by MIA FREEDMAN
This idea does my head in.
Freebirthing. Where women are encouraged to shun all medical attention during pregnancy. Imagine. No obstetric check ups. Not antenatal care. No ultrasounds. No tests for the baby – or the mother for that matter. And then there’s the birth itself. Solo. Just you and your baby. Best of luck.
This growing movement of (predominantly) women who loath ‘the medicalisation of birth’ will emphatically tell you that women are physiologically designed to give birth alone, far away from medical intervention. Without even a midwife in attendance. Your body, they will tell you, innately knows how to give birth.
Until, that is, something goes unexpectedly wrong.
Take a look at this (devastating) news report:
In Australia, the Joyous Birth website is one of the leading advocates of the Freebirthing movement. But what nobody on the Joyous Birth website will tell you is that this practice of ‘Freebirthing’ led to the tragic death of its founder’s baby.
Last week Jane Fraser – one of Australia’s leading Freebirth advocates – was criticised by a coroner over the 2009 death of her daughter. Experts have confirmed that Fraser’s newborn daughter Roisin would probably have survived if a midwife had been in attendance or if Fraser had been in a hospital or birth centre. Instead Fraser chose to labour at home for five days, eventually giving birth in a blow up plastic pool in her study with just her partner and best friend in attendance. None of the three had any medical training.
You can read more about the case here.
This isn’t a post designed to savage Janet Fraser’s decision to Freebirth her daughter Roisin. When a baby dies it is a tragedy, pure and simple. It’s something I’m painfully aware of.
No. You see it’s not Fraser’s past actions that get me the most riled up. It’s her current ones. Because despite the fact that Freebirthing is the reason Roisin died, Fraser and other members of the Joyous Birth movement are still actively advocating the practice of Freebirth as a safe, desirable option to other mothers on the Joyous Birth website.
And that is what I find reprehensible.
Take a look at some of the information Joyous Birth presents to unsuspecting parents about the pros, cons and philosophy of Freebirthing:
The idea behind unassisted childbirth (UC) is that if the mother is left to birth without any birth authority other than herself to rely on, she will birth as she is physiologically meant to.
With no outside authority to look to and validate her actions, the mother will turn deep within herself and be open to the primal birthing knowledge that is innate in all of us women.
We may not consciously know what to do in the event of so and so complication, but our bodies and our instincts do. Put simply, UC is a leap of faith, and you don’t even have to be religious to do it.
The safest and most responsible birth is one where the mother knows that she needs no one present to birth her baby other than herself. She knows that she has all the necessary primal knowledge that will make itself available to her at the right times.
She knows this knowledge will manifest in actions, feelings and instinct, not conscious, logical thought, and it will prevent and avoid most problems. She educates herself and prepares herself for birth by confronting her fears and researching the “what if’s”, keeping in mind that all she needs is trust in birth, in her abilities and in her baby.
She is positive and confident. Birth is a joyous experience, and she will claim it for her and her baby!
And in the detailed list of 8 ‘Pros’ of Freebirth, they say thisFreedom to drink, eat, yell, scream, laugh, cry, express emotions and feelings, wander around, bake a cake, cuddle your kids, play a game, sleep, relax, have outrageous wild sex (or quietly make love). Basically whatever the hell you feel like doing – all without disturbance or inhibitions due to visitors or strangers.