Just when I think I’ve heard and seen it all, something pops up that proves me wrong. Both Amy Gates” article, Home birth advocate’s baby dies during free birth: Do you blame or show compassion? And Cate Nelson’s Unassisted childbirth one woman’s story, gave me reason to pause. Both journalists discuss the March 27th death of Janet Fraser’s infant daughter and the controversy regarding unassisted childbirth.
Fraser is an Australian advocate of the unassisted childbirth movement that encourages pregnant women to deliver babies alone without the benefit of a midwife, a doctor, or a hospital. She used phrases such as “birth rape” to describe a delivery assisted by a healthcare provider. Please. As a descendent of a slave midwife and an obstetrician I am highly offended. Birthing is in my genes. There is nothing more satisfying than assisting in the delivery of a healthy and crying baby be it by midwife or physician. Heck, even a cow gets a c/section when necessary.
Cate’s article described a woman who had an “orgasmic” unassisted delivery during the birth of her daughter and then made frozen smoothies out of the placenta that she ate for the next thirty days. A placenta smoothie?
A reality check is in order. Forty percent of women died in childbirth during the 19th century but less than one percent, or 520 women today; and even those deaths are preventable. Do we really want to proceed in reverse? Perhaps members of the “unassisted” crowd would like to trade places with women in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, who have the world’s highest number of childbirth deaths.
We need our babies born healthy and alive. All of them, without exception. The adverse outcome of the Fraser’s “unassisted” delivery speaks for itself. Here’s hoping she’ll never experience it again.