stay in Boston and I know how bleased I am to have access to great providers and life saving procedures that were there when my blood pressure went through the roof and I had to undergo a c-section.

    Poor white, privileged American women with their “birth traumas”. They are so ignorant that they just can’t see how lucky they are. My late grandmother from Brazil would have given an arm and a leg to have my uncle back. The uncle she had at home and died due to not having access to medical care.

    • mostlyclueless
      October 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Didn’t anyone tell your grandmother that her body was made to give birth? Birth is as safe as life gets. It’s not a medical emergency. Maybe death is just a variation of normal?

      • Smoochagator
        October 3, 2014 at 9:20 am #

        Death IS normal. After all, the death rate for humanity so far is 100%. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do anything to prevent it happening prematurely, or don’t mourn the people we lose.

    • wookie130
      October 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      You know, I get this, I do. And I do agree with you on a variety of levels here. But, I do think that birth can be traumatic, and I don’t doubt that there are women that suffer psychologically from negative experiences during childbirth. It is one of the most (if not THE most) physically painful and often frightening moments of a woman’s life, and things can, and often do go horribly wrong…it is not surprising that birth can create PTSD. Everyone perceives things differently, so…I can kind of empathize with the trauma thing.

      Now, having said all of THAT, I feel that the NCB crowd really milks this concept for all it’s worth. And sadly, this had led to the worst birth trauma of all…a dead mother or dead babies, and sometimes even both. I just fail to see how relinquishing one’s ideal birthing scenario can trump actual lives.

      • guest
        October 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

        The NCBers have a lot of gall moaning about supposed hospital-induced birth trauma, when they inflict the worst trauma of all, dead babies.

        • ArmyChick
          October 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

          Dead babies are just collateral damage to them. At least they has their “natural birth experience!”.

      • Smoochagator
        October 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

        Well, in the OP Dr. Amy notes that yes, some women DO feel traumatized by their birth experience, who have a very quick and painful and scary labor or who have a truly cruel or neglectful care provider. But the answer to that trauma is not to sell them a bag of goods that’s just going to endanger them and their children – like, say, home birth.

      • Sue
        October 3, 2014 at 12:39 am #

        Certainly life-threatening things happening during childbirth, near-misses, severe vaginal trauma and prolonged, unremitting pain can be considered “traumatic’ – and even lead to PTSD.

        All of these are features of vaginal birth without interventions. And none of them are mitigated by eliminating “fear”.

        One of the characteristics of a mature clinician is that we develop greater caution with insight, not less.

    • SporkParade
      October 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Here’s the sad thing. I’m taking an online course on Coursera about childbirth internationally. The first week of the course is all about causes of maternal mortality, with a focus on developing countries. Someone seriously said that the reason the maternal mortality rate in the US is so high relative to other developed countries is . . . because birth is overmedicalized with our unnecessary C-sections and epidurals.

      • Amy M
        October 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

        Someone teaching the course?

        • SporkParade
          October 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

          Dr. Lynn Sibley of Emory University. She’s an anthropologist and CNM who has developed programs to improve maternity care in rural areas of impoverished countries by training birth attendants to perform basic life-saving techniques, and she serves as a consultant to an alphabet soup of international development agencies.

          • Karen in SC
            October 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

            I’m taking that too. I hope to have time to refute the doulas and CPMs. Especially a post like that. I wonder if the instructor will answer and refute those untruths.

          • RNMomma
            October 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

            That sounded so awesome, I just signed up!

      • SporkParade
        October 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

        Oh God, and now there’s a thread on how sad it is that women choose to give birth in hospitals rather than at home with a midwife! And this woman is bewildered that her husband’s family, who all gave birth with midwives (because there was no other option), were so unsupportive of her choice.

        • Amazed
          October 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

          Nature fights back. Once, She did Her best to kill is through births and mild childhood diseases. Now, She’s trying to restore Her balance by leading stupid women into killing their own children and themselves, lessening the population all around.

          • guest
            October 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

            Maybe it’s “natural selection”..

          • yarnbarf
            October 3, 2014 at 1:12 am #

            It’s really rude to snark on NCB advocates by being flippant about their or their children’s deaths. That’s the kind of thing that they condemn this site for.

          • guest
            October 3, 2014 at 11:00 am #

            Really? When they so casually condemn their own children by risking their lives in home birth? Good try.

      • Karen in SC
        October 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

        They obviously didn’t read the pie chart, or understand it, about causes of maternal mortality.

      • Bugsy
        October 4, 2014 at 9:46 am #

        Thanks for mentioning the course – I just signed up for it myself!

    • guest
      October 2, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      They are spoiled, entitled and ungrateful. Good luck to them when they have real problems they actually have to deal with.

    • Guest
      October 3, 2014 at 1:07 am #

      Your observations reflect a real phenomenon. I’m a history student (PhD), and my main area of interest is the tension between the built and natural environment in America (“man” vs. “nature”). The Romantics, who nostalgically believed that urbanity had unnecessarily intervened between humanity and God’s divine creation (Nature), were urbanites themselves, disillusioned by their own luxuries. Those who actually lived well beyond society’s influence suffered greatly from their isolation, All in all, you can’t take technological/medical/industrial advances for granted without first being “victim” to it’s luxury.

      IMHO, Women who fall for NCB propaganda are most likely either truly traumatized and desperately seeking the radical alternative to their first experience, or they are perfectly privileged and, yet, disillusioned because the status quo is, in some way, “inauthentic.” The “inauthentic” trope is NOT original, and it’s not new. NCB is just one expression of it. When the “inauthentic” trope is employed, the Other (any minority race or culture) is looked to for a more “authentic”experience, which is why those of this ilk are so likely to appropriate customs of minorities.

      • Who?
        October 3, 2014 at 2:08 am #

        This is interesting for me. My son is the first of two children, who grew up in a middle class Australian home-professional parents, comfortable inner city suburb, private school, regular nice holidays-you get the picture. Anyway one of his adolescent concerns was that we didn’t live a ‘real’ life, or participate in the ‘real’ world.

        He went to university and then became a police officer, and was promptly posted in one of the roughest areas in our city. He got up close and personal with a lot of ‘real’ people, and decided pdq that this ‘real’ life was not all it was cracked up to be.

        He’s now saving for a house in a ‘nice’ suburb, plotting his promotion to detective-apparently (proud mum alert) despite his young age he has already been approached to make the move-and can’t speak highly enough of his school teacher and lawyer housemates.

        Seeing the reality of what he imagined would be a simpler and more authentic life has made him realise that our ordered affluent lifestyle is real enough, particularly now that he has to make it happen for himself.

        • Guest
          October 3, 2014 at 2:29 am #

          I would have to say that my little comment is too overly simplistic to be taken too seriously. While there are legitimate criticisms industrial, technologically advanced and socially progressive societies, dismissing an entire section of modern life, be it an affluent, suburban, consumerist lifestyle or legitimate medical personnel and life-saving protocols, is, also, too simplistic and probably solves very little. Most people realize this, and develop a more nuanced understanding of the world. The rest become lay midwives and NCB advocates (<–snarky joke)

          • Who?
            October 3, 2014 at 2:37 am #

            Could be he’s just growing up then!

    • Liz Leyden
      October 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

      My parents were born in the American South in the 1940s. Thanks to legal segregation, health care left a lot to be desired, especially for rural Blacks. If you couldn’t get to a hospital, or you weren’t allowed at the nearest hospital, you had your baby at home, with a midwife, whether you wanted a home birth or not.

  7. The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
    October 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Leonard: You don’t go to into science for the money.
    Bernadette: Speak for yourself. Last month my company both invented and cured restless eye syndrome. Ka-ching, ya blinky chumps!

  8. 2boyz
    October 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    So, do the NCB-ers allow that some of us are traumatized BECAUSE of an unmedicated birth?

    • Guest
      October 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      No, you just THINK you are traumatized because “they” have tricked you into thinking something went wrong. All that happened to you was a variation of normal, nothing a rebirth can’t fix. Duh.

    • moto_librarian
      October 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Of course not! They think that we “did it wrong.”

      • 2boyz
        October 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

        Oh, I did it “better” than any of them. Precipitous labor. I arrived at the hospital less than 5 minutes before pushing him out. No IV, no monitor, they barely managed to get me into a room, and did not manage to get me into the bed. I’m traumatized from the pain, panic, and fear of those twenty minutes of labor.

        • Smoochagator
          October 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

          Happened to a good friend of mine. She never wanted a natural birth, but it happened when she arrived at the hospital fully dilated and pushing. They were like, “Okay, we’re having this baby.” And she was like, “Um, I need an epidural.” “Too late for that.” “Sooooo… could I get some Ibuprofen or something?”

          • yarnbarf
            October 3, 2014 at 1:14 am #

            “How about some ether? Do you have ether? Chloroform?”

          • Smoochagator
            October 3, 2014 at 9:04 am #

            “My momma always said if you puts a knife under the bed, it cuts the pain in two.”

          • Anj Fabian
            October 3, 2014 at 11:41 am #

            ..and no opiates that close to delivery either.


          • Bombshellrisa
            October 4, 2014 at 12:38 am #

            That was me when my son was born-I was excited about the idea of having an epidural after not getting one with dd and showed up not knowing it was “show time”. Oh well. I will not be having a third so I can have a healing birth to finally enjoy an epidural.

        • wookie130
          October 3, 2014 at 10:38 am #

          This happened to the lady next door to me in the L&D ward when I delivered my son 7 weeks ago…I had a c-section, and was wide awake at 3 a.m., holding my new baby, listening to the HORROR that was ensuing next door. All I could hear was “PLEASE GOD!!! No!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!” for 40 minutes. It was awful, and my heart went out to that mother. Fortunately, all was well, and both mother and baby were fine. Poor thing!

        • moto_librarian
          October 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

          Oh, that sounds awful! At least with my first child, I had been planning to go unmedicated. I got to the hospital dilated to 9 cm., and my son was born less than two hours later. But that hour and a half of pushing? Sheer agony! After it was over, I couldn’t believe that anyone would experience that once and ever do it that way again unless there were no other options.

    • Young CC Prof
      October 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      That could only have happened if you didn’t have a doula and a supportive birth attendant. Or if your supportive attendant offered pain medication at any point. Or if you didn’t trust birth enough.

      Whatever. Must be because you did it wrong.

    • RNMomma
      October 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      I didn’t completely buy into it being this monumental, life changing event, but I definitely felt let down after my OOH natural childbirth. I told my husband upon getting into the car that it was “the most traumatic thing I had ever experienced.” I had to work through it, for sure, but I would never call it birth trauma (for me).

  9. FirstTimeMom
    October 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    So the OB (male I might add) who took care of me with love, insisted I call him with any issue, any time (he got many 3AM phone calls as I was a first time mom), got me a Mother’s Day card, and made sure and discussed all options open to me including supporting me laboring in various positions and going unmedicated traumatized me and I didn’t know it. Well crap. So my early epidural, the doctor letting me have small snacks and drinks and making sure the nurse knew to come get him if I wanted him for anything was a BAD thing. I understand now…*sarcasm*

    I am glad he is an OB/GYN so I can still see him for my girly appointments. Best doctor I have ever had.

  10. Mel
    October 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    “A small segment are not, and they should be treated … by psychotherapists versed in the treatment of post traumatic stress syndrome.”

    Anyone else notice that the midwife-homebirth-healing model doesn’t actually heal the patient?

    1. A woman has a traumatic emotional reaction to a birth and never wants to birth in a hospital again – OR – had a perfectly normal hospital birth with no emotional trauma before being brainwashed into believing she was robbed by the hospital.
    2. A midwife swoops in and promises to heal her though another “natural” birth.
    3. Woman has a “natural” birth….and still never wants to go to the hospital again.

    Compare to a therapy model:
    1. Woman has a traumatic emotional reaction to childbirth.
    2. Therapist works with woman to manage the emotions, feel more safe, and other actual techniques used by many actual medical researchers.
    3. Woman learns to manage emotional reactions and -ideally – has a better reaction to any additional births. If another birth brings up more painful emotions, step 2 is ALWAYS open.

    • DaisyGrrl
      October 2, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      I was just thinking along the same lines. If the “birth trauma” people really wanted to help women overcome traumatic childbirth experiences, they would advocate for standard postpartum debriefs whenever a traumatic experience arises (stat c-sections, baby needing resus, pph, etc.) where a woman can go over what happened with a pro if she wants. Then she can obtain contact info for psychological help, and a note to her file to ensure there is follow-up to see how she is coping. This should be in addition to standard screening for PPD.

      If these people truly want to reduce birth trauma, the first step is recognizing that giving birth is inherently painful and can be seriously traumatic for some women. Recognize this, strategize ways to make stat interventions less scary (not the easiest thing to do, I know), and treat the resulting emotional trauma. Instead, they’ve come up with the nonsensical idea that the hospital is responsible for the trauma, rather than the birth. Thus the source of the trauma is never addressed, women who hate their unmedicated births are marginalized, and babies are subjected to unneeded risks.

      • TsuDhoNimh
        October 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

        “the first step is recognizing that giving birth is inherently painful
        and can be seriously traumatic for some women. Recognize this,
        strategize ways to make stat interventions less scary”

        Being honest about the possibility of severe pain would be a starting point.

        Let the patient know that pain is normal and that there WILL be a discussion of what will be done to deal with it, and it will be dealt with promptly and appropriately. There will be no attempt to deny that she is feeling real pain – if she says it hurts, it hurts.
        After a trauma, it helps to be listened to … what happens is someone has an unexpected intervention and suddenly she’s TOLD she’s been traumatized, and TOLD she’s not a real mother because she didn’t have a drug-free vaginal birth.

      • Smoochagator
        October 3, 2014 at 9:15 am #

        “strategize ways to make stat interventions less scary”
        I don’t know what kind of training EMTs and ER personnel get in this, but I have had several really great experiences with firemen, ambulance workers, and ER doctors/nurses that were either treating me or my child. They were wonderful about staying calm and focused, keeping me in the loop and reassuring me all while doing what they had to do. When my son was injured, both our regular hospital and the local children’s hospital had patient advocates and social workers there to support us. Of course, we are lucky enough to live in a large and fairly affluent town that has a robust medical infrastructure, so our hospitals can afford to have that sort of staff on hand. I imagine in some areas cost is most definitely a factor in the kind of treatment the patients receive.

        • Anj Fabian
          October 3, 2014 at 11:47 am #

          A child rode right into the rear of a car because he wasn’t looking. (Not my kid.) He gouged his knee on the broken taillight lens. Someone called a squad.

          I was used to the pediatric hospital where everyone talks directly to the child and tells them what they will do, before they do it. The EMT stabilized the limb and lifted the child onto the stretcher without word. The kid was pretty shaken by the initial injury and was not helped by adults coming over and handling him with next to no warning. Two thumbs down.

          Even if you aren’t sure the patient can hear you or understand you, tell them everything.

        • DaisyGrrl
          October 4, 2014 at 12:13 am #

          There’s one poster here who had a very scary complication (I think it was a massive pph, but I could well be wrong). She said there was one nurse whose only job seemed to be to hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be alright. And that nurse figures largely in her memory of the event.

          You’re right, it’s these types of things that help. Letting the patient know what’s happening. Having someone there to reassure them. Educating women in birth classes about a few of the more common scary interventions so they know why these things are happening (I couldn’t imagine finding myself with a retained placenta, hemorrhaging, with a doctor elbow-deep trying to save my life without having *some* inkling that such a thing is a possibility – talk about making a scary event even worse!).

  11. Montserrat Blanco
    October 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    According to this people I should be severely traumatized. I developed severe preeclampsia during my pregnancy. I received care at a large university hospital and when my son showed symptoms of distress inside me I was offered a c-section.

    I do not recall my CS like something pleasant but I do not recall it as something terrible either. The worst was the weird feeling of not being able to move my legs.

    My son was born early and he went to the NICU while I spend 30+ hours at the ICU myself while my blood pressure and blood tests stabilized enough to go to a normal hospitalization unit. I was not the first person to touch him, I was not in fact in the top 20. According to NCB ideas we should not have bonded and I should not have been producing milk at all. Well, he recognized me the first time we met again, I love him more than anything else in the world and he has been having my milk as his only food since his birth.

    I am worried because he is still at the NICU but not traumatized or depressed in any way and I have no regrets whatsoever that he was born by a CS. In fact I am glad he was born by a CS and got to keep all his brain cells without damage and did not suffer during his birth. He had a brain US today that is absolutely normal and I am really happy about it, knowing he will not have brain damage for all his life. A scar is a very small price to pay for it. Those people are simply bonkers.

    • Amy M
      October 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Me too. My situation wasn’t as extreme as yours, but my entire pregnancy and the birth of my children were extremely “medicalized.” I spent a month in the hospital because of pre-term labor. My boys didn’t need NICU, but I didn’t touch them until 2 or 3hrs after they were born, and I didn’t breastfeed them, beyond the 3 days in the hospital. Despite all that, they somehow recognize me as their mother and I wasn’t traumatized by my experiences. (I did end up with PPD, but that was later, and more related to sleep deprivation)

      I hope your boy comes home soon! Glad to hear he is doing so well!

      • Amazed
        October 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

        Poor kids. You clearly lied to them, tricked them into accepting you as their mother. Only kids who mother pulled out herself are truly bonded, doncha know?

    • Dr Kitty
      October 2, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      Congratulations on the birth of your son!
      I hope he comes home soon and you get to fully enjoy the crazy new parent thing.

      • Montserrat Blanco
        October 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

        Thank you very much (to all of you). We are getting good news from the neonatologists and I hope he will be home as soon as possible. The NICU here is great and we get to have him outside the incubator on our chests every day. I love that, especially when he protests when he is back on it.

    • moto_librarian
      October 2, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      I am so glad that you and your son are okay! I hope he comes home very soon, but I am so happy to hear that all indicators are good.

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      October 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      I had a seizure when I was in labor with my first because of eclampsia and they wouldn’t let me have my daughter alone for 24 hours.

    • Amazed
      October 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Congratulations! So happy for you and your undamaged baby. I hope he comes home soon.

    • Mishimoo
      October 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      Congratulations on your new baby! Hope he gets to go home with you soon.

  12. Ellen Mary
    October 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Very clever rhetorical technique here Dr. A! <3

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