Childbirth is an important rite of passage for every woman. Even if you choose to never do it, you should still have a plan in place for what your labor would be like for when you eventually change your mind and decide that hating men and loving 12 cats just isn’t fulfilling enough. Really, it’s not even about having a raising children… you just need to go through childbirth. Because it is the ONLY reason life is worth living. A natural, medicine free, home birth, in a kiddie pool in your living room. It’s kind of like a day at the spa, but with your husband video taping you pooping in a bloody pool… and at the end instead of getting a couple of chalky mints, you get a placenta on your carpet.
Oh, you wouldn’t do it that way? Whatever. That’s your choice. You’re probably just an uninformed idiot and don’t understand that the Maternity department at your hospital only exists because obstetricians want to eat your baby. Mostly because they hate you. And babies. They only care about getting home in time for dinner. I mean, yeah, they could get a job in a different field… or put their medical skills to use in a capacity other than dealing with patients… but they never thought about that. Or maybe they did, and they decided that they just can’t eat pot roast until they’ve murdered a few women and their babies by performing unnecessary medical procedures on them.
I just had a baby (did I mention that I was recently pregnant?) I showed up at the hospital, in labor (with my iPhone so I could live Tweet it… because that’s what I do). They gave me drugs. They delivered my baby. They wisked that baby off to the NICU where she learned to breathe. 5 days later, we came home as a family. There were drugs. There was cutting. There was medical intervention. There was a anesthesia team trying to figure out how the hell to get a spinal block into my fucked up back. None of them tried to eat my baby. (Just an anecdote)
Also, dolphin assisted home birth by c-section is not covered by my insurance… something about “high risk” and “next time you call here, Ms. Anders, you’re going to be arrested forÂ harassment. We’re recording this call and we’ve already filed complaints.”
Why did I become a skeptic? Because NCBers are jerks.
My journey into skepticism began fairly recently. I have always loved science, and I’ve always been pretty good at critical thinking. But I just hadn’t really thought much about all the wacky things that people believe. What caused me to take the leap? â€œNaturalâ€ childbirth.
See, a couple years ago, I got pregnant. Things started off well enough. I got the big fat no-nonsense Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Uterus and That Thing Inside of It. It was full of dry medical facts, which are my favorite kind. As I started seeking out more information on pregnancy and childbirth, I was led to Ricki Lake’s â€œdocumentary,â€ The Business of Being Born. This was when things started to go downhill.
Watching that movie was my first mistake. It was all about how â€œmedicalizedâ€ childbirth is these days, and how doctors are just a bunch of know-it-alls who don’t trust mothers’ intuition. We’d all be better off just giving birth at home! And it kind of made sense at the time. I mean, it sure seemed like everyone in that hospital was on Pitocin. And the C-section rate is really high. My mom had two C-sections. I certainly don’t want to have to go through that. So yeah, maybe â€œnaturalâ€ childbirth is for me. Where can I find out more about this? The internet of course!
So, I started doing my research (read: Googling). I found out all sorts of things about how awful and traumatic medicalized births are. I learned that all medical interventions are bad, especially those evil epidurals and unnecesareans. Now I’ll admit that I absorbed quite a bit of this â€œnaturalâ€ childbirth rhetoric before my bullshit detector started going off. Perhaps I can blame the pregnancy for that one. We all know how hard critical thinking is for us ladies, what with all that Estrogen clouding our brains.
I started to come to my senses when a coworker told me about her friend’s labor, which was slowed down by an epidural. I had heard this before, that the epidural slows labor, but I hadn’t really thought about it. This is when the lightbulb came on. So I asked my coworker, â€œHow can you know that?â€ You have no idea how the labor would have progressed without the epidural, so how do you know that the epidural slowed it down? This isn’t even a testable hypothesis. You can’t give someone an epidural and then declare that every subsequent Bad Thing was caused by the epidural. You can’t determine anything about causation at all. This is just a conclusion that was drawn from the correlation between long labors and epidural use. I still have a hard time figuring out why anyone would jump to the conclusion that the epidural is responsible for the long labor without considering the reverse. Perhaps women who are in labor for days are just more likely to seek out pain relief?
As I thought a bit more about this, I started to consider the â€œcascade of interventions.â€ The â€œnaturalâ€ birth folks have been ranting about how accepting even one intervention will cause a laboring woman to need even more interventions, thus starting the cascade of interventions, which will inevitably end in a C-section and a ruined birth experience. True, there are correlations between having Pitocin and having a C-section, for example. But again, this is a correlation, and doesn’t tell us anything about causation. There are a ton of confounding factors to consider. Childbirth is actually a really complicated process, and it’s influenced by a lot of variables. There is just no reason to conclude that accepting one intervention is the cause for needing another.
My infatuation with â€œnaturalâ€ childbirth officially ended during one particular session of childbirth class. We were discussing pain relief options, and of course, we got on the subject of the epidural, and one of the dads turned to the mother of his child and said, â€œYou’re not getting an epidural.â€ The mom shrugged it off, but I couldn’t help think, â€œWhat an asshole. He isn’t the one giving birth. What makes him think he has the right to tell anyone else how to give birth? Who is he to judge any of us?â€ And then, another lightbulb. I had been planning to pass on the epidural because I wanted to experience labor. The â€œnaturalâ€ childbirth advocates had assured me that the pain was empowering. But wait a minute, isn’t it still pain? Any other time I have pain, I reach for relief, usually in the form of a magical pill. Why should this pain be any different? Enduring the pain doesn’t make me a better mom, or a better person. Childbirth isn’t about being â€œempowered.â€ It isn’t about the smug sense of superiority. It isn’t about getting a damn medal for doing things the hard way. It’s about making a baby.
So, when the time came, I went to the hospital and had my totally unnatural, medicalized birth experience, complete with an unnecesarean. I didn’t mourn the loss of my â€œnaturalâ€ perfect birth experience. I didn’t get any Super Awesome Mom Perfect Woman Badge of Honor, but the consolation prize was much better: a healthy baby boy.
See! Dolphins are safe! Animals in captivity never harm humans. They only have pure intentions… unlike your doctor who is still bitter about being forced against her will to attend medical school.
Lexicakes is a newer member of the Skepchick community, having only been around for a few months, and she thinks it’s awesome to see other women out there thinking critically. She blogs at http://skepticalmom.com and tries to be pretty active in her own local skeptical community in Albuquerque, NM. She started a Skeptics in the Park group, and attends Drinking Skeptically events when she can find a sitter.
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