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Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting

  1. MoonMoon

    pomegranate / 3392 posts

    @Happygal: I have to admit, I based it on anecdotal evidence, what I've heard from friends/community, online, and in my science classes for nursing school.

    But a quick Google search backs me up: 60%+ of American women who give birth vaginally use epidurals (#s obviously go even higher for forceps/vacuum etc. deliveries)

    30%+ women give birth via C-sections

    More than 70% of American mothers do not breastfeed exclusively for 6 months

    I just want to say, I love science, I love medicine, I love my OB, I am in nursing school, so I'm not some stereotype of crunchy judgmental natural parenting advocate. But I absolutely think The Skeptical OB makes specious arguments and exaggerates her claims, as many in this thread have pointed out. The one I pointed out in my first 2 posts is the very idea that we live in the "age of natural parenting".

  2. Kemma

    grapefruit / 4291 posts

    @Happygal: I see the "us versus them" mentality all over the Internet and I think it's a huge problem on both sides! On one side we have women who go into their pregnancy care and labours with a combative attitude and what seems to be almost a determination to find fault or pick a fight, but on the other side we have medical professionals that will refuse to provide care if a woman wants to deviate from the standard model of care.

    There needs to be a place in the middle where a woman can expect personalised care that is agreed with between her and her OB / midwife but where she doesn't automatically assume that her OB / midwife is out to get her!

  3. JenGirl

    clementine / 756 posts

    @Happygal: I agree that you don't want to set up an "us vs them" mentality. In fact, I was very conscious about that when going through my prenatal care and while writing my birth plan. I also agree that women need to go into a birth with flexibility as there is so much that is beyond our control. But I don't think either of those are a reason to abandon a birth plan all together. As my OB pointed out, he has tons of patients and even if we've discuss everything beforehand, he wants a reminder on the day of. Which would be even more true for large practices where you see a different OB/midwife each time. Not to mention the hospital nurses that provide the majority of your care are completely new to you and I'd prefer not to talk through every point while I'm in advanced labor. So, my solution is to use a birth plan, but to make it flexible and to be flexible in your expectations.

  4. Happygal

    pomelo / 5000 posts

    @MoonMoon: interesting stats--thanks for sharing! I have very few friends who are "all or nothing" in terms of parenting style, but most do incorporate a handful of practices that can be categorized as crunchy parenting. I feel lucky to not have felt judged by many (at least openly!) for how we parent.

    @Kemma: preach it. I'm all about the middle ground for just about everything in life!

    @JenGirl: for sure--birth plans are helpful, especially with the change over of staff you mentioned. One of my friends had four different nurses in her two hour labor at our hospital! I had a short one b/c the things I would have wanted are standard practices anyway at our hopsital, and it shrunk once I realized I had to have a c-section. Communication is a good thing.

  5. JenGirl

    clementine / 756 posts

    @Happygal: Wow! 4 nurses in 2 hours is crazy! I had one for the majority of labor and loved her! She kicked serious ass and was so supportive and nice. But she had to leave part way through pushing (I pushed for three hours - ugh!) so I had 2. By that point I couldn't have discussed anything with the new nurse so the nurse that was leaving gave her the birth plan and told her where we were and what changes we'd had to make (like I had put that I wanted to push instinctively but I turned out to be a crappy pusher so I needed more direction). The hand over went smoothly and I think the birth plan made it easier.

  6. Happygal

    pomelo / 5000 posts

    @JenGirl: totally crazy, and not the norm. I don't know why that happened. This was her fourth, and she wanted an epidural for all of them. Poor thing only got drugs for one due to her fast labors and staffing.

  7. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @Maysprout: I mean, she isn't saying breastfeeding or babywearing is killing babies, she's talking about American home birth. And babies do die because of home birth with lay midwives (I'm not talking about CNMs who have extensive medical training and risk-out patients who aren't good candidates for homebirth). And she makes what I think is a fairly legit argument that the "baby friendly hospital" initiative - which is intended to support breastfeeding - which closes well-infant nurseries in favor of rooming in can lead to situations where an exhausted mother takes her child into bed and co-sleeps in an unsafe way. And there is a paper she links to discussing deaths of otherwise healthy babies due to unsafe co-sleeping in the hospital. Yes, her tone is abrasive. I think she overreaches at times. If I were writing her blog, I would do some things differently. But in her defense, she writes about babies dying because of medical neglect and the incompetence of the barely trained lay midwives who deliver them - I think that's worth getting angry and abrasive about. And she sees those deaths and injuries as directly resulting from a parenting culture that shames and frightens women into eschewing all interventions and thinking that their doctors are their enemies, there just to trick them into having a c section! And the same thing for breastfeeding - yeah, it's awesome but not worth starving your baby for, not worth PPD/PPA (and I can't tell you how many women I've heard whose PPD stories begin with breastfeeding trouble) and not worth some Kristin Cavalleri homemade goat milk formula BS that people are giving their kids because they're afraid of "chemicals" in formula. But those things are happening BECAUSE of lactivism. Again, I think that some anger here is legitimate.

  8. Maysprout

    grapefruit / 4800 posts

    @KatieBklyn: she says natural childbirth, lactivism, and attachment parenting doesn't work or it kills babies. I think it's the third to last paragraph, she doesn't mention home births (you can have an unmedicated birth in the hospital) or cosleeping there.
    And if you or her or anyone else want to start an HB thread or blog about bad experiences you had with lactation consultants, drs, midwives, LLL members or whoever - go for it, there's lots of people who suck in the world. It's not a bad conversation to have to try and help caregivers care and communicate better and give people confidance to stand up for themselves. But, she goes farther than that and graphs sketchy and possibly imaginary data from who knows what source (at her blog and from the article it sounds like she puts these in the book) to support many of her opinions and then poo poos any peer reviewed scientific literature. At that point she crosses from interesting conversation to fraud in my opinion.

  9. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @Maysprout: I think she would argue that the pressure to have a natural birth is what influences women to seek out alternatives to traditional OB care and that it's a slippery slope when we women to "trust birth" and that their doctors are their enemies, basically. And at the bottom of that slippery slope are women and children who have lost their lives or their health because of things that could have been avoided with medical intervention.

    I'm genuinely curious about what kind of sketchy and imaginary data you're talking about. And regarding poopoo-ing peer reviewed literature, I think there's a huge difference between explaining things like confounders, confidence intervals and sample sizes to laypeople and just outright dismissing things. Science is constantly evolving and bazillions of peer reviewed published papers come to entirely opposite conclusions sometimes. It doesn't mean one team is correct and the others are charlatans, it means more and better research is needed.

  10. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @Maysprout: And on a personal level, it's not even that I had bad experiences with any individual person - it's the whole entire thing. Lactivism had beat it into my head that the nurses at the hospital would try to trick me into giving my baby formula which would obviously destroy our breastfeeding relationship, so when they came in on day four and said "your son has lost too much weight, you need to supplement" I was like, "ugh, I know better, that's just how they get you!" My kid was screaming and starving and dehydrating but I was so convinced that "everyone can breastfeed!" and "supplementing is a trap" that I lost sight of what actually matters. And then when it became obvious that there just wasn't enough in me to sustain my kid's life, I felt like I was dooming him to a life of stupidity, obesity, poor health, insecure attachment, blah blah blah. It's fucking insane. No one knocked on my door and told me that. You pick it up from even light reading of crunchy mommy blogs and LLL literature. And it's not even true! So many of those studies are incredibly flawed. It's the culture that needs to change.

  11. hummusgirl

    persimmon / 1233 posts

    @KatieBklyn: I could have written exactly this about my breastfeeding experience. It's insane and very real. Luckily my healthy, smart, funny, non-obese formula-fed preschooler reminds me every day how little all that "natural" stuff in Year 1 matters in the grand scheme of things.

    Dr. Amy may not be the greatest spokesperson because she clearly turns people off, but it's an important message - we're missing the forest for the trees by focusing on this minutiae when it makes so little difference in the long run.

  12. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @Maysprout: Yikes, 20 years ago?

  13. macintosh

    pear / 1750 posts

    @KatieBklyn: I had a similar breastfeeding experience as well. I attended a breastfeeding class as the hospital, Among the things that stuck in my head:

    "Even one formula feeding changes your baby's digestive system forever."

    "If you're feeling desperate and discouraged, don't try formula, just keep trying."

    "Even small breasts will make plenty of milk."

    Then after all that they say..."If the doctor recommends it, formula is fine."

    Talk about mixed messages. Then after delivery DS wouldn't latch. He had a tounge tie clipped. My milk hadn't even come in yet and the LCs were saying I needed to supplement and/or pump every feeding. They said I might have insufficient glandular tissue. What? The breastfeeding "expert" didn't mention any of this. I refused to supplement for 2 days between taking DS home and his first ped appt and he lost way too much weight and got jaundice. I wish I never went to that breastfeeding class.

  14. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @hummusgirl: Exactly! She definitely isn't the best diplomatic ambassador but I do think her indignation is righteous. And I'm so sorry you went through that too. I wish someone could have breached the space time continuum to show me my awesome, healthy, smart little one year old and been like, "this kid hasn't had a drop of breastmilk since eight weeks and he is absolutely perfect, so stop killing yourself over this."

  15. Happygal

    pomelo / 5000 posts

    @KatieBklyn: It would be terrible as a MD to repeatedly see avoidable health issues, or worse, deaths. I wish she would speak in a tone that would allow people to hear what she's saying and have an actual conversation instead of automatically taking sides for a debate.

    @macintosh: I'm sorry that was your experience. When the pediatrician asked how I felt about supplementing b/c my daughter's weight had dropped and I said, "fine!" he was visibly relieved. We talked about it and he said it is more likely now that women will refuse or get really upset--it takes a lot of discussion to get them comfortable with supplementing. The LC came in later and gave me different advice than the MD, which I thought was very unprofessional. If I had been conflicted about it all, I would have been upset and confused.

  16. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @macintosh: I'm so sorry you had to go through that, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard the same exact story. It's awful. Breastmilk is lovely and it's important to be educating women about the fact that the first few weeks may be rough but it gets easier for most people - but so much of breastfeeding "common wisdom" is ultimately damaging to breastfeeding relationships! If someone had sat me down and said "studies have shown that early supplementing, when needed, can actually lengthen the breastfeeding relationship. The "virgin gut" thing is overrated. And you will never be able to EBF but here's how to combo feed." I probably would still be breastfeeding now. But instead I got frustrated and depressed and threw in the towel.

  17. meredithNYC

    pomegranate / 3314 posts

    @KatieBklyn: I assume you're in Brooklyn, based on your username? If so, not to threadjack, but I totally feel you!
    I had my first LO in Brooklyn and I swear to God the extreme commitment to breastfeeding among the moms there nearly did me in. I was actually ashamed and embarrassed when I gave up nursing after 3 months of hell.

  18. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @meredithNYC: Haha, good guess! And that's exactly what I'm talking about by saying that whether formula feeders are technically in the majority nationwide means next to nothing when basically ALL of your peers are like "all Breastfeeding Mama Talk memes, all the time."

  19. hummusgirl

    persimmon / 1233 posts

    @meredithNYC: @KatieBklyn: Ha, I lived in Park Slope when I had my first and oy! Luckily, in real life no one seemed to care how I fed my kid but sitting in a circle of 10 other moms at Tea Lounge who were all BFing while I sheepishly pulled out a bottle was not so fun.

  20. Maysprout

    grapefruit / 4800 posts

    @KatieBklyn: hmmm, I know plenty of people who had unnedicated births and no one who had home births. Of course there are people who have home births under I'll-advised circumstances but if lumping a minority to call a big group of people baby killers is ok in your book then she is probably right up your alley but to me that's misleading and judgemental language and designed to make mommy wars.

    I explained in a previous comment about her data. In her article she does not link to breastfeeding data. But her graphs are available on her website. Try to match up the data she links to with what she graphs, or find 40 countries with breastfeeding rates between 90-100%. She's been questioned several times about the data by others and never responded. Also about her interpretations of others data, everyone has their biases but she goes beyond biased. There's plenty of research to be done on breastfeeding, no arguments there and it's fine to point out, no arguments that it's not the right feeding method for every woman. But she nitpicks scientific literature while failing to cite any literature for her own assertions. Take a look at her reddit ama - lots of people point out, and plenty of people ask her for citations and she never responds.
    Again, some of the points she makes are fine and there's no need for any science, calling people baby killers is offensive though and when she does bring up medical stories it's from over 20 years ago and her graphs she makes to support are something probably made up or something she doesn't feel like explaining how she obtained the data

  21. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @Maysprout: If you think she's saying "anyone who had a natural unmedicated childbirth is a baby killer" you are misinterpreting what she's saying.

    Her medical stories about homebirth deaths are current events, not from 20 years ago. Here's a link to her 2015 summary: http://www.skepticalob.com/2015/12/2015-this-year-in-homebirth-deaths-and-disasters.html

    Re: graphs - are you talking about her scatter plot here? http://www.skepticalob.com/2016/01/if-breastfeeding-saves-lives-why-do-countries-with-the-highest-infant-mortality-rates-have-the-highest-breastfeeding-rates.html

    If so, she says she got the data on infant mortality from UN data and the breastfeeding rates from the supplementary material in the Lancet article.

  22. Maysprout

    grapefruit / 4800 posts

    @KatieBklyn: if you don't find 'it doesn't work. Or it kills babies' an inflammatory statement then we're going to have to agree to disagree.

    There's plenty of times she shares personal stories on her website. Sure she shares other stories and if you want to believe bc she found stories about home births that were advised against leading to problems that anyone that had an unmediated childbirth is a wackadoo then again that's quite a jump and we're going to have to agree to disagree.

    And yes that is one of the charts and I understand that she provides a link. But look at the data in the link. It does not match up even a little bit with what she graphed.

  23. KatieBklyn

    cherry / 188 posts

    @Maysprout: I'm starting to think you're deliberately misinterpreting her message. She's clearly talking about natural childbirth advocacy and pressure, not natural childbirth itself. I went back and clarified - she says that she, personally, had two unmedicated childbirths. I think it's pretty obvious that she isn't saying "anyone that had an unmedicated childbirth is a wackadoo."

    I don't have a subscription to the Lancet so I can't look at the data in the supplementary materials. If you did look at it and say that it doesn't match up, I'll take your word for that. I don't think it completely invalidates her ability to explain her interpretation of the depth and breadth of studies on these issues, but perhaps we'll have to agree to disagree there, too.

  24. Maysprout

    grapefruit / 4800 posts

    @KatieBklyn: I'm not misinterpreting anything. It's her own quote and she's got plenty of much more inflammatory ones out there. She's a well known internet troll and I've personally been called a baby killer or promoting baby killing by her bc I bothered to ask a question many years ago about another questionable graph. So for me she's not someone who gets the benefit of the doubt of well if we look at it this way this is really what she means. She purposefully says (and you can look at her reddit ama, she explains this) offensive and divisive things to get blog hits.


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