Monday, July 5, 2010


Hot topic, I know.

I recently had a student stop coming to my Bradley Natural Childbirth classes. I was not sure why until she started emailing me with long rants about how she ‘just could not understand how someone would go to the trouble of having a natural birth only to then pump her kids full of unnatural stuff (vaccines)’. REALLY? REALLY? You quit coming to a class that is here to teach you how to conduct yourself in labor to achieve your goal of a natural birth because you disagree with the instructors stance on vaccinations? Wow.

She thinks I am a hypocrite. But aren’t we all at some point? And does this really make me a hypocrite? Am I so upset about this because I do still question whether I did the right thing by my kids?? Possibly.

Vaccines are a very tricky thing because there are those who have been fully vaccinated and are totally fine (two of mine did fine with the regular regimen). Then there are those who have had horrible experiences that I could never deny were not at least contributed to by the vaccines themselves. There is a LOT of science to support both sides. Everyone is passionate about their stance. I’m passionately in the middle and respect those on both sides.

I have lived in a third world country and seen (and had) some pretty nasty diseases. I know a vaccine for malaria would save millions of babies and children every year around the world. I know some wonderful people who work in the medical field and refuse to deem the medical establishment as the devil that those opposed to vaccines view them to be. I owe the medical establishment a huge debt of gratitude for giving me my baby sister who otherwise would not have survived her first year.

But then there is the pharmaceutical industry. Individually I’m sure they are in it to help people but then as a large corporation there seems to be more than a reasonable amount of greed. Could that be driving the push for vaccines? To an extent, sure.

There is the argument that the rate of most diseases we vaccinate for dropped significantly before the vaccines were introduced because of the improvements in sanitation and hygiene. I buy that. Women stopped dying following childbirth when doctors realized they needed to wash their hands in between patients. But cleanliness alone was not enough to eradicate many diseases.

I like Dr. Sears’ take on vaccinations because he does not throw it all out the window as a vast and evil conspiracy. He evaluates each vaccines with it’s pros and cons and gives an alternate schedule for vaccinating children that is easier on their little bodies (after all who has not witnessed a poor little groggy babe following routine vaccinations?). This schedule has worked very well for Evie. My doctor is on board with this schedule 100% and completely agrees that some vaccines seem to be less necessary these days. Which is not to say that I will skip many of them as I do feel a sense of social responsibility as well - I don’t want to be the one whose kid starts a measles outbreak (but don’t get me started on what is behind the drug companies’ discontinuation of the separate MMR).

You can read all you want to support your own beliefs (it’s called confirmation bias) and say that you are more educated on the topic than I am. I did not go to medical school so I won’t pretend to know more than my doctor but I will educate myself in a balanced way so that I can feel empowered in my decisions.

We all do the best we can with what we have. That is the job of parenting.


  1. Martha, this post really struck me. I feel the same way you do. It's tough being stuck in the middle and trying to do what is best by your kids while outsiders (and a lot of the time even inside friends and family) are vehemently swinging to one side or the other. Some think I'm crazy for doing a delayed/alternative regimen, some think I'm crazy for even vaccinating at all. You just can't please everyone. You educate yourself and do what you think is best!

    As for the person who dropped out. I'm sorry if her opinion has hurt you. She is in the wrong. And she is the one missing out: both on receiving wonderful instruction from you as a Bradley teacher and gaining a relationship with you as a friend.

    I thank you for your guidance. I am so happy to have had you as our instructor. And I am so happy that you shared Dr. Sears' vaccine book with me!

  2. Well written, Martha. Too bad she didn't get what you were saying.