Category Archives: pain

Gloria Lemay: pre-eclampsia is the mother’s fault

If you are unaware of Gloria Lemay, she was an illegal midwife in Canada who defied court injunctions that deemed her a danger to the public. She was involved in an infant death and subsequently sentenced to serve time in prison for her actions.

She still has quite a following in the world of Natural Child Birth, despite having no real qualifications and a ton of documented fuck ups to her name.

The most recent piece of idiocy can be seen on her facebook page. Here is the initial post:

gloria lemay 1

Gloria Lemay remarks that she would “love to see every baby in N America wearing this little message!” The message is “My mommy refused to induce me”. 

Some people rightly pointed out that there legitimate reasons to induce someone, such as pre-eclampsia, which can have serious health consequences (including death) if improperly managed. Here is Gloria’s reply:

gloria lemay 2“When a baby is at risk with “Pre-e” (pregnancy induced hypertension), what has been done to prevent the situation? Over and over, it has been shown that diet plays a key role.

 

The insistence that diet controls pre-eclampsia has absolutely no evidence behind it. A lot of women at the Pre Eclampsia foundation have a lot of anecdotal accounts of following the brewer diet religiously, and then ended up with the condition anyway. Some of them say they got pregnant again because they were confident they could beat pre eclampsia with diet, and in one case the mother almost died as a result. The idea that pre eclampsia is always a case of eating the “wrong” diet caused a lot of the moms on the forum to feel guilty. Lemay continues:

 

Then, if the situation is really out of control with high liver enzymes, is it a good plan to torture the woman/baby with an induction when you already have two ill patients? How is adding synthetic hormones to the situation going to help anything?

 

If you tell women that they are torturing their babies by inducing, you better have some damn good evidence. But there isn’t any. 

As for women being tortured by induction… that doesn’t seem to be what women actually say if you ask them about it.

 

 

There is a very high risk that the induction will end in c/s anyway. I would advise anyone in my own family to go straight to c/s in this situation, avoiding all the drugs, iv’s, of the induction.

 

C-sections include plenty of drugs and IV lines. I have no idea why she thinks she knows better than a physician about induction vs c/s for a case of pre-eclampsia. It is a complicated condition and the mode of delivery is chosen based on a number of different factors. Lemay talks about how horrible c-sections are all the time- perhaps she thinks a woman “deserves” a c-section for eating poorly? Its hard to know. There does seem to be a certain level of vitriol in her answer to a simple question.

 

Inductions are dangerous. Cesareans are dangerous. Ignoring sound dietary practice in pregnancy is dangerous.

 

Saying “x is dangerous” doesn’t really tell me anything about the danger. How dangerous is it? Are all three of those things equally dangerous? 

Lemay is again suggesting that mothers are to blame for eating poorly. I usually try to find a decent amount of evidence before blaming someone for a negative medical outcome. 

 

Birth is as safe as life gets. Medicine is for medical problems but it should be reserved for states of illness, not normal healthy women who have carried a baby to full term. “

 

“Birth is as safe as life gets” is bullshit. It can be pretty dangerous depending on what resources and technology you have available to you. Women still die all the time from complications of child birth, and women like Lemay are only able to ignore that because she is privileged enough to live in a place where obstetric care is very advanced and widely available. It is the same reason she can ignore the effectiveness of vaccination. 

Someone talked about how guilty this discussion made her feel, because she had been induced.

Here is Gloria Lemay’s response:

gloria lemay 3 After telling women they tortured their babies by inducing, which they obviously caused by poor diet or ignorance anyway, she decides to wash her hands of the obvious consequences of making these (extremely judgmental) statements. I don’t know how women are supposed to feel okay about torturing their babies, if they believe what Gloria Lemay has to say about it. In fact it seems pretty unethical of her to excuse people for baby torture, if she genuinely believes induction is an equivalent. 

The guilt heaped on mothers, regardless of the choices they make, is a symptom of a misogynistic society. It isn’t fair to women to add to that. 

 

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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.