UK midwives promoting new deadly lie in an effort to maintain market share

Word Lies on black background

The deadly UK midwifery Campaign for Normal Birth has been thoroughly discredited by harrowing reports of dozens of perinatal and maternal deaths, nearly £2 bn in liability payments, and the shocking admission that the UK is paying more to support the babies injured by maternity providers than to actually provide care. In response to the demise of the Campaign for Normal Birth, UK midwives are pressing a potentially deadly “Campaign for Normal Post-Birth.”

And just as the Campaign for Normal Birth was based on the self-serving lie that unmedicated vaginal birth is “best,” the new campaign is based on the self-serving lie that babies and mothers suffer irreparable harm if separated in the first few hours and days after birth.

UK midwives are always promoting themselves while piously pretending that they have the best interests of babies and mothers at heart.

Consider this presentation by Michele Upton discussing the ATAIN initiative (Avoiding Term Admissions Into Neonatal units) at a recent midwifery conference. The foundational lie is front and center:

There is overwhelming evidence that separation of mother and baby so soon after birth interrupts the normal bonding process, which can have a profound and lasting effect on maternal mental health, breastfeeding, long-term morbidity for mother and child.

That is a bald-faced lie though no doubt Upton believes it. There is precisely ZERO evidence for those claims. Everything we know about maternal-infant bonding tells us that it is spontaneous and is NOT contingent on specific behaviors. There is ZERO evidence that brief periods of separation have ANY effect on maternal mental health, breastfeeding or long term morbidity for mother and child.

In fact, there’s a mountain of data demonstrating the opposite. Multiple generations of infants were born while their mothers were fully anesthetized and spent most of their hospitalization in the newborn nursery. There is no evidence that had any impact on bonding, maternal mental health or long term morbidity for mother or child. But I guess if you have no regard for the truth, you might as well make your lie spectacular.

That’s what UK midwives did with their foundational lie for the Campaign for Normal Birth. As articulated by Midwifery Prof. Soo Downe:

Most women, in every country across the world, would prefer to give birth as physiologically as possible. For most women and babies, this is also the safest way to give birth, and to be born, wherever the birth setting. If routine interventions are eliminated for healthy women and babies, resources will be freed up for the extra staff, treatments and interventions that are needed when a laboring woman and her baby actually need help. This will ensure optimal outcomes for all women and babies, and sustainable maternity care provision overall.”

There is precisely ZERO evidence that “most women” would prefer to give birth without interventions. Indeed, when allowed access to pain relief in labor, more than 60% of women choose it. There is ZERO evidence that avoiding interventions is the safest way to give birth. Midwives were in charge of birth for most of human existence. They avoided interventions and perinatal and maternal mortality rates were astronomical. And if the evidence from the campaign itself shows anything, it shows that the Campaign for Normal Birth led to preventable deaths, coverups and massive liability payments.

What’s going on here? Why are midwives promoting programs that harm babies and mothers?

The key to understanding midwives behavior is this: they are always promoting themselves while piously pretending (even to themselves) that they have the best interests of babies and mothers at heart. They believe wholeheartedly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that midwives are the key to optimal maternity care.

The real issue is midwives’ desperation to keep control over patient care. The Campaign for Normal Birth was based on the self-serving lie that keeping obstetricians away from women was “best.” The campaign for “normal” post-birth is based on the self-serving lie that keeping pediatricians away from babies is “best.”

Upton explains that although the birth rate in the UK decreased from 2011-2014, the admission of term newborns to neonatal units increased dramatically. She notes that hypoglycemia and jaundice (both preventable sequelae of aggressive breastfeeding promotion) are among the major reasons for admission. She fails to draw the obvious conclusion that relentless promotion of exclusive breastfeeding is harming babies.

Her discussion of hypoglycemia is particularly chilling.

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Noting that 30% of babies admitted for hypoglycemia were admitted at less than 4 hours of age, of whom half were less than an hour of age, Upton concludes that these admissions could have been avoided by … NOT testing for low blood sugar! If you don’t take a temperature you can’t find a fever, right? It seems never to have occurred to her that midwives were testing these babies because they showed SIGNS of hypoglycemia like hypotonia, lethargy, poor feeding, jitteriness and seizures.

Upton reveals the real goal of promoting “normal” post-birth in this slide:

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Unthinkable not to have service and staffing models which keep mothers and babies together.

Actually, what’s unthinkable is the self-serving notion that midwives can and should handle of aspect of care for every mother and baby regardless of who is injured or dies in the process.

Childbirth is inherently dangerous. There is no greater risk of death in the entire 18 years of childhood than on day of birth. Babies die from birth injuries and difficulties making the transition to life outside the uterus. Midwives couldn’t prevent those deaths during the milennia in which they maintained control of childbirth and there’s no evidence that they can prevent those deaths now. Only obstetricians and pediatricians can do that.

Keeping doctors away from babies as a matter of principle may be best for midwives but it is definitely not best for babies and mothers. Indeed, it is deadly!

  • Sue

    The majority of public health campaigns – whether “back to sleep” for SIDS/SUDI, or vaccination, or road regulations – look at a specific area of risk and apply evidence-based solutions.

    “Physiological birth” is not the solution to any risks – it;s the source of risk.

  • MaineJen
    • CSN0116

      “The patient later supplemented the breast-feedings with formula because she was not producing enough milk, according to the study.”

      Well thank God she had the good sense to do that. Still not sure how she EBF for the first several weeks while only producing 8 oz of milk per day, but whatevs.

      This is dumb as shit. And I’m not saying that for the whole transgender reason. It’s dumb as hell to pump yourself full of a bunch of medications (they’re “toxins,” right?) for some self-fulfilling prophecy. I wonder if the lactivists will start targeting the transgender community. “Real women breastfeed,” you know. I wonder if they will receive undue harassment and pressure, or be made to feel the need to “prove” themselves in this way. It worries me.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        “Real women breastfeed”
        That’s what jumped out at me about this story as well. I fear that the experience of motherhood has become too defined by the breastfeeding relationship. There are so many different ways to be a mother and a woman that there’s no reason for anyone to tie themselves in knots to provide breastmilk when formula is a perfectly safe and healthy alternative. Far too often the baby gets forgotten in the equation as the mother struggles to fulfill her perceived duty to breastfeed.

      • momofone

        Ugh. Real women know themselves and their needs well enough to make their own decisions without permission or approval from other people. You said it perfectly; this is dumb as shit.

      • Tigger_the_Wing

        Quite apart from the fact that at least one of the medications has actually been banned, for causing lethal heart disorders, and that all of them can be passed through breastmilk? That is child abuse, pure and simple.

    • Gene

      Oh FFS! It’s like the mother was didn’t vaccinate her child because “chemicals” who screamed at me when I wouldn’t prescribe antibiotics for her child’s cold. I asked her what the difference was between the chemicals in the vaccine and the chemicals in the antibiotics. She flat out said she didn’t know but that the antibiotics were “better” chemicals.

      So she pumped her body full of chemicals and hormones that may or may not have a long term affect on her body and may or may not have passed to her child in the breast milk to unknown effect for WHAT BENEFIT??? My spouse didn’t squeeze our kids out of a bodily oriface nor feed them with his bodily fluids. But those kids love him to bits and run to him first.

      • Allie

        “My spouse didn’t squeeze our kids out of a bodily oriface nor feed them with his bodily fluids. But those kids love him to bits and run to him first.”

        And therein lies the rub : /

    • crazy mama, PhD

      My spouse is transitioning male-to-female and wishes they had been capable of breastfeeding our children. Not exclusively, not to prove anything about womanhood, just as something that they very much wanted to experience. We had the following conversation this morning.

      Spouse: “Did you see that article about the trans woman breastfeeding?”

      Me: “Yeah, but I didn’t read it in detail.”

      Spouse: “I would be worried about the effect of experimental drugs on a newborn.”

      Me: “Me too. You hear about a lot of cis women taking weird stuff to increase milk production. At least she wasn’t taking illegal domperidone.”

      Spouse: “That’s what it said she took—domperidone.”

      Me: “Wow. Yikes.”

  • Stef

    This is quite frankly embarrassing. America have some of the highest maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality rates amongst the developed countries. Compare their obstetric led system to the more shared system of midwifery and obstetric led care that you see in the UK and you will find that our outcomes are pretty impressive compared to America’s. Midwives work with pregnant women and their families from the start of their pregnancy, through labour and birth and even visit families at home to help with feeding support etc up until the baby is a month old. Any time a midwife is concerned about a woman or baby’s health they refer to the doctor and work alongside them to ensure good care is provided.
    This American doctor is arguing over minuscule points. I’m sure she wouldn’t feel so confident comparing death rates between these two countries.

    • Lilly de Lure

      Furness General Hospital ring any bells? How about James Titcombe and his son Joshua? Or how about the recent study indicating that 80% of perinatal deaths in UK hospitals could and should have been prevented?

      https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/28/four-out-of-five-full-term-baby-deaths-uk-could-be-prevented-study

      Evidently we have a problem in current maternity care with midwives not recognising when they are out of the depth and refusing to call in qualified help until it is too late (a problem I have personal experience with during the birth of my son to the point where if I hadn’t directly defied the midwives “helping” me and insisted on an “unnecessary” caesarian against their orders (and yes their opinions were expressed very much in terms of orders, I was certainly not informed by the midwives concerned that going against them was an option) my son would have died).

      I am a firm supporter of the NHS. I have nothing but praise for the support I received from my GP, the surgical team who delivered my baby safely and the health visitors who looked after us once we were safely home. However the ideological loathing of interventions, any pain relief options other than breathing and gas and air on display from the midwifery community, together with the thinly veiled contempt in which they hold mothers who do not buy their party line needs to be challenged as it is killing the babies and shaming and traumatising the mothers this profession professes to be helping. This is not an issue with the nature of the NHS (although funding issues most certainly do not help, but that’s on the current government not the practitioners within the service) but with the ideological bent of too many midwives (and now junior doctors) working within its ranks.

      I for one find it profoundly disturbing that, having been forced to (at least officially) give up on the Campaign for Normal Births due to an unacceptably high perinatal death rate the response from the midwife community is not introspection or any attempt to improve, but merely to shift the same old mistakes and malpractices away from birth and on to the post-natal period.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      This American doctor is arguing over minuscule points.

      Just for the record, it was Michele Upton who brought up those “minuscule points.” If they are so minuscule, you should call her out for bringing them up in the first place.

      Great lets focus on the big issues. I agree. So tell Upton to stop wasting time blathering about silly, unimportant stuff.

      Oh, and if she is going to talk about it, stop making shit up.

    • CSN0116

      Except the perinatal mortality rate is the proper measure by which to evaluate the quality of obstetrical or midwifery care. And America’s perinatal mortality rate is rock bottom low.

    • Sarah

      Oh I think she would. Do a search. I’m a Brit btw. Also, these are not minusicle points and the very suggestion is appalling.

  • Lisa Hunt

    You are one ignorant, ill educated and misinformed person. You clearly show little understanding of midwifery practice or maternity care in the UK. Your article is full of lies and misinformation. I’d love to invite you over to the UK to educate yourselves on this further. Or is your agenda a self serving one? Peddling lies about our system to justify your shoddy one?

    • Zornorph

      Can you please point out some of Dr. Amy’s lies or misinformation in the article she posted? With specific examples to back up your claims? I’m not from the UK; I’d be interested in what you have to say.

    • Amazed

      You have totally converted me with your flawless, fact-supported opinion. As an older, overweight woman with chronic low blood pressure, I totally want to have my first baby with you, in the UK! You will be my homebirth midwife, won’t you?

      • Who?

        Yes Lisa is clearly a powerful and persuasive thinker and communicator.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Hey, I’ll grant her one thing. At least she didn’t call Dr A a cunt. I was expecting to see that

          • Sarah

            I dunno, I thought maybe witch or insane. The insults recently have had that ageist flavour too. Cunt is a good opener, but I’ve started to expect to see something relating to being an older woman too. Otherwise I’m just disappointed.

          • Who?

            Damning with faint praise….

            Anyway there’s only 100 or so comments at the moment-wait until the real fun starts, that square on nutcase bingo will be filled in soon enough.

    • MaineJen

      Would you care to refute the words of the many, many UK moms who post here? They’ve basically confirmed the facts presented here. Or do you not deal in facts?

    • Hannah

      I’m a US to UK transplant, and she is absolutely right. There are serious problems with midwifery care here, and quite frankly, had I not been high risk and away from midwives, I would have felt them to be incredibly negligent in my care. I actually had a c-section because I didnt trust that they wouldn’t kill my son in labour with their negligence. And it’s not just my hospital, it’s all over the country. It’s a top-down poison left unchecked and running rampant. The only self-serving agenda here is the one from the midwives, trying to maintain control over something when their qualifications have been outstripped by something higher.

    • Tigger_the_Wing

      Would you like to accuse all the women in/from the UK who are commenting here of being ignorant?

      Or would you prefer to be a bigger person than that, and actually listen to the complaints and resolve to do something about them?

  • Gæst

    Her idea that bonding must occur in the first hour is offensive to families with NICU babies, adopted children, mothers with emergency medical conditions…

    I was separated from my babies for a full 24 hours after birth, and it was a week and a half before I got to take them home and really hold them and care for them. I dare the UK Midwifery Campaign to come tell me to my face that my children aren’t bonded to me as strongly as the children of mothers who got their “golden hour.”

    And side note: I have finally figured out what was preventing me to comment here for weeks!

    • Sue

      AND fathers. Many fathers of Cesarean-born babies will never forget being the first person to hold their brand-new baby, while the mother is stitched up and recovered. They could gaze at the little person, unencumbered by pain or immense fatigue.

      • Gæst

        Fathers? Bonded to children?? What will we have next, male midwives?!? 😀

        • Zornorph

          Wouldn’t they be midhusbands?

          • Roadstergal

            Are they from Midgard?

          • The Vitaphone Queen

            “With husband”?

        • Lsn

          Where I gave birth had a couple of male midwives. They were very professional – knocked/asked before coming in, said what was going to happen before doing any procedures etc. There were also a couple of male nurses in NICU, one of whom I still catch up with occasionally.

        • Hannah

          I had a male midwife on the postnatal ward. He was brilliant, genuinely plan to request him again if possible. The rest of the ward warranted a multi-page complaint letter. But he was frikking awesome

      • MaineJen

        My favorite picture of my husband is of him holding our daughter in the delivery room (it was not a c section, but I was off doing something recovery-related); she’s all wrapped up like a burrito, and he’s got the most beautiful grin on his face.

        • Tigger_the_Wing

          It doesn’t bother me in the least that my husband held ours before I did – I’d had months of pregnancy, after all – and, as you say, the look on Dad’s face is priceless.

          • maidmarian555

            My children’s father held both of them before me. It was a beautiful moment both times and it was so special *for him* to be able to do that. Once you get back to recovery, so much focus is on mum and feeding and blah blah blah. That little moment of calm where he got to snuggle his babies all to himself was precious.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        With our first, he was “whisked off to the nursery” for prepping and measurements right after he was born while my wife was being sewn up. I went along and watched, but that was about all. I brought him to mom when she was done, I think, but that was about it.

        With our second, there was no room in the nursery at the time, so I had to take him to the room for an hour while mom was being sewn up, and all I did was hold him. Not skin-to-skin or anything, but it was just him and me for the first hour. Then mom came in and I had to share.

        Now, 9 and 7 years later, respectively, if I would say anything, it is my older son who is closer to me while my younger guy is more connected to his mom. No correlation at all with the first hour.

        In fact, if there is any correlation, it is more like what was the case for days 2-3 in the hospital with baby 2, where I was home taking care of child 1 and she had nothing to do but to sit and hold baby 2.

        So much for that golden hour, eh?

      • Allie

        Agreed, except he was pretty damn fatigued by that point. However, he did look just as pleased as punch as he sat next to the head of my bed holding her while the OB stitched up my clitoral artery : )

        Incidentally, I spent the alleged magical golden hour almost bleeding to death, and she was sound asleep by the time the last stitch was tied. Did not impede breastfeeding or bonding one iota.

    • Stef

      Skin to skin contact is promoted in the first hour of live as it is proven to increase breast feeding rates – babies breast feed so much more easily if they feed at the breast within the first hour of life. They also have better temperatures which means they are less likely to become hypoglycaemic and hearing mummy’s heart rate helps their bodies system develop more easily from intrauterine to extrauterine life eg the foramen ovalie in the heart closes quicker so are less likely to have heart murmurs etc. The advice re skin to skin is for HEALTHY term babies, not for a baby that needs NICU care.

      • fiftyfifty1

        citations?

      • mabelcruet

        Proof? The Cochrane database concludes that immediate skin to skin for healthy babies ‘appears to benefit breast feeding outcomes’ but that more investigation is needed, and that the various trials they assessed had a lot of variation in quality when it came to methodology, implementation and outcome assessment. So yes, it should be promoted and enabled if that is what the mother wants and if the baby is healthy, but it shouldn’t be presented as an absolute must or necessity.

      • Roadstergal

        Wait – did you just say that skin-to-skin in the first hour of life ensures proper heart development?

        That’s an interesting hypothesis. Also, breastfeeding ensures that you finish Arkham City in one afternoon.

        • Gæst

          Seems like cause and effect is all wrong there. Premature babies are more likely to have issues with the foramen ovalie…and less likely to be able to do immediate skin-to-skin.

      • momofone

        Other people have addressed the need for citations. I want to ask that you please not refer to people as “mummy”–unless it’s yours. It’s infantilizing.

        • Roadstergal

          It gives me flashbacks to the Dr Who episode “The Empty Child.”

          • demodocus

            but everybody lived!

          • Roadstergal

            Totally! OT, but – my mom died when I was young, so Father’s Day really rips me up. But Empty Child/Doctor Dances makes me so happy to watch. Canonical bisexual hero, Rose being awesome, and Everybody Lives. Just a great set of episodes, and they made me love Nine.

          • Mishimoo

            My kids delighted in wandering around quoting that for weeks. Scared a lot of people, it was beautiful.

        • The Vitaphone Queen

          Or unless they’re bandage-trailing pharaohs from Ancient Egypt.*

          *Yes, I know not all mummies were bandage-trailing pharaohs from Ancient Egypt. And I know that’s not the kind of mummy you mean.

          **I borrowed that from Nickelodeon Magazine.

          ***I keep typing “pharaoh” as “pharoah”. Thanks, American Pharoah.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        You seemed to have entirely missed the point of this post. The claims you are parroting are more of the lies told to mothers to scare them. It worked on you, didn’t it?

      • Sue

        Temperature affects blood sugar?
        “Hearing mummy’s heart rate helps their bodies system develop more easily from intrauterine to extrauterine life”
        “the foramen ovalie in the heart closes quicker so are less likely to have heart murmurs etc”

        Huh?

        You do know, don’t you, that you are commenting on a specialist physician’s blog?

      • Gæst

        Others have pointed out the need for evidence, so I’ll stick to this – it doesn’t matter that skin-to-skin is for healthy babies. The lie I objected to is that babies who get immediate skin-to-skin are more “bonded” to their mother than those who don’t. Obviously a baby needing immediate care must be given it. But it’s offensive to say that such a child doesn’t form as deep a bond to its parents because of it – because it isn’t true.

    • Lsn

      Yeah my 12 days without skin to skin contact with my son totally affected bonding – I still can’t go to the loo in peace!

  • namaste

    “Most women would prefer to give birth as physiologically as possible.”

    “Most women want to give birth as safely and with as little pain as possible, and don’t really give a rat’s ass what it takes to make that happen.”

    There. Fixed it.

    • Who?

      Thankyou.

      We could go further: ‘Most people would like to live as safely and pain-free as possible, and be offered whatever support is necessary for that to happen.’

      The premise is hardly controversial but these people seem to struggle with it.

      • Sarah

        It’s because you’re confusing ‘women’ with ‘people.’

        • Who?

          I know-I’ll be lined up for re-education before too long.

    • MaineJen

      AGREE

  • Cartman36

    I don’t understand where this sudden fury over bonding came from. the hospital I will have baby # 3 at has small rooms, no nursery, and two hours daily quiet time to promote “bonding”. Has there been a rash of babies running around not bonded to their parents? Both my #1 and #2 spent time in the nursery and they hang on me like spider monkeys.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      I have the theory that they are so selfish and care so little about the babies that they would not bond if the babies AND the experience they have are not perfect. I completely agree with Dr Tuteur that the baby is just a prop.

      Most mothers on the other hand do not need perfection to bond with their children. I did not held my son until he was well over 48 hours old and we are very much bonded. Very much. He seems to be very bonded to me as well. I guess he will complain about me to his psychologist when he is 30 or 40, regarding something terrible I have done, like not letting him get drunk at 15, our choice of school or something, but for now he seems to be really well bonded.

      • BeatriceC

        It was six *weeks* before I held my youngest. We’re bonded as well as any parent and teenager can be.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      My NICU kid clings to me like velcro when we’re in a room with other grownups or more than a couple kids. She’s not my snuggle-bunny, but her love is pretty obvious, and you know, I kinda like her too. (that’s a joke, in case anyone was unclear)

    • Sue

      “Has there been a rash of babies running around not bonded to their parents?”

      The opposite: there us a rash of parents running around, overly worried about potential “bonding” issues.

      Current “bonding” paranoia is a corruption of the psychological research, which is about extreme neglect – like the horrors uncovered in those Romanian orphanages years ago. Whether babies go to the nursery or not during the first few days of their lives hasn’t been shown to have any effect on babies – except, maybe, preventing them being dropped on the floor or smothered by exhausted mothers.

    • J.B.

      Not to mention that some babies have colic or just high intensity. As a parent person it’s really hard to feel bonded to a screaming dissatisfied few weeks old person. And at the time they certainly seem not happy! But somehow everyone survived and settled down. It’s hard not to beat yourself up over the screaming, but babies are babies.

  • Gene

    Every time someone trumpets the importance of the first few days required for bonding makes me furious on behalf of all adoptive parents and, of course, fathers. Babies can only bond with goddess mothers who give birth vaginally without interventions and solely breastfeed? Rubbish!

    • ukay

      Second that. It is a hideous thing to say. I would add that it is also especially nasty, because some newborns need inmediate medical treatment or be transferred to NICU. How dare anyone imply that the mothers (and fathers) will never have a strong enough bond with their children. Bah!

      • LaMont

        I once saw a play based on a real family that used audio recordings from the mother, saying that she literally believes that lifesaving interventions at her twins’ extremely early birth is what caused her daughter’s borderline personality disorder. As in, “they were separated from me and each other, and doctors don’t care about the damage they’re doing”. She literally said that she’s not sure what lifesaving treatments should be used, based on the psychological damage to newborns. The show also made a point about how she breastfed them till they were three to re-establish that closeness. Maybe the trauma of their nearly deadly birth hurt *mom* so much that she raised her girls thinking they were severely inferior and that love was conditional, and THAT did a number on the girls, far more than a medical incident they don’t remember? Ugh.

        • Merrie

          Would have been hard to bond with a dead kid. Jeez.

        • Sue

          Cos being extremely premature doesn’t have complications of its own? Or there are no people with borderline personality disorder who were born vaginally, at full term?

        • ukay

          Yeah, and breastfeeding and birthing like Eve is really all you can do (and all it takes and all you need to do)to raise a confident, well-adjusted child. Geez, those poor children.

        • mabelcruet

          That reminds me of Kate Tietje, modern alternative mama, writing that awful post about how she loved her son more than her daughter, because her daughter was sub-par having been born in hospital rather than a home birth. And blaming the poor girls difficult personality and intestinal issues on the diet that Tietje was eating at the time she was pregnant.

        • Eater of Worlds

          I think some kinds of love should be conditional and people should be taught how to love that way. What kind? Well, the love you have for a partner. If your partner does not support and protect you, then are they worthy of your love? If they intentionally hurt you (physically or emotionally) or let your in-laws and their family abuse you, should you continue to love them while they let the abuse continue, are they worthy of your love and should you just take the abuse because you love them? Heck no.

          Even my love for my parents is conditional. My mother abused me growing up, She refused counseling, refused to meet me halfway on anything regarding our issues and that’s when I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep on trying to love her.

          My love for pets is unconditional. They do not hurt people or other animals maliciously and consciously. Would I love kids conditionally? Maybe, probably? Like if my kid grows up to be a pedophile, but only thinks about it and hasn’t acted, I’m sure I’d still love them. They are dealing with an attraction they didn’t ask for nor did they want. Now, if my child had acted on it? I don’t know that I’d love them unconditionally if they made the choice to hurt children.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Agreed, it’s so stupid, baby humans are not baby ducks, they don’t imprint on the first being they see. Humans are adaptable and pretty resilient, it’s like our superpower. People take studies that were done of children in understaffed orphanages where young babies and children did not get any/nearly enough human interaction and somehow make assumptions that Only interaction with birth mom is important and nothing else measures up. One of these things is not like the other!

      • AnnaPDE

        Of course they are. And that’s why obstetricians and midwives have a neat little line of babies and toddlers trailing them: after all, that’s usually whom a baby sees first.

      • Gæst

        If they did imprint on the first person they saw, there’s be a millions of adults bonded to the doctor who delivered them!

        • Amazed

          No, you miss Very Important Part of the goop they drip in these tiny people’s eyes. The goop makes their sight unclear, so they can unbond from the doctor!

        • That was very much the rationale behind the Leboyer method. The mother just lay there while all the initial interaction was between the doctor, who was gently dunking the baby in warm baths, and the baby. It was very trendy until Adrienne Rich wrote a scathing review of it.

      • Kim

        The other side to this, though, is the mother. I know mothers who had their babies delivered by c-section under general anaesthetic who had difficulty believing that the baby was actually theirs. It’s also very common for a woman who has had a traumatic birth to bond with her baby, particularly if the baby is removed immediately after birth for medical care.

        • demodocus

          That can happen either way. I had skin to skin and rooming in with my first. I was still feeling surprised that they let me take home this bitty person even though I know full well we came into the hospital together.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            I had skin to skin and rooming in and I still felt weirdly disconnected the first day or two after she was born, of course that may have been more due to lack of sleep, but in any case it wore off pretty quickly. I didn’t actually appreciate the skin to skin when I was being sewn up in the delivery room.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            I had all the “baby friendly” stuff too, and I also felt pretty disconnected that first night after giving birth. I still wonder whether it was the drugs (pitocin, epidural, anti-nausea meds – none of which I would have given up!), the exhaustion, the 24+ hours without eating or just the enormity of the situation. I remember commenting to my husband that I felt like my head was under water and everything was moving in slow motion. He got me a quesadilla and a diet coke and that perked me up a bit lol

          • BeatriceC

            Maternal “bonding” is such a weird thing. I was fiercely connected to a baby I’d only briefly glimpsed for a few seconds while they rushed him out to resuscitate him, then put him on a helicopter to transport him to a hospital with a level 3 NICU. I didn’t even meet him until he was three days old. Though PPD reared it’s ugly head a few days later and I backtracked a little bit on that count, and then I gradually redeveloped that fierce connection again over the next days, weeks, and months.

            Then again with the second and third babies, I experienced similar cycles. With the middle one I was perfectly healthy, felt a fierce connection, and he was stable enough to be put on my chest for a couple minutes before being taken off to NICU. That time we were in the same hospital, but it would be another almost week before he came off the vent and could be held again. Depression hit, I backtracked, then rebuilt. With the little one, I was so sick I barely remember the first few days, but I remember being confused but only caring about where the baby was. Again, the baby had to be transported to a different hospital, this time not because the hospital where I was at didn’t have a cutting edge NICU, but because they didn’t have any beds available for a baby that critical. He was transported to one of the other hospitals in Miami that did have a bed open for a baby that sick. And then I had the same cycle with him, in spite of not being able to hold him at all for six weeks. Fierce connection, depression, backtracking, rebuilding. By that time I think I was expecting the PPD to hit, so I managed it a lot better than previously, so it wasn’t as difficult.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          The other side to this, though, is the mother. I know mothers who had their babies delivered by c-section under general anaesthetic who had difficulty believing that the baby was actually theirs.

          A year or so ago, there was a show on Public TV in the US called “Sex in the Wild.” It talked a lot about animals having babies in the wild, and wild animals having babies in captivity.

          There were a couple of great cases described. The best outcome was an orangutan that was having complications and therefore had to have a c-section. They didn’t just do a spinal block, of course, they had her completely out. The question was would she even know she had the baby, and would she recognize it and bond.

          The answer to both was emphatically yes. She woke up and they gave her the baby, and she went crazy with joy.

          So much for a c-section preventing bonding. This was an animal that didn’t even know what was going on, so you couldn’t explain it to her so she could make the rational move. She acted naturally, and bonded great with her c-section baby.

          The sad story was of the elephant that they had followed for years, all the way through her pregnancy (that’s like, 2 years, right?). She finally had her baby. And then died due to complications resulting from childbirth (it took a bit before she died, but she never really recovered).

        • StephanieA

          In reality, this usually does not happen. Plenty of women deliver under GA, and the vast majority of them bond with their babies just fine (my sister being one of them).

        • Well, all three of mine were born by C/S under general anesthesia, and my middle child was so chilled in the OR that she was in a warmer for 6 hours before I got to see her, and I never had the slightest problem bonding with any of them. I can remember when “bonding” became the latest fad in the 60s. Thought it was a gimmick then, think it is now. From the time Queen Victoria got chloroform with her 7th birth, to the advent of epidurals, the majority of women who delivered in hospitals got “twilight sleep”, and hundreds of thousands of babies and mothers did not suffer one bit from “bonding” deprivation. Quite a few of those babies were exclusively bottle fed, too, since that was touted as the “modern” way, and we all turned out OK.

          IMO, it’s all marketing. Just as fashion literally reverses itself every couple of years so that you must entirely replace your wardrobe in order to allow the fashion industry to empty your wallet, so are nearly all the trends in pregnancy, birth, and raising children “reinvented” every so often.

          All one needs, really, is common sense.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        I totally agree, and I also think that putting “bonding” on a pedestal like this makes it seem like it means something different than just loving each other, which in turn can make some moms wonder if we’re doing it right. I know I’ve struggled with this concept, as someone who is generally pretty guarded with my emotions. I actually think I did pretty much all the things that are typically listed as ‘bonding necessities’ early on (I wasn’t obsessive about skin to skin but we did cuddle a lot) but I still never felt like there was ever this magical moment where I felt Bonded™ all of a sudden. If I’m feeling insecure I just always remind myself that I love my son, I have the constant urge to care for him and protect him and I miss him when he’s not around. He’s only about 8 months old so that’s how I would define bonding right now. I guess when he can talk he’ll tell me how he feels 😉

        • Cat

          Yes – I’ve read a lot of posts on various forums from anxious new mothers saying stuff like “I love my baby so much and I’d do anything for him, but I’m worried that we haven’t bonded”. It just seems so sad and unnecessary. If you’re meeting your baby’s needs, you’re doing great. If you also feel love, that’s a bonus because plenty of brilliant mothers don’t feel insta love the moment their baby is handed to them. During the tiny baby stage, you won’t get much back because newborns don’t do much but your baby will gradually come to love and rely on you (and any other familiar adult who is responsive to its needs). Yet mothers get terrified into believing that Bonding is some mystical, elusive process over and above all of this, which can generally only be achieved by following a rigid set of protocols.

      • Lilly de Lure

        The cynic in me wonders if this is because, short of the studies done on extremely neglected children (such as those in the Ceausescu era orphanages in Romania) bonding is a distinctly subjective concept that has not really been defined, let alone studied in even vaguely functional situations (and doing studies in such situations would have huge ethical problems). As such it can mean whatever the speaker wishes it to mean and they can fearmonger about potential dangers to it as much as they choose without anyone being able to definitively say they are talking nonsense.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          The cynic in me wonders if this is because, short of the studies done on extremely neglected children (such as those in the Ceausescu era orphanages in Romania) bonding is a distinctly subjective concept that has not really been defined, let alone studied in even vaguely functional situations.

          I don’t think that’s true. I think bonding has actually been pretty well studied in psychology. The issue is that, outside of extremely neglected children such as those in Romanian orphanages, the effects of bonding are hard to see. Because there are so many ways for it to happen and manifest itself, as long as there is someone there to bond to, it happens in some way. It’s not about constant attachment. It’s about the emotional needs, and having someone there to fulfill them.

          The reason bonding studies have to resort to cases like Romanian orphanages is because that is the level of neglect you have to see before it really becomes an issue.

          It’s not there is any problem in understanding and defining bonding, it’s that the AP world has tried to co-opt it into something way beyond what it is.

          • Lilly de Lure

            Cheers for the info 🙂

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Make no mistake, it is my very, very layman interpretation of the topic based on training I’ve had in other issues. The main lesson I would tell you is, don’t let the AP narrative mislead you, and don’t mistake your lack of knowledge of what has been done for a real lack of knowledge in the field. There is a field of psych that looks into this phenomenon, and I trust that it has smart people who have a clue what they are doing. It just is completely unrelated to what AP people say.

      • StephanieJR

        Humans are really good at bonding, with just about anything. We create robots and give them personalities. We take tiny predators and turn them into housepets. We get attached to inanimate objects all the time.

        I don’t see why you have to do a magical ritual to love the small person you wanted and created.

        • Mishimoo

          Yes! I love the tumblr posts about the whole “Humans will bond with ANYTHING” concept, they’re just so much fun (and were recently turned into a sci-fi anthology called ‘Humans Wanted’).

          • StephanieJR

            I may have made a board on Pinterest with that exact theme.

    • kilda

      thank you! I’ve said it before, I didn’t meet my daughter til she was 9 and we bonded just fine, thanks. Not only did I not squeeze her out of my vagina or breast feed her, I don’t even KNOW if she was breastfed or if she was born vaginally or by C section. Nor do I care.

      • Sarah

        I trust you induced lactation and engaged in a rebirthing ceremony as soon as the papers were signed, though?

        • kilda

          yes, but it got kind of hard to keep breastfeeding her once she was taller than me.

          • ukay

            That is no excuse. With support and proper education there is no reason to wean. Please contact your local LC ICBLC.

          • Sarah

            There’s got to be a hold for that…

          • Allie

            How about a half nelson?

    • aurora

      And NICU babies.

    • Mel

      My snippet of a 26 week old baby seemed to recognize me and my husband right off the bat. When we’d put our hands on him, he’d totally relax and his oxygen saturations would be excellent.

      He’d have cranky days where he’d desat every time the nurse touched him or the isolette (and I’m not exaggerating about that) but he’d improve when my husband or I “cuddled” him.

      Once he was old enough to be held by volunteer baby rockers, my son somehow conned the rockers into showing up at his bay and asking for him by name. This was probably because he clearly luxurated in being held by people and just about purred with happiness the entire time.

      Baby humans are pretty damn helpless – and they are strongly hardwired to bond with adult figures who will work at keeping them alive. More surprisingly, adult humans are fairly non-picky about bonding to babies, too.

      Spawn-baby is nearly 15 months old/12 months adjusted. I gave birth to him with about every intervention known to man and never breast-feed him directly. In spite of that – rolls eyes – he clearly likes me and my husband and we are really attached to him as well.

    • Allie

      Don’t forget grandparents. Mine is extremely well-bonded to her grandparents, even her grandma who lives across the country, whom she met when she was 8.5 months old and sees only every year or two. She is generally shy around new people, but she took to my mom and siblings and her cousins right away and talks about them constantly in between visits (she’s 5 now and we’ve been 3 times). My husband says blood recognizes blood, but that doesn’t explain the bond to my stepdad. Hmm… it’s almost like they can bond at any time with any one who is nice to them and takes care of them, and not just the naked booby lady during the first hour of life.

  • MaineJen

    Could the high admission rate also be related to the UK’s practice of sending the mom and baby home the same day? That just seems awfully fast. The standard is 2 days (I believe) in the US, but in the UK they don’t even keep you overnight.

    • mizzleslondon

      For straightforward deliveries I believe the target is 6 hours! But another factor is that the postnatal wards are often pretty grim so patients don’t want to stay any longer than the doctors insist on. I was in a central London teaching hospital and I was begging to go home after 2 nights, 2 litre pph and hb count of <7 notwithstanding. It was so hot, so unpleasant and I felt like I was losing my mind rapidly. Although there had been talk of a transfusion they gave me iron tablets and sent me on my way, not mentioning that the anaemia could affect breastfeeding. In fairness, you do get midwives and health visitors coming to your home very soon after you are discharged, so issues should get picked up quickly. But the pressure on beds means that you get moved through the system pretty swiftly.

      • maidmarian555

        I spent one night on the post-natal ward after both my c-sections and that was absolutely enough for me. It was awful (and I think that’s being quite generous). One of the things I did think was interesting is that after #1, when I told them I absolutely couldn’t stand being there any longer (too hot, too noisy, care was dreadful, food was shocking and I had been awake for days and couldn’t sleep there), one of the midwives said I could pay for my own room at the standalone midwife centre (about 20mins away) if I wanted a better environment (and my OH to stay with me). Which says a lot about how stretched they actually are if they’ve got individual rooms they can sell to exhausted new mums (I’ve had friends offered the same too, so it wasn’t a random event).

        • AnotherOor

          In Canada they let you pay for a private room, which I did, and I was still absolutely dying to get out of there. 2 nights in after a c section, it was awful.

          • maidmarian555

            So that’s two countries with allegedly universal healthcare where (certainly in some places) you can pay extra to get care that, frankly, should really be expected. That’s….not good.

          • AnotherOor

            Oh don’t get me started. My son had open heart surgery to repair a VSD at 7 months old. On his third night in hospital, in the middle of the night, a nurse came to tell us we may get bumped from our private room (which we hadn’t requested or paid for because we were told it would be a given) because the ER was really full. I don’t really know what that was about but I had to wonder if someone down in ER was willing to pay for the room we were getting for free. How in the hell is a 7 month old baby, who just had heart surgery, supposed to rest in a room with 3 other young patients?

          • StephanieJR

            That’s awful. I hope he’s doing well now.

          • AnotherOor

            Thank you, he’s 100% healed. Babies are amazing!

          • Sue

            It would be unethical for them to bump you from a single room because someone else was paying. Hopefully it was for clinical need. It could have been the need for iinfectious isolation – that’s another common use for single rooms.

          • Mishimoo

            My husband’s cousin still complains 10+ years later about being in a single room after giving birth. She wanted to be in the normal 4 bed room with all the other tired mums and crying babies, which I don’t understand. The reason for receiving her own room? An active golden staph infection! But no, the nurses were being meeeean and impacting on her mothering experience by putting her in her own room.

          • AnotherOor

            Yes, I thought of that as another possibility. It was the end of July, not exactly cold and flu season though. I’m sure it could have been a number of things.

          • BeatriceC

            Completely the opposite experience: Two of my three kids have a genetic bone disease. Several years ago both of them had surgery on the same day (the first of two times this has happened…not sure which is worse, this way, or surgery a week or two apart). The hospital had recently eliminated all of it’s double rooms on the ortho unit. They were scrambling to find a way to admit both my boys so I would have to run across the hospital to two different rooms fairly far apart. They managed to find an old double room on an overflow unit that hadn’t been fully converted to a single room, and moved the patient that had been in there to a different room to put both of my kids in it.

          • ukay

            This is very much the system we have here. There is „public“ and private insurance. Hospitals get very little money from public insurance for births. Therefore, they shower privately insured people with better care because they can be billed more. The plebs have to share rooms and mostly figure stuff out by themselves. To be fair, the birth departments need to get their money from somewhere.

          • ukay

            I forgot: when you want your own room, so someone can stay with you, you pay around 100 bucks extra per night.

          • maidmarian555

            You can’t get private maternity care here very easily here. It’s tightly regulated and whilst there are some hospitals that offer it (mostly in London) almost all mums go through the NHS. That’s why I was surprised as there’s nothing on either the hospital’s website or in the literature they give you that indicates you can get better rooms if you pay. It seems to be kept under the radar, quite possibly on purpose.

        • Anna

          Thats terrible. Admittedly I am lucky. My local hospital is brand new and I was given a private room possibly because of my obstetric history but I stayed 4nights. After 3 I didn’t feel ready to discharge so I asked to stay another. Then we had a night in SCN. I slept (sort ot) on a couch. I had my own bathroom and space to move around, totally private. There were other women in shared rooms and their partners weren’t allowed to stay but they were (as far as I know) all uncomplicated vaginal births – so they only stayed one or two nights. Only cost was parking for hubby.

          • maidmarian555

            When I had my daughter, the mum in the bed next to me was a nightmare and kept pressing the buzzer every five minutes until about 3am. Which kept waking my baby up. Then she would ask me what was ‘wrong’ with my screaming baby. Then when she wasn’t pressing the buzzer, the nurses were coming in repeatedly because her baby wasn’t feeding, she was refusing formula and insisting that it was totally fine that her baby had been sleeping for hours and hours and that she was exclusively breastfeeding and that was that. Instead of them staying with her to make sure that baby was actually eating, they were latching the sleepy baby and then going away again, at which point she would immediately put the baby back in the bassinet. They would then come back, scold her and go through the whole thing again. Eventually the baby got taken to the NICU I think (and when she finally nodded off she snored like a train). Despite pressing the buzzer non-stop, she never once did so to ask for help with her baby. It was for dropped phones and to complain about the heat etc etc. Several times I had to hobble to the corridor to settle my daughter as it was much quieter out there. Fun times that I am glad I will not be repeating.

          • MaineJen

            Good god :0

        • Lilly de Lure

          Ouch, you’re giving me hives! I was on the pre-natal ward under observation for two weeks prior to giving birth and it was basically used as a spillover from the post-natal ward during that time because they were so busy (at one point I was the only woman in the pre-natal ward who didn’t have her baby with her yet). Same issues here as you describe (although no offer of a private room in my case money or not) – I think I would have gone completely mad if not for my knitting and Mary Beard (I’d just bought one of her books before I went in and had it on me throughout my stay).

    • Sarah

      The majority of women stay in at least one night iirc, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right.

    • It depends on the availability of local community midwife service. In my day, we had to visit every day until the 10th postpartum day to be sure mother and baby were OK. It was a legal requirement. If the home was not suitable for early discharge, the patients stayed in hospital for the full 10 days. Heaven only knows what the current policy is now.

      • Who?

        That’s what I had in the early nineties, and the midwives cae until they were happy that feeding was established and all was going well. They were great.

        • Mishimoo

          It’s what I had between 2006-2013, and they were mostly lovely ladies. I answered the door to one while feeding bub, and she was like “Oh my g-d, wow. I guess we don’t need to talk about breastfeeding then”.
          My only complaint was the one who was trying to talk me into trying a homebirth next time. Thank goodness I didn’t! The last one needed pitocin augmentation and had shoulder dystocia.

      • maidmarian555

        I was discharged from hospital the day after my c-section. I had a home visit 2 days after that. I had 3 home visits in total and an appt with my midwife at 2wks for discharge from the midwifery service. All the home visits were done by different people, not my midwife. With #1, I only had one home visit and had to get to the local community hospital for all the subsequent appointments, which was not ideal. I think it probably varies depending on where you live, how stretched the service is and how good the local community team are.

  • Megan

    Expecting kiddo number three in April and looking forward to using the nursery for some breaks while I’m hospitalized postpartum from my CS. I’ll be combo feeding or EFF depending on how things go as well. Some of the nurses judged me last time and I’m sure they will again but that’s the beauty of having multiple kids. I know that none of it will make a lick of difference and couldn’t care less what they think of my mothering, TYVM. Happy for interventions, happy for my RCS, happy for formula and happy for still having a nursery available to me. “Natural” would’ve killed me (and my first child) years ago.

    • Things might have changed. My hospital was trying to go “Baby-Friendly” when I delivered Baby #2, and I was made to sign the I-am-a-bad-mother form to get formula, but by the time I delivered Baby #3 they’d given that nonsense up and the nurse cheerfully got me lots of formula with nary a negative word. Apparently, lots of parents had complained about the BFHI measures, and wonder of wonders, the administrators listened!

      • Sue

        But how many mothers and babies had to suffer during that period of bad policy?

        • Lots, I’m sure. But remember, they were being told that Breastfeeding Is Essential, and that the 10 steps of BFHI were necessary to implement breastfeeding. I think it is very much to their credit that they rejected this ideology in favor of listening to actual patient experiences.

  • mabelcruet

    In the UK, the vast majority of midwives are employed by the NHS. They get paid the same whether a woman delivers in a standalone unit, in an alongside unit, or if she ends up being transferred out to a medical unit-they get the same salary and its not dependent on the number of deliveries they deal with. So how come they are so desperate to big themselves up as the experts? How come they actively propagandize against medical intervention? Its not like there isn’t enough work to go round and they need more customers, so why are they actively promoting in a way which provides non-evidenced and biased information to parents? Is it professional jealousy, because the medics can prescribe drugs or undertake procedures that they can’t, or do they genuinely believe in the ‘information’ they are spouting?

    • Sue

      It’s ideology. Midwives in Australia are mostly salaried employees too, and there are pockets of “natural birth” ideology – though perhaps not as much as in the UK.

      Labor wards tend to be very insular units with closed populations and it’s easy for them to see themselves as separate from the rest of the hospital. This can only get worse with the advent of direct-entry midwifeery training rather than specialised nurses who have worked in different parts of the hospital.

  • mjd3

    I have my whole life to be with my children. Immediately post-birth, I would like appropriate medical care for them and me, thanks very much!

    • Sue

      YESSS! How illogical to assume that those first few hours or days are more important than the next twenty years of family life. Makes no sense at all.

      There’s the first smile, the first teetering on legs, early words and games, weaning, toilet training, discipline, early schooling, high school graduation….so many more significant milestones than whether you had skin-to-skin in the first minutes, and the baby “crawled” towards a leaking nipple, or not.

  • Jennifer

    If bonding is used as the rationale for something, I tune out. It means that there are no actual proven benefits to it, so they’re claiming one that can’t be tested.

    • Sue

      That’s because, in our societies today, almost every child is bonded in a healthy way within a family.

      Those that are not satisfactorily bonded are children who suffer extreme abuse and neglect – which causes real pathology in psychological development. That doesn’t apply to anyone whose mother is desperately searching Mommy Blogs for ideal parenting tips.

  • momofone

    I can’t speak for “most women,” but I can say that I have less than zero interest in giving birth physiologically and/or without interventions. I want all the monitoring and all the interventions.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Over and done with with a warm little baby in the newborn carseat, that’s all I cared about.

      • Merrie

        When I was admitted in labor with this most recent baby, I was asked if I had a birth plan and I said “Yeah, to get the baby out”.

    • MaineJen

      Epidurals are awesome.

      • Spamamander (no mall bans)

        I believe at one point I told the anesthesiologist I loved him…

        • Who?

          I still don’t know if I told the two obstetricians who popped in during labour if they looked like Tweedledee and Tweedledum…pain plus gas and air=boundary and filter issues.

        • BeatriceC

          I proposed marriage. And the anesthesiologist was a woman. My husband wasn’t all that amused.