Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blame the woman

Once again, women are simply too fat and too old, according to this recent article about rising maternal mortality rates in England. Oh, and they have the audacity to want a natural birth--which of course the article didn't bother to define--another alleged culprit behind rising mortality rates!

From the article:
But some medical staff and patient groups also fear the NHS’s policy to encourage “natural” birth without medical assistance is putting women at risk by denying them medical care in pregnancy and labour. Professor James Dornan, director of foetal medicine at the Royal Maternity hospital in Belfast, said: “Nature dictates that one in every 100 women will die while having a baby. The mortality rate in parts of Africa is now about 850 to 1,000 per 100,000. Left to nature that is what nature will do. I believe in women having choice but it has got to be informed choice.


  1. !?! That's completely ridiculous. Do doctors really believe this, or was this woman practicing creative journalism?

  2. So... The women in England are too old and fat... Why would that lead them to a comparison on mortality rates in African women, who often deal with malnutrition? "Immigrants are more likely to have health problems that lead to complications in childbirth." I'm wondering if this means that most maternal deaths are resulting from complications of "necessary" medical intervention such as c-sections. I HATE when articles don't reference studies when they make claims like this about "natural birth".

  3. I HATE it when they quote stats about women in Africa - women who've been subjected to genital mutilation often can't birth without medical assistance, and as sarah notes, may be malnourished.

    The quote from the doctor about "natural" rates of maternal deaths was just so much crap.

    And I'd bet pounds to peanuts that the maternal mortality stats include women dying from medical complications and compare unfavourably with countries where the proportion of natural births is higher.

  4. Huh? NHS advocating UC??? Surely there's been a misunderstanding somewhere.
    Yeah, the African statistics again. Let me try to deconstruct the associations that gets one from Africa to the opinions of your friendly hometown technocratic birth provider: African = backwards = primitive = uncivilized = nature = natural birth. Using African maternal mortality in this context is an emotionally manipulative appeal to readers' xenophobia and racism. Shame on whoever uses it. It has no place in a rational discussion of facilitating physiological birth within modern maternity care systems.

  5. Oh, please. Yes, let's use a country which has rampant disease, poor medical facilities IF ANY, contaminated water, a population racked by starvation and malnutrition, and that lovely tradition of sewing their vaginas shut as the example of why natural birth is bad. RIGHT.

  6. P.S. I love the "informed choice" snippet at the end. Because yes, ushering a woman into a medicated, micromanaged hospital birth because otherwise you'll die like those poor African women, is REALLY an "informed choice."

    Gah, everything about it is all kinds of wrong.

  7. Rediculous. We were taught in school that you had to have so many hard facts before you got anything published--guess that rule has gone out the window.

    "Nature dictates" that one in 100 women will die in childbirth? What kind of childbirth? REALLY shoddy "stats". Very unsound.

  8. What complete bullocks!

    Yeah, maybe 'nature' dictates that in countries with no clean water, no prenatal care, no nutrition, no antibiotics or medications, and no trained birthing personnel.

    Developed country? I think not.


  9. I also find the term "natural birth" quite annoying. It has so many meanings as to be almost meaningless: no pain medications, no epidural, any kind of vaginal birth, home birth, non-operative vaginal birth...I'm always mystified at the use of "natural birth" for an induction or intervention-heavy birth that just didn't include narcotics or anesthesia. Ain't nothin' natural about pitocin, AROM, EFM, Valsalva pushing, and lithotomy!

    I suspect the author used "natural birth" to mean out-of-hospital birth, since the NHS is attempting to guarantee every woman the option of a home birth by 2009.

    It was a very poorly researched and poorly written article. The composition/rhetoric teacher in me gives it a low mark. Go back to journalism school please!

  10. I am pretty sure that 1% death rate was calculated by the WHO. Of course, what women did they use to guesstimate a "natural" death rate? Women in religious communities who seek out no prenatal care and do not get help if they run into problems. Right, lets completely ignore women who live naturally in hunter-gatherer societies. That wouldn't give us an accurate picture or anything.

  11. I agree with the others, this article is crazy. And comparing Uk women with African women having babies is like comparing apples to oranges, in so many different, very important ways. Where did they get these statistics from anyway? Why haven't they made that information known.


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