If trusting birth won’t prevent miscarriage, why would it prevent other life-threatening complications?


I often write about the fact that homebirth advocates, despite their claims of being “educated” about childbirth, are generally quite ignorant. They lack the basic knowledge of science, statistics and obstetrics that would allow them to evaluate what they read on the Web (or more importantly, to recognize that you cannot become educated by reading on the Web).

Ignorance is not the only deficiency. Homebirth advocates seem to suffer from a serious problem with magical thinking.

What is magical thinking? It’s the belief that your own thoughts have power to “magically” control events. It’s difficult to imagine anything more emblematic of magical thinking than the inane mantra, “trust birth.”

Does trusting hearts prevent heart attacks? Does trusting pancreases prevent type I diabetes? Does trusting breast prevent breast cancer? Obviously not, so how can any grown woman counsel another with a straight face to “trust birth” as a method of preventing life threatening pregnancy complications? And how can any grown woman actually believe that “trusting birth” is going to have any impact on anything?

The idea that women could actually believe that “trusting birth” will have any impact is especially remarkable considering that most women already recognize that trust has absolutely no impact on miscarriage, the most common life threatening (to the embryo) complication of pregnancy. Indeed, miscarriage demonstrates that the philosophy of “trusting birth” is completely farcical.

Your body is perfectly designed to give birth?

Really? Then why do 1 out of every 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage?

Miscarriages are commonly caused by devastating genetic defects, such as the absence of a chromosome or an extra chromosome. A some point in the reproductive process, during the formation of the the ovum (or the sperm) or during fertilization, a massive genetic error occurs and that error is incompatible with life. No amount of “trust” can prevent these genetic errors and no amount of “trust” can prevent the miscarriages that result.

Let’s think about what that really means: the same body that is supposedly perfectly designed to give birth will create embryos with the wrong number of chromosomes approximately 20% of the time.

How trusting would you be of an airline if 20% of their flights crashed on takeoff and burned killing all aboard? How trusting would you be of an automobile manufacturer if 20% of their cars blew up the first time you turned the key in the ignition? How trusting would you be of a soup maker if 20% of people who consumed it got botulism and died? I suspect that you wouldn’t be very trusting at all. So how on earth can any woman trust any aspect of pregnancy when it ends in the death of the embryo fully 20% of the time?

How does trusting birth prevent a placenta that can’t transfer oxygen fast enough to a baby during labor? How does trusting birth prevent a breech baby’s head from getting stuck, killing the baby? How does trusting birth prevent the mother from having a stroke because of pre-eclampsia, killing her? Obviously it can’t prevent any of those things because “trusting birth” is nothing more than immature wishful thinking.

Why on earth would you think that a process that can’t even manage to assemble the correct number of chromosomes more than 20% of the time is going to result in a baby who fits perfectly, has a perfect placenta, and develops no life-threatening complications?

Simply put, how could any grown woman, with a modicum of intelligence “trust birth”? And how could any grown woman, with a modicum of intelligence, trust any provider who counseled her to “trust birth”?

Please, enlighten me as to why “trusting birth” isn’t among the stupidest possible prescriptions for a healthy baby and a healthy mother.