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Hypocrite in the Middle


In the last three days, I've been called "hypocrite" twice. It's an epithet I'm pretty used to, actually, so at first it didn't click, but this afternoon, I laughed at what was really happening.

First, I was called a hypocrite by a follower of the SOB (ask someone else if you don't know who that is; she gets no air time here) who, in a comment I did not publish, said:

"How ironic that you deride the next step 'down' from home-birth midwifery (itself a 'step down' from birth in a full-fledged medical setting) as a "luxury" in the mindset of Western women when homebirth with a midwife in the Western world is motivated by the same ill-informed, privileged mindset."

S/He continues:

"Shame on you.  You are just as ignorant and dangerous as the UC'ers you look down on.  But I guess it helps to rationalize your unscientific stance to have someone 'below' you on the industrialized world's substandard birth care 'food chain.'"

Okay, so that's the far right side of the spectrum. Now, let's look left and see what I got this morning. I did not edit.

"Frankly, it is very unfair to call UC dangerous until we have real scientific studies.  Of course how do you study and underground movement?  What sane woman will admitt to planning a UC beforehand when she knows it can bring such negativity and the threat of CPS?"

I'm writing this, debating arguing the point about "scientific studies" and how no one believes them anyway, so who gives a crap if one is ever done on UCs. And that puh-LENTy of women plan UCs ahead of time; wander the Net for 10 minutes and you can find a slew of them.

But then I thought, instead of arguing, I'll just quote some more.

"The statistics I have seen for India is that about 1/2 their total population is anemic.  Do they have insane rates of post-partum hemorrhage?  Yes.  Is post-partum hemmorhage going to be as common in a woman in the US choosing UC who eats meat and follows the Brewer diet?"


Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Am I supposed to address this? Am I supposed to be the one to break it to this woman that anemia does not cause hemorrhage? That the Brewer Diet is bunk (I want to use a far worse word, but am trying to contain myself)? That her enormous ethnocentric ego is flapping about for all of us to see?

Sometimes, I think I could write for hours and hours trying to dispell myths, but it's almost as if no one hears, so, instead, here's more of her quote: 

"We can not get facts about the true risks of UC until we allow it to happen unhindered.  Allowing women to make their own choices, from scheduled 36 week c/s because they are too scared to be pregnant any longer to UC is the only way to empower women and show that we are as capable as men of making our own choices good or bad."


Isn't the very definition of UC, unhindered? I'm even turning my head sideways trying to figure that sentence out, but it makes zero sense.

Now, this empowerment issue. We've covered this before.

No one can empower another person.


"...show that we are as capable as men of making our own choices good or bad."

My head hurts already from trying to decipher the messages hidden inside this email, so I'm really at a loss for what to say about my proving I'm as capable as a man in making dangerous (stupid?) choices. Really? Really? Women still feel like they have to prove themselves? Women still compare themselves to men? Apparently, I missed the latest memo.

But, looking at these two readers' comments from afar, the gist of them both is I am a hypocrite, that I say one thing and do another. I say I'm for a woman's choice, but have serious concerns (understatement) about UCs. And I feel births are safer in the hospital in extreme emergencies, but I still support homebirth.

So, in talking to Sarah, telling her of the latest condemning emails, I couldn't help but laugh out loud that if I was being called hypocrite by the left and the right, I must be right smack in the middle!

I wonder if I'm doing something right after all.


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    Response: new year 2016
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Reader Comments (20)

So apparently to NOT be a hypocrite, you must see the world in black and white, and everything is Good or Bad and that's the end of discussion. Well then, I LOVE being a hypocrite and living in my world of grey. :)

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStassja

You are in the middle. In the middle of women and their providers, but NOT as a stranger to the role of provider and not as a stranger to the role of laboring mother. You know both sides. You have seen the OB who really does need to say, "but mama, your baby will die if we don't do this procedure now" and you have seen the mother stand up for herself when the OB has used that line as a lie. You have seen women grow, learn, be strong and have also seen strong women get coerced into something they've never intended.

What I think is happening here is people are trying to put you into the box as to who they think you are. You are a midwife/doula/educator/monatrice (did I spell it right) who is for a healthy momma and a healthy baby. What people will see is different actions that may look like contradictions but actually aren't if they understand what you really are about. They have an agenda, something you say doesn't jibe, it pushes them a little off their soap box, and they go after you rather than examine themselves to see if what they believe is true.

Of course, you might be mistaken, but I've seen what you do when you realize you are mistaken. You apologize and move forward. You do not sit in your bubble of "this is best." You try to find out what really is best. You even allow for acceptable if that's what a situation calls for rather than what is best as long as mom and baby come out okay, knowing sometimes you cannot be all things in birth and in the struggle in the labor room. You do what you can, and you seem to try to help women. I find what you do to be facinating.

So, yes, let them say you are wearing a mask. But sadly, they are looking through theirs to see you and it's obscuring their view.


January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

You're obviously doing something right.
Sometimes, I wonder, after all the hazing and irrationality and hysteria that I have witnessed you wade through . . . how you get the courage to get back in front of the keyboard.

I'm just glad you do.
You are courageous and wholehearted, and I mean these terms as discussed in Brene Brown's Ted lecture on Vulnerability. Look it up. Really great lecture.

I don't think you're a hypocrite, BTW.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Re: Dawn, EVERYONE has an agenda! I know I do, but I work hard figuring it out.

NG, Damn! How do you stand it? I am working on being a better asshole myself (that is someone who doesn't give a damn about convention and does what is right), but it is so very hard to go against convention unless you do it quietly. The onslaught can be like dragging yourself through thick mud and you often loose your way.

I really like the last section of your post about empowerment. As women, who I assert have power that has never been taken from them but merely need to retake, we an unaware of our own power. I think we deny ourselves, we fight the rhetoric instead of stepping out of it (which I do by making my choices silently and writing what I write). Maybe we can't really take rein until we're done procreating, I don't know.

Blah on avoiding self exploration/examination.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEthel

What's wrong with the Brewer Diet? I get that it's not going to prevent hemorrhage, but I've always felt the focus on protein, leafy greens, etc. was a good thing.

I'm happy to see you blogging more again. I don't do facebook, but I love hearing from you.


January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

"Sometimes, I wonder, after all the hazing and irrationality and hysteria that I have witnessed you wade through . . . how you get the courage to get back in front of the keyboard."

My therapist would have a field day with that question. *laughing*

Net masochist? Obstinate opinion-ist? Compulsive navelgazer?

I swear I didn't know the depths I'd end up venturing to when I came up with the blog name, "Navelgazing Midwife." Hundreds of times over the last 6 years of writing about midwifery, I've laughed in awe at the premonitionistic naming of my new Self (in the guise of the blog). And certainly could never have imagined the name *so* identifying me that I would use it as my business name!

I remember, back in the old days, when I tried to stay hidden, be clandestine about the stories and anecdotes lest someone learn who I am and smack me in the head for talking. And then came the smack, from a *client* no less, and I had to suck it up and stand tall and just bloody write.

(Not so) Amusingly, I am much more navelgazing than I am free to share. I see and hear things that would curl the toes of most readers, but alas, I'm too much of a chicken-shit to speak out. Just yet. I write and hide the writings. Sarah is commanded to hit PUBLISH should I ever keel over without saying what I *really* think. Well, you all *do* hear what I *really* think, but there's oh-so-much-more to say. :)

What's wrong with the Brewer Diet. Let me count the ways.

The calorie requirements are exhorbitant and make for ginormous children. If only it were as easy as protein and leafy greens, but the protein is a ghastly burden on over-taxed kidneys... and who knows whose kidneys are the over-taxed ones until it's way too late?

The Brewer Diet was concocted for women on a subsistance diet who, in Brewer's belief, needed their food choices re-vamped. Besides being rather ethnocentric (understatement), I believe, in absence of pre-diet and post-diet lab values, the anecdotal evidence means (virtually) nothing.

And if allll that wasn't enough, I encourage you to take a gander at www.preeclampsia.org - at what women who've done the Brewer Diet to the letter and still got PE.


The threads are miles long. And they hit the nail on the head with:

The Brewer Diet blames the victim if she gets PE, which, much research shows, is a glitch in the firing of connections during the formation of the placenta. (The PE site has much better explanations than I do.)

I've written on this before. Lots.

January 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

NGM, you made me laugh out loud. The "debate" in the comments of your last post literally sickened me (but then again, I detest hateful argument in any format), and I love that you're able to come out on the other side with both a sense of humor, and no guilt about where you stand! Here here for empowering yourself!

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Goodness! I don't agree with much of what you say about UC, BUT I love this post. The middle is a nice place to be! I always aim for the middle and frequently argue with myself to get there.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Anemia doesn't contribute to hemorrhage? I had always heard that it did and was a major factor in the high rate of hemorrhage in the developing world (though, certainly, plenty of women here, myself included, have had PPH).

So I'm curious about that, but other than that, great post.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

"A low hemoglobin is a reason to avoid blood loss but it will not cause it."

"An anemic woman simply has less reserve, fewer red cells that she can lose before she is unable to move enough O2 around to supply her body's needs."

Does that help?

If you Google "Does anemia cause postpartum hemorrhage" you will find *nothing* answering that question, but see a ton of information on postpartum anemia *caused* by PPH.

This is such a common misperception about Hgb/Hct that it can almost be a litmus test of what a woman knows about midwifery.

January 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Yes you are!
I found you when i was 20. And now three years later, married and nearly 38 weeks pregnant, I have a fantastic midwife and am planning my homebirth. What you have written has helped guide me to educate the crap out of myself, and my spouse, over the past three years. (who is still traumatized slightly by flash banging him with a picture of a Placenta)
We are informed and empowered because we have educated ourselves. And are not making decisions based on fear. So keep on keeping on!
I LOVE that you are on Facebook.
(It gives me a reason to slightly less loathe the site)
Also, I am the girl who asked for all the birthing advice. I need to get on responding to all the wonderful wise women. Including yourself! Thank-you for your input. :)

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrir

Think so. I'm reading it as anemia doesn't cause PPH, but if you are anemic, and if you then start to hemorrhage, it's more likely to be serious or there's less time to get it under control. Is that right?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

I would love to know your thoughts on the Brewer diet...it was never brought up during my first preg, but this time my doula (in a different state from the first) brought it up. I visited a few sites and never really formed an opinion on it, so I haven't. I am seeing my midwife today and plan to ask her about it, but I'd be interested in hearing your take.

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin Burt

On my phone, so this is short.

I've written before about the Brewer Diet, so search "brewer diet" here & something should come up.

Please go to the PE links & read the information given there, plus what the women say about doing the diet & still getting PE.

Know that I am in the distinct minority of natural birth providers & supporters on this subject. I believe doing the Brewer Diet to the letter can be very damaging to the mother &, therefore, create issues in the baby as well.

More in awhile.

January 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

HA! That last line made me snort mirthfully! You're awesome.

As a student midwife, I appreciate that your blog causes me to THINK!!! I applaud you!

Be Blessed

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

<snark in unity with your snark>

I've been studying UC myself and trying to figure out what it means to me, as a birthy, as a parent, and as a health care professional.

In our community, I do know of UC'ers... it's not my choice, wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I suppose when the option you face is a. no midwifery here , b. being assigned random on-call OB's to deliver and c. a really clear opposition to doulas and birth culture - then I guess, what are you to do? Especially if you are an empowered wombyn (this is a new word I've learned!). I have friends who have been refused VBAC, refused breech vaginal birth, refused birth plan options... it is a hard reality to face a hospital birth and even a c-section when nobody is willing to follow guidelines as recommended by ACOG/SOGC. And when you need a referral for a second opinion, if you can even get into another OB in that time.

Thankfully, we have a midwife that has been practicing for 30 days and is already doubling her case load every month because of the lack of choices and the outcry. Yet our community isn't mobilized either... so the UC'ers do seem radical but there is really no middle ground here unless you've been blessed with the magical combination of nurses, doctors, days to be admitted, a doula maybe, etc.

So I can *see* why UC is here and why it's staying. I won't pass judgment on them, because honestly the option of a hospital birth and a rising c-section rate doesn't sound too appealing to me. I can see why Ina May's sphincter theory would certainly come to play for some women here. It's not like I don't hear and haven't experienced many beautiful birth stories here... it just seems like there are far too many horrifying moments where prudent health care has lost it's sheen and been replaced with words like "horrific" and "scary" and "negligent".

But honestly... as a health care professional... you are doing due diligence in your community by *not* presenting it as an option. Let those who want to UC, take the responsibility with it themselves and YOU continue to advocate for better health care for those who chose to take their birth needs to a professional.

</end snark>

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrhonda

Love this post. I think it proves one thing: that people on both extremes can get very caught up in their own "woo." Being in the middle, IMO, is the best place to be.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Deranged Housewife

For a start, having an opinion about anything these days is threatening. To them write about and have that opinion up for scrutiny takes courage and a willingness to be transparent. Seems like those qualities are at variance to hypocrisy, but I could be mistaken. I love your blog, your honesty and your openness. The fact that person can even say negative things demonstrates that openness :-) could well be a case of projection, the pot calling the kettle black, to use a well known metaphor. Whatever, dissenting voices are important and hopefully, keeps us mindful and appropriately reflective. Thanks for sharing, keep up the great work. Carolyn Hastie

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Hastie

Dude. you rock! You are awesome. I wish I had a day to myself to read all of your blogs. You are amazing! Thank you for your wisdom. Keep it coming, i love it!

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie in Cincinnati

Oh dear. I only believed that anemia was a cause of PPH because...my midwife said so! She explained that she checked clients' hemoglobin at 28 weeks (I think? it may have been later) so that if a client was anemic, she'd have time to raise her iron levels before she hit 40 weeks. And I believed her. Hmm.

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia

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