Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Homebirth ignorance 101

Ignorance is the foundation of homebirth advocacy so it is no suprise to find homebirth advocates spreading misinformation across the web. Trying to correct it would take the full 24 hours of each day. However, every now and then there is a post so profoundly ignorant that it deserves special mention. Apprentice Midwife proudly posted this collection of mistruths, half truths and outright deceptions, Top Ten Childbirth Myths and it was enthusiastically picked up and circulated among the homebirth community. It seems that no one bothered to check whether any of it was true. They simply believed it because they liked it.

Pointing out all the false and absurd statements would make for a post that is far too long, but I will highlight my personal favorites:
Before cesareans, women were dying all the time in childbirth."

It's amazing how many times this is brought up. People have brought this up to me not only about c-sections, but about home birthing, unassisted birthing, and whatever birthing when it's not in the hospital. Women, go google the reason for maternal deaths in childbirth from generations ago. What you will find is NOT that women died from childbirth itself - because if that were the case, the human race would have died off long ago. Women - and babies - were dying from disease, NOT childbirth itself. ... women were wearing corsets from before puberty, and this was causing malformations in their pelvis. How many modern women do YOU know of that have been wearing a very tightly laced corset from the time they were, say 13?
Actually, before cesareans women WERE dying all the time in childbirth. C-sections became safe enough to perform routinely less than a century ago. Before that time women were dying at a much higher rate than now. How much higher? Not double, not triple, not even 10 times higher. Before C-sections women died at a rate 100 TIMES HIGHER than today. Almost 1% of women died in childbirth. That would translate to approximately 40,000 maternal deaths per year, each and every year. So, yes, before cesareans women WERE dying all the time.

Moreover, this statement betrays ignorance of evolution and population dynamics in addition to ignorance about childbirth. High death rates of mothers and babies in childbirth are perfectly compatible with even explosive population growth. For example, the miscarriage rate is approximately 20% and we're still here.

"I had to be induced because they found low fluid."

The modern route of action for this is completely backwards. Amniotic fluid is the baby's urine. If you're not drinking enough water, the baby is not able to process the amniotic fluid. When low fluid is found via u/s ( which, by the way....WHY is an u/s being done in the first place? ) the practice is SUPPOSED to be to have the woman go home, drink a gallon of water, and have the fluid levels re-checked by a *different* technician ...
Yes, amniotic fluid is the baby's urine, but if it is low, it is a sign that the baby is no longer receiving adequate support through the placenta. The first symptom is decreased amniotic fluid, the second symptom is decreased growth (intrauterine growth retardation), the third symptom is death of the baby. This is a classic example of the way that homebirth advocates "reason" by false analogy. If an adult is dehydrated, he will produce less urine. Amniotic fluid is fetal urine. If there is less fetal urine it must mean that the baby is dehydrated, right? Wrong!

How about this gem?
"I pushed for hours and my baby would not come out. I NEEDED a c-section."

... Did you begin pushing when you felt the unbearable urge to push - or did you push when and how they told you to? ("Okay, you're 10cm, you can begin pushing now.....1-2-3-4-5..." It's called "purple pushing") This is a HUGE factor in women who push for hours. Instead of laboring the baby all the way down, they begin pushing as soon as they hit 10, whether they feel the urge or not. Your body WILL labor the baby down. Sometimes women are at 10cm for a few hours before feeling that urge. THAT'S OKAY! Think about it this way. If you knew you were going to have to poop sometime soon, would you go ahead and sit on the toilet and begin trying to push the bowel movement out? What would happen if you did this? Wouldn't you be there forever, and eventually end up hurting yourself? Or would you wait for the urge to pass a bowel movement first? Another thing to note....in a bowel movement, which is not much different than the physiological process of birth, you are sitting. You are not lying in bed. Try pooping while lying in bed, instead of sitting upright.
This is "reasoning" from inanity. A baby is just like a bowel movement, right? Wrong! A baby is approximately 100 times larger, it is in the vagina, not the rectum, it is being pushed by a combination of uterine muscle and voluntary muscles of the pelvis, in contrast to a bowel movement which is pushed by peristalsis of the large intestine.

This also demonstrates the classic contrariness of homebirth advocacy. Whatever the data shows, ignore it and claim the opposite. Hence homebirth advocates insist that women can control the contraction of the uterus during the first stage by affirmations, emotions and environment, not understanding that the uterus is an involuntary muscle, and is NOT under a woman's control. Then they turn around and insist that pushing, which CAN be affected by maternal factors, and DOES involve voluntary muscles, is not under a woman's control.

Apprentice Midwife has shown us once again that most of what homebirth advocates think they "know" is factually false. They proudly spread mistruths, half truths and outright lies to each other, without a clue that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.


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