ParentingSkepticism

Monkeys & High Hats – July 16

It was suggested that I run this feature on Tuesdays as a tribute to the late Monkey Tuesday.  I thought about it, but I have to come clean:  I was never a fan of Monkey Tuesday (even after hearing the episode with Skepchick’s very own a.real.girl).  Maybe I’m a bad skeptic.  Spank me.

Instead I’ve chosen to do High Hat Monkey Hump Day in honor of Hump Day, monkeys, and those who high hat them.

And now, on this very first ever High Hat Monkey Hump Day, I bring you this week’s Monkeys and High Hats after the fold:

Hats to the National Institute of Mental Health for supporting a proposed federal study on chelation therapy in autistic children.  Chelation is supposed to cure autism by removing mercury from a child’s body after profit-mongering doctors prey upon vaccinate them.

Repeat after me:  Mercury is not in vaccines.  Vaccines do not cause autism.  Mercury does not cause autism.  Chelation therapy to remove autism-inducing vaccine mercury from your child will not work.

That is our battle cry.

The American Heart Association on chelation (emphasis mine):

Can chelation therapy be dangerous?
EDTA [the amino acid used in chelation therapy] isn’t totally safe as a drug. There’s a real danger of kidney failure. (renal tubular necrosis). EDTA can also cause bone marrow depression, shock, low blood pressure (hypotension), convulsions, disturbances of regular heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmias), allergic-type reactions and respiratory arrest.

In fact, a number of deaths in the United States have been linked with chelation therapy. Also, some people are on dialysis because of kidney failure caused, at least in part, by chelation therapy.

Aside from those risks and the fact that the entire basis for using the therapy in the first place is complete bunk, I guess there’s no real reason to have autistic children who are unable to consent undergo chelation.

Speaking of vaccines, it’s not really news but  Pampers has teamed up with Unicef to donate tetanus vaccines to women and their newborns in the developing world.  Every package of Pampers = 1 vaccine.  As a bonus (for the women and newborns), Pampers buyers can also use their Gifts to Grow points (Pampers’ product loyalty program) to donate more vaccines.  Last month, I used my points to get my son a book, a Blockbuster date night for my husband and me, and then donated 45 points for 45 vaccines.

With all the vaccination hysteria, Pampers could have chosen a less controversial project.  Monkeys all around!

(I doubt they’re losing many customers though.   Anti-vac crowd tend to also believe that disposable diapers shrink kids’ genitalia, make boys permanently sterile, cause asthma, give kids cancer, and kill dogs.)

Hats to Jezebel’s Moe and Tracie appearance on Lizz Winstead’s show “Thinking and Drinking”.  They were pretty buzzed at the beginning of the show, and clearly piss drunk by the end.  In their drunkenness, Tracie explained that she’s too smart to get raped. And Moe, having been raped, said did not report it “because it was a load of trouble and I had better things to do, like drinking more.”  She later went on to talk about how she always “felt safe” around her rapist even after he raped her.  When called out on it, they tried to explain that they’re not role models.  I admit, if I had a daughter I would probably not encourage her to follow in the footsteps of anyone pseudonymned “SlutMachine”, but as feminist bloggers they do have a responsibility to send good information to young women.  Saying that rape victims aren’t very smart and that drinking is more important than stopping rapists is dangerously irresponsible.  Perhaps we should write it off as a stupid drunk mistake,  but they’re still getting a big ol’ high hat for it.

Larry King keeps promising to air a special on Psychic Kids, but every time I set my DVR, the psychic kids have been preempted for real news (no, seriously!).  Congrats on getting rescued, Columbian hostages!  And Monkeys for keeping Larry King’s crap off the air!

YouTube gets major high hats for removing “The Godless Girl” from their site.  I know I know, copyright infrigement, cease and desist, blah blah blah… who cares?  YouTube removed one of the most important videos in Skepchick history, and for that, they must be smoted.

Monkeys to GoogleVideo for keeping Godless Girl alive!  Youtube: Zero, GoogleVid: Hero.  (wait, doesn’t Google own YouTube?)

Now those of you unfamiliar with the whole “Monkeys and High Hats” concept can watch the video then follow the comment thread here to see where it all started.

(alternately here if ebedded video doesn’t work)

One more reason Jezebel’s Tracie gets a high hat from me this week is for pointing me to this site on orgasms during childbirth.  (fixed link) Apparently, getting off all over your baby’s head is “the gift” of natural birth (and those of us who had epidurals and/or c-sections are wimps missing out on the joy of mastubating with our babies.)

Right now the link seems to be not working, but the site included quotes describing pregnancy as 9 months of foreplay (no one who has ever been pregnant in real life would describe it that way), delivery as the ultimate penetration (:shudder:) and then there was this quote:

“… I held that baby and instantly loved him with my whole being. Maybe this is the way that nature had intended it to be for us. Now, looking back, the only thing I can think is that he went ramrod over my G-spot…all 9 pounds of him.”

If I’m going to brag about 9lbs of anyone going “all ramrod over my G-spot”, I sure as hell better be talking about someone who is not my son and someone who is not a baby… and someone who is not going to let it get back to my husband.

Expect a rant from me in the near future on the topic of “Shut the fuck up with your natural childbirth bullshit”.

That’s all for this week!  See you on the 30th for Monkeys and High Hats: New York Monkey Goodness Edition!

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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35 Comments

  1. I look forward to that rant – I’ve commented on natural childbirth bullshit before, but always with the slight worry that a woman who actually knows something about it is going to tell me to shut up, and it’ll turn out that I was kinda being a dick about it without even realising. (That’s happened before all right.)

    Nice selection of hats ‘n’ monkeys, and the monkey icon always makes me smile. That little guy looks like he’s ready to take on the world!

  2. Sure, this is jumping the gun on the “natural” child birth rant, but I’ve been pissed off for weeks by the child birth prep class our doctor recommended. The instructor kept distinguishing between “natural” child birth, epidurals, and C-sections with a not too subtle bias toward the “natural.”

    What was not clear is where the line for “natural” was drawn. How much of our modern medical apparatus were we supposed to discard as being unnatural? Is going to the hospital “natural”? Should I dig a den in our backyard where my wife can give birth, lick the baby clean, and eat the placenta?

    Fortunately, the doctors’ science based preferences were winning out. At last count, only 1 couple was planning on not having an epidural.

  3. (I doubt they’re losing many customers though. Anti-vac crowd tend to also believe that disposable diapers shrink kids’ genitalia, make boys permanently sterile, cause asthma, give kids cancer, and kill dogs.)

    I have heard a lot of stupid stuff as a parent of young children, but a lot of those diaper myths are new to me. I think I would have troubles holding in laughter if someone told me they didn’t use disposable diapers because of fear that their baby’s genitals would shrink.

    As for the child-birth orgasm thing, my wife went into labor too fast for an epidural both times. So she reluctantly did it naturally. I am sure that she would not call the “ring of fire” orgasmic.

  4. Sweet, glad you found another clip of the Godless Girl! And yes, Google owns YouTube. Weird. They haven’t really done a whole lot to make them play well together, I think.

    That’s awesome to hear about Pampers — it’s wonderful to hear about a big company doing something right. That’s also a good example of why I love having so many different kinds of people writing for Skepchick — I totally would never have noticed that, babyless as I am. Thanks!

  5. The link for the childbirth site just needs an l at the end: .html It is truly…weird. I am very much looking forward to the rant on “natural” childbirth, which will, I hope, include a rant on the “natural” parents.

    I had noticed the sticker on the Pampers box the last few times I purchased them and was very happy to see it! On a related note, a friend of mine took his daughter to McDonald’s the other day, and on the paper they put on their food trays, they have a vaccination chart with local info on where parents can take their kids.

    Finally…I’ve been a long time lurker, and just now broke down and registered for the site. I had hoped OpenID would have been implemented so I didn’t have yet another logon to remember, but there have been too many great posts lately to pass up without comments!

  6. Jessika:

    Welcome! So glad to see you come out of lurking mode. We love new commenters!

    Also, I fixed the link to the orgasm site. And no, Kimbo, they’re not joking.

    Rebecca:

    Pampers officially rocks. It’s nice to know that every time my baby poops, he’s saving lives.

  7. I’m just saying Monkeys and High Hats is my new favorite thing at Skepchick!

    Can we please have a tee shirt? With a monkey on the front and a high hat on the back?

    And Elyse, you’re not a bad skeptic. If I recall, you yourself were on Penn Radio, just not Monkey Tuesday. (which was the safer bet, if only marginally so.)

  8. llysenwi wrote:

    Sure, this is jumping the gun on the “natural” child birth rant, but I’ve been pissed off for weeks by the child birth prep class our doctor recommended. The instructor kept distinguishing between “natural” child birth, epidurals, and C-sections with a not too subtle bias toward the “natural.”

    What was not clear is where the line for “natural” was drawn. How much of our modern medical apparatus were we supposed to discard as being unnatural? Is going to the hospital “natural”? Should I dig a den in our backyard where my wife can give birth, lick the baby clean, and eat the placenta?

    Fortunately, the doctors’ science based preferences were winning out. At last count, only 1 couple was planning on not having an epidural.

    Quoth Bill Cosby: “Natural childbirth means that no drugs will be administered to the mother’s body during the delivery. The father can have all he wants.”

    ~Wordplayer

  9. Well if Bill Cosby says so . . . :)

    Natural is a moving definition and implies a value judgment. The vacuum extractor and premature infant incubator things all seemed like reasonably “unnatural” devices that I would rather not do without, if they became necessary. Same goes for the C-section in the case of breach babies, or, while we are at it, the ultrasound imaging.

    Our unnatural births are a major contributor to the greatly reduced infant mortality.

  10. As a former “natural” childbirth instructor I informed my students that in some rare cases a woman will orgasm during birth (I didn’t want it to happen and have someone feel guilty about it) but I never could wrap my brain around that tiny segment of women that saw a birth induced orgasm as a goal to be acheived. My children have given me many gifts – I strongly prefer that none of them be sexual in nature.

    As for “natural” childbirth itself – fundamentalism in any realm is oppressive. “Natural” childbirth is only a safe option because medical science has allowed it to be – 100 years ago all childbirth was “natural” and the mortality rates testify to that. The war between “natural” and “medical” childbirth acheives nothing beyond inducing neurosis.

  11. I second the motion to keep doing Monkeys and High Hats — I love the concept. Is there somewhere we can submit articles for consideration for either category, maybe, if it’s not too complicated?

    As the mother of an autistic child, I was NOT pleased about this development in the debate about chelation. I know all too many people (often women, sorry to say) who jump willy-nilly into every latest therapy without paying nearly enough attention to such trifling details as scientific research and, uh, SIDE EFFECTS. Hello, people! It’s like taking all your blood out because you have a virus! I hope that whatever research they do starts with blood and chemicals and lab tests rather than actually trying things on children. Scary, scary stuff.

    I am so mindboggled by the orgasmic childbirth concept that I am going to have to comment on it later. I am … words fail me. And that doesn’t happen often.

  12. I do agree with weofui on “natural childbirth”. Science doesn’t replace “natural” childbirth, it enables it.

    Incidentally, while I’ll save this for the rant, I should point out that there’s nothing “science based” about choosing to have an epidural. Childbirth is a natural process, and unnecessary medical interventions are, well, unnecessary.

    Having tried both with and without, my wife would definitely not choose an epidural again. She didn’t choose it that time, either, but the child in question was breech, and they quite understandably wanted to have the epidural in place just in case a c-section was required. (It wasn’t.)

    The reason why she didn’t like the epidural is that it effectively anchors you to one spot. Women in labour seem to want to move around, so epidurals can make the experience worse.

    Doctors have ditched putting womens’ feet in stirrups (making them push uphill) and routine episiotomies. It’s only a matter of time before the US discovers what every other developed country has discovered: medical interventions should be available for use when needed, and not before.

    Outside the US, there is no “war” between “natural” and “medical” childbirth, and not intervening unless medically indicated is the evidence-based norm.

  13. Improbable Bee:

    If you have a link to submit, just use the “contact us” link. I’m happy to take any suggestions!

    Pseudonym:

    The science is simple: an epidural kills pain and labor hurts like all fuckballs.

    But I said, rant to come. I just have to get the thought of infant-face dildos out of my head.

  14. The Doctor authorized me to have an early epidural. I think she was angry that I wouldn’t let her break my water, so we wanted to draw out my labor. Of course, I wasn’t going to tell her that epidurals making labor longer is a myth, I wanted my painkiller!

    The fact is, childbirth is a traumatic experience, and my epidural was the best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t need a sexual experience, I just needed plenty of rest and some care, and I was feeling great within a couple days.

  15. “It’s nice to know that every time my baby poops, he’s saving lives.”

    I second the nomination for comment of the week!

    As to the “Baby makes me cum” issue– I do remember reading in some medical literature about the hypothetical origins of the G-spot. One of the conjectures was that it was there to help ease the pain of childbirth, and was exapted for sexual pleasure.

    Now, I can sort of see someone being surprised at such a physiological sensation during such a time of pain– But it stretches the boundaries of good taste and proves inimical to familial conviviality to hear someone actually declare that they experienced NINE FRELLING MONTHS OF FOREPLAY, with junior’s appearance providing the MOTHER OF ALL ORGASMS!

    (Note: I have written in caps, not to prove my own point, but to express my shock.)

    As Rita Rudner used to say about “natural” childbirth- “I don’t get it; We take drugs all the time except when we need to!”

  16. Rav said:

    But it stretches the boundaries of good taste and proves inimical to familial conviviality to hear someone actually declare that they experienced NINE FRELLING MONTHS OF FOREPLAY

    Right. Nine months of achy, nauseating, exhausting, emotionally taxing foreplay. And if you didn’t think pregnancy could get any hotter, I had to wear one of these for the last 5 months of my pregnancy.

    It does have a velcro-shut crotch…

  17. The science-based part of an epidural is that the pain relief the epidural provides is not associated with any additional risk to the infant or the mother. Whether or not you want pain relief is a personal choice.

    Part of the problem with the “natural” concept is that “natural” somehow equates with optimal. Evolution is a directed process only when natural selection is the dominant force. Frequently, evolution proceeds randomly and is not rapid for things like humans. Therefore, all possible solutions have not been tried. When we talk about unnecessary or necessary interventions, what we are talking about is cost benefit analysis. The benefit of an epidural varies widely from patient to patient. The cost, however, is the same (the physiological risk of complications having been established by scientific research) is low.

  18. “Pampers officially rocks. It’s nice to know that every time my baby poops, he’s saving lives.”

    I also vote for this being CoW. I gufawwed

    Just out of curiosity. Why did you have to wear the babyhugger? It looks kind of complicated to put on, but maybe I’m just lazy :-)

  19. hanjwils:

    It supports all the belly weight. I would work on my feet all day and the weight would cause cramping and back pain that were so bad I had to take a few trips to the ER.

    The thing is awkward and complicated, but the thing worked like a miracle. When I was 25 weeks preggo, we took a trip to Paris and I was able to walk all day and all night all over the city. One evening we walked from the Champs Elysee to the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and back to our flat by the Opera House. My back and belly felt fantastic (my preggo feet on the other hand…)

  20. “The science-based part of an epidural is that the pain relief the epidural provides is not associated with any additional risk to the infant or the mother.” llysenwei, I’d be interested to see what led you to this conclusion. I have seen quite a lot of information, anecdotal and scientifically researched, to the contrary. Obviously many women have great birth experiences (and completely healthy babies) with epidurals, but there is a pretty solid body of evidence that epidurals do in fact frequently have negative side effects on the mother and the baby.

    I would be interested to know how many of the testimonials on the “I came and so did my baby” site are, not too put too fine a point on it, bullshit. Creative minds, the internet, and complete lack of accountabiliy can produce testimonials on just about anything you could imagine.

    In my experience, the biggest difference between delivering a baby and an orgasm is that orgasms don’t generally make me wail, “If I ever say I want to do this again, PLEASE SHOOT ME.”

  21. To keep it simple: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030915/1115.html

    A PubMed search for “labor epidural analgesia safety” generates 109 hits, which is a bit much for me to wade through for the relevant bits. It is, however, important to keep in mind that both the methods used for epidurals are constantly being researched to make the procedure safer and more effective. Therefore, the methods used in the past may have had issues that are no longer applicable due to methodological and technological advances, such as the drugs that are used.

  22. Monkeys to you Elyse, for the new feature!

    Can’t wait for the follow up on natural childbirth.

    When my partner asked me if I cared whether or not she had an epidural, my only response was, “Do you care if I have novocaine during my root canal?”

  23. Improbable Bee:

    I’d be interested to see what led you to this conclusion. I have seen quite a lot of information, anecdotal and scientifically researched, to the contrary.

    Indeed. I found the “epidurals making labor longer is a myth” comment above quite interesting, too. It’s true that no causation has been proven, but there is a fairly well-acknowledged correlation. At any rate, calling it a “myth” overstates it by a fairly large margin.

    I think it’s true that epidurals are as “safe” as anything else. No medical procedure is 100% safe, in the sense that long-term or medical complications are always a possibility. With epidural analgesia, long-term complications are certainly rare.

    However, “long-term” is relative. Again, this is anecdotal evidence, but my wife had a six-week-long post dural puncture headache. She compared it unfavourably with recovery from a non-drugged labour (not the best term for it, but more accurate than “natural”), which is relatively short, and you get breaks between contractions. Take that for what it’s worth.

    The central problem here is that evaluating pain treatments is problematic in general, because it’s based on the patient’s reporting. In childbirth, it’s even harder, because while a mother can report how much pain she experiences, both during childbirth and in the weeks after, a newborn cannot. We don’t know, for example, how much a mother’s endorphins (released by birth pain) contribute to “natural” pain relief in the baby, because no baby has ever told us.

    llysenwi:

    It is, however, important to keep in mind that both the methods used for epidurals are constantly being researched to make the procedure safer and more effective.

    It’s also useful to keep geographic selection bias in mind. Studies in the US tend to find fewer side-effects and complications than studies elsewhere in the developed world.

    There are several reasons why this may be the case. One might be, for example, that outside the US, epidurals tend to be reserved for more complicated births, such as breech delivery, which have longer labours regardless, which has the tendency to artificially increase the length of labour associated with epidurals. In the US, obstetricians are more likely to perform a c-section in such cases, which has the tendency to artificially decrease the length of labour associated with epidurals.

    Another reason might be economic bias. The US has a mostly private health care system, so they get paid more money for each epidural, so may be biassed in favour of recommending it when it’s unnecessary. Elsewhere in the developed world, the public health insurer is responsible for more of the bill, so they may be biassed in favour of not using it.

    Don’t think that can happen? Think of other unnecessary medical procedures, such as circumcision. The US does it a lot, elsewhere hardly at all.

    My bullshit detector kit starts beeping every time a medical procedure starts smelling like a fad, or a fashion item.

    Lest anyone think I’m a “natural birth” loonie, I would also like to point out that labouring women in the US have fewer pain management options at their disposal than pretty much anywhere else. Nitrous oxide, for example, is almost never available. So I find the objection that “choice” is important a bit silly, given that you actually have hardly any of the many evidence-based options to choose from. Essentially, your choices are: pethadine (I think you call it “demerol”), epidural or nothing.

    Under such a limited health care system, I can understand why women might “choose” an epidural. Far from “choosing” “the doctor’s science based preferences”, there is actually no choice at all. And that’s disturbing.

    Anyway, time to wait for the full rant, I think.

  24. I don’t think this natural childbirth thing is really rant-worthy. As I commented on the original jezebel article, my good friend is a doula/apprentice midwife and she’s assisted in a lot of home births. It’s not unheard of for women to have orgasms involuntarily during, or to shit themselves for that matter. And while actively trying to have one during birth is a little weird, maybe it’s just another way to relax you and kill some pain…it’s not hurting anyone and no one’s gonna force YOU to do it, so just leave the hippies alone. I’m reminded of people who think that because THEY don’t want to be homosexual, no one should be.

    There’s nothing woo-y about natural childbirth; people who have it here aren’t hospital-phobics, they’ve been screened by real doctors for real risks during pregnancy, and on the rare occasion that something does go wrong that the midwife can’t manage, out they go to the ambulance. It’s just another way of doing things, and it’s not unsafe in this self-selected population of bougey people who choose it.

    Anyway, if my friend’s still in the business I might opt for it (hey, as my Dr said I have good ‘childbearing hips’) should I ever choose to spawn…but that’s not bloody likely.

  25. philistereo:

    There’s nothing woo-y about natural childbirth […]

    I think that’s true in general, although the term “natural childbirth” is probably a misnomer in this case for reasons already mentioned. What makes “natural childbirth” possible is a modern scientific understanding of sanitation and the phone number of an ambulance just in case.

    I kinda like the Sheila Kitzinger term, “active birth”, but that’s also a little misleading.

    Having said that, it’s undoubtedly true that there is a lunatic fringe element of any group, and that’s also true of “natural childbirth”. And it’s also generally true that in any group, the lunatic fringe is the loudest segment, and that the internet has allowed looney groups to find each other, such as the “unassisted home birth” groups.

    So I wouldn’t say that it’s entirely non-rantworthy, but a good rant should be carefully targeted.

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