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Technology at the Expense of Natural Skills: Disastrous Outcomes

June 29, 2011

Technology at the Expense of Natural Skills: Disasterous Outcomes

Genny White

We have a problem.  Here in the United States the c/sec rate continues to rise.  Since 1996 the c/sec rate has increased by 50% without any improvements in maternal infant mortality outcomes.  In 1965 the c/sec rate in our country was 4.5%, in 1979 it was 7% and the latest statistics available are that we have a national c/sec rate greater than 30%.  Currently about 1 in 3 women in the united states will give birth through an abdominal incision, major surgery.  The world health organization states than any c/sec rate greater than 15% is apt to bring about more harm than good.  Yes, we have a problem.

The electronic fetal monitor EFM has done nothing to improve the outcomes in mother or baby health and has tripled the c/sec rate. Of industrialized countries that have greater than 400,000 births annually our statistics in Maternal Infant Health are last. Great Britain,Germany, and France the Scandinavian Countries, New Zealand and Japan all have better outcomes for their mothers and babies than we do in the United States.  In all of these counties the principle delivery system of Maternal Infant Health services come from Midwives, not Doctors  midwives attend to 70 -80 % of these populations with doctors caring for the remaining. Medicine has relied so much on technology that they have lost the art of natural childbirth, which midwives deliver.

3 to 1 ratio

The US Navy encountered a similar problem in 1969 they dealt with it and over came it. In Korea the Navy’s fighter pilot kill ratio was 12 to 1.  Our pilots would kill 12 enemy pilots for every one of our pilots lost.  In the Vietnam war with the advent of air to air missile technology, the Navy’s kill ratio went down  to 3 to 1.  From March 1965 to November 1968 US Naval Captain Frank Ault documented in a report that we suffered nearly 1,000 US air craft losses in approximately one million sorties.  The US Navy reviewed these statistics and determined the cause was that the fighter pilots had lost the ability and knowledge of how to engage in air to air combat maneuvers (ACM) or Dog Fighting techniques, because of over use of technology.  Through 1950 to 1960 the Navy had favored advances brought in by missiles, radar and fire control technologies over Dog Fighting techniques in their instruction.  Navy pilots simply were not receiving adequate training in (air crew) air combat maneuvering.

Relying on Technology the real enemy

This finding by the Navy was not news to the F-8 Crusader community.  They had been lobbying for an ACM training program since 1965. As every TOP GUN 1986 film aficionado out there can tell you, on March 3, 1969 the Navy established the US Navy Fighters Weapon School a.k.a. TOPGUN, whose purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat. US Navy Fighters Weapon School is now US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program at NAS Fallon,Nevada.  The US Navy selected the best of the best the elitist of the elite pilots and trained them at TOPGUN in the art of ACM and upon the completion of their program they returned to their parent bases as ACM instructors to train the rest of their ranks.  By the end of the Vietnam war, the Navy’s kill ratio had surpassed the 12 to 1 ratio and was 13 to 1.  The US Navy Fighter Weapons School at Miramar CA had been a success.

The US Air Force reviewed the same findings as the US Navy in the Ault report and determined the declining kill ratio was due to a much different problem.  The Air Force determined its air losses were from unobserved MiG attacks coming up from the rear and was therefore a technology problem; hence improved technology would resolve this problem.  The US Air Forces kill ratio continued to worsen for a time, according to Benjamin Lambeth’s The Transformation of American Air Power.  It was not until the end of Vietnam that the US Air Force implemented a training program similar to the Navy’s TOPGUN.  The US Air Force has Red Flag a US Air Force Weapons School.

The negative impact of the over reliance on technology over the utilization of hands own natural skills is not a new phenomenon isolated only to Maternal Infant Health outcomes.  Other sectors of service have identified this problem like the Navy has and they have successfully re-introduced the hands own natural skills.

I propose that we take a lesson from our US Navy.  The United States Department of Health and Human Services should establish a Top Birth Academy with its stated primary purpose to re-introduce the lost art of hand and ear skills of childbirth called midwifery to drive a national improvement in the outcomes of maternal infant mortality and morbidity.  The Navy invited fighter pilots who scored the most air to air kills over North Vietnam; Mugs McKeown and Jack Ensch and the first U.S. aces of the Vietnam War, Randy Duke Cunningham and Willie Driscoll, to be instructors at the new academy.  Our Top Birth Academy should recruit those Maternal Infant Health Service Providers with acceptable C/sec rates of less than 5 to 10 % with the best maternal infant mortality and morbidity statistics — the best of the best, the elitist of the elite to pass on the knowledge of Midwifery Care. Ina May Gaskins could spearhead the recruitment of our nations Top Birth Academy Instructors.  Go Navy!

Post Scrip:

Time Magazine March 12, 2019

reports: ‘Amnesty is calling on Obama to create an Office of Maternal Health within the Department of Health and Human Services to improve outcomes and reduce disparities, among other recommendations. The report also calls on the government to address the shortage of maternal-care providers.”

Read more:,8599,1971633,00.html#ixzz1Qk7AeVtT

For those of you who haven’t read our book, TopGun is the theme of our childbirth education manual for men called Men at Birth.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2011 11:31 am

    Great analogy! Thanks.

  2. June 30, 2011 11:37 am

    perfect!! this is a great comparision…

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