Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Powerbirth! Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (Or Videos, in this case)

It's interesting to me that the entire Powerbirth site has been completely re-worded. This blog has been referenced, stating that I have slandered the Powerbirth Midwives. Perhaps this is because of the outcry that has come about with exposure to what the Powerbirth Technique has done to women. PTSD, PPD, and even reconstructive surgery to name a few of the consequences. Some of the women who have been brave enough to come out about their births have now been called liars. They have been treated with the same sort of behavior that one would receive from a rapist when being confronted by their victim.

"You asked for it."

I only wish I weren't being literal here. But that's exactly what they are being told. They are now accusing me of slander because of my blog post from nearly 2 years ago, after watching the PROMOTIONAL video for this "technique". Ironically enough, it can't be slander if it's true. The ONLY thing I wrote about in my blog is what I observed through the very video you can order from the website, as well as my interactions with one of the women who had used a Powerbirth Midwife, and ended up traumatized. Was she lying? I believed her. As well as the fact that she has her birth on VIDEO. I also quoted directly from the Powerbirth website, which again has now been TOTALLY re-worded.

Here is the definition of Slander:

slan·der (slndr)
1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation.
2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

It can't be considered false if what is said is verified by video footage of the very thing that is being communicated. Or perhaps they don't understand that they are on VIDEO doing the things they swear they don't do? I'm not sure.

Manual Dilation? Check - it's on one of the early promotional videos. One of the women who was *clearly* not visibly in transition and was just announced (by the Midwife) to be 6 1/2 centimeters, turned to the camera cheerily and said, "In the hospital they won't push your cervix aside for you!"

Forced Purple Pushing? Check - also on the early promotional video. The same woman from above is said to be only 6cm, is contently watching Ren and Stimpy on the television, is laughing at what is going on .... and then is told to grab her legs, pull them back, and push with the contraction. By the Midwife. Midwife says, "Push! Okay, quick breath. Push!" But according to the newly worded website, Powerbirth doesn't condone this type of pushing. Hmmm.

Hands always in vagina? Check - on both videos. The one thing you will see in plenty is vaginal exams. There is hardly a scene in either of the videos where there ISN'T a hand inside of the woman's vagina. Every. Single. Contraction. On the early video, anyway. Every single contraction, the Midwife's hand goes back inside of the vagina.

And as to the claim that I am writing about this because I am trying to wipe out competition, all I can do is laugh. I wrote my original post before I ever moved here, or had any idea whatsoever that I would eventually move here. Never mind the fact that I will be moving out of the area within the next six months as well. I have no desire to take away Midwives who are truly helping women. Who are practicing in a way that respects women and babies, and does nothing to harm them. Now, are the Powerbirth Midwives doing these things to intentionally harm women and babies? I don't believe so. However, when you have women go to them who are traumatized by what was done to them, and are then publicly accused of lying...we're talking about some seriously unethical practices.

A friend of mine said it perfectly:

I think women in the UC community have always known this...that your body takes over and pushes when it's ready and it doesn't matter how dilated you are (because we never even know how dilated we are since we're not performing exams on ourselves usually...) Anyway, I guess it doesn't really matter but I have been frustrated that people don't seem to realize that her idea that women can push before 10 cm is fine as an article but that CANNOT be all PowerBirth is because that's not enough to base an empire on, kwim? How is that simple idea a foundation for a whole "technique" with it's own branding, videos, manual, etc, etc? It's not. The word "technique" implies something active that the midwife is doing, not just the wisdom to sit back and not stress about how far dilated the mom is when she starts pushing instinctively.

If Powerbirth were only about women pushing instinctively, and it not mattering how far dilated their cervix is then there wouldn't be any issue. It couldn't be coined as someone's "technique", because women who have knowledge about birth have known this for thousands of years. But let's not forget that this Midwife has not only now changed her entire website, but she is caught on video doing dozens of vaginal exams. I think we counted eight times that her hand was inside of ONE woman's vagina during labor in the early promotional video. EIGHT! How is this not a violation?

My only goal in all of this is to bring this type of practice to light. To stand behind the women who have been traumatized, even the ones who are too afraid to come forward. As I thought about this last thing, I read some things about abuse victims, and why some don't come forward. A lot of it made sense with what is going on with some of the women in this area who ARE afraid to speak out publicly about what was done to them.

Sadly, society often questions the authenticity of a victim's claim. She may feel as if she is the one being put on trial due to the nature of the investigation. When questions pertaining to what she was wearing, whether she was provocatively dressed, where she was, how much that she may have had to drink and possible preventive actions are not handled correctly the victim can be made to feel as if she is somehow to blame.

Shame is one reason why some women do not come forward and file complaints or press charges. Rape is the most brutal, invasive crime that a person could ever go through. Some women find it embarrassing to admit that they put themselves in a situation where rape could occur. They may feel dirty or damaged somehow by what was done to them. All of these factors often lead women to decide that they do not want anyone else to know.

These women believed that because they were hiring a home birth Midwife with a large number of births behind them, that they were safe. They were avoiding the hospital and Obstetric Surgeons, so they should be okay. They were led to believe that they would have an Empowering experience in the safety of their own home.

The bottom line is that this is being covered up. What has occurred to women is being brushed under the rug, and labeled as either a lie or slander. However, truth always has a way of coming out. Especially when it's forever caught on video.

For stories of what has been done to two women here in the name of Powerbirth, please visit these blogs. As a warning, the stories are graphic and very disturbing. If you have experienced trauma due to Powerbirthing, I urge you to come forward. There have been more women I have come across with stories like this, but are afraid to come forward. There is strength in numbers, mamas.

Power Birth - NOT to be confused with "Empowered Birth"

Birth of My Third- "Chipper" February 6th 2007


Anonymous said...


This is so heart breaking. I cannot believe these women call themselves midwives. I am so disgusted. Thank you for speaking out against this! I hope others will as well. <3

Willow said...

This is *outrageous*, Christy!! I can't believe the gall... You are a voice of reason and a force for truth, and I'm proud of you! I can't believe anyone purporting to be a midwife would ever subscribe to such horrific notions of "birth support." Ugh.

Jessica said...

That site makes me want to vomit. :-( How sad that so many women have been abused by these "midwives".

ms.johnson said...

Please read this article... Read it with no emotions.. Read the FACTS... NO emotions!! http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ruleof10.asp

Christine Fiscer, Birthkeeper said...

I have read it. The problem with this article is that it is deceptive. I have absolutely no issues with physiologic pushing - when the BODY takes over and begins pushing. And this may be at 7cm, or it may be at 10. A Midwife shouldn't KNOW what a woman's cervix is open to though. There shouldn't be hands inside of a vagina during a normal labor. The videos, and the first-hand accounts all back up that Powerbirth is NOT about physiologic birth. It is about control on the part of the Midwife. Forced pushing before mom has the ejection reflex, manual dilation, and violent tugging of the baby's head.

I don't have any issue with the article. I have issues with the deception behind it.

Joyce in the mts. said...

Well said, Christine. It's clearly POWER and CONTROL over, NOT empowerment of, women that is being practiced. The basic fact is that no one can "give" power to another- it comes from within; it's not external.