It has zero to do with what is safe for the baby, but is all about the midwife.

Navelgazing Midwife has written an terrific post excoriating natural childbirth “professionals” for disseminating misinformation.

Her post is specifically about group B strep, but, as she recognizes, it can be easily extrapolated to many other areas of natural childbirth and homebirth advocacy.

The post was precipitated by medical advice found on a doula’s website:

Recently, I was asked to view a blog post on the Babies in Bloom site, written by Amber Plyler of Heath Springs, South Carolina. She is a doula, a midwifery student and an admitted “birth junkie.” Amber’s post, now pulled, was entitled “GBS+” …

Plyler’s piece advised using Hibiclens instead of antibiotics to prevent group B strep neonatal sepsis. As I detailed in a recent post (Wash your vagina out with soap):

Why are homebirth and natural childbirth advocates washing the vagina out with Hibiclens instead of using IV antibiotics?
It certainly can’t be because it works, since large scale studies show that it doesn’t.

It certainly can’t be because it doesn’t matter since GBS is the leading infectious cause of newborn death.

It certainly can’t be because IV antibiotics don’t work since they have reduced neonatal GBS deaths by 80%.

It certainly can’t be because Hibiclens [chlorhexidine gluconate also known as (1,1′-hexamethylene bis [5-(p-chlorophenyl) biguanide]di-D-gluconate)] is “natural.”

So why do women like The Feminist Reader wash their vaginas out with soap to prevent their babies from dying of Group B strep pneumonia or meningitis?

Because it fulfills the MOST important criteria for an NCB “treatment”; it is a form of ignorant, immature, self absorbed defiance of authority. And if that isn’t a good enough reason for NCB advocates to risk killing their babies, what is?

That’s why natural childbirth and homebirth advocates follow bizarre and incorrect advice, but why do natural childbirth professionals offer bizarre and incorrect “advice”? Navelgazing Midwife is spot on in her explanation:

… One of my major irks about (too many) non-nurse midwives is they ‘sell’ the treatment they are good at or are allowed to do. All too often, it has zero to do with what is truly safer for the baby, but is all about the midwife.

Natural childbirth professionals often have a vested economic interest in ignoring or discounting scientific facts and appropriate medical treatments. If a midwife cannot provide the necessary service, she is ethically obligated to refer the patient to someone who can. Instead of risking the loss of the income that the patient represents, however, some midwife (and their enablers, doulas and childbirth educators) simply announce that the treatment is unnecessary or can be replaced with a more “natural” treatment.

Plyler tries to defend herself in the comments section with the classic excuse NCB explanation; she “educated” herself by reading it on other NCB websites.

The instructions for the vaginal flushes with Hibiclens are not my own … it is from several midwifery … websites and resources. Gentle Birth is a collection of articles written by various midwives, including studies to back those articles up. This is where I was directed (by another midwife) to the Hibiclens protocol for flushes during labor.

This highlights one of the biggest problems in NCB and homebirth advocacy. It is a large echo chamber where misinformation, often deadly misinformation, bounces back and forth among NCB websites, and midwives, doulas or childbirth educators never bother to examine whether the claims are true. This is why it is impossible to become “educated” by reading NCB websites. They spread misinformation, not knowledge.

This is an object lesson for homebirth and natural childbirth advocates. When assessing the information on NCB and homebirth websites, readers need to ask themselves whether the midwife stands to gain financially from discounting mainstream medical practice. Most NCB and homebirth claims have “zero to do with what is safe for the baby,” but is all about what is good for the midwife.

C-sections are bad? What a coincidence, midwives can’t do them.

Fetal monitoring is unnecessary? What a coincidence, midwives don’t have the equipment.

Postdates inductions aren’t necessary? What a coincidence, midwives can’t do inductions.

Antibiotics aren’t needed for GBS? What a coincidence, most midwives can’t access them.

Hospitals aren’t the safest place to give birth? What a coincidence, homebirth midwives are considered unqualified to practice in hospitals.

The bottom line is, as Navelgazing Midwife says, for women to give informed consent, they must have:

ALL the information; not just the information that’s the crunchiest or easiest to employ.

NCB and homebirth websites do not provide all the information. That’s because NCB and homebirth advocacy is based in large part of mistruths, half truths and lies. They can’t offer all the information, because, for many birth professionals, there’s no money in telling the truth.

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