The Birth Blogosphere's Agent Provoca(tu)teur
“Navelgazing Midwife, in describing her frustrations, captures the frustrations of doctors and nurses as well. It is very disppointing [sic] to do everything in your power to protect a baby and a mother from harm and then find out that not only does the mother not appreciate your hard work and heartfelt effort, she actually resents it and considers it unnecessary.” -Amy Tuteur
Former obstetrician Amy Tuteur takes the cake for 2008’s loudest and most provocative birth blogger of the year. This shock-blogger cum stalker continued her vendetta against the patients she considered most annoying and least appreciative in her previous occupation by tallying childbirth tragedies that she found by trolling message boards and using these as her evidence that homebirth is the most dangerous way to give birth in the U.S.
After excelling as a sensible, middle of the road OB with great respect for the natural process of birth, VBACs and her own 10 to 15% c-section rate, “Dr. Amy” (or the character she plays on the Internet) hates that non-Harvard educated “natural childbirth advocates” insult her former profession and identity.
What an SOB! No, seriously. She’s The Skeptical OB, according to her Open Salon page. True skepticism, however, involves being equally skeptical of one’s motives and drives as well as those of others. Perusing any of Amy’s pages will show that she is never “WRONG!” But like the emperor with his new clothes, her Tuteurian followers don’t seem to mind her pseudoskepticism and the former OB keeps turning heads, especially among those who love that she grants them the freedom to stand up for the medical model of childbirth.
Her moderate 2006 blog, “Treat Me With Respect: A Doctor’s Plea to the Healthcare Profession,” on which she promotes that a 30% c-section rate is twice what is should be and results from the practice of defensive medicine, did not garner the respect (or hits) that Amy apparently sought. She found her niche verbally attacking hippies and midwives and those who eschew medical authority.
Amy provides her readers with a caricature of the proverbial angry obstetrician. No “layperson” could possibly understand the process of childbirth, which is ALWAYS medical. Do NOT try to cross her path by alluding to the possibility that the practice of obstetrics and medicalized birth in general is a smaller piece of a larger paradigm. You are WRONG! Amy openly equates women who choose not to comply with the medical system with silly, sentient babies and children.
It’s not clear if Amy understands that nobody wants to debate her because no one is entirely sure that they won’t come home to their child’s pet rabbit boiling in a pot on their stove. Following women around the Internet to berate them for tragic deaths that occurred during childbirth with the audacity to call them preventable had they only been in a hospital and then bragging on her blog about confronting them was Amy’s modus operandi in 2008. This tactic is not entirely unfamiliar. Most American women have already had an OB rip them a new one with no evidence to back their decision—it’s called an episiotomy.
Before the Internet implodes from all of the fights Amy Tuteur has tried to pick over the past year, the aftermath of which I imagine would smell like mix of simmering Betadine and patchouli, here are the top three positive things about her blog:
1. Amy calls on all people to question the so-called natural birth agenda or natural birth paradigm. The release of The Business of Being Born in early 2008 made the medical industry piss its scrubs. How many of us guffawed this summer when the AMA actually used Ricki Lake’s name in its anti-homebirth resolution, then quickly removed it? But yes, Amy gets a point for encouraging women to QUESTION why they are making the decision to give birth outside of a hospital or why they have decided that they don’t want their baby’s cord clamped instantly at the hospital and other “natural” practices.
2. Amy lets women know that it’s okay to NOT have a natural birth, or even want one. It’s okay to love and trust your doctor. It’s okay to be a compliant patient and view birth as a medical event. This is right on—it is okay, of course. But I am going to take a leap and say that Ricki Lake doesn’t expect women to give birth in their bathtubs just because she did. The beauty in seeing the big picture is that women can see that giving birth in a hospital is a choice. Amy encourages her readers to join her in attacking the evil, oppressive natural childbirth movement that seeks only to poison women’s silly, vulnerable brains to make them feel like bad mothers. So let’s all join Amy in trolling the Internet to attack strangers to let them know they are being bad mothers by giving birth outside of a hospital. The Internet Mommy Wars… brought to you by Amy Tuteur.
3. Amy wonders why there are men in the natural childbirth movement if it’s supposedly so woman-centered. I have wondered the same thing; however, I don’t find it inherently troubling that a handful of men have theorized about what the optimal birth would be like. People can philosophize all they want. I just spent an inordinate amount of time scouring my archives for a page from the first edition of Robert Bradley’s Husband-Coached Childbirth book that I scanned when I was pregnant. The language was so unbelievably and disgustingly sexist that I forwarded it around to my friends. I’ll try to go find it at the library one of these days. Men discussing “natural” childbirth doesn’t make the movement less woman-centered… does it? How? Do you have to do what men say?
Don’t worry that the SOB’s feelings are being hurt right now. It’s free publicity and right now she’s saying “MMMM, NOM NOM NOM NOM. MORE PUBLICITY, PLEASE!” Publicity means book deal which means income to justify the character she as been playing on the Internet for the last few years. That’s my guess, anyway.
Amy made us laugh with her recent tongue-in-cheek “analysis” of how many Newtons of force coached pushing could generate compared to gravity, which thereby “proves” that there is no benefit to being upright in labor. Fun Fact: The uterus supplies 82 Newtons of force. But taunting women for childbirth tragedies? Ugh. Too far.
Maybe Amy created all of those user names and posts on the Mothering.com message boards to promote her agenda. For all we know, one of the posters in question is a forty-five year old man living in his mother’s basement that likes using words like “cervix” and “vagina.”
For all we know, Amy Tuteur is too.