Word of the Day – Hyperbole

Hyperbole (pronounced /ha??p??b?li/ hye-PER-buh-lee; “HYE-per-bowl” is a common mispronunciation) comes from ancient Greek “????????” (meaning excess or exaggeration) and is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is rarely meant to be taken literally. (from Wikipedia)

Hyperbole seems to be a bit rampant in the media lately. Here’s a couple of headlines that have been getting my goat:

Four dead in homebirthing including Joyous Birth advocate (Daily Terrorgraph)

Which suggests that something terrible has happened during a single homebirth and four people died. Which isn’t true. The Joyous Birth advocate is still alive, unfortunately she lost her baby during a ‘freebirth’.  The article is actually more about freebirth (ie without a midwife) than it is about homebirth, but of course no distinction is made between the two. The four dead are four babies, all of whom allegedly died during homebirths (or free births) but of course no extra information as to where this statistic came from is available. It suggests that women wanting homebirths are refugees from the hospital system, and that if only obs took some responsibility, we’d all go along to hospital like the good little sheep we are. Fortunately the Australian College of Midwives got a gurnsey too, and call for more one-on-one care with the same midwife in public hospitals to give all women better birth outcomes. More on NSW hospital services for pregnant women here.

Kid’s dying wishes denied (Courier Mail, which actually links to a headline saying that the Starlight Foundation is being forced to cut back on their wishes granted because of the financial crisis). Dying children aren’t being denied, since 7 out of 10 children that the Starlight Foundation help will live with their disability for life. Some of them will have to wait a bit longer though. If this headline helps get more donations to the Starlight Foundation, then that’s fantastic but I suspect it was more about having an attention grabbing headline.

So, what’s getting your goat today? An open thread for the airing of grievances.

Categories: gender & feminism, health, Life, medicine, work and family

Tags: , , ,

11 replies

  1. That article pissed me right off, because no distinction was made between home birth with a midwife, and unattended birth (as you said). There was also no mention made of *why* the babies died – sometimes death is inevitable, and would have happened no matter what the place of birth is. Far as I can tell, it’s yet another instance of doctors spreading mis-information about home birth.

  2. mimbles, I remember an Insight program earlier this year where that was mentioned. 30% of births in Holland are homebirths if I remember correctly.

  3. THIS is what’s getting my goat today!
    “Homebirths Are Irresponsible”.
    I’ve been frothing at the mouth all morning.

  4. I’d like to remind everyone in advance that this media storm has been whipped up around the personal grief of someone who has not given her permission for her story to be used as a political football.

  5. I’d like to see reporting that includes information on the outcomes seen in developed nations that do have higher rates of home birthing. The Netherlands springs to mind, I’m pretty sure their infant mortality rates are just fine. My sister was living there when she had her first child and was planning a home birth (which didn’t eventuate) and that was regarded as a perfectly ordinary choice to make. I seem to remember the figure of 1/3 of all births being home-births being mentioned but I don’t know how current that is.

  6. There was a great story on the 7.30 report last week about the changes medical insurance legislation that will effectively drive homebirthing underground. It was a relief to watch it covered evenly without the hyperbole, as you say.

  7. What’s shitting me about that homebirth article is that the number is being quoted without any qualification, yet any numbers being given about hospital neonatal fatalities ONLY include those babies without congenital deformities and who are the correct weight!! What is the definition of correct weight? Is there any possibility at all that this number is not being played with to make the figures say whatever those releasing want them to say?

  8. Back in the old country (NZ), homebirth is not uncommon. As in, not common, but not all that unusual either. My sister-in-law had her two youngest at home, in what seemed to have been beautiful births (I wasn’t there). Midwife-led maternity care is very common in New Zealand, very much the norm rather than otherwise, and I think that makes quite a difference with respect to the acceptance of homebirth.

  9. Home birth = Somalia!
    Now that’s hyperbole.
    But for the sake of a bit of Enya piping through the Boss stereo system and the comfort of your claw-footed bath,…
    If we wrote a clause like that, we’d be accused of classism / elitism / politics of envy.

  10. Since this is an open thread, I’d like to complain about the unctuously patronising insults being thrown at conservationists in the “Unsustainable Logging” thread in LP. Example:

    Peterc, we’re not in fundamental disagreement here. As I’ve also said before, it is the quality of your arguments that annoy me. When those in the environmental movement rely on emotionalism, fuzzy arguments and unfounded accusations, they can be safely ignored by those in power. To be a successful activist, you have to be totally sure of your ground and hammer home the facts without hysteria. …

    emotionalism, fuzzy arguments, hysteria. None of these applied to his opponents’ arguments but there is just this lazy habit of describing conservationist arguments as “emotional” and “hysterical”. So sick of it.

  11. Conservationist, feminist, women’s arguments, it’s all about infantilizing and unfortunately (in the eyes of the arguer) feminising the other person as unreliable and unable to have a ‘proper’ argument.
    I’ve been avoiding the thread for that very reason.

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