Natural childbirth is an industry

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Why do even sophisticated people fail to recognize that natural childbirth is an industry?

It’s probably because they equate “industry” with large amounts of money. True, individual natural childbirth professionals don’t make a lot of money, but for most, it represents 100% of their income. That’s why they have a tremendous financial incentive to convince you to buy their products and services.

Midwives fought to wrest control of patients back by deriding what obstetricians offered and offering the exact opposite.

The advent of modern obstetrics, and the dramatic drop in maternal and perinatal mortality that it brought, set the stage for the development of the natural childbirth industry. This created both a problem and an opportunity for midwives. The problem was that obstetricians could promise safer outcomes.

Midwifery succumbed to the success of obstetricians who were only too happy to supplant midwives. While midwives themselves make much of this economic competition, blaming deliberate action by obstetricians in an attempt to stifle competition, the fact is that women came to prefer hospital birth because of its safety and increased comfort. Previously doctors were called to childbirth in only the most dire circumstances. With the switch to routine hospitalization for birth and the routine presence of obstetricians, and, in particular the easy access to pain relief, midwifery went into decline.

The increased safety of childbirth also created an opportunity for midwives: the chance to emphasize the quality of the birth experience. Modern obstetrics made childbirth seem safe. Since safety was now a given, midwives fought to wrest control of patients back by deriding what obstetricians offered and offering the exact opposite.

  • If obstetricians medicalized childbirth to make it safer, then midwives would de-medicalize it to make it more enjoyable, and, for added impact, would declare that childbirth was safe before obstetricians got involved.
  • If obstetricians offered screening tests and measures to prevent complications then midwives would insist that “trusting birth” was all that was needed.
  • If obstetricians offered pain relief, midwives would proclaim that feeling the pain improved the experience, tested one’s mettle and made childbirth safer.
  • If obstetricians whisked babies off to pediatricians to make sure that they were healthy, midwives would claim that skin to skin contact between mother and infant in the first moments after birth was crucial to creating a lifelong bond.
  • If obstetricians insisted that modern obstetrics was based on science, midwives would accuse them of ignoring science, and if that didn’t stick, they’d insist that scientific evidence was not the only form of knowledge.
  • If obstetricians placed the highest value on a healthy mother and a healthy baby, midwives would place the highest value on a fulfilling birth experience.

In other words, no matter what obstetricians offered, midwives would insist that it was unnecessary, disempowering, harmful and contradicted by the scientific evidence. Midwives would wrest childbirth back from paternalistic doctors and give it to those to whom they believed it rightly belonged  …  the midwives themselves. And the entire project would be promoted as being in the best interests of women and babies.

The natural childbirth industry in general, and midwifery in particular, became unreflective (and completely reflexive) defiance of modern obstetrics.

That’s doesn’t mean that those who promote natural childbirth don’t believe in it. Its advocates believe fiercely in what they promote, and sell — normal birth as the holy grail of childbirth, midwives as the guardians of normal birth and distrust of obstetricians (whom they correctly identify as their chief competition) as the people who medicalized birth … and thereby made it safe.

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  • Jeanette Wu

    A long time ago, it was indeed safer to get a midwife instead of a physician for help in the birthing process…back when physicians diagnosed diseases based on the movements of planets and didn’t know diddly squat about germs and sanitation. In fact, the early modern age was probably the most dangerous age to give birth in, since physicians had science on their side, but none of the understanding or experience of midwives, thus causing a lot of preventable deaths. But that was back a hundred years ago. Once hospitals got into the practice of sanitation, it certainly became safer to give birth there. And for the skin to skin contact between mother and child does play a part in the development of infant attachment, but it’s a gradual process, and waiting a few hours for first contact shouldn’t be too big of a deal. It seems that for more serious issues, hospitals now have measures for mothers and fathers to make skin contact with their baby even during a protracted stay. So if the points up above are really used to be anti-OB/Gyn, the midwives in question must be exaggerating.

    Of course, I’ve never given birth. I’m just going off of stuff that I’ve read.

  • Usually lurking

    OT: Can vomiting/nausea/GI distress cause oxytocin release? I see a lot about the opposite (oxytocin causing nausea) in the Google results, but I’m wondering if it works the other way too.

    I’m just curious because I’m still nursing and got an odd let-down-y feeling while dealing with food poisoning recently.

    • anh

      I often feel a rush of euphoria right after I puke. but that’s maybe because I’m happy I’m not puking anymore, but it feels somewhat chemical

    • Bugsy

      Who knows, but anecdotally vomiting/nausea/diarrhea caused me to go into labor w #2. (Or perhaps it was one of the earliest symptoms of my labor, but the maternity ward staff vehemently denied any of the three as being labor symptoms.)

  • lilin

    One thing that gets to me about natural birth is that no one sees how cookie-cutter it is. They keep saying it’s personalized care, but when every birth is supposed to be unmedicated, vaginal, and un-induced it’s clearly one-size-fits-all.
    “Personalized care” isn’t listening to you talk about your birth plan for twenty minutes, it’s tailoring your actual medical treatment. They can’t do that, because they only have one medical treatment.

  • Margo

    Midwifery went into decline…..in the community do you mean…because in the hospital setting midwives still worked on supporting women….doctors and obstetricians needed…need the support of midwives, I have yet to meet a doctor or obstetrician who stood alongside a woman through the entire process of labour….that’s what the midwife does/did. Why oh why oh why does this site appear to continually take pot shots at midwives. It is childish, unprofessional and frankly undermines the dignity of both professions, in my opinion. It is sites such as this that perpetuate the image of them (the obstets) and us, the midwives fighting over women, it simply is not true and does a great dis service to both professions.

    • Daleth

      She “takes potshots” at fake midwives, i.e., CPMs, “Direct-Entry Midwives” and other lay midwives.

      I’ve seen people complain before, as you seem to be doing, that OBs don’t “stand alongside a woman through the entire process of labor”… and the funny thing is that it’s those same people who also complain about “medicalizing” birth and insist that birth is generally safe and most women don’t really need an OB unless there’s an emergency.

      That may not be what you’re saying, but if it is, you can’t have it both ways. If most women can get through labor just fine with only a midwife and only need an OB in case of emergency, then it makes perfect sense that OBs do not sit there throughout labor. It makes perfect sense that hospital midwives or L&D nurses sit with women throughout labor, while OBs go from labor room to labor room checking on many different patients, making sure everyone is ok and being on the lookout for emergencies.

      • lilin

        It’s not fair to use logic.

        • Daleth

          Logic totally discriminates against the illogical.

      • Margo

        That’s what I am saying…of course the ob doesn’t stand with the woman, that’s what midwives do, the ob have their role and the midwife has hers, together they make a team.

        • Margo

          And by the way, most midwives can spot trouble brewing and refer to ob as necessary, thus keeping everyone safe. What my point was, was that some people seem to decry the midwife at every turn, even though midwives are an integral part of the team.

          • Amazed

            If most midwives can spot trouble so early on, why are their stats so terrifying? And I’m talking Oregon, in particular. The subject of this post.

            It might be true that most midwives can spot the pear shaped turn (I, for one, don’t believe it.) But even if they CAN, it isn’t worth a dime if they don’t ACT on it. And they don’t, Re: Oregon homebirth stats.

            In this case, CAN doesn’t equal DO. They don’t refer to OBs. That’s the core of the matter. Everything else is an exercize in rhetoric as human lives are on the stake.

          • Margo

            I was addressing the birth industry post not the Oregon issue. I was just saying that the post, once again, had an anti midwife slant to it and that I find that disappointing.

          • Amazed

            I’d say that all the homebirth studies have an anti-midwife slide, in that they all show that giving birth at home with midwife is far less safer. I am astounded that in the face of that, your concern is about midwives. And you were most certainly addeessing the homebirth issue of which Oregon is a part. Why else would you talk about transferring care? That isn’t a collaborative care, it’s midwife care. And it costs lives.

            Risking lives for the sake of being fair to poor targeted midwives is the disappointing thing, IMO. When all is said and done, are you truly saying that we should leave mothers and babies in the hands of those who overwhelmingly don’t transfer care when needed, just because they CAN? Because that’s what homebirth is about.

          • Margo

            I was not addressing the home birth I was talking to the hospital setting,and Dr Amy did say she included all midwives in this birth industry writing, I believe that’s how I read it. I didn’t mention transferring care either, not in this particular birth industry writing. Obviously I do not condone any one who doesn’t transfer mother and baby when there is a need to, that would be negligent behaviour. My point was that denigrating all midwives is a bit rich seeing how the self same midwives, ie hospital based midwives, are the ones that women and obstets rely upon.

        • Daleth

          Sure, and that’s totally fine. The big problem is CPMs in America who think they can safely practice with no OB cooperation or oversight at all, and without any risking-out criteria.

    • Kate

      Dr Amy has stayed stated on several occasions that she has nothing against Certified Nurse Midwives, who are actual nurses who happen to specialize in midwifery. Those people are fully trained, university/college educated professional nurses who no doubt are a huge help to an OB, especially in a busy hospital setting. They are also the only kind of midwife that is legal in most western countries, except the US. When Dr Amy says “midwife”, she is referring to CPM’s, or phony midwives with no medical training who have no business attending births.

    • lilin

      Your method of punctuation . . . is annoying.

      • Margo

        Fair enough re punctuation…..in the scheme of things I would not have thought that very important…..just saying .

        • lilin

          Yeah . . . the internet . . . was never about . . . effective communication.

    • Sue

      It’s hard to explain all the background in each post, but this blog is about radical-NCB, home birth and the lay midwife model that exists in the US.

      I’m not speaking for Dr Amy but regulars here understand that she in not (talking in this article) about hospital nurse-specialist midwives who collaborate within a health care team.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Often I am referring only to homebirth midwives, but in this case, I’m referring to all midwives. Although CNMs have excellent education and training, they too have been radicalized by the foundation myths fabricated by natural childbirth advocates. They’re guardians of “normal birth” because obstetricians are guardians of mothers and babies. It’s an effort to wrest back patients (and their money) for obstetricians who can offer comfort and safety.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I understand what Dr Amy is saying here. Whereas CNMs nominally have a quality education that would be sufficient for them to serve as birth attendants in the proper settings, the profession is becoming too ideological in favor of the natural birth approach. This is evidenced not just by the CNMs who vocally push for NCB, but by the leadership, as in the ACNM, that spends way too much time and effort welcoming and accepting CPMs, and by the fact that those within the profession who DO try to stand up to it face extensive resistance and marginalization.

        I don’t consider the CNM as a profession to be an example of Bofa’s Law right now (“not all of them are bad”), but they are getting closer. More of a “they’re alright, but there’s a lot of bad ones out there”

      • Susan

        My impression is that CNMs generally get exposed to the “guardian of normal” crap in the midwifery education. When I wanted to become a CNM a few of them warned me that I would have to parrot that stuff to survive it. I work with a self selected subset of CNMs in practices that would not appeal to the radical ideologue. The ones I work with mostly don’t see themselves as the best way so much as one good way. Some do cling to the victim of the patriarchy crap but few. Really, the work is hard, stressful and exhausting be it OB, CNM or RN there tends to be a lot of drama. I am glad I can be part time.

      • Margo

        Hmmm. I would have thought, from past working experience, that midwives, like obstetricians have the welfare and safety of mother and baby central to practice. Women don’t need protecting from obs or radical midwifery, women are not that stupid: women have access to so much information that they should be able to make their own minds up re pregnancy,labour and birth and beyond. It’s disappointing that so often midwives are “bad” etc and obstets are “bad” or that midwives are full of woo and obstets are all wise and beyond reproach, or obstets are all “bad” and Caesar happy, depending on who is writing the article both professions can be made to look less than ideal. What women need, I think, is a maternity system that fully embraces and respects each other’s professional expertise.

    • Megan

      If I’m comfy with an epidural while laboring and reading/sleeping/watching tv and baby is great on the monitor, why does my OB need to be there the whole time? Let me rest before the big event!

      • Margo

        I didn’t suggest that the ob should be there all the time, my point was, the midwife can be, my point was we work as a team, my point was, the very sort of professional that often on this site is put in a bad light is the same professional that the ob and woman trust to care for them until birth.

    • moto_librarian

      During my “natural” childbirth, I did the bulk of my laboring at home. Since my water broke very early in the morning and I didn’t start having real contractions until around noon, I didn’t really need anyone but my husband around. By the time we left for the hospital around 3, I was in transition, and I didn’t want anyone to talk to or touch me. The midwife was with me from the time I was admitted because I was at 9 cm and ready to push very soon thereafter.

      With my second child, I didn’t need support during most of labor because I had a lovely epidural and slept until close to delivery. The midwife was there the entire time that I was pushing.

      Answer me this: If midwives are supposed to labor sit, why do so many home birthers also have doulas? Why do midwives arrive too late to catch the baby?

      • Margo

        I don’t know why women have doulas. Midwives, like any other health professional might arrive late, not ideal, but this can happen. The world is far from prefect. I had all my babies in hospital, the doctor missed two of the births and the third time round he was in the hospital, but busy elsewhere, stuff happens, often not as we planned.

  • crazy grad mama

    OT (or maybe not OT, come to think of it): A woman I was friends with in college has decided to become a “Birth Boot Camp Instructor” so she can work from home and attachment parent her kid. Apparently this particular brand of childbirth education only allows women who’ve had unmedicated births to become instructors. Her Facebook posts are getting increasingly woo-heavy, which means I’m going to have to hide her from my feed if I want to keep my blood pressure down. We’re not that close anymore

    • Mer

      Hey I could do it! I could sign up and toe the party line and then tell all my clients that they should just get the epidural since natural labor really kind of sucks.

  • timemakesfoolsofusall

    Sorry for the OT post, but I am due on Wednesday and just wanted to thank Dr. Amy and all of you. I’ve been reading this site all through my pregnancy and I think it’s really helped my outlook on birth and breastfeeding and avoid the fact-free side of the childbirth internet.

    • demodocus

      Good luck and congrats!

    • Sue

      Best wishes to you!

    • Megan

      Best wishes for a smooth delivery and a healthy baby! May the sleeping baby gods smile on you!

    • Amazed

      Not OT at all! That’s why Dr Amy STARTED this blog! That’s why we all write – some of the kinder posters and some like myself. It’s all so that someone can read and feel that they have been helped.

      Good luck and uneventful delivery to you!

    • StephanieA

      Good luck to you!

    • Who?

      Congratulations, be kind to yourself.

    • SporkParade

      Have an easy birth! And don’t forget the oxygen mask rule of parenting – you can’t take care of the baby unless you are taken care of first.

    • Mishimoo

      Best of luck! Let us know how things go, hope it’s boring, easy, and safe.

    • Blue Chocobo

      May the only exciting part of your birth story be meeting the baby!

  • Gatita

    OT: A baby dies at daycare and a mother asks why she had to leave him so soon. I feel really badly for this woman but even if she hadn’t put her child in daycare there’s no guarantee the same thing wouldn’t have happened at home. Not that we shouldn’t have more paid leave, of course, but thinking it could’ve been prevented must be killing her.

    • LaMont

      This article was so gut-wrenching, and the writer did a great and beyond-the-call-of-duty job in expressing that a “back to work quickly” choice, while not her choice, would be valid in her eyes assuming it was a *freely made* choice by another mom. However, this article will 100% be hijacked by the blame-Mommy AP crowd who literally believes that leaving a child with another caretaker spells certain death, and that just multiplies the already ample depressing factor.

    • Megan

      This was so hard to read as I will need to go back to work at 3 months too, peak age for SIDS, and it terrifies me. I know we are sending our girls to a great daycare and I’ve explicitly asked about their safe sleep practices (and they are required to all have SIDS education and CPR training as part of their four star rating in the state of PA), but I am still terrified. A three month old died at our old daycare of SIDS and I routinely question if they followed safe sleep practices, checked the babies regularly, etc. and I’m not even the parent. I cannot imagine being that baby’s mother. I realize that it may have nothing to do with daycare but I thought I recalled there being a study that infants are more likely to die at daycare, particularly their first day/week there.

      What’s just as sad about the article is the comments section where the usual mommy-blaming is going on. I don’t understand how you can read an article like this and say to a grieving mom, “Well you should’ve just saved more money/planned better.” Women are in their child bearing years when they are often still trying to climb the career ladder. I think it’s nearly impossible to be able to have 6-12 month’s expenses saved in your 20’s or 30’s. Other countries seem to find paid maternity leave worth their money and effort. Why should the US be different? I hope that this will be solved by the time my daughters have children. It’s ridiculous.

      • RMY

        A lot of those people seem to think life is like what it was for white collar workers in the fifties, where women didn’t need to consider their swirling fertility versus their family’s financial stability because men could make enough to support their families at a relatively young age. It’s easier to live lean for a couple years than get pregnant in your forties for many women.

        • Amy

          And the funny thing is, on paper, my mom’s family was one of those “perfect” 1950s families. But my grandma’s parents lived a few blocks away and my grandparents lived with them until my uncle was a few years old. Ditto for my dad’s family– his parents lived with their parents until my dad was about five. This idea that extended families providing support means the adult “children” are lazy or poorly prepared only works if we ignore hundreds of years of history.

          • demodocus

            We lived with my (not-insane) grandparents while Dad was on chemo. Gram still had teens at home and all 3 watched my toddler self pretty frequently. They even got Grandpa to change my diapers a few times. (The first he’d ever changed)

      • StephanieA

        Thinking about you. Going back to work is so hard with young babies.

        • Megan

          Thank you, though I’m not due until March. Didn’t mean to make it sound like I was dealing with it right now, but I’m definitely already thinking about it. The baby dying at our previous daycare really shook me up. With my first daughter I stayed home for 9 months, but with a second child we just can’t afford more than 3 months unpaid and I’d worry about job security. It’s just sucks because I’d love to have 4-6 months.

      • Daleth

        Megan, we used Snuza monitors for our babies’ naps and night sleeps. We had a few false alarms but there was one night when one went off (we have twins) and it took several seconds to rouse my one boy and get him breathing again. These alarms are life saving. They cost about $100 but are obviously worth it. Could you get one and have the daycare use it during naps?

        • Megan

          Thanks! I will look into it.

      • Linden

        I went back to work at 3 months too. My son is now 16 months, and I still couldn’t bring myself to click that link.
        Does your little one use a pacifier? Apparently, it reduces the risk of SIDS. Ours never took to it, I would have been a lot happier if he had.
        I wish you the best. It doesn’t seem to get easier leaving them, whatever age they are 🙁

        • Megan

          Our oldest daughter never took to a paci but I plan to offer it to this one for that very reason.

    • mostlyclueless

      I had the same reaction. The poor woman. When a tragedy like this happens, people always want a reason, something to blame. Since the poor boy’s death was unexplained, it seems unlikely to me that there’s anything that she could have done to prevent it had she been there. It’s not like he choked or a bookcase fell on him while the teacher’s back was turned. There is probably nothing that could have been done, tragically.

    • RMY

      No parent should have to bury their child. My mother in law lost her first to SIDS. It still haunts her to this day.

      • demodocus

        My grandma was devastated to loose Mom, who was a grandmother herself. Its one area where her dementia is a blessing; she thinks my sister is Mom.

    • StephanieA

      This is so heartbreaking. I went back to work after 12 weeks of unpaid leave (I’m lucky that we could afford unpaid leave) and my grandma cared for my son. However, I’m cutting back my hours after this baby because I don’t think my grandma should watch a baby and a toddler. So my husband or I will always be with the kids. Most Daycares don’t accommodate nurses’ hours anyways. I don’t want to cut back hours because I enjoy my job, but it’s the only option that makes sense to us right now. Our country sucks at taking care of it’s families.

  • mostlyclueless

    Don’t forget how financial incentives around childbirth are manifesting in the UK. Why does the NHS promote midwife-led homebirth? Follow the money…

  • StephanieA

    I have a completely OT question. The readers here seem very level-headed so I’d like your input. I know the AAP guidelines as far as screen time, and my son didn’t watch tv until he was 2. He’s 2 currently and really starting to ask to watch his shows and is able to pay attention to them. This helps me quite a bit (I can shower!) but I am having a really hard time being okay with letting him watch TV. He watches an hour in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon after nap if he asks. I feel guilty, like I should be planning activities for him that aren’t tv (but what the heck do you do with a 2 year old all day?) I grew up watching TV as most people did, and I turned out just fine. I don’t want to severely limit it because I think that makes it all the more enticing. What do you all do as far as TV time, and how much? I can only imagine the stress ulcer I’m going to have when he wants to play video games…

    • dulcythefrog

      Our just-turned-2 son watches PBS in the morning while I’m getting ready for work and similar content the evening when his dad starts making dinner pretty much daily, and has been for months. I am more concerned about the content of the shows than arbitrary screen time limits, so we save anything we want to watch for after bedtime (except classic, mostly inoffensive sitcoms which we watch on Netflix over dinner). He shouts out the letters with SuperWhy and parrots Daniel Tiger platitudes. It makes me thankful that Sesame Street still exists as an institution (and I do have my limits… my aunt tried to fob off some Barney tapes she’s been saving from her kids… haha, nope.) I’ve pulled up international kids shows for fun on the weekends. We both learned to count to 10 in Mandarin with “Fun Fun Elmo” and I’d love to have him pick up some German words for him to drop in front of his Oma. So, TV is a tool in our parenting arsenal, for sure. We don’t let him dictate content constantly, or leave it on all day… and it often gets muted in the morning if he finds something else to capture his attention, or wanders off to his room to play.

      • Dr Kitty

        When #1 was a bit smaller, and both too big to be oblivious to adult TV shows but too little to watch shows with us, I’d put on BBC nature documentaries over dinner, ones with David Attenborough, ideally.
        They’re great, because there isn’t a plot, so you can stop and start them whenever it is convenient, they’re beautiful to watch and educational.

        Now we watch things like The Simpsons and Dr Who.

    • dulcythefrog

      As for what the heck husband does with him all day: my impression is that they have been able to fill the time pretty well with outings/errands (they go to the gym one morning a week, which provides childcare), playground trips, story time at the library, walks around the block, reading books together, coloring or stickers, and unstructured (ideally self-directed) playtime… we did inherit a kick-a** train table from the Barney-boosting aunt, which he’ll happily putter around for 30-40 minutes with the occasional “fix it!” when the track separates. He’s still a long napper in the afternoon, thank goodness, so that’s a big chunk. I think having some routine activities (gym day, library day) across the week is enough structure for now.

      • StephanieA

        We do go to the park and play outside, but I honestly do not enjoy playing with his toys, and I have chores that need to get done. He’s not interested in coloring yet. We read quite a bit, and have a simple train set that he is getting bored with. He has been sick the past two days and all he wants to do is watch TV. I try to remind myself that when I’m sick I don’t want to do much, either.

        • dulcythefrog

          Yeah, sick baby is another matter entirely, so hopefully he’ll get past it fast.

          Toys can be tricky… I have learned to *hate* the VTech text writers and voice-over actor… Any electronic toy without an on-off and volume control gets donated immediately or conveniently loses batteries. However, we get great mileage out of simple puzzles and fridge magnets (which get transported back and forth between kitchen appliances numerous times a day.) And if he wants to put cans of cat food in stacks taller than he is for 20 minutes, I’m all for benign (somewhat watchful) neglect. If I need him out from underfoot, we have a little pop-up tent that I set up in his room, and he’ll drag some toys and books in and be happy there for a bit.

          I’m finding it’s actually a nice developmental lacuna, where redirection still mostly works but he’s got enough sustained attention to engage with a task for a little while.

          • Bugsy

            We do the same w/ electronic toys…they drive me nuts!

          • StephanieA

            I like the tent idea. My son loves tents. Now if only he would play without me right next to him (at this point I can’t fathom him even going into his room without me going in there first. He is always in the same room as me).

        • Blue Chocobo

          Any chance of borrowing another toddler for him to play with? Sometimes setting up a playdate is more trouble than its worth (you need a compatible kid with a compatible parent), but sometimes it really pays off.

          • StephanieA

            I told my husband tonight that I really need some mom friends. Motherhood is so isolating, and being the type that stresses over everything, I’ll either go crazy or end up saying screw it and letting my kids run wild, haha.

          • Kelly

            So true. I don’t mind babysitting certain kids because they play together and leave me alone and I can’t get stuff done.

        • Dr Kitty

          Gussy up the train set!
          My kid gets a new bit of track and some new thing (exploding mountain, farm, loading docks, timber yard) every birthday and Christmas from my parents. Her train set is one of the few toys she’ll actually ask to play with, and now it is so big that it is actually a challenge for her to work out a layout with the track pieces she has, so good for spatial skills.

          A lot of the wooden sets are the same size, certainly Brio and IKEA fit together.

    • Bugsy

      We have a 3-year-old, and he watches more television than I ever thought I’d do. Until he was 2, I was able to limit it fairly regularly. However, I went through two rounds of fertility treatments (and got pregnant on the second one) after he turned two, and my energy was positively in the tank. The television has been handy for a mom without energy, as a distraction for both of us.

      We don’t set limits on it, and it’s often on when we’re all at home. That being said, the shows we generally watch are ones that aren’t specifically geared for kids. The Price is Right, America’s Funniest Home Videos, other game shows, HGTV. He often will play while watching, not fully absorbed in it at all. (Interestingly enough, we do not let him watch Youtube or anything on the computer, though – he becomes an absolute monster when we try to take the computer away. Go figure that the television is okay but that the computer isn’t.)

      Do I wish he watched less? Yes. Am I willing to feel guilt over it? Not so much any more. Yes, he watches television. He also gets a lot of attention from his dad and me, and we try to do as much as we can with him in terms of family outings as well as home play time. Like Dulcythefrog’s experience below, routine activities help us to stay busy away from the television – our little one is in preschool 3 days per week as well as a few mommy-and-me activities on the other days, and we devote one evening to family swim at the local pool. The activities keep him busy and us without relying on the t.v.

      ETA: Our son absolutely adores the Leapfrog videos; they can be a great respite if you’re looking for something kid-friendly. They’re just starting to learn the alphabet in his preschool, but he’s already comfortable w/ the letters and their sounds courtesy of the videos. Definitely recommend them.

    • Dr Kitty

      Eh, I’m in the bad parent box.
      Kiddo watches TV a lot. She’s six.
      Until two months ago, she was also an only child, so watching TV was a safe, non-messy activity she could do that didn’t require adult help or supervision (say, for example at 7am on a Sunday), because she doesn’t have siblings she can play with (yet).

      She also plays age appropriate WiiU games with her dad (Legend of Zelda, various Mario games, Splatoon) and loves them.

      She’s very bright, likes to read, do maths and sing, but has never been one for imaginative play on her own (although happy to play with her cousins and friends). TV is something she enjoys, I vet the content and she has learnt a lot through the shows she watches.

      So what if she knows every word of the Lego movie, or likes to dance along to a Asia video, it doesn’t seem to be doing her any harm.

      She’s in school and daycare 9-5 five days a week, has ballet, music lessons and gymnastics. TV is her time to veg out and relax. I’m ok with it.

      • Dr Kitty

        That should be Sia, not Asia!
        She and her dad like to dance along to Elastic Heart!

    • Megan

      I admit I’m guilty of letting my daughter watch TV and she’s still in the “no TV” age group. Most times she’s not paying much attention to it and is playing with other things but it does help me get a shower and get some things done (or just lie down since I’ve been pregnant!) so I don’t feel too bad about it, especially since she spends three days a week at daycare with no TV and on the weekends we are often out and about or doing other things as a family. I agree with the poster that said they feel the content is more important than an arbitrary amount of time. I am super thankful for PBS kids because I generally don’t mind her watching the shows on it. We save all of our adult shows for after bedtime, though she will occasionally watch Family Feud with me. 🙂

    • mostlyclueless

      “Sesame Street is one of the largest early childhood interventions ever to take place. It was introduced in 1969 as an educational, early childhood program with the explicit goal of preparing preschool age children for school entry. Millions of children watched a typical episode in its early years. Well-designed studies at its inception provided evidence that watching the show generated an immediate and sizeable increase in test scores. … The results indicate that Sesame Street accomplished its goal of improving school readiness…”

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w21229

      That put my mind at ease about watching Sesame Street, at least!

      I think you can trust your own judgment and common sense. I love Daniel Tiger because it focuses on socioemotional growth/development/skills instead of more academic (eg counting, spelling) skills — and I think it really works! We use lines from DT in our house all the time: grownups come back! when you need to use the potty, stop and go right away! There’s even a song about getting ready in the morning that my daughter sings and I can’t remember all the words myself — but she uses it to help prompt herself to get dressed, brush teeth, etc.

      So, yeah, I think kids can actually benefit from moderate, carefully-chosen TV.

    • demodocus

      Mine just turned 2 and mostly he watches a little Thomas (the e.r. & peds nurses turned it on when he had the broken leg to distract him and it’s the awesomest thing ever, Mommy), Sesame Street, and some bits of the local morning news show (they often have musicians) and of the PBS NewsHour. (mostly the politics bits, he calls it President Obama). I do watch certain documentaries around him but only ones I know aren’t too graphic.

    • Blue Chocobo

      A few hours of TV every day, assuming it’s not something wildly inappropriate, does absolutely no harm. When they get a bit older, it even gives them common-ground stuff to talk about with peers (think how many grown ups chat about whatever popular show).

      Don’t think you have to have structured activity (even as simple as “it’s TV time from 11 to 12”) all day though. Self guided entertainment is a learned skill that takes practice. Leaving the kid alone in a safe place with safe toys for a bit now and then gives them time to practice filling their own day.

      • StephanieA

        My kiddo does NOT play well by himself. He might play for 5 minutes, then wants my husband or me right there with him. Maybe it’s because he’s the only one (until February) but TV is literally the only thing that allows me time without him in my two foot radius. I’m just worried he likes it too much, he will watch hours of Elmo if I let him. I don’t know if I should limit it or let him watch however much he wants so it’s not as exciting?

        • Blue Chocobo

          I don’t think there’s a wrong answer unless you go to extremes.

          You could do “play training” using some of the sleep training ideas, entertaining one’s self is not really that different than self-soothing or learning to fall asleep unassisted.

          You could just use TV as a tool for when you need to get something done, like showering or whatever your task list is.

          You could make routine, scheduled TV time, so the kid (hopefully) gets into a habit of watching for a while then turning it off and doing something else.

          The TV really won’t hurt him, though. Age appropriate shows are perfectly fine tools to use. Extremes are usually bad, but a few hours a day is not extreme.

          • Blue Chocobo

            I wanted to add, I say all this as someone who is not really into TV, didn’t have a TV until kid #3 was 4 years old, and still doesn’t have cable because it’s not worth the monthly expense for us. We do have hundreds of hand me down videos, though, and now Netflix.

            Not every person likes TV, and that’s ok. It’s also ok to use it as a tool, or to just enjoy it for its own sake. People are different, kids included.

            Do what works.

          • Who?

            We were much the same, no tv for several years, and still no cable as I am far too mean to pay for it.

            Once the kids got a couple of years into school-say age 10 or so-we had a no tv after school rule, but then ‘no rules’ weekends. At first they watched a lot on weekends, but then, as they weren’t seeing tv all the time, went off it again. And they had sport, friends and family time etc all of which cut into the tv. We watch way more tv now than we did for probably 15 years, because there are no kids in the house to be mindful of.

            We’re big watchers of box sets of tv programs, not so much of movies, and tend to do that as well as current affairs/news etc on live tv. Also we only turn the tv on to watch something, not just on spec, which tells you I guess how not very interested we are in it.

          • StephanieA

            Good point. I don’t care for TV. I would be happy without one, except for background noise when I’m home alone. My husband on the other hand, will watch anything and completely zones out to it.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Well, when my oldest was in the 6 months between 2.5 and 3 he spent many days where he spent hours on end in front of Dora and Diego because I had a difficult pregnancy and spent a lot of it in bed. He seemed none the worse for wear.

          • StephanieA

            Yeah, I’m pregnant and just tired and nauseous some days (stupid nausea lasting 29 weeks). Plus I work nights, so the day after I work a night shift I’m useless.

        • Sue

          Stephanie – in general, a parent who is aware enough about screen time and child development to raise a discussion about it is already ahead of the ball game. Enjoy the assistance of the screen when you need it, and don[t worry!

          I didn’t have TV at that age, but, when I was in Year 7, we had to keep a “TV diary” to see how many hours we watched. I think the idea was to show it was bad for you. Anyhow, the two of us who watched the most subseqently came first and second in the year.

          Fast forward to adulthood, I;ve now lived for over thirty years without television. (I now watch a bit on-line, but we bypassed the whole analogue TV technology).

          So – it all comes out in the wash. If your child is inquistive and has you for a parent, they’ll do fine.

    • Mishimoo

      Octonauts and Thomas the Tank Engine are the big ones for our 2 year old right now. We’re pretty lax about controlling screen time and it seems that makes it less interesting. The older two are gamers, and it seems to have a positive effect on their schoolwork. They all tend to self-regulate their screen time, and have lots of other things they enjoy doing.

    • Dinolindor

      I honestly think that the screen time recommendations are just like breast is best, or even just plain made up. What actual information is the recommendation made from? I think the others here give good advice – it shouldn’t rule your day (unless people are sick), but content is more important. It’s good that you wait for him to ask or for a time when you need him to be otherwise occupied.

      And as far as video games, they are stupidly vilified, IMO. They are way more interactive than just passively watching TV – that’s good! That means more thinking right? And for older kids they can be just as social as any other approved activity. Anyway, even for 2 year olds there are a lot of really great educational apps for the iPad (and probably other tablets).

      • LeighW

        My just-turned 3 year old loves anything on our phones. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Farm Simulator. I’d much rather him play a game than sit and watch a cartoon

        • Dinolindor

          May I suggest looking for the Bug games? There’s Bugs and Numbers and Bugs and Bubbles and I think Bugs and Bubbles. They each have what seems like a million mini games that get progressively more advanced as your kid gets better. They do cost some (I don’t know the exact amount now, but I think maybe $2-5 each?), but they’ve more than paid for themselves by now. I like that they work for both the ipad and iphone too.

      • Liz Leyden

        I have to fly next week, with 19-month-old twins. I have kid-friendly apps and videos on my Kindle, and I have every intention of using them.

    • Mel

      I don’t have kids, but I do read a lot of education research. Did you know that most Finnish kids come to school reading Finnish. It’s not because they are being read to; no, the vast majority of shows are in English with Finnish subtitles. Stick the CC on and you can make anything a read-along experience.

      • demodocus

        My closed captioning function is arguing with me. Very annoying for those of us who could actually use the blasted stuff!

      • Blue Chocobo

        Exposure to other languages is another benefit of TV. Kid’s shows are available on Amazon in lots of languages.

      • Mishimoo

        My 2 year old managed to turn on the CC for his Netflix profile, which I had mentioned doing for that exact reason. Toddler’s intuition 😉

    • fiftyfifty1

      What we do in our family is not out of any real philosophy, but mainly out of a desire not to create unneeded work for the adults and an unproven idea that short of true neglect or abuse it’s hard to ruin a kid. Anyway, we don’t limit screen time. There isn’t much real science behind the APA’s screen time guidelines. Neither of us parents happen to watch TV (except during the Olympics), but we do spend a good chunk of time on the internet. Our kids have not watched much TV either, although we don’t restrict it. They did watch a fair amount of DVDs as little kids and now that they are in grade school spend a few hours a day on internet stuff and video games, more on the weekend and during school breaks. Both kids are polite and seem happy and well adjusted. They continue to engage in all sorts of imaginative and social play. They have continued to track along nicely on their own individual development curves.

    • Bugsy

      Another benefit to TV – using ads as teachable moments. When we see an interesting ad, I ask my little guy what they’re trying to sell to us and why he thinks so. Great learning opportunity.

    • Amy M

      I wouldn’t worry much—a little tv is not going to hurt him. I mean, I’d stick to age-appropriate shows, preferably with an educational theme, but sometimes, you just need to shower or cook dinner. I’m pretty sure my boys saw more tv than I might have liked when they went to an in-home daycare, but they also learned plenty, and I don’t think they were ruined for life.

      They are 6 now, and we allow an hour of screen time/day (including iPad) during the week, with screens going off at 6pm, but on weekends, we’re pretty lax about it. They usually get up earlier than my husband and I, and will go turn on the tv, which is fine with us. When they were toddlers, they’d watch Sesame st, Dora the explorer, or things like that. Now they watch other things, including movies, but we make sure everything they watch is appropriate for them. They are pretty good about turning off the tv when we ask, and will go do something else.

    • Amy

      Seriously, do NOT feel guilty. I no longer monitor my kids’ TV time. They’re both avid readers and doing well in school. One plays three instruments and is a member of USA Archery; the other is a skilled artist and dancer. Could they spend more time practicing and less time playing Crossy Road and Minecraft? Probably. But they need their down time, too.

      When they were two, they watched a few shows on PBS. I felt it was more important to limit commercials than any screen time. I played a lot of music in the house and encouraged imaginative play and crafts. So our house often was (and is) a mess but it’s all due to the kids playing creatively. Make the open-ended toys available and relax! 🙂

      • StephanieA

        What toys and creative things did you do with your toddlers? I am not good at kid-related activities and could use some ideas for the winter.

        • Chi

          Playdough is great, and it’s so easy to make yourself. You can find really good, really easy recipes online and most of it will keep for a week in an airtight container. Toddlers love to smush it and if you have old cookie cutters those are great to use with it.

          Also you can build a fort out of blankets/sheets and then nestle in there with coloring books or just normal books.

          Here’s a website with some great ideas:

          http://www.kidspot.com.au/Toddler-Play-20-fun-toddler-activities-and-games+6166+25+article.htm

          Hopefully you find some good ideas in there.

          And don’t sweat it about the screen time. My 19 month old LOVES My Little Pony and would watch it all day if she could. So I just make sure to try and plan excursions to the park and we go to playgroup twice a week. It’s all about balance and what works for you.

          • Kesiana

            Playdough is great, and it’s so easy to make yourself. You can find really good, really easy recipes online and most of it will keep for a week in an airtight container.

            Ack, only about a WEEK??? I bought some of the commercial stuff for an especially awesome science class in college; when the class was over, I absentmindedly put the cans on a shelf and forgot about them. Several YEARS later, I found it again, got curious, and poked at it… still seemed brand-new.

            I ended up keeping the playdough around for over a decade because I promptly forgot about it again SCIENCE; the only reason I trashed it was because it had started to grow mold.

            So as long as it doesn’t get left out to dry, the store-bought stuff may be more economical!

          • Who?

            We live in high humidity-ville, I used to make it but yes the bought stuff lasted a lot longer. And when the dot wants the play dough NOW convincing them we have to make it and won’t that be fun is not always super easy.

            My daughter is using stuff called theraputty for her OT, it is like play dough on steroids: really stiff, and absolutely no sign of going off. Though it doesn’t hold it’s shape too well and if you left it too long might disappear between the floorboards.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I’m not terribly good with kid activities, either. 🙂 Things that I’ve gradually discovered for Miss 20-month-old:
          –Crayons–with supervision, of course. She’ll play with them independently some, but also loves it when I join in.
          –Blocks/stacking cups. Building towers, and knocking them down.
          –Taking a toy car/animal on wheels and “driving” it over the furniture. Bonus giggle points if it drives over the toddler tummy. 😀
          –I happen to love a lot of the music from the 50s/60s–you know, all those awesome groups with the great harmonies? The Temptations, the Ronettes, etc. I’ll tune the TV to Youtube and stream a playlist of that to dance to with DD. While cold’s not a problem here, rain and clouds of mosquitoes often are, so this is a great way for her to get some wiggles out if the park isn’t an option.
          –Any day the rain/heat/mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I try to take her on a walk and to a park near our house. It gets me some exercise and she loves, loves, LOVES the park.
          –Yes, I know that even one fast food meal will condemn my (tall, skinny) daughter to a lifetime of morbid obesity and out-of-control diabetes by 5. 😉 However, every once in a while, Mommy Needs Adult Time. There are several excellent and clean fast food places near us with toddler-specific play areas. We’ll go there perhaps once a month or so. DD will eat French fries and then go burn lots of energy in a contained area with a little friend while little friend’s mommy and I kick back with a salad and a coffee and enjoy an hour or so of grown-up conversation. I *strongly* recommend this, especially on days when you feel like you might explode if you look at the inside of your house for another second or have to say “Don’t play with your poop!” one more time.

        • guest

          Where we live there are places that have kid play areas (local community centers, a few toy stores, the mall, even Ikea has a play area in the kids department). Especially in winter, it’s nice to get out of the house for a few hours. I try to get out a few times a week with them. There are usually tons of other kids to play with and I can sit and relax. It is really hard to keep a 2 year old entertained. It’s nice when you can go where there are other kids to entertain them for you. For at home, get boxes. They take up a ton of space, but kids love them. Even better if they are big enough to climb in.

          • Dr Kitty

            A pop up tent was a great buy for us. Not an expensive kiddie den, just a cheap two man pop up tent from the camping section of a discount sports shops. Instant den/house/moon pod/spaceship/ hospital/ fortress.
            Takes up no space when packed away.

            Soft play areas are good, but IMO best from age 3 and up when you can let them run free in the equipment while you read a book and drink tea…

            Mine likes outdoor walks as long as there is a scavenger hunt element. How many different breeds of dog did we see at the park? How many squirrels and birds and we see? Find six different types of leaves, or collect chestnuts and acorns and pine cones. Find pretty shells or drift wood at the beach, that kind of thing. Even in Ireland we still do outdoor things in winter if we wrap up warmly.

            What about making your holiday wrapping paper this year? All you need is a big roll of plain paper, some potatoes (or real stamps if you want to be fancy) and paint. I cheat and put pencil “x” where I want her to stamp, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but you could have a more free form effect if you let them just go crazy with the stamps!
            Or give them red and green or glittery festive pens and let them scribble all over the paper if stamping seems too messy…
            Once the gifts are wrapped up with some ribbons or washi tape, it looks quite nice.

          • Megan

            I am storing the gift wrap idea in my brain for next Christmas. (DD is still a bit young for it this year.) Thanks!

        • Megan

          The local library has a kids area and that is nice for getting out when the weather is too crummy for outside. play. I do also find that my daughter does much better when she gets some outside time each day, when possible. I will even take her out when it’s pretty cold so long as it’s not precipitating (is that even a word?) and just really bundle her up. I also enjoy the walk too!

        • Amy

          So, there are a few really good resources– my favorites are http://www.hearthsong.com and the A Mighty Girl website. We all also love thinkgeek.com in our family, kids and adults. Pinterest is another great resource. This lady has a lot of good ideas, and I end up saving a lot of her pins: https://www.pinterest.com/drichter1/craftactivities-for-kids/

          I keep a LOT of craft supplies on hand and my kids regularly trash the dining room working on their projects. Paper, crayons (larger ones when they’re younger; we’re not up to the 96-color set), Play-Doh, beads, yarn, safe scissors, glue sticks. My older daughter has always gravitated toward small figurines to “make up stories” that she acts out. When they were younger, I kept a supply of kid-friendly and cheap musical instruments. And BLOCKS– wooden, bristle blocks, Legos. And a marble maze. We’re not rich, but you’ll notice a lack of battery-operated light-up toys, plus, this was accumulated over several years’ worth of Christmases and birthdays. We also have a lot of books, but if price is an issue there’s the public library.

          I’m a musician, so I sing a LOT with my kids. We go on nature walks outside. And we play silly word games from camp.

    • Allie

      I wouldn’t worry too much about screen time, especially if it’s buying you valuable you time. Frankly, I don’t know how you made it to 2 without any. It sounds like you’re doing just fine. I watched LOADS of TV when I was a kid, although I also played outside a LOT. I had pretty much zero in the way of planned activities. I was raised by my grandma, and that’s just not something she did, unless you count shopping as a planned activity : ) My grandpa took me lots of places, though. like museums and the zoo. But that was once in a while. Most days, I came home from school and parked myself in front of the tube. My LO (almost 3 now) is addicted to YouTube (especially “unboxing” videos), but she also engages in lots of imaginative play and we read too. It’s all good.

    • Kelly

      My four year old has watched a lot of T.V. and she has learned a lot. I l let her watch PBS shows and they are all educational and I feel like I win as a parent because she learned a lot that I did not have to teacher her.

    • Dr Kitty

      I also have to say, while I don’t have an issue with TV, you’ll definitely want to think about which shows you put on, largely because your child WILL have favourites that they will want to watch over and over (and over) again.

      So don’t put on Caillou or Peppa Pig if you hate it, because you’ll have a harder time turning it off rather than never letting them watch it to begin with.

      Luckily, CBeebies (the BBC pre-school channel) is amazing, and free of ads. Chuggington, Octonauts, Something Special, Balamory, Teacup Travels, the Lingo Show (which teaches Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and French to tiny people), Get Well Soon are all good and don’t make me want to pull my hair out.

      Now kiddo is older, it’s all about Curious George, Princess Sophia, Miles Frim Tomorrow and Doc McStuffins on the Fusney channel, the shows are fine, but I do not love the adverts.

      • Mer

        oh Chuggington is such a favorite in my house! Different voices for the characters over here but so much cuter than thomas!

        • Dr Kitty

          I don’t like the new Thomas much.
          But that is because when I grew up Thomas the Tank Engine was a stop motion animation with models, narrated by Ringo Starr. In fact, when I was little we had a Thomas RECORD that we listened to (I’m not that ancient, really).

          I can’t quite get used to the new “improved” versions of my childhood favourites. Postman Pat, Fireman Sam, even the Clangers have been updated with computer graphics. Not the same.

          • Mer

            Interesting. We didn’t have tv after 1988 while I was growing up and then got satellite when my oldest was a toddler in 2001 so I pretty much missed all of them in the original forms, that plus being in the US. I had no idea that Fireman Sam wasn’t new! But I get the same feeling with our cartoons like My Little Pony or Strawberry Shortcake, they look so different that they’re basically a whole new cartoon.

    • Charybdis

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I never really limited my son’s screen time, but we watch a lot of eclectic stuff. His favorite show when he was much younger was “Through the Wormhole” narrated by Morgan Freeman. He also really enjoyed Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, How Things are Made, various things on Food Network, especially Good Eats with Alton Brown. Game shows, especially Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right were (and still are) favorites, as are things like River Monsters, and Tanked on Animal Planet and The Incredible Dr. Pol and Dr. K’s Exotic ER on National Geographic Wild. Classic Looney Tunes cartoons were also a big hit. He also likes NCIS, CSI, Big Bang Theory, Arrow, The Flash, Dr. Who, John Oliver’s show and gaming videos on YouTube.

      As long as you are doing things like reading books to them, taking them on outings (shopping, park, feeding the ducks, library,etc) and not letting them watch 24/7 and using the TV/Computer to AVOID having to have interaction with them, it’s okay. How else are you going to teach them about time boundries and especially moderation? That things are okay in moderation (sweets, tv, computer games) when they are a considered a normal part of the day. Now my pre-teen son relishes getting to stay up late on Friday nights to play on CS Go, Hearthstones, or whatever computer game has captured his fancy.

    • Mer

      What everyone else said. TV can be pretty beneficial in some ways, not only as a babysitter for short periods but for some education. We don’t have a preschool or daycare anywhere near us (for about 50 miles) so I let the boys watch a few different edutainment shows with words and numbers and it’s amazing how much they’ve picked up. I’ve never formally sat down and taught my son how to count or do his abc’s, just correcting him as needed, but he learned both from TV. My 5 year old, who missed the kindergarten cutoff this year, has a vocabulary at an 8th grade level with no formal school whatsoever.
      So go ahead and let him watch tv, play, read and talk to him and it’ll all be ok. Just don’t let him binge watch anything, especially the ones that include fighting, just ask me how I know. 🙂

    • Liz Leyden

      I’m not much of a TV watcher. My 19-month-old twins have been watching about 30 minutes of TV a day since they were 12 months old, mostly to bond with Daddy while Mama gets a break. Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, we have a lot to choose from. They usually watch a Wiggles short or Phineas and Ferb. Hubby found an interesting Australian show called Five Minutes More, which involves stuffed animals acting out a story in 5 minutes.

      I’m not religious, but I’m a big fan of old VeggieTales cartoons (the new ones aren’t as funny). “If I Sang a Silly Song” is completely secular and very, very funny.

  • Squillo

    It’s similar to the way some people demonize “Big Pharma” yet feel perfectly comfortable believing the claims of purveyors of “natural” medicine.

  • Zoey

    I think that many people don’t view natural childbirth services as an industry because of a deliberate effort from the industry to market itself as offering a supportive relationship and/or an experience of spiritual transcendence that just happens to involve the exchange of money.

    • AirPlant

      Its women supporting women like we have since time began. We are enfolded in a warm sisterhood as we support your journey to your invoice, due in 10 business days.

  • Amy M

    I think what’s worse, is not so much that NCB is an industry, but that they decry the industrial nature of hospitals, as well as formula and any other non-NCB baby related thing. THOSE people are just out for your money AND they want to hurt you and/or your child, just for kicks, I guess. But the NCB–oh no–the NCB will give you a personalized experience because you are NOT a number and you deserve to be treated like the warrior snowflake that you really are.

    The NCB people claim to care about their clients, and women who lean that way seem to value a close personal relationship with the midwives, etc. This is despite the fact that we constantly hear stories about how the midwife didn’t show up, or as soon as woman was transferred, the midwife disappeared, never to be seen again (as long as she was fully paid of course.) We hear about LCs using their power to lord it over vulnerable new mothers–they must have a board somewhere with a tally for how many new mothers they can make cry in day or something. And the groups! If you won’t buy this specific NCB-approved item or if you do something that everyone else is NOT doing, you are shunned. Granted, the mommy-groups usually don’t generate income for the members or leaders, but they stem from products (wraps, car seats, etc).

    • demodocus

      “warrior snowflakes”? hahaha

    • AirPlant

      Ugh. Ideological babywearing groups.

    • Warrior snowflake.

      Perfect.

    • anotheramy

      About the NCB “personalized experience”: ironically, that ends the minute you deviate from their NCB script and feel comfortable with “interventions”, then they try to “educate” you or imply that any complications you experience was due to the evil interventions you consented to. At least it was that way with the last doula I hired. It’s like: we’ll give you your very own personalized birth experience, as long as you choose X,Y,Z like everyone else in the NCB world. NCB advocates deride doctors for not listening to patients or reading birth plans, but my doula was a way shittier listener than my doctor or nurses. I’m still kinda bitter about the $400 I’ll never get back from her.

      • Megan

        My doula was totally fine with me getting an epidural when I wanted one but for some reason, told me I wasn’t “vocalizing in the most productive way” during labor (apparently I was too high-pitched). I was puzzled by that one.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Yeah, probably your shrieks were getting on her nerves, so she passive aggressively told you you were “doing it wrong”.

          • demodocus

            i have a neighbor like that…

        • anotheramy

          Ah yes, it’s common in the woo world to say that high -pitched shrieks cause your body to tighten, therefore slowing down labor or making it more painful. After all, animals don’t scream in labor, they use low-pitched sounds. *eyeroll*
          I’m glad your doula was supportive of your epi.

        • Inmara

          I think you can vocalize as you want during labor and it won’t change anything but I found it useful to follow midwife’s guidance during second stage – saying “sssssssssss” while pushing seemed to help with maximizing physical effort and alleviating pain. For the last few pushes it was anyway “scream what you want just push the baby out!”

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I think saying “sss” is most productive in relieving pain if you follow it up with “hit”.

            Really, the Mythbusters even said so. (Not that they ever show their confidence intervals. *grumble*)

          • Roadstergal
          • Megan

            Well this time around I will likely be having a pre-labor RCS so the only vocalizing I’ll be doing is letting them know I can’t feel anything after spinal is in and then happy voicalizations when baby is out!

          • Roadstergal

            Sounds like a plan – may your most stressful vocalization be “Where’s my lunch”!

          • Inmara

            Muahaha, I wrote in my birth plan that I may swear when in pain or stress so I apologise in advance. But it was not that bad in the end and sssssssssss was enough 😀

        • Christy

          For my childbirth class (at a hospital) we spent most of the time watching a video. They mentioned that low-pitched sounds are more productive during labor. They also had the one example of a woman getting an epidural lead to the “cascade of interventions” ending in a c section. And then the poor woman had to talk about getting over her guilt that she had a surgical birth instead of the perfect “natural” birth she’d planned. Our instructor had to pause the video to say that any birth where mother and baby go home happy and healthy is a good one, as that was not was was implied by our video. Over all, it was very anti-intervention. I rolled by eyes a lot. The only things I really got out of that class were 1)watching the example of the supposed perfect “natural” birth and being even more convinced that I want an epidural and 2) we went out and got an exercise ball for me to sit on, that thing really helps my hips and back!

          • Roadstergal

            “They mentioned that low-pitched sounds are more productive during labor.”

            So Carol Kane is doomed to an imperfect birth?

          • Megan

            I did love my exercise ball. My daughter also loved to be bounced on it and sometimes that’s the only thing that would calm her down.

          • namaste863

            Totally 100% OT, but that’s a beautiful kitty cat in your profile pic! Yours?

          • Christy

            Thank you! Yes, that’s my Pearl. :o)

        • Susan

          I don’t know what happened in your case but often that means screaming or panic. Some moms do moan with every contraction and say that it helps them cope. High pitched I associate with panic and hitting the wall of the pain is too much. Maybe that is what she meant. Of course, I support people getting pain relief before they get to this state if they want. But in reality I am supportive of moms coping without pain meds as well, as long as its really what they want and they aren’t choosing it because they were indoctrinated that its the only way a “good” mom gives birth!

          • Megan

            High-pitched noises are my normal whenever I’m in pain. I switched to lower pitched moans when she told me to, as silly as I felt doing it, and it made no difference in the pain at all for me. (I probably should’ve relieved my pain by telling her to shove it!) I opted for an epidural when it was clear I was in active labor and unfortunately had two of them fail, so I ended up with a CS for an asynclitic OP baby anyway.

          • Susan

            LOL yes tell her to shove it. Sounds like a rough labor! Really, it my real world, if the patient tells me she’s fine I don’t give a hoot what noise she is making! But yes that low pitched noise idea is pretty common.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “High-pitched noises are my normal whenever I’m in pain. I switched to lower pitched moans when she told me to”

            The recommendation to do that is based on this NCB belief that the shape of the throat will affect the shape of the vagina. They say if you are making low pitched “Oh” sounds that your throat is “open and relaxed” and your vagina will follow suit. But if you make high pitched “eee” sounds that means your throat is “tight” and your vagina will also tighten up. Of course it is all 100% unsupported horse shit. The theory reveals their profound lack of understanding of both throat and vaginal mechanics.

        • Charybdis

          Yeah, the lower, “rounder” tones (OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMM) are supposed to help open, dilate and relax the cervix and vagina or some such nonsense.

      • Amy M

        That stinks, I”m sorry you got ripped off there. I’ve been reading on this board for several years now, and every time I read another story about how NCB jerks mistreated someone, I still get angry. And feel grateful that I managed to largely avoid NCB and the woo-crowd.

  • demodocus

    I think part of the problem is when people think of the word “industry” they think of massive cotton mills and car factories, the sort of thing we learn about while studying the Industrial Revolution.