Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Anecdote and what it proves..

What is the point of an anecdote? Sometimes, an anecdote is used as a way to convince others of something or to prove a point. Unfortunately, we cannot use anecdotes as scientific evidence. I have often seen opponents of homebirth/natural birth, use anecdotes to prove homebirth is dangerous. One famous way the opponents prove  homebirth is dangerous, is by using the, "a baby died at a homebirth" anecdote. Considering they don't have much else to rely on, these anecdotes are used as though they are scientific data.

Unfortunately, this tactic often comes at the expense of others; homebirth loss mothers and their families. First of all, the way these anecdotes are found is by scouring blogs and mothering boards, looking for grieving mothers who have literally just posted their birth stories.  No one has spoken to the doctor that attended the mother when she went to the hospital. No one has seen an autopsy. No one has spoken to the staff at the hospital. Nope. No one has looked at the mother's medical background and knows her history. Yet, despite all this, an assumption is always made about how the baby died and it usually goes something like this... " If this negligent, baby killing midwife had known what she was doing, the baby would still be alive today. If this mother wasn't so selfish and ignorant, this baby would be alive today." I personally know for a fact, that one mother who was attacked and her story used, did not lose her baby due to negligence on the midwife's part or her choice to homebirth. This one specific mother, who had just lost a baby and was grieving terribly, told me she had the autopsy done and it concurred with what the doctor had told her- her baby was simply a stillborn baby. It was nobody's fault. Although stillbirths are actually quite common, opponents still exploited this mother and child and used her story as an indictment on homebirth. The most disturbing result of this, was that her story was presented in a such way that made it appear that it was FACT her baby died because of negligence and ignorance and selfishness on the mothers part. And as a result of that, this women was harassed... even though she had to plan a funeral for her baby... even though she had just lost a child she carried in her belly for more than 9 months.

No, anecdotes don't prove anything. Actually, the only thing they do prove is that some people lose their babies. Some people lose their babies due to a doctor's negligence, a midwife's negligence, because the baby was at home and because the baby was at the hospital.
I am going to prove to you right now that anecdotes do not prove homebirth is dangerous. For all of those anecdotes about negligent midwives and homebirth horror stories, you can easily find another story with a negligent doctor that took place in the hospital. If I took the time, I could fill this page with preventable hospital death stories.

So, once again, how do we prove homebirth is dangerous?  The only way to prove homebirth is dangerous is by using peer reviewed studies. If you don't have that, you don't have anything.


  1. Thank you so much for your logic and your research. I appreciate a level headed person taking a look at this topic!

  2. I'm thinking about starting a fan page for you on facebook. Just let me know if you aren't comfortable with that and I'll take it down asap.

  3. Your welcome!! No, of course I don't mind. I'd be happy to contribute to it!

  4. Tell me where to join. :)

  5. :-) Waiting for the admin. to put it back up!