The Cult of Natural Childbirth

birth cultAre you in a cult??

What do you picture when you think of a cult?? Do you think of a group such as Westboro Baptist?? Do you think of Christian religious sects? Do you think of a dirty old man who brings in women he marries, has children with, then perpetuates the cycle with the children? What characteristics make something worthy of being called a cult?

According to the Cult Information Center, these are the characteristics of a cult:

1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members

2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society.

3. Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.

4. It believes ‘the end justifies the means’ in order to solicit funds recruit people.

5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society

Let’s look at the first description here- The use of psychological coercion.  In psychological coercion, the threatened injury regards the victim’s relationships with other people. The most obvious example is blackmail, where the threat consists of the dissemination of damaging information. However, many other types are possible e.g. so-called “emotional blackmail“, which typically involves threats of rejection from or disapproval by a peer-group, or creating feelings of guilt/obligation via a display of anger or hurt by someone whom the victim loves or respects.

Next- The elitist totalitarian society.  A totalitarian society believes their way is the only way to live. The group members have their thoughts and beliefs manipulated. The regime controls what members see and hear. Propaganda is widely used because it illicits an emotional response that pushes people to conform and prevent opposition from stepping into the forefront.

Having a self-appointed leader who is good with their words allows them to manipulate more easily. Dogmatic is basically where all your beliefs are facts and nobody can argue with you. Messianic is where someone is worshiped. The leader is wonderful and can do no wrong.

Normally money is raised and the leader doesn’t speak of it. They only collect the money for themselves under the guise of doing it for the group. This is not always a financial thing, though. In the end, everything the leader has will be for the betterment of the group.

It’s wealth not benefiting society or it’s members is obvious. This means the group will have absolutely nothing good to show for itself. It will have leaders and followers and nothing else.

Some of the other things with cults is that the members feel it is “Us VS Them” in all they do. There is also manipulation under the guise of love or friendship. If you step away, you lose that love and friendship. Your friends keep a watch out over you and report everything you say or do.

Let’s look at this in the natural birth world.

  1. Within the movement, the leaders can do no wrong. Everything they say is right and worth gold. This goes for people such as Ina May Gaskin, Rikki Lake, Henci Goer, etc. Criticize them or what they have to say and see what happens (you only have to look as far as negative reviews of their books on Amazon!). These leaders are accountable to no one. Their writings are not subject to peer review and anyone who does criticize (or even politely disagree) is attacked and silenced.
  2. Midwives and natural birth promoters earn money due to the following they have, even when it is to the detriment of their clients.  Women will pay anything in order to have an experience. But the money issue goes farther than that. NCBers raise money to protect bad midwives or midwives who are caught breaking the law in an effort to hide the poor outcomes of lay-midwifery.
  3. The natural birth community will NOT allow those of a more scientific mindset an opportunity to speak. No matter what studies or proof are offered, it is wrong and dismissed out-of-hand. Only things promoted by the leaders are accepted. If you do speak out, or even politely disagree, you are banned from their pages and they call you a troll, or worse. Guess which two of these three posters were banned from the page after the comments you see here:
  1. NCBers have set up an us vs. them mentality in the birth world. They tell women that the medical establishment is out to get them and their babies, alongside the pharmaceutical companies. They claim there is tons of money to be had by making sure all women have intervention laden hospital births. They create fear while at the same time claiming to dispel fear.
  2. Your natural friends will build you up and stand beside you as long as you stay in the movement. If you step away or speak out, they are done with you and will trash you publicly.
  3. This movement is doing nothing good for women or babies. A greater proportion of babies are dying at home than in hospitals. More mothers are feeling like failures and suffering from postpartum depression if things do not go according to their natural plans, and because their NCB “friends” are telling them they SHOULD feel bad.
  4. In order to draw you in, they have to use your mommy guilt against you. Did you have a c-section? Well, obviously it was caused by something a dr did and the c-section is why your breastfeeding relationship didn’t work out. So, here mommy is feeling bad and in swoops this woman who can tell you why everything happened how it did and how it can be prevented next time around.
  5. If you speak up about a midwife being negligent or causing a problem, word will get back to her if it is said to or around a mutual friend or really anywhere. Anything said that does not coincide with the natural beliefs is shared and the natural crowd will try to teach you a lesson.
  6. Manipulation is a regular occurrence. This is why these women get so close to you. They can use their relationship with you as a means of controlling you: “We are such good friends and I love you so much”.

If you watch the vitriol spewed by natural birth advocates, you will see how they have been deceived by those in the movement. Nobody can say anything negative about the tenants of Natural Birth. They have lost all compassion for other women and the ordeals they endure. The mindset has pervaded the internet and message boards amongst the more outspoken women. They have their groups that support and feed them information. Sadly, even intelligent and educated women end up as a followers in this cult. It isn’t until something bad happens and you ask questions that you see the true colors shown.