Everyone likely recalls that hilarious scene in Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise sings (very off-key) “Free Falling” but, if you’re like us, you won’t find this new “freebirthing” phenomena very funny. It’s a small yet disconcerting movement in which women are giving birth at home, shunning the involvement of any medical personnel.
UK mother Vicki Williams touts the benefits of the experience, telling the Daily Mail, “It was the most amazing thing I have ever done.” She went on to say, “It was beautiful, it was serene and it was easier than running cross country at school!'
The article notes that the medical community is divided on this issue (although, frankly, we can’t believe any of them think this is okay). Some doctors argue that it’s quite dangerous, while the Nursing and Midwifery Council say that midwives have “no right” to be present at birth. Instead, they say the wishes of the mother should overrule everything else.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists spokesperson Dr Daghni Rajasingam is surprisingly supportive of freebirthing, but also warns of the dangers.
“Some emergency situations are difficult to predict,” she said in an interview with the Guardian. “There are problems that need intervention within minutes – for example, if the baby is getting distressed, if the baby's shoulders get stuck, or if the cord prolapses. In any of these situations, you need a professional birth attendant who'll know what to do and can arrange for you to transfer to hospital if you're giving birth at home.”
Veteran doula Lisa Sykes counters that no birthing options are ever entirely safe.
“There are no risk free options,” Sykes said. “There are risks associated with birthing in hospital; for instance, you're statistically more likely to end up having a Cesarean section when planning a birth overseen by consultant obstetricians.”
Australian coroner Scott Mitchell openly criticized a mother whose baby died during a freebirth due to the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the newborn’s neck in The Sydney Morning Herald.
''The only preparations she had made were to install in the very cramped study in her home an inflatable wading pool for use as a birthing pool [and] to arrange for Ms. Duce to come down from Brisbane for support and to help with her two children and to place some home-made cord ties, a towel, and a pair of scissors nearby,'' Mitchell said.
Mitchell didn’t mince any words during the trial either, describing the mother’s views as ''wrong,” ''extravagantly expressed,'' and ''quite insensitive” to the potential for danger involved in freebirthing.
Melissa Thomas was angered by her midwife’s decision to turn her in for her decision to freebirth, saying that every woman should have the choice.
“Freebirthing is not right for everyone,” Thomas said. 'Some women want to give birth surrounded by others and some women want others to take responsibility for them.”
“Even if we all have the same information, we won't necessarily make the same choices and that is a good thing. But every woman should have the choice,” she went on to say.
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics notes that, of the 723,913 babies born in 2011, 30 were freebirths.
Call me crazy, but one of my favorite memories of giving birth in a hospital was having sweet and attentive nurses to care for not only my baby, but for me. Oh, and my hospital served delicious smoothies.