The hallmark of women who choose freebirth: emotional immaturity

Silhouette of a narcissistic and selfish woman with a crown on her head standing on the word ego

I have written many times about freebirth (unassisted childbirth), the practice of giving birth without any birth attendant. The stories differ but they are united by a personal trait shared by all freebirthers: emotional immaturity.

What do I mean by emotional immaturity? Consider toddlers.

Toddlers are the standard for emotional immaturity.

Freebirthers are monstrously egotistical, reflexively defiant of authority, unwilling to admit mistakes, incapable of accepting responsibility for their own actions and entirely devoid of any empathy for their suffering babies.

  • They are supremely egocentric. They believe the world revolves around them.
  • They reflexively defy authority.
  • They refuse to admit they are wrong.
  • They never take responsibility for harmful actions.
  • They lack empathy. Indeed many don’t realize anyone else beside themselves has feelings.

Both of the founder of the freebirth movement — Australian Janet Fraser and American Laura Stanley — exhibit extreme emotional immaturity.

Fraser was interviewed in late March 2009, supposedly during labor with her third child:

Janet Fraser is in labour… Has she called the hospital to let them know what’s happening? “When you go on a skiing trip, do you call the hospital to say, ‘I’m coming down the mountain, can you set aside a spot for me in the emergency room?’ I don’t think so,” says Fraser, whose breathing sounds strained…

When born FIVE days later, baby Roisin was alive but in need of expert resuscitation.

According to the Coroner:

Essentially, Ms. Fraser was quite unprepared for what happened. There was not even a hard, flat surface available on which Roisin could be placed for resuscitation so these three amateurs – Ms. Fraser, Mr. Stokes and Ms. Duce, first placed the child on the rim of the inflatable pool and, when that proved unsatisfactory, used a chair. They were unable to abandon the chair and place Roisin on the floor in order effectively to administer CPR there because, the placenta not having been delivered, “that was as far as she would reach. ” Evidently, it occurred to nobody present to clamp and cut the cord and, anyway, Ms. Duce told the inquest, she had not been aware of the ready availability of any equipment to enable her to do so. According to Ms. Duce, further difficulties were encountered in administering CPR because Roisin was slippery and difhcult to hold and, evidently, it did not occur to anybody to wrap her in a towel although there were towels nearby.

Any one with a modicum of maturity might have been devastated, or at the very least chastened, by the preventable death of her baby. Not Fraser:

My birthrape with my first child is traumatic. My stillbirth was not.

In other words, the supremely egotistical Fraser could not admit she was wrong, would not accept responsibility for her daughter’s death and had no empathy for Roisin’s suffering.

American freebirth advocate Laura Shanley boasts about the successful freebirth of four children. But she has freebirthed five children, one of whom died. She made no attempt to stop the premature birth of a son and watched him die in the bathtub. Shanley denies responsibility for her child’s death.

For sheer unadulterated egotism, though, it’s hard to beat Paala. She was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks for vaginal bleeding and premature labor. The bleeding was so serious that she received multiple transfusions.

Everyone was so mean to Paala. They made her wear a hospital gown! But she showed them!!

As she wrote on her Facebook page:

I took out my IV lines (nothing was being pumped into them at that point anyway) and my hospital bracelet. I wanted to take a shower with both arms free of junk. I figured they could put that crap back on me if it was an emergency but I needed to feel like myself again. (Did I mention they tracked and measured everything that came out of my body?)

Shortly thereafter she was in active labor with an extremely premature baby. She retreated to the hospital bathroom to decide what to do.

Option 1. Call the nurses and either be prodded while birthing right there or be wheeled in for an emergency CS.

Option 2. Wake my husband and labor with him secretly but then I knew he’d lose his cool and call for help.

Option 3. Labor by myself with my baby, just us, and I’d birth him and catch him and then call for help.

Surprise! She went with the most transgressive choice!

Obviously, I went for option 3. It seemed like the safest thing for my baby and myself at the time. The studies I’d read didn’t report benefits for a c-section for babies of his age, that vaginal would have been safer, and I knew getting drugged up and controlled by strangers was going to make things dangerous for us. After a couple of painful contractions by the toilet, I laid out a couple of chux pads to catch the blood and crap I was sure was coming.

She’s so proud of herself, since it’s all about her:

I had an unassisted freebirth, en caul just like my last baby, except in the hospital …

What about the baby?

He weighed 1 pound 6 oz, but survived. He spent four and a half months in the NICU and is doing well … no thanks to his mother.

The freebirth death that I wrote about earlier this week is also a story of emotional immaturity.

So the surges keep coming every day, but still no baby. Just making me more and more tired and my body ache everywhere. Nothing I could do would ease the pain but I tried so hard to stay positive.

My water broke the evening of the 4th and was discolored. Since I was 42 weeks I thought it was normal. But as the days went by it got more foul smelling and turned a sick poop color which was constantly leaking and the baby stopped moving on the 6th.

I woke on the 7th with so much pain and pouring meconium that Chris and I agreed it was time to transfer.

Not surprisingly, the baby was dead. The mother’s lack of empathy is truly chilling:

Sometimes nothing seems to go according to plan. That’s been the theme of this pregnancy …

But it’s no more chilling that Fraser’s insistence that her previous “birthrape” was traumatic but the death of her subsequent baby was not. It’s no more chilling than Laura Shanley watching her own premature baby die in the bathtub. It’s no more chilling that Paala’s pride at giving birth to a 24 weeker unattended in the bathroom rather than calling for medical help that was within earshot.

Every one of these women, indeed every woman who chooses freebirth, is profoundly emotionally immature. Like toddlers each and every one is monstrously egotistical, reflexively defiant of authority, unwilling to admit mistakes, incapable of accepting responsibility for their own actions and entirely devoid of any empathy for their suffering babies.

They should be ashamed of themselves; even toddlers are sometimes ashamed. But that would involve putting aside their egotism, an action that appears to be utterly beyond them.

  • keepitreal

    Digustingly narcissistic. I knew one of these. Interestingly enough, she was such a bully to her ‘home-birthed’ children, that none of them want to speak to her now that they’re grown and flown. I guess even home-birthed kids can’t respect a sanctimother who bullies other woman for birthing via c-section.

  • Me

    I don’t think you give enough credit to toddlers. Granted at age three, maybe my youngest isn’t a “toddler ” as anymore, but she will at least admit mistakes (she says, “I’m sorry, that was my fault ” when she spills or otherwise makes a mistake… what a good human 🙂 ) We’rs still working on the world not revolving around her, and the defiance, but empathy is showing real promise.

    These fools otoh… Sad when grown women don’t have the maturity of a three year old.

  • Anna

    I never knew in all the time I followed Janet Fraser like a mindless sheep that the “birthrape” was actually a maternal request c-sec!!! I nearly choked when I heard that. Apparently the Drs said she was fine to keep labouring, but she demanded a c-sec, which she is well within right to do, but then to call it birthrape? Privilege reeks. Her sidekick had her life LITERALLY saved in Malaysia when she was bleeding out from a miscarriage last year. She was like a corpse in the photo, but accused the Drs of obstetric violence. I sometimes wish I had the cognitive dissonance they have (and funnily enough was something often talked about on the Joyous Birth forums in relation to women that had interventions they deemed unnecessary).

  • Monika

    Paala had a pregnancy loss at 22 weeks last year. This time she didn’t post about pulling out IVs.

    • Mel

      I’m a bit jaded – but I suspect the 4.5 months in the NICU with her last son might have shown her that doctors and nurses have reasons for what they do. Having access to an IV line – or oxygen support – or whatever – often makes a huge difference in how quickly a medical emergency is resolved.

      Plus, NICUs are awesome – but in a long stay like that she did find out that some babies die in spite of the best heroic efforts of everyone involved.

  • BeatriceC

    OT: Have you heard about this case? It’s two years old, but I’m just now reading about it. https://blavity.com/mom-dies-after-being-forced-to-wait-seven-hours-to-be-operated-on-for-post-childbirth-complications

    • Mel

      That’s horrible!

  • BeatriceC

    One of my sisters had an unplanned unassisted birth. I’ve told this story before. She was near her due date (38ish weeks if I recall correctly). Her first baby had gone overdue, so she wasn’t expecting anything to happen that soon. She’d eaten a ton of bean dip the day before and thought she just had gas. She was mildly uncomfortable at times, with no discernible pattern. She was alone, but unconcerned, because it was just late pregnancy discomfort and gas from her indulgences the day before, right? And then she thought she needed to poop, so she went to the bathroom, relaxed, and had a baby. It was that fast. She had the presence of mind to scoop my niece out of the toilet and call 911, then completely lost her shit as soon as the paramedics arrived. My niece is in her mid-20’s now and my sister still describes that moment as the scariest moment of her life. I cannot even imagine somebody intentionally planning on doing this alone with a more normal labor, having listened to my sister describe the terror she felt when she realized what had just happened.

    • Gene

      Oh please tell me your niece is nicknamed bean!

      • StephanieJR

        Better than Poopy Head.

      • BeatriceC

        Unfortunately, Bean is not among her nicknames.

    • Merrie

      I know three people who’ve had unplanned unassisted homebirths. Pretty terrifying stuff. My labors keep getting shorter–this last was only 3 hours, so if there ever is a baby #4 I fully intend to get induced at 39 weeks to avoid this scenario.

      • seenthelight

        I did to avoid a second precipitous labor and the induction was glorious. YMMV but it was great, especially compared to my first delivery in a freestanding birth center.

        • Merrie

          My hubby had the big V so it’s unlikely to ever happen, but on that rare offchance, I already have a plan lol.

  • sara

    I would also like to vote to keep posting at least links to the deaths from homebirth, even if you don’t analyze and comment. This site is the clearinghouse for that info.

  • Madtowngirl

    I’m just on the cusp of third trimester, with a low-lying placenta, at risk for a preterm birth, and I just can’t with Paala. OF COURSE they are measuring everything that comes out of your body, they don’t want you or your baby to die, you idiot! Oh noes how awful to maybe need a C-section to save your micropreemie! Then you couldn’t get your precious stunt birth!

    Jesus I’m seeing red.

  • demodocus

    Unassisted birth is something of my nightmares, not my dreams. Shit happens, literally and figuratively. I want someone there if all hell breaks loose and I simply cannot be optimistic enough to believe it won’t happen to me.

    • sara

      As someone who just had a precipitous delivery, almost out of hospital, I can verify that it was a nightmare.

  • “I wish I could change what happened. I wish I had my baby in my arms right now, plump and thriving. Instead, he died inside of me, his heart just stopped at 25+5 weeks, a couple days after this photo was taken. The others are some I wanted to share after I took them but couldn’t bring myself to, in case I lost him, because I didn’t want to be constantly burned by comments and caught crying in public.

    My fifth baby wasn’t planned but he was so wanted. I had three normal pregnancies followed by a preterm birth. My fourth baby was born at 24 weeks and 3 days, as most of you know, and made it so we were hoping for another miracle baby. This pregnancy was perfect until I started bleeding heavily at 18 weeks and my water broke at 19 weeks. They told me I should do a d&e, let them pull him out of me because he would likely die anyway. I refused to let them kill him. I wanted to give him a chance. I was on bedrest until I went into labor at 22 weeks and then I went to the hospital to try to save him. I was put on magnesium sulfate and it stopped my contractions.

    I was on bed rest on mag in the hospital for three weeks until he died at 25+5, July 11th 2017. I birthed my still baby and held him until I just couldn’t anymore. Going home without him, or him the NICU, was the most awful I’ve ever felt.

    I don’t know how to respond to people asking if I am planning on more or how nice it must be to have two girls and two boys without dying a little on the inside. I wanted him and I was going to have three boys and two girls. Sigh. Some days are harder than others but I’m getting through.”

  • That so-and-so Paala then had a 25-weeker who didn’t make it last year, but that doesn’t matter because breastfeeding! From her Facebook:

    “Paa.la
    July 8 ·
    Breastfeeding my miracle baby, my 24 weeker, Evar at 2 years old <3

    Next to me is my eldest, Paaloma, who nursed until she was 5 1/2. Hiding behind me is my second eldest, Amelie, who nursed last year for the last time after my milk came in for my stillborn 25 weeker and Evar had forgotten how to nurse during my three week bedrest in the hospital while I was trying to keep his baby brother alive. I thought she was done but she still asks at 6 1/2! My third, Quint, was too busy running around in the splash pad to take a photo break. He nursed for around 3 years, I'm not even sure when he weaned. Each child just naturally tapered off as they got older and the spacings between nursing just faded and dropped off. I can't believe I only have one nursling left.

    I am so thankful I have been able to breastfeed all of my babies until they were ready to wean. Before I had my first, I planned to nurse 6 months, then maybe a year. But at a year, I realized she wasn't ready just because some magical date on the calendar had been reached and I found out the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 2+ years, until we were both ready to stop. So we kept going. But I didn't think we'd go past 2 or 3, surely. When I found out I was pregnant with her baby sister when she was a year old, I was able to nurse through my pregnancy and tandem nurse them after my second was born. When I was pregnant with my third, again I nursed through and then triandem nursed my babies. I guess by then I was definitely breastfeeding into early childhood, way past my initial comfort zone, but it's what they wanted and I knew it wouldn't last forever and that my milk was really still very beneficial for them.

    When I was pregnant the fourth time, I was expecting the same…But then he was born very unexpectedly at 24 weeks and I started to panic that he wouldn't make it and that if he did, he wouldn't be able to nurse. I was told to not expect Evar to breastfeed and especially not exclusively, since he was so early. They really wanted to prepare me for the worst, a high chance of death or major disabilities, but it only made me more determined to give him the best start I could, even though I couldn't keep him in my womb until he was full term. I pumped for months until he finally did the breast crawl and latched himself at 31 weeks. I bawled tears of joy. Getting him home from the NICU exclusively breastfeeding wasn't working, his extraction wasn't right or something, and he was losing weight. So we went home after 106 days breastfeeding and using bottles. My supply tanked during the end of our NICU stay and I had to supplement, thankfully some kind donor mamas helped us. After a month of being home, I was done with bottles, running off to find donor milk, and pumping, completely over it. So I laid in bed with him for days, trying to get him to breast 100% of the time and gaining. After trying finger feeding, supplemental nursing systems, nipple shields, and lots of crying (my crying, it was really hard and stressful), he finally got it and we gave away all of our bottles and my pumps. <3 <3

    I started sharing my breastfeeding stories and photos on my blog after my second was born and I went to a nationwide nurse in after Michelle Hickman was harassed in a Texas Target. Before that nurse-in I spent my time hiding while nursing in public, running off to nurse in the car or bathrooms, fumbling with covers, and just feeling really embarrassed about feeding my baby. Even in front of family. I finally stopped hiding and slowly gained confidence.

    For years, I felt called to help others by sharing my story on my blog, podcasts, attending and hosting nurse-ins against various breastfeeding offenders, including Facebook, and sharing the news of breastfeeding discrimination incidents (and other mother/baby issues). Maybe they'd start off feeling more confident than I had or would know the law protects them, that breastfeeding was beautiful, nothing to feel ashamed of.

    But after my 4th was born, I let the time consuming and stressful part of advocacy and my blog fall to the side while I focused on my family. I still share here, on Instagram, and twitter though. I feel so wonderful when I hear from moms who tell me they gained confidence after they found my page, dropped the cover or felt more comfortable in public. <3 I am happy to help in my own small way."

    "And thank you for your condolences. I didn't share this part of life last year. It was so, so painful. I wanted to keep him to myself. But I am sharing now because I can talk about him without bawling and stillbirths, lost babies, should be talked about because they are remembered and felt in our hearts."

  • rosewater1

    I have hope that the mother in the most recent post will come to realize what she did. It’s too late for this baby, but if she has other children, she will hopefully choose another path.

    As I’ve said before, I used to work in a L & D unit. It’s in a large hospital with a thriving high risk practice and a high level NICU. There were women who would have done ANYTHING to carry a pregnancy to 24 weeks, much less to term. Women like Paala, who had the help she needed literally within earshot, make me want to scream.

    I wonder what Paala’s child will say one day when they read her account of the pregnancy and birth. “Yay, Mom, you did your best to kill me but you didn’t quite!”

    • I just deleted a comment, but Paala had another baby who passed at 25+5 weeks. At least she was in the hospital for a few weeks for this one. Apparently the doctors wanted to do a D&E at 18 weeks, but she fought to keep him, went on bedrest for 3 weeks, went to the hospital, got put on mag sulfate to stop labor, was there another 3 weeks, then had the stillbirth.

      • swbarnes2

        Seems like her body knew what to do after the water broke…end the pregnancy. Didn’t realize a fetus could go so log after the waters broke, maybe it was only a small tear in the sac? Was it likely she could get to a safer fetal age like that?

        • I would have tried, too. At least she didn’t whine about snacks this time.

        • Mel

          A former student of mine had an amniotic sac tear at 20 weeks in a pregnancy already complicated by GD and pre-e. She was willing to try bedrest followed by hospitalization to make it as long as she could. Luckily, while she leaked amniotic fluid the whole time, the placenta/baby were creating enough fluid to keep a safe amount around the baby to promote lung growth and she never developed any infections. She delivered safely at 34 weeks and has a little girl who is about 2.5 years now.

          So – I guess some people can keep a pregnancy going – but everything has to go just right from that point on or else there will be a miscarriage/stillbirth/preemie born before viability.