Milli Hill shows that natural childbirth — like all cults — cannot tolerate criticism

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I’ve written before that the philosophy of natural childbirth is the philosophy of a cult.

Like most cults, has its own mythology, in this case a mythology that is both racist and sexist. The cult was started by Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear, and a eugenicist who was preoccupied with visions of “race suicide” as non-white people became an ever larger part of the population of first world countries. Dick-Read thought that white women of the “civilized” races were being diverted by the quest for economic and political equality, when they really should be home spitting out babies. He believed that it was fear of the excruciating pain of labor that discourage these women from having more children. He fabricated out of whole cloth the bizarre notion that “primitive” (read: black) women gave birth without pain because they didn’t fear childbirth and understood that their primary role was to reproduce.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The vicious response to those who question the principle of natural childbirth advocacy.[/pullquote]

To this day, natural childbirth advocates fantasize that they are emulating exotic brown foreigners and becoming better at birth than they are themselves. There is no historical basis to the claim that unmedicated vaginal birth is safest, and no scientific basis for the claim that it is superior in any way to childbirth with pain relief. No matter; cult membership requires belief regardless of inconvenient facts.

The fundamental principles of natural childbirth advocacy are cultural constructs:

  • Birth is depicted as inherently safe though it is actually inherently dangerous.
  • Birth is depicted as an individual achievement thought it is purely a matter of luck.
  • While historically a bad birth experience involved a dead baby, dead mother or both, a bad birth experience is now depicted as one in which a mother’s birth plan was not fulfilled in all details.

In other words, natural childbirth is a cult. As defined by Google, a cult is:

a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.

In the case of natural childbirth, the object of the cult is unmedicated childbirth without interventions. Unmedicated vaginal birth is understood by cult members to be venerated with trust, worshipped with affirmations, and often viewed as more important that the ostensible purpose of childbirth, a live, healthy baby.

And, like all cults, it reacts viciously to criticism.

How else to explain the nauseating, gut churning cruelty of natural childbirth advocates toward James Titcombe?

James and his wife Hoa lost their newborn son Joshua to midwifery negligence followed by a brazen attempt at cover up. Throughout his multi-year quest to learn the truth about Joshua’s death and hold the midwives accountable for it, James was subjected to vicious attacks by the natural childbirth community.

His sin? He dared question the cult of natural childbirth.

You might think his status as the father of a dead baby would protect him; you would be wrong.

Despite the fact that James was fully vindicated and received a royal honor from Queen Elizabeth for his relentless quest on behalf of victims of midwifery negligence, any time he questions the fundamental principles of the natural childbirth cult, he is subjected to viciousness from natural childbirth advocates.

The latest example occurred over the past few days. Apparently James dared to question the notion that vaginal birth is empowering.

Professional homebirth advocate and author Milli Hill responded by accusing him of being an enemy of women and their choices:


What had James done to arouse Hill’s wrath?

He had dared question the notion that vaginal birth is inherently empowering when he pointed out, commenting about a VBAC birth story, that babies die when their mothers ignore medical advice for C-section in pursuit of a vaginal birth.

The mother who wrote the story, Michelle Quashie, did feel empowered by her vaginal birth and she’s entitled to feel whatever she wants. But, there is every reason to question a cult of birth that privileges process over outcome and leads to preventable deaths of babies as a result.

For that matter, a woman who fits into a size 2 dress is entitled to feel proud that she can do so. That doesn’t change the fact that there is every reason to question the cultural constructs that women should be judged by their weight, that thinness is superior, and that leads to women starving themselves literally to death to meet these cultural “achievements” set by the fashion and entertainment industries.

My invocation of empowerment through weight loss is deliberate. For many years, the fashion and entertainment industries turned a blind eye to the harm they did to women by setting arbitrary standards of beauty through thinness. Ultimately, though, they began to understand that the drive to achieve thinness could lead vulnerable young women to death through anorexia. There is a growing effort to temper the cultural message that thin is superior, and emphasize instead that different weights are healthy for different women.

But cults like natural childbirth cannot even tolerate questioning, let alone criticism.

Imagine if a father who lost his daughter to anorexia was subjected to taunting by the fashion industry that his efforts to prevent future tragedies were efforts to efforts to harm women.

Heartless, vicious and ugly are just a few word that come to mind to describe such behavior.

The same words — heartless, vicious and ugly — describe Milli Hill’s taunting of James Titcombe.

Women are entitled to their feelings, but the rest of us are entitled to question the cultural constructs on which those feelings are based. And no one is more entitled to question those cultural constructs than those who have lost precious children as a result.

Grow up and grow a heart, Milli Hill, and stop taunting James Titcombe.

If you want to argue about the principles of natural childbirth advocacy, feel free to argue with me — but apparently you don’t get as much joy out of intellectual debate as you do from heartless cruelty.