Thursday, April 17, 2008


I am amused, but unsurprised, at the response to my previous post where I showed that the claims of "natural" childbirth advocates that catecholamines suppress labor are complete unsupported by the existing scientific evidence. Essentially, the claim is a fabrication. It's not that it couldn't be true; it's that there is no evidence that it is true yet "natural" childbirth advocate are advancing it as if it were the truth. In the responses to this post by "natural" childbirth advocates, there was only one serious attempt to address the existing scientific evidence and that was incorrect.

Instead, the "natural" childbirth advocates quickly hijacked the thread to their favorite topic: how much better they are than other mothers and how they have martyred themselves by caring for their infants more than other women do. I am struck by the fact that this is expressed in purely self referential language. It's never about what the baby needs; it's always about what the mother does, doesn't do, sacrifices or tolerates. It's "I, me, me, mine, me, I." I worry about the message that this sends to their children.

If many "natural" childbirth advocates and lactivists are so desperate for attention and adulation that they visit public message boards to proclaim their superiority to other mothers, what are they saying to their children? Are they going to demand the same attention and adulation from their children? Are they going to endlessly proclaim their "sacrifice" and the pain they tolerated, and the inconveniences they bore?

Except for the case of parents who are impaired by mental illness, or drug and alcohol addiction, ALL parents sacrifice for their children on a regular basis. They sacrifice time, money, convenience, possessions, experiences, and much more. That's part of the job description of parents. What does it mean when "natural" childbirth advocates and lactivists insist that other adults admire them for the routine sacrifices of parenting? What does it mean when "natural" childbirth advocates and lactivists cannot see beyond the end of their noses to recognize and acknowledge the sacrifices of other parents? What will happen to a generation of children raised by people who believe that parenting is a stage for their own achievements, not simply the inevitable result of choosing to have a child?

What will "natural" childbirth advocates and lactivists do if their daughters and daughters-in-law refuse to follow their prescriptions for parenting when the grandchildren come along? I can guess. They will be just like the previous generations that they denigrate for insisting that the way they raised their children is the standard for all generations in the future.

"Natural" childbirth advocates and lactivists need to do some serious soul searching about the way that their parenting choices put themselves at the center of the universe, not the children. The children appear to be just props in the glorious project of boosting parental self esteem by boasting about maternal martyrdom and maternal superiority to other women.


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