Unassisted birth leads to death of baby AND mother

Regular readers know that among all the supposedly “natural” childbirth practices, I reserve special contempt for unassisted birth. Unassisted childbirth (and its companion, unassisted pregnancy) involves shunning medical care of any kind, even a lay midwife. Known by afficianados as freebirth or UC, it is perhaps more accurately called stuntbirth. As I have written in the past:

… Advocates emphasize the fact that it is transgressive, is “authentic”, values process over outcome, creates a sense of belonging, and produces feelings of empowerment.

Unassisted childbirth has no benefit to the baby and poses very serious risks to both the baby and the mother. It involves no particular skill, a belief that no expertise in childbirth is needed, has a prime objective of testing the capacity to endure pain, and risks death as the likely outcome of a mistake. In short, it is nothing more than a stunt.

Both of the leading advocates of UC have lost babies as a result. American Laura Shanley claims that she had 4 wonderful unassisted births, but she has actually had 5. She deliberately and knowingly gave birth to a premature baby alone at home and, over the next several hours, watched him die.

Last year, Australian Janet Fraser gave birth to an baby who had died during labor. In the weeks leading up to the birth, Fraser had proudly boasted to an Australian paper that she had no prenatal care of any kind, and planned to have no medical assistance at the birth. Her baby paid the ultimate price for her inane ideas.

This week the inevitable happened. Both the baby and the mother died at an unassisted birth. I learned from two separate unrelated sources of the tragic death of a first time mother who died within hours of delivering a stillborn baby. The reports indicate that the mother died suddenly and without apparent warning. It’s not clear if this means a sudden event like an amniotic fluid embolus or an ongoing medical complication like pre-eclampsia or hemorrhage that went unrecognized by the couple. An autopsy is being performed.

It is a horrible, senseless and needless tragedy.