Woo used to mean to try and get someone to love you, to write them love notes or send them flowers.
Today, however, “woo” is a derogatory term that many of us know as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) – homeopathy, acupuncture, herbology, chiropractic, aromatherapy, massage therapy and, in some circles, midwifery care – are all included in CAM. Woo… as in “woo woo,” all spiritual-like, not completely understandable how it works and doesn’t work for everyone or, what it really means – fake.
Remember how we just discussed women and how if they knew enough, they would surely choose natural birth, that there really is so much evidence that if they took half a second to look at it, they could never subject their child to an epidural, remaining in bed in labor or, what many women get, a hospital birth at all. There is another side we don’t often think of; the scientific side. There are whole groups of women who look at birth scientifically and decide woo is nuts and they are going to utilize any and all technology to ensure the safety of their child, no matter its inconvenience physically or emotionally. This is the side that looks at us and says, “If you surely knew the information, you could never endanger your child by having a homebirth.” This side’s thinking, however we might want to dispute it emotionally, has a valid point and we do need to look at it if we are to truly be fair and truly be as informed as we say we are.
I’m a half-woo practitioner. Of course, being a homebirth midwife, believing in chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy –for those that believe in them. I don’t think any of the CAMs work for everyone; I think that’s pretty much an understanding we woo’s all share. I have a very hard time with homeopathy, Tibetan bowls, therapies that diagnose through muscle testing or therapies that hook you up to machines and tell you how to relieve your headaches with five more sessions and two referrals. I know, I know… if I just took the time to learn about them, I would believe they worked, too. If I just knew more, I would surely change my mind. I know a LOT about CAMs; I used to own an holistic healthcare center where CAMs came and went, each new therapy sure to cure everything from a broken marriage to cancer. I watched desperate people turning to CAM when traditional medicine didn’t work. I was saddened by how many got sicker and went back to allopathy to try it once again.
Through the years, I’ve recommended acupuncture for inducing labor “naturally.” I’ve sat with women as they’ve had tiny needles flicked into their skin, zaps of heat or deeper twists “opening chi” to allow the hormones of labor to begin. I have never seen it work. Ever. (I will surely be told either I was the detriment that kept it from working properly or that it works every single time with their clients. I don’t believe either of those statements.)
That said, I am not a scientist. Not even close. Science confounds me as much as some CAMs do, but, even though they use big words I have to look up, I’ve been directed to Science-Based Medicine a number of times. These doctors pick apart CAMs (which they call “sCAMs”) with the studies we tend to discount or dismiss. They hold in their hands proof that what many of us hold as fact is, in reality, wishful thinking.
I’d not read SBM before, but then that Dr. A joined up and I had to see what the heck she was going to say to a bunch of scientists, her spouting of statistics, her smashing the research we’ve used for years and her obnoxious attitude – how would she fit in?
She didn’t. And after three months, she left. “Dr. Amy Tuteur has decided to leave Science-Based Medicine” is a decent enough article, but reading the comments (and there are plenty of them!) tells the real story of Dr. A’s three months of trying to convince, connive, manipulate and outright lie about midwifery, NBAs, homebirth stats and even her own agenda. I learned more about that Internet bully from her stint on SBM than I could have reading her (and I didn’t) for a year. I know I promised never to bring her up again, but it was too delicious to show that even Dr. A, the poster child for hating CPMs, homebirth and NBAs, even she is butts up against these scientists.
I do acknowledge that SBM are not the Gods of All That Is True In the World, but their beliefs, their knowledge-base and their proof is what many, if not most, hospital birthing women know as true. When we say, “If they only knew the truth,” – to them, they do. To them, we are the nutcases who endanger the lives of our babies –because, the Truth really is, if the shit hits the fan, the safest place for a mother and baby is in the hospital. Hospitals do have more resources, more medications and more knowledge than can be had in a homebirth setting. However, we NBAs weigh that information/risk with the reality of if-we-limit-too-much-technology,-there-will-be-fewer-episodes-of-shit-hitting-any-fan. But, many, many women don’t see it like that at all. They just see the potential catastrophe and bypass all the concern about technology/interventions and want to be where, if things do become life-threatening, they are already where it is safest to be. That is, most certainly, what doctors (and loads of nurses) see and believe as well.
I was going to end this here, but a situation was brought up to me this morning. Apparently, Mothering.com has hired, as a fundraiser, an “Intuitive” to, for pay, “help provide insightful information to interested MDC members.” Ask-an-Intuitive has been very busy, answering such questions as, “I am trying to conceive and am debating surgery on my uterus to resect a septum. Dr is making no strong recommendation either way. Any senses/feelings on this?” and “I'm 32 weeks pregnant... what do you see for me with the delivery of my second child? (I ask because my first delivery had a LOT of drama with pre-e, HELLP, and bleeding.” She’s also being asked a bunch of questions about relationships, life paths or basic life conundrums, but aren’t some of these questions practicing medicine/midwifery without a license? Is this really who NBAs have become? That we will go by what a total stranger “feels” instead of concrete knowledge about our own bodies and cases?
I watch this sort of spectacle, roll my eyes and know, as sure as I’m sitting here, why people think we are not only full of woo, but also quite a bit crazy. Where, where do we go from here?