Why did the natural childbirth movement become so “vagmental”?

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It’s all about the vagina, folks!

At least that’s what natural childbirth advocates appear to think. The sine qua non of the contemporary natural childbirth movement is its “vagmentalism,” the privileging of vaginal transit over everything else, including the health of babies and mothers.

It didn’t have to be this way. The natural childbirth movement arose as a response to the pain of childbirth. Grantly Dick-Read claimed that “primitive” women didn’t experience pain in labor because they understood and accepted that their purpose in life was to have children. In contrast, white women of the “better” classes had been socialized to think they deserved political and economic rights and, as a result, their ovaries shriveled, they developed the disease of nervous hysteria (hyster is Latin for uterus), and their labors became painful.

Vaginal birth is portrayed as an achievement and C-section is portrayed as a failure.

Lamaze was developed in the USSR in the years after World War II. Soviet doctors faced a problem. Whereas women in the West had access to pain relief in labor, the USSR lacked the money to purchase modern anesthetics. There wasn’t enough for surgery let alone childbirth. They hit upon the idea of using Pavlovian conditioning to abolish or reduce the pain of labor. It was presented as far superior to anesthetics because it was free and available to the proletariat while anesthetics were expensive and available only to the bourgeoisie.

The natural childbirth movement became popular in the US in the 1960’s as a response to the paternalism of American obstetrics and the sedating effects of contemporary anesthetic techniques. Women wanted to be awake and aware for their births, wanted to be accompanied by their partners and wanted to be spared the indignity of enemas and perineal shaving. The vagina had nothing to do with it.

In the 1970’s obstetrics was revolutionized by the introduction of regional anesthesia (spinals and epidurals). Women could now experience the births of their babies (even C-sections) awake, aware and pain free! Women were happy; doctors were happy; but the natural childbirth movement was not happy. Having achieved everything they set out to do by the early 1980’s, natural childbirth advocates could have declared victory and gone home. Instead they moved the goalposts and became rigidly vagmental.

Why? Vagmentalism reflects the contemporaneous (1980’s) resurgence of midwifery. Midwifery had all but disappeared in the US as a result of the improved safety and comfort of hospital birth. Natural childbirth, which gave primacy to the experience of childbirth, gave increasing relevance to midwives who strove to produce a specific birth experience. Indeed, midwifery grew from 275 CNMs in 1963 to more than 4,000 in 1995 to over 11,000 today. Midwives, not surprisingly, began to promote what they could do and to denigrate the things that only doctors could do, like epidurals and C-sections. Organizations like Lamaze reinvented themselves accordingly.

De Vries and De Vries writing in the Lamaze Journal of Perinatal Education explain:

Although there was a period when Lamaze . . . was accused of having sold out (the “Lamaze method” was charged by some with being a male invention meant to replace another male invention of obstetric anesthesia), in the early 1990s, the organization reinvented itself as the champion of normal birth.

In contrast to Grantly Dick-Read and the founders of Lamaze who promised painless birth, or at least comfortable birth, midwives and natural childbirth organizations began promoting physiological birth: vaginal birth. Hence the profound vagmentalism of contemporary natural childbirth advocacy.

This vagmentalism is reflected in a nearly pathological hatred of C-sections. It would be difficult to find a medical procedure that has saved more lives than C-sections have saved. It would be difficult to find a medical procedure that CONTINUES to save more lives each year than C-sections do. No matter, the profound vagmentalism of the natural childbirth movement leads them to insist that C-section rates in the industrialized world are a “crisis,” that C-sections harm mother-infant bonding (there’s no evidence for that), that C-sections lead to long term health problems in babies (they don’t), and, most recently, that C-sections harm the neonatal gut microbiome and change infant DNA (there’s no evidence for that, either).

The effect of this profound vagmentalism on new mothers is pernicious. Vaginal birth is deliberately portrayed as an achievement and C-section is deliberately depicted as a failure. For some women this leads to soul crushing guilt. The desperation of these women to have a vaginal birth leads them to risk their babies lives by refusing indicated interventions. It leads them to risk their babies and their own lives at home VBACs after 2 or 3 or 4 previous C-sections.

Even worse, midwives in the UK have become so committed to vaginal birth as an end in itself that they have let babies and mothers die by refusing to call in obstetricians. Doctors don’t share the midwives’ vagmentalism and consider that whether the baby lives or dies more important than vaginal birth; therefore, midwives want to exclude them.

Pregnant women and new mothers should understand that vaginal birth is not better, safer, healthier or superior in any way for than birth with pain relief or C-section birth. Midwives and natural childbirth advocates are profoundly vagmental because vaginal birth is better for midwives and natural childbirth advocates. Midwives and natural childbirth advocates encourage guilt about pain relief and C-sections so they can monetize that guilt.

The truth is that any woman can attempt an unmedicated vaginal birth; it’s not an achievement since most women who have ever lived have already done it. The achievement is to have a live baby and survive. In other words, the achievement is the outcome, not the process.

Vagmentalism is to midwifery what fashion judgmentalism is to the women’s clothing industry. It’s a way to move product. Vagmentalism is to natural childbirth advocates what race judgmentalism (racism) is bigots, a way to boost their fragile self esteem. It is ugly; it is unhealthy; and it should be rejected.

  • Anna

    “The truth is that any woman can attempt an unmedicated vaginal birth; it’s not an achievement since most women who have ever lived have already done it. The achievement is to have a live baby and survive.” It is an achievement, but not of the woman herself. It is the merit of modern obstetrics and medical system. People who like to have everything to themselves and about themselves (narcisstic) are pissed of by the idea that they needed help and had no control over smth. They can’t and do not want to be grateful.

  • Megan

    OT, but anyone following SCOTUS Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt today? I’m a bit scared after reading this:
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_56d563e4e4b0871f60ec9f44

    • Wombat

      The questions I saw reported were pissing me off. Kennedy wants the standards evaluated. Why isn’t the medical community’s evaluation enough? You have the damn ACOG, AMA, etc amicus curiae brief right. there. Doesn’t want the courts to do it, but apparently doesn’t care for the doctors to do so either *mutter mutter*

  • advice, please

    Great, but does anyone know how to get an elective c-section these days? I live in Boston and I don’t want to get pregnant until I’m sure I can have a section. I’ve asked several ob/gyns about it and they just smirk and tell me I’ll change my mind. Any advice on how to find a doctor who will respect my decisions about my own body?

    • Spooby

      It can be done! I’m currently 26weeks along with my first and my ob has said that at my next appointment, she will put me on the schedule for my c-section. I brought up my request at my first prenatal appointment and explained to her that I was not comfortable with the risks of vaginal birth and would prefer a section. I calmly and clearly explained the reasons to me why a vaginal birth is unacceptable. Don’t mention studies, or any info you may have found on the internet; keep it personal to your values and beliefs. My dr agreed quite easily, after explaining the risks of surgery to me and making sure that I did not want to have a large family. It all comes down to trust; if you suspect that your provider isn’t listening to you and is dismissive of your concerns, you don’t want them involved in any of your medical care.

      • StephanieA

        I wish I would’ve had the confidence to assert myself with my pregnancies. I wanted a section, but I was only 24 and didn’t feel comfortable standing up to my male OB. Thankfully my first delivery went well, so I figured I would try my luck again the second time, and I haven’t done as well with recovery and have side effects from vaginal delivery that I’m very unhappy with.

    • CSN0116

      For me, it was about building a personal relationship and being very up front and personal (like Spooby states). He had to know that I was rational and informed. I proved that quickly. I feel that having a male OB helped my cause as well – he is very blunt in the fact that he understands he is not female and therefore does not (cannot) pass judgements or analyze things like birth based on personal experiences… which could thus make him bias. I think a lot of women (non-doctors too) do this both unconsciously and of course on purpose. He was even OK with my request for general anesthesia for the two cesareans. Establish a mutual respect and a working relationship – one where you’re equals. In order to do that, you have to put yourself out there. You also have to be willing to accept your doctor for him/herself as well. And sometimes that means a switch in providers. But overall, doctors are rational, caring people who are more than willing to work with patients.

  • StephanieA

    Since we’re on the subject, I have to say that I’m not happy with my recent vaginal birth. My first baby I only pushed a few times, had a minor tear, and recovery was easy. Second baby was bigger with a larger head, pushed a bit longer, and no tears. Because of my pelvis shape both babies have been OP, and this second time around recovery was 10x harder despite not tearing and a fast labor. At the risk of sharing too much, sex doesn’t feel as good and this is concerning and upsetting to me. If I would’ve known this was going to happen, I would’ve opted for an elective c-section. Sex is important in relationship and a vaginal birth is so not worth that (at least for me).

    • Annon

      Yep. My first baby was large, over 9 lbs, with a 95% head 🙁

      I was a bit in the Woo & so proud of myself. I pushed out a large baby!!!! I shouldn’t have been. Cause you know what? pelvic soft tissue does not perform as well after that particular experience.

      I was a bit disappointed with my ‘situation’ and I asked my OB/GYN at like 6 months postpartum. He said something like “That’s what they all [vaginas] look like after you drive a Mac truck through them.” and he said I could have a repair after I was done with having babies.

      I was furious! HOW DARE he refer to natural childbirth of a large baby as ‘Driving a Mac Truck through’ the vagina…. but he is right. It took me a few more months living with pelvic damage to come to terms with what my refusal to do a C-section had caused.

      After my second baby (an induction at 8 lbs), I had no tearing… but I had convinced my OB/GYN to do the repair immediately after the birth due to the extreme emotional distress I was in each time I went to the bathroom. MY recovery was normal, like all mothers healing from a tear. I feel whole again, It’s so lovely!!!!

      ALSO, none of the studies talking about ‘cost savings’ from increased rates of vaginal birth seem to correctly quantify the surgical costs and the ‘pain and suffering’ endured by mothers of large babies or babies with shoulder dystocia…. ’cause don’t worry… women’s pain & dignity (lifelong or acute labor pain) don’t matter.

      • Azuran

        We shouldn’t even talk about ‘cost saving’ when taking care of human beings and medical care. Everyone should receive the care that is best suited to their need, regardless of it’s cost. Trying to push a method to save money, regardless of medical need will always result in injury or death.

      • StephanieA

        So there is some kind of repair that can be done? Everything ‘looks’ the same, but it definitely does not feel the same. I’m doing kegels religiously and am hoping with time that things improve.

        • Dr Kitty

          You may have uterine prolapse.
          The first step is to see a Dr for a vaginal examination.
          They can work out if the issue is prolapse, muscle tone, scar tissue or something else.
          Kegels (if done correctly) may help very mild prolapse and problems with poor muscle tone. If the muscles are completely torn or the issue is a big prolapse then Kegels alone will not resolve it.

        • guest

          Definitely get to the doctor. After my first I thought in time it would improve and it didn’t. At 18 months I finally saw a doctor and was able to get help, but the doctor implied that had I come in earlier there would have been more options. After my second, I mentioned ongoing problems at my 6 week follow up and she was right on top of figuring out what was going on and working on solutions right away. She was of the attitude that you will have your vagina a long time and you want it working correctly. I love her. PT brought improvements within weeks and even corrected an unrelated problem I’d had for years. If your doctor doesn’t take it seriously, find another!

          • StephanieA

            Thank you! I have an appointment next week and I definitely plan on addressing it. I

          • nomofear

            There is also a great postpartum series of pt exercises called Sahrmanns. There are YouTube videos. I found them about a year after my first, and I could feel a huge difference in my pelvic floor as soon as I started them. I think they’re worth doing regardless, and I tell everyone that is pregnant or recently has been about them, because care providers don’t seem to know about them either. It took me lots of googling.

    • Anna

      I think just give it time. We don’t always bounce back after birth (whatever kind of birth) super fast. And it’s normal. It’s perfectly OK to not be quite yoursel for about a year or so. I was SO frustrated with my c-section pouch (I even mentioned it here) and I was pretty sure it would never go away! Well, it IS going away with exercise and compression belt, just somewhat slower than average. Hopefully it will be the same with your discomfort from sex.

  • Nick Sanders

    OT: Today is “Super Tuesday” here in the USA; who else voted?

    • Who?

      As a mere subject of a land far away, I watch with great interest and some trepidation.

    • Megan

      Alas, I must wait until April 26th, and our primary will probably be irrelevant by then. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to live in a state where your primary makes the news.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        You get bombarded constantly with push poll phone calls and you get incessant running of ads on tv and radio.

        I was visiting the folks in Iowa in December. It sucks.

        • Megan

          That does sound horrible. I’ll stick with being irrelevant.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            We were relevant in 2008, even in May. I’ll take the once in a lifetime thing.

        • demodocus

          and they always call during nap time! grr

    • Charybdis

      I did! I did!

    • Houston Mom

      Early voted here in Texas a few days ago. No phone calls at all. We cut the cable a few years back to save money, our rabbit ears broke, so all the TV is on demand via Roku with nary a political ad on anything we’ve been watching. We have 4 non-commercial radio stations in town. I haven’t seen or heard political ads in ages. There was a Cruz ad I had to skip past on YouTube but 5 seconds wasn’t long enough to be grating.

    • demodocus

      we don’t yet. I not particularly enamoured by any of them, but the idea of the republican front runner being POTUS scares the crap out of me. i’ve genuinely had a nightmare about it.

      • Nick Sanders

        I did too.

    • Azuran

      As a Canadian, I find your super long political campaigns and the amount of money spent ridiculous. But I’m enjoying watching everyone panic because of Donald Trumps.

      • Nick Sanders

        It’s significantly less fun to be one of the people worrying that they might have to try to survive (and I sadly mean that literally) a Trump presidency.

        • Who?

          Just what I was thinking.

          The thought of him in charge of anything-when he apparently can’t manage himself-is alarming.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Yeah I always love how people say he’s such a successful business person. yeah NO. Trump has declared corporate bankruptcy 4 times. He was also born into money, his father was a real estate tycoon.
            Self made man my ass

        • Azuran

          I’m trying not to worry too much about it, since I can do absolutely nothing about it anyway.
          But I’m expecting Trumps to quickly realize how little power the president have. Especially when you have 0 people in the government supporting you.

          • Who?

            He’s loving the limelight at the moment, and he’s shaking up some people who themselves are not terrifically inspiring humans, but when the rubber hits the road, who knows?

            Which makes his choice of VP even more interesting.

          • Azuran

            I’m curious. In case trumps is elected and he’s just as bad as anyone expect. What are the options? Is there a way for the rest of the government to throw him out? Do you have new elections or are you kinda stuck with either trumps or whoever he picks as vice president for the next 4 years? (let’s be honest, the vice president will probably be Donald Trumps)

          • Who?

            No idea. I’m in Australia, watching with interest. Maybe he could be impeached? But that seems to take forever.

            Maybe he’ll have a bad strawberry at the Inauguration Dinner.

            Don’t know how you get past the VP-Chris Christie? Sarah Palin? Rich pickings for satirists, not so much fun for others.

          • Nick Sanders

            Well, if he does something truly egregious, the House of Representatives could move for him to be impeached. If the vote succeeds, he would be put on trial before the Senate, who would have the power to remove him from office and appoint the VP the replacement President, assuming they voted to do so.

            And no, he can’t be his own VP.

          • Azuran

            But from what I understand, impeachment required a crime to be committed. Trumps is probably going to suck at everything, mainly economics and international relationship. He’s probably going to insult every single world leader out there and destroy all international relationship and make america bankrupt while waiting for mexico to pay for his wall. But technically, I don’t think it’s a crime.

            But maybe they can manage to accuse him of war crime after he nukes the entire middle east.

          • Who?

            Interesting, isn’t it? I don’t know how powerful the Washington machine ie the public service actually is. Can they refuse to follow illegal/badly considered instructions? Can they be fired for doing that?

            People have been complaining for 10 years about ‘Washington insiders’ I wonder if they will end up saving us all.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            People have been complaining for 10 years about ‘Washington insiders’ I wonder if they will end up saving us all.

            Say all you want about the problem with “Washington insiders” but you know what’s worse? Outsiders who have no experience in governing.

            Ask Minnesota how well Jesse Ventura worked out. Ask California how great it was with Arnold. These guys ran on the promise as not being part of the system, and then when they got into office, they were way out of their league.

            They say you don’t want to know how sausage is made. What you also don’t want is someone who doesn’t know anything about making sausage put in the position where they have to do it.

          • Who?

            I’m sure that’s right.

            I was being literal when I said the insiders might save everyone, unless of course they all get sacked and replaced with people who will do what the president says.

            It’s hard to find an upside. Will be interesting to see over the next year or two how the Republicans respond to this fiasco.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Q: How is politics like sex?
            A: In both people fantasize that an inexperienced person will provide them with the purity and satisfaction that they seek and in both the reality of an inexperienced person is often a disaster.

          • demodocus

            I was wondering that about MN (not much news about them once the “they elected WHO?!?” wore off.

          • fiftyfifty1

            The consensus in MN is actually that Ventura was not half bad. He selected an experienced, sensible, cabinet and staff. Many regard him, in retrospect, as better than at least one of the alternatives (Norm Coleman) and better than his successor (Tim Pawlenty).

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Ask Minnesota how well Jesse Ventura worked out.”

            Not so bad, actually.

          • Azuran

            Normally, I’d say the population is the most likely to force a new election. They could do massive protest and strikes until trumps either give up or all the other leaders decide to just bypass him entirely. But I’m not sure I’d dare to go to a protest the the USA considering their horrible police brutality and shooting records.

          • demodocus

            depends on your color

          • Nick Sanders

            Like I said, it would have to be something truly egregious.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But from what I understand, impeachment required a crime to be committed.

            But that is determined by a vote of congress. The House can vote to impeach, and the senate votes to convict. If that happens, then he is guilty.

            It’s not like there is a president cop or anything, and there is no trial by your peers. If congress determines him guilty, that’s all that needs to happen.

            Now, personally, I wouldn’t expect him to be impeached. If republicans hate him that much to support impeaching him, the democrats would not support it out of principle.

          • demodocus

            Wasn’t Bill Clinton’s crime lying under oath? I’m pretty sure the-candidate-who-shall-not-be-named will do this as soon as he’s put under oath.

          • mythsayer

            Basically stuck unless he breaks the law, at which point he can be impeached. But that’s happened twice in history and in both cases, the president wasn’t removed from office (since it takes another vote after the impeachment proceeding to remove the president). So basically, stuck.

          • SporkParade

            There is also a provision in the Constitution for a recall election.

        • Dr Kitty

          If (G-d forbid) Drumpf gets elected as POTUS, can you imagine what the war room or any international diplomatic meeting would look like?

          I have visions of The Donald spouting nonsense, Putin saying “be quiet, stubby fingers, the grown ups are talking”, the Donald threatening to bomb Moscow and the secret service standing idly by while Putin punches him out cold, turns to the room and says “now, can we return to the business at hand?”

          Drumpf appears out of his depth when faced with predictable questions in interviews he is supposed to have prepared for.
          Seasoned political animals will eat him for breakfast and he will discover the the American system is specifically set up to prevent an elected president turning into a dictator.

          • demodocus

            Putin is *much* more skilled at intimidation. Drumpf intimidates employees and “apprentices”, He’s a schoolyard bully and attention whore.

          • sdsures

            I shall hold onto the image of Putin punching out Trump as a talisman.

            Have you seen the video of Buzz Aldrin punching out a Moon-landing denialist Bible-thumper? 😀 It makes me feel SOOOOOO GOOD when Buzz punches the guy, moreso because Buzz tried the polite approach to send him away first.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wptn5RE2I-k

      • demodocus

        I would not put it past this dude to come up with a “reason” to bomb Toronto.

        • Who?

          He’s a ratbag.

          • sdsures

            Hey, don’t insult my cat! That’s her nickname!

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Yes, but will you still be laughing when you’ve got 10 million US-American refugees at your border?

        BTW: I have a useful skill (TM) and am leaving early so as to avoid the rush. Anyone south of the Yukon need an oncologist? Never mind, the Yukon’s fine.

        • Azuran

          Well, we do have some problems with population leaving small villages. As long as you don’t mind being sent in small towns and leave your guns at the border, we don’t mind.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            The sad truth of the matter is that I’m a terrible US-American and even worse Texan*. I don’t do guns. At all. Don’t even know how to get the safety off. Only know which end to point away from myself from the movies.

            *I was raised in Texas. By a multi-generation Texan. Still can’t do guns. No one in the family can, as far as I know. We may be weirdos.

          • Azuran

            From my perspective, you are the best kind of American.

          • Who?

            Sounds like you’d fit right in here in Australia, where despite losing all our freedoms we’re pretty okay.

            And mostly no one gets shot.

          • Megan

            Don’t own a gun and like practicing small town medicine. If Trump is elected, sign me up! 🙂

          • Azuran

            Pack warm clothes. And you might want to look up how to fix a moose. It’s bound to happen at some point.

          • Empliau

            Fix as in cook? Or is the moose broken? My Canadian friend used to tell stories of the moose on the train tracks — the train derailed, the moose walked away …

          • Monkey Professor a Head

            Or maybe as in castrate?

          • Azuran

            I meant as in cure it. But I guess it’s up to you if you want to eat it. They are very tasty.

          • sdsures

            I miss Timbits!

          • sdsures

            Do not make mooses angry. Ever.

          • Empliau

            Møøse bites can be very dangerous …

          • sdsures

            Female mooses can be more dangerous even though they don’t have antlers.

            I grew up on a farm; cows are scary dangerous and kill more people annually than sharks.

        • Roadstergal

          I asked my German colleague if they are still taking refugees.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Huh. Germany is boggling at taking in a few Syrian refugees*. What are they going to think of 10 million US-Americans show up on their borders with their iPhones demanding admission RIGHT NOW and that the asylum applications be in English? The AfD and Linke would find common cause.

            *Though I would point out that despite the reactionaries, they are doing it. Far better than most of the rest of Europe.

          • sdsures

            “Demanding that the asylum applications be in English” BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

            (I speak 2 languages fluently other than English, and I’m Canadian. ^_^)

          • Roadstergal

            Ich spreche ein bißchen Deutsch. But my closest German colleague speaks such perfect English, he gives me little opportunity to practice. 🙁

      • Madtowngirl

        I’ve lived overseas before, and my husband and I are legitimately coming up with an emergency exit plan, in case we have to leave the U.S. It sounds alarmist, I know, but I’d rather have a plan that never gets used than be seriously screwed. And realistically, we probably won’t need it. But, I have a biracial daughter and immigrant in-laws, and I’m genuinely frightened at some of the racism that is clearly rampant in our country right now. I don’t want to leave, but if that’s what I have to do to ensure my daughter has a fair chance, it’s what we’ll do.

      • sdsures

        Canadian living in the UK here. Also having vicarious giggles. Love Justin Trudeau.

    • cookiebaker

      Husband and I both voted, but am disappointed with the way the vote went.

      • Nick Sanders

        Better to participate and have some influence in the results than to not and have no influence.

        • cookiebaker

          Absolutely. We always vote, whether it goes the way we wanted or not, at least we tried.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I didn’t, due to a bad case of being overseas, but I intend to cast my “US Democrat living overseas” ballot in the next week, for what it’s worth. (A total of 8 delegates for all of us, IIRC).

    • Roadstergal

      I live in CA, our votes aren’t super.

    • Michelle Singleton

      I woke up with a migraine, fever, and vertigo. I couldn’t get up to go potty without help.
      I was so upset that I couldn’t make it out to vote! I cried, which didn’t help the migraine. *sigh*

    • MI Dawn

      NJ resident; we’re not part of the debacle. Besides, since I’m not registered as either party, I couldn’t if I wanted to.

  • guest

    And can we all try and move past fashion judgmentalism while we’re at it?

  • Erin

    Must admit this post hit a sore spot. I still think I failed my son and the ongoing psychological issues I’ve had since his arrival are my punishment for not managing to give birth to him*. Whilst I have to shoulder the blame for the way in which I see and have “dealt” with his arrival, I think our system in which C-sections are not spoken about ante-natally are to blame (or when they sneak into conversation are dismissed as when a girl in my ante-natal class bravely said she had one scheduled for health reasons, she was immediately commiserated by the midwife teaching the class. She didn’t suggest anything useful to help her either during or afterwards, she just told her “how sorry she was” and moved on to talk to someone else).

    Then because it’s not discussed anywhere unless you find websites like this, it’s easy to see it as a dirty secret, something to be ashamed of. I go to five days worth of “Mummy groups” per week and I’ve discovered one very sad thing. Lots of women are assuming that everyone else had the perfect birth the NHS midwives promised them… they come in apologising because they needed forceps or sections or had the bad luck to bleed everywhere and that needs to change.

    It shouldn’t be about the bottom line, pushing vaginal birth over everything else, it should be about honesty and openness and celebrating the fact that you and your child survived something which had a real risk of killing the pair of you 100 years ago. The only sensible thing my Grandmother said about my son’s birth was that I should ask my Mother for a photograph of my Great Grandmother’s grave and see the name of all those little babies who didn’t make it.. and then thank whichever God I prayed to in labour that we made it. Okay she lessened the impact slightly by calling him an abomination for the first couple of months but then she only does one good deed a decade so…
    *It’s complex.

    • Taysha

      I remember during my ante-natal class I was the only one to ask about c-sections (where, how, transport to and from rooms). People stared at me like I was describing vivisection in detail.
      I actually had to stop my questions to point out, very seriously, that I had a high-risk pregnancy that would potentially necessitate a c-section. The dislike and, dare I say, disgust, was palpable.

      The nurse in charge, however, was very gracious in answering and never made me feel bad for critically assessing my choices.

      • This kind of thing just floors me. Do people think that by disapproving hard enough, and refusing to learn about possible outcomes, they can obviate the need for a c section? I’m sorry you had to go through that, and it’s admirable that you were able to speak up in the moment and get your questions answered. That’s not easy to do when you feel the mood in the room shift like that.

        • Taysha

          I am, thankfully, a scientist. Which is short to say I’m a rottweiler with information-digging abilities. I felt bad for raising the specter of the dreaded c-section for the other parents, but I would be damned if I didn’t walk out of the antenatal class with all my ducks in a row.

          As I said, the people in charge of the course were lovely and gave me all the information (right down to the time between crash CS decision and extraction, which I appreciated). But the parents had all commented in one way or another their want for a non-intervention birth.

          Didn’t matter much, really. A week after the ante-natal class my DD flipped breech and that was the end of the discussion and the scheduling of the cs lol

    • moto_librarian

      I remember reading all of these awesome birth stories from the other women who were in my childbirth class. I felt like a failure when my birth turned out to be such a shit show. I wrote up my story and shared it, but got no meaningful interaction. The teacher actually replied and said, “I’m so glad you had a natural birth!” I talked about the pph, the manual exam of my uterus, cervical laceration, baby being in the NICU, etc. She didn’t want to talk about that because that upset the narrative. That was my first real hint that something was amiss about NCB culture.

    • demodocus

      Who asked for nutty brains anyway?
      Seriously, i hear you; i can barely take my toddler past the park where I accidently broke his leg last summer. It does help me a bit when people told me of various serious accidents where they hurt their child.

    • SF Mom & Psychologist

      I’m so sorry it has been hard for you psychologically. You did not fail your son with a c-section. I imagine that you are a loving and effective mother, dozens of times every day.

      On the other side of this coin is my sister-in-law, who managed to push her baby out of her vagina after 55 hours of labor and 6 hours of pushing. She doesn’t talk about it because she is very private, but I’m pretty sure she feels like she failed him on some level because of his resulting brain damage from oxygen deprivation (meconium aspiration).

      “Cool!” – a “heroic” vaginal birth! “Crap!” – brain damage and 10 days in the NICU (plus who knows what else will emerge down the road…) Their birth story is not one to exalt.

      • Erin

        It’s not the section itself which is the issue because I had a long weekend of dysfunctional labour to consult with Dr Google, more the fact that with my crashing blood pressure, over exposure to gas& air and an unfortunate set of circumstances my only “memory” of his arrival is a mash up of reality and a previous trauma. Had he arrived at any point earlier in my 75 hours of labour, I would have avoided those triggers and would have had a decent shot at avoiding the breakdown which followed.

        I failed him when I spent most of the first hour of his life thinking he was a doll. Didn’t want to hold him or touch him and if I’m being honest, I still don’t. I failed him when I tried to kill myself when he was 30 odd hours old. I failed him because I’d have happily walked away when he was in NICU.and never looked back and I’m failing him because despite my best efforts he’s still a trigger for the worst experience of my life. Oh and I failed him when I walked way from therapy because I couldn’t cope with discussing and dealing with the original trauma.

        Mother of the year I’m not.

        • namaste863

          Erin, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for the horrible experience you endured. I can’t speak for the other commenters, but from my perspective, you didn’t fail your son. It sounds to me like a pretty horrendous and terrifying period of illness. I wish you both all the best.

        • Deborah

          Hi Erin
          I know this is the internet and I know you are a complete stranger to me but I just want you to know that your comment touched me deeply and I can relate a little bit to your pain.
          At the risk of sounding trite, I sincerely hope you experience some measure of resolution soon and wish you all the best xx

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          Despite everything you have been through, you are still here. You have not failed, you have overcome. You are so much stronger than you realise.

        • Mel

          *Big hug*

          Hang in there. I spent my first 15 days in an isolette and for 3 of those days, doctors were trying to keep my mom from stroking out due to pre-eclampsia. I turned out just fine and so will your son.

          My cousin had severe depression with suicidal thoughts after the birth of her second child. She was hospitalized for the first few weeks of her daughter’s life and needed SSRI’s and counseling to become healthy again. Her daughter is now 5 and she loves her mother very, very much.

          There is nothing magical about the first days of life.

          I’m sure you are already talking to your doctor or OB/GYN or the baby’s pediatrician about the painful feelings you are having right now, but if you haven’t, please do. I’ve struggled with depression for years and the right medication and the right therapist make all the difference in the world.

          Hang in there. It will get better.

        • Amazed

          But you hold him, don’t you? You touch him. You didn’t walk away from the NICU. You might be just the mother of the year because you’re still there, you still care and you’re still caring about him. As Ned Stark says, it’s only when a man is afraid that he can be brave. It’s easy to be the mother of the year when it’s all peaches and roses. No effort involved.

        • SF Mom & Psychologist

          You are so very strong and brave to keep going in spite of all that trauma. That is succeeding. Sure, it’s not perfection – but not a single one of us can claim that. I also know that most of us judge ourselves far more harshly than is accurate. Trauma and depression are beasts, but I also believe that it will get better with help.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Mother of the year I’m not.”
          Actually yes you are. You’ve been dealt about the worst hand of labor/birth/postpartum cards that anybody can be dealt, and you and your baby are still here to tell. We mothers need to stick together to resist these NCB jerks who would try to turn us against each other (and ourselves) for their own benefit. Some of us are dealt easy lucky cards, others are dealt misery cards, others are dealt death cards (and modern obstetrics lets us upgrade our hand to mere misery). In my view you deserve to shoulder not a single iota of blame. Not for what happened during your L&D and not for how you have coped in the aftermath either. I support my fellow mothers who get dealt hellish shit cards, because next time it might be me. And then you would support me, no? You would support me as I walked out slowly, 2 steps forward and one step back, inch by inch, right?

        • Who?

          Making a family is hard. Anyone (pretty much) can produce a baby, at one time or another.

          You’re making a family, and for now you aren’t as well and happy as you would like to be, or as you think you ‘should’ be.

          Please try to be kind to yourself. Less of what ‘should’ be, and way more of being ‘good enough’. You’re there, doing the necessary. That’s good enough.

          I’m sorry things are so miserably difficult, and traumatising, and sad.

        • Gatita

          Oh honey. Take it easy on yourself. You haven’t failed him.

          But I am worried that you’re not in therapy. If your therapist wasn’t properly medicating you and supporting you through your flashbacks, there are other people out there who will do the right thing by you. I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor and despite a relatively easy birth I was triggered as hell by BF and colic and other things. My only regret is I didn’t get back into therapy until my kid was four and I was breaking down. I’m on an SNRI for my PTSD and it’s made a huge difference. Getting on the right meds can help keep you from getting so triggered that you can’t tolerate therapy. Hang in there. Reach out. Talk here. Don’t give up. None of this is your fault.

        • Mishimoo

          Yes, you are. You are still here and you’re still trying your best. That is what matters. If you didn’t love him, even a little bit, you wouldn’t care so much and you wouldn’t struggle so hard to do the right thing. You had the worst luck and an awful time, it’s okay to still be getting through it. It’s okay to take time to heal and it’s okay to find it difficult. You can’t magically decide “That’s it, I’m healed.” any more than you can decide when the sun will rise. You are a good mum especially when you feel you’ve failed, because despite everything, you still love him.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Hi, just another random person on the internet but I wanted to say that I’m glad you’re still here. It’s not easy to be at that precipice and ready to jump then by any circumstance come reeling back to life and all the things that drove you to that point in the first place. But you’re here and that’s a good thing.

          I hope this doesn’t make you feel worse since being in the depths of depression even the smallest praise can feel undeserved. But you do deserve it. And it’s okay to allow yourself those small praises until you’re able to accept the larger praise.

          You haven’t failed. You’re in a very dark spot that looks like it doesn’t have a way out but you’re not accepting that because you chose to reach out for help. That’s what I see anyways. Someone who accepts failure wouldn’t be reaching for a way out of that dark hole that depression and trauma creates like you are.

          It’s one of the hardest fights of your life and you already know that every small victory is hard fought for. But it’s so easy to give up and you haven’t.

          And, well, if it helps at all I have a superb memory of when I was a small child and I don’t remember the first year of my life when my mom was in a horrific tailspin of post-partum depression and riding the line on post-partum psychosis and had compulsions to harm me. She’s still someone I admire even knowing all that. I don’t think she failed me when she had to leave me for hours at her parents house until my dad got home because those compulsions scared her. She did what she had to and didn’t know any of this until I was well into my teens. So it didn’t have a massive effect on my development.

          I don’t think your son will resent you for something he’s probably not even physiologically able to remember that young. He’s definitely not going to remember the first few days of life. You care enough to wonder if you’ve failed him which means you haven’t. You wouldn’t care if you weren’t a good person and mother.

        • Charybdis

          You had a hell of a time during labor and delivery, none of which was your fault. Your healthcare team (midwives, correct? You are in the UK, if I remember correctly) failed in their jobs by letting you labor dysfunctionally for 75 hours before they thought about getting you the CS you needed. They let you overuse the gas and air because it is the only pain relief they feel justified in letting you use, and you can’t use too much, because it clears your system quickly. If you hadn’t been so tired, exhausted and worn out by the providers trying to get you to have a vaginal delivery, you probably would have had an easier time overall.

          As much as the NCB/Vaginal birth at all costs/midwife brigade bitches about OB’s not listening to patients and their thoughts and feelings about things, they are certainly guilty of the same thing. THEY failed YOU. However, they get to walk away from the wreckage, shrug their shoulders about your outcome and continue on their merry way. You are left with a tattered psyche, PTSD, and issues an order of magnitude greater than you had prior to delivery. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

          NONE OF THIS IS YOUR FAULT. THEY FAILED YOU. You are holding it together with baling wire and bubble gum and doing a hell of a job with it. It will get better. Not as fast as you would like it to, but it will. Hang in there.

          • LaMont

            Seconded *all* of that – it is *not* your fault, and it will get better – and you deserve a successful recovery and your family. To add, on the “I’m not Mother Of The Year/The Best” front: It’s not a contest. On particular instances/events you might say “it could have gone better” but that one-dimensional rating system of worse to better *completely* breaks down when applied to our whole lives, our whole selves. There *is* no “Mother of the Year,” and people who competitively push that kind of idea are just awful. You, by contrast, are amazing and brave – to illustrate with a HUGE example: by telling your story you are helping others, and working to dismantle a culture of lying. *That* says something about what kind of person you are, and the mother you are and will continue to be. I’m rooting for you!

          • Kq

            PREACH!

          • EVERY MOTHER IS “MOTHER OF THE YEAR”. NO one is really prepared for motherhood, mo matter the number of books read or internet sites searched. Pregnancy, birth, and coping with an infant and childraising represent the truly major challenges of female adulthood.

            NO ONE “FAILS” AT MOTHERHOOD. But everyone does it differently.

            Hang in there, Erin, and eveyone else who is experiencing difficulties at the adjustment to an entirely new way of life, or had a traumatic birth experience. It DOES get better, but it takes time. As a grandmother now I can look back and see where I could have done things differently and probably spared myself, and my kids, a fair amount of worry and distress. But in the end, now that I hold my grandchildren, and I see how well my own children have turned out, heck, I can see that, whatever my choices had been , they all turned out JUST FINE.

        • Dr Kitty

          You have never failed your son.
          You were unwell, and you recognised that *AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME* you are not able to go over past trauma while holding it together, so you picked holding it together at present and revisiting therapy in the future.
          That is ok.
          You are coping to the best of your ability, you are mothering your son and you have great insight into the root causes of the problems.

          Every day you are present in his life, loving him, you are succeeding as his mother.

          Things will get better, not least because soon he’ll be able to show you with hugs and kisses and sweet comments how much of a success you are.

          • This is so true. You don’t have to Solve All the Problems. At least not just now. You just have to work with what’s in front of you, one thing at a time. As Anne Lamott put it, go bird by bird.

        • demodocus

          Who is mother of the year? Not me, either. If your son is fed and reasonably content, then you’re good enough. (Crying because you won’t let him play with knives or make his own water park on the living room floor doesn’t count. this may’ve happened here today…)

        • BeatriceC

          You did the best you could with what you had. I’m going to pile on to all the others saying your healthcare team is the one that failed, not you. You are making choices to be the best you can be, and that WILL be good enough.

          I’ll also pile on the “not mother of the year” bandwagon. MrC had to pull me back from the edge last week when I fell apart, blaming myself for what happened with my oldest son. He made a really bad choice and got arrested. Since this is an ongoing criminal case, I can’t speak much to details, but I can say that he acted in defense of another, which is of some comfort. I spent a couple days almost useless because of the depression that settled in when I blamed myself for the whole mess.

          We all have our crosses to bear. You WILL get through this and you will be a much better person for it.

          • demodocus

            imaginary hugs

        • Charybdis

          More random thoughts….I don’t remember diddly-squat about my CS. I got the epidural, my blood pressure dropped and I got woozy. I remember being rolled into the OR, then suddenly my OB said we were starting.. I heard her say “Oh, he’s blonde” and then a brief glimpse of a small squished face over a drape. That’s it . That’s all I remember. Then the overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to sleep and recover from surgery and let someone else deal with DS. After discharge, that’s when the PPD set in. Hated the nursing, hated the pumping, hated the sleep deprivation, hated losing my bodily autonomy, hated missing work, and was seriously starting to resent the tiny scrap of humanity responsible for this mess. Plus, I already had anxiety disorder and depression. When I told my mother that I hated DS and I called my doctors

        • Kq

          I want to pile on tp the rest with telling you it is NOT your fault!

          Mother of the year is bullshit. My son is 5 and I’m finally feeling what I was “supposed” to feel when he was born – and from my close mom friends, I know I’m not the only one.

          You’re here. You’re trying. That is really enough.

        • yentavegan

          thank you for being brave enough to put into words the turmoil associated with depression. Depression is not your fault. Please take the next vital step to reach out to a loved one and a doctor.

        • Sue

          Erin – you have successfully gestated and released a tiny little human being. In fifteen years, you will be successfully raising a teenager. please trust that, with help, these times will pass.

        • Megan

          I know I’m late to replying here but I wanted to really think about what I wanted to articulate to you. Aside from everything everyone else has said that I am in total agreement with, i.e. this is NOT your fault, I also wanted to tell you that despite the fact that my delivery was not as difficult as yours, it still took me months to feel very bonded to my daughter. It took her starting to really develop a personality and being able to communicate with me. Even in the best of circumstances, bonding is not always instantaneous and that is normal (and the myth that bonding is instantaneous or you’re “doing it wrong” is one of the toxic implications of the NCB/lactivist/AP movement). I encourage you not to be so hard on yourself. You were dealt a shitty hand and it will take time to recover, but I believe you will. You are a good mother. I hope you will seek out the help of a physician for getting medication, which can ultimately make therapy easier and more productive. You are a good mother (did I say that already?) *Hugs from another internet stranger*

        • J.B.

          Oh, I’m so sorry. I did not bond with my child at first (despite a straightforward labor) due to postpartum anxiety. I got a prescription which was a huge help. I wished we had gone quickly to one bottle of formula each night, more sleep would have helped greatly.

          Now I am much better at reading and communicating with my kid than anyone else is, and she’s not an easy kid. She has anxiety which of course I blame myself for but I know rationally the genetic basis. We’re muddling along and doing ok.

        • guest

          I’ll add to what every one else is saying. My birth was straight forward and not emotionally traumatizing to me and it still took a long time to bond with both of my children. I like them more and more the older they get. This is not a sign of being a bad mother, this is normal. Also, not sure how old your son is, but just keep reminding yourself that small children have bad memories and he will likely not remember any of this. If he’s older, it can be an opportunity to learn that every one is just doing the best they can with what they have, which in my opinion is ultimately one of the best lessons children can learn. It really is okay to focus more on yourself than your child when you have greater needs at the moment. This is how all relationships are and a parent/child relationship is no different. Please try to be kind to yourself. Try to treat yourself like you would a friend, you deserve it.

        • Anna

          I think you are very brave and honest and you have done all that you could have done then and there. You must have been through hell but you found strength to carry on … somehow, not perfect, but in your state of mind you couldn’t possibly do more… I understand you when you call the birth your worst experience, I hated my c-section too and also passed out and missed my daughter’s first moments. However as soon as I was up and walking I had her with me 24/7 and this has been very healing for me. Also I have a very supportive and understanding husband, who convinced me to go to therapy 1 month after the birth. Somehow it all worked out although I also had feelings like I was going through the darkest place in my life. Sometimes we are own worst critics. Do not be hard on yourself, give yourself time and patience.

    • yentavegan

      AMEN!!

    • Kq

      I’m so sorry you feel that way 🙁

      My c/s was awesome. May have lost some friends over it but who needs em.

    • monojo

      Erin, I am so sorry for your experiences. I’m glad you are here. And for what it’s worth, I think you are very brave and strong, and emphatically NOT a failure.

    • Gene

      I spent a while trying to come up with clever pithy replies to faux sympathy comments regarding c-sections, but they all ended up being nicer versions of “why should I care what you think?” and “fuck you”.

      I joke I’m a finalist in the bad mother of the year awards annually, but the method of their arrival was never even a consideration (nor should it be).

  • Margo

    I wonder if thirty years from now we will look back and be astounded that baby nurseries were swept away, that rooming in was imposed upon women,that only posters promoting Breastfeeding were permitted to be on display, that formula information was not readily available, that women felt guilty not to have birthed vaginally, that pain relief was frowned upon. Yep, we have gone off course.

    • Brooke

      According to the comments that’s already happened?

    • moto_librarian

      I’m asking you this in all seriousness, Margo. You recognize that your profession has gone off course. What are you going to do to help rectify this? You continue to cling to your belief that breastfeeding is optimal even though you acknowledge that this campaign is hurting women and babies. You admit that midwives are evaluated in part based upon how well they transfer their adherence to natural childbirth ideology to their patients. Until more midwives start contributing to solutions, you are part of the problem.

      • Margo

        I don’t cling to any notion re Breastfeeding, if a woman wants to breast feed that’s great, if she doesn’t that’s great, it’s all about informed choice, that is what I promote. The solution I guess is to keep on keeping on, giving women choices and being loud at public meetings re maternity services and supporting those organizations that challenge our maternity services.

        • Amy M

          Why do you keep capitalizing “breastfeeding” in the middle of sentences? This is not a knock on your grammar per se, but more of a question of how important is breastfeeding to you that it warrants being capitalized all the time?

          • Margo

            Oops didn’t realise I was capitalizing, apologies. Just for the record, tried to breast feed first baby, ended up in hospital with abscesses, second baby I formula fed from get go, third baby I breastfed, the baby was very obliging (me being flippant). I think my iPad likes auto correcting the word breast feeding, I attach no extra special relevance to the word.

  • 3boyz

    I’ve done it three ways now- vaginal with an epidural, completely unmedicated, and just had a c a month ago due to placental abruption. Given the choice, I’d pick vaginal with an epidural, though of course there isn’t always a choice. Admittedly, I’ve gotten no shade for my c section because apparently abruption is one of the few “acceptable” reasons for the crunchy crowd. I’ve already heard from a few such types that I’m “one of the (insert single digit number) percent who TRULY needed it!” Really, who cares. Admittedly, I’m finding recovery quite miserable and I would want a VBAC for next time, but aside from that, it really doesn’t matter for anything. Bonding is fine, breastfeeding going great (having breastfed the older ones for 2 years each, I know what I’m doing in that department), and no health issues since coming home from the hospital other than a stuffy nose. What can I say, poor kid had the misfortune of being born in February and having 2 older siblings who are in preschool and day care respectively and bringing home all sorts of plagues. Oh, and the baby spent a week in the NICU, which probably makes him into a statistic of “c sections and health issues”, but in fact, it was the situation that caused the section that caused him to need the NICU, not the section itself.

    • demodocus

      Hope your stitches and the kids’ colds heal up fast. My November baby got *such* a bad one when he was 3 1/2 weeks old (Thanks Grandma!). Fortunately for me, my perineal stitches were mostly healed by then.

    • Gene

      My N=3 are all SVD with partially effective epidural (only work on the right side), completely failed epidural with 5kg baby (ouch!), and completely effective epidural. Guess which was my favorite??? I thank the anesthesiologist for #3 every time I see him (I delivered where I work).

      • BeatriceC

        I’m not sure if I count as n=3, n=6 or n=5 (and to be a bit pedantic, in statistics, lowercase letters generally signify a sample where upper case signify a population…that’s oversimplifying it though, because there’s also greek letters here and there). I have three surviving children, which would be n=3. I had two late term miscarriages (18 and 16 weeks) which I had to vaginally deliver, which would bump me to n=5, but one of those was a set of twins, which would be n=6.

        Anyway, the two second trimester losses were both vaginal, one medicated, one not. Oldest surviving kid was vaginal, 36 weeks, medicated, but the epidural wore off at exactly the wrong time and since it had become an emergency due to shoulder dystocia there wasn’t time to top it off. Middle was an elective c-section (32 weeks) because I didn’t want a repeat of the first surviving kid (I think there was a little PTSD there as well), and the youngest was a crash c-section as my pre-eclampsia/HELLP syndrome was progressing quickly towards eclampsia and he was born under the circumstances of “get him out NOW or they both die.”

        I have to say that the repeat c-section was my easiest recovery. I think just knowing what to expect made it a lot easier to manage.

    • yentavegan

      oh..so thats the way to use “shade” in its new meaning. Thanks. I’ve been wondering what my kids were referring to “shaded” meant…

  • attitude devant

    Dr Amy and I are contemporaries, and this is exactly what I saw happen in med school and residency. When all that was available for pain relief were sedatives (chloroform, opiods, twilight sleep), an unmedicated labor truly WAS superior to a medicated labor, and any thinking woman was interested in avoiding drugs. Once we had available pain relief that was safe AND effective AND non-sedating, we thought we’d won THE battle of all battles for mothers. In fact, I remember the big feminist push to get labor epidurals covered for ALL women, because for a good long while, Medicaid was declining to pay for pain relief in labor…..if you can believe that (and thirty years later, I still can’t BELIEVE anyone thought it was ok to refuse pain relief to a laboring woman just because she was poor!).

    The NCB movement since then has gone seriously off the rails.

    • Brooke

      What’s interesting to me is that no one is talking about poor women being denied access to a doctor during their pregnancies because they are low risk or “choosing” to have unassisted births because they are low income and either don’t have insurance or insurance refuses to pay for their midwife/VBAC/water birth whatever.

      • moto_librarian

        Show us some data on this, Brooke. Pregnant women who are poor typically qualify for Medicaid.

      • Dr Kitty

        And why does insurance refuse to pay for a homebirth with a CPM, or a Waterbirth or HBACS, or charge so much as to make it unaffordable?

        Because the insurance company says that the preferred option is too risky to insure, but will happily insure alternatives (ERCS, hospital VBAC in an appropriate setting, labouring but not delivering in water).

        You understand this concept, surely?

        Insurance companies make risk assessments. They will not bet on bad risks, or they will charge a price they feel is commensurate with the risks involved.

        Which is why an 18 year old who has been in three accidents and drives a Maserati will find it harder to get car insurance they can afford than a 40 year old in a Honda Civic who has never had so much as a fender bender.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “I don’t understand how she could do that without my seeing her,” replied Jellia, “unless she made herself invisible.”

        “She isn’t there, anyhow,” declared Dorothy.

        “Then let us go find her,” suggested the maid, who appeared to be a little uneasy.

      • moto_librarian

        Why should insurance pay for homebirth with a CPM? Why should it pay for a VBAC for a poor candidate? Why should it pay for waterbirth, given the fact that it has very real risks and no demonstrable benefits?

      • Roadstergal

        Yes, we never talk about the issues with poor women’s access to medical care and how all of the money blown on trying to guilt women into unmedicated VBs and EBF could be used to make a real difference.

        • Roadstergal

          Never…

        • Taysha

          We’re also never outraged at women’s mistreatment by doctors.

          Or midwives.

        • namaste863

          Isn’t that the whole premise behind Call the Midwife? How hard would it be to do the same thing in the US?

          • Roadstergal

            I’ve actually never seen that show – I know it’s unreasonable, but the articles here and what I’ve gotten second-hand from my UK friend has made me terrified of UK midwifery. :p

          • Who?

            It’s set in the 1950s, in a very poor part of East London. I love it, but then I’m a nut for a period piece with strong female characters and no murders (all those detective things wear a bit thin).

          • sdsures

            No murders at all? Ghastly! 😉 (I’m a serial killer junkie.)

          • LibrarianSarah

            IDaddict 4 life!

          • sdsures

            I love the show “Deadly Women”. I’ve learned a lot about female killers I’d never known of before. What other ID shows do you like?

          • sdsures

            I’ve seen part of one episode. I live in the UK and am terrified.

        • Bombshellrisa

          We also talked about how someone could help “improve birth” without even being a medical professional–loved that list that was compiled.

      • Liz Leyden

        My parents grew up in the segregated South. Rural black women who couldn’t find a doctor were cared for by country midwives, who were usually unlicensed. Women who didn’t have the money for a hospital, or who were too far from the nearest black hospital, had midwife-attended births whether they wanted it or not.

        • moto_librarian

          And I think that we can all agree that this is very bad. Low-income women who can’t get Pregnancy Medicaid are also in very dire straits. That absolutely needs to change. I don’t think that Medicaid should cover birth with incompetent providers though.

        • Brooke

          Black women are more likely to give birth prematurely, they and their babies are more likely to die following birth. I never see this addressed by the medical community except to say that black and Hispanic women are why we have a high c-section rate which sounds a lot like blaming them as opposed to addressing racial disparity in prenatal and pediatric care.

          • Mel

            ???

            A) Who do you think compiled the statistics that African-American women have higher prematurity rates in the first place? Hint: Not NCB……

            B) What are you basing your ideas about what the medical community does for Black and Hispanic women on?

          • Gatita

            You mean like this research being conducted at Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center?

            Women have a greater chance of preterm birth if they have a short cervix, the narrow passage at the base of the uterus through which the baby passes during birth. According to Romero, women who are shown by ultrasound, taken between 19 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, to have a cervix that is shorter than 25 mm, have a 70 percent greater risk of delivering their babies at less than 33 weeks of gestation.

            But research conducted in Detroit has uncovered a promising treatment for women with short cervixes.

            In a study that spanned 44 countries, Romero and Wayne State University Associate Dean Dr. Sonia S. Hassan, director of advanced obstetrical care and research with the Perinatology Research Branch, found that vaginal progesterone can significantly reduce the risk of early labor in women diagnosed with short cervixes…

            Researchers are looking into whether short cervix is more common among African-American women, who are known to have higher rates of preterm births, Hassan added. Detroit has the largest percentage of African-Americans of any major U.S. city. In 2010, the last year for which comprehensive data was available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 87.2 percent of the city’s population was African-American.

          • guest

            Read a lot of medical journals, do you? Attend a lot of medical conventions? You “don’t see” things because you DON’T LOOK.

      • Liz Leyden

        Low-income women who have unassisted birth usually do so because they live in states that rejected Medicaid expansion, and may not even qualify for Pregnancy Medicaid. When you’re paying out of pocket, a home birth with a midwife is usually cheaper than a hospital birth, but both are still expensive.

        • Brooke

          Thats true but there are still women who have health insurance that are on unassisted birth groups saying they don’t know what to do because their insurance won’t pay for their VBAC or midwifery care or homebirth. Here Medicaid only covers a few clinics that only let you see a doctor during your pregnancy if you’re high risk, deliveries are handled by nurse midwives. That is fine if that’s what women want but if they feel more comfortable seeing the doctor they should be able to do that too.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I agree that there should be equal access to care by an OB. The problem with being on Medicaid is that usually by the time you get approved, it’s later in pregnancy and the OBs are full for the time you are delivering. So you get appointments with whoever has times available and deliver with the on call doctor. It doesn’t do much for continuity of care.

          • Brooke

            I wish that actually was the problem because ACA would have fixed it by having expanded eligibility so that low/lower income women had access to Medcaid before getting pregnant and just making it an easier process to apply and get approved. The problem at least here is that very few doctors take Medicaid patients, of course the ones that do are full. There are two clinics here that take patients without insurance or horrible insurance or Medicaid but they only let women see a doctor if they are considered high risk. There’s also the issue of where do women go if they’re undocumented.

          • Bombshellrisa

            The only being allowed to see a doctor if you are high risk isn’t a problem unique to the US health system. It’s the norm in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Of course, if you want to pay to of pocket there for private care, an OB is always available. These areas are also where midwives are the default caregivers. Ultimately, it’s about the state saving money and limiting access to more expensive providers does that. Every presentation that I have heard a midwife present to our state government highlights how much the state saves by using them as providers through Medicaid. Very few doctors in my area take Medicaid either. If someone needs a doctor, they have to search for one that will take it. I was, at one time, a woman who was 5 months pregnant and it took that long to get approved for Medicaid and by that time was just lucky to find a doctor who could take me. I hated being pawned off on the PA, but I was getting care which was the important part. I could have gone UC with no prenatal care, I also trained to be a home birth midwife so I would have been as qualified as the next person to try and attempt it but that would be a very strange response to the shortage of care available. I have not found that the ACA has made it easier to get the paperwork and approval done for Medicaid, which is what takes so long in places where there are a lot of people who are in the system. I have taken care of many undocumented patients, they go to the public health clinics and the hospital and are treated like any other patient who needs care. I am sure it’s not like that everywhere.

      • guest

        Let’s hear you talk about it, then. I mean, I can’t imagine anyone here being against giving all women access to OB-GYNs.

      • attitude devant

        Well, in my blue state, where the Medicaid expansion was eagerly accepted, we literally have universal access to obstetrical and midwifery care, so I can’t speak to that concern. Our state Medicaid will even cover home births for appropriate candidates.

      • mythsayer

        Well…a helpful thing would be to ensure everyone has health insurance. I hope you’re for that, since you brought it up. I’m absolutely for it. Everyone should have health insurance and I’m quite happy to help pay for it.

        • Brooke

          Yeah of course I am. Single payer all the way. Especially because right now we’re paying for health insurance we don’t use that often.

      • Azuran

        They are not denied access to doctor. They absolutely can have access to a doctor and a hospital and such as much as they want, they are the one who don’t want them but still wants other people to help them pay for their useless potentially harmless choices.

      • Nick Sanders

        Insurance is about risk minimization, not a journey of self discovery or whatever. They aren’t paying for it because they’ve seen the stats, and they know which choices are safe.

        • Who?

          So true. If Brooke thinks Dr T is cold and too in love with the stats she should spend an hour with an insurance actuary.

          I have little respect for insurance as a profit-making industry-every dollar to insureds is a dollar out of the pocket of the shareholders, so they are naturally tight with their dollars to insureds-but if you want to meet someone who knows how to assess a risk, talk to an insurer.

          • Nick Sanders

            Thanks, but credit where it’s due: Dr. Kitty said it better than I did, and before I even saw Brooke’s comment.

          • Who?

            It’s okay, insurance is one of my hobby horses, any excuse to trot out the old whinge is one I’ll take with pleasure. Not the first time I’ve made that remark here, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

          • BeatriceC

            In grad school I was deciding between actuarial science and theoretical statistics. I could tell you a thing or two about how cold and calculating actuaries really are when it comes to cost minimization. Honestly, “some people are just going to have to die” is a legitimate reason to deny a service based on cost. That’s part of why I went in the direction of theoretical statistics and abstract math instead of becoming an actuary.

          • Who?

            Totally-the calculations have to be made somehow, and maths is as good a metric as any.

            My beef with insurance is the tension between shareholders and insureds, and how that plays out in terms of premiums and benefits.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Home births and water births are paid for in my state, because CPMs are recognized as health care providers. My issue with this is that low income women, women who aren’t eligible for Medicaid until they get pregnant and who don’t have insurance are the ones who need more care and monitoring, not less, no matter how “low risk” they present as. If they haven’t had a Pap smear, regular check ups and access to care, there is so much that could be wrong that won’t be caught until too late. A great example is Joey Feek, who didn’t present with any known risk factors other than AMA and had a home birth with midwives trained by Ina May Gaskin. She delivered a baby with Down Syndrome and was in the advanced stages of cervical cancer.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        We don’t? I didn’t think I ever shut up about insurance problems and the way care gets denied to poor women because they have bad or no insurance.

      • Gene

        1. I think that we need national health care in the US. That’s no secret.

        2. Why would any competent healthcare provider willing participate in an activity (like homebirth or water birth) that has been shown over and over to increase morbidity and mortality to both mother and infant?

        3. Why would any insurance company pay for something that has shown over and over to increase morbidity and mortality and, therefore, cost them more?

    • AA

      attitude devant, you should consider writing a blog post for a publication other than SkOB. Maybe Jezebel? It has a large audience. Most people have no idea about the history of obstetric anesthesia…the history in the Internet world goes from no medication–>twilight sleep–>expecting that epidurals will be available at any North American hospital. Nothing about how OBGYNs used to do epidurals, or that insurance wouldn’t pay for it.

    • Gene

      I used to see tons of women deliver without epidurals because I did my OB rotation where 90% of the mothers were not in the country legally and were not eligible for Medicaid. Ever seen a father crying for his wife and asking how much the epidural will cost in cash? Not offering pain relief to an event so painful it’s mentioned in the bible is criminal.

      • attitude devant

        Word.

      • sdsures

        This is horrid.

    • Inmara

      My government still thinks epidural is optional and has to be paid out of pocket. Meanwhile, some crunchy members of Parliament are pushing coverage for homebirth, I truly hope they won’t succeed.

      • sdsures

        UK?

        • Inmara

          No, Latvia. Tbh, we have shortage of funds in all healthcare system and providing free epidurals won’t happen while people with threatening conditions can’t get timely care because of lack of money. Still sucks if you’re poor and in agonizing labor pain.

          • sdsures

            🙁

  • Ana

    I had a planned C-Section. No real medical reason except I didn’t want to turn into my mother, with a messed up pelvic floor and multiple surgeries and the constant pain she still has over 30 years later. It felt empowering to plan my birth date, know the support would be there for me after my birth, and I could rest comfortably. It was also nice to know the lady bits would survive in one piece, because I quite enjoy relations with my husband and I hated the idea of having issues after birth like several of my friends experienced.

    I love when people try and shame me, especially when they find out it was planned. It’s how you find out who your true friends are, and who are the judgmental assholes you don’t want to associate with.

    • Ada Maria

      I wish more women were honest like you are!

      Almost everyone thinking about birth thinks about pelvic function afterwards – but most are shamed into a “noble sacrifice”, even when a big trauma is likely (like I said before, small women, big kids, history of complications, etc).

      What follows is even more shame (because birth-related female incontinence and sexual dysfunction are very much taboo!), relationship problems, divorce even.
      The cost women pay can be enormous and invisible to most, especially uninvolved men.

      What’s even more sad is that women who have experienced it shame other women into the same thing.

      • BeatriceC

        Yup. I can’t sneeze without peeing myself, and sometimes it’s not just a dribble. At 40, I have to carry a change of clothes with me everywhere I go. Chances are really good that this is a result of the delivery of my oldest surviving child, who had a mild to moderate shoulder dystocia and had to be forcefully dislodged.

    • Roadstergal

      Brava.

    • mythsayer

      Same here. Requested CS and I got it. I feel EXACTLY the same way.

      • Ana

        I am a total planner, so having something that might come at any time was not for me. Planned getting pregnant so the birth and mat leave would be at a slower time at work. I worked up until the day before, and the people covering me were up to speed on the clients they’d be helping while I was away and the clients knew to contact these people and not me. It made everything so smooth, and was able to get back to work 2 weeks before it picked up again. And the people babysitting my clients pretty much barely did anything with them, didn’t overwork them at all. If we have another (daughter is 2 now, so we’ve been thinking about one more) I will do it the exact same way.

  • Ada Maria

    The pressure for a “natural”, unmedicated vaginal birth is enormous – even in med school! Back as a med student, I remember discussing the matter with one of lecturers (a male obstetrician) – I was being honest with my stance, that a woman should be able to choose whether or not to deliver vaginally or via C-section and it ended with the lecturer calling me “a material for a bad mother”. …Yes, you read that right.

    Personally, I come from a family with a history of very difficult, complicated births and petite mothers with big babies. As much as I am aware of all the risks of a C-section, the most important thing, I believe, is health of both mother and child, which in such cases cannot be achieved by “natural” methods.

    The “vag-shaming” can be dangerous, especially when women with such risks take it even further and decide to birth at home.
    Had my mother done that, neither of us would be alive today.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    “Let’s start lining up women for c-sections just because its easier for…her doctor? ”

    Yes. Because that’s exactly what we’re saying.

    Let me help you with your post. I don’t think it’s big enough to encompass how many you’ve built here, sadly.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      That was meant for Brooke but oh well.

    • Brooke

      Let me help you, you can reply directly to my posts? Maybe that would be easier?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “I’d like to go, too,” added Trot.

        “All right,” said Dorothy, “I’ll go and ask Ozma. Perhaps she will let us take the Sawhorse and the Red Wagon, which would be much nicer for us than having to walk all the way. This Land of Oz is a pretty big place, when you get to all the edges of it.”

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Indeed it is! However touchscreens can be a bitch on certain webpages.

      • moto_librarian

        Maybe if you ever came back and engaged in the conversation that would be a reasonable approach. Your preference is simply to shit all over the conversation (rather like a bird on a telephone wire), and flee the scene.

        • Brooke

          I’m sorry that you feel the need for constant validation. I have a baby remember?

          • moto_librarian

            Oh Brooke…Does it escape your attention that the vast majority of the commenters here also have children? Many of also have jobs. It’s hilarious that you are accusing me of needing validation though.

          • Mel

            Or a head injury in my case. 😛 Sadly, I could answer most of her ‘challenges’ before I could drive again.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            So she returned to the anteroom where she had left the maid, Jellia Jamb, and said:

            “She isn’t in her rooms now, so she must have gone out.”

          • Dr Kitty

            5% ideal CS rate Brooke. You said it.
            Are you going to provide any evidence for that?
            Or, if you are too busy, you could always just admit you pulled a number out of thin air and have nothing to support your assertion.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            You don’t have time to defend your comments, but you have time to leave them in the first place? It’s amazing that you managed to find the time to become as wildly educated as you think you are on such a variety of topics – you clearly think you know everything about c sections, breastfeeding and vaccination.

            Maybe once you get a little bit more time, you could actually educate yourself. I would suggest starting with the concept of herd immunity.

          • Roadstergal

            “I would suggest starting with the concept of herd immunity. ”

            She needs a good bolus of basic immunology first.

          • Mel

            With an especial focus on the importance of disease reservoirs in other species and in the environment so that she could explain why disease eradication has different methods and different outcomes in smallpox compared to tetanus compared to rabies. (I know that’s a softball question because my HS kiddos could answer that one after our immune system chapter.)

          • Amazed

            So because you have a baby, you’re too busy to reply to comments under the comments you needed to shit out? But when women have a baby and they have to work, they aren’t too busy to work, care for their baby and pump while at work as you judge to what passes for your heart’s content?

            My, you’re indeed a princessy material, thingy. You’re HLH the Princess of Shit.

          • Taysha

            I have two babies and I can defend my positions with science, logic and citations.

            I win.

      • Mel

        Hi! Still waiting for you to tell us your credentials on the safety of homebirth and on avoiding vaccinations!

        You don’t need to upload your entire resume or CV; I’d be perfectly happy with a basic outline of education accomplishments and areas of study.

    • Taysha

      It kinda deserves its own point, so well done.

      We could do several posts dissecting Brooke’s for easier comprehension of the incomprehensible.

    • guest

      My labor was very easy for my healthcare providers. They put me in a birthing room, put some monitors on me, and left. We hardly even saw a nurse (this was overnight). When the need for a c-section emerged, however, then all of a sudden the room was filled with very busy people. How exactly is a c-section “easier” for doctors? They have to do ALL the work for a section!

  • Brooke

    Weird. I was always told it was feminists who started the natural childbirth movement because they wanted to reclaim their bodies and empower themselves through giving birth, but whatever. Let’s start lining up women for c-sections just because its easier for…her doctor? My mother in law had two c-sections and she told me that recovery was hell so I doubt that a c-section is really easier for the woman giving birth but whatever.

    • momofone

      My c-section was a wonderful experience, and the recovery was easy, despite the warnings I’d received to the contrary. But the main thing was that it resulted in the birth of my son, who was alive and healthy despite his faulty placenta. It actually wasn’t easier for my doctor; it was safer for my son and me. That’s how professionals make decisions, not according to the woo of the week.

      • Brooke

        Good for you? No one said that people shouldn’t have c-sections especially in cases where the lives of the mother or the child are at risk.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Betsy was a year older than Dorothy and Trot was a year younger, yet the three were near enough of an age to become great playmates and to have nice times together. It was while the three were talking together one morning in Dorothy’s room that Betsy proposed they make a journey into the Munchkin Country, which was one of the four great countries of the Land of Oz ruled by Ozma.

          • Brooke

            Do you need the name of a shrink?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “I’ve never been there yet,” said Betsy Bobbin, “but the Scarecrow once told me it is the prettiest country in all Oz.”

          • Taysha

            Do you have something against literature?

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Maybe she’d read the Oz books if they were on a vegan or mommy blog. And replace “Oz” with “Yoni” or something.

          • Brooke

            A better joke would be that I should love them because I’m not in touch with reality or something. You fail. Miserably.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Is Ozma up yet?” inquired Dorothy.

            “I don’t know, my dear,” replied Jellia. “I haven’t heard a word from her this morning. She hasn’t even called for her bath or her breakfast, and it is far past her usual time for them.”

          • LibrarianSarah

            Most of us here have more class than to mock the mentally ill. It is unfortunate that you don’t. Ablism isn’t very “feminist” either you know.

          • Brooke

            Also interesting that you’re so preoccupied with my comments you know that I’m vegan? You need to get a life hun.

          • Taysha

            Well, that explains a lot.

            Bofa – can we spice things up? Maybe some Frank Herbert? Our esteemed Brooke is well-read, apparently.

          • Megan

            I might suggest Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

          • Roadstergal

            We can start with the prayer from the Man on the Pole.

            “Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.”

            There’s another prayer that goes with it that’s very important. … “Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen.”‘ And that’s it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from leaving out that last part.”

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            It took fifteen minutes of casual perusal. I like to know what kind of crazy comes parachuting in. If you don’t want people reading your comments try the privacy options. Or just not posting.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “That’s strange!” exclaimed the little girl.

            “Yes,” agreed the maid; “but of course no harm could have happened to her. No one can die or be killed in the Land of Oz and Ozma is herself a powerful fairy, and she has no enemies, so far as we know. Therefore I am not at all worried about her, though I must admit her silence is unusual.”

          • Brooke

            I’ve already read the Wizard of Oz.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            So she jumped up and went along the halls of the splendid palace until she came to the royal suite, which filled all the front of the second floor. In a little waiting room sat Ozma’s maid, Jellia Jamb, who was busily sewing.

          • guest

            You don’t ever reread books????

          • Who?

            Rude.

            If you lift your eyes from your navel you will see there are many on here struggling with mental health issues that compromise their everyday lives.

            Joking about needing psychiatric support, and making that pejorative, is not helpful.

        • Taysha

          Nah, you just called us “unempowered” and told us we catered to our doctors.

          Good chat.

        • momofone

          Ooooh, a reply! How ’bout you tackle the ones we’ve been waiting for so long? Since you seem to have time now.

        • Nick Sanders

          Then why is the ideal rate 5%?

          • Brooke

            That is what it was in the 1970s. You’re assuming that to get to 5% again we’d have to what? Let mothers and babies die? Also that mothers and babies are not dying now from unnecessary c-sections and the increased risks of hemorrhaging and infection? Interesting…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            There were other things about Scraps that would have seemed curious to one seeing her for the first time. She was commonly called “The Patchwork Girl,” because her body and limbs were made from a gay-colored patchwork quilt which had been cut into shape and stuffed with cotton. Her head was a round ball stuffed in the same manner and fastened to her shoulders.

          • Taysha

            We also smoked around kids and let them drive in the back of the pick up truck in the 1970s.

            We have improved since then.

            “Also that mothers and babies are not dying now from unnecessary c-sections and the increased risks of hemorrhaging and infection?”

            Citation or GTFO, lady.

          • Megan

            The demographics of women giving birth have changed quite a bit since the 70’s. Older moms (especially older first time moms), more obesity, more comorbid medical conditions. Thus the risk profile of many pregnancies has changed. The “ideal” CS rate (if it really exists), should reflect that.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Why did you pull the 1970s from thin air? Just because that was the rate then doesn’t mean it was a) actually the ideal rate for the time and b) even if it was, that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal rate now. Things have changed since the 1970s. Advances in medicine such as improved surgical technique have reduced the risk of c sections. Patient risk profiles have changed – there are more patients with conditions such as obesity and diabetes which increase the risks of vaginal birth. Family structures have changed too – women tend to have less pregnancies than they did previously, and that changes the risk balance.

            Trying to figure out an ideal c section rate is complex (and to try and extrapolate it from one population to another is pointless), but every indication is that a 5% c section rate would lead to the deaths of women and babies.

          • Roadstergal

            And would lead to preventable long-term non-death injuries – brain damage for babies, incontinence/sexual dysfunction for women, etc. But who cares, as long as 95% of them take the Magic Vaginal Path?

          • Roadstergal

            Should breastfeeding rates also be the same as they were in the 1970s? Just wondering – if you’re considering that the Ideal Decade in terms of outcomes for kids, that’s part of the package.

          • Dr Kitty

            http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Health/SaferBirthsCampaign/article1672921.ece

            An Australian obstetrician has used statistical modelling to show that thousands and thousands of women have suffered severe pelvic floor damage in the UK as a direct result of a drive to reduce CS, which has led to an increase in instrumental deliveries.

            So yes, there is evidence that trying to go back to the halcyon days of a CS rate <25% is causing harm.

            See also Morecambe Bay.

            In the 1970s, survival prior to 28weeks was a miracle, most women smoked (smaller babies), ART was in its infancy and the childbearing population was demonstrably very different in terms of age and overall health. Apples and oranges.

          • Nick Sanders

            “The rate it was in the past” is not inherently the ideal rate. I’m not required to defend the current rate in order to ask you to explain your support for such a drastic reduction.

          • Mishimoo

            After all this time, it comes to this? You can’t even defend your precious optimal 5% caeserean birth rate? What a complete surprise.

          • Amazed

            Oh thingy. Oh honey. I won’t be surprised if someone very young idealized the time before they were even born. But you aren’t a teen mother, are you?

            Who tells you that this rate is optimal anyway? Your mother in-law again because only she keeps the holy grail of obstetric knowledge?

            I see you avail yourself mightily of the goods of civilization that were o% in the 1970s. Namely, using the internet to show how gullible and cruel you are. Yet you think you get to be taken seriously when defining how other people should avail themselves of an improved good of civilization meant to save life and brains and now, generally, is just better for some mothers and babies? I am not surprised, You’re too special to reply to comments even sitting comfortably at home because You Have a Baby but those other women – they can work full time and pump, and take care of their babies at their workplace without batting an eyelid.

            You’re a disgrace.

          • moto_librarian

            Oh yes, let’s strive to be like the 1970s! #saidnooneever

        • Who?

          ‘especially’ when people’s lives are at risk!!!!!

          Can you hear yourself?

    • Taysha

      “I was told” “my mother in law”

      Do you have any ideas of your own?

      I had a perfectly acceptable c-section that empowered me to have perfect control over my birth and ensure safety for all involved.

      I made a choice. That choice was respected by my male OB. Sounds like perfect feminism to me!

      • Brooke

        I said birth. I didn’t say vaginal birth, or natural birth. Of course women can feel empowered by having a c-section because that’s a form of birth.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Dorothy was not the only girl from the outside world who had been welcomed to Oz and lived in the royal palace. There was another named Betsy Bobbin, whose adventures had led her to seek refuge with Ozma, and still another named Trot, who had been invited, together with her faithful companion, Cap’n Bill, to make her home in this wonderful fairyland. The three girls all had rooms in the palace and were great chums; but Dorothy was the dearest friend of their gracious Ruler and only she at any hour dared to seek Ozma in her royal apartments. For Dorothy had lived in Oz much longer than the other girls and had been made a Princess of the realm.

        • Taysha

          “I was always told it was feminists who started the natural childbirth movement because they wanted to reclaim their bodies and empower themselves through giving birth, but whatever.”

          Lovey, I empowered myself through a c-section. So, again, use that sprinkling of analytical thinking that fell in the corner of that drawer in your mind.

        • Nick Sanders

          started the natural childbirth movement because they wanted to reclaim their bodies and empower themselves through giving birth

          Yes you did; stop pretending there’s no such thing as context.

        • Amy M

          Maybe women can FEEL empowered by birth, but they aren’t actually empowered. Giving birth does not increase the amount of power a woman has, or enable her to do things she couldn’t do before, except in terms of parenting.

          Though I can see that having bodily autonomy taken away would be a form of disempowerment, most Western women already have bodily autonomy going into birth. Women who live in cultures where they are not granted bodily autonomy do not gain it via giving birth. They also don’t gain the rights to vote or go to school via giving birth.

          • Valerie

            Thank you for articulating what I was thinking. Feminism used to be more about actual empowerment, but now there are many people who identify as feminists who are far more concerned with the intangible.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Empowerment is manifested in the ability to choose, not in the choices we make.

          • Megan

            Well said.

          • LibrarianSarah

            I would even say that most woman LOSE bodily autonomy once get pregnant/give birth.

        • moto_librarian

          Right. Because your decision to bash c-sections makes me believe that you really don’t believe that vaginal birth is superior. GMAFB.

      • Roadstergal

        Not that Brooke has the brain cells to get this one, but you don’t have control over your body in a ‘natural’ childbirth. It’s all down to hormones and chance and whatever the kid is doing in there. A decent argument could be made that a scheduled prelabor C-section allows women a lot more control over their bodies than the ‘natural’ ideal the midwives worship.

        • Taysha

          Yup. Everything was pre-planned with the surgeon (lovely lady! Because my OB didn’t feel up to the task and delegated to the best around) while I was pain-free and in full control of my abilities.

          We planned down to my release. But it was not empowering. Not at all.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      It was Dorothy who first discovered it. Dorothy was a little Kansas girl who had come to the Land of Oz to live and had been given a delightful suite of rooms in Ozma’s royal palace, just because Ozma loved Dorothy and wanted her to live as near her as possible, so the two girls might be much together.

    • Roadstergal

      OMG you guys are totes harshing on what she was always told was feminism but whatever.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb21lsCQ3EM

    • mostlyclueless

      I’ll tell you what, my c-section recovery was a fuckload easier than the 24 h of labor that preceded it.

    • mostlyclueless

      In all seriousness, why do you come here? You know you’re not going to change anyone’s minds, especially not with the tactics you use. Do you just need a lot of attention?

      • Dr Kitty

        Yes, I believe so.
        Like the child who thinks even negative attention is better than no attention and acts out…

        The way to fix kids who act out is to ignore bad behaviour and give positive reinforcement to good behaviour.

        We could always try it for Brooke.

        • Who?

          The issue would be identifying the positive behaviour.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Is it like with dogs where you need to wait for them to “offer” the desired behavior before you reward so they’ll be more inclined to sponatinously offer the behavior for praise in the right circumstances?

          Because if so we’re going to be here a long, loooooong time.

    • demodocus

      My mom always felt more empowered by going on protests or working on political campaigns, than because she had 3 live babies and 2 stillbirths vaginally and without medication. She didn’t inform me why she had the twins by c-section while I was at college, but knowing her, it wasn’t for anyone else’s convenience.

    • Erin

      Depends on you and the birth. My sister in law’s vaginal birth was harder to recover from than my emcs after 75 hours of labour. She still has issues years later and I was fine within weeks. Easy vaginal* birth > C-sections sure but you don’t get to choose whether you have an easy birth or not.
      Ignoring psychological reasons.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I first wrote about Sanctimommies back in 2009, and Brooke is helpfully illustrating some of the characteristics:

      “Sanctimommy is quick to take offense. In fact she is always sure that she is being “disrespected” by those who don’t make the same choices.

      Sanctimommy is sure that she is being persecuted. Mothers who don’t agree with her are accused of interfering with her choices even if you have no interest in her choices at all.”

      Brooke also frequently falls for the reductio ad absurdum fallacy. If I write “vaginal birth is not superior to a C-section,” Brooke illogically conclude that I recommend C-sections for all women at all times.

      As to why Brooke is here, I suspect that she proudly believes she is speaking truth to power because she truly doesn’t understand the difference between science and random stuff she reads on mommy blogs.

      • Sarah

        Speaking of why Brooke is here, why is she still? She’s no longer amusing.

      • Brooke

        Trust me Amy your blog is the only mommy blog I read.

        We both know there are risks to c-section and epidurals, we both know that your blog posts are full of logical fallacies. I don’t consider my comments “speaking truth to power” because you’re not in a position of power, you’re not even a practicing OB/GYN. I comment only because sometimes I find your blog posts really humorous (thank you for that) other times I almost feel obligated to point out the flaws in your logic because they are so glaringly obvious that I can’t keep my mouth shut (hands off my keyboard? anyways). If you’d like to start blogging about science and not your personal opinions/click bait I’d fully support that. Instead when I ask you for the science that supports your opinion you tell me to buy your book, which isn’t even out yet.

        Really, you should be thanking me because the controversy I create keeps bringing people back to your posts and creates more ad revenue for you. Which…is why you create blogs with such controversial titles anyways you’re practically begging for backlash from natural “mammas” because controversy sells. Unfortately for you I’m the only one you’ve managed to reel in and I’m not even that crazy or that big of a believer in “woo”. Keep up the good work. This is so much more important than actually using your medical degree to save lives.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          So they went into the corridors and there Dorothy almost stumbled over a queer girl who was dancing lightly along the passage.

          “Stop a minute, Scraps!” she called. “Have you seen Ozma this morning?”

          “Not I!” replied the queer girl, dancing nearer. “I lost both my eyes in a tussle with the Woozy, last night, for the creature scraped ’em both off my face with his square paws. So I put the eyes in my pocket and this morning Button-Bright led me to Aunt Em, who sewed ’em on again. So I’ve seen nothing at all to-day, except during the last five minutes. So of course I haven’t seen Ozma.”

          “Very well, Scraps,” said Dorothy, looking curiously at the eyes, which were merely two round black buttons sewed upon the girl’s face.

        • moto_librarian

          Are you working outside of the home, Brooke? You do know that Dr. Amy quit practicing to raise her children, right? I would assume that you’re aware that pretty much everyone here finds that to be an acceptable choice, because, you know, feminism. Funny that you would choose to bash her for that.

          And yes, please start blogging about science. I need another source of humor in my life.

          • Roadstergal

            Brooke, today: “Vaginal birth is totes empowering, unless you’re Dr T.”

          • Brooke

            Its like amazing to me how you’re so critical but you have the reading comprehension of a 6 year old.

          • Taysha

            “Its like amazing to me”

            The English language would like to sue you for abuse.

            Also, SoCal called, they miss you.

          • BeatriceC

            Don’t send her to me! Please! What did I ever do to you to deserve that?

          • moto_librarian

            “you’re not even a practicing OB/GYN.”
            “This is so much more important than actually using your medical degree to save lives.”

            Those are direct quotes from your comment. Also, I’m not sure that suggesting that I have the reading comprehension of a 6 year old is really such a dig. Have you ever had a conversation with a 6 year-old? They’re smart, curious, and funny as hell. They also are beginning to read quite well.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            For hair she had a mass of brown yarn and to make a nose for her a part of the cloth had been pulled out into the shape of a knob and tied with a string to hold it in place. Her mouth had been carefully made by cutting a slit in the proper place and lining it with red silk, adding two rows of pearls for teeth and a bit of red flannel for a tongue.

        • Dr Kitty

          Nope Brooke, the people who are responding to you were here long before you showed up and really don’t care one way or another if you post, lurk, or flounce off to start your own blog.

          • moto_librarian

            I’ve been reading and commenting on this blog for nearly six years now, and I’m quite sure that I don’t have the record for longest reader.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Unfortunately for me? How do you figure that?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            To be fair to Brooke, I think this blog is a lot more fun when we mock the idiots. It would be a lot less fun without loons like Brooke to knock around.

          • Brooke

            I already explained it in my response.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            In spite of this queer make-up, the Patchwork Girl was magically alive and had proved herself not the least jolly and agreeable of the many quaint characters who inhabit the astonishing Fairyland of Oz.

        • Taysha

          “Controversy”

          Is that what you call it when you make indefensible points and everyone on the blog sets you right and you refuse to admit it, Brooke?

        • guest

          “Unfortnately,” you don’t know your ass from your elbow.

          • Brooke

            Classy. Try logging in next time

          • Who?

            Someone who mocked an infertile poster does not get to judge the tone of others.

            Not all of us want to be identified online, and last time I checked that was fine.

        • MaineJen

          …Did you read the part of Dr. T’s bio where it says she is a former clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and she was a practicing OB for many years? Stop telling her to do something “useful” with her life…you are years and years too late.

          Honestly, from your comments you come off as a very young, very naive person. Too young to realize that your way is not always the best way, that there are many paths to the same destination.

          Keep reading and you might learn something useful. But really…check yourself before you lecture someone else on everything you feel they’re doing wrong.

        • mythsayer

          She does use science to write her posts. You just disagree with the science (what are your qualifications for that, again?).

          I’m on disability right now and haven’t paid my bar fees yet this year. Does this mean I’m no longer a qualified to discuss legal issues? Or does it just mean that I shouldn’t be signing and filing documents for clients? Because I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. Dr. Amy not practicing doesn’t negate her medical degree and years of experience.

          You know we find YOU amusing, right? Except you’re getting less and less amusing all the time.

          • BeatriceC

            I’ve made a similar comment. I left teaching for a corporate job, then left the workforce entirely. As such, I decided that maintaining my teaching certification was too expensive and let it lapse. By the logic of certain people, that means I’m no longer qualified discuss mathematics education and apparently forgot everything I ever knew about math. Of course these days I wouldn’t be comfortable teaching or tutoring anything beyond lower division college math, but I can still do algebra, calculus and undergraduate level stats in my sleep.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            I know that when I switched to non-practicing registration, my whole medical education just fell straight out of my head.

          • Nick Sanders

            I hope you had some disinfectant on hand to keep the microbiology and epidemiology lessons from becoming a biohazard.

        • Nick Sanders

          we both know that your blog posts are full of logical fallacies

          This is so far beyond the pot calling the kettle black that it isn’t even funny.

          This is so much more important than actually using your medical degree to save lives.

          She spent decades doing that in person, and now she is committed to providing valuable health information and calling out bullshit. She may do so in a rather sarcastic and abrasive style, but that doesn’t make what she writes any less true.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            This is so far beyond the pot calling the kettle black that it isn’t even funny.

            It’s kind of the pot calling the teacup black, IMHO.

          • demodocus

            my teacup is black. My tea kettle and my pots are silvery. 😉

        • Sean Jungian

          LOL obvious troll is obvious.

        • Charybdis

          I do believe Dr. Amy IS saving lives by what she is doing. Babies’ lives. Mothers’ lives. The lives of both by being a voice of reason in a sea of NCB madness and EBF malarky; telling women that they are not the sum total of the efficacy of their breasts and uteri. A champion of giving people All The Facts, pros and cons about vaginal birth vs. c-section, EBF vs. EFF and/or combo feeding, unmedicated birth vs. medicated (either narcotics or regional anesthesia)…you know, the things that make up true informed consent.

          This is valuable information and sorely needed by many, many people. Even if you don’t agree.

    • moto_librarian

      I’ve never had a c-section. I have, however, had life-threatening complication during a “natural” vaginal delivery. Have you ever had a manual examination of your uterus without anesthesia, Brooke? Have you ever seen your husband turn pale because of the amount of blood he sees gushing out of your body? Have you ever felt that sense of terror in the pit of your stomach when you find yourself wondering if you might be dying? I have. Given the worsening problems with my pelvic floor that are a direct result of said complications, I would have chosen a c-section in an instant. Quit pretending that vaginal deliveries are always easy recoveries. When everything goes well, they might be, but things often go very badly.

    • moto_librarian

      And here’s the other thing. I don’t need to find “empowerment” through a biological event that is largely beyond my control. I have actual skills and achievements that have nothing to do with my breasts and uterus. You seriously need to spend some time reading about feminism. A major tenet of early feminism was that pain relief in childbirth was a human right.

      • momofone

        “I don’t need to find “empowerment” through a biological event that is largely beyond my control. I have actual skills and achievements that have nothing to do with my breasts and uterus.”

        This may be my favorite comment ever.

    • LibrarianSarah

      If you think feminism is “finding power through your uterus” you are doing it wrong. In fact, I am pretty sure “women’s power comes from their reproductive capabilities” is pretty much the opposite of feminism. But what would I know, I’m just an unempowered infertile woman whose opinion doesn’t matter because she will never give birth right?

      Yeah you’re a “feminist” alright.

    • Megan

      Why is it so hard to believe that a fair amount of women want C-Sections?

    • mythsayer

      I lived in Japan when my daughter was born and I asked for a c-section. He agree for me but made some of my friends go through a trial or labor. The CS rate is something like 17% in Japan. Do you think my Japanese OB agreed because it was more convenient for him? Because I don’t.

      Is that SO hard to believe? That someone might want the surgery instead? I have my reasons, too long to go into again. But I will say that while it did hurt more than I expected, it was NOT hellish and I absolutely loved the control having a CS gave me. I would do it again in a heartbeat if I ever planned to have another kid (which I don’t).

      You’ve never had a CS, so the bottom line is YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW EASY OR HARD IT IS. I myself am terrified of the thought of labor and it sounds really sucky to me, but since I haven’t experienced it, I don’t know what it’s really like. But I can tell you that my CS was great. Stop saying you think CS suck, since you really have no idea. The most you can say is that YOU don’t think a CS is the right choice for you, just like it WAS the right choice for me.

    • lilin

      “My mother in law had two c-sections and she told me that recovery was hell so I doubt that a c-section is really easier for the woman giving birth but whatever.”

      One woman didn’t think it was easier so it’s clearly not easier under any circumstances!

      Brooke, do you even hear yourself?

      • BeatriceC

        Honestly they can be very different even in the same woman. My recovery from my middle son’s birth was pretty miserable, but 11 months later my recovery from my youngest was a walk in the park. 4 hours after the youngest was born I was trying to walk down to the NICU before they transferred him to a different hospital. The doctors and nurses were having a conniption because my blood pressure was still pretty high (but dropping rapidly) and they were still concerned about my liver function. I finally got released on day 4, and while they forced me to ride out in a wheelchair, my father drove me from that hospital to the other where I walked completely unassisted to the unit where my son was, and never looked back. I don’t think I even took tylenol for pain after the second day.

    • Who?

      Maybe go away and read a bit more about the origins of feminism.

      I’d suggest they were also very interested in the vote, equal pay for equal work, the ability to borrow money from the bank without a man to guarantee it, birth control…

      Choosing when to have a child, and ensuring that you can pay to feed and house it, and then surviving the experience, are all important issues in feminism.

    • Dr Kitty

      Brooke, I had my son in August by a planned CS on a Tuesday. It was my second CS.

      I was home on Thursday.
      I went to the supermarket on the Friday. DH pushed the trolley.
      I was pushing a buggy around IKEA on the Saturday.
      I was signed off as fit to drive at two weeks post op.

      Not exactly hellish.

      No labour pains, no perineal pain, no sexual dysfunction, no incontinence and minimal post operative wound pain. After pains with breast feeding hurt, but they have drugs for that. CS really was the easy option as far as I’m concerned.

      • Glia

        Well, obviously! That’s why the NCB line BEFORE the CS is “CS are terrible, dangerous, have an awful recovery, should be avoided at all costs” but AFTER the CS the line is “CS is the easy way out, you didn’t really give birth, other things that are mutually exclusive to everything we said before”.

        Or is that just my experience with them? And my CS was a lot like yours. At Target with 4 day old, random lady asks how old he is, then says “What are you doing out???” and I was like “…Buying a nursing shirt and some cookies…”

        • Dr Kitty

          Yep.
          Simultaneously taking terrible risks, being too posh to push, being duped by doctors, taking the easy way out, being a control freak who can’t bear to give up power to Mother Nature and missing out on an empowering experience.

          We went to IKEA mostly because I was bored sitting in the house…

      • Bombshellrisa

        I admire the going to Ikea on a Saturday. Even without giving birth the same week, Saturday at IKEA here is tiring. I do love their nursing rooms and family bathrooms, plus a restaurant that has bibs, high chairs, and Mickey Mouse clubhouse on a loop is really helpful.

        • Who?

          IKEA saps my will to live on any day of the week.

          But they do have most excellent tea towels.

        • Dr Kitty

          Our local IKEA overlooks a runway and thus I can eat Daim cake while my daughter and husband indulge in plane spotting and a meatball eating competition.

          I’m a sucker for sheets, towels, baskets and candles… Oh and potato rosti and cinnamon biscuits.

          It is also a warm, dry place with free tea and coffee where I can walk for relatively long distances with a cranky baby if the weather is bad.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Cinnamon biscuits! Those get me every time, and I can’t leave ikea without candles. In fact, it’s the main reason I am headed there Friday.

          • Mishimoo

            I love wandering through Ikea and it really is the best for settling little ones. I just wish the one closer to us would open already!

            My favourite thing is seeing all the storage solutions – I bought the Brimnes with drawers and bookcase in the headboard last year, it’s brilliant! Our bedroom is now tidy and relaxing, and it’s so easy to dust (one of the main considerations).

          • Old Lady

            Ugh. I hate shopping at IKEA, but that’s because I hate shopping in general. I don’t get many femininity points for that I guess. I just want to get in and out and that’s impossible to do at IKEA. I do like their stuff though, practical and affordable.

          • Mishimoo

            Don’t worry, that’s usually my approach too! I just really like wandering and appreciating pretty things on occasion, and Ikea fills that niche for me.

          • Dr Kitty

            You can do In and Out, if you plan ahead and know what you want.
            Go on the website, check stock levels and locations for the items you want.
            When you get there, take the shortest route possible through the market hall to where your items are located in the warehouse (there are short cuts). Avoid the showroom entirely, if possible.
            Went a few weeks ago to kit out son’s nursery: cot, bedding, rug, chair and soft furnishings acquired in under 30min. New personal record, and we all had hot dogs and ice cream on the way out to celebrate.

        • BeatriceC

          I’ll take my chances running downrange at a gun range before I go to IKEA on a Saturday.

          • Bombshellrisa

            They are currently remodeling the location here, which means there is no parking. I have been known to ask one of my parents to go with us because their disabled parking pass makes if easier for all of us (plus my dad really loves shopping there no matter what day we go).

          • BeatriceC

            I must sheepishly admit to making one of my disabled kids go with me to the mall with me during the Christmas shopping season for exactly the same reason.

          • Glia

            We might be neighbors! 🙂

          • Bombshellrisa

            We probably are if your IKEA is just past UW/Valley medical : )

          • Glia

            Yep, that’s the one. Hi! 😀

    • Charybdis

      I had a scheduled CS on a Tuesday as well. I actually started labor around 2 am the morning of the CS. I was glad I was having a CS because the contractions sucked on ice. I didn’t feel

    • yentavegan

      I can speak from experience. My 2 non-emergency/ c/sec were far and away easier recoveries than my 3 vaginal births.

    • Azuran

      How is doing surgery easier for the doctor than watching a women give birth vaginally?
      And nobody thinks that women should be lined up for C-section.
      most people here think that any women who wants a c-section after being told of the risk and benefits of both c-section and vaginal birth have been explained to her should have her choice respected. After all, you said yourself that feminism was letting women make their own decision when they are given proper information.
      And in many situation, a c-section can be easier for the mother and safer for the baby. When it is the case, it should be properly explained to the mother.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      My mother in law had two c-sections and she told me that recovery was
      hell so I doubt that a c-section is really easier for the woman giving
      birth but whatever.

      I had a c-section and recovery was…nothing much. Total drug use: one percocet, one ibuprofen, about 3 tylenol. Pain level really never got above a 4 after the first day. I now have a very polite, unnoticable scar that doesn’t bother me in the least. All in all I think dying of obstructed labor and chorioamnionitis would have been harder on me.

  • Madtowngirl

    “Grantly Dick-Read claimed that “primitive” women didn’t experience pain in labor because they understood and accepted that their purpose in life was to have children.”

    Lol? I highly doubt primitive women didn’t experience pain in childbirth. Animals experience pain during birth. And I’m not even touching the deeply sexist part of that, because I can only assume that his claim is a product of the time.

    I took a birth class while I was pregnant, and I can say it definitely portrayed c-sections as failures. The only story they included in the video was a woman lamenting that she wasn’t strong enough for her baby, since she needed a c-section. All the vaginal birth stories ended with teary-eyed, happy women (and not one of them had trouble breastfeeding!). It was pretty clear that there was an agenda.

    • Roadstergal

      “The only story they included in the video was a woman lamenting that she wasn’t strong enough for her baby, since she needed a c-section. ”

      Today’s show is brought to you by the letters E-M-O-T-I-O-N-A-L A-B-U-S-E.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      If these are the same kooks that try to use the Bible to justify everything too, perhaps they should remember Genesis 35:17-18:

      17: And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

      18: And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

      Benoni means “Son of my sorrow/suffering.” Seems pretty clear to me that Rachel was not having a good time! Oh and that she died. That kind of puts a damper on things.

      • Roadstergal

        “Fear not, thou shalt have this son also. Worry not about the dying part, for thou shalt have a lovely spontaneous vaginal birth at home.” Sounds like midwives haven’t changed much.

        • Mel

          I disagree slightly. The Biblical midwife was the only choice and probably trying her hardest to make the best of a horrible situation.

          The NCB midwife is a poor substitute for an obstetrician since I think nowadays Rachel could have survived Benoni’s birth.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I have heard it described as thus: 3000 years ago, childbirth was recognized to be so painful that it was considered to be punishment from God.

      Were they not primitive? Because it sure sounds like they thought it hurt worse than anything else they encountered.

    • SporkParade

      It’s not a product of his time; it’s a product of our time, as well. Study after study has shown that medical professionals do not take pain as seriously when the person in pain isn’t white. One study even showed that black children with appendicitis are given less effective pain medications in the hospital than white children, assuming they’re even given pain meds at all.

  • StThomas

    “ὑστέρα/ hystera” is the _Greek_ for the Latin “uterus”