For natural childbirth advocates, every day is Opposite Day


At the heart of every alternative health movement are two critical attributes, defiance and denial.

The denial is easy to recognize and can be summed up in one sentence: Bad things aren’t going to happen to me.

I’m not going to get cancer/die of cancer/have children who contract vaccine preventable illnesses/have childbirth complications because I eat right/waste money on useless supplements/waste money lining the pockets of alternative quacks/have a strong immune system/chant affirmations.

In other words, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking, because it is too scary to contemplate anything else.

The defiance is also pretty easy to recognize, particularly in natural childbirth, and I don’t just mean the immature defiance of authority.

As is obvious to anyone with basic critical thinking skills, in the world of NCB, every day is Opposite Day. If the doctor says one thing, the NCB advocate says the opposite, without any research, or indeed, any attempt at research to back up the increasingly absurd claims.

Since every day is Opposite Day, there are never any complications, only “variations of normal.”

Since every day is Opposite Day, labor isn’t agonizing, it’s orgasmic.

Since every day is Opposite Day, birth in water, although unheard of in any other primates, is “natural.”

Since every day is Opposite Day, the umbilical cord shouldn’t be cut immediately, it should simply be allowed to rot off.

Since every day is Opposite Day, newborn baths and hats are evil.

I’m hardly the only one to note this. According to Ellen Annandale and Judith Clark, authors of the widely quoted paper, What is gender? Feminist theory and the sociology of human reproduction published in Sociology of Health & Illness, going so far as to accuse proponents of the “new midwifery” of unreflective defiance:

… the lived experience of midwifery … is revealed only as the largely unresearched antithesis of obstetrics… [I]ts central precepts (such as ‘women controlled’, ‘natural birth’) are vaguely drawn and in practical terms carry little meaning.

Simply put, contemporary natural childbirth advocacy (particularly homebirth midwifery) is nothing more than an extended childish temper tantrum.

And like most childish temper tantrums it is a defiance of authority for its own sake, involves deliberately disregarding harms, has no basis in objective reality and is all about how the individual having the tantrum wishes to view herself as opposed to the ostensible subject of the tantrum.

Natural childbirth and contemporary midwifery theory discounts the value of education, since scientific evidence does not support objectives of the tantrums. It valorizes “intuition” which is just a fancy way saying “we make it up as we go along,” and it gives primacy of place to magical thinking.

Childish temper tantrums are amusing and irritating when they occur in children. However, they can be downright deadly when they occur in adults.

Natural childbirth and homebirth advocacy get goofier and goofier as the years go by, but that is entirely predictable. If all they are is unreflective defiance, it stands to reason that every aspect of modern obstetrics, from serious issues like pre-eclampsia all the way down to trivialities like hats will represent an opportunity to have a tantrum.

In the world of natural childbirth and homebirth, every day is Opposite Day, not because the opposite is true, but because oppositional behavior for its own sake is the hallmark of the immature behavior at the heart of temper tantrums. And natural childbirth and homebirth advocacy are nothing more than childish temper tantrums writ large.