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The Pathologization of Childbirth


The Pathologization of Childbirth

The Delee Protocols.
The Pathologization of Childbirth (From the book “Born Broken”)
by Matt Rushford, D.C.

Article Summary (Excerpts from article):

“In 1900, 95 percent of all U.S. women gave birth at home. By 1955, 95 percent of all births occurred in hospitals. This staggering transition was powerfully driven by the systemic reframing, or pathologization, of pregnancy and birth by a man named Joseph DeLee.”

“This audacious and professionally opportunistic reframing also planted the seeds of the eventual story that our current society holds around medicine and birth, which is that birth was dangerous until doctors saved it.”

“The one factor that did not support the movement of birth into the hospital was science. Hospital births were more dangerous in 1920, and they did not get safer any time soon. But science did not stop Joseph DeLee or the emerging cartel of the obstetric field.”

“The Midwife Protection Act in Britain helped to successfully establish the very conditions DeLee and his contemporaries refused to consider: safe home and hospital births managed by trained midwives delivering superior results at reduced cost and with reduced complications.”

“Two years before he died, DeLee seemed to sense the Frankenstein’s monster he had unleashed and warned the audience at a Mother’s Day address to avoid doctors who attempted to rush the birth process. ‘Mother Nature’s methods of bringing babies are still the best,’ he stressed belatedly.”

“Much of the failure [of conventional birth practices] stemmed from an almost religious faith in the power of science and medicine to solve all of humanity’s problems. In the public discourse on medicine and healthcare, this has come to be known as ‘scientism.’”


Do you have challenges accepting the idea that medical doctors were not responsible for the decrease in childbirth mortality, and were, in some cases, the cause of its increase?

The pathologization of birth is heavily influenced through the use of language. “Labor” “Delivery” and “Contractions” are just 3 examples of how pathology has extended into our every-day vocabulary in the topic of birth. What are the ways to oppose the pathologization of birth in the modern world?

The taboo of being called anti-science immunizes scientism from incurring public scrutiny which is part of the reason it has risen to high levels today. To what extent are your beliefs and choices influenced by this fear of being called anti-science?

Chiropractic Connection:

Medical doctors enjoy a high esteem today, but much less than they did in the past. This decline in authority goes hand in hand with the freedom of information available today. This information has revealed the failure on the part of medical doctors to ‘do no harm,’ both in the past and in the present day.

The origin of modern medicine paralleled the origin of chiropractic in respect of time (late 1800’s.) However their philosophies have always been mirror opposites. In this transition period, people are waking up to the limitations of the dominant paradigm of allopathic medicine. Self-healing represents the next chapter in healthcare. Chiropractic has a long held philosophical and scientific investigation into the nature of this self-healing via the nervous system. In lieu of this reality, chiropractors harbor quite a tenable philosophical and scientific basis for the future of healthcare!

Article adapted from The Delee Protocols. The Pathologization of Childbirth (From the book “Born Broken”) written by Matt Rushford, D.C for Pathways Connect Magazine, Issue #53, Spring 2017,.

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