Natural childbirth, breastfeeding and the narcissistic fallacy

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Most people are aware that natural childbirth and lactivism are based on the naturalistic fallacy. I’d like to propose an new logical fallacy that also animates them, the narcissistic fallacy.

The naturalistic fallacy, also known as the is/ought fallacy, assumes that because something is a certain way, it ought to be that way. If all childbirth in nature is unmedicated vaginal birth, than all childbirth everywhere at all times ought to be unmedicated vaginal birth. If all infant feeding in nature is breastfeeding than all children everywhere regardless of circumstances ought to be breastfed.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The narcissistic fallacy: if I don’t want it, you can’t have it.[/pullquote]

The narcissistic fallacy, in contrast, is the I/you fallacy: if I don’t want it, you can’t have it.

The naturalistic fallacy uses the past as the touchstone for how the present should be ordered. The narcissistic fallacy — as it’s name implies — uses an individual’s preference for how the world should be ordered.

But, but, but SCIENCE! Science shows that natural childbirth and breastfeeding are best!

No, science actually shows the opposite. As Hobbes wrote in the political context, life in the state of nature was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Indeed, there once was a time when all childbirth was unmedicated vaginal birth, all infant feeding was breastfeeding and in that glorious time gone by … babies and mothers died in droves. The natural neonatal death rate is 7%, meaning that nearly every woman lost at baby at birth or knew someone who had lost a baby at birth. The natural maternal death rate is 1%; to put that in perspective, if maternal deaths still occurred at the natural rate as many women would die in childbirth each year as die from breast cancer.

The naturalistic fallacy assumes that nature cannot be improved upon, a conceit that none of us — even the most ardent partisans of the wisdom of nature — actually believe. Houses aren’t natural; clothes aren’t natural; deliberately growing our own food is not natural. I’ve yet to find anyone willing to live “as nature intended,” though I find plenty of women willing to berate others who don’t give birth or feed their infants “as nature intended.” The ultimate irony is that these women use their computers and smart phones to gather in cyberspace to preach the superiority of natural birth and breastfeeding.

The narcissistic fallacy reduces the purported state of nature to whatever a particular individual or group wishes to do. The narcissistic fallacy says things like:

“If I want a vaginal birth without an epidural, you should be prevented from, or denigrated for, getting one.”

“If I want to breastfeed, you should be forced to breastfeed.”

“If I want 24 hour rooming in with my baby, they should close the newborn nursery so you’ll be forced to room in, too.”

Both the naturalistic fallacy and the narcissistic fallacy are logical fallacies. Like all logical fallacies, they are errors in reasoning that undermine the argument being made. The naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy because determining what something is, tells us nothing about how it ought to be. The narcisstic fallacy is a fallacy because an individual’s personal preferences tell us nothing about what others can or should prefer. Neither, of course, is supported by science.

If you don’t want an epidural, don’t have one.

If you don’t want to formula feed, don’t do it.

If you don’t want to send your newborn to the nursery, don’t.

Just don’t tell the rest of us that if you don’t want it, we can’t have it.

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  • VillosaFabalis

    Can anyone make any recommendations on how to navigate this BFHI nonsense? I’m not currently pregnant but looking to conceive in the near future and I unfortunately happen to live in a state where nearly every single hospital pushes breastfeeding aggressively, skin to skin, and rooming in. I’m a sexual assault survivor and after reading personal accounts of women here having their breasts grabbed and hospital gowns ripped open by pushy midwives and LCs, I am terrified. I have no desire at all to breastfeed for deeply personal reasons. I even spoke to a friend of mine who delivered at a local hospital and she told me she checked out early because her experience was so terrible and she wanted to BF.
    I’m not sure what is the best choice of action.

    • SandyH

      Hi.
      After a horrific experience with my 1st child in a BFHI hospital, I did a lot of research, consulted with a few obstetricians, and selected one who would advocate for me, and had no issues with not doing skin to skin right away.
      Since it was a BFHI hospital, she (and I) notified all of the nurses that baby was to be formula fed only. ( I would’ve given combo-feeding a try but in this type of hospital it would not be a good idea!!) I printed out information, as well as good “come-backs” for any comments or hostility.
      My husband and I had a plan for any lactivists who thought they could barge in, and basically had plans in place so I could know ahead of time how I was going to respond in multiple situations. After having a baby you are incredibly exhausted and hormones are all over the place. So my advice would be to prepare yourself for the bullies ahead of time, and find a great obstetrician who will have your back when you need him/her!

      • VillosaFabalis

        This is such excellent advice! Thanks so much! I’m so glad I found this blog and amazing community. Every other womens/mommy group would just tell women like me who do not want to breastfeed to just try it and I may find it empowering…blah blah blah…Why does everything regarding birth and pregnancy now have to mention “empowerment”? BFing is just one way to feed a baby, FFing is another.
        When you say you printed out information, what type of info? Do you mean studies of the negligible benefits of breast milk?

    • maidmarian555

      One of the things I did was to take my own formula in. You can buy packs with individual bottles and sterile, individual one-use teats. It meant I was in control of what and when I fed my daughter (we were combo feeding and that was the plan but I didn’t want anyone else to be in control of the formula if I felt she needed a top up). It took a lot of the pressure off because I didn’t need to ask anybody for food for her. I had a c-section and nobody pushed regarding skin to skin. I asked for her to be bundled up in a blanket in theatre and given to her dad. We did skin to skin later in recovery, without a room full of people but that was my choice. Nobody insisted or came and stood over us. If you’re not planning on breastfeeding, then there is zero reason why anybody would need to touch your breasts at all (and tbh they should only do that with full consent anyway even if you are).

      • VillosaFabalis

        Thank you for your reply! I never knew about the one time use bottles. That is great to know. I would much prefer the way you did regarding private time with your baby.. It’s not that I’m against skin to skin, I just don’t like the idea of anything being forced on me and not having a choice in the matter.

        • Charybdis

          Yeah, the little 2 ounce nursette bottles full of ready-to-feed formula (no mixing!) are awesome. Start early with your OB, telling them that you are a sexual assault survivor and that you are concerned about BFHI practices, they should be able to help support your choices and cut through the B’S. If you do some sort of “birth plan”, state unequivocally that you will be formula feeding and get either the OB or your pediatrician to write an order/prescription for formula and make copies of it. Lots of copies, so that if the hospital staff try the ” there’s no order for formula in your chart” nonsense, you can hand them a fresh copy. Make it clear that you want the baby cleaned up before you hold him/her. Make a “NO LC’s Allowed!’ sign for your door. Make sure any support people are on board with the plan, so they can advocate for you if necessary.

          Have you checked out the Fed Is Best website/TH page? They are awesome and have a LOT of information and resources available, including downloadable feeding plans that you can use.

          Oh, take a few pacifiers with you as well.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      As others have said, do talk to your OB about this early: he or she ought to help you navigate all this.
      While you’ll find few people more loathing of BFHI stuff than I am, I will say this: at my particular BFHI hospital, they did respect my choice to FF immediately and without further discussion. This is unfortunately not true everywhere, but I do want to mention it in the context of “it may not be as bad as it can be.” My reasons were nowhere near as serious as yours, but I didn’t even have to give them. A LC showed up in recovery, introduced herself, and asked if I wanted help with breastfeeding. I said something like, “No thank you, I’m planning on formula feeding and am not interested in trying breastfeeding.” She replied, “That’s fine; if you change your mind, or if there’s something else I can help you with, here’s my card. Congratulations!”…and left.
      While I didn’t do immediate skin-to-skin with kid #2, I did with #1, but no one touched me in that area without asking explicitly: “Would you like me to help you get started nursing your baby?” And when I said yes, “May I undo your gown and help baby latch on?” (I was in the OR and having a C-section, for context.)
      One nurse did say something like, “I’m supposed to tell you that if you wanted to, you could try breastfeeding; your milk is coming in.” Me: “I don’t want to. It’s connected to severe PPD for me after my experience with my first kid.” Her: “Fair enough, I’m sorry you had to deal with that.”
      Mind you, I still found myself left to care for a newborn while hallucinating from a med interaction because they didn’t have a well-baby nursery, but that’s a rant for another day.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Also, if you’re part of a local sexual assault survivor group, members there, or a counselor (if you’re seeing one) might be able to recommend an OB who specializes in women who’ve had similar experiences and can therefore throw their weight around on your behalf still more effectively in the hospital.
      If you contact formula companies, they’ll send you free samples of their ready-to-feed bottles; any you don’t use can be donated to a food pantry. I brought some to the hospital for my second kid in anticipation of BFHI lunacy, but ended up not needing them there.
      Firm boundaries set early and often: a birth plan that includes “please don’t touch me without checking with me first except in the case of an emergency,” “I am a sexual assault survivor and find *invasive behavior* triggering,” etc may be helpful. Again, in fairness to my particular BFHI hospital, when I said that breastfeeding was connected to PPD for me, they backed the hell off on the breastfeeding thing in order to focus primarily on connecting me to PPD support. Would that it were like that everywhere.
      Lastly, hospital personnel don’t want you to have a horrible experience for all kinds of reasons: Press-Ganey satisfaction scores, genuine (in some cases) humanity, the possibility of a nasty lawsuit, et all. You will be asked periodically during and after your stay about your experience. Be honest and blunt about it: “W and X were great, but I felt dismissed and violated when Y happened, despite my clearly communicating Z concern to the staff.” Upper management does not like hearing that sort of thing, and take it into account when making long-term decisions in re patient care.

  • Brooke Broersma

    Amy Tuteur is not a licensed Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She has not been licensed to practice in her field in at least 15 years. She should be honest, in the fact that she does not maintain a medical license and has previously been dismissed from employment. It is illegal for her to represent herself as a licensed doctor and give medical advice. She should be sued for posing as a licensed doctor.

    • swbarnes2

      Dumb dumb, it says that right on the page, in the top of the right hand column.

      • Brooke Broersma

        No…she falsely calls herself an obstetrician in her first sentence. She doesn’t or can’t maintain her license. She should say former obstetrician. She doesn’t bother to say she is not licensed to practice medicine.

        • swbarnes2

          “She left the practice of medicine”

          It says so right there. Top of the right hand column. Her years of education, training and practice didn’t vanish. She still has them.

          • Brooke Broersma

            To maintain a medical license you must complete continuing education credits and certain standards. She does not. She is not up to date, and has not practiced in decades. She is not ethical, and does not serve women or babies. She is merely a bitter unemployed blogger. She is too bitter to be trusted.

          • Heidi

            Brooke, she literally said she left the practice of medicine. That ends your whole argument.

          • Roadstergal

            … what was her argument again?

          • Heidi

            That Brooke is the bestest who eats the best minerals and does the best stretches so she has the best labors with the best orgasms! How dare Dr. Tuteur personally argue otherwise. I’m not sure why this blog isn’t named I’m So Jelly of Brooke B.

          • Roadstergal

            Brooke Affirmations – painful things only hurt if you’re a wimp.

          • Amazed

            Surprise, surprise, a retired MD is still an MD. Not that I expect a creature who spends its life orgasming over the anomaly that is a pleasurable birth to know this. You never completed a degree that is as meaningful as a MD, right, Brookie Anomaly?

    • momofone

      Or you should try reading before commenting. It would save you a lot of face.

    • Who?

      Why do you care what Dr T says/writes. As far as you’re concerned you know more than anyone on the subject, so why waste your valuable time?

    • Sue

      In contrast, Brooke Broersma has never completed medical training, specialist training or held any sort of medical license. Stark contrast.

    • Anna

      Who wants to bet Brooke is an anti-vaxxer and her heros are Wakefield and Humphries.

      • momofone

        She seems to share some characteristics with another Brooke we know.

    • Roadstergal

      Where is she giving medical advice?

  • CSN0116

    It is grotesque how ok, and even defensive, UK women are about their lack of choice postpartum (Dr. T’s FB thread). Because they know nothing of well nurseries, anyone else in the world is insane to want or have them. And they’re vile nasty about how ‘great’ they have it. Some top notch brainwashing going on there.

    • maidmarian555

      Trust me, we do not have it great here in the U.K. Our post-partum wards are a nightmare and thanks to idiots like those doing the marketing for NHS cost-cutting on behalf of the government (because that is precisely what they’re doing), I can’t see it improving any time soon. We absolutely should have better choices but the only things they’ve done in recent years to extend choice is offer more homebirths and open more MLUs that barely anyone uses but that still need to be staffed by stretching an ever dwindling number of midwives over more locations. It’s genius really, they’ve persuaded a lot of mums that what they *actually* want are the things that cost less and involve less care. And those of us that feel differently are just selfish harridans who don’t love our babies enough because otherwise we’d just suffer gratefully.

  • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

    Sorry to thread jack, but I am about 12 wks along now, and have started telling people about my pregnancy, which has led to a lot of woo woo advice, and a bunch of natural mama book suggestions from my SIL. Does anyone have any good advice for a pregnancy book to read that presents evidence well, sites sources, explains the science, etc? I am shocked at how stupid and condescending most advice is.

    • attx

      I enjoyed the Mayo Clinic’s guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and for baby books, Baby 411 (NOT Pregnancy 411, though…that had bullshit).

      Avoid babycenter. Nothing good is found there.

      • crazy mama, PhD

        +1 to the Mayo Clinic book, and +1000 to avoiding BabyCenter.

        • Empliau

          Avoid the Baby Book by Sears, although it did have one gem of advice – keep popsicles in freezer for mouth cuts/injuries. Easier to get a toddler to suck a popsicle than to hold ice on bleeding lip/tongue.

          • Heidi

            What?! He allows kids to eat the eeeevil processed sugar?

          • No, no; only homemade kale pops sweetened with breast milk, obviously.

          • Heidi

            Obviously, we wouldn’t want any thallium deficiencies!

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        I second third the Mayo Clinic guide!

    • Heidi

      My opinion is they are all awful! At best, they’re boring. But I recommend utilizing the library because maybe you won’t hate them as much as me. I’m glad I didn’t purchase any.

    • Cartman36

      The book I recommend to every pregnant woman besides Dr. Amy’s is Epidural without Guilt by Grant. And I agree with the others, stay off babycenter and mommy sites.

      • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

        Thanks. I didn’t know Dr. Amy had a book I will look into it.

        • Cartman36

          Yep, it called Push Back. I also LOVED Is Breast Best by Joan Wolf. It reads like a textbook though so it took me forever to get through it.

    • Kim

      I haven’t read it, but I’m told Bumpology is very good – it’s written by a science journalist. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00A0MGUAW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

      • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

        It got good reviews on Amazon from people who seem scientifically inclined.

    • AnotherOor

      “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster is fantastic. It dispenses with ridiculousness like deli meat terror, alcohol hysteria etc. with statistics and evidence.

    • yentavegan

      Congratulations! Even if you read no books about birth/pregnancy you will be ahead of the game by just searching skepticalob.com. I love this community of parents/scientists/common sense folks.

      • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

        Thanks! I have found it very hard to fit in with the other pregnancy communities online. I just want a kid, and don’t consider this a way towards Earth mama empowerment or whatever. Pregnant people are so weird!

    • swbarnes2

      “Science of Mom” is another one written by someone who knows how to read scientific papers. Not sure how much it deals with pregnancy, it might be more of an infant book.

    • Roadstergal

      I follow Skeptical Parenting on Facebook – they started a podcast, and the second episode is supposed to be around childbirth. It’ll be interesting to hear how it goes – I generally like their articles…

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    We went to an open house as a nearby school last week and guess what, no one gave a darn how my kids came into the world. I know, I’m shocked too. The kindergarden teacher was charmed by my kids’ Snoopy best friends, since her area was all but coated in Snoopies, but that’s about it. (Boybard got his from grandma and picked out another for Girlbard. Her’s is rainbow coloured, heehee)

    • Allie

      Yeah, in the circles I roll in (cultural thing, I think), people are constantly bragging about how early their kids did certain things… “My kid ate solids at 3 months, my kid talked at 6 months, my kid crapped on a cracker when he was only 1 month old!” One woman claimed her kid was walking at 7 months, not toddling, full-on walking. I’m like “congrats, but I’ve never seen that on a college application. It means nothing and no one but you cares : )” Okay, the stuff after congrats was in my head and I humoured her by oohing and aahing, but you get the idea.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Even if the kid -is- gifted, there’s no guarantee s/he’s going going to be ahead in everything. My family’s full of early talkers who were also in special ed, and we’re all clumsy. *snort*

        • Heidi

          I have a friend whose mom got told by the kindergarten teachers that they felt like my friend was developmentally delayed. She ended up not being. She managed a 4.0 GPA in college with little effort and was accepted into a few top tier law schools. She’s still fairly clumsy though.

          • I was actually put in developmental kindergarten because I was very shy, so I wouldn’t talk to my teacher or fellow students. I could talk, I just wouldn’t. Two years later they wanted to skip me forward a grade, which didn’t happen because I was already one of the youngest in the class.

            I got into several Ivy League universities and wound up going to a state school instead on a full scholarhip + stipend. Sometimes things just happen at different rates for different people.

      • Who?

        My husband and I have a private joke about a person or creature being ‘very advanced’, said in a particular tone, which denotes bragging behaviour on the part of the speaker, about something of zero to not at all actual value or interest.

        It can also be applied to our dog, who as you can imagine is ‘very advanced’ when compared with all others who have ever lived or will ever live.

      • ukay

        Exactly. Nobody cares whether kids walk at 10 months or 13 months as long as they can walk at a certain point.

      • maidmarian555

        Urgh. I have several Facebook acquaintances that are constantly making up things they pretend their toddlers are saying. Said toddlers are actually at the stage where they may string a word or two together, but they aren’t coming out with extensive, amusing comments or talking in-depth about Star Wars. Tellingly, whenever they do this, all the ‘likes’ are from non-parents so I don’t think I’m the only one giving them the side-eye for their blatant lies. I have no idea why they do it, other than I guess to make people without kids think everyone else’s kids are morons. If it’s not that it’s lying about dropping the dummy and then forgetting they’ve said that and posting a video with their kid a month later with it hanging out their mouth. Or potty training before 1. Or other nonsense. I don’t get it at all.

        • Cat

          The best thing about parenting websites is the hilariously competitive “my child’s a genius” claims. My personal favourites are the foetuses doing strong kicks at a point in their gestation when they won’t even have legs to kick with (but, if you point that out, you’re likely to be told that science doesn’t know everything and mamas know their babies best).

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “My kid’s head circumference is in the 99th percentile!”

            Like, who cares? So your kid has a big fat head? Doesn’t make you supermom.

          • crazy mama, PhD

            Ha, my older kid has a 99th percentile head. We suspect the reason he hated tummy time so much (and consequently was quite late on his gross motor milestones) was because his head was so heavy relative to the rest of his body.

          • Roadstergal

            I swear, one of my sisters had a 99th percentile head up until her mid-teens. I have so many pictures of her in baggy Size 0 jeans, looking like a real-life Bobblehead.

            (I love her dearly and she’s absolutely gorgeous, FTR.)

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            Two of my sons had heads so big that, by the time they were two years old, I had to buy their hats from the men’s section – no children’s hats fitted. So what? I don’t see that head size is relevant, unless there’s hydrocephalus, of course.

          • Roadstergal

            Igzactly!

          • Lilly de Lure

            That’s interesting to read – I had the same problem with my little man and tummy time, although his head was only on the 45th percentile his overall weight was on the 0.2nd (IUGR – he looked like a little lollipop until he was about 3 months old) which would have made his head hugely heavy in proportion to the rest of him. He’d shriek blue murder every time we tried the tummy time thing and was inconsolable until we picked him up/ put him on his back again – he was mildly late on his gross motor skills as well.

          • Merrie

            My son has a big head. It makes it hard to get shirts on him sometimes! We had this one onesie that he couldn’t even wear as a baby because I couldn’t get it to fit over his head. I didn’t figure it out until our next baby was born and we were able to get it onto him. Aside from that, I don’t think it matters much.

          • Charybdis

            That’s when you ask them how badly their large-headed baby shredded their lady bits and did they recommend the Poise pads or the Depends underwear for incontinence issues.

            Or respond with feigned pity for them: “Oh sweetie! You had to push a 99th percentile-headed baby out of your vagina! That must have been TERRIBLE! I had a LOVELY CS (at my request) so my vagina and perineum is still in great shape! No pushing for hours, no uncomfortable labor, nothing! IT. WAS. AWESOME! Pity you couldn’t have experienced that. I’m so sorry for you.” and watch their heads explode.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Scene: immediately following last kid’s delivery, as I’m getting sewn back up.
            Nurse, doing the whole weigh/measure bit: “Oh, and a nice big head, 98th percentile!”
            Me, ever the smartass, in a tone of mock-regret: “Damn it, and I had a C-section.”
            Various OR personnel: *gigglesnort*

          • swbarnes2

            Some book, that I otherwise thought was okay, had a bit about poking the fetus, and getting the fetus to kick back the same number of times. I’m pretty sure babies can’t do that, so how could a fetus?

          • AnnaPDE

            When I was pregnant, my kid tended to hurl himself at the edge of our meeting room desk whenever I moved close enough for me to write or draw something, even though I carefully avoided touching the desk. My colleagues and clients found it hilarious how my until then still bump would jump against the wood.
            Given that it definitely hurt me, and also seemed uncomfortable to him, is this a sign of genius or the opposite? Should I enter the mummy forum stakes ?

        • Amazed

          Hehe, a real case from just two days ago. I’m visiting a pregnant friend (26 week). I’m poking around in my bag looking for a nail polish. Instead, I fish out a bar of chocolate that I bought last week and promptly forgot in there. Her eyes become as big as saucers. We eat the stuff. The moment the last piece goes to the place deceased chocolate goes, the baby starts kicking like a pro. We look at each other and laugh. How did the little miss know that the good stuff had been finished off?

          We wouldn’t parade this as a proof of some innate wisdom, though. And I suppose craving chocolate even before one is born isn’t this wise anyway…

          • Who?

            We would call that ‘very advanced’ 😉

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh, I dunno…seems to me that craving chocolate shows considerable good sense, excellent taste, et all. In my entirely unbiased opinion, of course. 😉
            *nibbles another piece of dark chocolate*

        • Mishimoo

          In a similar vein, my youngest (4) has been learning about families and careers at kindy, but I’m not willing to share his preferred jobs on facebook due to the potential outrage. For the record, they are “a builder who build choo-choo trains and cars” or “a doctor who save babies by chop-chop them mum belly, yay!”

      • FormerPhysicist

        Oldest daughter walked (ran!) at 9 months. Gods, it was awful. Entities with zero sense should NOT be so mobile.

        • Ack! That does sound awful. On the other hand, I know an adult who didn’t walk until she was 22 months (no developmental problems, she just…didn’t). I bet her parents had to field much well-meaning advice and pity.

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            My neighbour’s son also started his ‘walking’ by simply running across open space so fast that gravity didn’t have time to intervene! He was seven months old. And, yes, he was a nightmare to care for (I minded him on days my neighbour worked)! My own five were cruising quite early, but the earliest free walking started at a week before the first birthday up to 20 and 22 months.

            For my youngest, because local shoe shops were reluctant to sell shoes for non-walkers, I had to have a note from his pædiatrician to get him boots – he’s so hypermobile that without something to restrict his ankles he never knows what position his feet are in; even now, when he’s 25.

          • Who?

            I feel you on the loosey-goosey joints. My kids both have them. My son’s shoulders have taken a beating over the years, and pop in and out very easily, though not without pain.

            They both walk like Pres Obama, who I suspect also has very hypermobile joints.

        • MaineJen

          Same with my son! 9 months. He was so eager to get going. He fell down A LOT. I used to say the poor kid could trip over air…

          At age 8 he is still in constant motion, I’ve been to the emergency room with him quite a few times.

        • Who?

          Mine at a similar age. And yes it was tricky. She crawled at 4 months, and her poor neurons could not keep up with her body. Several times I found her screaming in rage at the wall she had crawled into and had no clue how to manouevre away from. Hardly a sign of precocious genius.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh man…that just sounds rough! DD wasn’t crawling as such at that age, but she was pushing up onto her hands, kicking her feet furiously, and shrieking at the top of her lungs because she couldn’t figure out how to crawl, despite our pointing out to her that, generally speaking, four-month-olds don’t crawl. Sigh. At one point, DH was lying on the floor and putting his hands behind her feet to give her something to push off against so that she would “crawl” forward.
            She’s dang lucky she’s so cute.

  • crazy mama, PhD

    Interestingly, I’ve seen a lot of “you can’t have it” driven by the opposite motivation. They didn’t actually enjoy natural labor or breastfeeding or extended co-sleeping, but they kept at it because they’d been convinced that it was the right thing to do and that less “natural” options would harm their child. And so now they can’t stand the thought that someone might choose a different, “easier” option. It’s a combination of the classic hazing mentality (“I suffered through it, so you have to suffer through it too”) and a deep insecurity about their own choices.

    • Mel

      It really does a number on that type of personality when their kid and your kid are both doing fine – in spite of the fact that your kid was deprived of extensive maternal suffering.

      That’s essentially the reason I stopped pumping when Spawn came home. I had my hands full with four important things – normal newborn care, medical care, medical scheduling, and me care – and one really not important thing called pumping.

      I could keep pumping, but it would have cut into my “play with baby” time. I decided having fun with mama was more important than having an ever-decreasing percentage of his food come from breast milk.

      We’re pretty close on a year out since I stopped pumping and Spawn is doing fine. He’s cute, funny, devoted to problem-solving, a tad stubborn, and is showing mild developmental delays in speech and gross motor skills – but none of his therapists are worried about it; he’s just doing his own thing.

      • Cat

        “It really does a number on that type of personality when their kid and your kid are both doing fine – in spite of the fact that your kid was deprived of extensive maternal suffering”

        This. If you do natural childbirth, extended breastfeeding, 24/7 babywearing, co-sleeping and the whole works because it’s the best fit for you and your family, that’s great. If you do it because you’ve bought into the propaganda and you think that it’s going to result in a visibly superior magic sparkles super-child, then you’re going to end up pretty bitter when you realise that, barring actual neglect or abuse, kids generally turn out fine regardless of the level of maternal martyrdom* and nobody can actually walk into a class of five year-olds and pick out the ones whose parents used formula or a stroller.

        * My own mum was always incredibly proud of the sacrifices she’d made as a mother (being a SAHM for nearly two decades, staying in a crap marriage even longer) and contemptuous of women who made other choices. It came as a major shock to her to have a daughter diagnosed with severe depression in her twenties. Her attitude has always been “You’ve no reason to have bad self-esteem. I’m a great mother and I’ve done everything for you”.

        • ukay

          It is so heartbreaking for everyone involved. The mother puts her needs behind her family‘s because of social convention, cannot handle the bitterness and discontent and therefore torments some of her children (often daughter and DILs).

      • Cat

        Oh, and yay for Spawn! I’m so pleased that he’s well and happy.

      • ukay

        I wish I had made that call earlier! My anger is firmly directed at the professionals for misinforming me and myself for not seeing through this earlier, though. Certainly not at other moms.

    • ukay

      It is terrible, they have totally internalized the idea that mom‘s have to be martyrs. It is a constant source of discontent and spite. I would feel for them more if it didn‘t resolve all too often in vicious behavior towards their children and other women.

  • Sheven

    Off topic, but, does anyone wish they were following a few natural birth blogs to see how they responded to the Crazy Ex Girlfriend finale, in which a character sings “The Miracle of Birth,” talking about what a painful, vagina-destroying “hellride” it is?

    • anh

      That scene was absolutely amazing and magical and I watched it about 5 times in a row. I also loved the depiction of labour, getting an epidural, doing crosswords, and binge watching Top of the Lake. An awesomely accurate portrayal. I’ve never understood why no one on tv ever gets an epidural

      • Sheven

        It was a good depiction! (Also, in the song, how great did that pale dress peach look with the actress’s hair? Made me want to dye my hair red and wear peach all the time.) I think most shows back away from epidurals because they want the drama of screaming and yelling–same reason why laboring women tend to get stuck in elevators in tv shows.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          AH yes the “stuck in the elevator on the way to the L&D floor and magically goes from zero to THE BABY IS COMING OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!” Can one TV show be realistic about how long first labors are? And I say this as a person with one kid who had a 6 and a half hour labor.

          • MaineJen

            The Friends episode where Rachel had her baby. She was in labor for 2 days. Quite realistic! (Except for the part where she still looked beautiful after 2 days of labor)

          • swbarnes2

            Except she had a surprise breech. As a primip. Would that really happen back then? One would hope that she would get an ultrasound, or even a palpation once admitted, that they’d discover the breech, and prep her for C-section.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            I gave birth in 1994 and had several ultrasounds. one a dating ultrasound and the other 2 much later in my pregnancy at my doctors office(he had a sorta portable U/S). Kind of hard to understand how the breech came as a complete surprise in 2002 (It was even more ridiculous when Phoebe on Friends had triplets vaginally with what appeared to be little to no preparation for all the things that can go wrong with higher order multiples).

            That one always pissed me off a little as i had a room mate in the Navy who was a twin and her brother was a triplet. She and her brother were the only surviving kids their parents had. Her twin was still born and her brothers co-triplets were also still born. She was from very rural Kentucky.

          • MaineJen

            Yeah, even back when it first aired (I was in my early 20s and had less than no clue how childbirth worked), I was suspicious of that one. No way someone is having triplets vaginally in a modern hospital.

          • Merrie

            Yes. All of the hospital plots on Friends are played for laughs, not medical accuracy. In the very last episode the new mom is surprised that she is having twins. That also seemed extremely inaccurate and unlikely, no matter how ditzy she was. Then there is an episode in the first season where Ross brings his pet monkey to the hospital and a doctor agrees to treat him.

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            I never watched ‘Friends’, although my daughter was a dedicated watcher. With my fourth pregnancy, I suspected I was having twins before my first missed period, I was that sick; the pregnancy test all but confirmed it. The instructions showed a pale pink circle after rinsing off the charcoal, and said it could be paler and still positive. It was crimson, and I could see that even before rinsing (yes, I know, primitive pregnancy test. Still better than waiting a week for the rabbit test results!). If that were my only experience of twin pregnancy, I might well mock the story for inaccuracy, but…

            Back in 1982, when my second was in the neonatal special care unit, I got chatting with a middle-aged couple. In their forties, having never had children, when the woman’s periods stopped she assumed an early menopause. When she started to swell up, she was so terrified of cancer that she couldn’t bring herself to go to the doctor. Eventually her husband dragged her to the GP, who diagnosed a 34-week twin pregnancy. So it does happen.

          • FallsAngel

            My daughter used to watch a show called “I didn’t know I was pregnant”. I don’t know if it’s still on. I asked a friend who had worked in OB if she watched that show and she said, “No, I’ve seen all that in real life”.

          • Merrie

            She only finds out that she’s having twins in the delivery room. She received plenty of medical care. She had been told before that there were two heartbeats but she was supposedly so ditzy it didn’t sink in–she thought one was her own–and apparently there was no other mention throughout her pregnancy of different management due to twins, pointing out both twins on the utlrasound screen, etc. So basically, it’s played for laughs as her being so dumb as to not realize.

      • MaineJen

        Seriously. And it’s always treated as a joke. “Hahaha, look how much pain she’s in! It’s funny!” Actually it’s not funny. Get that woman some pain relief!

      • Roadstergal

        Ugh, I remember they had one in the original Look Who’s Talking movie, and they played it like it got the baby high.

        I remember the character didn’t get one in Switch, but she was in prison, so that’s sadly probably accurate… (Played for Super Fun Laffs, though, when she grabs the dad’s testicles.)

        None in Children of Men, but it was a post-apocalyptic hellscape. :p They got pretty lucky that (spoilers) the one woman on earth who could get pregnant had a straightforward, taxi-driver-could-do-it delivery…

  • Cartman36

    Thank you! I hate the idea that you shouldn’t have the option to send your baby to the nursery because your a mom now. The mom as martyr thing is really getting old. We would NEVER tell a solider returning from war not to seek help because they knew what they were signing up for and we also shouldn’t tell a new mother not to seek help (physical help with baby or emotional help) because they knew what they were signing up for when they got pregnant.

    • Sheven

      Also, in almost every culture there is a tradition of people helping out new parents with care and feeding, especially right after birth.

      • Cartman36

        Because babies are a pain in a.. 🙂 I have two and one on the way so I think I have earned the right to say it. 🙂

    • Ozlsn

      Yes, so much in agreement with this!! Also just because your baby went off to NICU and you would much rather have had a term baby in the room with you does not give you the right to tell other women they should be grateful for forced rooming in FFS. (All “you”s are generic here btw, not you specifically!) I was so angry at some of the comments on one article – and the “you knew what you were signing up for, you should have kept your legs crossed” ones made me see red. Seriously, does any first time mother really know how labour is going to go? Whether they’ll end up having a c-section or not? We would not ask any other post-operative patient to be solely responsible for the care of a newborn, why the hell is it OK to ask exhausted women – whether from labour or surgery or both – to do so?

      My mum had to fight to have her babies in the room with her outside designated times, but she was appalled that anyone would even consider not having the nurseries available. She certainly used them – to catch up on sleep, have a shower, etc. knowing that the baby was safe, being looked after and would be with her in minutes when they woke hungry.

    • AnotherOor

      The hospital I delivered at is so. condescending. in the literature they provide about what to expect when you deliver. You’re responsible for caring for your own baby, don’t expect help from the nurses, bring a “support person” (if you don’t have one, well, perhaps you should examine your life choices). It’s disgusting.

      • PeggySue

        God. That *is* disgusting.

        • AnotherOor

          Ok maybe I made up the life choices bit. But that’s the tone.

      • Cartman36

        I think things will start to change when it hits the hospitals bottom line. I would guess the general counsel for many hospitals and insurance companies are watching the below case closely.

        http://people.com/human-interest/mom-sues-hospital-after-accidentally-suffocating-newborn/

        • kilda

          my God, how awful. That poor family. I think you’re right, it’s lawsuits like this that will ultimately change things. Sad that it should take that.

        • AnotherOor

          How heartbreaking. At least the hospital had a nursery – I wonder if this lawsuit would even be possible to file against a “baby friendly” hospital? The allegation is the nurse was not doing her job, but in my “baby friendly” hospital they’ve made it clear helping take care of babies isn’t part of their job.

          • kilda

            I would think in that case they could sue the hospital itself, for placing the baby in an unsafe situation.

          • Cartman36

            I don’t know anything about medical malpractice law but I would think a reasonable person would recognize that leaving a helpless newborn in bed with a patient that you have provided pain medications too is unsafe.

            Our BFHI has a two hour a day “resting period” where they encourage skin to skin. Even the midwives that I have seen think its unsafe for patients that are on pain meds.

        • ukay

          This is awful! And basically policy in every hospital in my city.