Why are you arguing with me about obstetrics?

I’ve been running message boards and blogs on the internet for 18 years, and it never ceases to amaze me that lay people, childbirth educators, doulas and homebirth midwives parachute in to “enlighten” me about modern obstetrics. I spent 4 years in college, 4 years in medical school, and 4 years in internship and residency. During that time, and the subsequent years I was in practice, I delivered more than a thousand babies and cared for thousands more women in labor. Not to mention, I have given birth to 4 children of my own.

They “inform” me about national and international mortality rates, modern obstetric practice, the risks of C-sections, the “risks” of epidurals, the list is endless. I still can’t figure out why they think they know something that I don’t. I suppose they believe they have a Bachelor’s in Cut and Paste from Google U, but it’s mind boggling to realize that they think surfing the Web is a substitute for years of education and training.

I’d like to ask natural childbirth and homebirth advocates directly:

Why do you think you know more about childbirth, obstetrics, science and statistics than me? Why are you arguing with me?

Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that I know a very great deal more than you do about these subjects and that if we are disagreeing it is because YOUR knowledge is deficient, that YOU have been tricked into believing something that is not true?

There is one group you will never see arguing with me on my blog or just about anywhere else: professional natural childbirth and homebirth advocates. Sure, they take all kinds of pot shots on websites and message boards, but they are nothing more than vague, kindergarten level insults. No one dares to confront the substance of my arguments. Why? Because they know that they would be publicly eviscerated.

You don’t see Judy Slome Cohain try to convince me that putting garlic in a woman’s vagina is adequate protection against neonatal group B strep sepsis. She knows that after I recovered from laughing, I’d demolish that claim and demonstrate that she simply made it up without any support in the scientific literature.

You don’t see Barbara Harper arguing with me about the fact that babies can and do aspirate fecally contaminated bath water during waterbirths. Sure, she’s happy to offer her fanciful “theories” to lay people who don’t know any better, but she realizes she is no match for someone who comes to an argument armed with facts instead of fantasies.

You don’t see Henci Goer arguing with me about anything. She knows it will only damage her credibility and enhance mine. Her most valuable weapon is bibliography salad and that works only when people don’t read or don’t understand the articles in the bibliography. She will simply end up looking foolish when I point out that most of what she cites doesn’t say what she says or implies it does.

Jennifer Block won’t come within a mile of me in print because she’s actually met me, and she knows that I have a far greater command of the childbirth literature than she does.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. The people who parachute in to “educate” me are people who have no idea how little they know. Those who make their living from promoting natural childbirth and homebirth wouldn’t dare become involved in a debate with me because they are uncomfortably aware of how little they know, and how much they have made up. They will engage only with the gullible and the uneducated, and I am neither.

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