Science is necessary and so valuable to the maternal health space. It is also extremely limited in ways that can be detrimental to women and mothers.
In order to truly advance, this MUST be acknowledged.
This is so important to me that I created an in-depth training for Postpartum University members. We discuss everything from the financial and male bias to ethical concerns in pregnancy and beyond.
Today, I’m sharing part of that training with you so that we can all have a greater understanding of science, its impact, and how we can work within these limitations.
In this episode, I am sharing:
- Our huge scientific database coming soon
- Bringing awareness to the limitation of science
- The role of perception and personal interpretation
- Money and funding as a source of bias
- Studies are made for and only include men
- Women’s stories are ignored
- Time, trends, and conflicting change dominate science
- What we can do as professionals
Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast where we support you and your provider in understanding the science, the art, and the sacredness of healing after birth. I’m Maranda Bower, your host, your postpartum nutrition specialist, and homesteading mom with four wild kids. It’s time to get you the holistic, whole-body healing that works.
Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast. I just got done doing an incredible training over in Postpartum University for our members and it’s titled “Understanding the Limitations and Use of Science in Motherhood.” So really, really deep conversation and a little edgy as well. And I wanted to take a minute to just really share with the wider audience here about why this is such a critical thing. Because it is really common that I get a message in my inbox, multiple messages a week, really on the topic of can I just have this resource? Can I just have the science behind a particular topic? For example, the other day I was chatting with someone and they were like, “Can you just give me the science behind the lack of digestive acids and juices that are happening when postpartum?” And it’s like, “Oh, that would be so great if I just had this one little piece of paper stating the evidence behind such a thing.” But unfortunately, that’s not how science always works. And that’s certainly not how it works in motherhood. As a matter of fact, there are so many limitations within the world of science.
Now, if you know me and you know postpartum university, you know that I am a huge fan of science. It is actually a massive component of the work that we do here when I have… my certification program for postpartum nutrition or any sort of training whatsoever, I list a lot of science. We’re actually in the process of creating at the time of this recording, hopefully it’ll be live soon, an entire database, a searchable database within postpartum university where professionals can go search for relevant information. So if you’ve got a or fashion negating science. I love science, it’s a really important part of what we do. But again, we also need to understand that there’s quite a bit of limitations. We need to bring awareness to these limitations, especially in regard to postpartum and women’s healthcare in general. Not only does it have its limitations, but it also has massive benefits, okay? So, for example, our world would not be where it is today without the science that we have. We really have this deeper fundamental understanding and knowledge of nature and society and these abstract concepts. We create technology out of this and we also create entire industries, our healthcare industry being one of them.
So with that said, I’m gonna dive into a couple of limitations that I cover within this training that I had done, and just kind of openly share this information with you. So you understand that you can’t just take a piece of paper or a piece of evidence and have all of the answers that you’re looking for. When we’re looking at science and what you see in what a majority of the trainings that I do, it’s gathering a ton of different pieces, lots of different evidence pieces, and putting them together, putting puzzle pieces together so that they create a picture that we can fully understand. And this is very important. We have books on these things, we have trainings on these things, we have college-level courses, I mean, you name the topic.
If there’s science behind it, there is somebody who is taking all of these pieces and they’re putting them together so that you can actually see what the meaning is behind this. So with that said, there’s a couple of things that happen with that. One is that the meaning behind it is sometimes not always accurate. There is the human component where we are bringing in our own way of interpreting what’s happening in these scientific studies. And I’m saying this as something additional that I’ll be talking about. This is on top of some of the limitations, but before we get to that, limit your time limitations, I want you to be aware of this key point. It’s all about perception. Even a scientific study, and you see this all the time, you’ll read a study and you’ll go through all of the results and how they’ve come to those results, and then you’ll go into the conclusion that the author of the study or the scientist behind the study had created it. And you’re, you’re wondering how in the world did that person come up with this conclusion based on that information? Like that is not what I came away with. It’s not what I walked away with here.
And that happens very, very frequently. This is why it’s so, so very important to read everything in a study. Because what you see is not always what you get. There’s always that interpretation factor as well. Okay, so let’s talk about some of the limitations. And again, this was a massive training that I had done. So I am not going to spend over an hour going through each and every one of these and giving examples. But I will give a few, and I think it’s important to talk about these in detail and another space within the training.
But we’ll talk about these here. Here are the limitations and the problems that exist on a systematic level for really not only just science, but also healthcare, particularly in regards to women. First and foremost is money. And this is really no surprise, science is driven by money, healthcare is created within capitalism, okay? So this is a no-brainer. Science and healthcare, they’re businesses. Their main objective is to make money. And this is pretty standard when you look at a company who creates some sort of product or technology or medical device or pharmaceutical medication. When you look at their line items, a product or a medical device, they’re a product or a medical device. Science is driven by money. Science is driven by money. Science is driven by money. Science is driven by money. find that they put a lot more money into their advertising costs than they do in their research and development costs. And that is a pretty clear sign to you and to the general world that they’re here to make money. And the main component of this is that it actually takes a lot of money to create science and a study, right? You have materials, you have time, you have to pay the people for those materials and the time and the energy that’s being put forth into these studies. They’re not cheap. And so people are not necessarily going to pay for that kind of thing unless there’s going to be a return on their investment. And so there’s generally some sort of… of promise. It’s kind of like creating a business plan. When you create a business plan, that plan is not because you need to know how to operate your business, it’s for investors.
You’re gonna either take it to a bank or you’re gonna find other people who are going to think that what you’re going to create is a value and that they’re going to get a return on their investment and feel safe investing in you. And the same is with science. We wanna return and that’s how our world has been created. So there’s a huge gap in our healthcare industry because of this and money creates a bias as well. Studies are funded with very specific goals in mind.
Again, making money and that’s not always very helpful. Not only that, but the people at the top who are creating the studies and wanting the money also have to go through systems of approval that require money. So the FDA, the USDA, and the United States, that’s what I’m very familiar with. Those are federal-regulated branches that make money off of the FDA. of approving drugs or approving safety regulations for foods and things like that.
If you’re a birth and postpartum professional who wants to give the families you serve some solid holistic evidence-based information regarding nutrition, repletion, and nourishing your body after baby, this is for you. So I have 18 beautiful pages and I hope you enjoyed this video. handout form that is completely free, free full guide to nutrition completion, common misconceptions, supplement support, favorite recipes, 30 healthy and quick snacks, and so many more. You can download your free collection with handouts at postpartum U. That’s the letter U .com/handouts.
We can get really, really deep in there. this topic and I do in the training, but it’s a huge money-driven business. That’s what science is. Now let’s talk about ethics for a second as well, because when we’re talking about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, this poses some major ethical concerns in regard to science. If there’s a potential to cause harm to a mother or her baby, baby, it becomes unethical and illegal. No matter if it’s in regard to using a product or service or technology or whatever the case is or prohibiting that, if you can’t do a top-notch clinical trial like a double-blind or placebo-controlled, that is not available. And so that leaves us with observation. studies, analytical studies, perspective type studies, and those are all great. But that doesn’t always paint the picture, because there’s so many variables. And when you’re doing something in regard to, you know, creating a scientific study, you want as few variables as possible, the less the better. And that’s really, really difficult to do. For example, let’s talk about protein and pregnancy. You cannot limit a mother’s protein intake during pregnancy, nor could you increase the protein levels dramatically. That would be unethical because we don’t know what’s going to happen here.
We don’t know if it’s harmful or if we’re posing any sort of risk. And so And so the way to conduct this study would be to find like women who have very few variables, right? They’re all very, very similar. And to study them, study a group of women who have some very similar variables, who don’t eat a lot of protein and those who do eat a lot of protein and those who, you know, eat. what we consider, you know, a general normal amount and then study those. But again, that’s very difficult to come by. And it takes a lot of money. So there’s so many different other points that we could mention in this. And I apologize for that. But really, there’s some ethical concerns. And we have to we have to understand that and recognize that it might not necessarily be safe. safe to have a lot of studies being done on pregnancy birth and postpartum in terms of breastfeeding, because we want to make sure that mother and baby is safe.
If there’s a risk, it’s not something that we want to do. And that’s why a big chunk of what we see in motherhood in today’s world of science is just not there. It’s just not applicable. And that was not the case back in the 1900s or even earlier, right? And I say early 19, I should say early 1900s. We can find lots of amazing landmark studies. And I hear this all the time, you know, if I post a study that was done back in the 50s or the 60s, and people are like, well, this is really outdated.
And it’s like, well, this is all you’re going to get. because there’s ethical reasons why this is not something that we can share or do or update in terms of the science. Okay. So we have money. We have ethical concerns. And we also have anecdotal evidence. And this is a huge one. When we are talking about women and their stories, that is considered or even traditional and cultural practices. That information is considered anecdotal evidence. That means that it holds almost no value within the scientific community. So women’s stories are being dismissed.
Cultural practices that have been happening for thousands of years, that’s dismissed. It’s not necessarily science. So we hear all the time, it’s just your hormones, or it’s all in your head, or your pain is normal, because you have a period or you’re postpartum or you’re menopause, not to even mention the racial disparities and how many black women or Latinos experienced this even more than, you know, our white women counterparts. It’s a massive problem. And it goes far deeper than the fact that this is just anecdotal evidence, right? We’re not being listened to, we’re not being supported. We’re not being heard and and the reality is let’s get back to money here I’ll share with you an example that I share in the training the US government announced funding for endometriosis research They they announced it very recently and 2020 and said that they were going to be doubling it. So this was massive news.
Everybody was so excited about hearing this, $26 million annually to studying endometriosis. This is phenomenal, right? And then you look and you’re like, wait a second, we have to understand that this is the first time that’s happening. And in the same year, the National Institute of Health, NIH reported research spending on diabetes. alone at $1,156 million. 26 versus 1,156 million. Like, the numbers are ridiculous. There was a study in the United Kingdom that was done in 2018 that found that only 2.1% of publicly funded medical research went to productive health and child care. And again, it’s a money factor. But what we also see is that diseases and issues related to primarily men are more studied disproportionately studied more so than those diseases and issues that are primarily affecting women. And so this is a massive topic again. that goes far deeper into the history and culture of women and male bias. And let’s talk about male bias, because male bias is a massive part of the limitations of science within motherhood.
So there are two components to male bias. Firstly, science has studied the effects and the impacts and the safety of humans, but not always always statistically differentiating between male and female. So a really great example of this is the studies that are done on men in nutrition. So lots of studies have been conducted over and over and over again on men and their nutritional needs. Very, very few studies exist on the nutritional needs of women. And instead, what has happened is these studies were done on men. And then a panel of people, i.e. men, a panel of men, have lowered the numbers of what is nutritionally necessary for a man to fit a smaller human being, i.e. a female. Okay, and so this is this show. be mind-blowing if you’re listening into this.
We also have intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is based on studies done on men. This is absolutely crazy to me that we have done this. And so intermittent fasting is actually something that can really benefit the male body. But it can be absolutely harmful for women and we’re just now getting the studies done that have been done on intermittent fasting for women and that women actually have to match it up with specific periods of their menstrual cycle in order for them to be successful otherwise it will be harmful to their bodies. This is amazing information and so powerful But again, this male bias creates this, okay?
And so we’re doing studies on men, but we’re not necessarily doing the studies on women. And again, that goes back to ethical concerns, especially in regard to pregnancy and breastfeeding, but also goes back to this not, not important, right? It’s not important to each which is a whole nother topic and a whole nother training all in it of itself. Women are just not being listened to or taken care of. And the second component of male bias is these higher-level positions, these people who are making decisions without considering female needs, okay? Here’s a prime example of this, the DSM-5, which is the… the diagnostic manual of mental health. This is where all of that information is stored.
There are 13 authors, 11 of them are men, 11 of them are men. So it’s no wonder that when postpartum depression finally became a clinical diagnosis, didn’t occur until 1994. 1994. It didn’t become a diagnosis in that book until 1994. And still, to this day, generalized anxiety disorder and OCD have no perinatal onset. It’s not considered a diagnosable condition. And it’s this way specifically because the minute men in power who are writing this just have no idea. They don’t know how to take into account women’s experiences because they’re not women. They don’t have these experiences and they’re not listening into the stories. Now, I’m not saying that all men are bad. I’m not saying that this is not a men bashing podcast episode. Reality is, is that they just don’t know what they don’t know.
I firmly believe that this is not something that’s happening on purpose, men are not sitting back behind chairs and saying, we’re just going to hold this information from women, or we’re going to do everything we can to be, you know, hurtful or harmful. That is not what’s happening whatsoever. I can assure you, I don’t believe that for a split second. It’s just not in their perception. It’s not something that they are perceiving. There’s a fantastic book on this topic that I highly recommend. It’s a book called Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, and she has multiple studies on on the male bias. And this incredible examples, and I highly, highly recommend you take a listen to that book.
Okay, so we have several components that we went over, money-driven, ethics, anecdotal evidence, male bias, and let’s talk about illogical focus. This is huge, okay? And you hear me talk about this quite frequently here, but the fact is, is that doctors are taught pathology and prescriptions. They’re not taught how the body actually heals, okay? So the problem of this lies in the challenge of the scientific method and its need for very few variables. Again, when you are creating a scientific study, you want like one or less than, not less than, you want one or very few variables and the less variables you have more accurate data that you can create from that. And the fact of the matter is the body is not one variable. It’s multi-variable. And that makes it really, really challenging to discover the root of disease. And it makes it even more difficult to study women’s bodies because they are so far more intricate. There’s so many more details. There’s so many more variables, so much more complexity. [BLANK_AUDIO] It’s harder to track the needs and behaviors of women because of that intricateness of ourselves. And so it’s not necessarily the fault.
Again, we’re not doctor bashing or anything like that. But we’re not, they’re not taught how the body actually functions, especially the female body, especially during these unique times that is. is postpartum or pregnancy or birth, they might be told, oh, you should make sure that your pregnant clients get at least 500 additional, or three to 500 additional calories, right? Or, you know, that’s really not very helpful information. That can mean so many different things. It’s really outdated science. And it’s not supporting… supporting the health and well-being because that information is just not not shared. So, you know, we can go on and on about this this topic but it goes back to the variables and the scientific method and it goes back to ethics and it goes back to money because you can’t create a multivariable study without a significant amount of money. Okay. So there’s one, one more that I want to cover here, and that’s time trends and change, which is a huge topic. And I’ll do my best to just cover a couple of components here. But entire fields of study, studies have been created on very specific, outdated, and sometimes terrible science. And it takes a really long time for for a quality study to be created. We want long-term studies, and it takes a long time to create a long-term study. You’ve got 15, 20 years, and then it takes an additional 10 to 15 years on average for a standard medical practice to change after new evidence has been found. So, let’s say there’s a land… study and that landmark study, for example, SSRIs, we understand that SSRIs are no longer, it’s not a serotonin issue.
The entire understanding of depression has been built upon the idea that it’s a serotonin lack, a lack of serotonin in the brain. And now we know that that is completely and utterly not true, but we just recently found this out in the last couple of years. That’s gonna take another 10 to 13 plus years before that is going to change within our medical industry and before we actually start seeing those changes as patients, as clients. And that is probably not true. not even very accurate because first and foremost, we have to have another alternative. And so until we find an alternative or a better theory or a better understanding of depression within the body, then SSRIs are going to consistently be prescribed, even though we know the detrimental effects of those on the body, including you know, increased risk of suicide and depression, which is what it’s trying to prevent.
It changes your brains and your brain and the chemicals that reside in your brain and your brain function indefinitely, meaning that when you start taking SSRIs, you will never get the same brain back again. There’s so many different components of this. And some of the things that you need to know about SSRIs are, you know, your brain, your examples that I could give you, but it takes a really long time. And by the time that comes out in the next 10 to 15 years, that information is going to be outdated. Because there’s going to be another study that’s coming out that’s groundbreaking that says, wait a second, this is actually how it goes. And that’s the beauty of science, right?
We love having science come out because it not only sparks our curiosity, but it also allows us to critique and use our critical thinking skills and have conversations between each other and scientists and really understand that’s how the scientific method really works. It’s a beautiful, beautiful process. However, when it comes to applying it, it can be really… really challenging.
Also, something that I generally see is that science has also continued, outdated science is also continued to be used for the sake of clarity, even though new data has been presented, and this creates conflict and confusion in today’s world. For example, I had a colleague who had a course that was accredited by an agency, and of course, this is all. about money, right? But with that said, that agency came back and told this colleague that she could no longer have her class be accredited with this new up-to-date information because it conflicted with the out-of-date information. And so rather than go back to the those other courses and the people who created them and say, “Hey, you need to update your information.” It was far easier to say, “I’m sorry, “but you’re the oddball out, “so I’m just gonna push you away and say, ‘No, thank you.'” And you have to be a little bit more on par with all the outdated information that we were providing. It’s absolutely crazy.
And then, you know, when it comes to trends as well, it’s so incredibly frustrating. But for example, there was a multitude of studies that just recently come out that talks about how children are not developing on track. So we had developmental milestones. So if you’re a mom and you go to the doctor, you know about developmental milestones. These are things that we want our children or milestones that we want our children to be hitting when it comes to work. walking or holding themselves up or crawling or rolling over. And what they found was that our children are not meeting those developmental milestones. And so the recommendation was to not investigate further. Why in the world is this happening? Alarm bells should be sounding. We’ve got a serious issue going on.
Again, multiple variables that are happening. We need to study all of this. of them and figure out what is going on. Why are our children in the United States not meeting the developmental milestones? But instead, what they did was that they lowered the developmental milestones. They pushed them back. So it was easier for children to hit those milestones. This is following trends. This is not really great. science and it is posing a lot of issues and detrimental effects to our society as a whole and we need to recognize those things. There’s so many different components and I really want you to understand these limitations.
There’s plenty more that I can share with you again that is a significantly broader training or in more in-depth training, but we covered more. money and we covered ethics, anecdotal evidence and women’s stories, you know, the illogical focus of our science world, the male bias, and then the times and the trends and the change that it takes for science to really take hold. And all of this is greatly affecting the way that we are seeing motherhood and science. And the the lack of science that is within our world. There needs to be this continuation of science and motherhood in women’s health. It’s not only necessary but critical.
There’s this conflict, this lack of evidence, and it creates communities of distrust within the medical and support fields. We have trouble trusting medical providers. This is coming. up over and over and over again, and bigger and bigger. And a huge part of it has been our recent pandemic issues and things like that. But we don’t want to distrust the medical community. But what we’re finding is, is that we’re having to find our own healing practices and techniques to better address our needs where women are struggling right now. And this is being created out of that struggle. And oftentimes what happens is that women will, and communities, they’ll come up with amazing, inventive, and inspiring ways in which to heal their body, or they’ll return to these more traditional practices like herbs, which are so on the rise right now.
But they also create sometimes some very very harmful practices. And so we have to recognize that and the need for better health and science and overall care for women. And so some of the things that we we need, and I just kind of went over a list of things that healthcare needs to include, but also what we can do as professionals. And so I’ll just kind of cover a little bit of that as professionals.
If you’re listening into this, listen to your clients. Obviously, if you’re here and you’re listening to me, likely you are already doing that, but follow up with them. Ask lots of lots of questions, truly understand their whole body needs. I have an entire quiz, the postpartum recovery quiz that is dedicated to women and their whole story. And it’s a 30 question. You can go to postpartum.u/quiz and either fill out the quiz and answer it yourself. It takes two minutes. Or as a provider, you can print this off. These are questions that you should be asking every single one of your clients so that you can understand what’s happening to their entire body.
And the second of this is, don’t settle for science alone. Investigate. Connect with your colleagues, ask questions, and never settle for the standard it’s as good as we got, ’cause it’s never as good as we got. Ask why. Well, the thyroid’s not working. Why? Well, it looks like you have hypothyroidism. Why? Well, you just had a baby. Why? And then when you start asking why over and over and over again, it helps you get to the root of the concern. And just because it’s not working, you have a baby is not a solid reason why a thyroid is out of balance or any other issue whatsoever within the body. It’s not a good enough reason. We have to investigate why. And I talk about the different root causes and I can link that in the show notes as well. Another really important factor is to hold providers accountable, including yourself. You know, I always… say, if you see something, say something.
Now, if this applies to luggage, it can surely apply to women’s health care. If you see something or a provider who is not operating in up-to-date practices or causing any sort of issue or trauma or whatever the case may be, have a follow-up conversation with them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be right then and there in the birth room or whatever. the case may be, but follow up with them. Have a conversation, call them, or even send them updated practices and policies. I’ve done that several times. Sometimes they just don’t know. And so there’s been several occasions when I used to be a doula where I would see something in the labor in birth room. And then afterward, I would follow up with the client and would talk to them about how they felt. not saying anything about the client whatsoever and say, “Hey, here is some updated information that I think would be really helpful for you in your practice moving forward.” And then send them, I’ve sent a lot of packets of scientific information back, and sometimes I will get a thank you, sometimes I will get nothing, but sometimes it’s just very helpful to have those conversations and make those phone calls and follow up.
The other important component and probably one of the most important ones is to find out who the decision makers are in your community. Voice your concerns for less bias, the need for more funding, and let them know that issues you are seeing in your community really starts within this community space. Write them letters, make calls, show up to public hearings. and really be a voice because we need more voices. Okay, so I am so in love with this training and I hope so much, I hope to pieces that you absolutely love this. If you loved it as much as I do, please, please drop a review in it for the podcast. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts and you can also join us in our group and go enjoy science, but also know it has its limitations.
Love this episode. Let us know by leaving an amazing review. Your support is everything. Want more? Head over to postpartumu.com. That’s postpartum, the letter you .com and explore how we support moms like you in holistic, whole body healing that’s specific for the unique needs of mamas in the years postpartum. See you there.
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