Saturday, September 01, 2007


Freebirthers dismiss fear and bring babies home

The day after Lucy was born I was at home preparing for her homecoming and recovering from the sleepless night of her labour. As is often the case in our house (at least when Oliver isn't getting to listen to Old Macdonald for the umpteenth time) the radio was on and it was tuned to Radio 4. "Woman's Hour" was on and they started by talking about "Freebirthers".

Apparently this is a movement that started in the US but is spreading worldwide. It is basically an alliance of women who feel that birth is a natural thing which has been taken out of women's hands, so they are taking it back by going through labour with no care from any medical practitioner of any kind.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, this movement has met with some opposition. American obstetricians have produced bumper stickers stating "Home delivery is for pizzas". I have to say I agree! While home birth might be fine for some women, I think it's wreckless to go this much further and advocate a practice that risks the health, or even the life, of your child. In both Oliver's and Lucy's births there were concerning moments towards the end and without the medical teams there the outcome could have been quite different.

And if I'm honest I think that a quote such as "women are taking their power back" smacks of the sort of aggressive feminism that we saw in the 1980s. The sort that damaged relations between men and women rather than strengthening them. And the last thing I want is to see undone all the progress in recognising the importance of fathers and in treating them as an equal parent, not a second-class one.

I wonder how long it will be before a Freebirther makes the news for all the wrong reasons.


Anonymous said...

I agree. There used to be a high proportion of infant and mother deaths during childbirth. that has gone down for a reason. Hospitals.

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