Does fear cause labor pain?

There haven’t been any conclusive studies about attitude affecting labor pain, but it is a central tenant of Natural Child Birth.

The following is an anecdote, but its a pretty powerful one. Two men agreed to undergo a labor simulation, where their abdominal muscles contracted with similar intensity to uterine contractions. These men thought they could handle it, they had no doubt going in, it was a way for them to prove how macho they are. They were likely more fearless than pregnant women, because as men they didn’t have ANY of the fear or anxiety that can accompany pregnancy (like worrying about tearing or dying or something being wrong with the baby).

They got hooked up to the machines…It still hurt like hell. It brought them to tears and made them cry out in pain.

According to natural child birth advocates, fear=pain. So if you are a woman and are in a ton of pain you just aren’t fearless enough. You just need an attitude adjustment. There is so much judgment heaped on women in natural child birth and home birth communities if they end up wanting pain relief. I think part of the reason why so many midwives seem calloused or cruel is because they have to watch people in pain for hours and hours, knowing that they could be getting relief if they simply went to a hospital. I don’t think someone who empathizes with people in severe pain could handle midwifery as a career.

Labor hurts. Its okay that it hurts. Its okay to ask for pain relief. Really.


My original blog is back up

It has the story of my experience at a birth center with lay midwives. There was a CNM at one of the checks and she was professional.

There is also a lot of information about how little the natural child birth community did in response to my complaints. I literally complained of sexual misconduct and no one who could do something about this felt the need to do anything. They want to sweep my story under the rug instead of dealing with it. They don’t want people to know what they will tolerate from other midwives. I thought that what I went through was the worst thing, but then I began to read about how women who lost their babies to negligence go through the same thing. Midwives support each other so much more than the people who get hurt by their natural childbirth ideology.

The blog was down because of an attempt at mediation with better birth of utah, but it looks like its not going to happen. 

What happened to me has made me stronger. It has made me an advocate for change. I know for a fact that my shame on better birth blog and my safer midwifery utah blog are making midwives fear that their scam will be exposed to the public. I have emboldened public officials to take a stand against unlicensed midwifery, and for that I will likely be taken to court for defamation. I’m willing to fight in order to tell my story.

Thank you to everyone who has shown me support.

UK midwives insult a father whose son died from negligence

I point out the difference in training between nurse midwives and lay midwives often, and there is a difference in that nurse midwives have more training and more accountability. I would say that on average there is a big difference in practices and attitude as well, but of course there are horror stories about CNMs just like any other profession. The common thread seems to be Natural Child Birth (NCB) advocacy.

Here is one such story from the UK, where there have been many problems because of midwives pushing vaginal birth no matter what, and otherwise discouraging any intervention during births. The father who lost his son to negligence is treated like an inconvenience, as an unimportant voice, in the natural birth debate. We should be listening to those who paid the price for ideology based decisions. That is the only way to learn from the past.

it wouldn’t happen to me

I did a lot of research before choosing an out of hospital birth, and unlike a lot of women I know who also did a lot of research, I looked at the anti-home birth side of things to try and get information about their position. I read hurt by home birth and skeptical ob mostly, because I thought those blogs were the only game in town (they aren’t, here is an alternative that is much less abrasive).

I read the stories of midwives doing unspeakable negligence on hurt by home birth. I came up with all kinds of reasons it wouldn’t happen to me.  I remember the things I told myself.

I thought garbage like “Those women should have researched their provider more. They should have discussed specific issues and wishes ahead of time. Its very sad that it happened but it doesn’t mean anything about home birth or midwives as a whole. They could have had a sadistic, horrible time in the hospital too”. Etc etc. Some of these justifications have a grain of truth in them.  You can be abused in the hospital, but at least you and your baby are more likely to live. You can be abused in the hospital, but at least you have a chance of actually collecting damages because providers are insured.

I felt that it was a small increase in absolute risk, which is true for some pregnancies and not so true for others. I was a first time mother so there were a lot of variables I couldn’t definitively answer for. I put my faith in midwives and the process of birth.

I remember taking walks and listening to hypnobabies, especially the birth affirmations tape. I remember being post dates and strutting around, repeating “babies are born when they are ready, not when doctors say they should be” to myself from the tape. Part of me knew it felt vaguely cult-like to have to repeat things to myself over and over again. I brushed it off. Part of the natural child birth mantra is to believe that your feelings affect labor. It functions the same way that cults do, they teach members to police their thoughts, they teach them that doubt is a sin. In natural child birth, fear is a sin. You aren’t allowed to be afraid. If something goes wrong, other cult members will blame your fear for what happened.

I had been a skeptic for so long that I hadn’t been scammed for many, many years. I thought I was on top of my game. I know now that people who think they are not able to be fooled are the easiest to fool. It keeps me humble and on my toes to know this now.

I am lucky enough that everyone got out of the birth physically healthy.  Every time I see a new home birth tragedy I feel my stomach churn. I look at my child- healthy and alive, and think “it could have been us”. It easily could have been.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see the error of my ways. If everything had worked out I would probably be in the ranks of other natural child birth advocates, insufferably gushing about my perfect birth as if it would make me better somehow than anyone else. I may have been permanently damaged by home birth midwives, but at least I’m trying to learn from my mistakes. Home birth midwives just try to cover up their mistakes or pretend they never happened. 

Dr Amy understands that deleting facebook questions is evidence of guilt…

Dr Amy understands that deleting facebook questions is evidence of guilt…

…But when she deletes the questions on her facebook group asking her to clarify her position on date rape its fine?


I emailed dr amy to ask why someone so anti-censorship deleted a post. Her response is that I am a  “huge jerk”, so that justifies censorship, apparently. Just keep that in mind every time Dr Amy claims that people who delete tough questions are cowards or guilty; she does the same exact thing when she makes a mistake, and if I am a ‘huge jerk’ for making a big deal about rape apologetics being endorsed then I guess she is the Hugest Jerk Ever for the things she writes. 

VBAC deaths are a terrible outcome of natural childbirth ideology. The outcome of blaming rape victims (which sometimes means suicide) is also a cause for moral concern. Important issues deserve thoughtful discussion and truthfulness, not misdirection and evasion. The Skeptical OB writes about a lot more than obstetrics and home birth, there are discussions of violence against women, racism, parenting, etc. There is no reason for this to go unanswered for so long. It reflects poorly on her personal integrity to throw so many women under the bus by failing to address concerns that many members of her own community brought to her attention. Step up already and just answer the question. You can ask dr amy about her position on rape by contacting her on facebook.