Posted by: Ticktock | June 6, 2009

This Week in Parenting Science 6/6/09

Natural Birth Classes Exposed? – This is a Swedish study of 1000 pregnant women who were divided into two groups; one that focused on natural relaxation methods of coping with pain, and the other that focused on the standard(?) methods of coping with pain. The study showed that both groups were equally likely to get an epidural or c-section.

One thing that I learned from this study is that breathing and relaxation techniques have not been adequately studied until now.  Except, I don’t know if I would call this adequate. The “natural” group did not get a comprehensive education on managing a natural birth, there were no controls for those who received no pain relief information, and there’s no way to control for how much persuasion the hospital staff put on the mothers to try pain intervention.

I honestly don’t think that this study should be interpreted as negative for natural education. It simply says that both groups work equally well. One method is not better than the other in Sweden. The US might be entirely different.

Involved Dads = Safe Sex Children – This study published in the journal ‘Child Development’ showed that fathers have twice as much influence on whether their teenagers are having intercourse or taking sexual risks. There was a significant link between the awareness a father had of his teen’s social life, and the risks his child was taking sexually. The study also indicated that the more time the entire family spent together, the less likely their teen would be engaging in sex.

“I can’t go to lookout point with you Johnny. It’s scrabble night at home, and then we’re watching Nova on PBS.”

Yep. That’s pretty much how it goes down. The kids who have scrabble night are always the last to fall.

I question the results of the surveys, and how the results were interpreted. Sometimes I don’t think these scientists have any imagination. A teen who is having sex will obviously report that his/her father doesn’t know much about their social life because teen sex is a secret (or at least its not often blabbed about at the family dinner). How else would a teen having sex reply to a question about her parents awareness of her social life? My point is… how many of those kids who weren’t having sex and reported that they had involved fathers would change their answers once they started having sex? All of them.



  1. I don’t see the philosophy behind natural childbirth classes as any different from any other kind of magical thinking that’s out there, so, of course, it’s not any more effective in managing outcomes. No amount of breathing and relaxation exercises are going to effect a poorly positioned fetus, for example, that seems to be what the study says.

    I wonder what the women who took the natural classes thought after they went ahead a got the epidural and got some real pain relief. ‘What a waste of time’ and ‘what crock of bull’ come to mind.

  2. If poorly positioned foetuses were the only reason for epidurals and caesars you would have a point. But they’re not. What about fear leading to adrenaline and cortisol release and slowing labour? What about encouraging natural endorphins instead of painkillers? These are things that are grounded in science, not magic.

    I think Skeptic Dad has called it right – it’s not really an adequate study to tell anything. If anything it shows that whatever is being done in child birth education there’s a problem and it needs to be done better.

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