I’m a feminist. That’s how I know natural childbirth has nothing to do with feminism.

Natural childbirth is not feminist

Mariah Sixkiller claims she is a birth feminist.

Birth feminists simply believe in a woman’s right to make empowered choices about her birth experience. We believe a Mom should have evidence-based information about all her birth options, which all too often does not happen. We believe a Mom should be supported through her decision-making process and into the birth experience itself, which all too often does not happen. And we believe every Mom is entitled to her own choice, without judgment, whatever it may be, which all too often does not happen.

Natural childbirth advocates have hijacked “feminism” in the same way that political conservatives have hijacked the flag, and homophobes have hijacked “family.” None of them believe in choices; they believe in one correct choice. None of them believe in evidence; they misuse the term to promote a predetermined agenda. And none of them refrain from judging those who make anything other than pre-approved, officially sanctioned choices.

But I’m an actual feminist. That’s how I know that natural childbirth has nothing to do with feminism.

Sixkiller writes about her vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC):

I’m an actual feminist. That’s how I know that natural childbirth has nothing to do with feminism.

When the time came, in February 2012, I labored for four days with no medicine. I have never worked harder or experienced a more unbelievable thrill than meeting my son that day. I felt relief, pride, strength, and elation. I felt empowered by the birth, and it changed my life for the better. My post-partum experience was amazingly positive—a sharp contrast with my first post-partum experience. And to this day, I look at my middle child with wonder and appreciation for the experience we had together—the time I gave him his life, and he gave me mine back.

I’m a feminist and that’s not feminism. That’s narcissism.

Sixkiller’s piece in The Daily Beast is publicity for Ricki Lake’s latest venture in promoting the subjugation of women to their biology, Mama Sherpas: Midwives Across America It’s yet another effort to extol the virtues of women’s pain, suffering, and ignorance of science.

As I wrote recently for Time.com regarding Lake’s effort to demonize the birth control pill:

She’s part of a natural parenting movement that is anti-hospital birth, anti-epidural and anti-formula — technological innovations that have made the legal, political and especially the economic liberation of women possible. Opposition to the Pill is the next logical step of that philosophy…

The technology of the 20th Century — hospital birth, epidurals, infant formula and especially the Pill — freed women from being slaves to their biology.

Opposition to the birth control pill is opposition to women’s emancipation.

I’m a feminist and I can tell you opposition to women’s emancipation is not, and can never be, feminist.

I’m a feminist. That’s why I spent years becoming an OB-GYN, so I could understand every aspect of childbirth and provide women with safe, satisfying births.

I’m a feminist. That’s why I object to the insistence of natural childbirth advocates to reducing birth to the ways that a mother uses her vagina, uterus and breasts.

For most of human history, women were reduced to only 3 body parts: vaginas, uteri and breasts. How they used them represented the sum total of their value to men. In contemporary natural childbirth advocacy, how women use their vaginas, uteri and breasts represent the sum total of their value as mothers.

I’m a feminist. That’s why I support the use of pain relief for the excruciating pain of childbirth.

I’m a feminist. That’s why I encourage women to get their medical information from medical experts, not from washed up talk show hosts.

I’m a feminist. That’s why I recognize that how you give birth to your child (or even IF you give birth to your child) has nothing to do with your love for that child.

I’m a proud, committed, enthusiastic feminist.

That’s why I recognize that natural childbirth has nothing to do with feminism … and everything to do with manipulating women into accepting the profoundly misogynistic notion that women’s worth is determined by their vaginas, uteri, and breasts, instead of their intellect or the content of their character.

  • psilocyber251

    having a baby without pain is not feminism.
    It’s like wanting the money without working. What happens? You become a fat lazy person. Pain is there for a reason.
    Sorry babe, but nature decided things for us humans too for a reason.
    Just like Formula, another way of helping us Stupid Human Beings to create a LOVELESS society, where not even a mom has the time and energy to devote to her baby.
    Come on, stop calling yourself feminist. Please!
    Being lazy or wanting to skip the pain that Mother Nature put there for you to understand your true nature doesn’t mean that you are a feminist.

    Femina means woman!!!
    Woman means that you accept to be what you are, without ways to try and change it (like pills, fake milk or whatever else you might use)
    Feminism doesn’t demand anything, true, it just means that you accept to be a WOMAN, with all the pros and contras.
    Embrace who you are and you will flourish, no pain will be too strong and you will be proud to call yourself a woman, and people everywhere will see your power, energy and beauty. Without even having to call yourself “feminist”

    Good luck with that.

    • Chi

      Fake milk? So you’d rather see babies starve because their mother isn’t making enough milk?

      Guess what? Feminism isn’t JUST about being woman. It’s about the freedom to make your own choices about what is or isn’t right for you, without having idiots like you make them feel LESS just because you think they took the lazy way out.

      They have a right to that choice. And you do NOT have the right to belittle them for that.

      • SporkParade

        It’s pretty clear from her comments here and that she believes that women ought to be defined by their reproductive functions, and everything else is secondary. It’s also pretty clear that she has no idea that she’s participating in the grand American tradition of tautologizing privilege and good motherhood.

        • psilocyber251

          Women are not defined by their reproductive functions, let’s be adult here, please.
          I am just explaining that Feminism has a latin root: Femina, which means litterally woman.
          On a dictionary woman is: an adult human female.
          Female means that you are born with female organs.
          Which means that you have the beautiful gift of giving birth between many others.
          Of course it comes with downsizes that we all know.

          Having said that if you want to be a Feminist, you should definitely embrace all the aforementioned things and of course be proud of it. Not trying to be like a man .
          This is what people like the writer of this article are doing.

          Feminism doesn’t mean: I am like a man, it means I am a woman with all the pros and contras and I will make everything that I can to be respected as such.

          Trying to change our nature with pills to evade pain when menstruating,
          more pills to avoid the pain of childbirth
          a powder so that we don’t have to have the beautiful connection with our babies….

          you know what I mean?

          Be a woman, don’t try to change it.

          • Chi

            Dr Amy is not saying women need to be like men. She’s saying we have the right to be treated EQUALLY, equal pay, equal chance for promotion, equal access to medical care.

            So you’re against the pill too? Even though it is one of the greatest wins for feminism in our lifetime? It gives us control over our fertility, allowing us to enjoy sexual freedom without concerns about unwanted pregnancy.

            Wow. I think you need to go back to your yurt now.

          • psilocyber251

            Equal pay, equal rights fair enough, nobody’s touching that.
            “The pill” means: corporations are laughing at us.
            You cannot administrate your sexuality and you need a pill that will fack up your hormones to take care of it.

            Have the pills been tested for more than 100 years? Do we know the long run effects? No

            Good luck with the magic pill.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Know what definitely hasn’t been tested for 100 years? The internet. Better get off it before something bad happens. Those planes you use to be a a”world traveller” haven’t been tested for 100 years either. Best stay in your little upper east side apartment and let the nanny do the dangerous stuff new for you.

          • Fallow

            The Computer Ate My Nym has a point. Every day, you use endless numbers of products that haven’t been “tested” for more than a decade, let alone 100 years. What are the longterm effects of staring at a computer screen and ranting nonsense at strangers on the internet? I dunno; tell us after you’ve lived 100 years doing all that.

          • SporkParade

            Oh, so now you are transphobic. Nice.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Which means that you have the beautiful gift of giving birth between many others.”

            That’s exactly how I felt! I felt so grateful to be at the hospital, giving birth between so many well trained professionals: the OB, the anesthesiologist, the neonatal nurse, the L&D nurse. I knew that being surrounded by real professionals, as opposed to with a self-proclaimed “midwife” charlatan could be the difference between life and death for my precious baby and me.

          • Megan

            Re you seriously suggesting women who formula feed don’t want to have a connection with their babies?? You are a piece of shit. (And if my tone upsets you, sorry, I’m just embracing my “womanly” pregnancy hormones. Wait, that doesn’t give me the right to be a complete asshole…?)

          • psilo

            thank you for the nice words. Embrace the power of pregnancy hormones and let it out. No worries. 😉

            The Article here says:
            “The technology of the 20th Century — hospital birth, epidurals, infant formula and especially the Pill — freed women from being slaves to their biology.”

            “Infant formula freed women from being slaves”, well that is funny. Next step we will all want to stop pissing cause it’s a great pain in the butt, just saying 😉

            Of course I wasn’t referring to that little tiny part of women population that has no milk production or not enough.

            What she in the article calls slavery is simply the manifestation of mutual love that nature decided to happen between a lucky mother and son, and the sacrifice and miracle that only a woman can perform for her newborn.

            Of course we are free to replace our warm and soft embrace to a plastic titty and some powdered milk.

          • Megan

            Um my child still gets a warm and soft embrace with her bottle. It’s not like I’m putting her in a corner by herself to drink it. And some of us have no choice but to use a “plastic titty and some milk.” It’s no more unnatural than you using the Internet to spread your own brand of self righteousness and privilege.

            I smell a troll. Time to stop feeding it…

          • Fallow

            You’re one of those people who thinks fathers and adoptive parents aren’t as real as birth mothers, right? I mean, no tits mean no real bonding. So fathers and adoptive parents never love their children as much as bio mothers who nursed. Just following your bullshit to its logical conclusion.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Most people connect with their babies just fine no matter what they feed them. I understand that it may be difficult for some women to connect no matter what they do but you should not assume that is the case for us all.

          • psilocyber251

            you are 100% right. I am just saying that feminism has nothing to do with epidural. And Everyone burst on fire

          • perpetual lurker

            No, you did not just say that. You said that women who get epidurals are not feminists, do not bond well with their children, and contribute to a loveless society. You are nothing but a misogynistic bully cloaked in organic-dyed hemp, spouting some moon cycle, red tent bullshit to try and pass off your narrow-mindedness as spiritual.

            Newsflash: You have NO idea what another woman’s pain in childbirth feels like. You have NO idea what goes into a woman’s decision to use formula to feed her child. Telling another woman she is less of a woman because she does not fit squarely with your worldview is NOT feminism. And it is frankly mind-blowing to me that you don’t seem to understand that, but the internet is a big place, and I suppose you can find all sorts of wackiness in it.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            The only thing that epidurals have to do with feminism is that for some reason the world thinks women’s pain is not important and tries to dress it up like it is a benefit instead of agreeing that everyone deserve appropriate pain relief if they desire it.

          • LibrarianSarah

            I will never have the “beautiful gift of giving birth” A what does that make me? A man? An eternal girl? Maybe being a woman means more than what you can do with your genitalia.
            If I decide to adopt do you think I would not love those children as much as you do? Do you think that your father loves you less than your mother because he didn’t give birth to you?

        • Chi

          Yeah. She’s trying to use spirituality and natural fallacy as a thin veneer to try and cover her contempt for women who exercise the rights that feminism have won for them (and her although I’m not totally convinced they’re a she, something about their writing reads misogynist to me), including the right to labour without pain and fear.

          Oh and according to them, because I opted for nos, my vaginal birth doesn’t count as natural.

          • psilocyber251

            Chi Dear:
            natural means: not made by human kind.
            Where did you take NOS from, a branch of a tree? Or maybe an apple?

          • Chi

            So where is your computer and internet connection coming from?

            Sounds like you need to unplug and go hug a tree.

          • psilocyber251

            Why so much aggression? It is the truth? I didn’t make it

          • Chi

            No it is YOUR opinion which you are claiming is the truth. Natural is not necessarily better, when so much of nature can and does kill. Including unassisted, unmedicated child-birth and you are deluding yourself if you think it doesn’t.

            Also, you didn’t really explain why you are cool with using the computers and internet when they are clearly unnatural and yet anything to do with modern medicine is the devil.

            Bit hypocritical don’t you think?

          • Angharad

            We’re all “made by human kind”. Every human was made by humans, just like every whale was made by whales. That’s how reproduction works.

          • KarenJJ

            Humans are naturally very good at developing technology.

          • spill

            …Like atomic bombs, forest cutting machines, petrol escavating machines, medicines that will drive you crazy, food fertilisers (poisons), GMO foods….

          • Megan

            And vaccines and open heart surgery and treatment for cancer…and the Internet so you can have a platform to spew nonsense.

            If you hate technology so much then get off the Internet and retreat to your hut in the woods. And don’t ever seek any medical care.

          • rare

            Megan, sex sometimes can be a wonderful thing to release stress.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Anything you post under an alternate screen name will henceforth be deleted.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Please stick to one screen name psilocyber251.

          • KarenJJ

            You say that like it’s a bad thing…

    • SporkParade

      Well, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of epidurals being responsible for overweight. I accept that I’m a woman. This means that I am also a human, which gives me the benefit of being able to control my fertility and make infant feeding choices and medical decisions that promote the maximum happiness of my particular family unit. There is nothing feminist about embracing unnecessary suffering in order to be a “proper” woman. And there’s certainly nothing feminist about causing one’s own child unnecessary suffering because you think your life revolves entirely around your biological functions.

      • psilocyber251

        If you don’t see the connection between pain and reward then there is nothing to talk about and of course you can always find “first world” excuses not to suffer.
        Problem is: nature is kicking us out of here because we thing we are superior.

        Until we don’t find a natural balance with nature, accept everything nature has given us, we will always be thinking that we will are in control, and people will go on and on cheating on nature until we are disappeared.

        • Who?

          Send me a smoke signal about that, and we’ll go from there.

          Or is fire too unnatural for you?

          • psilocyber251

            Wow, how old are you? 5?!

        • SporkParade

          There is a connection between effort and reward. Pain is not effort. Pain is a physiological signal that something bad is happening. Please explain you mean, though, when you say that “nature is kicking us out” and what you mean by “cheating on nature.”

          • psilocyber251

            Nature is kicking us out means that we think we are completely disconnecting from it. We have deforestated our planet in the last 200 years more than has been done in thousands, love is becoming a commodity, food is poisoned… should i continue?
            It is all connected with our spiritual ignorance.
            Pain is necessary to appreciate a painless state. It’s necessary sometimes.
            But the West started to believe that pain is the enemy.
            Without pain there wouldn’t be pleasure, no black no white….

          • Chi

            Nature has NEVER and will not ever be a benign thing. It is out to get us. Diseases, famines, natural disasters etc.

            None of these things can be solved by us being more spiritual or loving the earth more or any of that. Nature doesn’t discriminate, she’ll hit the Western world and developed nations just as hard as she does the third world.

            The only difference is that we have developed technology to keep her at bay. We have vaccines and medicine to help prevent and treat disease. We have warm houses with clean running water to prevent us from dying of exposure to the elements.

            I don’t get what you mean that we need pain to appreciate a painless state. Since a painless state is the default, when we experience pain, that’s not a spiritual thing, it is a biological function to tell us that something isn’t right.

            And believe me, I had a natural childbirth with my baby, using only nitrous oxide gas. Next time I’m going full epidural, because even with the nos, the pain was SO bad that whole hours of my labour are blank spots in my memory. And the parts I DO remember are disjointed and don’t make sense.

            I honestly think that if someone claims to enjoy a natural, pain-med free birth, they are either a masochist or lying through their teeth. Because I would not wish the pain of labour on my worst enemy.

          • psilocyber251

            ok Chi, I will try to be clearer.
            A “natural” childbirth doesn’t imply the use of any Gas or drug. Anyway,

            Regarding the painless state, we wouldn’t appreciate pleasure if there wouldn’t be pain. You know what I mean?
            Would you appreciate daylight if daylight wouldn’t exist?
            You are exactly talking about the problem I am talking about.
            I don’t know what’s your idea of nature but Human beings are trying to fight nature in any possible way instead of living in Harmony with it.
            Nature is stronger than you because you are part of Nature. There is nothing to fight

            You are losing when you don’t see the beauty and necessity of pain.
            Anyway, I got a life. No more writing.

            If you give a diamond to a monkey, what the monkey will do? Smell it, bite it, then the monkey would throw it away.
            The monkey cannot see the value of a diamond.
            Just like that some of us cannot see the beauty of nature and the fact that human beings are part of it. Nothing to destroy. We did destroy enough

          • Cobalt

            Diamonds have no special value in nature. They’re just rocks. If you’re so into devaluing humans that behave “unnaturally”, you’d be right there with the monkey, throwing the diamonds away.

          • Roadstergal

            Diamonds in nature do look rather like rocks. They need to be cut and polished to be sparkling gems. They’re useful as cutting tools, but there’s a lot of ‘unnatural’ work you need to do to make them fit for that purpose. And using them as cutting tools is also unnatural.

          • Bombshellrisa

            You mean diamonds require interventions to be something more than just another rock? Diamonds are unnatural after all!

        • Cobalt

          Are you implying that if you use pain relief in labor you get a different, less rewarding, baby?

          • psilocyber251

            there is a cocktail of hormones, between them Oxytocin (natural) that your body produces when your baby is out. It happens so that an ever lasting bond is created between mom and child.

            Reaserches on other mammals and Monkeys especially showed that Monkeys treated with an epidural during labour didn’t recognise the baby after it was born and would decide not to breastfeed it.

            Thank you moderator for erasing my post.

          • Cobalt

            That’s not how bonding works. Many mammals have actually rejected their babies after a difficult delivery because of the pain. The animal mother sees the infant as only the source of the pain and rejects or even kills it. If you think birth, bonding, and nursing always go well in nature, you’ve never actually experienced nature.

            Pain is a warning sign of damage to the body. If you touch a hot stove, pain warns you that tissue damage is occurring so you can respond and prevent further injury. People don’t bond with the stove afterwards, they avoid it.

          • psilocyber251

            So as you are saying no animal should be alive on the planet by now. Also you are saying that if pain is a sign of damage, with a pain killer you hide the pain, so no damage is happening?!?

          • Cobalt

            There are a lot of animals that aren’t alive because their mothers rejected them after a completely natural pregnancy and birth, or they were injured or killed during a completely natural pregnancy and birth. Enough survive to continue the species, but nowhere near all survive. Nature doesn’t care for individuals, it is a system that runs on “just enough, in aggregate”. I, and my children, deserve better.

            And the damage continues even with painkillers. However, if all steps to preserve health have been taken, the signal becomes useless from a health standpoint. If you’ve already take your hand off the stove, numbing the burn is the natural next step. Thankfully, we now have technology ranging from ice to lidocaine, so we needn’t rely on the relatively ineffective methods of shaking the hand, screaming, and sticking the burnt finger in the mouth.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Citation badly needed.

          • psilocyber251

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

            wake up, wake up, wake up

          • psilocyber251

            Fear is a very powerful instrument to manipulate people. Until people will live in fear and trust THE POWER society will live in an age of darkness.
            Study, learn, investigate.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Nice try. Actually, no. It was a pretty pathetic try, really. Peer reviewed primary source needed. Wiki has its points, but it is not in any way a peer reviewed publication.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Also, on looking at your “source” more closely, the word “epidural” is not even on that page! It does not address the issue of whether epidurals interfere with bonding in monkeys in any way.

          • Bombshellrisa

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2972642/#__sec18title
            Oxytocin in depth. No everlasting bond mentioned

          • Bombshellrisa

            Oh crap. You mean I could have had two less inquisitive and intelligent babies if I had a nurse who would have called for my epidural? Nuts. I am getting sick of chasing my 18 month old around and hearing him chatter non stop. And the 8 year old and her endless trips to the library and begging grandma to take her to Grossology at the Science Center. I could have had two couch potatoes instead, much easier

          • Angharad

            I don’t know, it didn’t work out for me. I had an epidural and used formula, and my baby still seems pretty bright, and has boundless energy and enthusiasm. Does this mean I can get a refund?

        • Mishimoo

          I want to know how natural chronic pain fits into your worldview.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          “We thing we are superior”? Typos are unnatural.

          That aside, nature is not and never has been about “balance”. Nature is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes things get crazier than others, like when an asteroid hits or one species’ pollution gets out of control and poisons everything*, but there is always change, competition, and selection.

          *I meant the precambrian oxygen catastrophe, of course. What did you think I was talking about?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Easy for a man to say.

      • Roadstergal

        We’d better start kicking him in the nuts. Without pain, he’ll get fat and lazy.

        • psilocyber251

          nice. BTW got a vagina, you can kick me there if you want, it will hurt, then i can give you a set of knives and you can torture me too. Hope that will make you feel better. Ego sometimes can hurt when touched

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            The why are you using both an email address and a screen name registered to a man?

          • psilocyber251

            thank you for stalking me, got a boyfriend that keeps me calm when i am furious like now

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Prove it by using a different email address. Otherwise I’ll have to go with what I see.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Oops. I think you broke the troll.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            psilocyber251 has already tried to trick us by using multiple screen names. Although I asked for a different email address, I’m not sure I would actually believe it since it’s easy to borrow someone else’s email address.

          • psilocyber251

            I could report so many violent answers to me today.
            I am deeply sad.
            This is all coming from Sisters that are promoting themselves as feminists. shocking.
            One wanted me to kick me
            the Mod is stalking me
            Got called names
            WOW
            By the way mod, i just don’t use this commenting thing at all and I was changing to random names for a few times cause the system logged me out, wow, you watch to many police movies.
            RELAX, that was my first post.

          • attitude devant

            ahh! and he’s ee cummings reincarnated! Lovely!

    • Azuran

      And yet here you are on a forum on the internet, very natural.
      So I guess that, since you think women should just accept everything that come with being a woman, you are accepting whatever come with being a human.
      I’m guessing you never took painkillers in your entire life, not for anything, because pain is natural and if you took painkillers it would destroy your ability to enjoy life. You must have never taken any antibiotic, vaccine or any other medication or medical procedure for that matter.
      If you get cancer, (which of course, you’ll never be aware of, because because medical testing is against what nature intended) you will not seek treatment nor will you seek painkillers. Because chemotherapy is unnatural and nature created cancer to kill you, and nature made it painful to die of cancer so you just have to take it, otherwise, you are not accepting your human nature.
      Any form of contraceptive is also out of the question, even condoms, that’s not natural. To fully embrace human nature, you need to face the risk of STD and unwanted pregnancy every time you have sex, otherwise, how would you really appreciate the pleasure of sex without the possible pain and risk associated with it.
      You shouldn’t use glasses either, because you can’t value seeing properly in a society where everyone can see properly by simply putting on glasses.
      I’m guessing you also eat 100% unprocessed natural food, that clearly you grew yourself in your own backyard (because cars are unnatural, you know, so you can’t have them transport your food) And anyway, you can’t enjoy food that you didn’t put work in growing yourself.
      You must also have built your house yourself with wood you chopped on your own.

      So, who made you the judge of what nature intended and what technologies are ok and which one aren’t?

      • psilocyber251

        good point, am I a judge? not really!
        It’s up to independent, intelligent people like you and me to see the difference between for example a bone fracture treated with painkillers and a birth. Is that necessary? No
        Our society is constantly escaping from pain, not only in birth.
        Looking for pleasure is the only thing we are learning.
        Look at how much porn is coming into our lives.
        Food as a sentimental replacement (obesity, i didn’t invent that).
        You know what I mean?

        • Azuran

          I don’t see your point, both birth and fractures are painful. Both of those should be treated. Pain is pain and should be treated whatever is causing it. Pain does not has a higher meaning. It’s just a physical feeling we have to avoid doing stupid things that could be dangerous for ourselves.
          It has also been showed times and times again that treating pain will make patient heal more quickly. Untreated pain has negative effect on both physical and mental health.

          Telling women that pain in childbirth is natural and that they should just accept it and go through it because they are woman and that is how the world is is just sexist and idiotic.

    • Roadstergal

      What about my two friends who, just by the luck of nature, had easy, low-pain vaginal deliveries? How much pain should I run and inflict on them to make them real mothers? What about adoptive parents? Do they need to take up cutting?

      • psilocyber251

        you are offending your intelligence with this post

        • Roadstergal

          No, just yours. I gave two examples of having a baby without pain, which you say is anti-feminist and will make one fat and lazy. So are you consistent with your wacky belief?

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I agree, just like having pain relief during a root canal is detrimental to our society. It makes us very loveless and is unnatural.

  • guest

    Just though I should crosspost this comment (of mine) from tomorrow’s post (where I provide more context in adjacent comments): “ppps which is also why I find your feminism wanting, Dr Amy. (although I grant you are pretty good – better than most !!!). My feminism demands well-organised, well-integrated, well-informed home-birht provision for those who want it – i.e. a dutch or UK-like system. [as a low-risk multip who does not desire pain-relief] In the USA I would be deprived of my safest [and most desired] option. That is appalling. As a good feminist I would expect you to advocate for that too – but you aren’t. (which is not to say all NCB=ers are good feminists. Many – as you point out often and well, aren’t. but some are. ).

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Your safest option is hospital birth, no matter if you’re in the US, UK or the Netherlands.
      It may not be your most desired option, but sorry. Not your safest.

      • Roadstergal

        I wonder sometimes about the equivalence of safety for low-risk multips in home vs hospital in the Birthplace study, in light of the Kirkup findings and the study about the lousy care Dutch midwives provide, even at the hospital. If hospital care weren’t hamstrung by a subset of midwives who prevented women and babies from taking full advantage of the medical care available at a hospital birth, would HB look even less good?

        • Megan

          So it’s not that homebirth is just as safe. It’s that hospital birth there is less safe than it would be if care were provided by OBs. Interesting take.

          • Roadstergal

            Yeah, I mean – we know, now, that some midwives interfere with appropriate care in the hospital. And that wasn’t taken into account in the Birthplace study.
            (I still can’t get over the fact that the BP study put epidural analgesia into the bucket of ‘negative outcomes’ that would disqualify a birth from being ‘normal.’)

      • guest

        again – please see the explanatory post I refer to in tomorrow’s post. Please then explain your view.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Feminism does not demand anything that a woman wishes for. Saying that feminism demands homebirth is like saying that feminism demands diamond rings. Just because you want it doesn’t mean that you can use feminism as a justification.

    • fiftyfifty1

      So your feminism “demands” that we create and support an entire parallel system for a very small subset of women (low risk multips who don’t want pain relief). And this tiny subset you are advocating for just happens to be the subset you belong to, fancy that! My do I admire your “feminism”. Sounds like self absorption and priviledge to me.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      The Dutch system results in a higher neonatal and intrapartum mortality than is seen in any other western European country. My feminism demands that women be given good information about the risks of what they intend to do and not be lied to by authority figures, no matter whether those authorities are fake feminists or not.

  • MrsLady

    Reposted without links as got caught in the Disqus spam filter earlier today (I’m new at this!):

    I knew the author of the Daily Beast piece years ago, and can swear that she is a very nice, smart, and levelheaded person, definitely not a narcissist in any sense of the word. So I struggle to understand how she’s come to write such an unbalanced narrative and wonder if it has anything to do with the influence of the GWU midwives who are apparently filmed handling Sixkiller’s second VBAC in Mama Sherpas (yes, ugh title!). This is a CNM practice (formerly called Wisdom Midwifery) devoted to NCB that operates within the George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC and has near-cult status among the right-on and upwardly mobile set in my old hometown. Others I know who have come in contact with it just call it a cult full stop. While I’m all for encouraging those desperate for the homebirth experience or a VBAC to do so within the safer confines of the hospital, this practice (led by the charismatic Whitney Pinger) is spouting usual NCB misinformation re. C-sections, interventions and induction, and recommends Ina May Gaskin as an authority. The practice brags about their 5% C-section rate, which is clearly achieved by risking out anyone who is not ‘in excellent health’, ‘committed to natural birth’, ‘committed to allowing labour to begin on its own’, etc etc, and willing to follow a very extreme no-sugar diet – not even whole wheat bread allowed. I’ve heard a bit of grumbling about this particular CNM outfit in the comments here over the years (sorry, long-time lurker!) but given the publicity that is likely to come from their starring role in Mama Sherpas, I would love for Dr Amy to take a close look at this practice. The physical safety of the actual mothers giving birth with the GWU midwives isn’t the problemI’m guessing that they are whisked away to OBs at the drop of a hat to keep the midwives’ numbers looking good – but the cult-like indoctrination about NCB is very worrying, given that it comes packaged with the GWU Hospital logo and that many of the clients are high-powered women involved in lawmaking on Capital Hill (including, I believe, Sixkiller).

    • Daleth

      Wow. Thanks for sharing. That’s pretty appalling but very good to know.

    • An Actual Attorney

      They also advise against prenatal vitamins. :

      “Multivitamin: We really do not care if you take one because we think the best vitamins come from food. If you do take one, any will do. Look for 400-800 mcg folic acid. Don’t take it if they make you sick or constipated: Talk with us about this.”

      http://wisdommidwifery.blogspot.com/p/nutrition-in-pregnancy-wisdom.html

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        When I was pregnant with my third I did get horrible constipation when I took prenatal vitamins. I talked to my OB about it and they prescribed one without niacin. So, I still took prenatal vitamins and without niacin was no longer constipated.

      • Mattie

        I mean if you have a good diet it’s likely you don’t need a multivitamin, that applies to everyone pregnant or not. Folic Acid can be taken separately and iron supplementation if required. I believe in the UK now pregnant women get prescribed folic acid and vitamin D as standard, but prenatal multivits (and multivits in general) are SO expensive, and often just get peed out.

      • Inmara

        Well, my OB/GYN also recommended only folic acid, iron and vitamin D (last one after taking blood test which confirmed slight deficiency). With reasonable diet and moderate exercise level (i.e. we’re not speaking about athletes or people with special diet requirements) I don’t see any necessity for prenatal vitamins (and multivitamins in general), especially considering that ingesting them all at one time will most probably impact how much of some vitamins are actually absorbed. And there is strong opinion among some midwives and doctors that excessive use of prenatal vitamins is to be blamed for large babies (I tried to search for relevant publications once but didn’t succeed with keywords so I have no idea whether it’s based in research).

    • MrsLady

      Here’s the link to their GWU practice pages (come on, Disqus– work with me!):

      http://www.gwdocs.com/midwifery-services

    • Allie P

      This practice is the one that recently delivered my friend’s fervently desired VBAC. She DEFINITELY took prenatals, but the way they talked about the VBAC really squicked me out, to say the least. As if wishing made it so and “she worked so hard” for it. I’m glad she got the birth she wanted, but I find their website blatherings weird and unnecessarily cultish. And I’m a fan of VBAC!

    • Ash

      Yeah… They interview prospective clients to see if they are a good fit in terms of “philosophy” (take a lil guess what that means. As one yelp reviewer said, “she (midwife) totally owned me during the interview (sic)”

    • demodocus

      No whole wheat or fruit? I would have lived off nothing but plain baked chicken throughout my 1st trimester. sounds like a fabulous plan.

  • Allie P

    I felt relief, pride, strength, elation, and empowerment from my voluntary pitocin induction two days before my due date, my in hospital birth with an OB and an epidural. Every single one of my health care providers (except the anesthesiologist) was a woman, btw. I feel empowered (and liberated, not to mention relieved and stress-free) by my choice to supplement my breastfeeding with formula, too. It’s bizarre to me how only denying pain relief or modern medicine can be “empowering” according to these people. How come taking advantage of all that the 21st century has to offer can’t be empowering, too?

  • SuperGDZ

    I dislike the trend of reducing feminism to “choice”. Something isn’t automatically feminist just because a woman chose it. Opposing arbitrary or discriminatory limitation or systemic restrictions of women’s choices is feminist, but there is nothing feminist about applauding and enabling women who make choices that harm themselves or others just because it was their “choice”.

    • Amy M

      When choice comes into it, I think its about women HAVING choices, and having agency to make choices, but the choices themselves aren’t necessarily feminist, or smart. I think more about women and careers when I think of choice and feminism. It’s feminist (to me anyway) for a woman to be able to choose to be a lawyer (regardless of whether or not she has/wants children), OR to choose to stay home with her children. It doesn’t matter what the actual options are, its that society (and her partner) aren’t insisting that as a woman, she has no choice, she MUST stay home with her children.

      • lawyer jane

        Except sometimes the rhetoric of “choice” can obscure the background sexism. How many times have you heard a mother say “I decided to stay home because my salary did not pay for daycare and my husband has higher earning potential”? That is a choice that takes place against a background of labor market discrimination that lead to the mother’s comparatively weaker earning potential. Not a truly free choice on an even playing field.

        • FormerPhysicist

          Bingo. And because being known to have a family and children tends to hurt women in the labor market, and tends to help men.

        • Ash

          I find a really good article is “Opt Out or Pushed Out?” NYTimes does a lot of coverage of women and caregiving for children. However, the coverage is usually limited to freelance writers (because a lot of the ppl writing blog articles are freelance writers), attorneys, and consultants. NYTimes also has a distinct bias towards writing articles about people who can telecommute at least part time. There are MANY MANY people whose job cannot be completed via telecommuting, yet these women’s perspectives are ignored. So there are a bunch of articles and commenters saying “I worked from home more, I opened my own business which I operated from home, I did consulting.” The entire damn world is not operated by freelance work!

          I admittedly hate the trap of “x% my salary goes towards daycare,” I do not hear men saying this, childcare and household care is totally perceived as a woman’s responsibility

          • Amy M

            We had the opposite issue in my house—my husband, whose earnings have always been lower than mine–lost his job. He became a part-time SAHD at that point. I think that scenario is increasingly common, especially after 2007 or so, when the US economy tanked.

          • SuperGDZ

            “I admittedly hate the trap of “x% my salary goes towards daycare”

            The shortsightedness of this argument blows my mind. Even if true, daycare isn’t forever, and salaries tend to increase over time as you rack up experience and responsibility. Stopping work means forfeiting not only the small surplus in earnings over daycare costs, but also the potential for income earning potential. Should you ever need to start work again, it will be at a more junior level than when you left, and there is a real possibility of becoming entirely unemployable if enough time passes.

            If anyone has the financial means not to work, fine and good, but giving up work primarily on the basis that daycare takes up a big chunk of your earnings is entirely misguided.

          • Roadstergal

            That’s an excellent point. Childcare costs fluctuate, but generally, the older a kid gets, the less oversight they need…
            Giving up your job also gives up a big chunk of independence. Suppose you divorce your husband? Suppose he dies, becomes disabled, loses his job?
            Even if ‘all of your salary’ goes towards child care*, it can still be a good tradeoff if it secures a woman’s career and future earning potential when the child needs less care, as you say – and for some women, work is essential to their mental well-being.
            *As mentioned, funny how it’s always the woman’s salary that’s looked at for this calculation.

          • Cobalt

            This was a major calculation in our decision for me to stop working away from home in a typical employment situation. My husband made considerably more money than I did (he finished school earlier, before we coupled up- and then supported me through school), and daycare expenses were MORE than my salary. With a special needs kid, that expense was unlikely to go down, and we were barely making ends meet as it was. My staying home did not eliminate my small surplus income, it saved us money.

            Now, I do really prefer to work away from home. It FEELS better, but I cannot currently justify the expense with our budget being what it is. I do still do some lessons (I was a full time trainer and riding instructor- not very kid-compatible work), which helps.

            I also have a great set of insurance policies on my husband and myself. If either on of us is suddenly unavailable, the whole ship sinks.

        • Amy M

          I totally agree. I “choose” to work because otherwise my family would starve to death. I don’t have a choice about that either. But, I still think things have a come a long way since Betty Friedan’s day, when middle and upper class women were actively discouraged from working by blatant discrimination. Women lower on the SES have always worked anyway, though their job choices were limited by the mere fact of their sex. Now its not considered looney for a woman to want to be an astrophysicist.

          I was trying to come up with an example to illustrate the “choice” aspect, though I see why the working v. stay-home is not a great one. Still, SES limits the choices of everyone, not just women. I think part of feminism is making it so women DO truly have such choices.

        • Sarah

          True, and also against a background of the physical ramifications of pregnancy and birth. Unless you’re a lesbian couple, it’s not like you can choose to split this between you so one party doesn’t end up shouldering the whole of the motherhood penalty.

        • guest

          And you also hear “choice” used to explain away the wage gap: Women “choose” to take jobs that pay less, or choose to stay home with the kids a few years which sets them back on the career ladder, etc. I’m all for women being able to choose a job that pays less or to stay home, but that doesn’t excuse the wage gap.

    • Sarah

      Oh yes. The number of women who think anything they do is feminist because they chose it and they happen to be in possession of a vagina is mind boggling. That’s not to say you can’t be a feminist if you’ve ever done anything that isn’t feminist, we all make compromises with patriarchy. But I wish people would just acknowledge that, rather than pretending nothing a woman does could ever be in any way harmful to other women.

    • Chi

      Yes but a lot of the anti-feminists are trying to take away choices, which is why it always comes up.

  • ersmom

    Here is where Patricia Schroeder’s quote resonates with me: I have a brain and a uterus and I can use both at the same time.

    I am a feminist. And I am raising a feminist boy and a feminist born as an assigned female genderqueer.

    All I want is to be valued as a human.

  • Erin

    I think that births can be empowering without being narcissistic, in fact I’d argue my son’s empowered me in the sense that it made me “stronger” although “Birth Feminists” might not agree.
    His arrival was a catalogue of errors, both mine (I didn’t argue with the midwives when my instinct told me something was wrong) and the hospital’s. When the call finally came for a c-section over 81 hours after my premature rupture of the membranes, my blood pressure was so low I was passing in and out of consciousness on the table. The anesthetist whilst trying to wake me up managed to stroke my hair, something I find deeply triggering and because my epidural was placed so low, they had to give me extra to make sure I was numb and it felt like I couldn’t breathe. Somehow I was back, on my back with a hand around my throat, the weight of my rapist pushing down on my chest reliving the worst night of my life. When they tried to give me the baby, I refused, not understanding what was going on. Almost six months later I still get flashbacks when I go to pick him up or look after him and I’m being treated for PTSD and I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy but his getting stuck in my pelvis (at six pounds nine ounces… no-one could believe it) finally forced me to confront my demons and say enough is enough.
    Should I be brave enough to attempt to give him a sibling, I can’t imagine i. having a worse birth experience (although in the eyes of my Mother, a natural childbirth fanatic and “Feminist”, I didn’t actually have a birth experience because I had a baby cut out of me instead of doing what my body was made for, shame it didn’t get the memo) and ii. loving one child more than the other based on delivery method.

    • Gatita

      I’m so, so sorry you had to experience that. I hope you are getting treatment. The National Center for PTSD has a terrific website with links to treatment info.

    • SporkParade

      That sounds horrific. Another place with information that might help you is the Birth Trauma Association in the UK.

    • Mattie

      I am so sorry that happened, you are wonderful and strong and hell yes you can say empowered, you had a traumatic experience which you lived through, and then another one which you also lived through. Empowering people means that they themselves feel powerful, and you should because you’ve dealt with some of the hardest things imaginable and you’re still fighting for you and your family.

      I hope you are getting good therapeutic and practical support, and that you feel that you’re making progress and that your decisions are respected and your own.

      • Kelly

        You can be empowered by an experience but you are also not telling everyone that that is the only way to have that feeling or moment that changed your life. Most of the women who are talk about empowerment from a birth are ones that follow a specific path that they believe is the only way to empowerment. If you do it any other way, you are wrong. I am glad this experience gave you the power to get help for yourself. Taking that first step and acknowledging that someone can help you is the hardest step in recovery. I hope all goes well for you.

    • Allie P

      Oh no, I’m so sorry! And shame on your mother for even having an opinion on your birthing method. I know a lot of women with histories of sexual abuse who choose MRCS for that very reason.

  • staceyjw

    yes. All of this,

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I’ve said it before : feminism is manifested in the ability to make choices, not in the choices that are made

    • RMY

      Feminism is about having the right to have the same opportunities and rights as a man. The right to vote. The right to own property. The right to not be treated legally like a lesser person. Not the right to dictate your own reality, like the NCB set tend to want to do. The idea of picking your “birth experience” sounds as logical as “picking your wisdom tooth experience” – some people can grow them in and not need surgery or anything and be fine, others can’t without jacking up their whole mouth and needing them removed.

      • SuperGDZ

        There’s also something unappealingly consumerist about the obsession with “choice”, no matter how stupid, harmful or frivolous.

      • Daleth

        I never had wisdom teeth at all. I’m sure that was because I was thinking positively the whole time.

        Speaking of which, this is one of the funniest articles I’ve ever read:

        Power Of Positive Thinking Fails To Halt California Wildfires
        http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/power-of-positive-thinking-fails-to-halt-california-wildfires-20071024488

        • Azuran

          I had mine removed, They had not started to grow but they were slightly out of alignment. Meaning, if they don’t erupt, it’s never going to be a problem, ‘if’ they decide to erupt, it ‘may’ push my other teeth out of alignment. ‘NBC’ advocate would probably call that ‘unnecessary’.
          I also stopped bonding with the food I ate because I has local anaesthesia for the surgery.

    • staceyjw

      feminism is manifested in FREEDOM for women from male rule.

  • demodocus

    Mama Sherpa is as silly a book title as Mama Swiss or Mama Peruvian. I doubt Nepalese mothers in general have any desire to be a mascot.

  • Gatita

    OT: NY Times readers share their stillbirth stories

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/health/stillbirth-reader-stories.html

    • Megan

      Oh God. Being newly pregnant I don’t think I can read it. I don’t know how people cope with a stillbirth.

      • Mattie

        I think as with most things in life it depends on various factors including how the stillbirth happened (were mistakes made or was it just a tragic inevitability), the quality of care given to the family during and after the birth, and the opportunity to grieve and commemorate the birth and death in a meaningful-to-you way.

        Hospitals and HCPs can go a long way to making the process easier to deal with for the families, but it’s also just as important for families to allow themselves to find it difficult and to mourn for as long as it takes.

    • Who?

      Look out for some homebirth activist to put this one up saying ‘see how many babies die in hospital!!!!’.

      Hope I’m wrong.

  • Young CC Prof

    50 years ago, most obstetricians were male, medical paternalism was in and patient autonomy not prized, women were given anesthesia whether they wanted it or not, and family unity was not encouraged during or after birth. The second-wave feminists embraced an ideology that told them it didn’t have to be that way.

    The problem is what happened next. Waving “choice” and “autonomy” flags, some pretty disturbing stuff crept under the feminist tent, stuff that has nothing to do with choice or autonomy.

    In 1960, there was nothing feminist about male doctors saying, “You have to give birth this way.” But in 2015, there is absolutely nothing feminist about other mothers telling us, “You have to give birth a completely different way.”

    • Cobalt

      I’m curious, how were male patients in hospitals 50 years ago treated as far as choice, autonomy, paternalism, etc? Was it substantially different from women?

      • Azuran

        I’d say they were probably treated better than women, but since it was the 50s, that probably means ‘slightly less shitty’

        • Cobalt

          But not significantly better than any other area of life in the 50’s culture?

    • SporkParade

      There have only been two occasions in my medical history where I felt like I was being patronized because I’m a woman. The first was reading Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing, which taught that women shouldn’t worry their silly little heads about complications in childbirth unless they want to cause themselves to be in pain and experience complications. The second was when the nurses in the hospital gaslighted me about my baby’s dehydration in order to dissuade me from using formula. In contrast, my male OB was willing to prescribe steroids if my platelets dropped low enough that I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural. Because he didn’t take the attitude that women who don’t want to be in pain shouldn’t have babies.

  • Bombshellrisa

    Slightly OT: mommy-con is this weekend. Anyone going? http://mommy-con.com/event/details/milk/

    • Box of Salt

      Dr Jay Gordon is speaking. Twice. Therefore, no. Unless he promises to vaccinate according to the CDC schedule.

      • Young CC Prof

        Himself or his patients?

        • Mishimoo

          Both. I mean he is getting old and is in contact with lots of people, he should have a Prevnar shot and a yearly flu shot at the very least. (Properly spaced, since according the the Prevnar website, having them at the same time in an adult appears to reduce the efficiacy of Prevnar)

          Plus boosters for everything else, depending on titres, just so there is less chance of passing things onto his unvaccinated patients.

      • Roadstergal

        He says some lactivist shite on Twitter. I wonder if he talked to Christine Maggiore about HIV+ EBF.
        His Tweets show that either he’s an absolute ignoramus when it comes to immunology, or he panders to a clientele that likes to hear that.

    • Megan

      Oh how I hate all the propaganda that World Breastfeeding Week brings… Sigh…

      I also got this in my inbox today courtesy of the bump:

      http://www.thebump.com/a/real-moms-breastfeeding-babies-photos-/?utm_source=thebump.com&utm_medium=email&utm_term=pregnancy-newsletter&utm_campaign=pregnancy-newsletter

      • Bombshellrisa

        Yep, because breastfeeding my baby in a stream is exactly how it’s done.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Fuck no! I’m not getting giarditis or exposing my baby to that to be closer to nature! Animal scat is part of nature too but I’m not going to be stopping that into baby food jars!

          • Bombshellrisa

            What if we replaced the word “breastfeeding” with “urinating”? I don’t think anyone would find it important to know where and how others have urinated while going about their routine. If breastfeeding is natural and normal, why the fascination with how others do it and where?

        • Megan

          Yeah, some of the photos were nice everyday breastfeeding situations (like the lady on the toilet; now that is real!) but a nudist doing a yoga headstand while breastfeeding? Really?

          • Angharad

            I kind of like the message that you can have a baby and keep doing the things that are important to you, whether that’s standing on your head nude, travelling, or just going to the bathroom. I do always wish that this type of photo article would also include pictures of bottle-fed babies, but that’s just me.

      • Liz Leyden

        “Join the Boobolution?” Seriously?

        World Breastfeeding Week? That might explain why my local Mama Blog was advertising “The Big Latch On”, which is apparently a 2-day event this year. Because nothing says “breastfeeding is no big deal” like a 2-day festival dedicated to it.

    • Cobalt

      The Leaky Boob has been promoting this hard. Keeps saying it’s all about infant feeding, but looking at the schedule it’s all about breastfeeding.

    • SporkParade

      It’s not off-topic. You know what would be really empowering? If I could get find useful information on breastfeeding without being told that I’m a horrible mom for supplementing with formula.

      • SuperGDZ

        I intended to breastfeed, and did in fact breastfeed my son for 22 months, and only started giving him a daytime bottle of formula when he was about 7 or 8 months old (obviously he had solids before that). But before he was born, I wanted to buy a can of formula to keep on hand in case there was a problem with breastfeeding. I wanted to research and compare different brands and types, so that I could choose one upfront and have it handy. Restrictions on advertising are so strict though, that I wasn’t able to get any (local) information online, and had to resort to visiting a selection of supermarkets, pharmacists and baby shops to read and compare labels. It’s a small annoyance, but one of many.

  • LibrarianSarah

    I for one am getting pretty damn tired of the bastardization of the word “empowered” by people with who belong to the second most powerful group of people on the planet (youngish, wealthy-upper middle class, western, white, heterosexual, cisgendered, able bodied, neurotypical women). “Empowered” isn’t synonymous with “feeling good about yourself” and the fact that these women feel that it is okay to use it as such shows their blindness to their unbelievable privilege and is ironically quite anti-feminist.

    • Amy M

      I completely agree. I already up-arrowed, but I want to emphasize how much I agree.

  • Chrisp

    You know what a real feminist supports? Other women.

    • LibrarianSarah

      Anne Coulter and Sarah Palin are other women. Am I obligated to “support” them?

      • Mattie

        You can support their right to be terrible people. So you can support their right to freedom of speech, and general freedom without supporting the things they say or the way they use that freedom.

        • LibrarianSarah

          Right I support their right to be pretty much the worst just as I would a man but I feel that often women try to pull a Taylor Swift and use “women should support each other” to deflect criticism which is bullshit.

          • Mattie

            Wellll I was more on Taylor’s side on that one so yehh. I think there are ways to criticise without actually dragging on other people, and there are some times when the criticism itself is ‘anti-feminist’ in that it judges other women for their non-harmful choices, or for things they cannot help.

            So a lot of NCB advocates are anti-feminist because they don’t support women who make choices different to what they would choose. A lot of women who berate other women for their body type, or methods of self-expression, or parenting styles are anti-feminist.

            Criticising someone because the things they say are harmful to others, or to a group of people, is not anti-feminist purely because you’re criticising a woman.

            Saying ‘I find your comments/demeanour to be harmful to this group or to me because xyz’ is different to ‘I find you repulsive because the choice you made is different to mine’

          • Young CC Prof

            For example, I can say, “Sarah Palin has some pretty dumb ideas about how to run a country” and still object if someone else says, “Sarah Palin is an example of why women shouldn’t be involved in politics.”

          • Mattie

            That was much better, thank you. Yes

      • RMY

        I support their rights to write crappy books and try to poorly run for office/have a reality TV show. But nobody needs to buy their books, watch their show, or vote for them.

      • staceyjw

        No, they are male identified handmaidens that hurt women.
        But that does not mean that women shouldn’t support women in general. We would be much further if we focused on helping ourselves instead of centering men in every part of our lives.

      • Sue

        Feminism doesn;t require “supporting” anyone, except to uphold their equal rights with everyone else as an adult in society – legally politically, educationally and economically (to quote lilin).

        Feminism does not imply valuing women ABOVE other genders, but all equally.

    • lilin

      No, they don’t.

      Feminism is a political movement, meant to give women the same economic, educational, legal, social, and political opportunities as men. It means you have to do research on a society, listen to a lot of people, and weigh options.

      “Support other women” is a stupid, lazy take on it.

      • staceyjw

        Feminism is a political movement to LIBERATE women from patriarchy. I know its not cool to say that anymore, but that is what feminism is about. Equality can ONLY come after women are truly free. You cannot have “equality” in a system thats made for, built by, and to benefit MEN.

        She is right that feminist women should support other women. ANd she shouldn’t have to write every exception for others to get her point.

        • lilin

          I don’t support anyone based on whether or not they have a vagina.

          Lazy. Stupid.

        • Poogles

          “Feminism is a political movement to LIBERATE women from patriarchy. I know its not cool to say that anymore, but that is what feminism is about. Equality can ONLY come after women are truly free. You cannot have “equality” in a system thats made for, built by, and to benefit MEN.”

          That’s what one (or maybe a few?) branch of feminism is about – not all branches of feminism agree on exactly how to acheive true equality, which is why the general/broad definition of feminism is usually something along the lines of what lilin said, focusing on the “what” and not the “how”.

  • Mel

    I can’t be the only person besides Antigone that finds the term “Mama Sherpas” to be horrifyingly offensive due to raging racism.

    Seriously. Put any other stereotype in there, if you don’t believe me…..

  • Megan

    “And to this day, I look at my middle child with wonder and appreciation for the experience we had together—the time I gave him his life, and he gave me mine back.”

    This comment really made me sick. I just found out that we are expecting our second child (only 18 months apart – eek!) and the thought of feeling like my second child is in some way better than my first because of how he/she will be born is absolutely stupid. Reading it made me want to go hug my daughter and say, “no matter what happens with this baby, I still love you in a special way too!” So stupid to hold one child above another because they w=exited your vagina while the other exited your abdomen. I mean, maybe I’m overreacting because, you know, pregnancy hormones, but WTF????

    • FormerPhysicist

      You are NOT overreacting. I was so worried that my older child would feel overshadowed by the new baby just because of the attention and the fact that babies get held. Actually preferring one because of that – it is disgusting and heartbreaking.

      • Megan

        I am so worried about that too, especially since my daughter will only be 18 months old and won’t understand why i can’t focus only on her anymore. We really didn’t think this pregnancy would happen so fast since it took a while with our daughter. I am still in shock that we’ll have two under two.

        • Of my three, #1 and 2were two years apart, and we had jealousy issues (the younger of the two has never forgiven us for not being the oldest) while there was barely a year and a half between # 2 and #3. They seemed to think, until they were much older (adolescence was war to the death) that they’d arrived together, as the youngest was there almost from the time that # 2’s horizons expanded beyond herself. So it may not be as upsetting as you fear.

          • Megan

            Oh geez, I’m trying not to think of adolescence yet! 🙂 I have to figure out how to get my daughter out of my bed before baby arrives first….

        • Amy M

          I have twins, so a bit different in that neither or them ever knew what its like to have his parents all to himself. However, I can assure you that there is always enough love (though not necessarily enough attention in a given moment) for all the children. Also, your older one won’t remember a time before her younger sibling came along. Maybe there will be an adjustment period, but she’ll be ok. And here’s some advice you didn’t ask for: maybe don’t try to potty train before the baby, because new siblings are a common reason for regression in that area.

          • Megan

            Thanks for the tip! I don’t plan on trying to potty train my daughter early unless she really shows signs of readiness. I figure it will happen when it happens. And thanks for the reassurance. My daughter may end up really thankful to have a sibling close in age and I keep trying to tell myself that!

          • Kelly

            I am having my second and third in about that time frame and I keep contemplating how well it would go if I just potty trained them together. I am scared too. It has been a rough year on top of a pregnancy that came earlier than expected. I messed up when I brought my second daughter home and did not give the time needed to the first one. Thankfully, she is too young to remember my mistakes and still loves me and does not resent her sister. In fact, they are acting like typically siblings where they love and hate each other at the same time now. It will all work out.

          • Cobalt

            We had 3 in just shy of 4 years. It was a foggy mess for a bit, but they came out of their early years tight like triplets. The younger they are, the sooner they adjust to the new family size.

        • Daleth

          My brother was born when I was 19 months old. I actually do remember bits and pieces of those early months (freakishly good memory over here) and none of the memories involve any hostility or sadness about him. And we’ve always been very close.

          • Megan

            That’s what I’m hoping. I’m an adopted only child so I very much wanted my daughter to have a sibling and though I may go crazy in the beginning, I have heard from others that siblings close in age tend to be close. Thanks for your reassurance!

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Kids are remarkably fast at adapting lol.

          My parents tell me that when my sister was born when I was four I was so excited to have a sister. I just wanted to know when she was leaving. After I found out she wasn’t I didn’t talk to Mom for a month.

          Now I can’t imagine life without my sister. Despite having four years of my parents to myself I don’t really remember a time without having my sister there. We’re extremely close now.

          • Megan

            Kids are so adaptable, moreso than adults anyways! My friend was trying to decide when to have her second and was worried about her first being jealous and I told her, “Kids are resilient. Fertility after age 35 isn’t!” The laugh is on me now since apparently I was much more fertile this time around than I thought!

          • Roadstergal

            I know everyone’s experience is different, but man, I can’t imagine my life without my older sister. I have three older siblings, but I was closest to her – and still am, after so long. Siblings are sometimes frustrating, but just so wonderful to have.

          • Megan

            It makes me happy to hear that. Thanks for sharing.

    • Julia

      Not overreacting. What a disgusting quote. What if child#1 reads this one day?!

      • Mattie

        what if during child’s one’s challenging teenage years newly empowered mum tells them…I wouldn’t be surprised, sad, but not surprised

      • SisterMorphine

        I’m looking forward to the juicy memoirs Kid #1 will be writing…also, since I’m a lawyer, I look forward to seeing the “Not Guilty B/c I Didn’t Bond With My Mom After Her C-Sec” defense.” (I had one child, one CS and am very happy w. both. Are there times I wish I had more? Yes, but…)

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      You’re not overreacting. It’s sick.

      It’s a trend I see with these “empowered” natural birthers that they have a definite hierarchy when it comes to their children and love. This one was born vaginally so they’re more connected to them than their first who they just didn’t bond the same with after a c-section. Or this one breast fed better than that one and so they are more bonded.

      Well whose fault is that when you get down to it? A child made it safely into this world. A child isn’t going hungry regardless of if the nourishment is from the breast or formula. Isn’t that enough to celebrate on its own?

      • Megan

        Yeah, when you haven’t bonded with your child because of method of birth then there is something wrong with you (you’re a narcissist) and not your child. The end of the quote in particular is so awful Saying that her vaginally born child “gave her life back” insinuates that her child born by c-section took her life away to begin with. These people disgust me. My daughter was born by C-section and we had a very rough breastfeeding relationship that ultimately led to all formula and still, in my eyes, she is the most perfect human being (even if she becomes a bratty teenager) and I could not love her more. I really think these people care more about birth than they do about the products of their births.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          I think you’re right. Makes you wonder why they bother to keep the children in the first place and not put them up for adoption. At least then they’d be more than their birth method.

          I don’t have children but hell I think I love my dog more than some of these people love their children! I can’t imagine not loving every child for just being yours, regardless of how they got here or if they’re even biologically related!

          • Megan

            Yeah, I’m adopted and I’m pretty sure my parents love me.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            One of my cousins is adopted and you would never know she wasn’t my aunt and uncle’s own flesh and blood. I didn’t even know she was adopted until I was about ten and she was nine.

            Adoption is a wonderful thing. My aunt and uncle tried for years and years to have their son in the first place and tried even longer after him to have another. My cousin was exactly what their family needed to be complete when they finally had an adoption go through. I can’t imagine my extended family without her.

        • Deborah

          I do have a patient right now who almost died from complications of her childbirth and who REALLY hasn’t had a proper bonding time with her babies . . . what with being in the ICU for 2 weeks and all that. SHE can say this about her birth. But this is kind of exceptional.

          • Megan

            You’re right that there are situations where initial bonding is impeded but this woman means she’s less bonded to the Csection baby FOREVER. That’s what I meant when I said there is something wrong with her.

          • “Bonding” became THE big thing when I first began in the profession. I could cheerfully throttle the person who came up with the idea because a huge amount of anxiety was generated as a result. Dire things will happen if the mother doesn’t hold her baby within a certain time period, or in a certain way. IMO, so many factors go into the relationship between mother and child! As noted, adopted children are loved by their adoptive parents. Some women are more emotionally reserved than others. Some pregnancies are wanted, others deeply unwanted. Some births are easy, some are very traumatic. You can’t tell me this won’t have an effect on “bonding”. The vast majority of my mother’s generation were not awake for the delivery (and a considerable proportion of my generation, too) but our mothers bonded with us and we bonded with our own children without having “skin to skin” contact in that “crucial” first half hour. Phooey.

          • Mattie

            I think the concept of ‘bonding’ is reasonable when you think of it as attachment’ (Ainsworth’s Strange Situation). However in order to raise a poorly attached child you have to ‘fail’ multiple times a day for many months or years, you have to put effort in to not bonding with your child.

            If these women aren’t bonded to their children, it isn’t because of their birth experience it’s because after their experience they stopped trying.

          • araikwao

            Self-fulfilling prophecy..

          • Amy M

            And then there’s all those fathers who were at the bar down the street when baby was born and only heard about it 6 or so hours later. How did they bond with their kids?

    • araikwao

      Nope, not overreacting at all. In my head, I want to ask her, “What? You’re not Mom enough to get past the way he/she was born and love this kid just like your others?”
      (yes, I am intentionally using NCB trope-type stuff)

    • Medwife

      It’s a lot of responsibility to put on a person that can’t focus its eyes or hold up its own head yet.

    • Angharad

      This was really distressing to me too. I mean, I get having negative or complicated feelings toward the labor/delivery/recovery process. But I feel like that’s something that should be worked out within yourself with appropriate medical care and therapy if necessary, not by having a second child that you respect more because they “gave” you a healing birth. It’s not like the baby had any choice in that.
      I’ve mentioned before that my labor and recovery were hard enough that it’s caused me to reconsider having any more children. But I don’t blame my daughter for having serious heart deceleration or for tearing me. And any emotional difficulties it’s given me are for me, as the parent and adult, to deal with, not for my daughter, and not for hypothetical future children.

    • Daleth

      Seriously! That struck me too–it’s just awful.

    • Roadstergal

      I was thinking about your comment last night – and just like there’s a dark side to every positive alt-med message, it seems there’s a dark side to ‘babies know when to be born,’ and that’s it. There’s a strong implication there that the birth experience she didn’t want was at least partially her first child’s fault, isn’t there? If her second baby can ‘give the author her life back,’ then it was the first one that took it away, wasn’t it?

      Ugh.

  • E

    I loved my cesarean. I had a great recovery. I never took the painkillers after leaving the hospital. I walked five miles five days postpartum and ran a half marathon four months postpartum pushing my new baby in a jogging stroller. I recovered faster than all the vaginal delivering mothers in my la leche league group and all I have to show for it is a surprisingly small scar well below my bikini line. I liked my cesarean so much I chose to have a second one immediately upon finding myself pregnant again. It was my choice. My very empowered, educated decision. So that means Ms. Sixkiller totally supports me, right?

    • Sarah

      Of course…

    • EK

      I should have added to this:

      On my first obstetrics appointment with my second pregnancy, my older male OB said, “Well, just so you know, you’re an excellent candidate for a VBAC. How would you like to have this baby?”

      To which I said, “I would like a repeat cesarean.”

      His response, “Okay.”

      End of discussion.

      So yeah, Ms. Sixkiller, obstetricians, especially male ones, don’t respect women’s decisions.

      • FEDUP MD

        That’s pretty close to the conversation I had with my male OB with my second child as well.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    She claims in the Daily Beast article that the WHO says that the most important factor in improving maternal and child birth outcomes is natural childbirth.

    That can’t be right, can it? Natural childbirth is more important than clean water? Prenatal care? Proper prenatal nutrition? Family planning and spacing between children? Vaccines?

    Really? REALLY?????

    • Roadstergal

      Maybe, if you’re in a place with very scarce medical resources, delivering a baby vaginally becomes massively important, as there is no way to control fertility and no way to guarantee access to a safe C-section for subsequent babies?

      BUT WE’RE NOT. And the women who are in that situation need clean water and fertility control and access to medical facilities, not privileged (mostly) white women saying, “Look at us, breastfeeding and birthing out of hospitals just like you!”

      I think the whole NCB/EBF movement would piss me off less if women in less fortunate circumstances weren’t forced into these things. All of the energy wasted towards NCB and EBF in the developed world could do so much more good…

      • RMY

        Well, in less wealthy countries for a family in dire-poverty, the loss of a baby during birth is sad but the death of the (also working) mother is much worse for the whole family.

      • SuperGDZ

        Who’s “we”? I’m in a place with scarce medical resources and it’s stuffed to the gills with both government health apparatchiks and privileged white women obsessed with NCB and EBF.

    • Mel

      I’m running a cursory search of WHO on pregnancy outcomes, improving pregnancy outcomes, improving maternal outcomes and improving child birth outcomes.

      I’ve found two sentences in one paragraph of a 36 page document that says if CS rates are absurdly high, maternal health might suffer – but that is immediately qualified by stating that most of the world needs better access to CS and no where is the magic goal of any percentage mentioned.

      There’s an entire health bulletin on managing pregnancy and delivery. It’s going to take me awhile to read it all, but I’m pretty sure I can safely say that they are more focused on delivering a healthy child to a healthy mom however possible than natural childbirth.

      http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/924159084X_eng.pdf?ua=1

      • Mel

        pg 15
        Some deliveries are conducted at home, attended by traditional birth attendants (TBAs) or relatives, or the woman delivers alone (but home delivery without a skilled attendant is not recommended).
        Since this is interspaced with descriptions of how to treat malaria, TB and AIDS and a rudimentary triage sheet, I’m assuming this is for trained skilled birth workers in developing nations.

        I would also feel safer having a skilled birth worker attend a labor and delivery of someone I loved than Ricki Lake,

    • SuperGDZ

      Because I live in South Africa, where we have an exceptionally high rate of HIV and of mother to child transmission of HIV, and official health policy is to push vaginal birth and breastfeeding, I was struck by recent news reports about the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba –

      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/mtct-hiv-cuba/en/

      especially the following –

      “the country has worked to ensure early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing for both pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies, caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding”

  • MAMA SHERPAS???

    • Ash

      Another new term–“data doula.” that is what mana stats calls the data review staff.

      • PrimaryCareDoc

        You’re joking, right? Please tell me you’re joking.

        • Ash

          Alas, I am not. Look at the MANA stats study and full text article and the article about the development of the MANAstats data collection forms.

          it’s really weird thinking of a bunch of grad studetns who have an email signature “data doula”

      • Young CC Prof

        I am not a data doula. The data do not need my emotional support, nor do they need “encouragement” to become anything other than what they already are.

        I am a mathematician. I clean data, I organize data, I interpret data. I do not encourage it.

        • Dinolindor

          Given that it’s MANA and how they’ve tried to spin their numbers, aren’t they encouraging data to say what they want it to say? Data doula, in this context, does kind of make sense. Evil.

          • KarenJJ

            Take something incredibly painful, try to make it pretty and “support” people through it. Sounds like they do need a ‘data doula” to try and massage the data along in pretty ways.

        • araikwao

          Sooo, was wondering if I could shamelessly take advantage of your expertise by asking for some biostats advice? (Feel free to ignore or decline, I am just at this awkward phase of having a fabulous dataset at the end of my research project for med school, and some of the questions I want to ask are possibly beyond the scope of my supervisor’s stats knowledge, and I’m not an employee of the institution I was at so don’t have any formal access to statistical superpowers…and there is some publishable stuff in there, I know it!)

          • Young CC Prof

            Possibly. Do you know how to contact me privately? If so, go ahead.

          • araikwao

            I’m pretty sure I know who you are on the Fed up with NCB FB group, so I will see if I can send that person a message and we can work from there! Thanks in advance and I will try to be as brief as possible, because I respect the busyness and generosity of skilled, awesome people like yourself *bowing and scraping*

        • Ash

          So….does this mean the “data doulas” massage the data? 😛 In reality, I don’t think the data reviewers do so, but the project is set up to be poor quality

      • demodocus

        I’m not sure I’d want Data to be my doula, but if there were only him and my husband besides me, okay

        • Who?

          Are you kidding, Data would be awesome!

          If something happened he would just do that eye thing he does to access his entirely enormous memory and knowledge bank and you’d have the Best Help Ever. And given how fast and well he can multitask it would be like having a big team of carers as well.

          • demodocus

            But can he be as warm and fuzzy as my unicorn doula?

          • He did well enough for counselor Troi.

          • demodocus

            true that

          • Nick Sanders

            But think how cold his hands would be.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Still a better choice than Worf.

  • Amy M

    “Birth feminists believe in a woman’s right to make empowered choices about her birth experience.”
    A women should have the right to make medical decisions for herself, and being fully informed of risks and benefits would empower her to make such choices. So we’ve got that, and I’d argue that anyone who believes that women are sentient, autonomous beings would agree with that.

    “..about her birth experience” is where it gets hazy, because there’s only so much choice a woman has. She can pick the location, she can choose type of attendant (or no attendant), she can choose to forego pain relief, augmentation, induction–even a Csection. She cannot choose to have everything go according to plan, however. No woman would choose to have a dead baby, or to end up in mortal danger herself.

    I’d say that Mariah is wasting her time fighting for rights that (Western) women already have. Maybe, if she really cares about women making empowered choices that pertain to birth, she should be fighting for women in developing nations where they would love to choose a Csection but can’t because there’s no doctor, and no sterile equipment.

  • Roadstergal

    My NCB-loving friend retweeted this the other day. WTF does it even mean? It’s unfeminist to not shame women who make choices that aren’t NCB-approved?

    • Daleth

      Seriously, I can’t even parse that.

    • Amy M

      It’s only two sentences, but I can’t find the meaning either. I’m trying to break it down:
      1) Mainstream feminism is about making it ok to make responsible medical choices.
      2) Our bodies are our own.
      So, what does that have to do with birth at all, let alone “wrong?”

      I agree with both statements–that feminism is about (or more accurately includes) making it ok to make responsible medical choices. For a woman to make such a choice, she would need to be fully informed of all risks and benefits, something which might have been withheld from her, even 50yrs ago. If the women aren’t making the medical choices for their own health, who is? Which brings us to #2–our bodies are our own, so we SHOULD be the ones making the medical choices for ourselves.

      Maybe this person is trying to claim feminism should not include or focus on women making responsible medical choices that pertain to birth. Maybe she thinks that if feminists are going to address birth, they should be making it about something else. If she is NCB-leaning, then perhaps making birth into a spiritual experience or taking birth back from “the patriarchy?”

      • Roadstergal

        I think it all comes down to the scare quotes around responsible. I guess they’re trying to say that modern feminism is buying into the patriarchy when it calls what they consider patriarchal medical decisions ‘responsible’? Just more of the all-interventions-are-unnecessary business…
        Said friend is planning an HBAC with kiddy pool for a huge second baby. So it would make sense that she’s in favor of denigrating responsible birth choices; there might even be a midwife or two who aren’t being 100% supportive of that choice (supportive = not mentioning risk). It just seems so massively insecure to say that even just making ‘medical’ birth _OK_ as an option is anti-feminist.

    • Angharad

      Is she saying our bodies are our own so we don’t have to be limited to responsible choices? I don’t think feminism means thinking every choice a woman makes, however irresponsible, should be lauded.

      • Amy M

        Yeah, feminism includes the right to make stupid choices, and its not anti-feminist to disagree with or disapprove of those choices. It would be anti-feminist and patronizing to deny said choices, no matter how stupid, because that’s assuming that women can’t make decisions for themselves.

        • Roadstergal

          It’s definitely a woman’s right to have an HBAC. It isn’t her right, or inherently feminist at all, to be cheered on or lied to about the risks, and it certainly isn’t feminist, in my mind, to denigrate women who decide to have a prelabor C/S.

          (To be clear, this is an NCB tweet that’s going around that she retweeted, I’m not sharing her tweets. Just trying to understand the overall NCB mentality that seems… like such a strange thing, something that I wouldn’t think was ‘her’ from all of our non-birth interaction but _is_ such a huge part of her identity.)

          • Amy M

            Oh I got it. 🙂 And agree with your HBAC example.

      • Roadstergal

        It seems like it’s taking it a step farther – like making scare-quotes-responsible medical choices acceptable overall is anti-feminist. Crazy.

    • Megan

      I have to admit, I’m completely mystified at the meaning of that.

      • Who?

        Me too. The only take I have on it-which I sincerely hope is incorrect-is that ‘responsible’ means ‘best for baby’s health’ whereas ’empowered’ means ‘best for mum’s ego’. So the ‘responsible’ choice is inferior to the ’empowered’ choice where mum’s ego is the primary concern.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Feminism according to NCB groups. I have this to say.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Responsible medical choices should be the kind all women should have the access to make, whether it’s choices regarding pregnancy and birth or choices regarding their ears, feet or lungs. There are so many women who live in poverty and have no access to medical care or when they do, very little choice. What the tweet means to me is they want to shame everyone into stunt pregnancy and birth.