Natural childbirth doesn’t “normalize” birth; it idealizes it.

Mother and Daughter with flower decor on head

Last week I wrote about a Buzzfeed article on homebirth that included pictures of a footling breech birth at home.

Not surprisingly, many natural childbirth advocates greeted the photos rhapsodically, with midwives, doulas and childbirth educators crowing that the photo spread “normalizes” birth. The truth is rather different.

Like much of what comes from the natural childbirth movement, the photo spread doesn’t normalize birth; it idealizes it … and thereby sets women up for disappointment when their own births fail to measure up.

Natural childbirth advocates love to photograph themselves and post pictures and YouTube videos for all the world to see. What many observers do not notice is that these photos and videos are often carefully edited. For example, many homebirth photos depicting the baby’s first moments are converted from color to black and white to better hide the fact that the baby is an ugly purple color indicative of oxygen deprivation at the end of labor.

A photo spread of “normal” birth should show dead babies, dead mothers, and devastated fathers and young children. Those photos should show hours upon hours of intense maternal suffering during labor with some women begging for death. They should show a woman with her eyes rolled back in her head having an eclamptic seizure, and a waxy-white dead mother with liters of her blood on the floor. They should show little white coffins and cemeteries with row upon row of tiny tombstones for the babies who died during labor.

Why? Because that’s what normal birth really looks like.

I’m not the only one who has noticed that natural childbirth advocates have idealized childbirth.

Selling the Ideal Birth: Rationalization and Re-enchantment in the Marketing of Maternity Care by Markella Rutherford and Selina Gallo-Cruz details the process. The authors explain:

In many ways, the contemporary scene of childbirth services can be characterized as one of cyclical rationalization, re-enchantment, and rationalization. In the first half of the 20th century, childbirth was subject to intense rationalization and birth was culturally transformed from a potentially risky even to a pathogen-like state to be medically managed and controlled.

In other words, the technocratic model of birth gained ascendancy. Neonatal and maternal mortality dropped dramatically as a result. But:

As is often the case, rationalization came with dehumanizing consequences … The birth experience was stripped of many of its subjective qualities… Scientific rationalization … meant that the birth experience was “disenchanted.”

That’s certainly the way that natural childbirth and homebirth advocates see it.

However, the natural birth movement attempts to re-enchant birth by allowing nature — unpredictable and uncontrollable — to have free reign and by recapturing the subjective experience of birth with its sensuality and mystery. This is most clearly seen in the emphasis by homebirth advocates on the spiritual and/or symbolic meaning of birth.

This is what natural childbirth advocates mean by “normalizing” birth BUT with a critical caveat. Natural childbirth advocates present as “normal” ONLY the subset of births without complications and with good outcomes, and deliberately exclude the wide swath of births that have complications, as well as the significant subset of births that “normally” end with the death of the baby or mother or both.

Natural childbirth advocates “normalize” birth in the same way that the fashion industry “normalizes” underweight women with a specific body type: large breasts, thin waists, and moderate hips. The natural childbirth view of “normal” birth bears as much resemblance to the broad range of actual births as fashion industry’s view of the “normal” female body bears to the broad range of actual female body types. In others words, it bears no relationship at all.

Both industries sell the fantasy that “ideal” and “normal” are the same when they very, very far apart.

It is hardly surprising then that some women are disappointed by their birth experiences.

The solution to this disappointment is NOT to sacrifice safety and sanity to by attempting to recapitulate an idealized tableau of birth that women can proudly post on Facebook and YouTube. The solution is to attack the idealization of birth in the same way that many are attacking the idealization of female bodies … as unrepresentative of, and unfair to, real women.

Natural childbirth advocates don’t “normalize” birth, they idealize it and normal women who have normal, non-ideal birth experiences suffer as a result.

  • Carla

    Natural, active childbirth and also breastfeeding are like orgasms in that unless you have experienced them firsthand you can never really know the wonder, empowerment, euphoria (oxytocin!) of the act. Stop criticizing those who choose to live this part of being a woman and are so enthused with what they experienced! Plus, in almost all cases mother and baby are better off without intervention.
    That said, we need a good dose of humility. Women who had no drugs will likely want to share their birth story with everyone the first month, it is such an amazing thing, but it should be kept private. These YouTube videos and Facebook posts are crazy and narcissistic. Write it down instead, for your family’s eyes only. Also women should try not to breastfeed in public, at least not babies over six months old, it is simply showing off if not absolutley necessary. Look at me, I’m so wonderful to breastfeed. We know the issue is fraught, so do what is best for you and your baby and keep it to yourself so you don’t make others feel bad or uncomfortable. Those breastfeeding hormones make women so proud of their bodies and comfortable with their babies, but humility and civility please nonetheless.

    • Young CC Prof

      OK, you’re trolling. This is brilliant and hilarious, by the way.

  • Realitybites100

    The comments listed below that article are insane.
    Hard to read.

  • Has anyone noticed that the “mother” in the picture is looking at the camera, not the baby? That seems odd to me.

    • Ardea

      Cuz it’s a model and a photo shoot, not a real mother-baby pair.

      • Ash

        Also, IMHO, even if it was a real mother-baby shot, I think it does feed into the idea that women must pose a certain way or they are not normal mothers. So what if a woman looks into a camera lens instead of her baby? it’s pretty common to do that in photos.

        • Ardea

          Agreed.

  • Bugsy

    Completely OT, but would love feedback from others in the community: we’re supposed to have a playdate today with a few sets of friends. One of them will be bringing her 4-year-old but leaving her 10-month-old at home. The 10-month-old has been sick for over 2 weeks with a cough that leaves her gasping, coughing to the point of vomiting, and generally pretty sick. She was tested for pertussis last week – the preliminary results were negative but they haven’t gotten the more conclusive test results back.

    The 4-y-o hasn’t picked up the bug but was quarantined from school last week as a precaution.

    Would you go ahead with the playdate knowing that this family would be there? I’m a worrywart and tend to back out of situations where germs are involved…but also feel bad for bailing on friends. FWIW, my (fully vaccinated) 2.5-y-o picks up everything under the sun, and I’m almost 12 weeks pregnant now. Also fully vax. TIA.

    • Ash

      I would cancel. Just set up another time to do the playdate, maybe you can be in charge of hosting or planning the playdate if you feel bad about cancelling.

    • SporkParade

      I would cancel, even if there wasn’t the pertussis concern. That cough sounds miserable.

    • Mac Sherbert

      No. My kid got it after being vaccinated. It’s miserable. If the kid has been quarantined from school he should not be going on any play dates either. Also, my kids got a really bad respiratory virus and have been on breathing treatments for months now. It’s not worth it!

      • Bugsy

        I’m so sorry to hear about both the pertussis and the respiratory virus they’ve picked up. Are they doing better now?

        • Mac Sherbert

          They are both find, but the respiratory virus apparently set off their tendency for asthma and they can’t come of their inhalers now without major coughing developing. (And that’s for two kids that both never needed anything for asthma in their lives before) So, I wouldn’t mess around with anything that sounds like a respiratory illness.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        It’s the 4 year-old’s little brother/sister that has the cough, and is not coming. I doubt the 4 yo has been quarantined.

        I still would cancel.

        • Mac Sherbert

          “The 4-y-o hasn’t picked up the bug but was quarantined from school last week as a precaution.” — It’s the 4 year old.

        • Bugsy

          Yeah, they quarantined the 4-year-old from preschool while awaiting results of his sister’s pertussis tests. It’s not clear to me if he went back this week based on the preliminary results, or if they’re waiting for the full results before he’s cleared.

    • Daleth

      Omg no. Is an hour or two of fun for your kid worth having a desperately ill kid (that illness sounds miserable) and possibly getting sick yourself while pregnant?!?

    • lawyer jane

      Could be asthma. My son had coughs like that starting around 10 months and now finally seems clear that it is asthma (despite the fact that asthma cannot really be diagnosed yet until he can do lung function tests.)

      • Who?

        Or allergies, my daughter was treated for asthma for years and eventually she was old enough for allergy medication, that dried up the post nasal drip that was permanently irritating her sensitive cough receptors, which in turn completely killed the 2 packs a day/dog with heartworm coughing sound that bounced around her loose something muscles.

        It was like a miracle.

    • Bugsy

      Thanks, everyone – I really appreciate the feedback. My gut instinct has been to cancel, and everyone’s feedback helped validate that I’m making the right choice.

      It’s just always amazed me how complacent some parents are w/ illness. We had a playdate a few weeks ago w/ another kid, and the mom didn’t bother to tell me that her son was sick until about 15 minutes into it, when he kept coughing and sneezing on my little guy. “Oh yeah, he’s sick.” WTF? Sure enough, my son developed a cold four days later.

      Ermmm, no…I was brought up to let people around me know if we’re sick _before we meet up_ so that they can decide if they’re comfortable with it. Where’s the common respect?

      • Somewhereinthemiddle

        Yeah, cancel. I had a cough (not pertussis thankfully) that lasted for 6 weeks when I was pregnant the last time.Weeks of coughing to the point of retching and peeing yourself is a *terrible* way to spend that much of your pregnancy if you can avoid it. Obviously that is outside of the health concerns with the kids too.

        • Bugsy

          Eeck. My bladder was weak before my last pregnancy, and it’s a disaster now even without a cough. Great point, definitely worth being mindful of…

          • Somewhereinthemiddle

            Pelvic floor rehab really helped me after my last pregnancy with the leaky bladder stuff. I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone but I found it helpful.

          • araikwao

            I think we were taught that it works in 80%…that is a probably out-of-date stat tho

          • Bugsy

            Hehe, 80% sounds good to me. I’ll have to look into it!

          • Somewhereinthemiddle

            Yeah, I would think that it would have to do with the reasons for the incontinence/ weakness in that area. Mine was just plain old weakness from back to back pregnancies and births, not any sort of actual damage, so of course mileage may vary.

          • demodocus’ spouse

            What is pelvic floor rehab? Mostly I’ve just heard do your kegels

          • Somewhereinthemiddle

            It encompases a lot of different things. Exercises, working on different muscles through massage/ manipulation, some kegels but usually being monitored electronically to make sure you are doing them properly, abdominal exercises, posture focused exercise, lower back strengthening, etc. My physical therapist also did dry needling which was pretty cool and interesting. There are more and more physical therapists specializing in the pelvic floor. My PT got into it after she had to have multiple surgeries for a GI disorder and had issues with continence. She was already a PT but developed a passion for it after getting such great results with pelvic floor rehab.

            Kegels are a good place to start but for some people they aren’t enough or they don’t know how to do them properly and that’s when pelvic floor rehab/ pelvic floor physical therapy comes in.

        • KarenJJ

          Yeah. I caught the flu while six months pregnant and it was a miserable experience. I was coughing so hard I pulled a tummy muscle that was already tight from the pregnancy. Not to mention the issues of stress incontinence…

      • Mishimoo

        Glad you’re cancelling and hope that the 10-month old is better soon.

        My middle kid picked up a fairly bad case of bronchiolitis when she was around 2.5 years old (not bad enough for hospital, thankfully) which was pretty scary, so I’m extra-picky about sniffles and playdates and generally recommend others being careful too. Also very grateful that vaccines exist for more serious illnesses.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        No freaking kidding. My friends and I have all run into this–the mom who says, “Oh, yeah, junior’s been sick for three days” as he coughs/sneezes all over the latest newborn. GRRRRRR. We’re all really careful even with allergy-ish symptoms, i.e., “Hey, I’m pretty sure that kiddo’s just reacting to the ragweed; he’s got itchy eyes and a runny nose. However, totally up to you if you want to cancel, and no hard feelings.” Basic common courtesy, people. Duh!

    • Roadstergal

      I’m still gobsmacked that the parents think it’s fine to bring a kid to a playdate who was quarantined from school. Do they not understand why that’s done?

      I think it’s a good decision to bail, but IMO it’s the responsibility of a quarantined kid’s parents to maintain the quarantine until they get the all-clear.

      • Bugsy

        I completely agree on all accounts. No matter how desperate we may be to get out of the house during/immediately following an illness, social responsibility should win out…

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      That poor baby!
      I see below that you decided against it. I’d have made the same decision, for whatever that’s worth. The DPT vax has a relatively low efficiency rate against pertussis, IIRC–something like 70% effective or so? (“Low” meaning “as compared to other vaccines and their respective diseases,” not as in “ineffective.”) Mind you, all of us got the DPT vax and will continue to get boosters for it; I *like* getting a shot that drops my likelihood of getting pertussis by 70%! However, pertussis is something that I just don’t want to up my or DD’s risk of getting any more than I have to. For that matter, even if it’s just one really nasty cough…would you or your kid want it? I wouldn’t. :p

  • We are OK in Israel with going to 42 weeks IF ultrasound and NST are done twice weekly, and the mother feels fetal movement (3 movements in the space of an hour twice a day). In fact this protocol goes into effect once she enters her 40th week.

    • SporkParade

      We are also okay inducing after 36 weeks if there is any reason to believe that the fetus isn’t doing well. I love Israeli prenatal care.

  • Allie P

    On tenterhooks as my friend, who desperately wants a natural VBAC with midwives (in a hospital, but they are woo-y and super anti-doctor) tells me that her care providers are “fine” going to 42 weeks. She hit 41 today.

    • Mac Sherbert

      In all fairness, if I had really wanted a VBAC my OB would have let me go past 40 even though she didn’t recommend it. So, if I had been all NCB I would have told people she was fine with it, but in reality she wasn’t. Of course, I wanted the baby out at 40 weeks either way.

  • Who?

    I don’t like that baby-as-prop thing at all. It must have taken ages to get the woman posed, did they have half a dozen babies lined up and just grabbed the sleeping one?

    Not sure I’d go as far as ‘disrespectful’ but it is sailing close to the wind.

    • LibrarianSarah

      I think it is a doll not a real baby.

      • Who?

        Better in some ways, creepily worse in others…

        • LibrarianSarah

          You have no idea. Google “Ashton Drake doll” or “reborn doll” if you want to descend into that uncanny valley. Honestly using one as a prop in a photoshoot is the least creepy scenario.

          • toni

            wow they’re amazing. i kind of want one of the monkeys http://www.ashtondrake.com/mcategory/monkeys.html
            one of my childhood friends had a pet monkey (and some kind of leopard and a wallaby) but I wasn’t allowed one because my mum said it was cruel. pft.

          • Who?

            Thanks for the nightmares…though the monkey ones are pretty cute.

    • Schnitzelbank

      My baby worked as a model for a bit. Hey, we were in LA, he was a super calm and cute baby, what the hell? He got to join the Screen Actors Guild credit Union and file cute little baby taxes.
      Anyways, baby-as-prop: babies only get to “work” 1 hour per day. Labor laws. They can be on-set with parent for a total of three hours. So it wouldn’t be unusual for my baby to be booked as the “baby stand-in” for the real baby on a TV show. They’d usually have a dozen babies of the same general shape and size to use as rehearsal and lighting props. Is that worse? Maybe… But it was fun! It was never an everyday thing, and honestly, only 1 hour under the lights, tops (less, if you fuss).

    • Sarah

      I’m just surprised the baby hasn’t crapped in her hand.

  • araikwao

    WHY ISN’T THAT BABY SKIN-TO-SKIN????!!!!!!! 😉

    • Monkey Professor For A Head

      And that tulip wreath is basically equivalent to a hat. How can that mother possibly bond with her baby if they have a hat on!

      • Elizabeth A

        The tulip wreath prevents bonding by obscuring the motherbaby’s sensory experience of their natural smells. It’s especially wrong if they didn’t make sure they were non-GMO tulips.

        Don’t even think about what the pollen ecposure is doing to that child’s microbiome.

        I could mock that picture all day.

        • toni

          I’m wondering what Dr Amy typed in the searchbox to find it

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I’m not entirely certain I want to know.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Just what I was thinking.

        • MLE

          “Where’d the baby go? She’s in the flower beds searching for her real mother AGAIN? Curse you tulip wreath!!!”

  • Lizzie Dee

    But before NCB was the PROCESS of birth ever “enchanted” in the first place? It may have been seen as spiritual and symbolic, one of the two great mysteries, life and death, but part of its significance was the potential closeness of the two, and the significant victory of the birth of live child. The idea that the “experience” in itself was significant would have seemed bizarre before medical advances allowed that intimate link, the built in danger, to be forgotten so very comprehensively.

    Now that it is, generally, safe, or safer, I can agree that a live, healthy child isn’t the “only” thing that matters. The early strand of NCB that argued for women to be treated properly was worthwhile, of course. But the completely brainless insistence on the ideal as “normal” does nothing but harm to all women. A good birth is a gift, not an accomplishment!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      the PROCESS of birth ever “enchanted” in the first place? It may have been seen as spiritual and symbolic

      Exactly.

      CHILDBIRTH is spiritual and symbolic. And I personally consider it incredibly profound, especially the first – one moment, you are not a parent. The next, you are. It’s kind of significant in a losing your virginity sort of way. You can never go back to not being a parent.

      And with the second, now you have two kids. You will never go back to having one. Even if all your children die in a tragic accident, you will still be their parent. There’s a lot of profundity to that. And I find it deeply moving personally.

      So having a baby is a deeply spiritual and transformative experience. But it’s HAVING A BABY that does that, not the manner in which it’s born. Sure, historically the significance was placed on the natural childbirth, but then again, that was the only way had to have a baby.

      NCB, epidural, c-section, all means to having a baby. In themselves, not the point. Having a baby is the point.

      • That’s very profound. What you’re saying would be enough for me if I were a parent, be it by birth or adoption, but apparently that isn’t so for everyone.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          but apparently that isn’t so for everyone.

          Of course, if you look at it from a historical perspective, having a girl “isn’t for everyone” either.

          Would the NCB folks pine for those days, too?

          Is it really that much different? The spirituality associated with having a baby boy?

          Oh, I know…”That’s not the same….” but why not? Because it’s abhorrent? Girls were less desired and less loved than boys. And yet, we have folks now that will admit that they love their c-section child less….

          • Seeing as though girls were seen as malformed men, something to be blamed upon some sin of the mother, I don’t see why not.

          • Allie

            Ha! When in actuality the opposite is kind of true. Something goes terribly wrong and a chromosome loses a leg ; )

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Also a normal fetus, which is not hit with hormones that distort its development, will be a girl (even if it has a Y chromosome). Only when mullerian inhibiting factor and androgens are added does a boy develop. The normal default is a girl.

      • Maria

        This!!!

      • Laura

        -Or even adopting or caring for children not “born” to you, but whom you have a deep, connected, investment in. I like to define “mother/father” rather loosely. This is primarily out of sensitivity to all the people who struggle painfully with infertility.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I agree. Laura. The disdain that the NCB shows for adoptive parents, for example, is reprehensible.

          Oh, they won’t come out and admit it, but if you listen to what they say, it’s very clear that adoptive parents are lower class parents. It’s a necessary conclusion from their position.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Also for lesbian parents. I saw that so closely in my life. Crunchies want to support “moms” but they don’t mean my wife. She’s been told she wasn’t welcome at “mom” events. Of course, that means hell would freeze over before I went. But if you asked those women, they’d tell you they are so very pro-gay parenting.

          • mabelcruet

            I don’t know if its because they are against gay parents per se, but my impression is that if the baby didn’t come out of your vagina (sorry, yoni), then you aren’t a mum. So, if you had a section, you’re not a real mum. They show a lot of antipathy to non-yoni deliveries basically. If you had the baby, you’re the mum. And your wife isn’t a ‘mum’ because her vagina wasn’t involved. I think thats the level they operate at, nothing much above brainstem going on….

          • FormerPhysicist

            That’s hideous.

          • RMY

            Yeay another lesbian! Oddly most lesbian moms I know tend to be on the crunchy end of things.

          • An Actual Attorney

            There’s a few of us here. I hear you on the crunchy/lesbian connection.

    • Daleth

      “one of the two great mysteries, life and death, but part of its
      significance was the potential closeness of the two, and the significant
      victory of the birth of live child.”

      That is SO insightful. That’s really the heart of it, I think.

  • YES. Exactly.

    Do they romanticize the birth of unwanted children who are about to be given up for adoption? No. They’re only interested when birth is the beginning of a lifetime of showoff parenting; babies are just the means to an end.

    • Bugsy

      Bingo.

  • Zoey

    I feel like “normalize” in this NCB context probably also means to desensitize women to the sight of unsafe stunt birth type images. For example, my initial reaction to seeing tiny feet sticking out of the woman in the footling breech birth pictures was “holy sh*t” and hoping that the baby was safe. I imagine this is a fairly normal reaction. However, the more NCB types share these images on social media, the better they can attempt to substantiate their claims that these births are “normal” and can be done by midwives at home births. The more images you see, the more used to it you become – and you can become desensitized to all kinds of things over time. Of course, like Dr. Amy said, you never see the bad outcomes, so it’s very misleading.

  • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

    OT but my nephew and his wife had their third baby last Wednesday. She was going to be induced Thursday which was a few days ahead of her due date, because the baby was getting too big. She went into labor but toward the end he got stuck and they had to use the vacuum. He needed resuscitation and was on a ventilator for the first day. He is still in the NICU bUT is finally off oxygen and IV. Oh and he weighed 10 LBS 11 OZ at birth. But he was born vaginally so I guess the NCB crowd would call it a win..except if they had done a CS before 39 weeks he would probably be home now…

    • Medwife

      Poor baby! So glad everybody looks like they’re going to be ok. If that had been her 1st baby odds are it would have been a c/s.

    • Stacy48918

      Here’s hoping he gets home soon. 🙂

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Thank you, Me too they say maybe Wednesday and by the way the NICU staff have been awesome according to his parents. He looks like Godzilla next to the preemies…

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          On the same day our first was born at 6-1, there was an 11 lber born. They were in the nursery together. It was really funny.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            One of his uncles says he looks like a cross between a cabbagepatch doll and a sumo wrestler…

          • Amy M

            Ha! Mine were pretty small at birth, but they were 36wk. Together they weighed 9.5lbs. My sister’s baby also weighed 9.5lbs at birth (full term), so we joke that we both carried the same amount of baby, only mine was split between two. My nephew, now 2, is pretty average sized at this point though.

        • SporkParade

          Glad to hear he’s doing well. No newborn size onesies for that one!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Oh and he weighed 10 LBS 11 OZ at birth. But he was born vaginally so I guess the NCB crowd would call it a win..

      Don’t you know? Those size estimates can be wrong.

      • Amazed

        But only when they say kid’s too big!

        • Monkey Professor For A Head

          Or when doctors want to induce for IUGR.

          No one ever seems to point out that the margin of error goes both ways when it comes to size estimates.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Or when doctors want to induce for IUGR.

            See EYOIC’s comment. That’s exactly was the plan in this case. Induce before the due date to large size. Which, we know, can be wrong, which is why we have a 10-11 baby.

          • Monkey Professor for a head

            On one of the pregnancy forums I’m on, a mother posted that she was being induced for IUGR, and someone popped up to tell her that ultrasounds aren’t accurate and the baby was probably bigger than measured. Which was a bit of a change from all the posts about early inductions for big babies where the mothers were being reassured that their babies were probably smaller than estimated.

          • MLE

            Yep, my girl born in January was supposed to be 8 lbs. She was 10 lb 2 oz instead. So glad I asked to be induced on my due date, and belated thanks to everyone here for calming my worries about that request!

    • Amazed

      Poor kid. Glad he’s better!

    • namaste863

      Naaaah, the vacuum sucks away all the magic vagina sparkles, so it’s no better than a C Section

  • N

    I really like the comparison with the idealising of womens bodies…never thought of it like that before.

  • Guesteleh

    There is nothing normal about the post photo. What is up with that?

    • MegaMechaMeg

      Are you saying you don’t lee with you naked baby wearing matching tulip wreaths?

      • mabelcruet

        Come on, everyone knows tulip wreaths will imbue the infant with a magical immune system and special blood properties so it won’t need either Vit K or vaccinations.

        • KarenJJ

          Even more natural than an amber teething necklace.

      • demodocus’ spouse

        Those satiny sheets would get wet so fast!

        • Roadstergal

          Every time I see sheets that are made of silk/satin/etc, all I can think is “Does her period really _never_ come early?”

          • MegaMechaMeg

            IUD 4 lyfe

      • Guesteleh

        The next shot is yellow baby poo splattered over every surface, including every petal of those tulips and mama’s eyes.

        • CharlotteB

          But but but if the baby is exclusively breast-fed, then they poop wouldn’t smell! Or it will smell like popcorn. Or buttermilk. It’s totally NOT gross!!!!!

          “It’s not really poop”<—somebody told me that.

          • Medwife

            Well… my son’s poop didn’t smell like poop before he ate solids and was just on breastmilk! And I swear it wasn’t delusional. It had a smell but it was pretty nonoffensive. Once he was eating solids, BAM, one day I was very grossed out to find his poop smelled like poop. Ew.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I guess for me it’s one of those weird “mom” things. I’ve always been pretty grossed-out by poop, but DD’s doesn’t really bother me. I don’t want to touch it, I don’t want it on the floor/bed/whatever, but cleaning it up doesn’t gross me out.
            Vomit still freaks me out, though, even if it’s just spitup. That 3-5-month-old timeframe when she spat up after every. single. meal. was fun, lemme tell you…

          • Amy M

            Poop didn’t bother me much–when people found out I was having twins, some said “Oh wow, 2x/the poopie diapers.” But I’d worked with a variety of animals since I was a teenager, and literally been covered in poop (ask me about the shitty shower one day) so a little baby poop in a diaper was nothing.

            I’m with you on the vomit, though. My boys tend to get carsick on long rides. We travel with a bucket, papertowels and cleaning solution all the time now, after a double-carsick incident which left me retching in a parking lot, trying to get vomit off of the blankets and whatnot they’d hit.

          • namaste863

            Shitty shower? Do tell!

          • Amy M

            Ha! Yeah, it was on the dairy farm. The parlor (where we milked the cows) was very damp—we were always spraying iodine and water all over, cows pooped everywhere, so there was a pump system to drain it. If someone forgot the pump was on, and allowed it to run to the point where the floor was dry and the pump was sucking air, this led to a backup in the pipes, and raw sewage would come squirting out the top of a release pipe, like a geyser. Unfortunately, the switch for the pump was located under the blast radius, so the only way to stop this was to run under the spraying sewage and shut down the pump. Head to toe, in cow sewage. After that, a little baby poop is barely a blip on the radar.

          • namaste863

            Ugh, gross! Entertaining, though!

          • CharlotteB

            Haha! For the week or so that my son was EBF, it did smell sort of popcorn-y, but it was still poop. Baby poo in general doesn’t bother me THAT much, but OMG, the solids? I’ve suddenly become the person who tells my husband “get in here! This diaper is SOOO gross! No really–come smell this!”

            I’m not proud.

          • Michele

            I do think it smells like movie theater popcorn. That didn’t make me think ebf baby poop doesn’t smell. It just means that now I think the popcorn smells like baby poop.

        • Bugsy

          Ewwww….not the mental picture I needed while battling morning sickness and trying to force down some toast!

        • mabelcruet

          Yes, but squirt a bit of breast milk over it and its mystical anti-bacterial properties will completely clean the mess up

  • anh

    Has anyone else noticed that the vast majority of NCB “normalising” photos of either birth or breast feeding the moms are fit and conventionally attractive? They sexualise the crap out of both acts, always showing hottie moms.

    • Guesteleh

      Yes! Which isn’t normal. Most women don’t look like that.

      And on a semi-related rant, it makes me sick that women with saggy bellies and stretch marks are somehow no longer supposed to be sexual. Instead they are tagged with the name “mom” used as an epithet: mom jeans, mom haircut, mom dancing. Forgive the crudeness but one kid and 50 pounds later my husband and I still fuck and often, thank you very much. Being a mother doesn’t mean I’m no longer desirable or lacking in desire myself.

      • MegaMechaMeg

        My friend’s wife had that thing with her abs where they seperate during pregnancy and there is really no good fix, so her body has changed significantly and that is pretty much how things are going to be now. He told me once over beers that when he was young and stupid he would have made a face and gone after a traditional hot chick, but now he honestly sees his wife’s body and loving her and knowing that she gave him his beautiful boys he can’t see her as anything but the best and sexiest and most wonderful woman in the entire world and even if a sexy 22 year old came onto him, he would just want his wife.
        To me that is a much better kind of love than just wanting your wife to be a victorias secret model.

        • Amy M

          Diastasis Rectii. I was lucky not to have that, but carrying twins stretched my belly a lot, so now my stomach looks twice as old as the rest of me, all wrinkly. My husband doesn’t care, he thinks I’m a hottie. 🙂

        • Guesteleh

          Aw, that made me tear up. There’s something so lovely about having sex now that I’m older and not worrying about whether a certain position makes me look weird or poochy. It’s all poochy so you may as well enjoy yourself. Plus my husband is just the best and I’m still in love with him, which is wonderful at this stage of our lives.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            That is awesome! True love is just the best thing.

      • FormerPhysicist

        Thank you for the crudeness. Honestly. I need to hear often that normal women can be sexual. Because my brain has been programmed by “them” and it’s awful the things I say to myself.

    • MegaMechaMeg

      That is up there with the insistance that breastfeeding will snap your body right back to pre-baby shape with no effort. Sure it does that for some women, but most of the ones I know don’t shed the last weight until the baby weans.

      • Amazed

        They also only use *attractive* thinness. I have yet to see a picture of a woman like my mom when she left the hospital with the brand-new big me, post-vacuum. Take the light dress that the breeze glued to her concave belly – fine. Gorgeous. Just what a fit mom should look like. Have a look at the head attached to said body, and the picture turns creepy. Gaunt, sick, as non-sexual as they come. Fortunately, the picture did not reveal the tooth that she had broken while pushing. All in all, not a pretty picture – and thinness did not make it better. The only beautiful thing about it was her glowing – but even that was all expression on said gaunt, sick face.

        • MLE

          She broke a tooth while pushing? What now?

          • Amazed

            Oh yes. And her history with babies and teeth went on. She had her wisdom teeth doing their thing immediately after almost bleeding to death at my brother’s birth, so she had to push the pram to dentist appointment. And when she went there, she found out that there was no way for the pram to fit in the elevator. She had to prop the baby against the wall – quite unable to support his glorious 10 pounds at birth on her own! – in the elevator, try not to pass out and pray that the pram would still be there when she left.

            As to the broken tooth, it might have happened while waiting for the head of the OB unit to repair the broken vacuum, so she could finally drive the mini-me tenant out. She isn’t quite sure, she only knows she entered the ward with all teeth in place.

          • mabelcruet

            Babies are wee parasites though, you probably sucked all the calcium out of her jaw whilst you were in residence. The old wives saying ‘gain a child, lose a tooth’ is quite accurate. Or you were giving her so much trouble she gritted her teeth too hard!

          • Amazed

            Most likely. She says that at least they had the policy of keeping babies away and bring them for nursing alone. Four years later there was no such luck. When she got handed the 10-pounder with the expectation that she’d be taking care of him full-time, even the nurse was hesitant of letting go off him and asked, “Err, you can keep *yourself* sitting up straight in bed, right?”. “No.” So off he went. But the mothers who could keep their babies without fainting were labeled fit to provide adequate care full time. I guess the NCBers would have liked that!

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        My OB told me that in his (30+ years) experience, moms usually lose the last 10 pounds or so only after weaning because your body is thinking “oh, I have a baby to feed, better keep on a few extra pounds in case a famine comes.” I did lose all the baby weight by two weeks postpartum, but I a) was pretty overweight at the start of the pregnancy and b) ate much, much more healthily during pregnancy than I ordinarily do.

        • Michele

          I do get back to pre-baby shape pretty quickly while breastfeeding, but it helps that my pre-baby shape was “round” so the standard I was getting back to wasn’t exactly slim and fit.

        • Dr Kitty

          I’m small to start off with and my weight when I delivered last time was only 5kgs more than my pre-pregnancy weight, thanks to losing 7kgs in the first trimester due to vomiting.

          While my body doesn’t really do pregnancy or childbirth, apparently it has the whole nursing thing completely sorted.
          I ate 3000kcal a day, had an abundant milk supply and weighed less than my pre pregnancy weight the entire time I nursed.
          But that’s luck and genetics, not due to any effort on my part.

          For me breast feeding wasn’t a magic weight loss formula, because I didn’t have weight to lose. It did allow me to eat whatever I wanted without any weight gain though.

          This pregnancy I haven’t had any dramatic weight loss, and at 21 weeks I’ve put on a couple of kg already…it remains to be seen what will happen this time.

    • Who?

      Thank you for saying this. As well as the slimness and fitness, the impossible grooming standards in those pictures is what gets me. This has made me crazy since I was a slightly crazed new mum. I had my old jeans back on before my son was a week old, but I still looked otherwise like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards.

      We had a ‘coping with baby’ book from the NHS with some coloured in line drawings of slightly bedraggled looking people to break up the text, which I quite liked, since it was closer to my then state of grooming.

      Life, sex, food, pretty hair and all goes on after kids, different but with some attention, still great.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Off topic, but kind of not…

    12 years ago today, I went into labor. It was worse than I ever expected and I wondered whether I’d survive it. The answer was no. The labor was hopelessly obstructed. The baby and I were both doomed. Then technology handed me a really, really large saving throw. One c-section and a few antibotics later we were both in the recovery room, alive, breathing, and basically healthy. We left the hospital together 3 days later. If I’d tried to stay home for the birth or especially if my midwife had taken my cell phone away so I couldn’t call the hospital when things got bad, the outcome would not have been so good. I’m really pleased with my cut happy medwife and the surgeon she brought in to cheat me of my “real birth”, thank you very much.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      And with the medications that made the post-birth hormones a roller coaster ride rather than the Amtrak direct to hell.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I guess that means you have a birthday coming up in your house in the next day or so?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Yep. Today. It all went bad and had to be resolved pretty quickly. Fortunately or unfortunately she did not come on her due date–April 15th. Tax baby!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          What do 12 year olds do for their birthdays these days?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            (No longer very) small one is having some friends over for pizza and bike riding in the park. I don’t know that that’s typical for 12 year olds or not, though.

    • Amazed

      All good wishes to your birthday girl!

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Thanks!

  • Mel

    Perhaps I should put together a slide show of “normal” and “natural” birth in cows.
    Clips include:
    – First calf heifer bellowing in fear and pain with her eyes rolling as she suffers through contractions.
    -Fourth calf cow bellowing in annoyance as she looks for her calf – it’s still in her, but in her mind her stomach hurt, she pushed and so a calf should be on the ground somewhere.
    -The oddball cow that labors absolutely silently….it’s so weird.
    -Cows kicking at their abdomen trying to get the pain to stop.
    -Chasing a cow around the pen trying to help deliver the calf – but she doesn’t want us anywhere near her.
    -My husband covered in amniotic fluid and manure laying on his stomach trying to free a trapped limb of a calf before it dies.
    -My husband, me and the vet removing a dead calf piece-wise from the dam.
    – Euthanizing the dam the next day when she develops shock from sepsis.
    -Giggling over a healthy calf that we managed to free in time.
    -The pile of still-born calves that developed on the weekend from hell when a bull who threw large calves produced 9 bull calves larger than 120 pounds. (The dump was closed until Monday and the snow was too deep to bury them until we got out heavy equipment.)
    -A video of a brain-dead calf that is moving limbs and breathing…kind of ….but will be dead within hours.
    -Deciding which calf is the absolute cutest calf ever! (I’m fond of ones with freckled noses, but it’s very much personal preference.)
    – Watching a calf decide that some poor cow that is not her mom should give her some milk…NOW!

    Most of the time, cattle birth is great – healthy mom, healthy calf and lots of mooing from the peanut gallery (the other cows are very nosy and noisy). But I’d be remiss in pretending it ends well every time.

    • Amy M

      I worked on dairy farm for a few months, when I was in college. At one point, the farmer was interviewing people to replace someone who left, and as part of the interview, the person would hang out in the parlor and see how it was done. So, I was working in there, and showing the prospective employee the ropes, when suddenly, I said “Crap, that cow should have been moved to the hospital pen, she’s giving birth.”
      Him: “How do you know?”
      Me: “I see feet!”
      He was completely grossed out, and didn’t end up working there.

      • deborah

        The “parlor”???

        • Sarah1035

          Where they do the milking

        • Guesteleh

          I had the exact same reaction, lol. #citygirl4lyfe

      • Mel

        On my fifth date with my husband, he invited me to see the farm and the cows. (He asked spontaneously at the end of a dinner date, so imagine me tottering around a barn in sandals and a flirty skirt. Also, I was born, raised and lived at that point in the city. I knew zip about cows.)

        As we are walking by the fresh group, he stops dead and says “Oh, damn. We’ve gotta move that cow. She’s having a baby in the fresh group.”

        I had no idea what that meant – but more importantly I had no idea which cow was birthing. I asked him how he knew and he replied “Oh. The feet” and hurried away to start moving gates.

        Well, I spent the next few minutes carefully examining each cows legs to figure out how they looked different when they were giving birth. I could not figure it out.

        Ten minutes later, after the cow was safe in a clean birthing pen, she had another good contraction and the calf’s feet popped out again. I blurted out “OH! You mean the calf’s feet!”

        Yup.

    • Guesteleh

      lots of mooing from the peanut gallery (the other cows are very nosy and noisy)

      God, that sounds sooooo cuuuute. Picturing them with their noses over the fence and goggling at the new calf.

      • Mel

        Oh, it’s funny. Calves are pretty mobile after birth and sometimes will end up in a different pen all together – either they lay down and end up sliding under the gate or start walking, fall into the feed bunk, walk down a ways in the feed bunk, then fall back into a pen.

    • Elizabeth Neely

      whilst camping near Buffalo Bill’s Ranch several years ago, My son and I were eating breakfast in a local restaurant. Everyone there was very friendly and talkative. We had a very interesting conversation with a local veterinarian who told us that he had performed a c-section on a cow the night before. WE had been camping and it had been a very cold night. I really learned some respect for this man. He worked in a barn, did major surgery on a large animal to save the calf’s life…. Wow, you learn something new every day>>> Cows even have cesarean birth.

      • no longer drinking the koolaid

        And usually that are sold for meat because they don’t breed or birth well the next time.

      • Liz Leyden

        I had a client whose family raised rabbits. Apparently, his mother did one of my state’s first rabbit cesareans.

    • pinkyrn

      I would like to see cow birth. It must be amazing.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        My son’s kindergarten class went on a field trip to a farm last Friday and got to see a calf being born. They needed to pull it, and there was blood all over. He said it was pretty gross.

        OTOH, when his mom was his age, she used to sit in the barn and wait for calves to be born.

        • D/

          My elementary school years were in a very rural area where seeing the births of farm animals was commonplace for all but a rare few of students. I do remember an unannounced walking field trip for the entire school though to see the two-headed calf at the farm just down the road. That same “rare few” students were the only ones completely surprised to see that calf head perched on a fence post and not a two-headed calf frolicking in the barn lot.

          Has me wondering how many parents of the grandkid’s little friends would totally flip out over such an adventure today … and without even a single permission slip?!

      • Liz Leyden

        I’m a home health nurse, and my primary client lives on a dairy farm. I’ve seen 2 calves born so far.

    • Bystander

      I’m afraid that all the cow births I’ve seen are bad ones, but that’s because I spent my teen years shadowing a vet. If he got a call, it was because it was something the herdsman couldn’t fix… and it was long past too late.
      Come to think of it, the only large animal birth complication that I saw end well was this goat who complained* so much that her owner brought her in time to have a c-section that delivered three healthy kids.

      *by complain, I mean scream.

    • araikwao

      “Cows kicking at their abdomen trying to get the pain to stop”
      Have you tried chanting affirmations and reminding them it’s natural, those surges/rushes that they’re feeling?

      • Who?

        I’d suggest doing that well out of range of the kicking feet, in case the cow understands more than the attendant thinks.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Do any of them jump into the water tub?

        • Amy M

          They might try if it was hot…no joke, occasionally a cow would pass out in the milking line due to heat. We’d spray her with water and that did the trick. A few savvy cows figured out where the water came from once, and fiddled with the handle until they got the hose to turn on.

    • Dr Kitty

      Brother-in-law the dairy farmer is ALL ABOUT technology. Of course, he’s an engineer in his day job, and the dairy farming is just what he does to help out his parents, as the only son.

      They have an automated milking parlour (the cows choose when and how often to get milked) which has cut their vet bills because the cows are happier and healthier.

      They use AI, from bulls proven to produce good ratios of female to male calves, and calves that aren’t too big. With the AI, they also have moved away somewhat from a calving season, meaning that the workload and milk yield is spread more evenly throughout the year.

      It also makes it safer for the cows when they calve because he’s not trying to manage six of them at a time.

      They have CCTV in the house so he can watch the parlour and the barn and so he only has to go up when there is a problem.

      These robotically milked, remotely monitored, artificially inseminated cows are actually much better off than cows on more “natural” farms.

    • lawyer jane

      Would you ever give a laboring cow pain relief? (Serious question!)

      • Mel

        The problem with pain meds is that we don’t have any really good options.

        Rompun – which we use to knock cows out for surgery – knocks the calf out, too. Since the calf is an active participant in labor – when a contraction occurs, the calf stiffens and pushes back to facilitate movement into and through the pelvis – an unconscious or dead calf makes for a much more difficult birth which would be more painful.

        Vets can do epidurals on cows, but the cow needs to be down and it causes uterine contractions to weaken substantially and generally stop. (Which is a great thing if the labor is obstructed) Since most cows are on their feet and moving around, putting in an epidural would be dangerous.

        Thankfully, the fit for a calf through the pelvis isn’t quite as tight as it is for humans. The cows look uncomfortable during second-stage labor – but most look uncomfortable not like they are in uncontrolled, unbearable pain. First stage may be uncomfortable, but the cows don’t show it. On a mature cow with a roomy pelvis, sometimes we don’t realize the cow is in labor because she’s so mellow and only starts mooing a bit when the calf is mostly born.

    • Kristina

      My grandfather was a country vet. When my mother was pregnant with me (1980), my grandfather took my mom, my dad, and my, then 6 year old, brother to see a calf get pulled. Well, the uterus prolapsed, and my grandfather tells my dad to come and help him put the uterus back in the cow, while my very proper mother and brother watch on, horrified 🙂 The farmer then says to my brother “Soon your mom is going to have a baby, just like that!” A month or so later, my brother has a friend over. The friend asks him why his mom is so fat. My brother says, “It’s too gross to tell!”

      Thanks for reminding me of one of my grandfather’s favorite stories to tell people 🙂

  • no longer drinking the koolaid

    NCB is not the only thing they may try to rationalize. Baby was born with giant hairy pigmented nevi, with a huge lesion covering one buttock and the upper thigh, with much smaller lesions in dozens of other areas. The sister of the mother was present for the birth and began waxing poetic about how this was a mark of something special about this child and started talking about fairies and prophetic gifts.
    The parents luckily were much more grounded and understood immediate assessment at the hospital was in order.
    The giant things that people try to cram into a tiny little box labeled “normal” is sometimes astounding.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      That’s a big birthmark

    • Dr Kitty

      Giant melanocytic naevus has a 2-40% lifetime risk of malignant transformation to melanoma, so usual practice is to excise them early, with planned reconstruction and grafting.

      Better planned surgery and a big scar which can be revised if needed than being teased about a big mole and then having urgent surgery to remove a malignant melanoma, requiring wide local excision and necessitating a bigger scar and less successful reconstruction.

      Big moles are not a good thing.

  • Amy M

    They also talk about normalizing breastfeeding, but I think in both cases of birth and breastfeeding, that is the wrong word to use. Putting aside the actual motivation behind this (the idealization or glorification of NCB/breastfeeding), no one thinks that birth or breastfeeding, in and of themselves, is abnormal. By the same token, no one thinks formula feeding is abnormal either, but when a lactivist says ” Breast isn’t best, breast is normal”, she creates the either/or state–if breast is normal, then formula is abnormal. Of course, what it comes down to is: feeding the baby adequately is normal.

    If they want other women to be aware of the awesomeness of NCB or breastfeeding, then that would be more “raising awareness” or “consciousness-raising.” The way to present this would be to show people that they had multiple choices and leave them to make their own decisions. But of course, women can’t be trusted to make the correct decisions, so they are only presented with the information that will push women toward the preferred (by the NCBers) option, which appears to be The Ideal.

    • Cobalt

      A normal pregnancy normally ends in birth, hence, birth is normal.

      The other option being not having the birth, which is very abnormal indeed (see lithopedion, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithopedion ).

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        See my comment the other day about the differences between how birth is viewed between MWs and OBs. As much as MWs go on about “variations of normal,” consider the fact that OBs also consider a C-section to be a perfectly normal outcome. It’s the MWs who sell the nonsense about how an OB means your body is broken. What do doctors say? Congratulations on your baby.

    • Sarah

      ‘Breast is normal’ is also often used as a device to get round reality when it isn’t. UK lactivists talk about it being the biological norm, which piece of meaninglessness being as neat a way as any to ignore the fact that most feeding of babies in Britain is done by formula.

      • Roadstergal

        I can’t think of any other response than ‘so what?’ Dying in childbirth is the biological norm. Not living past 30 is the biological norm. Toilets and cutlery aren’t the biological norm, and most people greatly prefer them.

        • Sarah

          Yes, I find the term ‘biological norm’ meaningless really.

          • Amy M

            Yes, its pretty pointless isn’t it? For humans, the biological normal is to have one baby at a time. I have twins—even though that is not the biological normal, it is not really abnormal either. I think it comes down to the fact that they are adding moral value to things that don’t deserve that. Morals are more about how someone behaves and why, not bodily functions. I mean, having twins doesn’t make me immoral or unethical, it just happened. Likewise, feeding a baby has no moral value either, unless you are comparing feeding it to not feeding it.

          • demodocus’ spouse

            Why be normal when you can be better?

          • An Actual Attorney

            Yep, reminds me of the “gay isn’t normal” argument. Well, yes, in terms of percentage of the population, being gay is not the experience of the majority. But that doesn’t mean it has to have a moral value attached based on prevalence.

          • KarenJJ

            I see it as being ableist. It feels as if you’re not doing the “biological norm” then you must be some kind of deviant. Being deaf is not “normal” but that doesn’t mean that deaf people should try to be more “normal”.

          • Sarah

            That’s a useful way of looking at it. But as we’ve discussed before, so much of the rhetoric surrounding lactivism is ableist anyway. Don’t get me started on ‘all babies can latch’.

          • namaste863

            I am a Deaf ASL user. I can’t count the number of times I have been told by my Hearing peers that I should get a cochlear implant. My interest in it is precisely zip. I in no way, shape or form consider myself to be disabled. I am a member of a distinct, beautiful culture, and I’m proud to belong to it. Of course, it isn’t “Normal” to not hear, to sign ASL rather than speak English, and so people assume I want to hear, to be “Normal.” I can say pretty confidently that for me, suddenly waking up hearing would be as much of a culture shock as if I’d picked up and moved to Saudi Arabia.

          • Realitybites100

            little off topic but I have often said sign language should be universal and taught to all. Imagine being able to travel anywhere in the world and be able to communicate fluently. Also would be nice for people to have some privacy and not inturrupt the rest during private or quite moments.
            So much beauty in using the body to speak your language. Hard to lie when your body is speaking.

          • Medwife

            There are local sign languages all over the world and while some of them are similar (French Sign Language and American Sign Language for example), many are dramatically different (British Sign Language and American Sign Language). Wherever there is a deaf population, a sign language exists. It doesn’t make any more sense to have a universal sign language than a universal spoken one.

          • Realitybites100

            To me it does. I am aware of differences. That is why I would love to see a universal sign language. My opinion. People hold back over their fear of accents, not being understood etc.
            of course local language will color the universal sign but if there could be a broad general sign language it would be part of my utopia.
            We all have things that appeal to us. That is mine.

          • namaste863

            Every country has its own sign language. ASL is entirely different from British sign language, for example, and they aren’t mutually intelligible.

        • mabelcruet

          I had a heated discussion with the coroner recently about biological norms-we had a patient die of peritonitis secondary to acute appendicitis (I’m in pathology). He didn’t accept that as a natural cause of death because people don’t die of acute appendicitis. Yes they do, if they don’t do anything about it, don’t come to hospital and try lots of sodium bicarbonate for their indigestion for a few days before collapsing in a heap.

          I honestly think we are going to see a lot more Morecambe Bay style problems and a lot more deaths before people realise that obstetricians aren’t the enemy, and medical or surgical interventions are only carried out if necessary, not because Obs are the bunch of knife wielding butchers that they are sometimes portrayed as in certain circles.

          • demodocus’ spouse

            Poor bugger. Coroner as in a legal judge-ish kind of person like in British mysteries?

          • mabelcruet

            Yes, the coroner investigates deaths in which the cause of death is not apparent, or sudden unexpected deaths and death that come about as a result of an accident, trauma, death in custody and deaths when the person was under anaesthesia. Usually they are legally qualified but not medical, so when a death is reported to him he then tasks a pathologist to carry out an autopsy. This can be a forensic pathologist if the circumstance suggest an unlawful death, or a general pathologist if there aren’t any suspicious features but the cause isn’t known.

            In my appendix case the patient was admitted in extremis and died in A&E almost immediately on arrival so the cause of death wasn’t obvious and no one could complete the death certificate.

          • Dr Kitty

            Coroner’s inquests can be very useful…or they can be…less useful.
            The purpose of a Coroner’s inquest is to determine the who, what, when, where, and how someone died. Most of the time though, what people want to know is WHY someone died, and inquests rarely answer that question.

            Why that person decided not to go to A&E with excruciating pain, why that lady’s car veered off the road on a straight bit, why that day was the day that the person didn’t stop drinking after the first bottle of vodka…sometimes there isn’t a way to find out answers to the questions people really want answered.

            Writing death certificates is always a challenge. Quite often we have people who die of perfectly natural causes, but who haven’ t see a Dr within 28 days of death, so we do a proforma. This explains the circumstances of the death from witness accounts, and the background medical history, and quite often enables the coroner to conclude matters without an autopsy.

            For example, if a 90 year old with a history of previous heart attacks phones his daughter complaining of shortness of breath, worsening angina and increasing ankle swelling, and she finds him dead in his bed two days later when she goes to bring him his breakfast, he probably died from either a big heart attack or acute congestive heart failure. Unless foul play is suspected, why would you want to order an autopsy just to clarify which specific cardiac issue was the immediate cause of death?

          • mabelcruet

            It depends very much on the individual coroner, there is a lot of inter-coronial and intra-coronial variability. Some days he will decide to proceed with an autopsy, other days he will accept the clinician’s proposed formulation of cause of death even if the patient has the exact same history and presentation. There is very little standardisation across UK coroners. In most of the country, the coroners refuse to fund the service properly, so the pathologist is left doing a naked eye examination only with no histology, bacteriology or toxicology. That leaves the pathologist at risk of being accused of failing to meet Royal college standards which insist on histology and ancillary tests. Some coroners hold all their inquests in public as they believe they have a public health role, so cot death inquests are held in public with journalists present which is very upsetting for parents.

  • almostfearless

    There’s something about the NCB movement that is deeply desensitized to the fact that these are real, living babies. I have a 5 and 2 year old and I watch these videos and I’m wrecked at the idea of risking a child’s life or giving them life long disabilities for an experience. I see the videos and I just think, oh god, get in there, do something, get that baby out, it’s not breathing while it’s hanging half out of the mother. Why would they want to “normalize” that? It’s like they want to push women towards this empathy-less position where the baby is just a prop. The truth is, any doctor out there has a hell of a lot more compassion for that baby than a die-hard NCB fanatic. They know what the negative outcomes look like.

    • Mel

      I’m the same way – I can’t even watch the videos because I get panicky. At least in the barn, I can get help or try to assist myself until help arrives. Watching online, I’m totally helpless.

      • MegaMechaMeg

        The water birth ones where they hold the baby under for a little bit first? I think it is supposed to be less traumatic, but seeing that little blue baby under the water with hands on it not letting it breathe…. Not gonna lie, I saw exactly one and I still have nightmares.

        • mabelcruet

          I don’t get it at all. There is no evidence at all that humans ever gave birth in water or underwater-it seems such a daft thing to do. I mean, coming down the birth canal squeezes the pulmonary fluid out of the airspaces in preparation for breathing, but the first environment its subjected to is more fluid? How is that supposed to help transition?

          • TsuDhoNimh

            “here is no evidence at all that humans ever gave birth in water or underwater”

            Even seals go onto the beach!

          • mabelcruet

            And in virtually every waterbirth video I’ve seen, there’s either turds floating around or the water is green with meconium or red with blood. Its hard enough estimating blood loss under normal circumstances but how do you do it when you’re in a kiddy paddling pool?

          • araikwao

            That’s how mothers die from PPH

          • Amy M

            They don’t understand how the baby switches to breathing as soon as its born. Many, many times we see this: “Baby wasn’t breathing/pinking up, but it was ok because he was still attached to the cord/placenta, and that was giving him oxygen.” Not only from the moms (a little more understandable, they didn’t get any formal training), but from midwives (CPMs) and doulas.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            Now I am not a doctor, but if the baby was getting oxygen wouldn’t it be pink? Where would the blue color be coming from if not a lack of oxygen in the blood? Am I going slowly mad?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Nope. You’re not. Oxygenated hemoglobin is red. Deoxygenated is blueish.

          • Medwife

            You should see pink spread throughout baby’s body over the first minute. Hands and feet can stay purple for a few hours.

            Seeing that lovely pink color spread through the baby is awesome.

          • Amy M

            If I recall, its pretty common for babies to get 8s or 9s for Apgar scores, because of blue hands/feet, but the baby is otherwise pink and screaming. I know that happened with my children.

          • lawyer jane

            Reading about how a baby transitions from placenta to breathing with its own lungs was one of the things that definitively put me in the anti-home birth camp. It’s got to be one of the most amazing physiological acts in nature, a high-wire performance! No way in hell am I letting that go unattended by the best medical care possible in case something goes wrong.

        • Mel

          To quote my husband: Humans don’t have gills. Not even new babies.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Yuck. Even if they were right about the breathing, that baby’s going to get very cold very fast.

        • Carla

          Water helps relax the mother which makes the birth progress well, to the benefit of all, I believe.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      There’s something about the NCB movement that is deeply desensitized to the fact that these are real, living babies.

      It’s all a game.

    • Carla

      The woman who carried the child for nine months probably loves him more than the doctor – or you

      • Young CC Prof

        Usually, not always. And no matter how much you love your children, love doesn’t give you the power to always know what’s best for them.

        • Carla

          people should stop claiming to know what is best for other people’s children. Stop the judging