An excerpt from Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting


Last night I sent in the final edits for my forthcoming book Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting. I’m posting an excerpt in celebration. The book will be published by HarperCollins on April 5, 2016.

When I was a practicing obstetrician, I spent a lot of time correcting the misinformation of natural childbirth advocacy, and comforting women who had had healthy babies but still felt guilty for not “achieving” a vaginal birth or a birth without pain relief. Though I was aware of the emotional response from my bedside visits, it took years of blogging about the subject, corresponding with mothers, and arguing with activists to appreciate the true depth, breadth, and prevalence of misinformation coming from the natural parenting movement, and how this has come to blight the experience of mothering infants for so many.

Twenty years ago, when I began writing on the web, I thought that the problem could be solved with more and better information. Most of what passes for knowledge within natural childbirth, lactivist and natural parenting communities is flat out false. Yet simply correcting that myriad of falsehoods seemed to be fruitless. I came to understand that natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting actually is about privileging the process over the outcome.

Natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting are highly stylized, profoundly idealized representations of parenting. How do we know that they are idealized? Primarily it’s because the scientific evidence does not support most of their central tenets. That’s not to say that natural parenting advocates don’t believe in science; they do and they invoke science a lot. However, a close examination reveals that they often subvert the scientific evidence to arrive at predetermined conclusions.

Why would anyone want to subvert the scientific evidence on childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting? Because each of these ideas have morphed into businesses, complete with trade unions, lobbying groups and brilliant marketing. Simply put, misinformation is being promoted by birth and breastfeeding professionals, as well as parenting gurus, as a way to make money. These factions portray doctors as the enemy, and their primary product has become distrust of the medical profession. They created alternate worlds of internal legitimacy in the same way that creationists and anti-vaccine activists had done before them, complete with books, journals, conferences and certifications to signify “expertise.” The internet has been their greatest enabler, allowing women to “research” parenting decisions without ever leaving a massive echo chamber.

There’s far more than money at stake. Beliefs about women and their role in society undergird natural parenting. It seems to me to be more than coincidence that natural childbirth, breastfeeding and natural parenting share a variety of disturbing characteristics: all imposed an inordinate amount of work and pain on women, and all ostensibly exclude fathers and other family members, making women not merely the primary caregivers but the only acceptable caregivers a majority of the time. And by requiring intense, round the clock effort, it makes it nearly impossible for women who want or need something in addition to mothering (a job, a career, free time) to be “good” mothers. It all seems suspiciously like the classic ploy to control and judge women by the performance of their reproductive organs.

When I dove deeper, I was not surprised to find that most of these movements were created or promulgated by elderly white men. Advocates represent natural childbirth, lactivism, and attachment parenting as the ultimate expressions of parental love, combining scientific evidence with maternal devotion, feminism and respect for maternal choice. The reality is far different. It is an interesting question how these philosophies that gather under the rubric of natural parenting put forward a pro-woman agenda but in fact are quite the opposite. In this book, I will show the evolution of each of the aspects of natural parenting—natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting, from their origins to the big business they are today, from a search for authentic experiences to a prescribed experience that relegates women back into old-fashioned roles prescribed by gender.

Push Back tackles the natural parenting industry from all sides, hopefully alleviating guilt so many women unnecessarily face, revealing it to readers as the damaging, sometimes dangerous construct I think it is.

80 Responses to “An excerpt from Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting”

  1. fearlessformulafeeder
    December 15, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    I had the privilege of reading one of the chapters already, and I can tell you all that Amy has produced a very well-written, strong argument. Very excited to read this, Dr. A. Thanks for posting the excerpt!

  2. swbarnes2
    December 15, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    OT suggestion…”The Science of Mom” is compiling a list of science-based pregnancy sites, and I think here would be a great candidate, but would be really improved in that regard if you could put links on the sidebar that would let you jump to things like “Info on C-sections”, “Info on epidurals”, “info on breastfeeding”, info on postdates”, “info in EFM” etc that would jump to a list of posts where you directly address clinical research on those topics, you know “Here’s a paper, here’s why its a well-designed study, here’s a summary of the findings”

  3. LibrarianSarah
    December 15, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Interestingly enough I think that this kind of book might be part of a larger literary trend. The New York Times book review recently had a review of an anti-lactivist book which you can read here:

    It could be that the tide is turning and women are getting fed up with natural parenting sanctimony.

  4. The Computer Ate My Nym
    December 15, 2015 at 3:50 am #

    I think part of the problem is that the “natural” movement is selling something that people very much want. Who wouldn’t rather have a perfect, orgasmic birth attended by friendly dolphins than a boring, sometimes painful birth in a hospital with ugly furniture and bad food? Who wouldn’t keep themselves safe from autism* if they could? Who wouldn’t rather eat some herbs to get rid of their cancer than have to deal with a prolonged and complicated treatment plan involving surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy? Or that we could absolutely avoid diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc by eating right? Who doesn’t, in short, want to believe that nature holds all the answers for us and we can live in health forever if we just pay attention properly?

    There’s just one problem: It’s not true. And we’re in the position of having to tell people that their beautiful fantasy is just that: a fantasy. This is never going to be a popular position.

    *I say this as a person with Asperger’s: It’s not something I would choose my kid to have if I could avoid it. And severe autism is a condition that truly is disabling. Sorry.

    • araikwao
      December 15, 2015 at 4:08 am #

      Yes, I think the unshakeable-ness is more due to their liking the idea of NCB, and the pride and identity they gain from it. And should cognitive dissonance rear its threatening head, the mental gymnastics begin, as we have seen.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        December 15, 2015 at 4:16 am #

        I hadn’t even thought about that aspect, but you’re right. Who wouldn’t rather be one of the brave free spirits who see through the evil plots of the government and corporations than one of the sheeple who meekly get their vaccines (or whatever) without questioning the motives of the vaccine givers? Finding out that you’ve been duped by big naturopathy in exactly the way you thought you were avoiding would be a hideous blow to the self-image and I see why people try to avoid it.

    • Amazed
      December 15, 2015 at 9:29 am #

      I think part of the reason isn’t only the ouright stated, “It’s all a conspiracy!” The sum of the small digs at BBM (Big Bad Medicine) also plays a role. And they’re everywhere. Anecdotes, movies and books… have you read House Rules by Jodie Picoult? The main character (one of those moms who are only capable of being moms to the child with a problem, as all Picoult’s moms are, IIRC) blames her son’s Asperger’s on vaccines. Oh, she vaccinated her younger child and stated, “I believe in vaccines. I do. Just in spacing them out.” Something like this. And the effect was not taken away by the fact that later in the book, her ex husband showed signs of – you got it! Asperger’s.

      Those are all small jabs. But when they pile on and keep piling on, they make us more malleable to the grand conspiracy theories when we face big problems.

      • MaineJen
        December 15, 2015 at 11:25 am #

        Nothing pisses me off more than Jodi Picoult and her books’ endings. Have you read My Sister’s Keeper???

        • namaste863
          December 15, 2015 at 11:30 am #

          I have. My beef with the ending is I felt like it made everything that came before it a moot point.

          • MaineJen
            December 15, 2015 at 11:35 am #

            Exactly. I feel like the movie version ended better (if more sadly). It’s hard to know exactly what she was thinking there.

          • Amazed
            December 15, 2015 at 11:48 am #

            Oh it’s easy. What really pisses me off about her is the way she tackles problematic matters but then escapes the answer, making the end the most unconvincing one possible – and always in a way that shows the Truth: Mommy knows best! I can’t help but think that she does it in order to avoid pissing off readers if she takes the end to what it logically should be. If she does that, her characters won’t come across as the self-sacrificing angels the public likes! I mean, it was so interesting with Anna fighting for the rights of her own body but then hey, Anna wasn’t that bad girl who didn’t want her sister to die! It was Kate’s idea all along! And Anna should have really listened to Mummy. In retrospect, what Mummy wanted turned out to be the best for the whole family and Anna wouldn’t have died! And don’t get me started on Jess and his magical reconciliation with the family.

        • Amazed
          December 15, 2015 at 11:57 am #

          An older friend of mine puts it best: Picoult tells the same story with just some minor variations. Her reaction when she read the vaccine part of HR? What a mollycoddle! You see, her own brother had a serious reaction to the tuberculosis vaccine more than 50 years ago. Do you think their mom used this legitimate opportunity to skip the rest of them vaccines? No way in hell. She knew what was at stake.

        • Amazed
          December 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

          Me, I am quite pissed off with her mothers as well. The one from Handle with Care was particularly nasty.

        • Realitybites100
          December 15, 2015 at 11:34 pm #

          Shoot the movie was worse.

  5. Megan
    December 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Will it available in Australia? I have looked on the Amazon Australia website and its not there as yet

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      December 14, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      I don’t know; I’ll ask.

  6. Amazed
    December 14, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Congrats, Dr Amy! Looks like a great read.

  7. Sue
    December 14, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    You have conducted a huge sociological review, Amy, which adds to the global knowledge this area. Congrats on publication!

  8. Gatita
    December 14, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    OT: These are the minutes from the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission meeting where they voted to limit coverage for out of hospital birth.

  9. The Bofa on the Sofa
    December 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    Twenty years ago, when I began writing on the web, I thought that the problem could be solved with more and better information. Most of what passes for knowledge within natural childbirth, lactivist and natural parenting communities is flat out false. Yet simply correcting that myriad of falsehoods seemed to be fruitless.

    This is a common mistake that scientists make when they are confronted by the woo. They think that it’s easy to combat because they have truth on their side. Nope, that doesn’t matter.

    This is why they fail in debates between creationists and “evolutionists,” or vaccine-supporters and anti-vaxxers. They are under the misconception that their opponents will be constrained by reality. It’s not even close. Their opponents are only constrained by their imagination of what they can make up. Unfortunately, that provides little constraint. So the anti-vaxxer can rattle off a list of completely madeup bullshit claims, leaving the pediatrician in bewilderment, with the only rational response being, “What in the hell are you talking about?” Unfortunately, they can’t use that response, because then the woo will just assert they are ignorant.

    You can’t win the debate with facts, because facts have no meaning to those perpetuating the crap.

    • Megan
      December 14, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

      Speaking of which, any ideas on how to actually combat pseudoscience? My sister in law was just diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. She is a very smart, educated woman but is already starting to talk about alternative treatments to fluorouracil and talks about pharmaceutical companies “suppressing info” on more natural or modern treatments. She literally has months to live without treatment and I don’t know how to approach this with her. I am worried I will just be seen as “one of the establishment.” Do I even try to talk to her about it? I mean I have nothing against using good nutrition as part of treatment for anything but take the chemo too!

      • Who?
        December 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

        I’m sorry your sil is sick, and very sorry she is already being preyed on by charlatans.

        Perhaps rather than attacking the (pseudo)science, talk about the practical aspects: why would pharmaceutical companies hide something they could sell for good money forever and get on with the really profitable stuff like hair removal/regrowth (depending on target market), obesity and impotence? There’s way more money in lifestyle conditions than curing illness, surely.

        Maybe if you can help her see that they people she’s dealing with are revving her up to be frightened, when she’s already pretty traumatised, she’ll begin to think a bit more about it.

        I hope things go well for her.

        • Roadstergal
          December 14, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

          “why would pharmaceutical companies hide something they could sell for good money forever ”

          Currently effective treatments are already selling for good money. Gilead didn’t hide the Hepatitis C cure, they’re selling it. Genentech didn’t hide Rituxan or Herceptin, they’re selling it. It’s not a hypothetical, it’s just that not every cancer has effective treatments yet. Perhaps a note of those is worthwhile…

          • Who?
            December 14, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

            But they are ebil, and you just think there are no effective cures.

            Poor woman, what a horrible situation.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            December 15, 2015 at 3:06 am #

            I believe the claim is that pharma companies want to sell a medication that would control, but not cure, the condition so that they can make the patient take that forever rather than finding a true cure that is only needed once.
            To be honest, they probably would prefer that, if they could get it. But it doesn’t matter: They will have to take whichever one can be developed. Sometimes it is an indefinite prolongation (i.e. imatinib and related drugs for CML), sometimes it can be a true cure (i.e. R-CHOP for NHL.) No pharma firm would turn down a curative treatment for a cancer because they wanted a drug that could put it into stasis but not cure instead because they know that they have to take what they can get. Cancers are tricky. You have to whack them with whatever works.
            It’s strange to me, though, that this issue of “they’re hiding the cure” comes up with cancer. We’ve got cures for a lot of cancers. Hodgkin lymphoma in a young person, testicular cancer, hairy cell leukemia, some non-Hodgkin lymphoma, early breast and colon cancer: all conditions where cure is expected and death from the disease is rare. (Not zero, of course, but you can also die of influenza or childbirth.) OTOH, hypertension is almost never curable and no one talks about the sinister pharma conspiracy to hide the hypertension cure. Or the diabetes cure that we don’t have. Or…any number of conditions where we have meds that control but don’t cure the condition. Why is the conspiracy supposedly in the one serious illness where we do have at least some cures?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            December 15, 2015 at 7:10 am #

            If Lilly had a drug that would control the disrase, and Merck could find a cute, they’d sell it at a loss, just to destroy Lilly.

            Goodness, “big pharma” is not all together. It’s tough competition.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            December 15, 2015 at 7:28 am #

            If Merck had a cure for the disease, whichever disease we’re talking about at the moment, and Lilly only had a treatment, they’d sell it at a profit and use the profits to acquire Lilly. Of course, they’d have to be quick, because Lilly’s “me too” drug* will be out within a few months.

            *A “me too” drug is a drug that is Nth in its class and is clearly only being marketed because the class of drug is highly successful and the company in question wants a piece of that market. See, for example, the statin drugs or SSRIs. Or sit back and watch the PD inhibitors come out over the next few years. Speaking of things that might end up curing some cancers or possibly only controlling them. Right now they only seem to control cancers mostly but frankly we don’t know how to use them yet and when we do…well, we’ll see what happens when we know what they’re really good for. Maybe not much, maybe a lot.

        • Nick Sanders
          December 14, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

          Reminds me of a sci-fi comic, set way in the future, that I read. In one scene, one of the characters is a thief who has a chance to nab some stuff from a very large pharmacy, and he’s upset because can’t tell the inexpensive cancer and HIV cures from the stuff that’ll be worth good money: ED meds and diet pills.

      • Sue
        December 14, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

        Would it help to encourage her to embrace the nutritional stuff as a “support” to the effective treatment, rather than an alternative? COuld she maybe see this as maximising her chances? This might be a better approach than competing one against the other, and would keep her in contact with the Oncologist.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        December 14, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

        Megan, you are a friggin doctor. Tell her about how doctors like you treat cancer. If she has any respect for you, knowing you and all, she’ll listen.

        And put her on the spot. Does she think you are being duped? Or are you part of the conspiracy? How many people work in pharmaceutical companies? Don’t they have any family who have cancer? Or does she think they have long mustaches and tie helpless women (named Nell) to the railroad tracks?

        Get her to realize that she is implying you are part of the evil conspiracy, and does she really think so little of you? If she has any respect for you at all, it will at least cause cognitive dissonance.

      • LizzieSt
        December 14, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

        You could tell her horror stories about untreated cancer. I used to help out in my dad’s surgery practice and I have a boatload of those. I’m sure you do, too. The tumor that erupted out of a patient’s breast, turning black and malodorous? Been there. Bowel obstruction so massive that much of the intestines had to be removed? Done that. Apparently, emotionally-charged, graphic stories like these actually do work to convince some people.

      • fiftyfifty1
        December 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

        It’s a very difficult situation. I’ve been in a very similar situation (family member with AIDS denialism who died of his AIDS). I should have pushed harder.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

          As I mentioned to Megan, if they have any respect for you, it should make them pause and think if you speak out. If they have so little respect for you that they won’t listen, then what does that tell you?

          • momofone
            December 15, 2015 at 12:45 am #

            From my own experience, it doesn’t have much to do with how much one respects another person, even someone close; it’s all about sheer terror and desperation at first. It’s all about what’s happening with the patient (for lack of a better term).

          • AllieFoyle
            December 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

            Sometimes though, if you are kind and respectful of the person’s beliefs, fears, and concerns then they will be more interested in and willing to listen to what you have to say. You might also learn something useful if you open yourself up to understanding their perspective without judgement.

      • Azuran
        December 14, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

        She is probably scared. It’s understandable when you are facing chemotherapy, radiotherapy, possibly having a colostomy bag or the possibility of dying. Pseudoscience is often offering 100% guaranteed treatment with 0 side effect. Who wouldn’t want that?
        Give her support, talk with her, be with her. Don’t make in into a confrontation or else you will be ‘one of the establishment’. Try to help her understand that her doctors are on her side and are doing as everything they can to help her.
        I think you have the right idea when you say that nutrition as part of the treatment is a good idea. Maybe try a more middle ground approach, there’s nothing wrong with eating kale, but she should still do the chemo and put all the chances on her side.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

          on’t make in into a confrontation or else you will be ‘one of the establishment’.

          As I have said, it’s about respect. If her SIL respects her so little to dismiss her as “part of the establishment” then what can you do? She wouldn’t to listen to anything Megan says, no matter how nicely she says it.

          • Azuran
            December 14, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

            I agree, but right now her SIL is vulnerable. If she feels attacked or unsupported she might not listen. You have to make it into a discussion, not attack her on her wish for a magical cure.

          • AllieFoyle
            December 15, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

            I don’t know if that’s true. It’s probably about a lot more than respect. Loss, fear, uncertainty…she’s facing so much, and I think it may be more meaningful for Megan to approach her with kindness and thoughtfulness rather than looking for some implied disrespect. It’s an awful situation, and not one of us really knows how we would react if it happened to us.

      • momofone
        December 14, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

        I’m sorry–what a difficult situation. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, and with the help of surgery and chemo (multiples of both), lived thirteen years, during which she became a grandmother four times and enjoyed her life. I hope your sister-in-law will be willing to listen.

      • Amazed
        December 14, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

        Tell her that you ARE the Big Pharma. Are you an evil person? Are you a fool who’s lost some 10 years of her life learning fake stuff? Prepare a few selected readings for her with your summaries below, written for a lay person. And yes, agree on good nutririon, agree, agree! Emphasize the things you agree with her, so you wouldn’t look all that adversarial when you start talking chemo.

        My grandmother was all but written off by the doctors due to colon cancer. She barely acquiesced to the surgery. For 19 years, she’s been living with an anus praeter and is quite pleased with it! She’s now old enough for a wheelchair which she got a few days ago. Not a good thing, of course, but she has her brains, she has all of us and she’s had those 19 years that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. I wish your family all the best.

      • Montserrat Blanco
        December 15, 2015 at 3:06 am #

        There is something that I usually find useful. I always make sure to make my patients understand that giving one cycle does not mean that you give any more cycles, that if the tolerance is bad you always can stop. Most chemo effects will only last two-three weeks, and that is an investment that most patients are willing to make. Present it as: give it a shot, you can decide later.

        If you are lucky and she tolerates it well she will probably continue with treatment. If she really gets really bad side effects even you would be looking at this situation on a different light.

        Best of luck.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          December 15, 2015 at 3:30 am #

          Good point. I’ve had some patients come back after their first cycle of chemotherapy saying things like, “That was anticlimactic.” Though I will say that if someone is frightened of having severe nausea and vomiting in the first cycle you should hit them with the maximum recommended anti-nausea meds and maybe a little benzo in addition. Anticipatory nausea and vomiting are nasty and hard to get rid of once established. Better to not let them get established.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        December 15, 2015 at 3:12 am #

        Would your sister in law be willing to consider a clinical trial? If she’s unhappy with the standard options–and it’s in no way unreasonable to be unhappy with the standard options for metastatic colon cancer–maybe clinical trial participation would help her feel that she was doing something positive for herself and others.

      • Megan
        December 15, 2015 at 6:53 am #

        Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I learned through an email last night that she at least plans to try chemo so for that I am relieved. If she wants to add on vitamins and turmeric and change her diet on top of that I’m not going to argue. I will try to get a better feel for things at our holiday gathering but I agree with the posters who suggested a middle of the road approach and suggesting trying both. I know she is seeing a very good oncologist and supposedly his bedside manner is good. So I hope she will trust him enough that any further woo can be combatted. I think the bigger issue is her family and their internet “research.” The clinical trial idea did also occur to me as she als mentioned in this email questions over newer, better treatments. I will chat with her about it if I can. Anyway, I just got really scared when I heard the “suppressing info” gambit because it’s such a buzzword in cancer quackery. Thanks again, everyone.

      • Realitybites100
        December 15, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

        I am so sorry about SIL diagnosis. I hope no matter what happens you can make peace with her choices. I personally would talk to her about mixing natural and western medicine, but I understand some would be offended. I guess I would just to need to know I least tried and showed how much I cared.

    • Azuran
      December 14, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

      The only thing they can do at this point is practically ignore the anti-vaxxer and move on to more important things without them.
      Every single time anyone give them a platform to talk, like when they do ‘debates’ about vaccines in the media, they are giving them credibility and allowing them to spreading their misinformation and stupidity. We should just refuse to partake in their idiocy anymore.

      The efficacy and safety of vaccines have been more than proven. Those who still refuse to see the evidence will refuse to see any new future evidence as well. We really need to stop putting money and time into this fake debate.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        December 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

        The only thing they can do at this point is practically ignore the
        anti-vaxxer and move on to more important things without them.

        Yep. Although the one thing that did more to marginalize the anti-vaxxers was when the Wakefield paper got retracted. It doesn’t make sense as to why it should matter, but this sent a very clear message to the general public that, no, the whole “vaccines cause autism” nonsense was NOT a serious discussion in the real scientific literature. instead of “isn’t there a paper that says MMR causes autism?” the response became “Didn’t that claim get retracted?”

        “Evolutionists” have done the same thing with creationists. Don’t dignify them with a response. Then again, there the US courts made the statement.

        With the woo cancer cures, the FDA is going to be the one to take a stand.

        In the end, the general public doesn’t fall for the conspiracy crap. They just can’t distinguish good from garbage very well on their own.

        • Who?
          December 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

          To be fair, the woo cure crowd are sales people, with a product they need to unload to keep food on the table. Scientists and doctors are offering what’s available to them, and most don’t have the desire or skills to sell product.

          Sometimes it is hard to be skeptical when someone is selling something you would really like to have do what it says on the label.

        • Erin
          December 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

          To some of my fellow mummies.. retraction is just proof of a big medicine cover up which is sacrificing our little lambs for cold hard cash.

          My son is due his MMR soon and I must admit I’m panicking as I had a lot of febrile convulsions as a child which saw me on Epilim til I was 5. In fact I wasn’t given the MMR booster because my pediatrician wasn’t willing to risk it. Oddly enough, the risk of seizures never gets brought up when my friends talk about it, instead we get autism, obesity (your guess is as good as mine), developmental delays and ruined gut flora.. (not a problem in my son’s case as I already ruined it by giving him formula and being so selfish as to have a pelvis he couldn’t fit through) as reasons why they aren’t going to risk their little angels health.

          • moto_librarian
            December 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

            Have you talked to your pediatrician about your family history of febrile seizures? I can certainly understand your worry about your son receiving the MMR. It must be unbelievably frustrating to hear people complain about unproven risks while you have valid concerns about a documented side effect of vaccination.

          • Erin
            December 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

            He doesn’t have a pediatrician as we’re in the UK. Discussed it with my sister-in-law who is a GP and believes the risks of measles, mumps and rubella outweighs the smaller risk that he will develop seizures plus apart from a few bruises, she did point out that the seizures didn’t do me any obvious harm.

            Haven’t bothered asking the Health Visitor as she’s a total waste of space. Her answer to pretty much everything is “breastfeeding”… not to mention she’s got a voice like nails down a blackboard.

            Plus he’s had all the other vaccinations and never even had a temperature so the odds might be in our favour.. it’s just I keep thinking of horror stories, like what if he had a seizure somewhere he could hit his head. Totally not over anxious.

          • moto_librarian
            December 15, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

            If you’re prone to febrile seizures, spiking a high temperature from one of the VPDs could cause one to happen anyway, so personally, I would prefer to go ahead and have the vaccine. I don’t think you’re being over-anxious – I am ardently pro-vaxx, and even I had that moment of discomfort right before my children got their first shots. I hope that everything proceeds smoothly!

          • Charybdis
            December 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

            Here in the States, they recommend that you give your baby some infant Tylenol a half hour or so before they get their shots. I seem to remember them being a little more encouraging about that when it was time for the MMR. Also, talking with the doctor/nurse who will be administering the shots and stating that, due to your past history, you are a little concerned about your baby getting it. Not enough to *not* vaccinate, if I understand your correctly, you just have a legitimate concern, based on your medical history and would like to have it addressed.
            I had concerns even before I got pregnant. I had some genetic testing done and after I had DS, I alerted the pediatrician to the fact that my brother has Asperger’s and I have a couple of cousins who are autistic, so I was concerned about DS and I wanted to know what I should be looking for. So at each well baby visit, we discussed DS’s behavior and progress and somewhere around 9 months or thereabouts, he told me that DS didn’t have any of the symptoms/markers for anything on the autism spectrum. It was a relief. I think the fact that I wasn’t over the top and panicky about every little thing and was willing to do the “wait and watch” routine helped as well.

          • Realitybites100
            December 15, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

            While I agree the anti vax Mvmt has gone too far and is way over the top…I do think some children have sensitivities. If there was a history of concern I wound talk it over with professionals. I would read the inserts and I would research the best I can.
            There are no right or wrong answers here. Your gut instinct should be listened to as well as medical advise. Find your personal balance of acceptance.

          • Erin
            December 16, 2015 at 6:48 am #

            The problem with professionals seems to be that they’re mostly concerned with targets a bit like breastfeeding and shrug you off as an overprotective parent. It’s not helped that I have a diagnosis of PnD (that my current psychiatrist and psychologist disagree with .. they are treating me for PTSD) but my GP/Health Visitors all agree with the first psychiatrist because “childbirth can’t possibly give you PTSD” even when you relive a previous trauma during it so I don’t feel that I get listened to even though there is nothing wrong with my ability to discuss or reason in areas that don’t touch on the trauma.

    • LizzieSt
      December 14, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Very true. It’s throwing pearls before swine, to use a belittling Biblical metaphor.

      • LizzieSt
        December 14, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

        In other news, I totally went there. I told Alice Dreger about the “sexy” (her word) natural vaginal birth that resulted in my brother-in-law suffering severe brain damage. On Twitter. And she was totally dismissive and condescending because vaginal births can never be anything but totally awesome, of course! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No one – NO ONE – is immune.

        My admiration for her just died. RIP.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          December 14, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

          I’ve debunked her nonsense before:

          • LizzieSt
            December 15, 2015 at 7:47 am #

            Thanks for this. Wow, she is the worst! Absolutely drunk on the Kool-Aid. Such stupidity coming from a professor. And absolutely no acknowledgment that an “unscientific” OB would have had to save her butt from that “sexy” birth if she had had some unsexy complications. Preeclampsia = not sexy. Placenta accreta = Really not sexy. And a midwife cannot rescue you from them, no matter how “scientific” she is. My admiration for her is now dead and buried.

          • An Actual Attorney
            December 15, 2015 at 11:22 am #

            The idea that a woman has a responsibility to be sexy at all times is so repulsive, I just don’t know where to put it.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            December 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

            I can think of a suggestion or two…

          • Who?
            December 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

            And it’s extending out now, into the sixties and beyond. Being healthy, eating right is great-being expected to look sexy so as to not make the general community feel awkward, I don’t think so.

          • kilda
            December 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

            incontinence resulting from pelvic floor damage – also not sexy.

          • LizzieSt
            December 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

            Oooh, and she bravely stands against “pro-vaccine zealots” too! This woman is the gift that keeps on giving. Happy Advent, Lizzie!


        • Realitybites100
          December 15, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

          So Tired of women being high on the vagina. It doesn’t matter how a baby enters the world. All that matter is the fact that you have a new family member. Nothing special happens when a baby comes out naturally. Nothing. And no one really truly even cares. It’s a competition with no reward. Nothing more. It matters none HOW the child was delivered. It means nothing. No one in your life knows or cares if you were born by c section or vagina. It’s not how we are judged. So why are mothers judging by it? Why does it matter so much? It’s bizarre

    • Sue
      December 14, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

      People often ask me why we persist in arguing against the rusted-on radical-NCBers, anti-vaxers, woomeisters and anti-scientists in general.

      I explain that we don’t expect to convert those people, because they have complex vested interests in promoting that misinformation – whether it is psychological or financial.

      We do know, however, that passers-by who read rational responses to their nonsense can, and will, respond rationally. Those readers can then pass on the explanations and de-bunking information when they hear the misinformation again.

      Social media are certainly a tool for rapid spreading of misinformation but, as Dr Amy has demonstrated, they can also be used to debunk misinformation and spread reliable knowledge, backed up by valid evidence.

      • nomofear
        December 15, 2015 at 4:12 am #

        1. I was converted by this site. It can be done.
        2. Amen to realizing the nuts probably won’t stop being nuts, and, instead, writing to the real audience of passers by. Feed the trolls until they explode!

  10. RMY
    December 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    It looks like it’ll be great. 🙂

  11. Daleth
    December 14, 2015 at 2:25 pm #


  12. Megan
    December 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Really looking forward to this. Will be making time to read it when it comes out after daughter number two arrives, though it may take me months to finish with two little girls! After the difficult delivery of my oldest daughter and our struggles to breastfeed, you really helped me see that having a happy, healthy daughter and enjoying being a mom were the real accomplishments and that my Csection and formula feeding were not “failure” at all. I have continued to read tthis blog to bolster my confidence for this pregnancy and delivery and have found the s site and it’s community of commenters so helpful. Thank you!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      December 15, 2015 at 9:20 am #

      FWIW, I’m due a couple of months after the book is coming out, and I’m planning on downloading it onto my phone for reading during those looooong newborn nights. I suspect that PP hormones will be conspiring to whack me over the head with all sorts of nasty self-talk as they did last time, and plan to read this instead of listening to that nonsense.

      • Megan
        December 15, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

        That is a good idea! Though I’m hoping to snag any sleep available to me whenever I can. Though I am quite excited for daughter #2 to arrive, I am also fairly terrified at having two under two. Maybe I’ll get lucky and Amazon will release it a bit early and I can read it in the hospital after I deliver. By the way, I hope your pregnancy is going smoothly!

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          December 17, 2015 at 11:04 am #

          Oh, me too on the sleep thing! Hopefully, this baby will be easier to get to sleep than DD; she needed an hour plus of rocking to get her down most of the time as a newborn. Just in case, though, I’m stocking a list of books to get for those looooong nights.

  13. Squillo
    December 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm #


  14. moto_librarian
    December 14, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    I cannot wait to read the whole thing, Dr. Amy! You really were a lifeline to me in the aftermath of a difficult first birth and inability to breastfeed. Thank you.

  15. Karen in SC
    December 14, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Pre-ordered! Can’t wait!

    • attitude devant
      December 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

      Where??? I want to pre-order too!

  16. areawomanpdx
    December 14, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    I am so excited to read the whole thing!

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