Stuntbirth is coming to TV!

Birth in Nature: Natural Birth

Stuntbirth, known to devotees as unassisted childbirth (UC) or “freebirth” is about to get a reality TV show. It’s a marriage made in heaven!

Stuntbirthers are narcissists in the extreme and reality TV is made for narcissists who are so desperate for attention that they are willing to be ridiculed and/or humiliated for the TV.

The only surprise is that it took this long.

Stuntbirthers like to pretend to themselves and others that this is how birth happens in nature (no, across all times, places and culture, birth is assisted), that birth is so deeply personal and “sexual” that a couple must experience it alone (really, then why are you posting a video of it on YouTube for all the world to see?) and that it is safe. The entire practice would be nothing more than a punch line were it not for the fact that it kills babies, in fact a startlingly high proportion of the babies whose mothers were ignorant enough to embrace this stunt.

Perhaps more compelling than the statistics is the fun fact that both the leading American and Australian advocates of UC have ended up with dead babies as a result. Laura Shanley, the American, likes to boast 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 without ever summoning help.

In April of 2009, Janet Fraser, Australia’s leading advocate of UC, experienced the death of her baby during labor. 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 idiocy.

Unassisted childbirth is also, in its own self-absorbed, narcissistic way, startlingly racist. Stuntbirth advocates (like many homebirth advocates) like to imagine that women in nature, particularly women of color, did not fear childbirth, simply squatted down by the Congo River to give birth, and immediately returned to their fabulously healthy paleo lifestyle.

Instead those women in nature, often women of color, feared childbirth because they died in agony and in droves. Indeed, even today many women, particularly women of color, continue to die in agony and in droves. According to the World Bank, the life time risk of maternal death is the probability that a 15-year-old female will die eventually from a pregnancy related cause. In the US where modern obstetrics is available the risk of death due to pregnancy and childbirth over a lifetime is 1 in 1800; in countries that are predominantly white and ethnically homogeneous, the lifetime risk is 1 in 13,000. In contrast, a teenager in Cameroon has a 1 in 34 chance of dying of a pregnancy related cause over her lifetime and women in Chad have a 1 in 15 chance of dying.

You can bet that they aren’t crowing about the virtues of stuntbirth. They have the assistance of traditional birth attendants in labor; they may walk miles to deliver in a clinic, and they certainly don’t give birth outside by the river bank.

In a sense, stuntbirth is the childbirth equivalent of blackface, complete with racist stereotypes minimizing the childbirth horrors that women of color endured and still endure (look up obstetric fistula). Just like blackface performers often portrayed people of color as happy to be slaves, stuntbirthers (invariably well off white women) like to portray women of color (albeit without the blackface) as happy to give birth “in nature.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Tragically, unassisted childbirth has no benefit for the baby and poses very serious risks or injury and death. It is a form of medical neglect based on appalling ignorance, extraordinary selfishness and clueless racism. In short, it is nothing more than an ugly and dangerous stunt.

Perfect for reality TV!