I was lucky enough to be present at the birth of my cousin’s beautiful daughter. She had a water birth at home with a doula. She had always intended it this way. No real option of medial intervention and as natural as possible. The midwife barely made it to the birth in time and it was the doula’s first birth. I would be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with the idea. I tried to talk my cousin into having a water birth in a birthing centre at the very least. I knew how pear shaped births can get after having my own emergency c-section.
BUT…it was one of the best experiences of my life. Watching my beautiful, strong, independent cousin birth a baby as close to nature as was comfortable for her and everyone around her still takes my breath away. Her birth was text book, no complications…beautiful, oddly serene and incredibly magical. Was she lucky? I’m still not sure. There were moments when I thought to myself, what if the baby gets stuck?
My cousin didn’t get checked throughout her labour to see how dilated she was and we had no real idea how the baby was progressing. I admired her level of trust in her body and even after watching a home birth that was as close to perfect as possible, I know there is still no way I could do it. I would be way too worried and paranoid about the ‘what ifs.’
A little while back I read an article about a trend called “free birthing” where a mother delivers her baby entirely outside the medical system, often at home and without any professional assistance, even from a midwife or doula. In fact, many free birthers go their entire pregnancy with no check-ups and no ultrasounds…essentially they are totally off the grid.
Many are calling this trend completely irrational…the meaning behind it being a more ‘natural’ way to enter the world, which is apparently better. To be honest, I’m all about a baby entering the world as natural as possible but it really does seem totally irrational to me too. I get the home birth thing…with a doula and midwife present. I love it. I embrace it and totally understand why women want it.
I don’t, however, understand why a women would want to have a baby without any possible option of medical assistance. Why would you put your baby’s life at risk if it weren’t necessary? And why would you put your own life at risk? We don’t live in a third world country so we don’t need to be put at risk. Ever. Medical support in Australia is free and available. Women around the world who are forced to ‘free birth’ would do anything to have free and available medical assistance.
So why are we trying to find ways around it? We won’t ever forget one of Australia’s leading free birth advocates, Jane Fraser, who lost her baby daughter Roisin after a five-day labour. I think it scarred the whole nation. They had no qualified available medical support with them at the birth…by choice. And look how it ended. It was concluded that the baby would have survived if a midwife or doctor had been present.
I’m confused and concerned that we are taking things a little too far and instead of recognising what we have as an incredibly safe way to birth a child, we find ways for it not to be ‘natural’ enough.
Have you had a home birth? What do you think about this new ‘free birthing’ trend?
Megan Gale talks about her birth plan, and how it went out the window, in the podcast below. Have a listen and if you like what you hear, head here to subscribe to our podcast for loads more chats with incredible people.