The women having ‘extreme births’

by Photograph by Rex Features

Pregnant woman

WOULD YOU CONSIDER giving birth without a doctor, midwife or even your partner close by? In the unlikely event that that answer to that question is yes, you could be joining a growing group of women choosing to ‘freebirth’.



Freebirthing involves giving birth alone, without a doctor, midwife, partner or even supportive friend on hand to calm your nerves and administer much-needed pain relief. Although the approach is rare in the UK, there is a growing community of freebirthers in the US, who are celebrating ‘the primary of autonomous birth’.



American author Laura Shanley runs a website, Bornfree, for interested women and says she has more than 1,000 members worldwide. A veteran of five unassisted births, she told The Guardian’s women’s page that ‘women are the true experts of birth’ and went on: ‘Birth is sexual and spiritual, magical and miraculous, but not when it’s managed, controlled and manipulated by the medical establishment.’



Shanley says she has had inquiries from ‘a couple of dozen’ British mothers who want to go it alone. One Essex woman, 24-year-old Sarah, chose to freebirth her first child, now two, at home with her partner in the next room. ‘I didn’t have any experience of pain,’ she said. ‘There was just this really strong sensation that muscles were working. Then the baby’s head appeared.’ She said she chose the method because ‘giving birth is as personal as having sex. You don’t want someone else sitting there watching you.’ (10 May 2007)



Related links

Click here to visit Laura Shanley’s website Bornfree.

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