Why The Natural Birth Community Must Not Ignore Her Critics
Not often, but occasionally I take a peek at one of those awful anti- natural childbirth websites. You know the ones I am talking about. They mock natural birth, non-vaccinating parents, Chiropractic, herbal remedies and all those who follow those types of lifestyle choices. They have a special place in their hearts for the unassisted birther or the woman who claims that childbirth was painless and wonderful. They particularly disdain midwifery, particularly the home birth variety. (Opps, I am that natural type!)
These people spew venom, hatred and disdain for those who think the c-section rate is too high or inductions are dangerous. (I am not going to name their particular websites or blogs here because I don't want to encourage them or send more people to click on their posts.)
Often their attacks are personal in nature, making sure to send nasty thoughts in the direction of any noticeable natural childbirth supporter, blogger, or celebrity.
You might be wondering at this point why on earth we can't ignore these people (who appear to often be women and mothers themselves). What could we possible learn from them? Well, in some ways they should be ignored. We don't need to give them money or attention or our own venom or emotions.
But there is something else I find occasionally on these vicious websites by those who hate and attack us (I hope you don't mind that I use the terms us and them.) No- sometimes I find something that is kind of disturbing on their blogs. You are not going to appreciate me saying this, but sometimes they say things that are.....
Yes, sometimes the trolls, haters and villains speak some truth. Don't worry- it is buried deep beneath hatred and venom and it is mixed in with many untruths or twisted facts, but still, sometimes it is still there. Some of what they say we ignore at our own peril. (Lucky for us they are so mean and hateful that most people will simply ignore everything they have to say. I am surprised they haven't noticed this yet.)
So what exactly are they saying that we must not ignore?
~They talk about midwifery as though it is dangerous.~
I personally love midwives and the midwifery model of care. I have always had midwives and have never even seen an obstetrician. I have received care from both CNMs and CPMs, both in and outside of the hospital. I have been treated well, given great advice, and excellent safe care at my births.
It seems though that among the natural childbirth community we revere and love the midwifery model so much that we forget that, just as is true with the obstetric model, there are imperfections within it.
There are bad midwives. And I don't just mean very medically minded or cruel midwives- I mean midwives who trust birth and say all the right things and even think all the right things- but who are simply incompetent, dangerous, or unethical.
I have heard awful stories of midwives who can't start an IV when it is needed, who don't carry drugs for stopping hemorrhage, who can't properly suture and even who are unable to provide infant CPR. I have heard of midwives who transfer about 50% of them time and others who don't transfer when they should. I have talked to midwives who approve and even encourage the use of recreational drugs and others who inflate their abilities in order to get clients.
I believe that the midwifery model of care is fantastic for most women- but all midwives are not created equal and choosing a midwife or a home birth is not a magic bullet that will protect us from a birth going wrong.
We must open our eyes to some of the problems within midwifery that make it possible for incompetent and even dangerous midwives to continue to practice. This can only be ignored at our peril. We must carefully choose our own midwives. If we are studying or training to be a midwife, we must do more than just trust birth. We must be able to recognize when it can't be trusted.
I don't have a solution to this problem. I have nothing to offer to fix this. But talk to your midwife. Talk to others about her. Learn her experience, her transport rate, her training and her credentials. Choosing midwifery alone is not enough to guarantee a perfect birth.
~They say we can't support our claims relating to the safety of natural choices.~
I think there is actually lots of truth regarding the dangers of drugs administered and procedures used in common medical practice. More than that, I happen to think common sense itself makes a good case for things like a 30% c-section rate being dangerous and silly.
But I must admit that sometimes I notice that some of the things stated, claimed, or quoted among natural types are not true, not substantiated, not based on evidence, or are misinterpreted.
For the natural birth community to be respected we must speak the truth. We must also back up what we say with some real evidence. It is out there, but just because it is on somebodies blog, doesn't mean it is true. (Yes, I realize I am a natural birth blogger. I try to back myself up when I make a claim, but nobody actually checks my facts or those of any other blogger for that matter.) We can't take anybodies word for this stuff. We have to find out for ourselves. I personally find that using some of the words from ACOG themselves can be helpful, as can simply reading the package inserts for common drugs used at the time of delivery. Sometimes the best way to fight the enemy, is with their own research. They can't ignore that. Well, OK, yes they can, but you get what I mean.
One other thing I think we must avoid (and yes I realize I am guilty of it too) is the venom they use. Natural childbirth is often better. Not only is it often safer, it can be a miraculous and joyous event for the mother and the baby. This speaks for itself. We don't have to be mean and hateful to convince people of the joys of natural birth- if they experience it they will know for themselves. Dr Bradley talked about how other doctors got mad that he was stealing their patients. He said he never tried to steal patients, but at the time the hospitals had large joint recovery rooms. His mothers would WALK in, joyous, invigorated, and babbling on about their fantastic birth and their beautifully nursing newborn. The other exhausted, drugged and in pain mothers only had to look at them and talk to them to realize that birth could be so much more than what they had experienced.
In the end, birth and the euphoria that can surround it is more than can be proved or written about or put in a study. It is not just something that uses the mind or the body, it is a whole person experience and so it must really be experienced to be fully understood. The truth is that women are turning to natural childbirth not because we have a slick add campaign or lots of money but because they no longer trust the very model of care that these vicious people support. They have been hurt by it and are looking for a better way. The critics will never be convinced by us- they don't want to be, so we need not fight with them, but we must strengthen our weaknesses. The truth of natural birth will triumph, but we cannot ignore our flaws. To do so will only weaken us.