Gisele’s Website Calling Hospital Births “Violent” is a Slap in the Face

A recent blog post on Gisele Bundchen’s  personal website comparing hospital birthing practices to forcible violence against women is quite alarming.

The piece, entitled “Birth Without Violence,” and written by Equipe Übersite, referenced physician Frederick Leboyer’s 1975 book by the same name and claimed that “childbirth surrounded by interventions and ‘violence’ is so ingrained in our society, that a humanized birth without unnecessary interventions, at home, in water or squatting is seen as an alternative birth, for hippies or something for Indians.”

It went on to note that “Most people are unaware what a birth without violence is like and its benefits to mother, baby, family and society. Many hospitals are like a mass production of babies, where routines are followed and the baby must be born as soon as possible.”

The blog has since been removed from her website but not before it grew legs on the Internet – quickly igniting a trail of criticism and controversy; one of those critics is yours truly.

I can only speak for myself when I say I feel honored to be an obstetrician working in an American hospital alongside maternity nurses, technicians and social workers for the betterment of pregnant women and their children. However, I would argue that many of my colleagues feel the same.

I find it offensive, condescending and ignorant to say that what goes on in maternity wards across the country are acts of violence against pregnant women. To me, violence is an extreme form of aggression – an assault. I don’t think that has ever been the intent of all the wonderful people that work in the field of obstetrics to bring life into this world.

I also take issue with how this alleged piece of journalism may have made pregnant women feel about their choice to have their child in the hospital. I’ve always been very supportive of women that electively choose to have a home birth or go to a birthing center. I understand that for well-informed patients, these can be plausible plans. But for many women, home birth is not an option, and the way this piece portrayed hospital births is completely unacceptable.

Maternal mortality and morbidity have decreased worldwide because of the efforts of obstetrical hospitals to prevent disease. Rates of infection have also come down because of the great efforts made in the obstetrical field of medicine. Women with chronic medical conditions and cancer survivors now have the opportunity to deliver a child because of the monitoring and protocols that are in place to help them in obstetrical hospitals.

So, Mrs. Bundchen, don’t tell me that what we do is violent. I applaud my nurses – men and women who day-in and day-out become direct patient advocates. Not only do they provide direct patient care, but they also provide education and social support for the women that deliver in our hospitals – as does the entire team that is in place to do just that.

Now, I’m going to turn the other cheek. But in an effort to be fair and balanced, I appeal to Mrs. Bundchen that instead of just deleting the post that you may now be regretting, invite an obstetrician to shed some light on the other side of the argument.