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Sunday
Jan042009

Extreme 20/20: commentary

Extreme isn’t even the word for Friday night's 20/20 on ABC. Bizarre was more like it. I was extremely disappointed that topics such as thinking a baby doll was real was mixed with extremely extended breastfeeding. I have a hard time understanding that orgasmic birth is seen as just as “extreme,” but I suppose it is. 

 

The segments on Friday night’s 20/20 were a mismatch of oddities mixed with small doses of causes/wishes I can get myself behind.

 

The first segment was on orgasmic birth.

While filmmaker Debra Pascali-Bonaro tried to explain there isn’t a goal of orgasmic birth, that it isn’t a competition, but that pleasure in birth can be a possibility for some women... and a more pleasurable birth is available for all women... her words were squashed by images of a woman clearly having an amazing, continuously orgasmic birth.

In reading complaints about the show, the issue of combining orgasms with one’s child squicks many. I’m not sure how to adequately explain that the child isn’t being used for pleasure, but the experience of labor and birth are sensuous even without the addition of the expulsion explosion. Sexual abuse information is so pervasive in our society, it isn’t unusual that many someones would use it to mix up the birth-orgasm-as-child-abuse topic. I am pretty surprised 20/20 didn’t address this aspect, but I think there was enough other fodder for them to pull from.

Those of us in the know understand that orgasmic/pleasurable/tolerable births are more likely to happen at home than at the hospital. The home environment is much more conducive to the possibilities of sensuousness than a glaringly lit and stranger (and germ)-laden hospital. How comfy are we in hospital gowns open down the back, tied in two places that are designed to pull the gown (and choke us!) as we sit and (re-)arrange ourselves on the oh-so-small single hospital bed that makes more gyrations than most women are “allowed” to do? Over and over, when women choose nudity over the gowns, I watch uncomfortable nurses and doctors draping contracting women with sheets. I will never forget the client that was so tired of having her nudity covered, she took the sheet the nurse kept putting on her and puked on it. The nurse didn’t try to cover her again.

Logistically speaking, hospital births provide barriers to intimacy – or even mere tenderness. Bars on single beds, beds raised high in the air, women stripped of their own clothes, wires, tubes and electrodes push the women further and further from those who love her. “Honey, you are so yummy with that IV in your arm, those wires coming out of your choo-chach and that sexy cotton shift.” Yeah, baby.

Not that birth is necessarily a sexual experience. For some, I suppose it could be described as such, but I would venture to guess that we just don’t have enough words to describe the sensations in another way but sexual. You know, like Eskimos have hundreds of words for “snow” because there are so many types? I believe if we talked about the variety of genital stimulations possible and invented new words to describe them, delightful birth sensations would have a very distinct verbiage that is far from the same we’d use for sex.

The second segment on Reborns was scary and disturbing – and really distressing that they included these freaky women in a show on mothering.

Reborns, you’ll see in the link, are dolls that are made to look like real babies. Apparently, there are (mentally ill) women who treat these dolls as if they were their own children, feeding them, changing them, throwing them birth day parties, sleeping with them, creating whole nurseries for them – and taking them out in public as if they were real! When strangers coo and ah over the babies, they don’t admit they are dolls unless someone actually touches the doll and feels how cold they are. One of the women disclosed that she loved doing this because it gave her attention. Hey, woman... GET A HOBBY!

When asked why these women don’t just adopt a baby, Sarah, who was VERY agitated with this segment, turned to me and said, “Because they don’t allow loony tunes to adopt children!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The third segment on extended breastfeeding will be, I believe, responsible for millions of weanings over the next few weeks.

Watching this, my most visceral reactions were amusing and interesting (if I were to look at them objectively).

I was a La Leche League leader who nursed three kids for six months and two kids for 2.5 years. I have known hundreds of women who extended nursed... until about five. I knew of one who nursed until six. I also acknowledge the average age of weaning in the world is four years old, meaning some kids nurse until 6-7 (especially given that the grand majority of kids in our own culture are weaned at or near birth).

But the thing is, you never saw it because they weren’t nursing like newborns – they were nursing a couple of times a day at the most.

If I was shocked (and yes, mildly disgusted) watching this segment, what then were the majority of women (and men) thinking?

Again, looking at myself from afar, I find it interesting to see that I have limits to what I can agree with(? approve of?).

How the thoughts are jumbled in my head:

•- Can’t you just stay in your own home and do that? Why are you nursing a 6-year old in the mall? What kind of shock value are you trying to obtain?

•- But, we shouldn’t be hiding any breastfeeding. If more women nursed toddlers in public, then there wouldn’t be the shock value anymore.

•- Kids that old can be reasoned with and told they can’t nurse outside the home. Grow some ovaries and set some limits.

•- But some kids need to nurse longer than others.

•- I could see nursing a 7-year old if I lived in Somolia and they needed the nourishment, but we choose to live in this culture and need to adhere to the constraints of society.

•- If we listened to society, we’d only nurse under blankets and in bathrooms. We’d also only marry men.

They briefly brought up fathers' feelings about extended breastfeeding (and Sarah yelled at the screen, "What does he have to do with anything?!") and, happily, the fathers were all supportive. However, having worked with women whose partners were anything but supportive, I know how tied to success nursing is with a spouse's approval. This is the main reason I can see babies/toddlers being weaned even as I write this. "I'll be damned if you're nursing a 7-year old!! Get that kid off your boob NOW!"

Sigh

I’ve bared my thoughts. Feel free to have yours, too.

Serial surrogate mothers were highlighted next and sure, I can see finances pushing a woman to be a surrogate more than once or twice. That money would be handy in most households and if all you have to do is get pregnant and have a baby, then why not? You are giving a family an incredible gift – they are reciprocating with an equally wonderful gift.

So, in the last segment the topic of homebirth was tackled. Well, let me re-state that. Homebirth/Unassisted Birth was addressed. Yes, that’s right, the seamless intertwining of homebirth as an extreme sport and UC showed that the producers/writers of 20/20 just didn’t get (or didn’t care) that the two are worlds apart.

As if they were the same, Laura Shanley yacked about her agenda and in the next frame was Abby Epstein from Business of Being Born. As expected, they showed Abby’s dramatic ride to the hospital as she precipitously birthed her premature breech baby.

UC us extreme. Homebirth is not.

I’ve watched the segment a couple of times now and I am not really sure what the public will take away from the piece; will they see UC? Or homebirth? What will the message ultimately be?

All I can do is what I can do... keep writing about homebirth as a normal choice for women, disclosing the dangers of UC and explaining my reasoning (and proof!) of both.

If you haven’t seen the 20/20 yet – please do go. If nothing else, your hackles will be raised by at least one of the topics!

Reader Comments (23)

I've not seen it yet (my mom taped it, so hopefully I'll see it soon), but I just had to comment about the ext. b/f and the support from a husband. I nursed my older son until he was 13 m/o, when he weaned in 1 day when I was pregnant w/my 2nd. I nursed my younger son until he was about 21-22 m/o. I quit because my husband stopped supporting me in b/f. Part of the reason he said, "Doncha think it's time to quit?" was because my younger son was still waking up 2-3x in the night to nurse, and neither I nor my husband was getting that good quality sleep we both needed. So, yes, the support of a husband is very important to most women who nurse. I've heard of numerous men who have urged their wives/girlfriends not to start nursing, or else to stop nursing so that their boobs will be "all theirs" again. My sister's mother-in-law was that way -- she nursed the firstborn for a while but bottle-fed the other two because her husband didn't want the boobies to be off-limits or shared.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I think the concept of orgasmic birth is wrongly portrayed. Okay, so yes, there was the woman in Birth As We Know It who was orgasming with each contraction to the point where her eyes crossed and tears rolled down her face. But I'm pretty sure that's not very common, even among women who do have pleasurable births.

It's not a woman throwing her head back and screaming, "Yes! Yes! Oh God, yes!" as she pushes her baby out. The act of orgasm involves surrendering your entire body and soul completely to the sensations coursing through you. To enjoy birth, you must do the same thing. I wouldn't even begin to say that my birth felt like an orgasm, but in that sense, it was orgasmic. I gave myself over to the power of birth, and the intensity I felt was so strong that had it been during sex, it would surely have been a mind-blowing orgasm.

Sheila Kitzinger once said that there is a sexual force inherent in all the things we enjoy, especially those that are intimate. What's more intimate than birth? I think many people only see sex as a one-sided thing, and fail to appreciate the many facets of sexuality there can be. It's not just about using other people to make yourself feel good. It's about harmonizing yourself with your surroundings and feeling good as a result.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

I don't have a problem when a child "needs" to still be nursing....what I have a problem with is when the child is older and it's the mother who "needs" to still be nursing and she does it under the disguise/excuse that she is meeting the needs of her child. BS, she is meeting her own needs and her unwillingness or inability to move to the next phase of parenting.

Are there exceptions to all generalizations? Sure. It's abusive when it's the mother who can't move on and runs after her 7 year old child offering the breast (in public or private) when the child clearly is mature enough to develop (or has already developed and mom keeps stunting it) coping skills.

and then I say that we should support women/mothers to trust themselves and know/do what is best for their child....I just don't think that involves clinging to a breastfeeding relationship....espcially when it involves nursing a child who is of an age to be involved in school.
and then.....what does cronilogical age have to do with it? Like it or not, it does. Society has expectations.....and some I agree wtih and some I dont. I'ts up to me as a parent to find the balance on what is right for me. One would argue that these women are doing the same. We frequently find ourselves back at square one, don't we?

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDora

Orgasmic birth:

I thought this segment was pretty fair. I felt that it really promoted homebirth (much more then their homebirth segment did), and was anti-hospital procedures, and encouraging hospitals to do away with their crazy routines in favor of birth balls, birth tubs, dim rooms, etc. Even if people think the orgasmic part is weird, I think they may take something away from that segment.

Extended breastfeeding:

I'm all for breastfeeding, and even "extended breastfeeding", but most of this segment was extreme in my view. I don't see nursing 2 and half year old's as extreme, but a six and eight year old, yeah, I felt that was extreme. I don't understand the biological or psychological basis for nursing past about age 4 (my personal ideal would be around 2, but I did end up doing a very slow and gentle weaning of my son that started at 2 and half, but didn't end until just over 3). I don't agree that child led weaning is "natural". How many mammals allow their young to completely wean by themselves? I don't think there are any. Think about mama cats and how eventually they start to wean their kittens. They let them have a little milk and then walk away. Eventually they don't let them have any milk. When my son was a little over 2 nursing him made me very agitated and made my skin crawl, which I took as a sign that it was time to quit. This made total sense to me from an evolutionary standpoint - before birth control, and when nutrition restrictions likely didn't allow for tandem nursing, around age 2 would be when another pregnancy would have likely been. So it made total sense that I would be biologically programed to start the weaning process around this time, and that my child would be biologically programed to accept it. Anyway, my point is that I see why we nurse babies, and why we nurse toddlers, it all makes sense. But nursing an eight year old? I just don't quite understand why one would feel compelled to do such a thing. And I hated how that mom said something like, "well, this is just what we do in this family, it's normal for us." What kind of reasoning is that? I'm sure a family that practices very unhealthy or harmful behaviors could say the same thing, what she failed to provide us with was why she did it. What was the benefit?

Homebirth/Unassisted Birth:

This was the most maddening segment for me. There is a huge difference between these two things, and 20/20 didn't clarify that for whatever reason. UC is extreme, homebirth is not at all extreme. Yet they acted as if they were one and the same.

Reborns:

Weird story, but oddly displaced on this show. A show entitled "Extreme Mothering" should not feature people who are not mothers who use lifeless dolls to pretend that they are. This should have been on a show about mentally ill women or something.

January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer (mama blogess)

It was absolutely insulting to all mothers to have those doll collectors who treat their dolls like real children in the same serious journalistic piece about real women's and children's health issues regarding birth and breastfeeding. It taints the legitimacy of women's lives as mothers by adding that piece.

Many women can feel orgasmic during birth. However not during a hospital birth with a staff, and a camera crew filming. It seems so contrived, like bad porno watching the women "act" for the camera in this documentary.

Maybe I just really don't like Debra Pascalli, she grates me the wrong way and seems opportunistic. How coincidental that Debra Pascalli caught these women having orgasms on film during birth.

Extended breastfeeing to me is past five/six years, it is wrong to lump in toddlers!

It;s funny but i seem to know a few women who felt like thay got "stuck" nursing a five or six yr old, they knew thier problem, they did not know how to say NO to anyone in their life.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDewi

The show sounds like a bit of a circus freak show. I don't really disagree with anything anyone has said.. I just wanted to comment on that scene where Abby Epstein is rushed to the hospital in premature labor.

I'm sure they included it in the movie both because she had become a character in her own film and to show that even the best laid plans don't always work out the way you would like them to. Which is a good point to raise in terms of home birth. But it really bugs me how that scene always is the one that gets played from the movie. People seem to take it as if that wouldn't have happened if she had planned a hospital birth or "don't plan a home birth because if you have to drive to the hospital in labor it will really suck" or that she ended up with an emergency c/s BECAUSE she planned a home birth. They conveniently ignore that most women who have hospital births who aren't induced or a scheduled C-section (that is, most women) end up with an uncomfortable drive to the hospital in active labor. They also ignore that any woman going into premature labor would end up rushing to the hospital unless she was already there to check some worrying symptoms (as recently happened to a friend's sister - twin boys at 31 weeks - 4lbs 3 ozs and 3 lbs 9 oz - which seems huge to me for 31 weeks - they are doing really well). I feel like it gets used as some sort of cautionary tale against home birth without any consideration of context. So that's my rant. (One more thing - I wish in BoBB they had explained a little more clearly what exactly happened in her labor and with her baby - they just kind of leave everything between the lines and it wasn't very satisfying - but that's not about 20/20 - sorry.)

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

And count me in with those who are a little suspicious of how she just happened to film these women having orgasmic births. I don't doubt that they happen, and I don't have a problem making that more widely known in the context of advocating for better birthing environments. But it seems that truly orgasmic (as opposed to ecstatic or transcendent or whatever word you like) birth is really rare. So she's here saying that this isn't something women should necessarily aspire to, yet she managed to pick these women to film and sure enough, they had orgasms on camera. Sure.

But I probably should actually see the film before making up my mind.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

You and I are on the same page regarding so much of this. I was nodding while reading your post. I too noticed the annoying juxtaposition of UC/ HB and hate the inaccurate message to portray them as one and the same. Mainhstream media and culture already do that too much. It is a step backwards for safely attended homebirth. I too have many mixed feelings about extendedly nursing. You summed up so many of my disparate thoughts so well! What kind of hypocrite am I for "judging" someone who is nursing their kindergartner? I have nursed as long as 4 years before... but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that for me, that is my limit. I personally do not desire to nurse much past preschool age. While I understand the WHO average age can be older; in real life, even among LLL'ers and HB'ers, it is still considered extreme to nurse a 5 or 6 year old. If the reaction of a proclaimed lactivist is one of unease, then how does mainstream America react? You're right, with disgust and revulsion. Which is too bad. But that was their point, right? It wasn't to show that it is OK and normal to be "still" nursing an 18 month old, or a 2 year old. It was to show how NOT normal it is to "extendedly" nurse. Bad selection of randomly thrown together stories. I am most disappointed in myself for expecting anything else.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTattooedMama

I pretty much had the same reactions - I know the facts but most seeing this don't - what the hell are they now thinking?
Here was my review -
So I thought the 20/20 segment on Orgasmic Birth was pretty fantastic (but not the show as a whole). I do wish there had been a clear soundbite about how orgasmic birth does not have to mean that actual climax is achieved...they may have said this & I missed it, but I felt the segment seemed to indicate that an actual orgasm was a necessary part of the ecstatic birth experience rather than just the happy icing on the already-awesome birthday cake. Anyway, way to go, Debra!

But I have complaints on the show as a whole (of course!): First, the warning that the Orgasmic Birth segment might be inappropriate - wow - what about giving that warning when showing a highly interventive technocratic birth? That could certainly be more dangerous to one's psyche than seeing some women smiling and laughing.

I know the show was about "extremes" in motherhood but why the need to find such unusual examples to put with Orgasmic Birth? The piece on unassisted birth really pissed me off because they lumped in The Business Of Being Born and all homebirth with unassisted birth. I'm not commenting negatively on people who wish to have UC, but the births they showed, aside from Laura Shanley's birth footage appeared to be from BoBB and attended by midwives (at least one of which was filmed in a hospital birth center, not even at home)...UC is a small portion of homebirth and I think to suggest otherwise is at best misleading and sloppy and serves to reinforce the just-now-changing-for-the-positive mainstream opinion that homebirth is selfish (in fact that was a comment/question posed to Ricki Lake on the homebirth /UC piece last night) and foolhardy. Most people who birth at home do so with extremely qualified medical assistance. I found that segment quite hostile.

Same with the breastfeeding piece - people who are nursing 9 year olds are quite rare & that's why they make the news. But the piece started with a woman nursing 3yo twins - not rare at all, given that the average age of weaning world-wide is 4 years (props to 20/20 for mentioning this)...yet it was still portrayed as though the twins mom was doing something a little bit weird or wrong. And then there was the whole "what does your husband think - isn't he left out sexually" angle that was pretty lame, imho.

The life-like dolls...hmmm - I don't quite know what to say other than the segment made me feel a little sad. And once again, I did not appreciate the created context of "wacky/screw loose people" in which to view Orgasmic Birth & homebirth.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoulaMomma

I had pretty much the same reactions! I hated how they kept throwing around UC like it was a synonym for homebirth, "Midwife? I see no PHD, might as well have nobody there, you EXTREME mom you!!".

*eyeroll* That annoyed me a bit. Didn't watch the bit on extended breastfeeding because it's already been on my mind a bit lately and after seeing the orgasmic birth/homebirth segment was not ready to be annoyed more. I'm also caught somewhere between "All breastfeeding should be ok publicly, blanket or no" and "Has that child no other coping mechanisms in public? A sippy cup? Would you give a child that age a snack any old time if it was as healthy as breastmilk?". So I'm kind of stuck. I do wish at times I was still nursing my 17 month old (he up and quit at 12 months, total shock to me that boy LOVED the boob) so it's warm and sweet to me seeing nursing toddlers.

*throws hands in the air* I don't know! I also question the use of food for emotional/physical comfort past a certain age. I mean, we all have a comfort food or two, but having that as an honest to god coping mechanism can be a rough road. And then I'm stuck there because I don't want to raise kids who look down on fat people like they have some disability when it comes to food. (And I know many that eat WAY better than I do, exercise more, and remain larger. Skinny does not equal healthy!) I have a high metabolism and as much as I love food if if I didn't I would look very different! And that would be ok. But I'm still working on making that okay.

Yeah, "extreme" breastfeeding. Quite the rats nest in my head! Amazing how these things tie together. Also didn't bother with the Reborn segment because it's just a bit sad and scary. These women need some help, not to be ridiculed. Ah well.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStassja

I didn't expect some of the comments I see here, oh well, society is getting to all of us.

I thought the Orgasmic Birth segment was well, not great but not bad either.

The ext. bf segment was ok, not great because of the stupid Dr. they interviewed but I loved the how the women, the fathers and the children answered.
I am still bf my 26 month old after only bf my 1st for 8 months. I am doing child led weaning and no I won't stop him from doing it in public and no I won't hide in the bathroom or under blankets.

The hb/uc sucked. The producers had no idea what they were doing.

The reborn dolls are beautiful and I would love to have one but I think they should have interviewed women that had a stillbirth or lost a child and got the doll just a as a mean to cope, not the weirdos the interviewed.

January 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYasmel

What did you not expect to see? The comments about extended bfing? I was glad to see I am not the only one who has mismatched thoughts about it. Might not have made anyone else feel better, but it did me!

January 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I laughed when I saw a trailer for the 'extreme" breastfeeding segment, because it made me think of something my husband said to me when I was pregnant. We have friends that had their baby a few months before us, and they told my husband how much formula was costing them a week. Shocked, my husband turned around and said to me, "You're nursing that kid until she's 8!" But I have to say, even though I am VERY pro-nursing, even to the point of "lactivism", I found the segment leaving me feeling a little "weirded out." I am pretty sure that I would not be nursing my grade schooler. However, I expected it to be waaaay worse than it was. I thought the one little soundbite from the psychologist about the potential danger to the proper development of the child was pretty mild. Particularly when the reporter admits that the older children seem just fine. Did make me think though, what does the kid do when he gets upset at school? Cry for his mommy, suck his thumb, or accept "a hug and some kind words" from his teacher? And what does this say about the effect of extremely extended nursing? If the child can sufficiently cope without nursing when mom's not around, does he really need to continue nursing? Or is that a sign that its perfectly alright to keep nursing that long because it hasn't harmed his psychological development? Will he ever see breasts in a sexual light (the sociological norm here in US), or will he always see them as comfort and nourishment? And is there anything wrong with that?

January 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen B

Your visceral reaction is not mismatched about nursing the five / six and older child.

I think many of us who read your blog and our friends and colleagues are women who have nursed toddlers or nursery school age children, and the last occasional nursing fades away.
or we stop it at some point.

We understand best why having your school age child 6, 7 or 8 and 9 yr olds nurse is not about the mother. I think it is the moms inability to create a different relationship with her child. Some part of the normal Developmentally growth is not happening on the mother or child's part.

I know for sure How that happens, because a mother has lost the ability to create boundaries with her children. You can see it when the 8 or 9 year old girl acts obnoxiously controlling and demanding towards the mother in the film clip about nursing.

January 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDewi

Hey! Thanks for commenting on my blog! I officially have another blog to watch now! Can't get enough of childbirth and midwifery!
My thoughts
BF- Past 3 I dont know that I would do it, but I am for a woman who does. Not my body.
The Creepy dolls- Just that. Creepy. Actually not so much the dolls as the women. Counseling anyone?
UC- I'm ok with it ;)
Homebirth- I am VERY ok with it!
Orgasmic Birth- I am very for it and understand it like you do.

I think that people who cannot distinguish the two probably didnt distinguish them in the segment. I dont think they did a good job seperating them at all.

January 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRandine

Yasmel,

I hope you didn't get the wrong impression, no one was talking about 26 month olds as being too old to nurse. I totally nursed my son in public, without a blanket, at 26 months.

We all have our comfort levels, and we can reach them on our own without being influenced by society... I'm a bit taken aback by that comment, society didn't influence me to wean my son, it was a personal decision that only concerned two people; me and him. We all have our comfort levels, and if you're nursing a 2 or 3 year old, you are not all too concerned with what society thinks, because they tell you to wean at 12 months or younger. I think society can influence people to wean earlier then desired by the mom and baby, but that is not what is being described in these comments. Moms deciding to wean an older toddler or preschooler based on her own comfort levels and that of her child's has nothing to do with societal conformity. She has already gone well beyond societies expectations... Child led weaning (especially when it goes to age 6 or 8) is not for everyone, and I see no basis for it being touted as the most natural way.

January 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer (mama blogess)

I missed the section on the reborn dolls the other night due to the 8 week old infant demanding my attention. I initially thought without knowing anything, that it was women who had lost pregnancies or had had stillbirths, but, uh, no, I was wrong. And then when I saw the website from your link, I am totally weirded out. THose things looks creepy.

Extended breastfeeding. I admit, I would be uncomfortable seeing a 5 or 6 (maybe even 4) being nursed in public, but I also just employ the ability to look away. But a 9 year old? That would probably disturb me.

The combo of the UC/homebirth was weird, but I got the juxtaposition. I think a lot of people lump homebirth in with UC and the section on them both clarified the difference. Of course it only encompassed the last 10 minutes of the show, so not exactly in depth.

I had a wonderful hospital birth (at a birthing center) exactly 2 months ago today. No IV, only 15 minutes on the monitor when I was first admitted, eating and drinking throughout labor, pushing in multiple positions, etc. etc. Funny thing about the gown thing. My own nightgown had been removed when it got soaked getting in or out of the tub, and I had ended up with a hospital gown on. Someone (my mother or mil) tied the back. I got very hot during pushing and tried to pull it off only to find out it was tied. Someone tried to untie it, but before they could, I reached back and tore it off and ripped the gown. Then my OB pulled it the rest of the way off for me. No one cared, but so much for that gown. It really ended up being everything I wanted it to be, but not exactly orgasmic.

January 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I haven't seen the show, but I'm a little disturbed by some things in this post and comments.

Why all the hatred and fear directed toward mentally ill women/mothers? I am a mentally ill mother. Looney tunes. Nuts. Wacky/screw loose. Bonkers. Whatever. I would like to think that a story about my life would not "taint the experience" of anyone else's.

The show sounds like typical sensationalism, playing on the viewers' existing psychophobia and misogyny. Looks like it was a pretty effective tactic.

Sorry this comment sounds so defensive, but as a mad person, I often feel attacked. Seeing this kind of language on a blog I typically enjoy reading is incredibly discouraging.

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuperlagirl

Superlagirl: If you've read me long enough, you will know that I, too, deal with/cope with/suffer with/work with mental illness. I have BPD II (although some dx were BPD I; if there was a III that combined them, that would be me!).

I think the difference between talking about the women in the show with their craziness and mine (presuming yours, too) is *I* recognize and treat mine, whereas these women cannot even see their illness.

I would never allow anyone to laugh at or belittle mental illness. Not without some harsh commentary. :)

January 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

20/20 should use the same undertone when doing a piece about bottle-feeding the newborn infant, only then could we begin to have some assurance that the next generation could be a more healthy lot.

I was appalled by the suggested inappropriateness of breast-feeding the two and a half year old twins. The second family, with the kindergartner still nursing, seemed to have very well adjusted children. The psychologist should maybe focus his concerns on what ill effects TV has on the human psyche and how it impacts our society and our children in very unhealthy ways, hence the 20/20 breast-feeding segment!

After watching the piece on UC with clips from BoBB, I can’t help but think Ricki Lake was pissed off, I was, and it was not me who’s words were edited. Was this the AMA propaganda machine hard at work?

I was a bit uncomfortable with the orgasmic birth segment. I am always skeptical about any technique that claims to take the pain out of childbirth, epidural, hypno birthing, orgasmic birth, all of them unavailing crap sure to be disappointing on some level. What’s wrong with just emphasizing the fruits of one’s labor, the beauty inherit in childbirth in its most primitive form, and the amazing strength of women? While I did hear this basic concept in the orgasmic birth segment, I just felt it was a little extreme, kinda like the eight-year-old still breast feeding.

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

Superlagirl - I don't think anyone here WANTS to see these women mocked, and it seems like that's exactly what the segment did. Showcased them like it was a freak show for everyone to point and laugh/be disturbed. I don't think that's right or fair and these women should be getting help and at the very least not be ridiculed for their illness.

January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStassja

I am so glad to see you did a commentary on this piece. I actually didn't know it was airing, but my bf saw it and recorded it for me. Boy did he get an earful during and after.
I thought the orgasmic birth was not evenly reported (surprise!) and they only focused on one woman who was clearly having an exceptionally orgasmic birth, which is not the real point of the movement.
I was really irritated that they included a 2 1/2 year old in the extended breastfeeding. I more understand the older kids, but 2 1/2 is well below the average age of weaning that even they mention in passing.
The doll ladies were... upsetting. It's cute in a 4 year old, disturbing in a 44 year old. Not because they enjoy dolls, I know perfectly "normal" adults who collect dolls. On the other hand they do not go out in public with the dolls trying to pass them off as real. I think the problem is there seems to be an underlying mental illness that is not being addressed while instead they are receiving national attention. It felt like they were being paraded out for everyone to gawk at but no one was concerned with their mental health status. That is unethical and dangerous.
Aside from the breastfeeding segment, the homebirth/UC segment was the one that most raised my hackles. By this point I was practically yelling at the bf (poor guy) about how they were interchanging the terms homebirth and uc and how they are fundamentally different. I was also really irritated that they didn't even address the safety issues, including the difference in cesarean rates between home and hospital births and the fact that in nationally and in many states midwifes are licensed medical professionals.
GAW - I'm still so annoyed with this. And John Stossel whiny, hyper-critical voice...

January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLily

I just wanted to comment as a mom who has nursed (BF) a 6 and 7yo. I have 4 kids. The first was weaned at 16 mo. The 2nd nursed til he was around 7 or so and that worked Very Well for him - he had no issues with the weaning (on his own). The 3rd was weaned at 2 years due ot a medication I was taking and the 4th was weaned at 6ish. In retrospect, I should have let #4 wean herself, but after 12+ years of nursing, I was done. She is still VERY wistful about nursing and really misses those days. She was weaned too early. #1 and #3 never had problems with the weaning and #2 was allowed to gradually wean himself, but #4 wasn't yet ready to be done. And I see it occasionally even today.

So, for some of us who nursed to very late, it wasn't at all about ourselves but the kids.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkathy

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