On That Balloon Technique Video


Scooping is a term that comes from the academic world of science and engineering.  It is used when one academic publishes or creates something that another academic may have just began thinking about.  In the tech world a lot of things are kept hidden in order to ensure that one company cannot scoop a product from another company.  For example, Apple had a lot of policies in place so that the technology used in iPhone X was not stolen by Google and put in their camera technology first.


Another similar term is “plagiarize” which is defined by Merriam Webster as to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own.”  For example, had I just defined plagiarize with those exact same words and not said it was from Merriam Webster that would be a form of plagiarizing. In the last week I have seen an unfortunate amount of plagiarism in the birth world.  During the Lamaze course we learned a wonderful technique that was originally created by Teri Shilling, another facilitator for the group that taught the Lamaze course: Passion for Birth.  In this technique a balloon and a ping pong ball are used to show what happens in the body during labor: all of the changes that the cervix goes through, and the difference between Braxton Hicks and regular contractions.  After class one of the students mentioned having seen a video of this exact same technique.  Apparently a childbirth educator created a video showing her niece the technique.  Unfortunately she neglected to mention in the video that she learned this technique from Teri.  Now the video is all over Facebook and several news media sites without any reference to the original creator of the technique.  If you go to the Youtube page where the video is located and read her entire explanation for the video you will see that she credits Passion for Birth but none of the media sites mention this and it was clearly added after the original video was published.  By not explicitly mentioning the original creator in the video itself, this woman has plagiarized, whether intentionally or not.


This is unfortunately not uncommon in the birth world.  A few days after the class I received an email from a childbirth educator in San Francisco inviting doulas to observe her class.  I had already heard of this educator and had clients take her class so I was very interested to observe.  Unfortunately the first response I got from her included a list of requests for doulas taking her class.  One of the requests was that we not teach childbirth classes of our own in the first year after observing the class.  She explained that this was important because she had had several doulas observe her classes and then proceed to plagiarize the material in the classes (if not the entirety of the class).  I messaged her back explaining that I was interested in teaching childbirth classes in that first year and as a former teacher I had no intention of plagiarizing her material.  Not only that but I valued her as a wonderful educator, invited her to sit in on any of my classes in the future and wanted to make it very clear that I would never teach anyone’s techniques without being very explicit about whose techniques they were.


I wish that more people would realize that we have to respect others all the time.  It’s a concept that typically comes easy for doulas.  We all understand what it means to be devalued in birth, that’s one of the biggest reasons we advocate for our clients in birth.  At times we are the only one in the room who respects and values the birthing individual.  We should carry these same ideas outside the labor and delivery ward in order to respect each other on Facebook or other social media, in childbirth classes and with clients.  Mentioning others by name does not devalue your credibility, instead others often notice your knowledge and familiarity with other well known figures in the birth world.  Recently I was talking with a potential client about the importance of talking to your baby in utero and how Penny Simkin did some studies showing how babies react to parents singing to them in utero.  It was easy then to transition into a brief explanation of how wonderful Penny Simkin is in the birth world and how she wrote one of my most recommended books: The Birth Partner.  By crediting Penny Simkin and her wonderful work, I was able to show the potential client my knowledge of the birth world.  These are the kinds of transitions that can come with giving credit where it’s due.