What do natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates have in common with teenage boys? Both lie to women to control them.

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If gynecologists had a nickel for every time a teenage girl told them some version of the following, they’d be billionaires:

My boyfriend said I couldn’t get pregnant if we had sex standing up…
My boyfriend said I couldn’t get pregnant if I hadn’t had my first period…
My boyfriend said I couldn’t get pregnant if we did it during a full moon…

Most adult women recognizes such manipulation for what it is: lies told to convince women to cede control of ther bodies to young men. The young men may even believe what they say, but that doesn’t change the fact that their goal is to satisfying their own needs regardless of the harm that may come to the young women.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Teenage boys lie to young women so they’ll have sex with them. Natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates lie to women so they’ll hire them and copy their choices.[/pullquote]

Such lies can be devastating, resulting in unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and feelings of betrayal.

Sadly natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates tell lies to women for similar reasons: to pressure them to cede control of their bodies. Natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates may even believe what they say, but that doesn’t change the fact that their goal is to satisfy their own needs (for having their choices mirrored back to them or for increased employment as midwives, doulas or lactation consultants) regardless of the harm that may come to new mothers or their babies.

Such lies can also be devastating, resulting in extreme pain, traumatic births, incontinence, sexual dysfunction in the case of childbirth or in the case of breastfeeding maternal pain, exhaustion and shame in addition to newborn starvation, brain injury or death.

What follows is a list of the top ten lies used to manipulate expectant and new mothers:

1. Authentic women have no pain in labor. This is the foundational lie of natural childbirth advocacy, fabricated by Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth. He claimed with no evidence whatsoever that primitive (i.e. black) women had painless childbirths because they recognized childbearing as their primary responsibility.

Dick-Read triggered a competition among privileged white women proving their authentic womanhood by denying the pain of labor and refusing pain relief. That competition continues to this day with women going so far as to claim they had not merely painless births, but orgasmic births. In falling for this lie, women have ceded control over their pain so that natural childbirth professionals can control their births.

2. C-sections are harmful. There was a time when C-sections WERE harmful and even deadly. Because of the dangers, just about any physical manipulation of babies and women — difficult mid-forceps rotations, massive vaginal and perineal tears — were justified in order to avoid the danger.

With the introduction of spinal/epidural anesthesia, C-sections have become remarkably safe. Nonetheless natural childbirth continue to rail against the dangers and completely ignore the risks of vaginal birth. Why? To satisfy their desperate need to have their own choices mirrored back to them, as well as to increase the employment opportunities for midwives and doulas.

3. Vaginal birth has an easier recovery than C-section. That depends entirely on what came before the birth. A vaginal delivery following 40 hours of labor including 5 hours of pushing is going to have a much longer recovery than an elective repeat C-section undertaken before labor begins.

4. There are no long term side effects to vaginal birth. To hear natural childbirth advocates tell it, the most important long term complication of birth is a future placenta accreta from a previous C-section. Placenta accreta is indeed dangerous, but the longterm complications of vaginal birth are far more common and debilitating. The risk of urinary incontinence from vaginal birth is 10,000% higher than the risk of subsequent accreta. No matter. Natural childbirth advocates routinely lie to women by omission, failing to disclose the risks of urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and sexual dysfunction.

5. Doulas are good for women. Doulas are undoubtedly good for doulas, but not necessarily good for mothers. Indeed, the metrics often used to evaluate doulas are epidural and C-section rates. Doulas are good at avoiding epidurals and C-sections, but epidurals relieve suffering and C-sections are often better for babies or mothers. A vaginal birth is not a victory when it results in a brain injured baby or decades of maternal urinary incontinence.

6. Insufficient breastmilk is rare. Breastfeeding advocacy is based in large measure on the Panglossian paradigm. The Panglossian paradigm asserts that everything that exists in nature today is the product of intense natural selection and represents the perfect solution to a particular evolutionary problem. Therefore, breastfeeding must be perfect.

But the scientific evidence shows that breastfeeding is not perfect. Lactation professionals routinely lie about the fact that up to 15% of first time mothers cannot produce enough breastmilk to fully nourish a baby especially in the early days. Instead of admitting this and offering formula supplementation, lactation consultants let babies suffer gnawing hunger and risk brain injury and death.

7. A newborn’s stomach is tiny. This is simply a bald-faced lie.

Lactation consultants tell new mothers that the average size of a newborn baby’s stomach is only a teaspoon (5 cc). That’s supposed to ease their minds when their newborns are screaming in hunger and they can tell that they are producing very little colostrum or milk. But the average size of the newborn stomach is NOT 5-7 cc but closer to 20 cc, rising dramatically over the first first days. If a baby seems hungry; she probably is hungry.

8. If breastfeeding hurts your baby needs surgery. Since breastfeeding is supposed to be perfect, problems must be ascribed to babies. The rate of diagnosis of tongue-tie and the surgery to sever it has exploded. Yet scientific studies show that the rate of tongue-tie is as low as it ever was and that surgery to “repair” it is largely ineffective in solving breastfeeding problems. Literally thousands of babies are undergoing painful, unnecessary surgery each year to maintain the illusion that breastfeeding is perfect.

9. Breastfeeding saves lives. There’s no evidence that breastfeeding saves lives in countries with easy access to clean water. The one exception is the case of extremely premature babies, where breastmilk reduces the deadly risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. While lactation professionals tout mathematical models showing that breastfeeding saves lives in theory, they are unable to identify ANY term babies whose lives have been saved in practice.

10. Breastfeeding promotes bonding. This is the cruelest lie of them all, intimating that babies who breastfeed are more bonded to their mothers than those who formula feed. There is not and there has never been any evidence to support this vicious falsehood. It is merely a particularly ugly attempt at pressuring women.

The bottom line is this: many people lie to women in order to control their bodies. Teenage boys lie to young women so they’ll have sex with them. Natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates lie to women so they’ll hire them and copy them. But lying to women to control them — regardless of motivation — is always wrong.