Scientology has always fascinated me. The fact that it is one of the worlds newest religions, has dubious beginnings, is banned in several countries for its cult like practices, yet still manages to garner enough adherents and money to remain active is titillating to an amateur sociologist such as myself.
There was a time when the medical beliefs espoused in Scientology were more off base than they are now. For example L.Ron Hubbard advocated for the use of a barley water/corn syrup formula, stating that it was much better for a baby than breast milk. Though the Church denies this now, a little digging online revealed some old .pdf handbooks from the 1990s which confirmed this. They now recommend breastfeeding. So based on the assumption that Scientology was a bit off base, I wanted to see if this new religion has caught up with the times regarding childbirth. These days, Scientology touts the importance of a “silent birth which I will discuss later.”
A ”whois” lookup of the site reveals the following: Scientologyparent.com is owned by a man named [redacted], a computer administrator living and working in the Washington DC area. His connection to the Church of Scientology is unknown, though he runs several other Scientology websites. The copyright is held by Scientology Parent.com. Scientology is very particular with its copyrights, so I would suspect that [redacted] has the blessing of the Church to publish this material using the Scientology name.
The pages appear to have been written by [redacted], the owner of the site. There are some other first person stories regarding childbirth not written by [redacted]. His background is that of a IT/computer worker, but this does not necessarily preclude him form being an authority on the subject of the “Silent Birth” technique, which is based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.
The information contained within the website seems to be “up to date”, as it appears to have been written within the past few years. When compared to the teachings of Scientology there is no disputing the accuracy of the information on the site. When compared to current health-care practices, some of the prenatal treatments such as the “Pregnancy Assist” don’t seem to have merit. For the most part the practice of “silent birth” is encouraged. The basic idea is that during birth, the room needs to be verbally silent, in other words, no talking or yelling. Grunting and other sounds the mom makes are OK. From a psychological and medical standpoint the importance of “Silent Birth” practices may be overstated. Here’s a quote from the site:
“Extensive research done by L. Ron Hubbard on the mind and spirit has shown that circumstances of the birth experience—especially what is said in the vicinity of the baby while being born— can adversely affect the person throughout life.”
This “extensive research” conducted by science fiction author and founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard is based on “Thousands of case studies of those undergoing Dianetics counseling”, with no scientific peer review and no specific reference to the actual research.
Psychologically speaking, claiming that a child would could be harmed by a non-silent birth does not seem correct. While the site makes no overtly dangerous medical claims, it’s claims about the psychology of the human mind don’t seem to jibe with the many of the current theories regarding child development such as Piaget and Erikson, though there seems to be some basis in Freudian thought. The McKinney book states that there are many choices for parents when deciding on a birth plan and that any one technique that claims to be the “right” method is simply making claims that aren’t true. That being said, there seems to be no reason why this would be a hazardous practice. If the birth experience is made more meaningful to the parents and no harm is done to the baby, then by all means, if parents want a silent birth for their baby, they should have one.
The site recommends that mothers also receive a “Pregnancy Assist” consisting of “Touch Assists” (re-establishes communication between the injured or painful body part and the mind, this allowing for increased healing) and “Body Comms” (re-establishes communication with the body as a whole). These practices may or may not have any scientific merit, though having someone lovingly pay attention to a pregnant woman in the spirit of helping them have a more stress-free and healthy birth process seems like it would be beneficial. We do know that stress hormones, specifically cortisol, can have a negative effect on the fetus and is correlated with low birth weights. If the mom truly believes that these practices are beneficial and they make her feel good about her pregnancy, then in reality, these practices no mater how odd they may seem, may actually beneficial.
The site is very clear when it comes to medical attention and says that “Pregnancy Assists” or no substitute for quality medical care. The site goes on to recommend prenatal care, breastfeeding, and supervision of a health-care provider. And, to the Church’s credit, the site does play-down L. Ron Hubbard’s previous assertions that barley water/corn syrup formula is the way to go for infant feeding.
All in all, the main point of the site is to encourage a “stress-free” pregnancy and birth process,
which based on scientific evidence, leads better outcomes for the mom and baby.
The page’s integrity lies in the fact that it recommends proper medical attention for the mom. The practices espoused are harmless and may to be beneficial to the extent that they make the mother feel positively about her prenatal experience. The “research” the site bases its claims on is dubious at best. The source of the information is a science fiction writer who makes fantastic claims regarding the human soul and the origins of man, involving space aliens and immortal beings called Thetans. Knowing that the ideas and concepts espoused in this site sprang from the same well, makes all the information a bit harder to swallow. Evidenced based practice, this is not.
The biases seem to be aimed toward encouraging an individual to invite the Church of Scientology into their lives. Scientology has been called a “pay as you go” religion, so it stands to reason that eventually they will offer some product, publication or service that will cost money. Critics of the religion claim that this is the sole purpose of the Church’s existence.
Contacting ScientologyParetnt.com is as easy as sending an email. I suspect that they would be more than happy to answer any questions posed to them.