Birth is a lioness; why do midwives treat it like a kitten?

lioness kitten 2

Every few months we read a terrible story about a child or adult mauled by a wild animal that someone thought to keep as a pet. The owners never intended for anyone to get hurt. They simply thought that with enough love and nurturing, they could tame the animal. Indeed, right up until the moment of the mauling, many thought they had tamed a wild animal.

Unfortunately, the owners failed to respect the essence of the animal; wild animals cannot be domesticated and it is foolish and dangerous to pretend otherwise.

Midwives and natural childbirth advocates often approach birth in the same way. Birth is a lioness, but if you read the nonsense that many midwives and natural childbirth advocates write about it, you’d come away with the impression that its a fluffy kitten. And if you reached your hand out to pet it, that hand might get bitten off.

UK midwives and natural childbirth advocates in particular have a tendency to blither nonsense illustrated with hearts and flowers (although they are hardly alone). Consider The Positive Birth Movement. It’s hard to imagine anything more inane and nonsensical:

We are a grass roots movement, spreading positivity about childbirth via a global network of free Positive Birth groups, linked up by social media.

We aim to challenge the current epidemic of negativity around childbirth by bringing women together …

Wait! It gets worse:

Get Positive: One Day Workshops from the Positive Birth Movement!

…This is a completely new kind of birth preparation – not a plastic pelvis in sight. At the PBM we think that your body already knows how to give birth but your mind needs a little attention. We want to help you take everything you thought you knew about birth and replace it with some really gorgeous stuff that will make your eyes sparkle with anticipation.

These one day workshops are run by our experienced PBM Facilitators, and are designed specifically to help pregnant women:

Challenge any existing negative expectations of birth
Fill up with excitement and positivity about the big day
Build a toolkit to maximise chances of the best birth possible
Leave feeling strong, confident, and inspired.

The website is filled with “positive” birth stories, but:

Many people believe that the Positive Birth Movement is all about sharing good birth stories, and that those who have had ‘less than positive’ experiences are not a part of what we do.

This is not the case.

We exist because, at a global level, many women are not currently having a positive birth.

Often these women feel without a voice. They want to speak up, but are told consistently: “all that matters is a healthy baby”

In other words, lets all get together and pretend that there’s no need to be afraid of birth because its a fluffy kitty. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to warn you that in reality, birth is a lioness and wouldn’t hesitate to kill you by sinking its teeth in your neck.

The organizers are so privileged that they actually imagine that a less than positive birth means that someone’s feelings were hurt; it never crosses their mind that a negative birth experience can mean a dead baby or a dead mother or both.

It amazes me how the organizers disrespect both women’s intelligence and birth.

Pregnant women are not empty headed ninnies who need to be protected from the reality of birth. They are not little girls and they should not be offered fairy tales with “happily ever after” endings in place of science.

Fear and negativity don’t harm women in labor. Fear and negativity harm natural childbirth advocates’ fantasies and midwives’ employment prospects, but that has no impact on most women.

Positivity harms women by setting unrealistic expectations around labor and birth, leading to disappointment, feelings of failure, and self loathing for not being “positive” enough.

The Positive Birth Movement unwittingly highlights the central difference between many midwives and obstetricians. Midwives pretend that birth is tame, while obstetricians know that it is dangerous.

Midwives and natural childbirth advocates figuratively reach out with “positivity” to pet birth … and babies and mothers die as a result.

Obstetricians respect birth for what it is, wild, dangerous and untameable … and that’s how they save lives.

  • Rache1983

    Amen! As a OBGYN I know how quickly a labour and delivery can go from absolutely fine to a disaster in no time at all. Even when the baby is safely delivered and everyone thinks everything is fine there is still the possibility of a PPH. There is not such thing as a low risk mother until it’s all over. That’s what I find really disturbing about new guidance coming out saying that it is as safe to have your baby at home as in hospital. In th hospital with the machine that go bing there are professionals ready at any minute if things don’t go the way they should. As a ‘low-risk’ prim there wasn’t an ice cube’s chance in hell that I would have my baby anywhere there wasn’t OB/paediatric back up JUST IN CASE!!!!!

  • Bystander

    Personally, I think that the snake-handling cult is more apposite. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_handling I thought of linking to the website of one such church, but it was far too deranged.
    Basically, its followers *know* that what they do is dangerous, but believe that they’re granted special immunity from the consequences of handling venomous snakes without any protective gear (not even a stick) by their faith. And if one dies, well, their faith couldn’t have been as strong.

  • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

    OT but my new little great nephew, who was born last Wednesday, weighed in at 10 lbs 11 oz and ended up in the NICU on a ventilator is home. The not so good news, which I learned from his grandma is that the difficulty his mother had in giving birth was a shoulder dystocia. They are unsure as yet how bad the brachial plexus injury is, although the baby’s daddy says he is moving that arm some, though not a lot. I guess they will have to wait and see how he does.

  • Ash

    If you want to read something today that will make your blood pressure rise, here you go (it looks like this occurred in NY state)

    http://i.imgur.com/uwh9YYr.jpg

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      “Studies have shown that homebirths with low-risk patients with a highly qualified midwife are almost as safe as giving birth in a hospital. Therefore, we can just have a CPM do a homebirth with pre-e and full blown GD”

    • KBCme

      One wonders if a woman has to start having eclamptic seizures for some midwives to risk them out. That is awful.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      My guess: her “bloodtest” was not done reliably.

      • Ash

        the MW wouldn’t have been processing the blood tests, but what you DO with the results is an entirely different thing.

      • Medwife

        I wonder if she ever had a 24 hr urine. She probably would have said, as it’s memorable to have to put all your pee into a big jug for 24 hrs, and then hand it in to a lab.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      What blood work is she talking about? My impression was that the first lab sign of pre-eclampsia was protein in the urine–a urine test, not a blood test. I’m guessing that maybe she did a bmp and found that the creatinine was normal. But a rise in creatinine comes significantly later than the abnormalities in blood pressure, proteinuria, and swelling. At least, I think it does. Can the OBs correct me if I’m wrong?

      • Medwife

        (Clearly I’m not an OB but…)Proteinuria is no longer an absolute diagnostic criteria for pre-e. If the woman has hypertension and is symptomatic- headache, visual changes, epigastric pain- and/or has signs of end organ damage- high creatinine, high liver enzymes- you can diagnose pre-e.

        That midwife is friggin nuts.

        • Sue

          Exactly – and why would one wait for evidence of end-organ damage before treating the BP??

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          But that would mean that the blood test, whatever it was, was of even less significance: even the urine changes aren’t necessary to act. While it might be useful to know whether or not the patient had HELLP or signs of impending renal failure, the absence of either is not an indication for saying all is well and sending the patient home.

      • mishabear

        The blood work probably ruled out HELLP Syndrome — liver enzymes and platelets. It’s a pre-e variant/subset. (Not an OB, but did have HELLP.)

  • Camille

    A friend of a friend on Facebook lost her daughter at a homebirth the beginning of the month. It enrages me! The mother is grieved and was hoping to give Her child a loving wonderful place to be from the very beginning….I don’t know the details, just that the child was delivered dead, by c-section 24 hours after it was discovered the child had passed. They don’t know when the child passed other than a 5 hour period between monitoring. Senseless. A mother is left childless because of her selfish desire to have some perceived loving environment in her home. Sad part is she is still convinced she did the best thing for her child.

    • moto_librarian

      I am so very sorry for your friend. Of course the midwife had no idea anything was wrong – how could she when she couldn’t be bothered to do any monitoring for 5 hours! That is beyond negligent.

    • Ash

      Please keep in mind that the mother was doing what she thought was best for her family but was harmed by the incredible negligence of her midwife. I can only hope that at some point the midwife will be held accountable for negligence.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      It takes some time for people to process things like that and to accept responsibility and some people never do. They can’t because it means that their direct actions/ inactions led to the death of their baby. It is frustrating but she is probably *deep* in grief and not ready to think about those pieces yet. Despite her role in the loss, she deserves compassion because she likely believed that what she was doing was safe.

      Additional, her midwife *should* have been monitoring her and her baby. Her midwife is responsible for making sure that baby and mother come out alive. *She* is the one that should be blamed for this woman’s loss.

    • FortyMegabytes

      The human mind finds different ways to deal with tragedy of this sort. It often is way, way too much to expect that the person involved with take responsibility for the death. How could they? What human mind is capable of admitting, “I caused my child’s death?”

      The immediate response is to build a defense, to shift the blame to some external source, to say, “If only doctors would work more closely with midwives, stuff like this wouldn’t happen.” It’s not logical or rational, but it *is* necessary in order to cope.

      It often takes time, sometimes years, when the pain is no longer raw and fresh but dulled by dimming memories, to admit the truth to yourself. I know that as a young man in my 20’s I made some very poor decisions and blamed others when they didn’t turn out the way I expected. Took me the better part of a decade to admit that it was all my fault. That’s human nature.

      Don’t try to force your friend to face the truth, because she is nowhere near ready to accept it. The best hope is that given time and perspective, she’ll slowly realize that it was her choices that led to this outcome and make a better choice next time. Just give her an outlet and comfort her by being sympathetic.

      Of course, if she gets pregnant again and starts talking about another homebirth, *then* I’d get all high-and-mighty on her. But that’s a bridge that can be burned at another time.

    • Sue

      Here’s what I don’t get:

      being born into bright light and blinking a bit can damage a child for life, but having their head and body jammed in their mother’s pelvis for days and inhaling their own excreta doesn’t?

      If anything is traumatic for babies during birth, it’s being squeezed and deprived of oxygen for days, not how “peaceful” the room is for the few minutes after they get out.

      • Who?

        So this is the nightmare, isn’t it? Can a tiny baby fear? Or panic? I’m sure they feel pain, and don’t love changes of state, but are they self-aware enough to feel fear?

        Imagining they can is unbearable.

  • Amy M

    It kind of comes to down to perspective too, when managing expectations. The birth of my children was not smooth–it took a long time, they used a vacuum on Baby A and I hemorrhaged. Some people might focus on those things and insist that I should have been traumatized at having the birth ruined. Some would take it farther and insist that if only I had been at home, none of those things would have happened.

    Overall though, I always remember the birth of my children as a positive event. Everyone survived, I was treated with respect and kindness, and I was fairly comfortable (as much as possible). I never actually feared for the lives of the babies or my own because I assumed the doctors had it in hand. I did have the expectation that I was going home with two healthy babies.

    Later on, I did end up with PPD, but it was not associated with the birth and ultimately, once again, I was taken seriously, treated kindly and given help when I sought it. Being treated humanely IS hugely important, but I don’t think there are too many doctors that are abusing patients. Yes, it happens, but not so frequently, that one should expect it.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Indeed! When I ended up with PPD, I got the impression that a lot of people thought it was because I had a CS and was in a hospital. Quite the contrary: my experience at the hospital was generally very positive (kind caregivers, great doc, etc). I still go there for DD’s and my health checkups (our docs are in the same building as the hospital), and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling of being cared for whenever I go there, in no small part because of how I was treated when DD was born.

      • Dinolindor

        I often think of the very kind night nurse, who on the 2nd night when I was freaking out over every noise that my daughter was making told me “Babies fuss, it’s ok” and took her to the nursery. I got into bed, and when I woke up I discovered the nurse sweetly tucked me in and made my bed as cozy as possible. I have no words for how cared for I felt by that, and I will always be grateful for that kindness and tear up every time I think about it. I never wanted to leave her care, to be perfectly honest.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Oh my gosh, YES. That level of care is just amazing. I don’t know about you, but right after I had DD I was an emotional mess–on a post-baby-wow-I-have-a-kid high, yeah, but also I wanted nothing more than my mom to come take care of me…except that my mother’s a totally dysfunctional alcoholic who’s never been able to fill that role, and I don’t really have anyone who can. A couple of my nurses and care techs did their darnedest, though, and I will always, ALWAYS be grateful to them for that.

    • Allie

      I remember my birth experience as positive too, despite the post-partum hemorrhage, although it would have been even better with Demerol ; )
      Had I tried to deliver at home, LO would be fine but I would be dead, so I’m gong to say the hospital experience was very positive, although it would have been nice if they told me what was happening. In fact, I don’t think they obtained my informed consent before saving my life. I feel so disrespected and sad.

    • Ennis Demeter

      It’s worth bearing in mind that even if no one does anything wrong, a birth can be traumatizing. At minimum it can be very scary and it hurts. People used to compare it being a soldier.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        People used to compare it being a soldier.

        And before that, people called it punishment from God.

        I don’t have to have had a baby to figure out that it hurts like a sunnybeach.

    • Guest

      Best part about #1: the awesome hospital french toast and the pesto pizza! Oh, and becoming a mom and having a baby!

      Best part about #2: that awesome pizza and french toast was still on the menu! Oh, and having another baby!

      Best part about #3: the epidural actually worked! Completely pain free birth! It ROCKED! Sadly, it was a different hospital and the food sucked. Oh, and having another baby!

      Seriously, baby and food (and epidural). That’s my birth experience. If you ask me about my “wedding experience”, it’s similar. Cake was delicious (I’m sensing a theme) and music was great. Oh, and I got married!

      • Roadstergal

        Heh, we got married at an Indian restaurant. Good food is a priority in our marriage – we knew it should be a priority at the event! (Oh, and we got married.)

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          “Everybody gather around, they are going to cut the gulab jamun!”

        • KarenJJ

          Restaurant weddings are great 🙂

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Oh, you’re preaching to the choir here. 😀 I made my own wedding cake because a) I love cake and b) I have tasted very, very few professionally-made cakes that I like, and darn it, I wanted a tasty wedding cake!

        With the (as-yet-unconceived) next kid, I plan on making cake layers in advance and freezing them. Upon my return home, I will then take gross advantage of the weight loss that even minimal breastfeeding seems to confer on me. I figure that yeah, I’ll still have to get up a lot at ungodly hours…but CAKE! A pound cake or two might also find their way into the freezer…mmmm.

  • KarenJJ

    My 4yo LOVES lions. Adores them. He asks me when he can ride on a real one or cuddle one. I’ve been easing his expectations gently towards the idea that lions are wild animals that could hurt him. We’ve been to the zoo and the lions started roaring and he buried his head into my shoulder and pointed at the exit to show me he wanted to be taken away because the noise scared him.

    Although he has a very romantic idea of what lions are, when encountering one small part of the reality of lions, his instincts kicked in and he became afraid. I didn’t tell him to overcome the fear with “positive thinking”. As much as these midwives talk of “trusting your instincts” a lot of what they actually do is gas-lighting our own fears and instincts away.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Hmm…maybe he could learn to love and respect lions for the beings that they are? There’s a David Attenborough documentary on lions that is quite good from the early 2000s. They dressed a camera up as a rock and let it loose around the lions and got lots of pictures of them playing and hunting and being lions. My small one was very into animals when she was younger. She actually enjoyed learning things like how some animals like interacting with humans (i.e. dogs and cats) and some just want to be left alone and not have to bother with the monkeys. That might help your little one appreciate lions but not lead him to attempt something dangerous with them.

      • KarenJJ

        Definitely when he’s a bit older, I think he’d love learning more. I’m not worried about him attempting anything dangerous with lions because we don’t live in an area where that might happen nor do we visit. There was an Australian that was mauled by a lion the other week on a holiday and I wondered if he was once a 4yo with a burning desire to cuddle a lion. Spiders on the other hand we’ve had to put the fear of death into both kids about them.

  • Ennis Demeter

    A common refrain is that NCB childbirth is like running a marathon, and should be seen as an achievement. I guess interventions and pain relief are quitting the marathon in that analogy. I admit, it’s a seductive idea, but wrong for all the regular reasons: the point isn’t to prove your endurance and strength, the point is to safely deliver a baby. It’s an even that is literally life and death, and the stakes are way, way, higher than any marathon.

    • SporkParade

      I see pain relief as being able to hitch a ride to the finish line when you have no choice but to participate in the marathon.

      • And some people’s marathons are longer than others!

        • KarenJJ

          And some people find that they are physically incapable of running a marathon. And other people like to feel “sorry” for them about it.

      • Mariana Baca

        Or, it could be getting fluids and snacks on the way from volunteers, or going to the med tent if something is wrong, using bandages, bandaids or braces as needed, wearing expensive orthopedic shoes, or taking NSAIDs, and in general making sure you aren’t harming yourself. We don’t pretend we are in East Africa tracking a gazelle for hours, we have all this fancy tech and medical assistance during marathons.

        Nobody says you didn’t run a marathon just because you wore supportive footgear and had bandaids on to prevent blisters, and chugged some gatorade, none of which is natural.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      A common refrain is that NCB childbirth is like running a marathon, and should be seen as an achievement.

      That women have been doing for thousands (millions) of years and are designed to do. Just like running marathons, yep….

      I guess interventions and pain relief are quitting the marathon in that analogy.

      Nah, interventions and pain relief are more like hopping in a cab and getting a ride to the finish line. Or in the “climb the mountain” analogy, it’s riding the trolley to the top of Pikes Peak.

      childbirth IS an achievement,

      See my comment the other day about the difference between “childbirth” and “having a baby.” Having a baby is absolutely something profound and transformative, and something worth celebrating. How it happens? Bah….

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        To reply to myself, whether you climb Pikes Peak or take the cable car, the view from the top is the same.

      • Roadstergal

        I think of interventions and pain relief like good running shoes, compression bands for my Osgood-Schlatter, good sports bras, medical staff on the route in case anything goes wrong, an MP3 player to listen to while I run. All the unnatural things that make it safer and more comfortable.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Oh, those are just the things that mws can do….

          The problem is, unlike a marathon, a childbirth isn’t a race nor a competition. So start by taking that out of it.

          What is left? A marathon is traveling the distance of 26.2 miles. Some people want to try to run it, and they do. Some people are content to walk. Some people do it in wheelchairs. Others ride in a cab.

          Ultimately, regardless of which means you choose to get there, you are still at the finish line, and you still get the prize for getting there in the form of a new baby. Those people who took the cab didn’t “fail” in that they didn’t reach the destination. They just got there in a different way.

          This is why I like the climbing the mountain analogy better. Mountain climbing is great for some people, and can be a great achievement. However, as I note below, once you get to the top, the view is the same regardless of how you got there.

  • First Time Mama

    I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I can safely say that in all the interactions I’ve had with my OB, she has never been negative. She has been realistic and given me evidence-based medical advice, but she has never been a Negative Nancy about my upcoming birth. I think that’s because we both share the same goal–healthy baby and healthy mom. As long as that happens, I could care less about glitter and skittles and all the other ‘positive birth experience’ propaganda.

    • Mishimoo

      Congratulations! Hope everything goes smoothly.

      • First Time Mama

        Thank you! 🙂

    • SporkParade

      Hope you have an easy birth!

      • First Time Mama

        Thank you! My fingers are crossed!

    • yentavegan

      so glad you came here to immerse yourselves in the collective wisdom of this blogsite. This place is free of the damaging propaganda promoted on the “touchy-feely” natural child birth sites. we are a community of reality based information sharing. Please keep us posted and come back to post again.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        And yet, if I do say so myself, this is one of the kindest and most supportive communities I’ve ever encountered on the ‘net.

      • First Time Mama

        Thanks for the welcome! I stumbled across Dr. Amy’s blog as I was searching for information related to pregnancy and birth, seeing as how I don’t really know much about the processes. 🙂 I found her posts refreshing, and I also enjoy reading the comments–this is a very informative group!

    • Medwife

      Good!! You can be honest with women about the risks they may be facing, it does not have to leave an impression of doom and gloom. We talk about bad things that might happen, but then we talk about all the things we can do to prevent those things or how we manage them if they do happen. The point being, come hell or high water, a good doctor or midwife will be dedicated to getting you and baby out of pregnancy alive and well. We can’t promise the best outcomes, or sparkles and rainbows, but we can give you that.

      • First Time Mama

        I think that’s why we get along–I’m a scientist by training, and I want to know possible outcomes and how we can react to or manage them safely. I’d much rather have a realistic idea of what to expect than bury my head in the sand and hope for the best.

  • Amazed

    Oh you mean the typo? It’s eggs with chopped peppers and tomatoes, of course. Today, I’m translating about potatoes. Many potatoes. And more yet. I might dream about potatoes, they’re everywhere around.

    Still better than pseudo-erotic scenes I have when it isn’t potatoes. THOSE might scar me for life.

    • araikwao

      Lol, I figured the scrambled eggs with chopped eggs part was typo, but I’ve just been having one of those weeks where most nights feel like “oh geez it’s dinner time, what are we going to eat?” ( when we usually live on leftovers for most of the week), and am always keen for a super-easy, super-quick (and hopefully budget) recipe!

      • Amazed

        Oh, it’s very quick and I think budget. Just in case you’re serious: You cut some peppers (raw or not) and fry them somewhat in some cooking oil (but not to the end). Then, you add some cut tomatoes or tomato juice (. You smash the raw eggs and mix them with some grated or pounded cheese (I pound it with a fork) and add THIS to the first mix (when this first mix has thickened). You stir this final mix until it looks… well, ready, meaning that the eggs are no longer raw and the pepper isn’t raw. You might add some parsley (I don’t.) You take it off and you eat.

        Peppers must exceed the tomatoes by far. I am not sure about the quantities since it’s something I learned from my mom and I never weigh the products. Four eggs usually make four portion sizes, that’s what I know, and the cheese mix must not be either too liquid or too solid. If you’re being serious, I might look it up, though, if you’re really interested.

        • araikwao

          Actually, I was/am, for the above reasons. However, i’d have lost my fussy hubby at “tomatoes”. Sigh. Maybe if I get to do dinner for one sometime. It sounds yum.

          • Amazed

            It is. The best thing about it is that, in fact, I must put in a lot of effort to fail it. I can always add more tomatoes if it’s too thick; I can always add more peppers or eggs and cheese if it’s too liquid. Almost fail-proof!

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          It sounds a lot like my go-to college meal when I wanted something hot and fast! Two eggs, beaten briefly, chop and add some peppers and half a small baked potato and maybe a bit of ham if I had it in the fridge, add about an ounce of cream cheese and a dash each of tarragon, salt, and pepper, and then cook on medium-low heat until the eggs are cooked. Mmmmm. Still my favorite comfort-food meal.

  • yentavegan

    Having a baby may be just a body function, like taking a dump. But taking a dump has never historically killed anybody and old cemeteries are not scattered with young mothers dying while moving their bowels. Just because your rectum/anus knows how to expel fecal matter doesn’t mean your girly parts are equally capable.

    • theadequatemother

      well…not being able to take a dump has killed plenty….

    • mabelcruet

      There’s all sorts of things that your body should know what to do but doesn’t get right. Look at autoimmune disease-your body attacks itself because it can’t recognise its own tissues. Nature doesn’t care in the slightest for an individual, all it needs is for enough replication each generation to continue the species. The corpses can pile up for all nature cares. Lady bits are basically a design compromise, and can be as dysfunctional as any other bit of the body.

    • Who?

      Elvis? Or is that an urban myth?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Elvis died on the crapper, but it wasn’t pooping that took him down. Heart attack, or peanut butter and banana sandwich…

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          The strain of a valsalva to get a hard stool out might have contributed to a heart attack. Or maybe a stroke from an undiagnosed patent foramen ovale, which about 1/4 of the population has. He might have popped a clot over to the arterial side and up to his brain while the PFA was open during straining.

          • Guesteleh

            Jesus Christ. *puts Metamucil on shopping list*

          • LovleAnjel

            I heard an hypothesis that he had a form of congenital megacolon, resulting in chronic constipation. He might have had a heart attack on the crapper simply because he spent a lot of time there.

          • Sue

            Maybe an effect of lots of narcotics?

    • Liz Leyden

      Well, there was Elvis.

    • SporkParade

      What about Zachary Taylor? Less lightheartedly, there’s a reason why infant diarrhea is one of the top killers globally.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Less lightheartedly, there’s a reason why infant diarrhea is one of the top killers globally.

        Or bowel obstructions. They’re serious.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, colorectal cancer, Hirsprung’s disease…Trust Stool isn’t a safe idea either.

  • JJ

    “Build a toolkit to maximise chances of the best birth possible” No thanks. My hospital already did that.

    • Sarah

      Yes, I’ve heard of a thing called modern obstetrics, and another called sensible and responsible midwifery care. I think those might be considered toolkits of sorts?

  • fiftyfifty1

    Well it must be your fault the lion turned on you. It must have sensed fear in you.
    total bullshit, but that’s the victim blaming excuse they use.

  • Sarah1035

    Even a fluffy kitten can bite and scratch the hell of you if you aren’t careful.

    • anh

      Word. I had to get surgery on my hand last month after finding my runaway cat in my neighbour’s garden

      • Mishimoo

        Hope you’re healing up well!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Five words: Psycho barn kitties from hell. *twitch*

      • KarenJJ

        It’s just a wee bunny rabbit.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          That rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!

  • demodocus’ spouse

    “Make your eyes sparkle with anticipation”? This was my husband when thinking of the new baby. I, on the other hand, helped my mother with my youngest sibling and therefore had an inkling what we were in for. Sparkling with anticipation usually means you have no idea what you are in for. Unless you are 6 and only anticipating chocolate, bubbles, new crayons, and a coloring book in your Easter basket, ’cause that’s what Mom puts in every year. (Okay, maybe 18 in my case, ’cause the 7 year old brother would have been upset if the Bunny forgot me, but that sparkling was half humor)

    • FormerPhysicist

      Oh so sweet! About the Easter basket and the 7-year-old.

      • demodocus’ spouse

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Bugsy

      All I kept thinking was “unicorns & rainbows” when I read about the anticipatory sparkling…this was the most obvious example of unicorns that I’ve ever seen!

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I like the sounds of your little brother. He sounds like a generous person.

  • Amazed

    “All that matters is a healthy baby” is an evil phrase meant to oppress women! Arg! Why can’t it be soothing or something?

    I HAVE said it, although it was never meant as “stop complaining”. Rather, a clumsy attempt at comfort. They certainly didn’t stop. On the other hand, the women I am close enough to to have heard their birth stories usually know me well enough and vice versa, so we were at the same page. “Yes, I know but… ” and they went on.

    There was this one time when I didn’t say it and later, it turned out that I should have. She looked so tired, confused, conflicted that I kept silent almost the whole time out of fear of speaking out of term. Turned out that she wanted to hear someone reminding her that she had a healthy baby because she couldn’t figure out why she had thought to have a (non stop crying) baby at all. She couldn’t bring herself to share that in the first month or two, she secretly wished that it was her, her husband, and the cat again! I suppose I should have gathered something when she cried while closing the door of the nursery in front of the curious cat but I didn’t. I figured perhaps I should show respect to her feelings while she wanted someone to try and say something positive. Turned out lots of people made the same mistake with her.

    • Paula

      I have to admit that I would like the phrase better if it were “All that matters is a healthy baby and a healthy mom”.

      • Amazed

        That’s right. And I’ll admit I don’t use that exact phrase. But that’s the gist of it. “But you’re fine now. And you have a healthy baby. That’s all that matters.” Even when she very clearly isn’t fine. She doesn’t need me to confirm that she’s a wreck. Of course, that goes only for someone who knows you aren’t trying to make them shut up and diminish their experience. But then, women who I barely know don’t tend to tell me about their birth experience. Usually, it’s friends who cannot believe that such an intense experience is possible. Especially if they have never been admitted to hospital before.

        Does someone really use that exact phrase in real life conversations? I always thought it was just a way to put in the sentiment that “It’s fine now”, or something only seen online.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *drools*

          Can you come cook for me next time I have a baby? ‘Cause anything involving eggs, peppers, and tomatoes or (even more especially) potatoes is my idea of comfort food. Throw in some cream cheese, and/or maybe some chopped ham…oh man…

          • Amazed

            Well, in fact it does involve cheese when I cook it for myself. But that’s not the case with everyone, so sometimes I have to shrug and take it as it is. No amount of cheese added later in my own plate can make it better, so why bother?

            No ham, though.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            A pretty accurate rule of cooking, as far as I’m concerned, is It’s Better With Cheese.

          • Amazed

            Hear you!
            A few days ago, I bought a huge chocolate with coffee and cream. I’m planning to open it right now. I’m already salivating.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            This may be a Brit-to-American translation thing. 😉 What, pray tell, is a “huge chocolate with coffee and cream?” I mean, with that description it can’t POSSIBLY be bad, but…a big chocolate bar with a coffee/cream filling? A mocha drink? Chocolate candy with a side of well-creamed coffee? Or something else entirely? Inquiring (not to mention PMSing) minds want to know!

          • Amazed

            Chocolate with coffee and creal flavour. Delicious! A bar of 200 grams. Not as yoummy as the Lindt almond thing we discussed here a while ago (I think it was you whom I commiserated over this huge loss with?), though. Still great.

            Not a Brit-to-American translation thing, I’m afraid. English isn’t my first language and since I usually write hastily and rarely think my words over, my meaning isn’t always clear.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh man, that sounds AMAZING. I think it might have been me you were talking to about that, though I could just be remembering reading rather than participating in the conversation. My favorite Lindt bar isn’t really available over here, at least that I can find. It’s got a crème brulee filling. Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing. Whenever I next get to Europe, I might bring a suitcase just to fill with those.
            And please don’t take the comment about Brit-to-American as a criticism–it wasn’t! 🙂 The phrase “a chocolate” as opposed to “a chocolate BAR” (caps for emphasis) is one of those common Brit-versus-American differences. As it happens, I wouldn’t have guessed that English was a second language for you, though I would have guessed you were European, and from the isles based on your phrasing and spelling. 😉 I wish I were as fluent in another language!

          • Amazed

            Recipe listed below!

          • Cobalt

            Word!

    • Monkey Professor for a head

      I’m 34 weeks pregnant right now, and my birth plan consists of “Do what you need to do to get me and baby through safe and healthy. Everything else is a bonus”.

      The way I see it, having a good birth “experience” has some importance, but it’s all meaningless without a healthy mother and baby at the end. So maybe it’s not all that matters, but it’s by far the most important part.

      • Amazed

        Well, that’s without thinking that among the minor things there is some serious bad treatment, of course. But I think most people who say, “All that matters is a healthy baby” don’t mean it like, “Now, if you become a plaything for some sadistic doctors, that’s OK, as long as you have a healthy baby.”

        I suppose that’s one of the differences between us and them. Most of us don’t distrust hospitals by default and we automatically assume that we won’t be assaulted, offended, and experimented on just because. We mean it like, “Sometimes, bad things happen and we have to change plans or just take what life throws at us. And the prize makes it all worth it.” The NCB movement tries to sell the idea that all the things that don’t matter are truly horrible – malpractice, separated from the baby against your wishes for no reason at all.

        • Roadstergal

          And to keep in mind that when an emergency occurs, being nice becomes a secondary consideration – again, not an excuse for a doctor being a dick, but they might start doing things rapidly and without good explanation, maybe very uncomfortable or even painful things, in the interest of getting everyone out okay.

          • Amazed

            Oh yes. But I think most women can separate being a jerk from being in DANGER mode pretty fine afterwards. But to do that, they must realize there was a danger in the first place and it isn’t very likely if they go in there convinced that they’ll have every unnecessary procedure under the sun done to them.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Absolutely! Which is why I will repeat until I’m blue in the face that the most important thing a pregnant woman can do is find a competent caregiver with whom she’s comfortable and then TRUST THAT PERSON.
            My OB is awesome, seriously awesome. He *always* takes time to explain what tests/symptoms/etc mean, and he’s pleasant, respectful, and just a really nice guy. As a result, if he suddenly got quiet while I was pushing or something and started doing stuff, even if it hurt, I’d trust that he was doing what was best for baby and me and that he’d explain when he had time. I’d rather have him focus on getting kiddo out and keeping me alive than on finding a nice way to say “you’re bleeding out and your baby’s heart rate is dropping way lower than it should be.”

        • Sue

          I was on a medical regulatory board for 12 years, and heard all the worst stories of incompetence, character flaws and outright abuse – from a TINY miniority of a caring profession. IN the overwhelming majority of cases, responsible clinicians are mortified if they think their actions might have harmed a patient.

      • Amazed

        Good luck!

        • Monkey Professor for a head

          Thanks everyone 🙂

          I should probably add “btw, totally open to pain relief if I need it” to my birth plan.

      • Mishimoo

        Hope you have a very boring time.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    But I have a half-serval for a pet and he’s only left me slashed and bleeding a few times … every week.

    And it’s awesome that my body knows how to make blood clot when it’s a spurting artery.

    • Poogles

      “I have a half-serval for a pet”

      Ooooo, a Savannah?? Such beautiful cats! 🙂

  • KBCme

    Midwife to hemorraging mother: Let’s sing kumbaya and have positive thoughts and this pesky bleeding thing will go away!

    • Amazed

      The problem with positive birth experience is when one starts thinking that they can MAKE it a positive experience. And if they don’t, that’s because they were so negative, oh my. The nature of birth and the midwife are all blamelesss.

      • Cobalt

        “The problem with positive birth experience is when one starts thinking that they can MAKE it a positive experience.”

        That’s really it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a positive experience, or appreciating that you had one. Thinking you can sparkle one into happening is bonkers.

    • araikwao

      Let’s not forget to blow on her with cinnamon candy breath (I will never forget it. Ugh)

      • D/

        So I’ve been taking this ‘cinnamon breath’ reference that comes up here ever so often as a mocking, too-crazy-to-believe exaggeration … It was an actually actual thing?!

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I’m hoping very much it wasn’t, but I have a nasty suspicion that, like the suggestion that post-mastectomy patients lactate from their armpits, that it’s real…

          • KarenJJ

            It was. I remember that one too. I think it was one of the gems found on Midwifery Today’s facebook site that another midwife posted. Apparently she was sucking on a cinnamon candy, a woman started bleeding badly and she gently blew her cinnamon breath on her and the woman stopped bleeding.

            Why ACOG don’t have her number on speed dial for her expertise I’ve no idea..

          • Amazed

            Bloody assault. My boyfriend is the only one who’s allowed to breathe in my face.

            Not that I expect it’ll stick with the midwifery board… but then, the board isn’t designed to get anything to stick,huh?

          • Who?

            It’s not at all clear to me that the cinamon breath was blown on her face: I thought it was more directed at the business end….which is all very well between consenting adults in private, but hardly appropriate or helpful in a birth scenario.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            What the whatting WHAT?
            Some days, I just give up on humanity.
            So help me, if the answer to “what will you do if I hemorrhage?” is “blow cinnamon breath up your hoo-ha,” SOMEONE’S DOING IT WRONG.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Come to think of it, that’s true of any other medical scenario, as well. ARGH. And now this image won’t leave my brain. I need a drink.

          • Amazed

            Urgh! I’m totally claiming sexual violence then.

        • Poogles

          Definitely real. Here’s where Dr. Amy mentioned it:

          http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/01/midwifery-today-a-journal-of-buffoonery.html

          • araikwao

            Thanks for finding the link! I just remember it was from a list that MWs contributed to on”how do you manage PPH”, with answers that became progressively less biologically plausible..and obviously that gem became embedded in SOB folklore

          • D/

            Thanks, I just keep “learning” the coolest crap over here!

            I’m really disappointed that I can’t do cinnamon candy breath since it sets the underside of my tongue completely on fire, but I do have a cute little sparkling unicorn tin (or maybe it was a reindeer) of Yankee Candle cinnamon stink in my re-gifting box. I’m totally upgrading it to the first aid kit … especially if it really is a unicorn tin 😉

            Seriously, I guess there’s nothing too ridiculous to be out there in these “what do you do for this?” discussions.

  • Roadstergal

    But I had a friend who had a lion as a pet, and it all turned out great and it never caused any permanent damage and was a really positive experience!

  • Zoey

    I think that the NCB mindset is something like birth is fluffy kitten – as long as you don’t medically intervene in it in any way, and make sure to build it an ornate enough altar, and remember to say your birth affirmations, only surround yourself with positivity, etc. If you mess up one little thing, then the kitten becomes a lion and its all your fault because you angered it somehow. It’s almost like they are trying to appease a fickle god through rituals and superstitions.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      Don’t piss off Bastet!

  • Mel

    *blinks*
    How does your body already know how to give birth? If it’s your first kid, your body may be pretty clueless.

    Even if your body knows how to give birth, that doesn’t mean that the baby knows how to be born or else we’d never have transverse or breech babies.

    Even if your body knows how to give birth AND the baby knows how to be born, there’s no promise that the baby fits through the pelvis. Mom and baby can both be “working” correctly and still be in obstructed labor if the baby is too big to fit through the pelvis.

    Plus, let’s talk about kittens for a minute. Has anyone else ever seen a really cute barn kitten, picked it up, and IMMEDIATELY regretted it? Kittens are obligate carnivores that – in the immortal words of Calvin and Hobbes- “are pointy at 5 out of 6 ends”. Last summer, an adorable orange fuzz-ball of a kitten left me with one solid bite, three gouges and 10+ scratches because I was stupid enough to scoop it up while cooing “Who’s a cutie pie? You are…..ARGH….[intermingled giggles and swearing]”.

    A kitten left me with nothing that couldn’t be fixed by Bactine and some bandaids. Birth does a whole hell of a lot more damage than that.

    • Roadstergal

      So cute when they’re trying to kill you…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzvm8k5kSjs

    • Amazed

      This kind of stupidity is infectious. And kittens are dangerous and unpredictable. This view of birth strikes me as startlinlgy similar to toddlers who start… well, toddling and discover the family pets. They certainly don’t mean to anger them or hurt them. They just do it because they’re toddlers. And then, we have, “What was I thinking? Why did I leave the human kid and the furry kid alone?”

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking about my wife and my positive birth experience:

    OB:”Ok you’re hear early in the contractions so we have plenty of time to prepare”
    Wife:”Awesome”
    OB:”If I had to estimate the baby won’t come for another six to twelve hours”
    Me:”So my parents could fly up here in time? Sweet”

    Fortunately my parents, sister, her husband, etc were all able to get here in time. By the 6th hour she still wasn’t dilated enough:

    OB:”Well, bad news, you’re not dilated enough so I think we might have to do a cesarean section”
    Wife:”That’s bad, but we planned on this being a problem. We thought this might be an issue”
    OB:”Well the good news is that all the tests are coming back clear so we can give it another hour or so before we really make that decision. In the meantime, I’ve contacted Dr. XXXXX who’s probably the best doctor I’ve ever seen perform a CC. He’s amazing and I’d be shocked if you had a scar afterward. He’ll be here in plenty of time”
    Me:”That’s good then”

    Needless to say, we figured on the need for a CC from day one. My wife is tiny, and small by Asian standards, and I’m pretty big. We had no allusions of needing this, and agreed when the OB pointed out that the chances of us needing one were going to be rather high, especially since the baby came out on the large side. We had a wholly positive experience. Doctor was great, nurses were great. The doctor that performed the CC was great, albeit a little short. We found out later that he actually had a little girl the prior day, a feeling I could then totally understand.

  • EllenL

    Kitten-think is everywhere. When I read this stuff, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    http://desertbirthandwellness.com/pregnancy-and-birth-affirmations/

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.

      Sorry, but I have to take on this quote because it’s so very, very wrong.

      Your heart only “knows” how and when to pump if nothing goes wrong. Problems ranging from a blocked artery to a bad valve can cause it to beat wrong, pump inadequately, or stop altogether. Heart disease is a major killer because you heart doesn’t just “know” what to do under any circumstance.

      Your lungs only “know” how to inhale if they’re working properly. They’ll stop or not work well enough in conditions ranging from sleep apnea to asthma to over medication. A big part of ICU treatment is supporting lungs that don’t know how to breathe.

      Your hand only “knows” to pull back from the fire if the spinothalamic pathway and the motor pathways are intact. Otherwise you won’t feel the fire or won’t be able to do anything about it. For that matter, certain problems with the brain, including the infamous autism, can cause people to not know or to choose to not pull their hands away from the fire.

      In short, your body “knows” what to do when things are going right. When they’re not, it’s helpless…unless we, collectively, use our brains, bodies, and resources to intervene, whether on a birth gone wrong or a heart that stopped beating. This claim that only instinctive knowledge is good actually denies the evolutionary adaptation that is most human: the ability to look beyond the instinct and help each other with our knowledge when our bodies don’t know what to do.

      • Montserrat Blanco

        My life would be SO much easier if hearts and lungs did have an idea about how to work properly… I spend hours every day that I go to work trying to fix hearts and lungs that really do not know how to work… And do NOT get me started on kidneys and livers….

      • SporkParade

        If a woman’s body knows when to give birth, then why do the women in my husband’s family keep going into labor a month early?

        • Amy M

          Because the BABY doesn’t know. 🙂 I had the same problem, anyway. I never believed “baby knows when to be born” but when I heard that, I was incredulous, because way to discount term stillbirths (or post-dates), and preemies. While those things don’t happen most of the time, they happen often enough that anyone who thinks she’s immune (MY body and baby know when its time, too bad YOURS didn’t) is really burying her head in the sand.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          1 month? My wife’s college roommate had two kids both born before 30 weeks!

          Clearly, her body did NOT know when to give birth. If not for the great care of the University of Iowa hospitals, neither would have survived. And fortunately, for the first, the umbilical prolapse occurred while she was in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Probably for the same reason that women in my family keep trying for that 50 week pregnancy*: because the genes that cause it didn’t kill enough of the ancestors to keep from being passed to the next generation and that’s all that “counts” for evolution.

          *No one’s ever made it, but my great grandmother was reported to go 42-44 weeks regularly. But managed to have live babies. Mostly. Somehow.

      • I use an asthma inhaler because sometimes my lungs forget how to inhale properly. Should I feel guilty about that just like I should feel guilty about the way my body didn’t understand how to spontaneously have labor contractions and needed medical help? I don’t think so, lol

      • sdsures

        Brilliantly put.

        And frustrating.

  • Allie P

    How sad is it that when I read the paragraph about “less than positive experiences” my mind went to someone who has a stillbirth, not someone who was disappointed that she didn’t have an orgasmic birth with dolphins?

    “We want to help you take everything you thought you knew about birth and replace it with some really gorgeous stuff that will make your eyes sparkle with anticipation.” In other words, “We want to help you take your reasonable caution around this potentially dangerous life event and replace it with some really gorgeous fantasy that will put sparkles in your eyes and blind you to reality.”

  • Amy M

    I guess that’s how people whose homebirths had some kind of complication see it. They just reframe it to fit their idea of homebirth/NCB, because in their minds, homebirth/NCB=positive. Baby blue and not breathing for 5 minutes? ‘He just needed a little help, and to hear his “mama’s” voice.” Bleeding to the point of fainting? “The midwife stuck a piece of placenta in my mouth, and told me to take it easy for a few days. Could you imagine if that had been in the hospital?! They might have given me Pitocin or something! ”

    Personally, I see birth as a positive event, assuming the child is wanted. I know I was excited to meet my babies, but also nervous about giving birth. However, knowing the risks and taking steps to minimize them, and trusting the OB to do her job isn’t negative, it just is.

    I guess the difference between me and an NCBer is that I had realistic expectations about birth. Refusing to think about the risks and insisting that birth is/should be puppies and rainbows sets women up for failure. All the positive thoughts in the world will not prevent pre-e or GD or a breech baby.

  • And traumatic experiences are not healed by denying that they exist or that real harm was caused. Birth is medical – the decisions around birth are medical decisions about treatment. Informed consent, shared decision making and respect for the real risks and benefits are critical to quality care. There are no kittens – just lions dressed as kittens.