Putting paradigms into perspective…

Avebury3“Online content targeted at pregnant women often promotes products, a particular world view, or lifestyle choices, linking them to positive outcomes for them or their babies, but is often not a reflection of the scientific evidence.”  (Jesper 2014).

So begins a (freely available) mini-commentary in the October 2014 issue of the BJOG, which also includes a link to the (not so freely available) article to which it relates: Googling cesarean section: a survey on the quality of the information available on the Internet.  Written by a previous managing editor of BJOG, the commentary raises some important points about the quality of information presented by the mass media as well as that on the Internet, and I wholeheartedly agree with most of them.

It’s just that there are a couple of things which the writer of this piece hasn’t noted on this occasion, but which I feel are also really important.  That, from where I’m standing, both the obstetric paradigm and the scientific paradigm (which are, by the way, most certainly not the same thing, however much proponents of the former try to claim that it is rooted within the latter) could ALSO be said to constitute worldviews.  They are another perspective, another type of knowledge.  And they are not necessarily better or worse than any other kind of knowledge, however much prominence they might currently be given within modern Western culture.  They simply reflect the priorities that are uppermost at this point in time and space.

Avebury1I am blessed to live near the lovely Avebury Henge, a World Heritage Site being modelled in these pictures by some of my favourite birth people.

When it was built, about 4600 years ago, no-one had heard of the scientific or obstetric paradigms.  We can only imagine how the scientific and obstetric paradigms might be viewed by those who will be on the earth 4600 years from now, but I suspect – and perhaps even hope – that Avebury has a good chance of lasting longer than they do.

And that thought makes me happy, because we need all the different kinds of knowledge we can get, as well as the kind of discernment that is being promoted by both Jesper and myself, albeit perhaps from very slightly differing standpoints.

If you’d like to know more about birth paradigms, I’ve written a book which discusses these and looks at many aspects of birth-related decision making. It’s called “What’s Right For Me?” and you can find out more about it here.



Jesper E (2014).  Poor quality online information for pregnant women is a global problem: what can we do about it?  British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  DOI: 0.1111/1471-0528.13091

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