What happened to Birthpedia?

Red Question mark on grey background, three-dimensional rendering, 3D illustration

Two days ago I posted this on Facebook:

“Really, Dr. Shah?

I’m shocked that Neel Shah is a part of a for profit birth website that features advocates of pseudoscience and poor practice, including Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent, Brad Bootstaylor, Barbara Harper and a chiropractor, among others…

Who suddenly got skittish?

https://birthpedia.net/meet-the-contributors/

http://startupcompete.co/startup-…/internet/birthpedia/67399

Today’s Featured Questions include: “How could chiropractic care help you get pregnant?” I’ll answer it for free: It can’t!”

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The image comes from their beta site that was up and running.

Dr. Shah wasn’t merely one of the contributors; he featured prominently in their promotional materials:

“Imagine having a Harvard OBGYN answer your specific question/concern for only $8 a month. We are changing how providers and patients intake information about birth where any pregnant woman can get answers by qualified professionals” – Co-Founder Justine Tullier

Expectant Parents want quick answers from a trusted source. Our qualified birth professionals are experts in their field and have insight that is backed up by research, evidence and experience. These experts are: PhDs, OBGYNs, Midwives, Lactation Consultants, Doulas, Lawyers, Chiropractors, Fitness Instructors and much more. Their 1 to 2 minutes answers per specific question reflects the trend in decreased attention span of upcoming generations as opposed to long form DVDs.

I also learned that Justine and Gabe Tullier, the founders of Birthpedia, have just taken over Midwifery Today from Jan Tritten. On a now deleted page, the Tulliers boasted:

Midwifery Today will become a vital catalyst for market penetration and thus an extension of Birthpedia.

Midwifery Today has been for years the leading purveyor of homebirth quackery. You may remember Jan, who helped a homebirth midwife canvass a life or death decision on Facebook that resulted in a the death of baby Gavin Michael.

This morning I find that Birthpedia has almost entirely disappeared from the internet. The homepage is still there but has been scrubbed of its experts or indeed any information beyond the fact that it is purportedly launching soon.

The page of contributors is now a 404:

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Its business plan on StartupCompete.co was even hidden from the public:

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The Facebook page still exists as of this morning and includes such gems about chiropractic as this:

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Dr Gena Bofshever has an infectous personality to go along with her thorough chiropractic skills to help women who want to get pregnant by making the organs in their body easier to talk with their brain.

WTF??!!

So what happened to Birthpedia? Are they no longer planning to promote quackery? Who suddenly got skittish?

I’ll be searching for answers.

  • Eater of Worlds

    Speaking of peddling bullshit, the midwives in the UK are up to it again, saying that taking folic acid after 12 weeks is bad.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5589989/Spina-bifida-charity-accuses-midwives-scaremongering.html

    • Kim

      There isn’t any evidence in that article that midwives, plural, have been advising women to stop taking folic acid after 12 weeks. It gives a single instance of a woman who said that’s what her midwife told her. At the end of the article, it says the RCM issued a statement saying that such advice contravenes official guidelines.

      • Sarah

        NHS guidance currently is that you need to take it until 12 weeks pregnant.

        https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/

        And has been since at least 2011. The implication there I guess is that it’s not needed afterwards and actually I think I got told I could stop taking it after then. Would have been by a midwife if so, as I was never consultant led during pregnancy. So they probably are telling women not to take it after 12 weeks, but not necessarily for that reason. I’ve no idea whether this accurately reflects the state of research but it does reflect NHS advice.

        I have heard the tongue tie thing somewhere, forget where but definitely not from a clinician as it was recent and I had my last baby a couple of years ago. Seemed odd.

        • Who?

          Zsusanna over at Are They All Yours is big into this. She only has the folate that’s present in her highly curated (with all her research) diet. She believes some of the tongue ties her babies have had were caused by too much/wrong kind/taken at the wrong time folate supplements.

    • Sue

      I had no idea that this was a thing until I started looking around. There’s a whole mixed up world of folate, folic acid, MTHFR genes, midline structures……

      • crazy mama, PhD

        Oh gosh, I have an MTHFR mutation (legitimately detected via genetic testing) and I basically can’t do any kind of Google search for info because it’s CRACKPOT CITY.

  • MaineJen

    “Help women get pregnant by making the organs in their body easier to talk to their brain?” That’s not even English. Classic chiro-speak, though.

    • AnnaPDE

      We had this, um, “practitioner” here in Australia (basically around Byron Bay, where the woo is strong) who made good money by talking to women’s ovaries. She had enough clients.
      Then again she was the daughter of a guy whose speciality were “esoteric breast massages”. Those made breast cancer disappear – he’d first diagnose it, then “treat” it, and it worked so well that doctors couldn’t even see any trace of cancer when he was finished.

      • Could they see any trace of cancer before “treatment,” or did this guy “diagnose” as well? I’d hate to think of someone with actual cancer going to this creep instead of getting actual medical attention.

        • AnnaPDE

          As far as I know, typically the cancer would be both first diagnosed and then immediately treated by this miracle healer. He did inherit a lot of money from one of his devotees though, who did die from breast cancer.

      • MaineJen

        *collapses in laughter*

        *feels briefly guilty*

        *continues laughing*

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Sometimes, I regret the fact that I have ethics, because it is so easy to scam people.

        I have to say, diagnosing and healing breast cancer through “esoteric breast massage” is pretty darn creepy. Sounds like something Otter from Animal House would be selling.

        • AnnaPDE

          He’s a total creep and has a cult around him, with fawning idiots who pay lots to have their boobs massaged by him. And whose husbands, in turn, are upset that he’s told the women not to let anyone else touch said boobs.
          He’s had a bit of trouble with the authorities, after having his services partially paid for by Medicare (the public health insurance around here), and flogging breast cream not approved by the TGA. Still, he’s doing way too well.

  • attitude devant

    Well if they bought out Jan Tritten, at least she can’t hurt anyone any more. But i’ll miss the loopy conferences they used to hold in Eugene, Oregon.

    • Who?

      She’ll pop up somewhere else, surely.

      Love the comment about the importance of fitting things into only a minute or two, due to short attention spans. All this stuff is soooo important that it has to be delivered urgently, but in two minute increments only.

  • momofone

    It seems fitting that the blurb about the chiropractor misspells “infectious.”

  • fiftyfifty1

    I can’t believe that Dr. Shah is still being taken seriously by the medical community. He’s barely better than Dr. Oz. Wake up fellow doctors!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I don’t know Dr. Shah, so I don’t know what’s really going on, but I wonder if his head has been turned by the adulation he’s received from the NCB community. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has absolutely no idea what these “allies” stand for.

      • attitude devant

        As I have observed before, Dr. Shah trained in a hospital where CNMs practice at a very high level. He may not realize what kind of crackpots he’s dealing with. That and the kind of fawning the midwives can offer to MDs who offer them some legitimacy can be pretty powerful disincentives to think critically about ventures like Birthpedia.

        • Sue

          ^^^ THIS.

          Doctors are the devil incarnate, brainwashed by their training, in the arms of Big Pharma, always ready to wield the knife, UNLESS they disagree with just about every competent doctor on the planet, in which case they are wonderful miracle-workers.

      • Anna

        This!
        Australian NCBers are totally fangirling for him, even though of course OBs and Drs know nothing they are willing to make exceptions for any Drs that are saying anything negative about c-sections and hospital birth. He probably works with a lot of great CNMs that do fabulous work and doesn’t really notice the cray cray in the background. Also presumably his Mum dresses him and does his hair which is so adorable!

        • maidmarian555

          Oh idk about that. He comes out with plenty of batshit nonsense all by himself, see exhibit a which popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday. Apparently pelvic floor damage isn’t properly understood to be linked to delivery mode, the ‘science’ is flimsy- unlike the science relating to CS scarring on subsequent pregnancies (which is really starting to get on my tits now, how many bloody babies do they think we’re all having these days?!) See silly women, your ruined pelvic floor wasn’t because you pushed for hours during labour, it would probably have happened anyway and it’s just a MASSIVE coincidence that we have campaigns like ‘Sling the Mesh’ and my local supermarket now has a larger section for incontinance products than they do for regular sanitary towels. NOTHING to do with how you gave birth AT ALL and all to do with other mysterious ‘life exposures’ whatever those may be: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/add2acea4b6d88e76af65397de25bf5dcdb203c7e08ede05f27cfcb6084eee1f.jpg

          • fiftyfifty1

            Ha! I agree with his assertion that “association between vaginal delivery and pelvic floor injury is very poorly understood” but not in the way he means.

            After I was badly injured during vaginal delivery (I could not sit, I felt a balled-up mass on the right side of my vagina, I walked with a limp, I could not climb stairs, I could barely tolerate even just standing on my right foot, and I could feel my uterus starting to fall out) I took out my old anatomy text book and tried to figure out the problem. I thought…hmmm, I wonder if I could have torn this here levator ani muscle clear off the bone at the ischial tuberosity? So I went into my CNM and asked if that could be the case. They told me they had never heard of it, didn’t know, but that time would heal. I eventually went to an OB who confirmed I had the exact injury I had suspected. And no, time doesn’t heal. Or rather the pain does abate, but the pelvic floor is still permanently torn off its mooring.

            So yes, depending on provider skill and knowledge, pelvic floor injury may indeed be “very poorly understood.”

          • AnnaPDE

            The “when you don’t measure there’s no reportable observation” principle is probably very similar in such circles.
            I mean, how hard can it be to understand “connective tissue ripped in a major way, muscle torn off its mooring, function therefore impaired” as a mechanism of action, and therefore that it’s something that you’re hoping to avoid? Seems like something that anyone who has ever filleted a whole chicken could easily get their head around.

          • BeatriceC

            Strangely enough, if you look at all the women in my family: me, my sisters, my mother, both grandmothers, my aunts, and my female cousins, there is a perfect correlation between those of us who have incontinence issues and those who don’t to those who gave birth vaginally and those who had only c-sections or never gave birth. Every single one of us who gave birth vaginally (me, both grandmothers, my two aunts, my older sister, 4 female cousins) have at least stress incontinence issues, or worse, and none of my female relatives who had only c-sections (mother, one sister, one cousin) do not. I’m only counting those of us over 40 because I don’t know about the younger women, so there could be some additional variation I am unaware of. Also, my older sister had very easy labors and deliveries, but she still developed minor stress incontinence shortly after age 40.

          • BeatriceC

            Note: I only counted the aunts that are blood related, not the spouses of uncles, because I honestly don’t know about them, since none of my uncles stayed married for very long.

          • maidmarian555

            I think this stems from the fact that women are openly talking about this stuff now. For years, they’ve not told women the actual risks relating to these issues and what the consequences may be. Now mothers are speaking out, rather than use this opportunity to improve care and provide adequate discussion of risk beforehand, they’re just doubling-down and pretending it doesn’t exist at all. It’s pretty astonishing, whilst this is something that has only recently been really attracting media attention etc, it is something that many of us do talk about (particularly after birth). I remember in my mid-twenties I did a trampolining class at my local gym and there were a number of mums who literally spent half the class running to the loo. It’s becoming clear they will do literally anything to preserve natural birth dogma, and care not one bit for the lived consequences of so many women. I honestly do not know, having my first at 35 and planning that we were only ever going to have two (if that was possible) that I would have taken the risks of vaginal birth if I knew the actual stats. I accept my pelvic floor may deteriorate with age but there’s a difference of over 20yrs having those issues start at 35 or 60. Aside from anything, that’s a huge expense. It’s not like the NHS will pick up the tab if you’re injured during birth and need pads for the rest of your life.

          • BeatriceC

            I am so freaking excited that I finally got an appointment with the UCSD urogyn department so I can maybe, hopefully get approved for surgery to fix my issues. It’s way past stress incontinence at this point. I just dribble constantly. I have to wear a big bulky pad all day, every day, and if I’m sick or sneezing/coughing a lot, I have to wear a damned diaper. I’m 42 years old. This is ridiculous.

          • Who?

            I’m so sorry you are putting up with that, it sounds miserable. Let’s hope the doctors can find a good solution for you.

          • Anna

            NCB tells women that pelvic floor injury has nothing to do with delivery type and there are equal rates amongst c-section women. They might admit that OBs cause problems by using forceps when everything would have been fine if the woman squatted in a field. They’d never admit that hours of pushing at homebirths causes pelvic floor injury. It just simply can’t be true.

          • Who?

            I wonder if big babies is part of the picture too, whether they arrive the old fashioned way or through the sunroof?

            Thankfully I don’t have any of these issues, but I can’t imagine my 3.8kg babies (that’s 8’6″ in old money) bouncing around for 41.5 weeks did any of my middles much good.

          • Anna

            I think it probably is. A lot of the larger babies end up being born by c-section in hospitals as the pushing phase is too long, heart rates start to go funny. At homebirths they either end up coming out eventually, dying or going to hospital and having a c-section. There is some talk of pelvic floor damage in HB circles but its mostly hush hush and no-one would dare link it to long pushing phases or big babies.

          • Sarah

            What a massive dickwad.

    • attitude devant

      You know I went to med school with Oz, right? I’m embarrassed about it too.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Was he “off” even then?

        • attitude devant

          He was kind of brash and obnoxious even then. His voice drove me crazy and it STILL drives me crazy. I keep wishing Lake Bell’s character in the movie “In a World” could chain him to a chair and give him diction and voice lessons.

          People found him questionable. He was getting a degree from Wharton too, and while it’s great that doctors should be trained in the economics of medicine it was kind of obvious that he wasn’t thinking about grand solutions to society’s problems. KWIM?

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        I’m so sorry.

    • Sue

      Is anyone familiar with this “Delivery Decisions Initiative” organisation, headed by Shah?
      https://www.ariadnelabs.org/areas-of-work/delivery-decisions-initiative/research/

      • Sue

        Oh – look what they found in their research. Oops!

        “What did we learn?

        The study found that women receiving care at hospitals with the most proactive unit culture management had a higher risk of cesarean delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, blood transfusion, and prolonged hospital length of stay.

        Conclusion: These counterintuitive findings may indicate that managers at these hospitals are focused on achieving different goals, such as neonatal outcomes or financial performance, which are not always aligned with maternal wellbeing.”
        https://www.ariadnelabs.org/areas-of-work/delivery-decisions-initiative/research/

        So…delivery decisions shouldn’t primarily focus on neonatal outcomes, Dr Shah?

        • fiftyfifty1

          Yep, they admit it right there. Lower CS rates come at the cost of neonatal outcomes. Once again, it comes down to what we as a society value. Most mothers don’t care much about having an “unscarred uterus”, but do care deeply about preventing brain damage in their babies. Neonatal death rates don’t seem to improve above a CS rate of 19%, but that’s just the beginning. Intact brain cells are also important (not to mention unbroken collar bones, intact pelvic floors etc.)

          • Anna

            They just lie. They underestimate blood loss on purpose. They don’t report any blood loss they managed (just barely sometimes) at home.

      • fiftyfifty1

        No, I wasn’t until now, but their web site is pretty funny. Looks like they are doing research, and their research is inconveniently not turning out the way they expect, and then they are twisting themselves into knots to explain it away.

        Example #1 is the study that compared organized “proactive” L&D wards that anticipated and prevented problems with unorganized “reactive” wards where they ran around putting out fires. Turns out the well-managed wards had higher CS rates than the poorly-managed wards. Whoops! (Of course it’s no real surprise to me. Unskilled know-nothing homebirth midwives also have lower CS rates. Great, except if you are the sort of mom who values having your babies born with all their brain cells intact.)

        Their second “whoops” research finding was that labor wards where they admitted women without hassle in early labor turned out to have LOWER CS rates than wards where women were required to labor at home longer and were usually admitted only in active labor. So turns out the old midwife advice is 180 deg wrong.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          We had a dog who got pregnant before Mom saved enough for the spaying (a neighbor was supposed to be watching her while we were on vacation.) Her runt was born with the cord around her neck. Mom managed to resussitate the puppy, but Pussywillow was always a few cards short of a full deck. She was a nice dog, though, and she lived to the decent age of 16. (Both dogs were spayed when Puss was still a puppy.)