The Pretty Little Liars actress is currently expecting a baby with her boyfriend, former Much Music VJ Matte Babel, who just voiced some problematic opinions about childbirth in the third episode of Shay’s YouTube Originals series, Almost Ready.
In the reality show-style video, Shay’s boyfriend states he’s against choosing to formula feed and against epidurals during birth.
It’s totally possible that Babel is trolling us. Every good reality TV show needs a villain, after all. But whether he’s serious or not his comments are seriously damaging and need to be addressed.
In the episode, Shay and Matte attend a private birthing prep class and go shopping for baby supplies. In the store, Shay says she’s “terrified of giving birth.”
Later, when the couple is discussing breastfeeding Babel says he’s “against” women choosing not to breastfeed if they can.
“I just think if you have the innate ability to breastfeed and the kid latches, why wouldn’t you want the best for your baby?” he says, doubling down on a very problematic and unfortunate statement.
For Matte and anyone else who is confused about this issue, let us set the record straight: Mothers do not have to breastfeed, even if they are physically able to. Choosing to use formula is a perfectly legitimate choice that should be supported.
As Shay points out in the video, “formulas are good, too.”
Babel’s cringe-worthy opinions on maternal choices didn’t stop there, either. As the couple discusses their birth plan Babel says he would prefer Shay not have an epidural.
“Am I partial to no epidural? Yes,” he says. “Why? Because I’m a hypochondriac. I’m afraid of drugs. My mom didn’t use an epidural … I meet women all the time who didn’t choose to use epidurals.”
Matte may not be meeting very many women because about 60% of American women receive epidurals during labor, according to the CDC, and there is absolutely no shame in being one of them.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) respects a mother’s choice to get an epidural, stating that “a woman who requests epidural analgesia during labor should not be deprived of this service”. ACOG recognizes that “there is no other circumstance in which it is considered acceptable for an individual to experience untreated severe pain that is amenable to safe intervention while the individual is under a physician’s care.”
Unfortunately, Babel doesn’t get this. When Shay points out that you wouldn’t expect someone to undergo a root canal without pain medication he says: “A root canal is not comparable, because you’re not born to go through a root canal. As a woman, your body is genetically engineered to give birth.”
Where do we even begin here?
While the ACOG states that there are some risks associated with epidurals, the best person to make an informed decision about those risks is the person that’s actually having the baby.
Babel’s comments suggest that he doesn’t totally get this, but the comments section on his Instagram page shows social media users are schooling him on the concept.
On a recent photo of pregnant Shay posted to Babel’s page a commenter wrote: “Go Shay! Go get your epidural girl! The baby isnt coming out of him so he has NO say #boybye“
Well said, random Instagram user. If Babel is trolling, the moms on IG are trolling him right back.
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