06 April 2007


Yesterday, I did a 36 week interview with one of the women in my study who revealed that she is actually going to freebirth her second child after a few weeks of careful contemplation. Up until now, no one in my study has done this (although many have had beautiful home births) so I am very excited and thought I would share. Freebirthing, or unassisted birth, is often referred to as one of the most extreme rejections of the perceived 'overmedicalisation' of childbirth in 'Western' countries. For those that don't know much about this experience, proponents of freebirthing argue that women are the only people suited to deliver children into the world.

The woman I have been interviewing throughout her pregnancy had a fairly negative hospital experience with her first child and decided that her second birth would be positive and totally different. In hospital, she felt out of control, uneducated and at the mercy of doctors and midwives who were telling her what to do. In this second pregnancy, she hired a homebirth doctor to look after her and then a midwife to assist with the actual birth. However, after a few hypnobirthing classes which she and her partner found to be really empowering, they decided that they would birth the baby completely on their own at home in a pool. She said that the only reason she initially thought she should have someone there with her was because of the fear that something would go wrong with the birth; that she didnt trust herself even then though they just wanted the doctor and the midwife to stay in the shadows unless they were needed. However, she didn't feel comfortable holding on to the fear of what could happen considering she already made the leap to having the baby at home without any pain relief or intervention. Freebirthing has been a way for her to shake those last vestiges of anxiety. I have to say I really respect her courage in stepping so far outside of the square and making a decision that I think alot of women would love to do but are definitely too afraid to actually carry out.

Also, her 2yr old daughter is going to be present at the birth (or for as long as she can) and they are definitely going to proceed with a lotus birth (maintaining the connection between the placenta and the baby until the umbilical cord falls off on its own). She also mentioned that part of her plan is to eat some of the placenta to maintain and reinforce her connection to the new baby, freeze the rest of it and perhaps give some to the baby at a later date. I've heard of mothers eating the placenta before but on some level it also means that the body of the mother and baby are not so abruptly separated as soon as the baby is born. By keeping the placenta attached to the baby and then later actually ingesting a piece of the placenta, it's as if mother and child remain connected as one body (like in pregnancy) and later on with breastfeeding.

Laura Shanley has developed a really useful site about unassisted birth with lots of amazing photos, videos and birth stories. This is a must-see for anyone considering freebirthing!

This is a link to a great article about catching your own baby:

1 comment:

Sazz said...

That's great. I'm a big fan of freebirth, for the challenge it poses to medicalised birth (as you mention, Meredith). I sometimes wonder if it is at all possible to have an empowered birth any other way? Something I plan to blog about at some point.

My favourite website on freebirth is:

Aside from all the useful info this site has, I really like her decision to use the term "purebirth" as opposed to freebirth because she believes it is birth in its purest form - all the interventions removed.

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