Sunday, July 16, 2006

Why make outrageous claims?

Claims like Dr. Odent's about oxytocin and bonding are unsupported by scientific evidence. Why make such claims? The reason sheds some light on natural childbirth advocacy.

In most areas of life, most of us recognize that different choices are right for different people. No one would claim that their is an "ideal" number of children or an "ideal" form of birth control. What may be right for you and your family might not be the right choice for another woman and her family. Natural childbirth is a similar kind of choice. It is just one way to have a baby. It can be the right choice for some women, but it may not be the right choice for other women.

Yet natural childbirth advocates do not seem to be able to accept that natural childbirth is just one choice among many. There is a constant stream of claims, unsupported by scientific evidence, that are designed to show that natural childbirth is "superior". Of course, that would mean that women who opt for natural childbirth would be "superior" to other mothers.

Dr. Odent's claim, although especially ludicrous, is understandable in that light. The reflexive rush to his defense, despite the complete lack of scientific evidence, is also understandable in that light. No one wants to give up any claim to "superiority", whether it is based in fact or not.

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